Fort Riley commemorates fallen German and Italian soldiers from WWII

13 News at Six
Published: Nov. 16, 2023 at 12:43 PM CST
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MANHATTAN, Kan. (WIBW) - Military representatives hold a remembrance ceremony for German and Italian soldiers buried at Fort Riley cemetery.

Commemorative wreaths are placed during the ceremony for the 62 Germans and 11 Italian soldiers who are buried at Fort Riley Post Cemetery.

This ceremony is held annually to commemorate the German and Italian prisoners of war (POW) during WWII. The War Department established Fort Riley as one of 600 locations across the U.S. to house German, Italian, and Japanese POWs.

The German liaison officer at the U.S. Army Combined Arms Center at Ft. Leavenworth, Col. Alexander Eisentraudt, says these soldiers died many miles away from home during the war, thus; it is their duty to pay their respects to the fallen soldiers who served for his country.

”It is our obligation as brothers in arms and as next generations to pay our respect to them, especially, when their families are not able to do so,” said Col. Eisentraudt.

Maj. Francesco Gelao, the Italian Liason officer for the Ft. Leavenworth U.S. Army Combined Arms Center, says he is grateful to organizers, Ft. Riley leaders, and the Ft. Riley community for organizing this ceremony.

“Thanks to [the] Fort Riley community which annually honors the Italian-German representatives with its support in remembering our fallen soldiers,” said Gelao.

About 4,500 POWs were held at Fort Riley. The purpose of POW was to fill a void on area farms, work on roads, do laundry, and build maintenance projects. Following the war, some of the former POWs stayed in the local area to live and work.

Each year at this ceremony, officers from German and Italian armed forces come to Fort Riley to pay tribute to their fallen comrades.