The small town of Sidnaw in the central-western Upper Peninsula was home to one of several POW camps throughout Michigan. The camp was originally built as a CCC camp and after the capture of thousands of German soldiers in Africa, they were sent to the United States to be held as POWs.
Because of the large number of American men serving in the war the lumber industry requested POW’s be used to help with the labor shortage. 251 Germans were held in Sidnaw from February of 1944 until April of 1946. The camp did not have a fence around it just a couple of guard towers to watch the prisoners. It was not much of an issue. Most prisoners were young men who were drafted into the Nazi Army and would rather work in the sawmills than be shot at by the allied troops. One issue that did have was with the conservation officers who complained about the guards using machine guns and hand grenades to hunt deer while they POWs were out logging. The U.S. government sent limited supplies to the camp and some fresh venison was a welcomed meal.
Nothing from the camp remains. The guard towers stood for a long time, but they are gone now. I saw this old shack next to the tracks in town, and I can only imagine this little building saw many trains pulling in and out of town with POWs and supplies.
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Near Brimley is the remains of another former POW facility called Camp Raco, you can read my post about it HERE
If you want to know more about the POW camps in Michigan I highly recommend reading the book by Gregory D. Sumner titled Michigan POW Camps in World War II. It was compelling to read, I did not know so many POWs were sent to Michigan to work in the fields and forests. You can check out his book on Amazon HERE
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