Category Archives: Germany

German POWs in Manitoba

Did you know during World War II there were 27 prisoners of war camps in Canada?  One such camp was in my home province of Manitoba.  Reading the 2013 Stanford University thesis of Adrian Meyers helped me learn all about it. Meyers carried out an archaeological dig at the former site of the camp on Whitewater Lake. Meyers also interviewed surviving prisoners and waded through a thousand related government documents. His thesis is full of interesting information.

German Prisoner of War Camp- photo from Parks Canada

The 450 German prisoners, most between the ages of 16 and 22, viewed their time at the Manitoba camp as an idyllic interlude in their wartime experience. Many were captured after a battle in North Africa. They worked hard cutting trees for lumber and firewood but were paid 50 cents a day for their labours and allowed to use the money to order things from the Eaton’s catalogue.   Photos of the prisoners show them neatly groomed and dressed smartly.

german pows riding mountain national park

Some of the prisoners at the camp- photo from Parks Canada

The Canadian government tried to re-educate the prisoners teaching them courses in Canadian history and democratic government and carefully selecting the books they read and films they watched. The POWs were under surveillance and were labelled on the basis of a colour-coded system that evaluated their allegiance to Nazism.

POW In canoe- photo from Meyers thesis

The prisoners had an active social life, playing soccer, carving dugout canoes they paddled to an island for picnics, skating on the frozen lake and being allowed to venture into neighbouring communities to attend dances.

bear with german prisoners of war manitoba

Photo from the Riding Mountain National Park collection

Some took in stray dogs as pets, while one man even adopted a juvenile black bear he named Moses.


Photo from the Winnipeg Free Press

They distilled alcohol for personal use and put on stage shows where the men sang, played instruments and some dressed up in women’s clothes. Myers’ thesis includes examples of paintings done by the prisoners and they were provided with a ping- pong table, playing cards, craft supplies and a piano.

Painting of the camp by one of the POWs- photo from the Meyers thesis

Ironically not many years before the POW camp was built in Riding Mountain National Park, the Canadian government had evicted the Ojibwa people who had long inhabited the area.

Photo of Suyoko Tsukamoto by Bill Redekop for the Winnipeg Free Press 

Suyoko Tsukamoto one of the Brandon University anthropology students who helped Meyers with the archaeological dig noted another irony. She could not help but compare the relatively luxurious lifestyle in the German POW camp to the much more trying conditions endured by her father, a full-fledged Canadian citizen who was sent to one of the government detention facilities for people of Japanese descent during the war.

Painting of the camp by a POW – photo from the Meyers thesis

 The Canadian government’s rationale was that they hoped by treating the German prisoners kindly the Germans would reciprocate with similar treatment of captured Canadian soldiers.

 More than 33,000 German soldiers were in prison camps across Canada during the war. The fact nearly 20% of them asked to remain here after the war is perhaps at least partially a testament to the humane way they were treated. All their requests were denied.

To explore Adrian Meyers’ fascinating research for yourself read his thesis entitled The Archaeology of Reform at a German Prisoner of War Camp in a Canadian National Park during the Second World War (1943–1945)

Thanks to my friend and fellow writer Larry Verstraete whose novel Missing in Paradise piqued my interest in this camp and inspired me to learn more about it. 

Other posts about World War II……..

Sleeping With Torpedos

Remembering Hiroshima

Meeting a Holocaust Survivor in Hong Kong


Filed under Books, Canada, Germany, History

Remembering the Holocaust Through Personal Experiences

Yesterday was Holocaust Memorial Day. As I read about the various ways the event was marked I thought about some of the personal experiences I’ve had learning about the Holocaust.

On a walk in Frankfurt Germany I photographed these stumbling stones in the sidewalk. They have been placed outside the homes of Holocaust victims.  You are meant to ‘stumble’ over them as you walk and then stop and read the names of some of the 11 million people who died in the Holocaust between 1941 and 1945.

The Hall of Names at the Yad Vashem Museum – a memorial for Holocaust victims

I took a group of my high school students on a trip to Israel and Palestine. We spent one morning at Yad Vashem. It is a modern museum in Jerusalem designed to take each visitor on an unforgettable journey through the Jewish holocaust experience. The teenagers with me were mesmerized as they walked from room to room. Everywhere they went there were exhibits and screens that told the stories of Holocaust victims and survivors. I saw many of my students with tears running down their faces as they looked at photos of victims or listened to interviews with them. You can read more about that in my post Taking Teens to Israel and Palestine.

At the Anne Frank exhibit in Hong Kong with Silvain Gilbert

When we lived in Hong Kong I went to see an Anne Frank exhibit and heard a talk by a Hong Kong Holocaust survivor Silvain Gilbert. Silvain was a young Jewish boy in Belgium when the Nazis took over the country and began deporting Jews to concentration camps. A Catholic family in a small Belgium village took Silvain in, changed his name, taught him to speak their local dialect and even had him serve as an altar boy in the local church to make sure the authorities didn’t discover his true identity. At the end of the war he was reunited with his parents. You can read more about Silvain’s experience in my post Meeting A Holocaust Survivor in Hong Kong.

On Remembrance Day in 2019 I went to the Minto Armory here in Winnipeg to hear my daughter-in-law perform with the Polycoro Choir. One piece they did was called Arise, Cry Out by composer Norbert Palej. The haunting music commemorated the death during the Holocaust of the Jewish citizens from the Warsaw Ghetto including many children from an orphanage there. 

I only recently discovered the Holocaust Memorial on the grounds of the Manitoba Legislature. It was created in 1990 and is meant to look like a broken Star of David. It contains the names of 3,700 Holocaust victims who have surviving family members in Manitoba. You can read more about it in my post Remembering the Holocaust in Winnipeg.

Alma was our guide on a walking tour of Nuremburg, Germany. She apologized so abjectly and so often on behalf of her country for what they had done during the Holocaust that I felt sorry for her. As this warm and lively woman showed us the places where Nazi war criminals had been tried and hung, her penitent and self deprecating comments demonstrated the burden the actions of a previous generation during the Holocaust has placed on present day German citizens.

I visited St. Stephen’s Church in Mainz Germany and photographed these stained glass windows created by Jewish artist Marc Chagall who fled France during the Nazi occupation. Chagall made these windows depicting scenes from the Old Testament, to help Jews and Christians remember the Holocaust but also to remember what they have in common and work at reconciliation. 

I have learned about the Holocaust in many different places and at many different times but there is always more to learn from reading, watching films, listening to music, studying art and maybe someday traveling again.

What have been some of your personal experiences learning about the Holocaust?

Other posts………..

Chagall’s Windows in Germany

Canada’s Great Poppy Discussion


Filed under Germany, History

56 Kilometers Under Our Tires

swanIs a swan more beautiful from the front or back?  swan from behindI didn’t know till I took these two photos of a swan on Lake Constance.  I think the swan is actually more lovely from the rear. map of lake konstanzWe are biking around Lake Constance or as it is known in Germany The Bodensee.   Today we drove the north and west shoreline of the upper part of the lake. 56 kilometres in all.  dave navigatingMy husband Dave and brother-in-law Ken acted as our navigators.  german man helps usWe had a little trouble getting out of Konstanz,  the German city where we had spent the night.  This friendly elderly gentleman stopped to give us directions and ended up driving part of the way with us and setting us on the right road. dave and marylou leaving konstanzThe weather was quite cool when we started out but that was great for biking.  

karen bike trip

My sister Kaaren was easy to spot on the road in her bright red vest.

Our navigators led us astray once but it meant that we had the chance to bike this lovely avenue of poplars.And see fields full of luscious cauliflower, lettuce, turnips and other vegetables. We stopped to take photos of this field of 300 origami cellophane cranes.  They formed an interesting art installation by Hadmut Bittiger called Beating of Wings.  Cranes are standing ready to begin their worldwide migration.  On each one’s wings is inscribed a message in a different language to help people around the globe build bridges between one another. 

We took a break for refreshments around noon.  It was still chilly but about an hour later the sun burst out and we ended up taking off our jackets and enjoying the warm afternoon. I stopped to take a picture of this wildflower fence and in the process I lost the rest of the group.  Thankfully my sister had waited for me up ahead and it didn’t take long for the guys to realize we were missing and my brother-in-law headed back to find us. Dave reminded me that if I got lost all I had to was keep the lake on my left and I’d arrive at our destination for the night……the Chlosterhof  Hotel in Stein am Rhein. It is a city in Switzerland.  Our bike route around Lake Constance is going to take us through three countries, Germany, Austria and Switzerland. 

After checking into our hotel we strolled the streets of Stein am Rhein a well-preserved town with medieval buildings.  We looked at the beautiful murals painted on all the shops. The town is called Stein Am Rhein because it is at a point where Lake Constance becomes the Rhine River. 

Written on the wall beside our bed in our hotel in Stein Am Rhein is this reminder.

The laughter you send out comes right back to you.

A good thing to keep in mind on a bike trip or on our journey through life. 

Other posts………..

The World is Full Of Interesting People

Beer and Pretzels

Travel Alphabet



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Filed under Bike Trip Boden See, Germany, Travel

Beer and Pretzels

dave by christmas tree in Germany“We spent Christmas Day in 2010 in Bamberg Germany.” That’s how I would answer the question “Did you ever celebrate Christmas in another place?” our-german-cruise-shipBamberg was one of the stops on a holiday river cruise. angel-in-snowFor the first time in eight years they had snow in Bamberg for Christmas and it turned the city into a beautiful place. dave-bambergWe spent hours walking through the cobblestone streets. beer-and-pretzelsTwo highlights were stopping at one of Bamberg’s nine breweries to sample three kinds of beer and eat huge salty pretzels just out of the oven. bambergAs it grew dark we stood outside the huge Catholic Church to listen to the bells ringing carols through the cold air. catheral-in-bamberg-germanyOn board our ship that night our Christmas dinner ended with the waiters turning off all the lights in the dining room and then parading to our table with trays of flaming Baked Alaska.

Other posts…….

The World is Full of Interesting People

German POW’s in Manitoba

One of my Photos in a St. Louis Essay

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Filed under Germany, Holidays

My Photo in a St.Louis Photo Essay

A communications professor in St. Louis contacted me recently about a photograph of stumbling stones included in one of my blog posts. stumbling stones in frankfurt

On a walk in Frankfurt Germany I photographed these stumbling stones in the sidewalk. They have been placed outside the homes of Holocaust victims. You are meant to ‘stumble’ over them as you walk and then stop and read the names of some of the 11 million people who died in the Holocaust between 1941 and 1945.

The St. Louis professor who contacted me is working on a visual presentation that focuses on the ways in which walking in a city can become a personal or public history project. She was struck by the way the stumbling stones in Germany are literally ‘inscribed into the city scape.’  She is putting together a presentation that includes photographs and film of sidewalks in cities around the world and wanted to include my photo of the stumbling stones. 

The professor will keep me informed on the progress of her project.  It sounds exciting! One of the pleasures of writing this blog has been the way it links me to interesting things happening all over the world and the way my photos or ideas can be connected with those of other people who are also on a learning journey. 

Other posts……

Remembering Our Faults

10 Remembrance Day Images

The World is Full of Interesting People


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Filed under Art, Germany, History

A Veronica Sighting in Costa Rica

I wonder where I’ll find Veronica next?   I’m  always looking for more stories about the connections Jesus might have had with women. There’s an account about a woman named Veronica  in the apocryphal Gospel of Nicodemus in a section called the Acts of Pilate. According to the Acts of Pilate Veronica is the same woman Jesus healed of a flow of blood in Luke 8.  

I first saw Veronica’s name when I visited the Via Dolorosa in Jerusalem.  The Via Dolorosa is said to be the path Jesus walked with his cross.  The story goes that at one point a woman named Veronica used her veil to wipe the sweat from Jesus’ face as he walked by her.   I photographed this stone marker bearing Veronica’s name.   I was intrigued and wanted to learn more about Veronica. 

veronica in jerusalem via delrosa

When I visited The Church of the Beatitudes on the Sea of Galilee near Capernaum I saw a beautiful wood carving of Veronica. Part of Veronica’s story is that after she wiped Jesus’ face with her veil the image of his face was left in the veil and that is clearly shown in the carving. veronica at the church of the beatitudes

It was a couple of years later when I came across another rendition of the Veronica story when I saw this painting of Veronica in the Stadel Art Museum in Frankfurt, Germany. It was done by Robert Campin a Flemish artist who lived from 1375-1444.veronica-by-robert-campin public domain

My last night in Costa Rica I walked into the Church of the Immaculate Conception of Mary in Liberia and as I made my way around the sanctuary looking at each of the Stations of the Cross I found Veronica again. veronica cathedral liberia costa rica
Veronica was compassionate but she was also brave. Jesus was about to be crucified and to be identified as a supporter of his was dangerous, dangerous enough that one of his disciples denied even knowing him. But Veronica doesn’t worry about her own safety she is just concerned about doing something kind for Jesus. I wonder where I’ll find Veronica next?  

Other posts……..


Worshipping with Quakers in Costa Rica

My Grandmother’s Epitaph

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Filed under Art, Costa Rica, Germany, israel, Religion

The World Is Full Of Interesting People

river-cruise-germany-dinnerOne Christmas we joined a tour group of eighty travelers for a five-day river cruise in Germany. We met so many interesting people. My husband Dave told me it was my job to pick our table companions at each meal in the ship’s dining room. I was often torn between sitting with some fascinating person we had already met, or venturing off to meet someone new.


german flagOne day we sat with a homemaker and her husband who was a highway inspector from Perth Australia. For the last twenty years they have spent many of their weekends prospecting. They head out to likely spots in the desert with two other couples, who ‘are just like family’, and use metal detectors to look for gold. One of the men is the chef, preparing all their meals. They sleep in ‘swags’ – waterproof bedrolls under the stars and spend their days prospecting. They share their ‘finds’ equally. Last year they unearthed a total of ninety ounces of gold. They use their treasure hunt spoils for travel.

We lunched one day with a woman on crutches. She fell off her horse on a canyon ride just prior to our trip. She has a sporting goods business in California, selling items trail riders might need. She loves to travel and often conducts her business from on the road. She has been to one hundred and two different countries.

our-german-cruise-shipOne meal companion was a man who belongs to a fraternity of photographers dedicated to taking pictures of abandoned buildings across the United States and publishing them.  Another was a retired police officer recently returned from Antarctica, thus checking off the last unexplored continent on his travel list.

new-years-dinner-during-german-cruiseA Pittsburgh waitress, was in Germany with her husband and children to explore the land of her birth. She had never returned since immigrating to the United States as a child.

Margaret Laurence, the Canadian novelist once said, “There are no ordinary people.” Every time I travel and strike up new acquaintances, I discover just how right Ms. Laurence was.

Other posts……

 German POWS in Manitoba

A Broken Engagement and Capturing Holy Light

Travel Alphabet

Ten Nativity Scenes


Filed under Germany, Travel

A Broken Engagement, A Traitor Assistant and Capturing Holy Light

gutenberg in quebec city art galleryI bumped into Johannes Gutenberg at the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec City and was reminded of some of the interesting stuff I’d learned about Gutenberg when I visited the Gutenberg Museum in Johannes’ home town of Mainz Germany. gutenberg-statue-mainz-germany

Gutenberg was born in Mainz in 1395 but when a revolt against the nobility happened there in 1425 Gutenberg’s family moved to Strasbourg France where legal documents indicate Gutenberg was involved in a broken engagement with a young lady from Strasbourg.gutenberg-bible

Before inventing the printing press and printing the Gutenberg Bible Johannes was involved in manufacturing metal mirrors designed to capture holy light emanating from religious relics. These mirrors were sold to pilgrims on journeys to holy sites.

mural-at-gutenberg-museumA businessman named Johann Fust loaned Gutenberg the funds to build his printing press. In 1455, Fust took Gutenberg to court, claiming Gutenberg had mishandled his loan. The court ruled in favor of Fust, leaving Gutenberg bankrupt. But guess who was one of the witnesses during the court case? Johannes’ former assistant Peter Schoeffer, who proceeded to take over Gutenberg’s former shop and help Fust run the printing press and turn it into a profitable business. 

gutenberg-in-mainzPoor Johannes. He never got credit for inventing the printing press in his lifetime and there were no known images made of him while he was alive. Maybe he’d be happy to know he is famous now and there are images of his likeness all over the world including in his hometown of Mainz Germany and in a museum in Quebec City Canada. 

Other posts….

A Face for Champlain


Chagall Windows


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Filed under Art, Germany, Media, quebec city, Writing