15 November 2023

Book Review: Michigan POW Camps in World War II

First, I need to provide full disclosure about this book. I met Greg Sumner at the Battle Creek Barnes and Noble and shared what I knew about the POW's held at Fort Custer. I had written a couple of blog posts about the POWs and their graves at the Fort Custer National Cemetery. I shared what pictures I had with him. I received no compensation for my information or for this review.

The book that resulted from Sumner's research, Michigan POW Camps in World War II, is a great look at a little-known subject during World War II. Sumner spent days travelling throughout Michigan visiting and meeting with the people who had a connection to Prisoner of War camps. He talked to people who owned farms where the prisoners had worked. He talked to museum organizers. He visited many of the places that had a history with the German prisoners and camps. 

His book is informative and filled with stories, photographs, maps, and more from his travels. Each chapter engrosses the reader in what being a prisoner in Michigan was like. He talks about the relationship the community had with the prisoners. Sumner uses interviews, newspaper articles, historical facts, and more to tell the story. He uses resources that tell the story from the prisoners and community viewpoint. Be sure to read about the Owosso "conspiracy" and the Blissfield 16, both are excellently written sections.

Sumner's book is professionally researched and a welcome addition to the history of World War II in Michigan. If you would like to read a story from a prisoner of war who was held in the United States, check out Ernst Floeter's "I'll See You Again, Lady Liberty."

I had an interest in the German POW's because of the section of the Fort Custer National Cemetery where some prisoners were interred. Upon writing about it on my blog, I would get emails from people who had a connection to those prisoners, many from Germany. Imagine my surprise when I got an email from a 'cousin' who I had been communicating with about our common Fredrich family and he told me his father was at Fort Custer as a prisoner, talk about a small world. Of course, I had to send him Sumner's book and everything I had about that time at Fort Custer. 

If you are looking for a great read about World War II and German and Italian prisoners of war kept in Michigan, then Gregory D. Sumner's, Michigan POW Camps in World War II, is the book for you. 


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