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Museum on Wheels Makes Stops At Belle Isle and Edmond Libraries

They call it a “bus-eum,” but by any name this traveling exhibit provides a fascinating look at an almost forgotten slice of World War II history.    

During World War II the Midwest was home to about 250 base and branch prisoner of war camps, which held tens of thousands of the 380,000 German POWs who found themselves imprisoned in over 660 POW camps in almost all of the then-48 United States and the territory of Alaska.  “Held on the Homefront” tells the story of these camps through photos, newspaper articles, artifacts, filmed interviews and documents.  Part of the TRACES series of museum on wheels traveling history exhibits, the POW story will roll up to the Edmond Library, 10 S. Boulevard, and at the Belle Isle Library, 5501 N. Villa, on Wednesday, November 4.

“I wonder how many Oklahomans know that this state housed thousands of German POWs during the war,” said Belle Isle librarian Ann Meeks.  “We had POW camps in Alva, Hobart, McAlester, Okmulgee, Pauls Valley, and over two dozen other places.”

Nicknamed “Nazilagers” by Oklahomans during the war years, the camps held a maximum of around 22,000 prisoners at any one time. 

“The ‘Held on the Homefront’ display is not just about the Oklahoma camps,” Meeks added, “but all the camps created in this part of the nation were constructed to a similar pattern.”

The bus-eum will be open on Wednesday, November 4 at the Edmond Library from 10am to 1pm, and at the Belle Isle Library from 4:00 to 7:00pm  

The Metropolitan Library System of Oklahoma County includes 12 libraries and five extension libraries.  Libraries include Belle Isle, Capitol Hill, Ralph Ellison, Ronald J. Norick Downtown Library and Southern Oaks in Oklahoma City, as well as Bethany, Choctaw, Del City, Edmond, Midwest City, Village and Warr Acres.  Extensions are located in the communities of Harrah, Jones, Luther and Nicoma Park and include Wright Library in Oklahoma City.  You can also reach us at www.metrolibrary.org.