The focus on World War II continues this week when Union Museum of History and Art presents a talk entitled “The Ruston POW Camp of WWII” and a demonstration entitled “Victory Gardens, Then and Now.”
Wesley Harris, author of Fish Out of Water: Nazi Submariners as Prisoners in North Louisiana During World War II, will speak in the Union Parish Library at 5 p.m., Thursday, July 11.
He will display several artifacts along with photos. Nutritionist Marianna Langston’s talk on victory gardens — their value during war times and today — on Saturday, July 13, at 11 a.m. in the LSU AgCenter, 210 E. Water St., Farmerville. Her talk will include gardening methods and canning procedures.
Both talks are being held in conjunction with the museum’s “Pelican State Goes to War” exhibit from the National WWII Museum in New Orleans. The local display is sponsored by Marion State Bank, Origin Bank, Farrar Funeral Home, and Union Parish Tourist Commission.
Built in 1942 on 770 acres just west of Ruston, Camp Ruston was one of the largest prisoner of war camps in the United States. At its peak in October 1943, the camp held 4,315 prisoners. The camp held some interesting characters, including 300 POWs from Field Marshal Erwin Rommel’s elite Afrika Korps, 56 officers and crew of the highly secret German U-505, some controversial Russian prisoners, and one American captured while fighting in the German army.
During the trying times of World War II, the Victory Garden campaign served as a successful means of boosting morale, expressing patriotism, and safeguarding against food shortages on the home front.