The next Front Porch Chat at 2 p.m. Sunday, July 7, will feature Alden Kollman, who will speak of the difficulties that the farmers of North Dakota faced during the “Dirty '30s” when drought and insect infestations decimated their crops. The free presentation is open to the public.
The previous Chat featured Clara Peterson, who researched the German experience in North Dakota during WWII. Her uncle told her some German prisoners worked as field hands for North Dakota farmers. Peterson learned of the book "Enemies, World War II Alien Internment" by John Christgau, who had been a guard at the Snow Country Internment Camp at Fort Lincoln near Bismarck. Christgau told the stories of men who were residents of the camp. One was Kurt Heinrich Rudolf Peters, who was born in Hamburg and at the age of 19 became a radio operator on a Standard Oil ship that docked in New York in 1939 shortly before Germany invaded Poland at the beginning of WWII. Standard Oil refused to go back to Germany, leaving Peters and the other German seamen stranded in New York. Peters disliked the Nazis and determined to become a citizen of the United States. He studied at Columbia University, was forced to register as an “alien” and in 1940 was arrested as an “illegal alien.” He was sent to the Fort Lincoln internment camp in May of 1941. In June of 1943 he was offered parole; the manager of the Bismarck Tribune sponsored him and offered him a job at the paper. He enlisted in the U.S. Navy in December 1943. He became a citizen in June of 1944.