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Cool Things - German Wood Carvings

German POW wood carvingThe collections of the Kansas Historical Society reflect the wide variety of national and ethnic backgrounds represented among the people of Kansas. The wood carvings featured here tell one story of Germans in the Midwest.

Germans make up Kansas' largest immigrant group historically, but some of them came to the state involuntarily. During World War II, several camps were established around Kansas to house German Prisoners of War (POWs). Ill or injured soldiers received care at Winter Veterans' Administration Hospital in Topeka.

German POW wood carvingThese wood carvings represent the friendly relationships that often developed between Kansans and German prisoners. After returning home at the end of the war (in 1945), several POWs sent these carvings to Ernest Sibberson, a local Lutheran pastor, in thanks for his kindness to them during their forced stay in Topeka.

Sibberson, who had immigrated to the United States as a teenager, was a native of Germany and spoke the language well. He regularly visited the POWs and held religious services for them at the hospital.

These wood carvings are in the collections of the Historical Society's Kansas Museum of History, along with many other objects and documents representing the experiences of Germans in Kansas.

Entry: Cool Things - German Wood Carvings

Author: Kansas Historical Society

Author information: The Kansas Historical Society is a state agency charged with actively safeguarding and sharing the state's history.

Date Created: November 1996

Date Modified: December 2014

The author of this article is solely responsible for its content.