'Silent Night in Algona'; Movie highlights WW II German POW camp

-Submitted photo
Curran Jacobs and Samuel Peterson play Rudy and Donny Tietz in “Silent Night in Algona.”

ALGONA — Eighty years ago, in the throes of the Second World War, 10,000 German prisoners of war called Kossuth County their temporary home.

It’s a piece of history of which many area residents are unaware, but is now featured on the silver screen.

“Silent Night in Algona,” a feature film written and produced by DJ Perry, of Collective Development Inc., and directed by Anthony Hornus, premiered Dec. 9 in Algona.

The film tells the story of the POW camp and the German POWs working on the family farms in the area. The story is based on true events from Algona businessman Donald Tietz’s childhood as a young boy on the farm in WW II. The Tietz farm, headed by Donald’s father, Rudy Tietz, is a main setting of the movie.

The film takes place between early November and Christmas Eve in 1944 in Algona.

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Bejo Dohmen plays Klaus in “Silent Night in Algona.”

The story in the film has three layers to it, the director said.

“A lot of the townsfolk were not happy that they were going to have the enemy in their midst,” Hornus said. “Then, the other part is about the officers and soldiers who are guarding the prisoners, and the final part is the Germans’ interaction among themselves and with the guards.”

According to the Camp Algona POW Museum website, the POW camp was active from April 1944 to February 1946. The Algona camp served as the base camp for 34 “branch camps” in a four-state region. Throughout its activity, Camp Algona’s monthly population was around 2,500.

The German prisoners held in these camps, Hornus explained, were mostly just common soldiers and draftees who didn’t really want to be involved in the conflict. He said the captured Nazi ideologues were usually sent to hard labor camps in Nebraska and Minnesota.

The movie was filmed in and around Algona last fall, as well as Heritage Park in Forest City and Whittemore, Hornus said. Dozens of locals were used as extras in the filming of the movie, including Fort Dodge residents Mike Magruder and his son, Noah.

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The movie poster for “Silent Night in Algona" is pictured here.

In all, Hornus said, about 200 people had a hand in making “Silent Night in Algona.”

When working on the film around Algona last fall, Hornus said the production encountered many locals who didn’t know that the city had once been home to a POW camp. The barracks buildings for the camp were sold or demolished immediately after the camp closed in 1946. Today, the site is owned by the city of Algona and is home to the municipal airport.


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