By Mike Rosso
During World War II – from 1943 to 1946 – Colorado was home to around 43 Prisoner of War (POW) Camps, according to Metropolitan State University of Denver. Nationwide, there were 175 Branch Camps serving 511 Area Camps housing nearly 425,000 POWs, most of whom were German, although some of the earliest prisoners were Italians captured in North Africa. The camps were administered by the United States Army Provost Marshal General’s Office and the Colorado region was administered by the Seventh Service Command.
Trinidad, Colorado Springs and Greeley were locations for major POW camps during the war. Camp Carson, in the Springs, housed up to 12,000 men. All three were located in agricultural areas that were experiencing labor shortages and the camps provided prisoners to work in the fields. They were paid with coupons used to purchase goods such as tobacco and toothpaste. Depending upon rank, officers received $20 to $30 per month and enlisted men got ten cents per day.
Some prisoners were chosen to work for the Denver and Rio Grande Railroad, placing telephone poles, laying railroad ties and other labor intensive mountain projects.