In 1943, the first Italian Prisoners of War arrived in Medina. 156 prisoners were sent to Orleans County of which 71 stayed at the H.J. Heinz dormitories. During their time in Medina, POW’s worked at the Heinz factory, local farms, and the Lyndonville Canning Company. After Italy surrendered, the Italian prisoners were sent home and German prisoners came to Medina. At one point German prisoners held a strike because they were not allowed to smoke in the Heniz factory or loading platforms. The Heinz POW camp was closed in 1946 and the remaining Germans sent home. During the intervening years up to 300 prisoners and 50 MP’s lived and worked in Medina. During WWII, approximately 372,000 German POW’s were held in camps across the United States.
The library has many newspaper articles about the camp and the prisoners, including the escape of two prisoners. We also have books and photographs.
Above is a photo of the Heinz dormitory prisoners were housed in. One of the actual camp bunks can be seen at the Medina Historical Society Museum. The Museum has several upcoming events in the fall including Ale in Autumn when you can see it.