- Associated Press - Friday, November 18, 2016

SALINA, Utah (AP) - It doesn’t matter how many times Dee Olsen walks through the old buildings, he can still feel the history.

“Salina folks know nothing about it, had no idea what these buildings represented,” said Olsen, who is now in his 80s.

Salina was once home to German prisoners during World War II. It’s a big reason Olsen and others restored the place into a museum, reported the Deseret News (https://bit.ly/2f5r2EU).

“Thank you for coming and especially for your support,” Olsen told people who attended the museum’s grand opening.

Entering the buildings is like stepping back in time to when World War II was all Americans were thinking about, he said.

“A lot of good happened here, and then of course there’s the sad part,” Olsen said.

Shortly after midnight on July 8, 1945, U.S. Army Pvt. Clarence Bertucci started shooting German prisoners who were sleeping in tents.

Salina resident Rodney Rasmussen lived across the street, and he said he’ll never forget that sound.

“When this happened, it was just a tragic thing we had seen and heard,” Rasmussen said. “We came out on the front porch, and we could still see the flame from the gun.”

Nine Germans were killed and 20 more were injured, making it the worst massacre at a POW camp in U.S. history.

“It was quite an ordeal after you get to think about it for a small town like Salina,” Rasmussen said.

It has taken two years and a lot of hard work to restore the site so it looks look it did at the time, but for those involved, it was important to get it right.

“It is history. It’s real and it’s not fabricated,” Olsen said. “We hope it’ll be enjoyed by many and they will understand this part of history as it really was.”

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Information from: Deseret News, https://www.deseretnews.com

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