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German American internment

German American Internment refers to the detention of people of German ancestry in the United States during World War I and World War II.


[edit] World War I

President Woodrow Wilson issued two sets of regulations on April 6, 1917, and November 16, 1917, imposing restrictions on German-born male residents of the United States over the age of 14. Some 250,000 people in that category were required to register at their local post office, to carry their registration card at all times, and to report any change of address or employment. The same regulations and registration requirements were imposed on females on April 18, 1918.[1] Some 6,300 such aliens were arrested. Thousands were interrogated and investigated. A total of 2,048 were incarcerated for the remainder of the war in designated two camps, Fort Douglas, Utah, for those west of the Mississippi and Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia, for those east of the Mississippi.[2]

The cases of these aliens, whether being considered for internment or under internment, were managed by the Enemy Alien Registration Section of the Department of Justice, headed beginning in December 1917 by J. Edgar Hoover, then not yet 23 years old.[3]

Among the notable internees were the geneticist Richard Goldschmidt and 29 players from the Boston Symphony Orchestra.[4] Their music director, Karl Muck, spent more than a year at Fort Oglethorpe, as did the music director of the Cincinnati Symphony Orchestra, Ernst Kunwald.[5]

Most internees were paroled on the orders of Attorney General A. Mitchell Palmer in June 1919.[6] Some remained in custody until as late as March and April 1920.[7]

[edit] World War II

Locations of internment camps for German enemy aliens

Under the authority of the Alien Enemies Act of 1798, the United States government detained and interned over 11,000 Germans and German Americans at the start of World War II. In many cases, the families of the internees were allowed to remain together at internment camps in the U.S. In other cases, families were separated. Limited due process was allowed for those arrested and detained.

The population of alien Germans in the United States ' not to mention American citizens of German birth ' was far too large for a general policy of internment comparable to that used in the case of the Japanese in America.[8] Instead, Germans and German Americans in the U.S. were detained and evicted from coastal areas on an individual basis. The War Department considered mass expulsions from coastal areas for reasons of military security, but never executed such plans.[9]

A total of 11,507 people of German ancestry were interned during the war, accounting for 36% of the total internments under the Justice Department's Enemy Alien Control Program.[10] Such internments began with the detention of 1,260 Germans shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor.[11] Of the 254 persons evicted from coastal areas, the majority were German.[12]

In addition, over 4,500 ethnic Germans were brought to the U.S. from Latin America and similarly detained. The Federal Bureau of Investigation drafted a list of Germans in fifteen Latin American states whom it suspected of subversive activities and, following the attack on Pearl Harbor, demanded their eviction to the U.S. for detention.[13] The countries that responded expelled 4,058 people.[14] Some 10% to 15% were Nazi party members, including approximately a dozen who were recruiters for the NSDAP/AO, roughly the overseas arm of the Nazi party. Just eight were people suspected of espionage.[15] Also transferred were some 81 Jewish Germans who had recently fled persecution in Nazi Germany.[15] The bulk of those shipped from Latin America to the U.S. were not objects of suspicion. Many were residents of Latin America for years or, in some cases, decades.[15] In some instances, corrupt Latin American officials took the opportunity to seize their property. Sometimes financial rewards paid by American intelligence led to someone's identification and expulsion.[15] Several countries did not participate in the program, while others operated their own detention facilities.[15][16]

The U.S. internment camps to which Germans from Latin America were directed included:[15]

Some internees were held at least as late as 1948.[17]

[edit] Later legislation

Legislation was introduced in the United States Congress in 2001 to create an independent commission to review government policies on European enemy ethnic groups during the war. On August 3, 2001, Senators Russell Feingold (D-WI) and Charles Grassley (R-IA) introduced S. 1356, The European Americans and Refugees Wartime Treatment Study Act in the US Senate, joined by Senator Ted Kennedy (D-MA) and Senator Joseph Lieberman. This bill creates an independent commission to review U.S. government policies directed against European enemy ethnic groups during World War II in the U.S. and Latin America.[18] An organization called the German American Internee Coalition exists to publicize the "internment, repatriation and exchange of civilians of German ethnicity" during World War II and to seek U.S. government review and acknowledgment of civil rights violations.[19]

[edit] See also

[edit] Notes

  1. ^ Arnold Krammer, Undue Process: The Untold Story of America's German Alien Internees (Lanham, MD: Rowman & Littlefield, 1997), 14
  2. ^ Krammer, Undue Process, 14-5
  3. ^ Ann Hagedorn, Savage Peace: Hope and Fear in America, 1919 (NY: Simon & Schuster, 2007), 327-8
  4. ^ New York Times: "Dr. Muck Bitter at Sailing," August 22, 1919, accessed January 13, 2010
  5. ^ Harold Schonberg, The Great Conductors (NY: Simon and Schuster, 1967), ISBN 0671207350, 216-222
  6. ^ Stanley Coben, A. Mitchell Palmer: Politician (NY: Columbia University Press, 1963), 200-1
  7. ^ Krammer, Undue Process, 15
  8. ^ Tetsuden Kashima, ed., Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians. Part 769: Personal justice denied (University of Washington Press, 1997), ISBN, 289
  9. ^ Kashima, Part 769, 287'288
  10. ^ Tetsuden Kashima, Judgment without trial: Japanese American Imprisonment during World War II (University of Washington Press, 2003), ISBN 0295982993, 124
  11. ^ Franca Iacovetta, Roberto Perin, and Angelo Principe, Enemies Within: Italian and Other Internees in Canada and Abroad (University of Toronto Press, 2000), ISBN 0802082351, 281
  12. ^ Iacovetta, 297
  13. ^ Adam, 181
  14. ^ Thomas Adam, ed., Transatlantic Relations Series. Germany and the Americas: Culture, Politics, and History: A Multidisciplinary Encyclopedia. Volume II (2005), ISBN 1851096280, 181
  15. ^ a b c d e f Adam, 182
  16. ^ Argentina, Brazil, Chile and Mexico did not participate. National internment camps for citizens of Axis nations were set up in Brazil, Colombia, Costa Rica, Cuba, Curaçao, the Dominican Republic, Mexico, Nicaragua and Venezuela, as well as in the Panama Canal Zone.
  17. ^ Toobin, Jeffrey, "After Stevens", The New Yorker, 43-44, March 22, 2010.
  18. ^ Karen E. Ebel,"WWII Violations of German American Civil Liberties by the US Government", February 24, 2003, accessed August 8, 2007 Archived July 1, 2007 at the Wayback Machine.
  19. ^ "German American Internee Coalition". http://www.gaic.info/. Retrieved 2007-08-08. 

[edit] Sources

  • John Christgau, "Enemies": World War II Alien Internment (Ames, IA: Iowa State University Press, 1985), ISBN 0595179150
  • Kimberly E. Contag and James A. Grabowska, Where the Clouds Meet the Water (Inkwater Press, 2004), ISBN 1-59299-073-8. Journey of the German Ecuadorian widower, Ernst Contag, and his four children from their home in the South American Andes to Nazi Germany in 1942.
  • John Joel Culley, "A Troublesome Presence: World War II Internment of German Sailors in New Mexico" in Prologue: Quarterly of the National Archives and Records Administration v. 28 (1996), 279'295
  • Heidi Gurcke Donald, We Were Not the Enemy: Remembering the United States Latin-American Civilian Internment Program of World War II (iUniverse, 2007), ISBN 0-595-39333-0
  • Stephen Fox, Fear Itself: Inside the FBI Roundup of German Americans during World War II: The Past as Prologue (iUniverse, 2005), ISBN 978-0-595-35168-8
  • William B. Glidden, "Internment Camps in America, 1917-1920," Military Affairs, v. 37 (1979), 137-41
  • Timothy J. Holian, The German Americans and WW II: An Ethnic Experience (NY: Peter Lang Publishing, 1996), ISBN 082044040X
  • Arthur D. Jacobs, The Prison Called Hohenasperg: An American Boy Betrayed by his Government during World War II (Parkland, FL: Universal Publishers, 1999), ISBN 1-58112-832-0
  • Arnold Krammer, Undue Process: The Untold Story of America's German Alien Internees (NY: Rowman & Littlefield, 1997), ISBN 0847685187
  • Jörg Nagler, "Victims of the Home Front: Enemy Aliens in the United States during World War I," in Panakos Panayi, ed., Minorities in Wartime: National and Racial Groupings in Europe, North America and Australia during the Two World Wars (1993)
  • National Archives: "Brief Overview of the World War II Enemy Alien Control Program", accessed January 19, 2010
  • New York Times: Jerre Mangione, "America's Other Internment," May 19, 1978, accessed January 20, 2010. Mangione was special assistant to the United States Commissioner of Immigration and Naturalization from 1942 to 1948.
  • PubMedCentral: Louis Fiset, "Medical Care for Interned Enemy Aliens: A Role for the US Public Health Service in World War II" in American Journal of Public Health, October, 2003, v.93(10), 1644'54, accessed January 19, 2010
  • Don H. Tolzmann, ed., German-Americans in the World Wars, 5 vols. (New Providence, NJ: K.G. Saur, 1995'1998), ISBN 3598215304
    • vol. 1: The Anti-German Hysteria of World War One
    • vol. 2: The World War One Experience
    • vol. 3: Research on the German-American Experience of World War One
    • vol. 4: The World War Two Experience: the Internment of German-Americans
      • section 1: From Suspicion to Internment: U.S. government policy toward German-Americans, 1939'48
      • section 2: Government Preparation for and implementation of the repatriation of German-Americans, 1943'1948
      • section 3: German-American Camp Newspapers: Internees View of Life in Internment
    • vol. 5: Germanophobia in the U.S.: The Anti-German Hysteria and Sentiment of the World Wars. Supplement and Index.
  • U.S. House of Representatives, Committee on the Judiciary: "Hearing on: the Treatment of Latin Americans of Japanese Descent, European Americans, and Jewish Refugees During World War II," March 19, 2009, accessed January 19, 2010

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