World War II - The Internment of

German American Civilians

This webpage was originally created by Arthur D. Jacobs

 Major, USAF Retired; Researcher: Internment in the United States during

World War II, December 7, 1941 - July 1948

From a digital archive of C-SPAN video:  http://www.c-spanarchives.org/program/289436-1   

Archivist Lynn Goodsell talks about various aspects of the World War II "enemy alien control" programs and related records available at the National Archives. Besides the well known internment camps in California and Nevada for people of Japanese ancestry, she noted that camps were also set up for Germans and Italians throughout the United States and Latin America. Ms. Goodsell used PowerPoint to illustrate her presentation. She also responded to questions from members of the audience. "World War II Enemy Aliens Program" was a "Know Your Records Program" held in the National Archives Research Center at 11 a.m. on Tuesday, October 13, 2009.

 

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This web site contains research materials on the wartime treatment of U.S. and Latin Americans of German ancestry for serious researchers, students and persons seeking general information

The World War II experience of thousands of German Americans, to most,  is an unknown.  During World War II, the U.S. government and many Americans viewed German Americans and others of "enemy ancestry" as potentially dangerous, particularly immigrants.  
The government used many interrelated, constitutionally questionable methods to control persons of German ancestry, including internment, individual and group exclusion from military zones, internee exchanges, deportation, repatriation, "alien enemy" registration, travel restrictions and property confiscation.

The human cost of these civil liberties violations was high.  Families were disrupted, if not destroyed, reputations ruined, homes and belongings lost.  By the end of the war, 11,000 persons of German ancestry, including many American-born children, were interned. 

Pressured by the United States, Latin American governments collectively arrested at least 4,050 German Latin Americans.  Most were shipped in dark boat holds to the United States and interned.  At least 2,000 Germans, German Americans and Latin American internees were later exchanged for Americans and Latin Americans held by the Third Reich in Germany.

The mission of this web site is to tell the story of thousands whose lives were forever changed because the United States suspected them of disloyalty.  Government suspicion was based upon national origin and led to great hardship.  Their story must not be forgotten. It deserves to be told.  To date, it remains shrouded in history.

Summary of German American Wartime Experience.«« Click here for more details.

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