For years prior to 2009, go to specific story links at the bottom of this page or click below, on the year. For a full report on the Wartime Treatment Study Act Congressional Hearing in March 2009, please click here.
November 10, 2011—Crystal City Internment Camp Interpretive Panels Dedicated
Thursday, November 10 at 3:30 P.M., eight new interpretive panels about the Crystal City, TX Internment Camp and the people kept there, were dedicated at the site. The Texas Historical Commission, Zavala County officials, the city of Crystal City, and former internees joined together for a ceremony commemorating the history of the camp and the role Texas played in WWII events. William McWhorter, Military Sites Program Coordinator for the Historical Commission, is largely responsible for getting funding for the panels, as well as researching and writing the text. He and his group are planning more interpretive panels at the sites of other Texas internment camps, including Fort Bliss (El Paso), Seagoville, Kenedy, and Dodd Field, Fort Sam Houston (San Antonio).
January 16-17, 2011—Second Memorial Planning Session Held at United Tribes Technical College, Bismarck, ND
A small group gathered January 16-17 at the United Tribes Technical College (UTTC) facilities, the site of the Fort Lincoln WWII internment camp, to discuss the results of the larger brainstorming sessions of last year (see May 30-June 2, 2010 below) and plan a proposal for the next round of Japanese American Confinement Sites grants, due March 1. The participants, led by Dr. David Gipp, College President, refined the mission statement, values, and goals of the project. The end result "will try to weave together the different and similar strands experienced at Fort Lincoln—moving from the dark events of social injustice to the bright faces of Native American students today."
To do this will be a multi-stage process. The first goal is to create a monument on the UTTC campus commemorating the World War II experience. The second, much larger goal—to be pursued over time—is an educational center focused on the history of the site, from it's original purpose, through the bitter era of imprisoning people perceived as "the other," to its current use—giving education and hope to Native American students and their families. An old hospital building on the campus has been found to be sound and will soon be granted to the College. Dr. Gipp expressed his commitment to use of that building for the center. Funding sources were discussed and will be explored, since the "big goal" will require substantial financing.
The hearty Californians unflinchingly facing the frigid weather to attend were John Christgau and Satsuki Ina. Besides Dr. Gipp, other UTTC personnel present were Dr. Russell Swagger, College Vice-President, Suzan O'Connell, Director of Development, Bud Anderson and Curtis Maynard of Facilities Management, and Stacie Iken.
August 28, 2010—Reunion and Picnic
A reunion and picnic for former internees and their families was held August 28 in Quakertown, Pennsylvania. Anneliese Krakau, nee Busch, former internee and also the widow of internee, Alfred, graciously hosted the event with her daughter. Eb Fuhr, who co-ordinated the event, reports that it was an outstanding success. Over ninety people attended the outdoor event. Most were former internees or their families. They brought photos, documents, and mementos of the experiences they shared. Andrea Krauss, First Secretary, Political Department, represented German Ambassador Dr. Klaus Schariot, delivering his greetings to the group. Other notables included Michaela Kirst, producer of "Zum Nazi Verdammt," Joe Wendel of public radio in Ohio, and Kathy Jolowicz of Klein Deutschland in Yorkville, as well as Dr. Nishikawa and Mr. Ekeda, representing the Japanese American relocatees of Poston, Arizona. There was also a handful of writers and scholars, eager to learn from those who had experienced internment first-hand.
Scattered at tables under tent awnings, attendees spent the warm afternoon reminiscing and catching up on each others' lives since the long ago days of life in the "camps." The wonderful food and gracious hospitality provided in abundance by the Krakau family made this reunion so successful that plans began immediately to have another one!
May 30-June 2, 2010—Memorial Planning Conference Held at United Tribes Technical College, Bismarck, North Dakota
Public Law 109-441 authorized the National Park Service to create a program to encourage and support the preservation and interpretation of historic confinement sites where Japanese Americans were detained during World War II. Pursuant to this program, a grant was awarded to the United Tribes Technical College ("UTTC"), now owners of the former Ft. Lincoln internment site, to facilitate a conference to plan for the establishment of an appropriate internment memorial representing all groups who were confined there. Representatives from the German American and Japanese American internment communities along with leaders from the UTTC met and initialized plans for a future memorial. The following poem captures the spirit of cooperation and camaraderie which developed during the conference.
The Gathering at Ft. Lincoln
They came from many corners of this land to a place on the Great Plains
Where the ancestors of the hosts of the gathering had roamed free and proud.
They came to a room constructed over a swimming pool of collective tears
Representing lost freedoms, lost integrity and shame.
They were of diverse lineage---mainly Native American, Japanese, German
But also Scotch Irish, English, African American and others.
Here they forged bonds of unity with story telling and conversations
And the examination of words such as justice, courage, integrity and resilience.
And from this forging and examining emerged friendships bridging the span of time
And the barriers of cultural differences;
Friendships cemented by shared experiences and empathy
And a ceremony led by a Lakota medicine man.
Ursula Vogt Potter, daughter of former Ft. Lincoln internee
June 4, 2010
December 8, 2009—"Ellis Island: Where it All Began"
On December 8, 2009, the 68th anniversary of the internment of the first German Americans under the U. S. Government's Alien Enemy Control Program, the German World Alliance, in co-operation with the National Park Service and the support of the German American Internee Coalition, Maj. Arthur D. Jacobs of foitimes.com, the Steuben Society and many other German-American organizations, hosted a conference entitled "ELLIS ISLAND: WHERE IT BEGAN AND WHERE IT ENDED."
The conference was held from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM on Ellis Island, in the lecture hall above the Great Hall. The conference offered an overview of the Department of Justice internment program, from pre-war planning, to its inception on December 8, 1941 through its end on Ellis Island in 1948, three years after the end of World War II. Talks by former internees were supported by maps, videos, internment memorabilia and photos of Ellis Island and other World War II internment camps.
The conference commemorated the thousands of German and Italian Americans and German and Italian Latin Americans who were interned and highlighted the fact that their internment remains unknown. It is hoped that soon Congress will pass the Wartime Treatment Study Act which would create an independent commission to analyze the facts and circumstances surrounding the internment of German and Italian Americans and Latin Americans.
Former internees, their families, and the general public attending the event, voiced appreciation for learning more about this unknown aspect of Ellis Island's and America's history.
October 21, 2009—HR 1425 Reported out of U.S. House of Representatives Judiciary Committee
The German American Internee Coalition is thrilled that on October 21, 2009, the Wartime Treatment Study Act made a huge step toward passage when it was reported favorably out of the US House of Representatives Judiciary Committee. The bipartisan vote was 19-7, including two Republicans. With this action, HR 1425 is now set for passage by the House of Representatives. Former German internees and their families and friends sincerely appreciate the support of the House Judiciary Committee and the leadership of Rep. Robert Wexler, House Immigration Subcommittee Chairwoman Zoe Lofgren and House Judiciary Committee Chairman John Conyers for their leadership in making this possible. On July 31, 2009, the bill was voted favorably out of the House Immigration Subcommittee which held the hearing in March noted below.
For further information on HR 1425's legislative progress, please visit our Legislative Efforts page.
GAIC is also pleased to note that the Wartime Relocation and Internment of Latin Americans of Japanese Descent Act (HR 42), which would create a commission to study the treatment of Japanese Latin Americans during World War II, was also voted favorably out of the Judiciary Committee.
On March 19, 2009, the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee's Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law, chaired by Representative Zoe Lofgren (CA-16) joined by Ranking Member Steven King (IA-5), convened a hearing focused on the U.S. treatment of European Americans and Latin Americans, Japanese Latin Americans, and Jewish refugees during World War II. There were three panels, one for each subject.
The hearing was an opportunity for supporters of the Wartime Treatment Study Act (H.R. 1425) to provide the Subcommittee with historical background on both the Alien Enemy Control Program (AECP) and the Latin American Special War Problems Division, detail the pain and suffering these programs caused to families, and answer questions about related issues. HR 1425, originally introduced by Rep. Robert Wexler (FL-19), would create two study commissions, one to review the U.S. wartime treatment of European Americans and Latin Americans and the second to review the U.S. denial of asylum to Jewish refugees fleeing persecution in Europe. Rep. Wexler attended the hearing showing his support for the legislation.
Participating in the European American and Latin American panel were John Christgau, noted expert on the AECP and author, Karen Ebel, President of the German American Internee Coalition and daughter of a former German internee, and Heidi Gurcke Donald, a German former internee from Costa Rica.
Chairwoman Lofgren graciously welcomed the witnesses and expressed how strongly she believed the historical record should include all those who suffered from U.S. World War II policies, including the Germans and the Italians. The testimony of the witnesses on behalf of the German community was clear, factual and effective. Mr. Christgau gave an extensive overview of the AECP, the enemy alien laws, relocation and internment. Ms. Ebel provided the subcommittee with a summary of her father's internment experience and the history of the WTSA. Mrs. Donald discussed the Latin American program and shared her family's story, relating their harrowing journey from Costa Rica to the Crystal City internment camp and describing the lasting effects their experiences had on her parents. The fourth witness, selected by Rep. King, was John Fonte, a Senior Fellow of the Hudson Institute. Among other comments, Mr. Fonte suggested that examination of U.S. treatment of European Americans and Latin Americans, particularly those of German ethnicity, was unnecessary and inadvisable.
The witnesses were questioned most closely by Rep. King and Rep. Loretta Sanchez (CA-47). Both seemed particularly interested in the U.S. military service of family members of internees and the internees themselves. Ms. Ebel, whose father was drafted out of an internment camp, pointed out that the bombardier for Jimmy Doolittle in the Doolittle Raid over Tokyo in April 1942 was the son of a German alien who was interned at Ft. Lincoln in Bismarck, North Dakota, at the time. Rep. Dan Lungren (CA-3) discussed the importance of historical commissions at length. Chairwoman Lofgren thanked the panel for their enlightening presentations.
|Japanese Latin American Panel||Jewish Refugee panel|
The first panel to present was the Japanese Latin American panel comprised of Dan Masterson, a professor at the U.S. Naval Academy, Grace Shimizu, head of Campaign for Justice/Redress Now for Japanese Latin Americans, and Libia Yamamoto, a former Japanese Peruvian internee.
The Jewish Refugee Panel included Valery Bazarov of the Hebrew Immigration Aid Society and David Harris, executive director of theAmerican Jewish Committee, Holocaust survivor and author, Leo Bretholz, and Michael Horowitz, a Senior Fellow of the Hudson Institute. Mr. Horowitz, selected by Rep. King, voiced his support of a Jewish refugee study commission, but quickly turned to a critique of the proposed European American commission.
Written witness statements and the hearing video are now available on-line at the House of Representatives Judiciary Committee website. The complete hearing transcript and additional written statements from members of the German internee community, among others, will soon be posted on the Judiciary Committee website.
What comes next? While there is no guarantee, our bill should be moved to markup by the House Immigration Committee for review. The bill will then go to another markup by the House Judiciary Committee. Assuming it is voted on favorably by the Judiciary Committee, it will then be passed to the House for a vote. (A markup session is a meeting of a committee or subcommittee in which a bill is carefully reviewed. Members may amend the legislation or combine it with other pieces of pending legislation.)
How you can help. Approach your Representative, asking that he/she cosponsor H.R. 1425. Be a squeaky wheel! This is not a partisan issue; a Commission would simply investigate and acknowledge the policies that led to the deportation, internment, and repatriation of civilians of European ethnicity. See Legislative Efforts for more information on the bill and how to contact your Congress members. Let's get this legislation passed in this session of Congress!
Decompressing! (From left: Jen Christgau, Heidi & Bruce Donald, Karen Ebel & Steve Root, John Christgau)
April 2009—National Park Service Announces Japanese American Confinement Sites Grants
The National Park Service (NPS) has announced that Japanese American Confinement Sites grant applications are now available for the preservation and interpretation of U.S. confinement sites where Japanese Americans were detained during World War II.
Grants will be awarded to organizations and entities working to preserve historic Japanese American confinement sites and their history, including: private nonprofit organizations, educational institutions, and state, local, and tribal governments, and other public entities. Ten War Relocation Authority camps, such as Tule Lake, Heart Mountain and others, are specifically included in the legislation, although Department of Justice, Army and temporary detention sites where Japanese, German and Italian Americans and Latin Americans were interned may also be considered. The legislation makes clear that projects funded must concentrate specifically on the Japanese American experience, although mention may be made of other ethnicities interned.
Grants will be awarded through a competitive process and require a non-Federal match in at least a 2:1 ratio ($2 Federal to $1 non-Federal match). For Fiscal Year 2009, Congress appropriated $1 million for the use of this grant program.
Please visit the following website for information about the grant program, program contact information, and to download grant application forms and instructions:
http://www.nps.gov/history/hps/hpg/JACS/ Applications must be received by MONDAY, JUNE 1, 2009.
Informational meetings about the grant program will be held across the nation during the next two months. Please visit the grant website or contact one of the NPS regional offices about times and locations.
House Subcommittee Hearing on Wartime Treatment Study Act Scheduled for March 19, 2009
March 16, 2009
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
The Wartime Treatment Study Act (H.R. 1425/S. 564), was introduced on March 10, 2009. The Immigration Subcommittee of the House Judiciary Committee has scheduled a hearing on this bipartisan legislation for Thursday, March 19, 2009 at 12 P.M. in 2237 Rayburn House Office Building. http://judiciary.house.gov/hearings/hear_090319_1.html
If passed, The Wartime Treatment Study Act would establish two fact-finding commissions, one to study the internments and restrictions imposed by the U.S. government on certain European Americans and European Latin Americans during World War II, and the other to study government policies limiting the ability of Jewish refugees to come to the United States before and during the war.
Although the U.S. government has formally studied and recognized the mistreatment of Japanese Americans during World War II, no commission has been established to study the treatment of these other groups. During the World War II years, thousands of persons of German, Italian and Eastern European ancestry living in the U.S. and Latin America were unfairly arrested, interned, detained, or relocated. Many European Americans and European Latin Americans were later deported to hostile Axis nations, some in exchange for Americans and Latin Americans held in those nations. Prior to and during World War II, the U.S. restricted the entry of Jewish refugees who were fleeing persecution or genocide and sought safety in the U.S.
The Wartime Treatment Study Act has been introduced five times. The bill was approved by the Senate Judiciary Committee four times and approved by the full Senate as an amendment to the immigration bill in 2007, which later failed to pass.
Upon introduction of this bill last week, Senator Russ Feingold (D-WI) stated: "While we should be proud of our triumph in World War II, we should also come to terms with how certain people of European descent were treated by our government."
February 4, 2009—Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus Issues Day of Remembrance Letter
On February 4, 2009, the Congressional Asian Pacific American Caucus (CAPAC) issued its annual Day of Remembrance letter to Day of Remembrance participants. The concluding paragraph of the letter states:
It has been over two decades since the enactment of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 in which Congress and the president recognized the egregious actions against persons of Japanese ancestry during World War II. Despite this historic legislation, the official narrative on this troubling narrative remains incomplete. There are hundreds of people of Japanese, German and Italian descent who also suffered indignities who continue to wait to tell their stories and to receive the recognition they deserve. While we work to ensure timely passage of legislation that would address the harm suffered by these groups, we encourage you as leaders, activists and volunteers to redouble efforts to increase awareness of this vitally important cause.
The announcements listed below link to a complete description of the past event.
November 2008—HEARTLAND, a play on German American Internment, Premieres at MiraCosta College
Based on true stories of German-American families during WWII, Heartland explores what can happen when fear and prejudice pit neighbor against neighbor in times of war. After the family patriarch dies, a widow and her children struggle to make ends meet on a small Wisconsin dairy farm. A government offer to send two Prisoners of War to help on the farm seems like an answer to the family's prayers, but their arrival causes changes no one had anticipated. (read more)
A National Conference presented by the Japanese American National Museum will examine the connections between the Japanese American experience and the historical and contemporary issues surrounding democracy and civil rights. (read more)
Manzanar National Historic Monument Receives Oral History Grant
Manzanar National Historic Site has recently been awarded a three year grant to expand the National Park Service collection of oral histories from people interned in the United States during World War II. We are particularly interested in collecting the experiences of German Americans and Latin Americans. If you are a former internee and willing to be interviewed, please contact Heidi Donald at email@example.com
National Park Service Establishing Grant Proposal Criteria for Japanese American Confinement Site Legislation
In 2006, President Bush signed into law a bill which authorizes the National Park Service to spend up to $38 million to preserve historically significant Japanese American World War II confinement sites. Ten War Relocation Authority camps, such as Tule Lake, Heart Mountain and others, are specifically included in the legislation. The law also requires the Secretary of the Interior to identify additional confinement sites which will be eligible for the 50% matching grants to be offered. To accomplish this, NPS is soliciting public comment through November 2nd, 2007, and has conducted listening sessions throughout the country to get input. (read more)
November 6-9, 2007—German American Internee Reunion
The second reunion of German American World War II internees was held in Crystal City, Texas from November 6 through November 9, 2007. The reunion was organized by former Crystal City internee, John A. Schmitz, and Dave Vogl, son of former Crystal City internee, Ed Vogl. (read more)
April 28, 2007—Successful San Mateo Enemy Alien Conference and Drama Night
Around 225 people packed the conference room at the San Mateo City Library to hear six scholars and historians present various aspects of the Alien Enemy Control Program (AECP) in World War II, as well as point out parallels to today’s treatment of presumed enemies. Among attendees were former internees and their families.
The one-act plays that evening, featuring nine professional actors from the Bay Area theater community, also played to a standing-room-only audience of nearly 300 people. Both the Conference and the plays were widely featured in the media, including KCBS, KQED, the San Jose Mercury News, and the Alameda News Group. (read more)
Hidden Stories of World War II Conference and Drama Night Announced
The Enemy Alien Files Consortium, in collaboration with the San Mateo Public Library, will present Hidden Stories of World War II -- A Conference on Enemy Alien Restrictions and Internment. This exciting conference will be open to the public and will mark the appearance of the “Enemy Alien Files” exhibit at the San Mateo Public Library for the month of May, 2007. For the symposium, numerous writers and internment scholars will be joined by former World War II internees or their families from the Japanese, German and Italian communities. (read more)
Fall 2006—Traveling Exhibit Tells Unknown Story of German-American Civilian Internment in the United States during World War II
Some disappeared under the cover of night, while others were taken during raids on their place of employment. About a third were kidnapped by U.S. agents in other countries and brought here by force. None had a lawyer, or were charged with, tried for or convicted of a war-related crime. Many were imprisoned for the duration of that global war, and for years after it ended.
Using ten narrative panels, an NBC "Dateline" documentary and a 1945 U.S. Government color film about this story, TRACES' mobile museum-a retrofitted school bus called the BUS-eum 2-will tour seven Midwest states between Labor Day and early November 2006, with showings of this innovative exhibit in about 100 communities in Minnesota, both Dakotas, Nebraska, Kansas, Missouri and Iowa. To view schedule: http://www.traces.org/buseum_2 _tour/tour-schedules/Great _Plains_tour_2006.html (read more)
July 30th, 2006—Release Party for Assembly on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians (AWRIC) Report & DVD / Community Delegation Account of Washington DC Trip
On July 30, 2006, at the Oakland Museum, delegates from the Assembly on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians (AWRIC) will discuss their trip to Washington DC, where they delivered a new report - HERE IN AMERICA Immigrants as "The Enemy" During WWII and Today - to the U.S. Congress. The report and accompanying DVD, now available to the public, document an event held last year and provide little-known information about the WWII Enemy Alien Program and its relevance for all Americans today. (read more)
May 28, 2006—The German American Internee Coalition Awarded California Civil Liberties Education Project Grant
The German American Internee Coalition (GAIC) has been advised by the California Civil Liberties Education Project (CCLPEP) that it has been awarded a $10,000 grant. The GAIC will use the grant to develop a multicultural curriculum package with lesson plans focused on World War II alien enemy issues. (read more)
June 10 to August 25, 2006, Manzanar National Historic Site will host the "Enemy Alien Files, Hidden Stories of World War II"
From June 10 to August 25, 2006, Manzanar National Historic Site will host the "Enemy Alien Files, Hidden Stories of World War II" traveling exhibit which powerfully depicts the U.S. Government's World War II policies that led to the arrest and internment of thousands of German, Japanese and Italian residents of the United States and Latin America.
While Manzanar's permanent exhibits focus on the internment of Japanese Americans in War Relocation Centers, the Enemy Alien Files exhibit examines the Alien Enemy Control program (AEC) that resulted in the round-up and imprisonment of more than 31,000 German, Italian, and Japanese Americans and Latin Americans and their families. (read more)
Traces Museum for History and Culture -- a permanent exhibit about German Americans
Landmark Center, 75 W. Fifth St., Suite 211, St. Paul, MN. Call 651-292-8700 or visit www.traces.org
Traces and its director, Michael Luick-Thrams, has created the first and only permanent exhibit on the internment of German Americans and Latin Americans: VANISHED – German American Civilian Internment 1941 – 1948. The museum opened in St. Paul on October 16, 2005 as part of the Traces History Marathon.
Traces also has created a mobile exhibit on German internment which will be touring in the Midwest, initially in Wisconsin during March and April. ...to the top