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September 17, 2006

Comments

name

Totally inappropriate comparison. You are only giving a hand to the Nazi myths around german POW camps. Google for Rheinwiesenlager.

Why don't you mention the millions of exterminated Vietnamese? "America" put them in concentration camps and poured poison on their country. As long as you people don't reconcile your criminal attitude the "terrorists" will keep coming.

Joerg

This might be of interest:
http://cuppapolitics.blogspot.com/2006/06/germans-return-to-old-pow-camps-in.html

name

No it isn't. Sorry you Americans are nothing but backward racists and criminals. Well there are exceptions but this whole network of far rightwing blogs that you belong to is a good example of neo-fascism supporters.

Already preparing for another few million thirdworlders to slaughter, right?

David

@name

I've been called many things, but you are the first to accuse me of participating in a "network of far rightwing blogs".

Fry

Hey, "name".

Can I borrow your ouija board? I've always wanted to talk to Ulrike Meinhof, and you appear to have found an effective way to channel her essence.

Shirley Weiss

Certainly, I have many questions regarding the application of the Geneva conventions during WWII. Hundreds of German seaman working on Standard Oil tankers were removed from their ships on August 29, 1939.(my father being one of them) The men had a complicated status as they were German nationals, working for an American Company, on a Panamanian registered ship. The men for almost two years were paid a stipend by Standard Oil while laid off in New York City. Standard Oil held their passports during this time period. At one point my father was approved for "voluntary departure" status by immigration officials only to be denied his passport when he tried to leave the US. The Department of Justice instructed Standard Oil to refuse my father his passport. Then on May 7, 1941 the seaman were arrested in a FBI roundup. The men were sent to Ft.Lincoln, ND arriving on May 31, 1941 where they were incarcerated in a high security internment camp. In June of 1941, FDR closed the German consulate leaving the seaman with no diplomatic channels. Were these seaman covered by the Geneva conventions? Merchant marines were covered under the third conventions but would these seaman be considered merchant marines since they worked for a private American Company? Also, do the conventions only apply to merchant marines once there is a declaration of war? Since war was not declared until December of 1941, the crew removals and incarcerations occurred long before the declaration of war. How does the treatment of "enemy aliens" during WWII differ from "enemy combatants" today?
I can not imagine how intimidating it must have been to have the full strength of the US government imposed on you with no legal recourse, no diplomatic channels, language barriers, and not knowing if you will ever be released. My father was of the ancestry of the enemy but he was just in the wrong place at the wrong time in time of war. Even today it is ironic to me that a lowly seaman like my father spent years incarcerated as an "enemy alien" while Standard Oil continued to fuel Hitler's army by shipping tankers of oil to Germany. Who was more dangerous to the US war efforts?


David

Shirley,

Thanks for sharing this story about your father. What happened to your father? How was he treated while in US custody?

Arthur D. Jacobs

It seems that members of the US Congress have either forgotten or do not wish to remember the internment of almost 11,000 German Americans in the US during World War II.

They were detained in more than 50 sites across this great land; and some remained incarcerated for more than three years after the war in Europe had ended.

Senator McCain who has been outspoken on Gitmo has failed to cosponsor Senator Feingold's proposed bill, S.1354, Wartime Treatment Study Act [ a bill that will study the German American victims of WWII internment]; yet the senator continues to rail regarding the Gitmo prisoners.

Shirley

David,

My father's story, and the story of 11,000 German Americans is pretty fascinating. There are a few websites that detail the events of the secret government program of selective internment during WWII, if you are interested in a more detailed analysis. The sites are http://www.traces.org
http://www.foitimes.com http://www.gaic.info

Regarding your question about his treatment, he was not tortured and they received adequate food rations. He was treated respectfully. Of course he was not enthusiastic, that his life was on hold for so many years. From August 29, 1939 to May 7, 1941 he lived freely in NYC. He could not work and could not leave the country. He was basically on hold till the US deported him. From May 7, 1941 to July 1943 he was incarcerated in a high security internment camp. Starting in July of 1943 he was paroled to work on the railroad, and as a farm laborer in the Bismarck area. March 1944, he enlisted in the US Army. Six months after entering he was recruited to join a military intelligence program at Camp Ritchie. Before entering the MI program the army assisted him in gaining US citizenship. He washed out of the Camp Ritchie MI program (according to freedom of information documents) for cheating. Of course, we find this fascinating because this MI school had a reputation for recruiting very intelligent, highly educated men with good language skills. My father had only an 8th grade education, and his language skill assessment by the army was that his translation skills were poor. So why was he ever recruited for this program and why would he be motivated to cheat? Wouldn't cheating be a good trait for someone in MI? My guess it had more to do with his shipping skills with an American Oil Co. but that is pure speculation. After he washed out of the program he was sent to Camp Gordon Johnston POW camp, where captured Afrikacorp POW's were held, here he interpreted work orders for prisoners for 3 months. After that he was sent to the Philipines, for the remainder of the war where he served as a tugboat master. In December of 1946 the deportation order was lifted on him. (My father died in 1957 at age 45.)

Of course I would like the US to pass legislation to investigate the internment of German Americans just like they did for Japanese Americans. I would like to know the actual facts of the government program. It concerns me, particularly, because of the events in Gitmo. My thoughts are that German American internment is a precursor to what is happening now. Perhaps, if the German American internment program was exposed years ago the US government wouldn't be doing today what they are. As far as the rendition program today, a precursor program during WWII consisted of the US kidnapping ethnic German, Italian, and Japanese Latin Americans in Latin American countries. They were brought to the US, incarcerated in internment camps, and then deported back to Germany etc. for exchange with American civilians caught behind enemy lines. Most of the Latin American civilians had never set foot in their ancestral countries so it was devasting. Lots of lives and families were ruined by this government program. The maddening part to me is that after 60 years the government still will not acknowledge this selective internment program. Legislation to investigate this episode has been blocked by a Republican Senator through a "secret hold" for 3 congressional sessions. We do not know if it is the same senator or different senators and what the oppostion might be. For all we know it could be a lobby group influencing a Republican senator. Anyway it is very frustrating.

The Japanese government assisted in the push for redress legislation for interned Japanese. No one has ever come to the aid of German Americans who were falsely incarcerated. In my mind it is time for others to speak up because shortly all those incarcerated will be dead. So no first party testimony will be available.

Shirley

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