Links & Books

During World War II, the U.S. Alien Enemy Control Program and the Special War Problems Division  imprisoned and interned more than 30,000 civilians—legal resident aliens—in numerous facilities throughout the U.S. and Latin America. These programs were in addition to the relocation of thousands of Japanese Americans through the War Relocation Authority.

In the United States perfunctory hearing boards decided whether internment was considered necessary. The accused were not allowed to know or respond to charges against them, and no legal counsel was allowed. Accusations could come from any source—disgruntled fellow workers, furious ex-wives, or anonymous tipsters.

Gurcke family ID tags worn in transit to internment camp

In Latin America there were no hearing boards. People were simply picked up and taken away.  While many remained in Latin America, over six thousand were deported to the United States.

Originally only men were picked up, but in Nov. 1942, a secret U.S. memo was sent to all embassies and legations, recommending that ”inherently innocent wives and children” also be deported. The reason? Left behind without husbands and funds, they were becoming a “dangerous focus of anti-United States propaganda.”

Of four thousand and eighty-five Latin Americans of German ethnicity forcibly brought to the U.S., three thousand, three hundred and seventeen are known to have been sent on to war-torn Germany, many as part of exchanges.

Below are selected links and books. A more complete list can be found in the German American Internee Coalition’s “Resources.



The German American Internee Coalition

We Were Not the Enemy. Excerpt of “Deportation” read by author.

Alien Enemy Detention Facility, Immigration and Naturalization Service, 1946. 16 mm videocassette, N3-85-86-1, National Archives (N.A.), College Park, Maryland.

Fiset, Louis. “Medical Care for Interned Enemy Aliens: a Role for the US Health Service in World War II”, American Journal of Public Health, 2003 October; 93 (10): 1644-1654

Major Arthur D. Jacobs’ website (author and German internment researcher)

National Archives and Records Administration website


Christgau, John. Enemies. Lincoln, Nebraska: University of Nebraska Press, 2009. Contains a new afterword. (Reprint of Enemies: World War II Alien Internment. Ames: Iowa State University Press, 1985.)

Fox, Stephen. Fear Itself: Inside the FBI Roundup of German Americans during World War II. Lincoln, Nebraska: iUniverse Inc., 2005.

Friedman, Max Paul. Nazis and Good Neighbors: The United States Campaign Against the Germans of Latin America in World War II. New York: Cambridge University Press, 2003.

Schmitz, John Eric. Enemies Among Us: The Relocation and Repatriation of German, Italian and Japanese Americans During the Second World War, The American University, 2007, Ph.D. dissertation # 3273603, available through ProQuest, 300 North Zeeb Road, PO Box 1346, Ann Arbor Michigan, 48106-1346, or 1-800-521-0600 ext 7044 (order desk).