Texas internment camp held U.S. citizens with German and Italian heritage during World War II

To the Editor:

Reading Mr. Michael Nardacci’s letter on extremism [“Extremism begets extremism”], I found an error of fact which should be corrected. Mr. Nardacci can hardly be blamed for it, however: Only recently has it come to light that United States citizens of German and Italian background, as well as a few of Japanese, spent much of World War II in an internment camp in Texas.

I learned this from reading a book entitled “The Train to Crystal City” by Jan Jarboe Russell (Scribner, 2015), in which she describes the wartime experience of families headed by immigrants who had never become U.S. citizens, though they had lived here for decades.

FDR had approved a secret plan to exchange these families for people caught behind enemy lines who were considered of importance to the administration. Many of the families had children who were U.S. citizens — born, raised and educated here — including teens. They were rounded up and placed in an isolated location, surrounded by a security fence and guarded by Texas Rangers, until they could be exchanged.

So not only were native-born U.S. citizens interned, but they were also deported, illegally, to a country they had never seen and where they were not wanted. It took many years for those who returned here to do so. The book is well-documented and a real eye-opener.

Linda Delfs


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