US World War II Treatment of German
During World War II, the US violated
the civil liberties of American citizens and resident aliens of
"enemy" ethnic groups, primarily those of German, Italian and Japanese
ancestry. Violations included internment and relocation. Members of these ethnic
groups, including millions of European Americans, served in the US armed forces.
Some were immediate family members of internees. The Wartime Treatment Study Act
would require study of these issues, among others, with respect to European
Americans. The Act is summarized below, as are specific discriminatory
US Government Wartime Policies.
All numbers are estimates and are likely higher.
Alien registration branding
300,000 Germans as "enemy aliens," restricting travel and property
Exclusion from large military
areas under military orders causing family disruption, loss of homes and jobs.
Relocated families subject to hostility and suspicion in new homes. Men had
difficulties finding employment. No government support for relocation. At
least 39,000 subject to curfews, travel limitations and other restrictions in
Hostile FBI raids and
ransacking of homes and arrests with no warrants, unlimited imprisonment while
awaiting parole and internment hearings. Hearings with minimal, if any, due
process at which no witnesses or counsel were allowed. Internees did not know
why they were interned. Families did not know where their loved ones were
taken for days or weeks.
Internment of at least 11,000
German aliens and their families, including US-born children. Families
separated, homes and belongings lost. Little or no government support for
families left behind. Limited admittance to family camps based upon
application to government. Some children placed in orphanages when parents
arrested and interned. At least 2,000 German Americans, including families
with US-born children, exchanged for Americans held in Germany. Exchanged
families survived cruel wartime conditions, such as hunger and Allied bombing.
Kidnap and US internment of
at least 4,050 German Latin Americans, many later exchanged.
Persons of German ancestry
were last ethnic group released from camps, some held till late 1948.
Deportation, expatriation and
repatriation of German Americans--resident German aliens and US citizens.
Internees and excludees
returned to communities facing unemployment, financial straits, loss of homes
and belongings and stigmatization. No government support. Many families
disrupted permanently. Many internees forbidden to speak of internment. Most
internees have not spoken out of fear of the government, shame or other
Wartime Treatment Study Act. The
Act would establish two commissions, one to review the US government's WWII
policies regarding European Americans (resident aliens and US citizens) and
Latin Americans and related civil liberties violations, and the other to review
the government's refusal to allow Jewish refugees fleeing persecution entry to
the US during WWII. Significant features follow:
Duties include reviewing
governmental wartime policies regarding US resident and Latin American
"enemy" Europeans and Jewish refugees fleeing persecution, assessing
of the underlying rationale for the U.S. government’s actions and recommend
how civil liberties and refugees fleeing persecution can be better protected
in the future. Written report of findings and recommendations must be
submitted to Congress 18 months after first meeting. (Sec. 102 & 202)
Seven members per commission
appointed by President, Senate and Congress, respectively. Two representatives
each from the German and Italian American communities on one and two
representatives of Jewish refugees on the other. (Sec. 101 & 201)
Commissions authorized to
hold hearings and obtain information from government entities to perform their
duties. (Sec. 103 & 203)
Congress could act on
Commissions' recommendations, which might include, among other things, formal
acknowledgement and establishment of education fund, as it deems appropriate.
Contact Karen Ebel at firstname.lastname@example.org.
April 23, 2003