cover image Undue Process: The Untold Story of American's German Alien Internees

Undue Process: The Untold Story of American's German Alien Internees

Arnold Krammer. Rowman & Littlefield Publishers, Inc., $30.95 (224pp) ISBN 978-0-8476-8518-9

Although the internment of 120,000 Japanese Americans in prison camps during WWII is well known, few historians have dealt with the imprisonment of thousands of Germans and German Americans in federal detention camps. Using declassified FBI and Immigration files and other government archives, Krammer, a professor of history at Texas A&M University, claims that 10,905 Germans and German Americans were arrested, rushed through community hearing boards and shipped to more than 40 enemy alien camps across the U.S. for the duration of the war. Many languished there until 1947, pending deportation hearings. Krammer estimates that only between 15% and 20% of those interned were committed Nazis, while the others were ordinary Americans, victims of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover's xenophobia and of the public's anxiety over enemy agents. Yet the German American camp experience, as portrayed in this plodding study, seems to have differed in major respects from the Japanese American tragedy. In many camps, a Nazi clique attracted rabid nationalists, opportunists, hoodlums and apolitical internees who became increasingly pro-Nazi out of bitterness and nationalist pride. Krammer concludes that the camps left a ""dangerous legacy... [that] caused a crack in the Constitution"" that made possible the communist witch hunts of the late 1940s and early '50s. Photos not seen by PW. (Dec.)