'Against All Enemies'
The Fate of Germans in the Americas during World War II
(A revised and expanded edition of the original (America's Invisible Gulag), including new chapters on the role of German spies at Pearl Harbor and the forced deportation of Germans from Latin America. Weaving together first-person interviews and government records, Fox relates the inside story of internment and exclusion, and suggests answers to many key questions.)
Men fear thought as they fear nothing else on earth.... Thought is subversive and revolutionary, destructive and terrible, thought is merciless to privilege, established institutions, and comfortable habit. — Bertrand Russell
Who do these American ‘institutionists’ think they are anyway? If these are the people that want to reform the world, it would be advisable for them to clean up at home first. Every day I’m gladder that I’m a man without a country; it puts me in the delectable position to contend that I am not one of these that break up homes and destroy businesses and maltreat old women. I shudder to think I almost became one of them.
When this war is over, I shall indeed flee and find a haven of refuge among the most uncivilized people in the world, then I shall at least know where I am and not beguiled into believing in civilized morons and condoning their shameful deeds. — Internee Paul de Gaston
A fascinating and chilling account. The oral histories breathe Kafkaesque life into the written record .... The oral histories make credible what is otherwise an almost unbelievable tale. —The Oral History Review
Through personal interviews and letter collections, underpinned by thousands of documents, Fox tells America's shameful story. Must reading for all concerned about a repetition and erosion of American civil liberties. —Society for German-American Studies Newsletter
The nation was at war with Germany and Italy … but the were no moves to lock up any European Americans. — Dirk Johnson, The New York Times (8/14/1995, A8)
There it was again, the ubiquitous mantra that the government did nothing to limit the freedom of German and Italian nationals in the United States during World War II. Because Dirk Johnson’s ‘truth’ has been de rigeur among historians, journalists, and the public’s belief for well over a half-century, most readers will be surprised to discover here—if they have not elsewhere—that throughout the Second World War and as late as 1949 the U.S. government ran a nationwide gulag for ‘dangerous enemy aliens’ other than Japanese Americans. This network crisscrossed the republic from Honolulu to Ellis Island, from the Great Bend of the Missouri River in North Dakota to the Rio Grande and blanketed Latin America. Eighty years later (and counting) the government still refuses to supply a full accounting for this gulag’s existence and operation. Perhaps it’s believed such an operation must be silenced in anticipation of future use.
The story of this archipelago would have remained hidden indefinitely if not for the memories of its human commerce and the Freedom of Information Act.
While the American fleet burned in Pearl Harbor, President Franklin Roosevelt, with indispensable assistance from J. Edgar Hoover’s FBI, unleashed the Army and Justice Department on resident nationals of Germany, Japan, Italy and American citizens with connections to those countries.
Hoover's FBI rounded up nearly 11,000 people of German ancestry, including Jewish refugees from occupied Europe and over 4,000 residents of Latin America and imprisoned them in a nationwide gulag for ‘dangerous enemy aliens’ other than Japanese Americans. This network crisscrossed the republic.
Close analysis of Justice Department and FBI behavior precludes any presumption that the treatment of German Americans and Latin American Germans was strictly precautionary. Internal security in the 1940s fell to men of grand ambition and those who harbored class, nationalistic, and ethnic prejudices. The resort to fearmongering exposed the absence of toleration. What is at issue in this book are deeds, not words, not hagiography.
The President’s action joined him and his administration to the ranks of those who, since the 1790s, have made the fear of aliens a vital component of national security.