On December 8, 2009, the 68th anniversary of the internment of the first German Americans under the U. S. Government’s Alien Enemy Control Program, the German World Alliance, in co-operation with the National Park Service and the support of the German American Internee Coalition, Maj. Arthur D. Jacobs of foitimes.com, the Steuben Society and many other German-American organizations, hosted a conference entitled “ELLIS ISLAND: WHERE IT BEGAN AND WHERE IT ENDED.”
The conference was held from 11:00 AM to 3:00 PM on Ellis Island, in the lecture hall above the Great Hall. The conference offered an overview of the Department of Justice internment program, from pre-war planning, to its inception on December 8, 1941 through its end on Ellis Island in 1948, three years after the end of World War II. Talks by former internees were supported by maps, videos, internment memorabilia and photos of Ellis Island and other World War II internment camps.
The conference commemorated the thousands of German and Italian Americans and German and Italian Latin Americans who were interned and highlighted the fact that their internment remains unknown. It is hoped that soon Congress will pass the Wartime Treatment Study Act which would create an independent commission to analyze the facts and circumstances surrounding the internment of German and Italian Americans and Latin Americans.
Former internees, their families, and the general public attending the event, voiced appreciation for learning more about this unknown aspect of Ellis Island’s and America’s history.