WORLD WAR II GOVERNMENT-OPERATED-AND-FUNDED INTERNMENT AND DETENTION FACILITIES THAT HELD PERSONS OF GERMAN ANCESTRY
The interactive map below shows the location of many important detention/internment facilities operated by the U.S. Government during World War II, which held persons of German ancestry from the US and Latin America. Clicking on a map location will link you to more detailed information about a given facility or facilities at that location. Below the map is a summary description of the facilities. Many sites across the U.S. not reflected on the interactive map were also used.
Internment and Detention Facilities Overview
What follows is general information about many of the primary U.S. government internment camps and detention facilities in which persons of German ancestry from the United States and Latin America were interned during World War II. This overview should provide a sense of the different facilities used or funded by the U.S. government to detain and intern enemy aliens and their families, including American-born children: U.S. Department of Justice permanent internment facilities, temporary detention facilities of many types, U.S. Army internment camps (including prisons), Latin American internment camps, U.S. State Department detention facilities and forest work camps. Most internees passed through a series of these facilities depending on their status in the internment/repatriation/deportation process, their gender, whether they were interned with family members and their citizenship status. Additionally, internee transfers resulted as the U.S. government progressively selected and prepared the facilities, and adjusted to the demands of the internee population (i.e., the creation of a family camp).
The primary focus of this website is the U.S. government’s wartime treatment of German Americans and German Latin Americans, however, most internment/detention facilities held internees of German, Italian and Japanese ancestry, together or individually, at different times during the war. Pursuant to the Alien Enemy Act of 1918, the alien enemy program targeted all persons of “enemy ancestry” during World War II—German, Japanese and Italian—because such persons were considered disloyal by reason of their ancestry. Research materials, exhibits, monuments, media accounts and other informational materials which indicate otherwise are incorrect and misleading. This overview does not include the ten Wartime Relocation Authority camps in which West Coast Japanese and Japanese Americans were held pursuant to Executive Order 9066 which were not operated pursuant to the Alien Enemy Act.
This overview is not exhaustive, but representative. The narrative is based on research and personal accounts. Pictures have been obtained from a variety of sources, including the National Archives, the National Park Service, researchers and internees to whom we are very grateful.