Kooskia, Idaho


The internment camp at Kooskia, Idaho, housed Japanese internees, but two internee physicians of European ethnicity served there at different times. The following information is courtesy of Priscilla Wegars, who wrote Imprisoned in Paradise: Japanese Internee Road Workers at the World War II Kooskia Internment Camp.

There were two internee doctors, one Italian and one German. Ludwig Borovicka was born in 1893 in Pola, Italy, then part of Austria. Although technically of Italian nationality,—he described himself as “Bohemian (Czech)”— he spoke that language in addition to English, French, Spanish, Italian, Croation, Slovenian, and German. Following Italy’s surrender to the Allies in September 1943, Borovicka became eligible for parole; he left on February 1, 1944.

Borovicka’s replacement was Hans Werner Kempski, born in Germany in 1910. A highly educated man, he knew Latin, Greek, Spanish, German, English, and French, and had received his medical degree from the University  of Hamburg in 1936. In 1937 Kempski went to Bolivia where he worked first as a professor of bacteriology and parasitology and later for the Ministry of Health. In Bolivia he fought charges that he wa a Nazi spy, saying that while in Germany he refused to join the Nazi party and that his father, a naturalized Argentinean, was “an enemy of Hitler.” He decided to join his parents in Argentina but without his knowledge or consent, the plane diverted instead to the Canal Zone, then a U.S. territory, where he was interned as an enemy alien for nearly a month in January and February 1943. A U.S. Army Transport, the John L. Clem, took him to New Orleans. From there he was conveyed to the Kenedy, Texas, Internment Camp, arriving in March 1943. Kempski and some Japanese Peruvians reached Fort Missoula, Montana, on February 2, 1944, and arrived at the Kooskia camp on February 7. He stayed at the camp until it closed in May 1945.