The Welcker Family Story
by Rosita Welcker
My name is Rosita Welcker. I am German citizen and live in Bogota, Colombia. My father’s name was Friedrich Paul Welcker. He was born in Moenchengladbach, Germany on April 4, 1902. He moved to South America in 1931 and first lived in Caracas, Venezuela. In April 1937 he came to Baranquilla, Colombia and married my mother, a Columbian citizen, on 3 September 1937. They lived in Barranquilla, and he worked in a trade company.
In 1940 he got a new job in Ciudad Trujillo, Dominican Republic, Santo Domingo. They were a simple couple, and my father had a very good job there. With the United States entry into World War II in December 1941, he was detained and taken by the US agents to internment in Crystal City, Texas. They, the US agents, confiscated all their owned properties.
He stayed in this internment until 1944, when he was to be deported to Germany and exchanged as War prisoner in Biarritz, France.
My mother was detained in Barranquilla in July 1943. She was then sent to the Panama canal zone for 15 days, where the US agents confiscated her documents [such] as passport, etc. and after that for 15 days at the Miami Airport in [an] Immigration Jail, because she [was said to have] entered the country illegally. (More information on Latin American Detention Facilities)
After these 15 days in jail, she was declared as a very dangerous woman for the peace of the United Nations by the Attorney General Francis Biddle. She was taken to Crystal City by way of Ellis Island, where she spent a night, before she finally got to Crystal City, Texas.
She was with my father until 1944, and then they were deported to Germany to be exchanged as war prisoners in Biarritz— to a country like Germany, all destroyed and in ruin. My father was never politic. He left Germany in 1920 and there was not a reason to detain him.
He established himself in South Germany in a little town named Kisslegg, at the border of Switzerland, and in 1947 he and his family, now including me, left Germany to go back to Colombia. There he established [himself] in Santa Marta, Colombia, first as a hotel manager, and then in the trade of coffee and banana exports to Europe. (More information about the Latin American Program)