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Welcome to STop, the Seattle Times Opinion blog where our editorial writers and editors share their evolving thoughts on a variety of issues. STop is a place where opinion writers and readers can exchange views and readers can learn more about how editorial positions are formed.

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September 14, 2005

Germans in WWII America

In an earlier post about the internment of German citizens during World War II—an issue that came up in relation to the internment of Japanese citizens and ethnic Japanese American citizens, I wrote, regarding the Germans:

Only enemy aliens were forcibly interned… And, according to the web page, there were individual hearings for each German detained, and the ones interned received negative decisions from the hearings board. According to the web page, these hearings were often unfair. That may be so. But, still, there were hearings.

A German American writes back:

Not true Bruce...My father's hearing board recommended that he not, repeat, NOT be interned, yet he was interned by the Department of Justice.

As for my distinction between citizens and aliens, he wrote:

The Fifth Amendment of the Constitution states that “no person shall be deprived of life, liberty, and property without due process.” Hearings were not due process, persons being heard were not allowed to have an attorney present, and were only allowed three witnesses.

He added:

And if you are removed from your home, and you lose your possessions, and you are removed from your school, and from your neighborhood, i.e., you vanish from your neighborhood, whether it be "en masse" or individually, no matter what spin you put on it... one remains locked up.

At the age of 12 I was thrown into a 14th century prison by American soldiers, after being forced to ride in a stench-filled, frigid, boxcar for three nights and two days, all the time being yelled at "you little Nazi, shut up!” Think about it, spending your 13th birthday in a prison cell; where you were told if you don't behave "you will be hanged from the hangman's tree, see it there in the yard!" And where I walked with hands upon my head, all the time being yelled at, and I had to eat watery soup in silence while standing up! All alone, and when they put me back in my cell, they slammed the door shut, so that the clamoring and banging has remained in my head until this day--more than 60 years later! No matter how one is rounded up, en masse, or otherwise... one is deprived of their freedoms and civil liberties without due process.

Arthur D. Jacobs
Major, USAF Retired
An American-born who was interned at the age of 12....

Respond to this post.

 
Posted by Bruce Ramsey at September 14, 2005 01:06 PM



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