Crystal City

I took a good look at the blog over the weekend and noticed something.  I seem to be all over the place.  The idea when I started this blog a few weeks ago was to chronicle my journey from unpublished to published author.  Amazingly, it is something I don’t have information on every single day of the week.  When I started to add fluff content it seems I added it from everywhere I could find it in my brain.  Someone was kind enough to point it out to me right before the weekend.  Therefore, starting today, I am redoing Amanda’s Blog.  Beginning today, the blog will still have updates on how my journey to become a published author is going, but it will also focus on where my stories take place; Texas and the West.

Starting today you get a peek at my research for my books and the area of the West my stories are set in.  Even my Zeidrich Chronicles had a lot of historical research.  I chose West Texas for a reason.  It was close to Crystal City.

How many of you have no clue what Crystal City is?  Yep, I thought so.  Crystal City was the largest detention camp during World War Two.  Unlike most of the detention camps, Crystal City was populated with Germans.  Unlike the Japanese population, the German population was not rounded up as a whole.  Those who were rounded up were either members of Homeland Clubs, lived in German Towns, or were turned in by their neighbors.  Like the Japanese and the Italians, the Germans lost their property after being taken to detention centers.

Unbelievable enough, a lot of the Germans who entered the camps were not Nazi sympathizers.  At the end of the war, the Germans were sent to Ellis Island.  Many were freed by 1949, but a few hundred were stripped of their citizenship and sent to Germany.

The hard part about researching the American detention camps is the simple fact we as Americans have wanted to overlook our blemishes.  Most of the research I have done in to Crystal City, Texas has been through primary documents.  For those of you unfamiliar with the term, primary documents are documents from the period.  In the case of Crystal City we are talking documents only sixty-five years old.  Most of the documents happen to be in the hands of the United States government.

Crystal City closed in late 1947 after the US repatriated the last of the Peruvian Japanese living there.  (Yep, we took anyone from Axis countries, even if they were from another country in the Western Hemisphere.)  The last German left in 1946 to Ellis Island to await word if they could stay in the United States.

Those that stayed had a distrust of the American government.  Their children would face discrimination in the coming decade, as they would.  Some trace the later neo-Nazi movement to places such as Crystal City.  Today, a monument has been erected where once INS had one of the largest cities in the country.  It stands for one of the darkest moments in our nation’s history where we let fear convince us to set aside our fundamental beliefs.  It also makes sense that Crystal City would figure prominently in the memories of that generation in my novels.

While many Germans refused to discuss their time at the camps, some would turn the experience in to hate.  The hate would affect multiple generations.

How would living in an internment camp in the land of the free shape the person you are?  How would you handle your family losing everything the own because they were from Germany?  What would your thoughts be when the government apologizes to the Japanese, yet forgets your experience?  Could you stay silent when the internment camps were called “Japanese Internment Camps” even though you survived the same camp?

(Comments go below, if you are willing to speak publicly.  I do love comments.)

Wanna know more?  Don’t want to go to the library?  Check out the following links on German Internment Camps during World War II:

http://www.tshaonline.org/handbook/online/articles/WW/quwby.html A little clean, but a good high school study guide.

http://www.gaic.info/camp_doj.html From the group that is dedicated to preserving the memory of the camps.

http://www.tpr.org/news/2009/01/news0901141.html A great Texas Public Radio lecture about the history & interviews with detainees.

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2 thoughts on “Crystal City

  1. Fascinating topic! I am going to have to read up on this.
    There is something on Lake Texoma near Cumberland that I always thought was a German POW camp. Maybe it was an internment camp instead.

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