World War II Alien Internment

John Christgau
With a new afterword by the author

216 pages
36 images


October 2009


$21.95 Add to Cart

About the Book

They were called aliens and enemies. But the World War II internees John Christgau writes about were in fact ordinary people victimized by the politics of a global war. The Alien Enemy Control Program in America was born with the United States’s declaration of war on Japan, Germany, and Italy and lasted until 1948. In all, 31,275 “enemy aliens” were imprisoned in camps like the one described in this book—Fort Lincoln, just south of Bismarck, North Dakota.
In animated and suspenseful prose, Christgau tells the stories of several individuals whose experiences are representative of those at Fort Lincoln. The subjects’ lives before and after capture—presented in five case studies—tell of encroaching bitterness and sorrow. Christgau based his accounts on voluminous and previously untouched National Archives and FBI documents in addition to letters, diaries, and interviews with his subjects.
Christgau’s afterword for this Bison Books edition relates additional stories of World War II alien restriction, detention, and internment that surfaced after this book was originally published, and he draws parallels between the alien internment of World War II and events in this country since September 11, 2001.

Author Bio

John Christgau (1934–2018) is the author of numerous books, including Kokomo Joe (Nebraska 2009), The Gambler and the Bug Boy (Nebraska 2007), and The Origins of the Jump Shot: Eight Men Who Shook the World of Basketball, available in a Bison Books edition.


“Using primary sources such as National Archives documents, FBI reports, and oral-history interviews with former prisoners, the author, in very moving and human terms, recounts the stories of individuals from a wide variety of backgrounds. . . . An excellent account.”—Library Journal

“Christgau has taken a fresh, comprehensive look at our government’s flawed alien internment program of World War II. He makes the story poignant by focusing on the lives of several people at Ft. Lincoln, a prison camp near Bismarck, North Dakota.”—San Francisco Examiner

Table of Contents

Sources and Acknowledgments
Kurt: German Seamen and the Beginning of the Internment Program
Die Wanderkameraden: Confinement by Hearsay and Nazi-Jew Conflict in Camp
The Railroaders: An Internee Work Program and an Escape
Max and Moritz: German Loyalists and a Tunnel to Freedom
Hiro: Japanese-American Relocation and the End of Internment

Also of Interest