Enemies among Us


Enemies among Us

The Relocation, Internment, and Repatriation of German, Italian, and Japanese Americans during the Second World War

John E. Schmitz

430 pages
9 photographs, 2 illustrations, 5 maps, index


August 2021


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August 2024


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eBook (EPUB)
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August 2021


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eBook (PDF)
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August 2021


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About the Book

Recent decades have drawn more attention to the United States’ treatment of Japanese Americans during World War II. Few people realize, however, the extent of the country’s relocation, internment, and repatriation of German and Italian Americans, who were interned in greater numbers than Japanese Americans. The United States also assisted other countries, especially in Latin America, in expelling “dangerous” aliens, primarily Germans.

In Enemies among Us John E. Schmitz examines the causes, conditions, and consequences of America’s selective relocation and internment of its own citizens and enemy aliens, as well as the effects of internment on those who experienced it. Looking at German, Italian, and Japanese Americans, Schmitz analyzes the similarities in the U.S. government’s procedures for those they perceived to be domestic and hemispheric threats, revealing the consistencies in the government’s treatment of these groups, regardless of race.

Reframing wartime relocation and internment through a broader chronological perspective and considering policies in the wider Western Hemisphere, Enemies among Us provides new conclusions as to why the United States relocated, interned, and repatriated both aliens and citizens considered enemies.

Author Bio

John E. Schmitz is a professor of history at Northern Virginia Community College–Annandale.


"This book is a work that stands outside what one usually finds in historical accounts, and the reader will become quickly engrossed in Schmitz’s narrative. Well organized, the book contains a timeline of significant events from 1930 to 1949, a comprehensive notes section, and a valuable index to locate specific people or events of interest. This book is a must-read for anyone unfamiliar with the events of those dark days in America. Additionally, academics and public policy experts will benefit from the extensive list of resources and citations that the author used in his work. This is a captivating read, recommended without reservation."—Lt. Col. Carl P. (Pete) Johnson, Military Review

“It might be fair to call Schmitz’s National Archives research heroic. His pages show the impact of U.S. relocation and internment policies and camps on specific individuals and families, impacts that varied wildly from case to case.”—Kenneth O’Reilly, Journal of American History

“John Schmitz makes astute use of previously unused documents to weave together the internment and relocation story, the military situation abroad, and the machinations of American politicians struggling to master it all. Enemies among Us is a unique and important addition to our understanding of this sad episode.”—Stephen Fox, author of Fear Itself: Inside the FBI Roundup of German Americans during World War II

"Schmitz's in-depth study is a useful and much-needed beginning for a new direction in this period of America's wartime history."—Steph Hinnershitz, Southwestern Historical Quarterly

"The breadth of Enemies among Us makes it well suited for inclusion in undergrad and graduate school courses in history, American studies, war studies, and international relations."—Alan Rosenfeld, Michigan War Studies Review

"Enemies among Us will be an indispensable resource for those seeking to comprehend how, during World War II, it came to be that 'Americans created, castigated, and then incarcerated alleged enemies; all this, despite lack of evidence, or worse, evidence to the contrary.'"—William Issel, California History

"Schmitz's work untangles the psychological, political, social, and, yes, racial forces that culminated in a sad historical episode."—Mark G. Brennan, Chronicles Magazine

"Professor Schmitz’s book is a welcome addition to literature on the treatment of enemy aliens in World War II."—Fred L. Borch, Journal of Military History

Enemies among Us sheds important light on little-remembered but undeniably significant episodes in twentieth century history. By expanding our understanding of American detention, internment, and repatriation during World War II, John Schmitz exposes the dynamics that can lead to the mass violation of civil rights, even by otherwise well-intentioned policy makers and law enforcement officials. As much as it is a historical text, this work also presents an important warning for our world today.”—Bradley W. Hart, author of Hitler’s American Friends: The Third Reich’s Supporters in the United States

“John Schmitz has accomplished something no other scholar has attempted: a comprehensive, thoroughly researched investigation of the wartime treatment of all three major national groups treated as ‘enemy aliens’ in the United States during World War II: Germans, Italians, and Japanese. The interpretive arguments are provocative [and] important.”—Max Paul Friedman, author of Rethinking Anti-Americanism: The History of an Exceptional Concept in American Foreign Relations

Table of Contents

List of Illustrations
Chronology of U.S. Relocation and Internment
List of Abbreviations
1. Pejoratives, Precedents, and Prejudice
2. Fifth-Column Fears and Foreign Challenges
3. Dire Preparations
4. The Fifth-Column Threat
5. Pearl Harbor and the Home Front
6. Defeats, Rumors, and Reactions
7. Dual-Coast Relocation and Nationwide Internment
8. Internment, Repatriation, and Exchange
9. Internment Camps and Relocation Centers

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