The E-Sylum:  Volume 6, Number 25, June 20, 2003, Article 10


  Karen Ebel of New London, NH writes: "To understand the
  internment camps coins, background on the government's
  "enemy alien" program is necessary.  All German, Japanese and
  Italians aliens (approximately 1,000,000 people) were classified
  as "enemy aliens" immediately following the Pearl Harbor attack.
  These folks were mostly permanent resident aliens, many with
  families, who had immigrated here years before.  As enemy
  aliens, they had no Constitutional protections and were subject
  to internment for the duration of the war if they violated any of
  the many restrictions on their travel/personal property rights or
  if they were deemed to be "potentially dangerous to the public
  peace."  The evidentiary threshold required for internment was
  quite low and many were interned on the basis of suspicion of
  being sympathetic to Germany, some for 6-7 years.

  No internee was ever convicted of anything.  Most internees had
  no clue why they were interned and were forbidden to speak of
  it when they left the camps.  Many died without telling their
  children.  To this day, the fact of the enemy alien program is
  largely unknown in this country.  That is why few know that
  11,000 Germans and 3,000 Italians were interned, but the
  Alien Enemies Act of 1798 remains alive and well for future use.

  Back to coins.  The federal government operated two
  distinct systems of camps during World War II.  The
  Department of Justice (through the INS) operated a set of
  internment camps for German, Japanese and Italian "enemy
  aliens" and their families (including many American-born
  children).   The Wartime Relocation Authority, a branch of
  the military, operated another set of camps exclusively for the
  evacuated West Coast Japanese Americans.  Some West
  Coast Japanese did end up in the DOJ camps (pursuant to
  the same procedure which applied to Germans and Italians),
  but most were in the WRA camps.  I presume that different
  forms of "scrip" were issued in each system of camps.  I don't
  know anything about the WRA camps.

  My father was a German enemy alien internee at the Ft. Lincoln
  internment camp in Bismarck, ND.  His scrip is marked
  specifically with the name of that camp and is gray pressed paper.
  On Mr. Jacobs' site is an image of Crystal City scrip which is
  Scroll about halfway down the page.  (A picture of my father
  working on the railroad while he was interned is right next to it,
  by the way.)

  The DOJ operated a number of internment camps for German,
  Italian and Japanese enemy aliens throughout the country,
  including Ellis Island.  See  (Many Germans
  were still held in Ellis Island up to 3 years after the war.)  There
  may very well have been different "issues" of scrip at each camp.

  Individuals held in the DOJ camps got a standard monthly
  payment of scrip and also were paid for work in the camps in
  scrip.  Only scrip could be used for purchases in the camps.

  Thank you to your membership for their interest in this subject.
  If you have any questions, please feel free to contact me through
  Mr. Homren.   If anyone has any scrip from any of the other
  internment camps,  I'd be interested to know about it.  For
  further details on internment history, please see

  PS:  I noticed that some of your readers are in Mexico and
  South America.  They might be interested to know that over
  4,050 German Latin Americans were taken from their homes
  during World War II by Latin American governments at the
  behest of the US Government.  They were brought here on US
  military transport ships, including over 80 German Jews.  These
  individuals were interned here and many were then exchanged
  back to the Germany for American and Latin American
  prisoners held in Germany. It's not clear whether any Jews were
  sent back, but I hope not.  There were also approximately 2000
  Japanese Peruvians.  The Japanese Peruvians sued the US
  Government and have received a settlement of $5000 per
  individual and an apology.

  [We bibliophiles are infomanics.  No amount of information is
  too much. This is interesting - thank you for the additional
  background information.  -Editor]

  Wayne Homren, Editor

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