The Train to Crystal City, FDR’s Secret Prisoner Exchange Program and America’s Only Family Internment Camp During World War II by Jan Jarboe Russell; 2015; $30.00; 392 pages; Scribner, New York, NY; 9781451693669; I don’t remember how or where I got this; 2/26/16-3/2/16
Why did I read this? Because it looked interesting and was a piece of the history of the United States that I did not know about.
I knew of the internment of Japanese nationals and Japanese Americans along the west coast of the United States during WWII, what I didn’t know that entire families of Germans, Italians and Japanese were kept in one camp in the middle of southwest Texas. Crystal City begat a whole new industry during the war, the care and feeding and guarding of those thought to be “enemies” of the United States. Families were split with the start of the war and then reunited in Crystal City. These families, made up of citizens and noncitizens, were then traded for Americans held in Japan, Germany and Italy. It was called repatriation, but how can you be repatriated if you were born in the United States. Many of those housed in Crystal City and then sent to the enemy’s doorstep were ill treated by those natives, who viewed them suspiciously. This is what happens when fear rules the day and we conveniently overlook constitutional protections.
Grade-A, strong writing and uncovers a piece of United States History that many would rather not see. It could happen here again.