Document Type

Article

Publication Date

5-2016

Abstract

Internment of German-Americans and Germans in the United States as the country entered World War I marked a turn in the relationship between America’s governing institutions, its citizens, and its non-citizen aliens. The power and reach of the American state inflected upwards during World War I. Internment was the most drastic facet of a new state involvement in the makeup and dynamics of communities and the liberties and perceptions of minorities. Aside from whether such an effort was justified, internment lies at a crucial point in a sustained American history of powerful state (and state-like) actors interacting with newcomers and outsiders. Indeed, despite its lack of scholarship and popular knowledge, German internment left a lasting legacy. Just one world war later, it provided the logistics, personnel, and messaging for expanded successor programs, which in turn created similar types of backlash. To understand German internment is to understand a long trend of state expansion into the lives of disempowered and non-citizen residents—and an equally long history of resistance to it

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