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Max Werkenthin: Targeting German Immigrants

Max Werkenthin was one of a number of Americans who were detained in the United States during World War I because of their German heritage. The exact number of detainees is disputed. History books gloss over their stories. It was long after Max Werkenthin's death that his family found out about that part of his life. In the mid-1970s, a researcher stumbled across a news article about Werkenthin's arrest and tracked down his family. Digging through a long-forgotten collection of papers in her basement, Werkenthin's widow found a diary that he'd kept during his internment. An actor narrates selected entries from that diary.

My Story

Imaginary Rights. A committee meeting according to the report from our members ... (0:50)
A Loyal American. After roll call we oiled our barracks. Then I talked with ... (0:39)
Life Under Detention. Worked again on that stone crusher, loading wagons with crushed stone ... (0:56)
'Voluntary' Forced Labor. There are too many yet who do not realize that they are prisoners ... (0:59)


Corralled. In times of national crisis, whole groups of people have been corralled simply because of their ethnicity or political affiliation. Their activities or loyalties were presumed to be suspect and a potential threat to American society. Max Werkenthin, Art Shibayama, Jack O'Dell, Samina Sundas and Roxanne Attie found themselves caught up in such corralling.