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Texas World War II internment camp to be preserved

Seeing these photos and reading about the internment camp in south Texas reminded me of stories my grandfather told me. Growing up in Texas, I didn't know much of my family's German ancestry until I decided to study the language and spend a summer working in Germany while in college. My grandfather, a second-generation German and Texas resident, seemed surprised I'd taken an interest. He said his German-speaking parents didn't teach him German. They did not want him to understand Hitler on the radio, and they did not want him tied to Germany. At one point while working in the Houston refineries, his father was accused of being a German sympathizer and questioned by the FBI. My granddad went on to serve in the Navy during World War II and the Korean War. It's not every day a story on our site evokes recollections of family history. This one made for an interesting morning.

Texas Historical Commission via AP

This 1945 photo provided by the Texas Historical Commission shows an aerial view Crystal City Family Alien Internment Camp in Crystal City, Texas. The historical commission is hoping to get the Crystal City site on the National Register of Historic Places, a designation that could help ensure its preservation. Texas historians are working to gather stories from some of the thousands who wound up confined at the camp. Japanese, Germans and Italians, both foreign nationals and foreign-born American citizens considered potential threats, were rousted from their homes in the U.S. and in Latin American nations friendly to the U.S. and shipped to camps almost immediately after the attack on Pearl Harbor.

Nam Y. Huh / AP

85-year-old Eb Fuhr looks out a window of his home in Palatine, Ill., on Dec. 4. Fuhr’s German-born parents emigrated to the U.S. when he was 3 and he grew up in Cincinnati where his father was a baker. Eight months after his parents and U.S.-born brother were seized in 1942, Fuhr was taken away by FBI agents who showed up at his high school in Cincinnati. “It was kind of a reunion,” he said of joining his parents and brother at Crystal City. Fuhr would spend four years at the internment camp. At its peak in 1944, Crystal City was home for some 3,300 detainees, most of them German and Japanese.

Michael Graczyk / AP

William McWhorter, program coordinator for the History Programs Division of the Texas Historical Commission, surveys the site near the swimming pool at a former World War II internment camp in Crystal City, Texas on Nov. 30. The Texas Historical Commission is attempting to preserve the remains of the internments camps.