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Photographs - Collections - 951-1000 - #00996

Title: Fort Lincoln Internment Camp

Dates: 1941-1942

Collection Number: 00996

Quantity: 43 images

Abstract: Copies of photographs taken at Fort Lincoln Internment Camp in Bismarck, ND.

Provenance: The Fort Lincoln Internment Camp photographs were donated to the State Historical Society of North Dakota by Kurt Peters in March 2001.

Copyrights: Copyrights to materials in this collection remain with the donor, publisher, author, or author's heirs. Researcher should consult the 1976 Copyright Act, Public Law 94‑553, Title 17 U.S. Code and an archivist at this repository if clarification of copyright requirements is needed.

Access: This collection is open under the rules and regulations of the State Historical Society of North Dakota.

Citation: Researchers are requested to cite the collection title, collection name, and the State Historical Society of North Dakota in all footnote and bibliographic references.

Related Collection:
MSS 11023 Dakota Media Access - Kurt Peters German Internee Fort Lincoln interview ¾ 1989 E4-017 01:40:00 (minidv dvd 9/03 2 tapes)

Biographical Sketch

Kurt Peters was born October 15, 1920 in Germany. He served as a radio operator aboard cruise ships to South America, the Mediterranean, and Norway. He was employed by Standard Oil as a radio operator on an oil tanker when World War II broke out. Peters was one of 170 German seamen Standard Oil took to New York so they would not be imprisoned in England as enemy aliens. Peters lived in New York for two years, unable to work because his 60 day visa was expired. Standard Oil paid him $40 a week. He contacted the FBI and Immigration Service regularly, expressing his desire to become an American citizen, but with the war on and his visa expired nothing was done.  In 1941 the US rounded up German and Japanese citizens who lived on or near the east and west coasts and sent them to internment camps located in the middle of the country. The 170 Standard Oil seamen, including Peters, went by train in May 1941 to Bismarck to the abandoned military camp of Fort Lincoln.

Guards at the camp were from the US Border Patrol. Camp life was acceptable with activities and social life. The internees had an academy where they taught engineering, navigation, math, history and English. Peters sent to the Library of Congress for teaching materials and taught advanced English as well as citizenship classes for internees who wanted to stay on America. Most of the men thought of Germany as their home and were sent back after the war ended. Some of the men were woodworkers and were provided with a shop and equipment. The furniture and other products they made were sold by the Red Cross. Some internees grew flower and vegetable gardens. There was an orchestra and theater groups and concerts open to the public every Sunday evening. Ministers from local churches held services every week. Monday was movie night. Sears and Montgomery Ward brought clothing and other goods out to sell on a regular basis. Men lived in barracks and Peters said there were 26 in his barracks. For a while there was a Japanese internment camp across the road, but the Germans had no contact with them. Bismarck residents often drove past Fort Lincoln, curious about the internees who sometimes played soccer on the grounds.

Because Peters had continued to pursue his interest in staying in the US, he was offered parole from Fort LincoIn if he stayed in Bismarck, got a job, and had a local resident sponsor him. In 1943 he wrote a letter to the Bismarck Tribune and the publisher, Mrs. Mann agreed to sponsor him and give him a job. Later that year he joined the Navy and obtained citizenship. He was a radio operator in Florida for the duration of the war. After the war he returned to work at the Bismarck Tribune where he stayed until 1962 when he was employed by Montana Dakota Utilities. He retired in 1985 and moved to Seattle, WA.

While in stationed in Florida, Peters asked his girlfriend from Bismarck, Evelyn Klein, to come out and marry him, which she did. They have three daughters, Irene, Iris, and Lorna. Kurt Peters died while vacationing in California at age 81 on October 31, 2001.

Sources:
Bismarck Tribune, November 20, 2001, obituary.
Interview with Peters filmed by Community Access TV in 1988.
Enemies: World War II Alien Internment by John Christgau.

Photograph Inventory

00996-1 Group of German internees sitting at table writing letters, smoking and visiting
00996-2 Entrance with "Fort Lincoln" in arch connecting two stone pillars
00996-3 Overview of Fort Lincoln buildings
00996-4 Guard tower against sunset sky from outside fence
00996-5 Audience laughing at play actors antics
00996-6 Play by German internees. Three actors in costumes; two sitting at table, one dressed as butler
00996-7 German internees dressed as girls for play presentation
00996-8 German internee orchestra for play
00996-9 Internee camp in snow storm
00996-10 Internee camp in snow storm
00996-11 Guard tower against sunset sky from outside fence. Same as 00996-04
00996-12 Guard tower against sunset sky from outside fence. Same as 00996-04
00996-13 Guard tower against sunset sky with holiday decorated tree in foreground
00996-14 Overview of Fort Lincoln buildings. Same as 00996-03
00996-15 View down snow-covered fence towards entrance
00996-16 Entrance with "Fort Lincoln" in arch connecting two stone pillars. Same as 00996-2
00996-17 Officer on phone at desk
00996-18 German internee orchestra for play. Same as 00996-8
00996-19 German internees in costume for play. Two characters are confronting each other with more in background
00996-20 German internees in play; five actors on stage in various roles
00996-21 German internees in play; Two internees dressed as women confronting each other.
00996-22 German internees in play; Two internees dressed as women visiting with each other
00996-23 Group photo of all actors and orchestra under the title "Frohsinn und Lachen"
00996-24 German internee orchestra for play
00996-25 German internee orchestra for play. "Kapelle Fort Lincoln"
00996-26 German internee orchestra practicing for play
00996-27 German internee orchestra practicing for play
00996-28 German internee orchestra practicing for play
00996-29 German internees celebrating in Mess hall
00996-30 German internees; Kurt Peters making presentation on vulnerability of Panama Canal
00996-31 Fort Lincoln Internees playing soccer
00996-32 Fort Lincoln Internee soccer team
00996-33 German Internees preparing meal
00996-34 German Internees entering CMTC Mess
00996-35 Building at internment camp
00996-36 Looking down road at camp buildings
00996-37 Overview buildings exercise field
00996-38 Looking down fence at camp buildings
00996-39 Snow drifts around bird feeder
00996-40 Snow drifts against buildings
00996-41 Blizzard conditions at camp. Snow drifts against buildings
00996-42 Blizzard conditions at camp. Snow drifts against buildings and on sidewalks
00996-43 Blizzard conditions at camp. Snow drifts against buildings

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