Enemy Aliens and Internment in World War I : Alvo von Alvensleben in Fort Douglas, Utah : A Case Study
Utah and the Great War : The Beehive State and the World War I Experience
Salt Lake City, UT
University of Utah Press. Copublished with the Utah State Historical Society.
"For many Americans, spies and saboteurs were everywhere—in unmarked airplanes, planting bombs near railroad tracks and reservoir dams to destroy the nation’s critical infrastructure, send-ing secret messages to offshore enemy submarines about ship sailings and cargo, conspiring with our Mexican neighbors, and infiltrating munitions plants and shipping facilities like the Black Tom facility in New Jersey, near the Statue of Liberty, where on July , 1916, explosions of suspicious origins destroyed millions of dollars worth of munitions ready for shipment across the Atlantic for use against the Germans on the western front in France and Belgium. Enemy aliens were a threat to the United States; therefore, three internment camps were established to incarcerate those guilty of violating laws against sedition and support of the German enemy—two in Georgia at Fort Oglethorpe and Fort McPherson and the other at Fort Douglas, Utah. The Fort Douglas internment camp also housed naval prisoners of war captured from German warships in Guam and Hawaii. Alvo von Alvensleben—born on an estate near Magdeburg, Germany, a former officer in the German army, and, at the time of his arrest, a businessman in Seattle, Washington—was one of some eight hun-dred enemy aliens and anti-war activists sent to Fort Douglas during the war. He was released from Fort Douglas in 1919 and returned to Seattle, where he died in 1965. In this chapter, German historian Joerg Nagler describes the experience in Fort Douglas, highlights the anti-German sentiments that marked von Alvensleben’s internment, and addresses the question of whether or not the controversial German American was an enemy who deserved internment for the duration of the war." [Editor]