The Texas Historical Commission (THC) and the Karnes County Historical Commission will dedicate an Official Texas Historical Marker, which tells the history of the Kenedy Enemy Alien Detention Station during World War II.Texas State Senator Judith Zaffirini (District 21) plans to attend, joined by the Karnes County Historical Commission, and THC Historians as speakers. The event is free and open to the public.
BACKGROUND: After the December 7, 1941 Empire of Japan attack on Pearl Harbor, Hawaii the United States entered World War II. One U.S. Government response began in early 1942 with the incarceration of more than 120,000 Issei (first generation, Japanese immigrants) and Nisei (second generation, U.S. citizens) in War Relocation Authority Camps across the country. Prior to this and through separate confinement programs, thousands of Japanese, German, And Italian citizens in the U.S. (and in many cases, their U.S. citizen relatives) classified as Enemy Aliens, were detained by the Department of Justice (DOJ) through its Alien Enemy Control Unit and, in Latin America, by the Department of State. Enemy Aliens were held until paroled or exchanged for U.S. and Allied citizens seized overseas by Axis nations. Camp Kenedy served as a World War I training camp, later as a Civilian Conservation Corps camp. In March 1942, the site transferred to the DOJ. On April 21, 1942, the confinement site’s first detainees arrived––primarily Latin American adult males. The population averaged closer to 600 internees per month. The DOJ ceased operation of the facility in September 1944. After the station closed the site became a German, and later a Japanese enemy prisoner of war camp.
The National Park Service, through the Japanese American Confinement Sites Grant Program, provided grant funding to the THC to help preserve and interpret the history of this and four other confinement sites in Texas during World War II. The project, “Japanese Confinement Sites in Texas: An Untold Cultural Legacy of World War II,” is part of the THC’s national award winning, Texas in World War II initiative. Historical markers, a commemorative brochure, oral history workshops, and a comprehensive statewide site survey are part of this special program.
“This project is assisted by a grant from the Department of the Interior, National Park Service. Any opinions, findings, and conclusions or recommendations expressed in this material are those of the THC and do not necessarily reflect the views of the Department of the Interior.”