Before December 7, 1941, Europe was at war with Germany and Japan was gobbling up nations in Asia and the South Pacific Ocean, the United States was not yet officially involved in the conflict. Meanwhile, in Bismarck, community leaders were seeking a new use for a large, recently abandoned army fort southeast of Bismarck. Having heard about how the U. S. government was impounding merchant vessels, manned by German crews, in American ports, the City Fathers decided to approach the federal government about housing German seamen from Standard Oil ships now stranded in the United States because of the war. Thus, the Fort Lincoln Internment Camp came into being. The camp went on to house almost 4,000 German and Japanese men during World War II. Joining the German seamen were United States-born Japanese citizens and decedents of Germans living in South America. This is the story, often-times gleaned from listening to the men who were interned there, about people trapped behind tall fences because of who they represented, not who they were. Many stories are life changing, many humorous and many tragic. This is a story of how one war can cast a shado on a community's history, a shadow that lingers still.
Dr. Marilyn Snyder, former Curator of Education for the State Historical Society of North Dakota and current secretary of the Bismarck Historical Society, as well as a member of the University of Mary's faculty, will present this story, based on many sources including her own research over many years.
The program will start at 6:30 PM on March 8, 2017 in Lecture Room A of the Bismarck Veterans Memorial Public Library, located at 515 North Fifth Street, Bismarck. The event is open to the public, admission is free and reservations are not required, and refreshments will be available.