Between the Lines (WT)

Authors: Michaela Kirst. No genre - BR, WDR, ARTE - 2007 - 45 / 52 / 60 min

"Between the Lines" recounts the previously untold yet moving story of German-Americans, who ended up between the fronts during World War II. The plight of German-American families doesn't feature in history books, either in Germany or the US.

Following the attack on Pearl Harbour in 1941, not only Japanese but German and Italian immigrants to the US were dubbed "enemy alien". Hundreds of thousands of German families lived in constant fear of sudden arrest by the FBI. For more than 10,000 German-Americans that nightmare came true: They were taken to one of the 46 internment camps on US soil, thereby losing not only their possessions but their freedom.

Many were made into wartime articles of exchange. German civilians from America were exchanged for American prisoners of war. Ellis Island, traditionally a symbol for the entry to a new world, became a trans-shipment centre. From here, more than 2000 Germans were sent back to Germany. Many of them had not set foot in their native country for several decades, and their return there during wartime was not a welcome one. They were deemed American spies and locked up. Families were torn apart and many never made it back to the US.