Library Exhibition Sheds Light On Bismarck's Forgotten Past.

Beginning in 1942, Fort Lincoln south of Bismarck became one of the largest internment camps in the country.  Thousands of German and Japanese individuals were imprisoned throughout the war in what is now the site of United Tribes Technical College.

Through May 3rd, the Bismarck Veterans Memorial Public Library is playing host to a traveling exhibition called  Americans and the Holocaust.  In cooperation with the exhibition, there will be a special program presentation Wednesday, April 20th beginning at 7 PM at the Library

Presented by Dr. Perry Hornbacher, Professor of History at Bismarck State College. In 1942 Ft. Lincoln, just south of Bismarck, was converted into the largest male internee camp during World War II.

Those interned included German seamen, and enemy alien internees of Japanese descent rounded up after Pearl Harbor. Dr. Hornbacher will discuss this history in our area.

When I first published this story back in October there were an ample amount of comments about my use of words like "nefarious" and "darker times".  To many, the ends will always justify the means. I'm not nearly as quick to justify actions like these as being expected in the cloud of war.

Here's the story from October 2021...

Bismarck's UTTC Campus Was Once A WWII Internment Camp

The grounds where the United Tribes Technical College is located started out in 1895 as a United States military outpost.  It was built as Fort Lincoln to be a replacement for Fort Yates and to take the role of the former Fort Lincoln that had been on the west side of the Missouri River. Over decades it has served many purposes the most nefarious is its role in imprisoning Japanese and German men who had been captured during the war or in many cases had renounced their US citizenship as a reaction to the war.  The German American Internee Association claims that .from 1939-1946, over two thousand Germans and eighteen hundred Japanese men had passed through the gate of the former Fort Lincoln.  A gate that stands to this day at UTTC.

This is from United Tribe's archive.

During World War II, from 1941 to 1946, a portion of Fort Lincoln was cordoned off for human confinement. A 10-foot-high cyclone fence topped with barbed wire and fortified with guard towers signaled the fort’s conversion to an internment camp in the U.S. Justice Department’s Alien Enemy Control Program.

It's difficult to believe it has been less than 80 years since individuals were pulled from all parts of the country to a remote site in North Dakota based on their ethnicity and beliefs. For certain, it's an interesting piece of history that many know about locally, but its existence is unknown to many who have moved here over the decades.  There are very few reminders left of those darker times, in their place is the promise of much brighter times.

Progress is a powerful thing.

Annually, United Tribes Technical College plays host to an International Powwow that brings thousands of people to the campus to celebrate unity while celebrating diversity.

If you can't make it Wednesday, the exhibition will be at the Library through May 3rd.


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