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Saturday, April 28, 2007

Not all WWII detainees in San Mateo were Japanese

Six decades of hidden anger and pain will go public this weekend at the largest gathering yet to publicize the World War II incarceration in the United States of almost 15,000 residents with ties to Germany and Italy.

While the forced detention during World War II of Japanese living in the United States is now widely known, neglected on the pages of history books is the imprisonment in the 1940s of thousands of Germans and Italians living in America in bleak camps in California, North Dakota and Texas, among other states.

Today, men and women who as children lived in the camps, or whose parents were incarcerated there, will gather in San Mateo to launch a fresh bid to move this forgotten chapter in U.S. history from obscurity and onto the stage of public debate.

"Americans needs to decide what they think about this program," said Karen Ebel, a conference panelist and daughter of 87-year-old Max Ebel, a German American interned at age 22. "This happened to European people, and it can happen to just about anyone, depending the circumstances in the world." The three-hour conference, funded with a $10,000 state grant, is called "The Hidden Stories of World War II." It opens with poignant testimonials about the camps from the six panelists, five with direct experience of the camps.

Linking that 1940s social upheaval with current times, panelists will discuss what they view as history repeating itself with treatment of U.S. residents of Arabian descent, after the 9/11 terrorist attacks....

The "Hidden Stories of World War II" conference is free and open to the public. It will be from 1 to 4 p.m. today at the San Mateo Public Library, 55 W. Third. Ave., San Mateo. Performances of the "Freedom Lost" plays, which are also free, begin at 7:30 p.m. today in the Little Theater at Hillsdale High School, 3115 Del Monte St., San Mateo. Call (650) 522-7800 for information on the conference and (650) 558-2699 for information about the plays. [Link]

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