Sunday, March 2, 2008

Alien Enemies

This short article only mentions Jamaica Plain in passing, but I though it was worth posting. Two wars against Germany in forty years must have caused a good deal of stress for the German community of Jamaica Plain. The natural tendency of immigrants to support the homeland would have put them under suspicion of disloyalty in this country. Unfortunately, issues of the Jamaica Plain News of these years are not in the collection of the Boston Public Library, so I have no more information to add to this little entry. In the past, I've seen references to the Boston Public school system removing German from the curriculum during both years. My mother took German at Jamaica Plain high school in the early 1940s, but it was not available when I went to Boston schools in the 1960s-70s.

Boston Daily Globe February 5, 1918

Alien Enemies Slow Conforming To Law

Less Than 500 Registered With Police Yesterday

Federal Statute Requires Their Names Feb 4-9, Inclusive

Less than 500 alien enemies in Greater Boston had registered with the police up to an early hour last evening under the Federal law which requires that between Feb 4 and Feb 9, inclusive, they shall appear before police authorities in cities and before postmasters in towns of less than 5000 population, provided they are 14 years of age or more, and give information concerning themselves besides submitting to fingerprints and furnishing four unmounted photographs.

Throughout the State, the registration work was taken up without much ceremony, in practically every place one or more officers being assigned to the work of taking the names, while the inspectors attended to the fingerprints and photographs.

A namesake of Kaiser Wilhelm, whose name is Karl Richard Wilhelm Maser, an employe(sic) of the Forbes Lithograph Company, did everything in his power to prove that his heart and conscience are right by helping the Chelsea police, without compensation, in registering Germans who were unable to speak or write English.

At Joy-st Station, one of the registrants was Paul Pigoras, 17, who told Capt Richard Fitzgerald that he was unable to supply the photographs on account of lack of funds, due to the fact, he said, that although he left Germany before the declaration of war by the United States, he has been unable to obtain work through the prejudice in America against his country.

Pigoras said that his home has been in freight cars, in which he has moved around a considerable part of the country, starting out in New Orleans. He did not know where his next meal was coming from and did not seem to be worrying a great deal about it.

Only a small proportion of the men in Germantown, the extreme end of the West Roxbury district, and in the vicinity of Boylston Station, in Jamaica Plain, another big German settlement, had been heard from up to last night, but the police are confident that there will be a widespread response when the terms of the law are better known.

In Quincy, a man far advanced in years appeared early in the day and in conversation with the police officials expressed regrets that he had not long ago become a citizen of the United States, which, he said, had been good to him ever since he came here in his youth.

At every police station, where registrants appeared, the officers reported that there was no evidence of hostility upon the part of any of the men who appeared. The majority of them, it is said, were of more than average intelligence, and able to read and write and speak English fluently.

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