MS Gripsholm Tickets

Five one-way tickets for Texas family deported to Germany during WWII

Print Page

During World War II, thousands of enemy aliens were interned at Crystal City Internment Camp in Texas. The first detainees at Crystal City — a mix of German Americans and German Nationals living in the U.S. — arrived on December 12, 1942. At its most populated, the camp held 2,371 Japanese, six Italians, and 997 Germans, including German immigrants Anna and Wilhelm Wartemann and their five American-born children.

On the night of December 7, 1941, the same day as the attack on Pearl Harbor, the FBI arrested Wilhelm and Anna at their home in Fort Worth. Their four young children, the oldest of whom was 10 years old, were left alone at the house for the night and taken to an orphanage the next day by county employees. Anna was interned at Seagoville, Texas, while Wilhelm was sent to Fort Lincoln in North Dakota.

The family was reunited after almost a year, but weeks later an unknown person accused them of being Nazis. Wilhelm and Anna, now pregnant with daughter Jo Anna, were arrested and separated once again. Wilhelm was interned at Stringtown, Oklahoma, and the four children were again taken to an orphanage. Anna was sent back to Seagoville, where she gave birth to Jo Anna, who was then placed in foster care. After months of petitioning by Wilhelm, the entire family was reunited at Crystal City on October 23, 1943.

Many German internees were eventually deported to Germany, including the Wartemanns. They left Crystal City on February 12, 1944, and, three days later, boarded the MS Gripsholm for Germany. While happy to be free from the internment camp, they arrived in an active warzone and lived through years of bombings, food shortages, and other deprivations. By the end of World War II, the U.S. had deported around 4,450 Germans and their families. Most of them came back to the U.S. by mid-1947. The Wartemanns, however, remained in Germany until 1952 before returning to Texas. When Anna Wartemann passed away 50 years later, her daughter Jo Anna found the family’s MS Gripsholm tickets in the pocket of the coat Anna wore when they were deported. 

See this and other artifacts on the Interactive Texas Map

MS Gripsholm Tickets Artifact from Crystal City
Browse All Stories

Read stories from people across Texas

Browse All Stories