Crystal City in Zavala County, Texas — The American South (West South Central)
Confinement Site - History of Crystal City Family Internment Camp
The INS looked for a site that was removed from important war production facilities and had good existing water and electrical services. Noting the pressing need for the camp to open, the INS looked at Crystal City, where the U.S. Government already owned a large portion of land. During the Great Depression, the Farm Security Administration acquired land on the outskirts of this small
Originally the internment camp was intended to be populated by people of Japanese ancestry and their immediate families. However, on December 12, 1942, the camp’s first internees to arrive were a mix of German Americans and German Enemy Aliens. On February 12, 1943, the first group of Latin Americans arrived—also Germans—deported from Costa Rica. On March 17, 1943, the first group of Japanese American internees arrived. The INS planned to transfer all German internees to another camp, but the German spokesman asked camp officials if they could remain because their living conditions here were far better than at previous confinement sites. Thus began the multi-national Crystal City Family Internment Camp. The population expanded throughout the war, and consisted of Issei and Nisei, German American citizens, German nationals, Italian nationals, as well as Latin American Japanese, German and Italian, and a small group of Indonesian sailors.
When the internment camp opened in December 1942, the site was approximately 240 acres in size, with 41 small three-room cottages and 118 one-room shelters (measuring 12x16 feet). Twelve of the original cottages were left outside the fenced area (100 acres in size) for use by official personnel and their families.
Within the fenced area, the INS constructed—with the assistance of the initial German internees and the support of Japanese American internees—housing units consisting of 61 duplex, 62 triplex and 96 quadruple design barracks, and 15 additional three-room cottages for internees. As more and more internees arrived, the INS added 103 Victory Huts for temporary emergency housing. Internee housing for the most part offered families individual cooking facilities, cold running water, and oil stoves. The camp had a 10-foot high barbed wire barrier around the internee section, six guard towers with one located on each corner and half-way down the west-to-east axis, an armed guard who patrolled the fence line, and an internal security force patrolling both the Japanese and German sections of the camp.
Erected 2011 by Texas Historical Commission.
Topics. This historical marker is listed in these topic lists: Asian Americans • Man-Made Features • War, World II. A significant historical year for this entry is 1942.
Location. Touch for map. Marker is at or near this postal address: 104 Popeye Lane, Crystal City TX 78839, United States of America. Touch for directions.
Other nearby markers. At least 7 other markers are within 12 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. World War II Enemy Alien Internment (a few steps from this marker); World War II Concentration Camp (a few steps from this marker); Crystal City Family Internment Camp, World War II (a few steps from this marker); Living and Working in an Internment Camp (about 600 feet away, measured in a direct line); Zavala County (approx. 0.8 miles away); Burleson Cemetery (approx. 9.6 miles away); Dimmit County Courthouse (approx. 11.9 miles away).
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker.
Also see . . .
1. Crystal City Family Internment Camp. (includes photos and details about this internment camp)
From its inception in mid-1942 through June 1945, Crystal City (Family) Internment Camp interned 4,751 (this included 153 people born in the camp). The camp’s population peaked at 3,374 on December 29, 1944, more than two thirds of which were of Japanese nationality or ancestry. Approximately 11,507 (Submitted on December 12, 2017, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.)
2. World War II Internment Camps.
In December 1942 the medical division was composed of two nurses and a twenty-five-cent first aid kit. By July 1943 a seventy-bed hospital and clinic operated twenty-four hours a day. Internee doctors performed more than a thousand major and minor operations, and a Japanese pharmacist dispensed more than 30,000 prescriptions. Hundreds of babies were born at the detention station. (Submitted on December 12, 2017, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.)
Credits. This page was last revised on December 15, 2020. It was originally submitted on December 12, 2017, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 184 times since then and 38 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5. submitted on December 12, 2017, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.