Crystal City in Zavala County, Texas — The American South (West South Central)
Living and Working in an Internment Camp
Crystal Care Family Internment Camp was staffed by local civilian employees in secretarial and clerical positions, civilian nurses and doctors, a professional cadre of Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) administrators and Border Patrolmen. Later in the war, the INS employed local men from Crystal City as guards. J.L. O'Rourke was the officer in charge. Under O'Rourke internment camp functions were allocated to several key divisions: the Administrative Service, Surveillance, Internal Security and Internal Relations [originally called the Liaison Division], Maintenance, Construction and Repair, Education, and Medical.
The Third Geneva Convention—Relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War (1929)—also applied toward the treatment of Enemy Aliens interned in INS camps, monitored by the International Red Cross. These provisions applied to the amount of food, living space, and clothing that each internee received, often better than the housing and living conditions of the rationing public in Zavala County. To comply with international law and promote as positive an environment as possible, the INS designed the internment camp much like a small community with numerous buildings for food stores, auditoriums, warehouses, administration offices and a 70-bed hospital, places of worship, a post office, bakery,
In accordance with the Third Geneva Convention, no internee had to perform manual labor against their will. For those who wanted to work, they could earn 10 cents per hour up to a maximum of $4 per week. Jobs ranged from store clerks, hospital staff, librarians, laundry workers, shoe repairmen, furniture and mattress factory positions, janitors, barbers, and beauticians. Select internees worked in the INS administration offices. Internees with agricultural experience worked in the campís internal orange orchard, vegetable gardens, and the surrounding agricultural fields dedicated to the camp. In an effort to prevent internees from stockpiling cash in the event of an escape attempt, camp scrip was issued to internees.
The camp scrip was pressed paper and plastic tokens that resembled coins or poker chips, but were not legal tender.
Note: there were no reported escape attempts, successful or otherwise, from Crystal City Family Internment Camp.
Erected 2011 by Texas Historical Commission.
Location. Touch for map. Marker is located in southwest corner of vacant lot (former internment camp site), adjacent to Lorenzo De Zavala Elementary School. Marker is in this post office area: Crystal City TX 78839, United States of America.
Other nearby markers. At least 7 other markers are within 12 miles of this marker, measured as the crow flies. Confinement Site - History of Crystal City Family Internment Camp (about 600 feet away, measured in a direct line); World War II Enemy Alien Internment (about 600 feet away); World War II Concentration Camp (about 600 feet away); Crystal City Family Internment Camp, World War II (about 600 feet away); Zavala County (approx. 0.9 miles away); Burleson Cemetery (approx. 9.7 miles away); Dimmit County Courthouse (approx. 12 miles away).
Related markers. Click here for a list of markers that are related to this marker.
Also see . . . The Legacy of Crystal Cityís Internment Camps.
In interviews and oral histories, many internees fondly remember cooling off in an irrigation pond that prisoners converted to a giant swimming pool. The pool features prominently in a 1945 INS-produced film that depicts smiling internees (Submitted on December 13, 2017, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida.)
Categories. • Asian Americans • Man-Made Features • War, World II •
Credits. This page was last revised on December 18, 2017. This page originally submitted on December 12, 2017, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. This page has been viewed 76 times since then and 36 times this year. Photos: 1, 2, 3, 4, 5, 6. submitted on December 13, 2017, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. 7, 8. submitted on December 15, 2017, by Cosmos Mariner of Cape Canaveral, Florida. • Bernard Fisher was the editor who published this page.