Thanxgivin' '19. "C-O" Int., Camp Ft. Douglas, Utah
Fort Douglas, Utah: 1919. 3-1/4 x 5-1/2 inches. Bifolium, pp. White stock printed in black, with hand-painted illustration to cover and mimeographed text to interior and last page. Signed with an identification number in pencil to corner of last page, possibly by an imprisoned man who did the artwork/painting. Light creasing; small stain to second leaf; mimeographed text quite light. Very Good.
Thanksgiving dinner menu from the WWI internment camp at Fort Douglas, Utah, which was the only such camp in the US that held both German POWs and civilian enemy aliens. The illustration on the cover depicts a human-sized turkey in an American military uniform with a flag draped over one arm, holding a platter of cooked fowl before a man in civilian clothes who sits at a nearby table, eagerly awaiting the meal. Despite the illustration, which suggests benevolence on the part of the U.S. military, it seems probable that "C-O" here refers to "Commanding Officers", and that this was a dinner for them rather than the camp's prisoners (who may have, nevertheless, been put to work making these menus).
Another clue to this supposition is the fare, which seems far too extravagant for prisoners, including cider, oyster cocktail, roast goose, giblet gravy, mashed white potatoes, candied sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce, fruit jello, mince pie, stuffed prunes, oranges, nut fudge, cigars as well as cigarettes, and more.
The poem on the back seems oddly out of place for either group, however. Titled "Greetings", it reads: "May the joys you've helped us earn / Lighten your heart to-day. / May they ever brighter burn / For you -- along life's way."
The Fort Douglas internment camp operated from 1917 - 1920 and, according to Joerg A. Nagler's "Enemy Aliens and Internment in World War I: Alvo von Alvensleben in Fort Douglas, Utah, a Case Study" (Utah Historical Quarterly, Volume 58, Number 4, 1990), conditions there led to a high degree of discontent among the internees. There were numerous instances of internees not only attempting (and in the case of two IWW members, succeeding) to escape by digging tunnels, but also building bombs and other weapons as well as, in one instance, plotting to burn the entire camp down. Civilian enemy aliens, who were viewed as traitors and German spies, were treated far worse by the guards than the POWs, who were given exercise facilities and new clothing, leading to resentment and conflict between the two groups. After the fire plot was discovered in the summer of 1918, all members of an internees committee of 335 enemy aliens, which had been formed to combat the internees' treatment, were separated from the rest of the camp by barbed wire and fed on bread and water -- this led to a riot, "during which several internees were wounded by gunfire" (p. 402).
Despite the end of the war on November 11, 1918, the camp continued operating until April 1920, with new enemy aliens interned there on a regular basis throughout this period. Even once internees were given the right to their freedom, they weren't released until they had proof of a job waiting for them outside -- something nearly impossible to secure in the tumultuous post-war economy. Still, despite the heavy charges leveled against them by the press, the Justice Department, and the camp's guards, only seven of the 791 interned enemy aliens at the camp were actually deported -- nearly half were paroled, and about a third repatriated.
A rare remnant of this German and German American internment camp, revealing the stark discrepancy between the way officers and internees were treated, and, in particular, fed.