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100 years ago in Spokane: What is a German? ‘Enemy alien’ registration begs question

 (Spokesman-Review archives)
(Spokesman-Review archives)

All unregistered German enemy aliens in Spokane would be subject to arrest at the passing of the registration deadline later in the day.

Inevitably, registration had raised “many complicated questions of nationality.”

For instance, there was the case of man who was born in Germany, but left 30 years ago and lived in England, where he married an English woman and had a number of English-born children. Then they moved to Spokane.

Yet in the eyes of the law he was a German enemy alien, and subject to registration. In fact, in the eyes of the law, his English wife was considered a German, and subject to the registration law.

In another case, a man was born in Germany and became a naturalized citizen of Canada. Yet he was still considered a German.

From the war beat: Early reports that no Spokane soldiers went down in the sinking of the Tuscania proved too optimistic.

When the final list of dead and missing was released, a Spokane man was on it. He was Irene Smith, and he went by the name of Ira Smith, because he did not like his first name, according to friends. He had been a shipping clerk at a Spokane lumber company before joining the army and he had a wife and two children. There was little chance that he would be found alive at this point, many days after the sinking.


Top stories in Spokane

Reduced to writing in the dust: Rohingya refugees in Bangladesh

While teaching in northeast India last March, Mark Finney, director of the Spokane office of World Relief, decided to take a weeklong trip to Bangladesh to see a Rohingya refugee camp and find stories to share with Spokane. What he saw was a camp of a million people, nearly five times the size of Spokane’s population, who were fleeing the persecution and systematic killing by Buddhist nationalists and Myanmar’s government.