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Thursday, April 9, 2020  Spokane, Washington  Est. May 19, 1883
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100 years ago in Spokane: Wobblies ‘treasurer’ investigated as German spy

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

Authorities believed that William Deneke, one of the Wobblies arrested in an Idaho lumber camp, might actually be a German spy.

An investigation showed that Deneke had been a former petty officer in the German navy. After he came to U.S., he joined the radical Industrial Workers of the World and “acted as treasurer for the jungle camp near Sandpoint.” This jungle camp was a kind of hobo camp for the striking Wobbly lumber workers.

Authorities looked into charges that Deneke received money from “the imperial government of Germany” to finance the lumber camp agitation. None of this was proven, and there was some indication that Deneke had merely received the money from the Wobbly headquarters in Spokane, “in the usual fashion.”

However, authorities told the newspaper that they were still investigating whether he was “an active link of the German spy system within the United States.”

He was on his way to Spokane to be held as an “enemy alien” at Fort George Wright. However, federal agents believed that he would eventually be sent to Fort Douglas, Utah, where a number of alien enemies were held for the duration of the war.

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