Another Time, review of Interned
by Marc Simmons

In the book, the author has rescued a slide of 20th-century New Mexico history that had completely slipped from view.

The story begins with the sculling of the SS Columbus, a German luxury liner in the Atlantic 400 miles east of New York, Dec. 19, 1939. The Columbus captain, Wilhelm Daehne, took that extreme action to keep his vessel from being captured by a British destroyer.

The 410-man German crew was rescued by an American ship and taken to Ellis Island, N.Y. The seamen were eventually interned at Fort Stanton, N.M., where they remained for the duration of the war.

The stranded foreigners were not discouraged. According to McBride, “Capt. Daehne used his crews’ energy, ambition and obedience to make the first American internment camp a showcase of German pride and accomplishment.” The book relates how the men dealt with confinement-for recreation, they built their own swimming pool and held mini-rodeos-and how they got along with their New Mexican neighbors. Upon the surrender of Germany in midsummer of 1945, the Columbus crew was finally free to go home.

The author retired from the U.S. Navy and with a graduate history degree from the University of New Mexico, spent eight years assembling the materials for this extraordinary photo-essay book. It contains 230 photographs, including dramatic images of the Columbus and her sinking.

McBride obtained many of the pictures along with reminiscences from surviving internees or their families, and from Lincoln County residents. He has made an important contribution toward understanding this obscure chapter in the history of World War II. Highly recommended.

Simmons is a New Mexico and Santa Fe historian who writes the Trail Dust column that appears Saturdays in The New Mexican.

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