Nazi seamen, newspapermen ordered held (5-8-41)

The Pittsburgh Press (May 8, 1941)


U.S. alien roundup aimed at combating Fifth Column

Washington, May 8 –
Attorney General Robert H. Jackson yesterday ordered Manfred Zapp and Günther Tonn, German newspapermen, arrested and held without bail.

The two men, who previously had been indicted by a District of Columbia grand jury on charges of failing to register with the State Department as foreign agents, were taken to the Ellis Island Immigration Station on Mr. Jackson’s order and held for deportation.

The arrests were the first move in a roundup of all Axis visitors who have overstayed their leaves in the United States in an effort to tighten government controls against possible Fifth Column activity.

Meanwhile, Mr. Jackson recommended that federal courts impose uniform sentences of seven years for officers and five years for seamen convicted of sabotaging Axis ships in the United States.

To quiz all aliens

All aliens – Axis or non-Axis – whose status in this country is questionable will be called upon by the Justice Department to account for their activities and explain their failure to comply with regulations under which they were admitted. That would apply principally to those who have overstayed leaves or those who are still here despite issuance of unenforceable deportation warrants against them.

Mr. Jackson warned yesterday against the Axis’ secret weapon of “non-military invasion,” and immediately translated it into action by ordering:

  1. Arrest and detention without bail of Zapp and Tonn for deportation proceedings. They have been indicted for failing to register with the State Department as agents of the Nazi government.

  2. Detention for questioning of approximately 160 German seamen, who were formerly employed on Standard Oil Co. of New Jersey tankers. The men were taken in simultaneous raids in six cities and increased to more than 1,500 the number of alien seamen in custody.

  3. New regulations which would permit alien seamen shore leave only for the period that the vessel on which they arrived remains in port. Previously, a seaman could remain 60 days, during which time his movements were unrestricted.

Machinery for deportation of undesirable aliens virtually has collapsed due to the lack of transportation facilities and to refusal by countries from which the deportees came to accept them.

6,000 can’t be deported

Mr. Jackson has recommended that a board be created to study the cases of approximately 6,000 aliens against whom unenforceable deportation warrants have been issued to determine whether they should be imprisoned or permitted freedom under a “parole” system.

Justice officials said Zapp and Tonn were taken into custody again because they had violated the terms of their entry as “merchants” under a German-American commercial treaty. The government contended they no longer could be considered “merchants,” which are exempt from immigration laws under the treaty.

Zapp was under $5,000 bond and Tonn under $3,000 bond in connection with the previous indictment and they were awaiting trial in the District Court for the District of Columbia when they were re-arrested. Department officials indicated the government would proceed with the trial before attempting to deport them.

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