Tuesday, March 20, 2012

Georgia's Fascist Concentration Camp at Fort McPherson

During World War I, Fort McPherson, a U.S. Amry military base in East Point, Georgia (just outside of downtown Atlanta) was used as an internment camp for Imperial German Navy prisoners of war.

During the textile strike of 1934-35, Fort McPherson was used as a military internment camp for strikers who had been arrested by Georgia National Guard soldiers. In 1934, over 100 strikers were arrested in Newnan, GA, and taken to Fort McPherson to be held indefinitely. They were released when the strike ended.


Original photo caption: Sept. 19, 1934 - Atlanta, Georgia - Sixteen women textile strike pickets, imprisoned with 112 men by Georgia National Guardsmen on charges of trying to keep workers from entering a cotton mill at Newnan, GA, are shown eating their dinner at their prison camp near Atlanta. They were members of the strikers' "Flying Squadrons" which traveled from mill to mill urging workers to leave their machines.

In 1935, when martial law was declared in LaGrange, several more strikers from Callaway Mills were sent to the military internment camp in Atlanta.

Federated Press reported that a commander at the "concentration camp" ordered National Guardsmen to "terrorize the strikers." A journalist in Atlanta wrote that Georgia, "following the development of martial law, shooting down of strikers, and concentration camps during the strike [was] coming forward as the spearhead of actual fascism in the U.S."

Indeed, newspapers in Nazi Germany praised the fascist movement in Georgia, calling it "a sign of fascism's coming global triumph."

As soldiers rounded up LaGrange citizens for transport to the concentration camp in Atlanta, many criticized President Roosevelt for not intervening on behalf of the workers. After all, it was FDR's New Deal that had inspired the workers to stand up for themselves. However, as it turns out, FDR was a friend and frequent visitor of Cason Callaway, then president of Callaway Mills. FDR must have watched the situation of martial law in LaGrange closely. A few years later, when FDR declared war against the fascist forces of Europe, he said, "The liberty of a democracy is not safe if the people tolerate the growth of private power to a point where it becomes stronger than their democratic state itself. That, in its essence, is fascism -- ownership of government by an individual, by a group, or by any other controlling private power."

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