Scarce RPPC Postcard of the German Ship Arauca Crew at the port of Ft. Lauderdale,Florida in the winter of 1939. The Arauca was being persued by a British Destroyer and took refuge in Ft. Lauderdale to avoid being captured or sunk. United States and Germany were not at war yet, but the U.S. took possession of the ship and crew. Here is an excerpt from a diary of a son of a German Spy living in Florida during this time: In her narrative my mother; ( The case of Hedy Engemann) mentions the ARAUCA several times. It may be that someone who is researching the detainment of German vessels and the internment of their crews would be interested in this, so it may be posted.
This is what I know about the ARAUCA:
The ARAUCA was a German freighter sailing to some not known destination and was off the Florida coast in the late fall 1939 or early winter of 1940. A British military vessel had shot at them at about the three-mile limit, and the ARAUCA sought refuge in the Ft. Lauderdale harbor. Although the United States was not yet at war, the freighter and its crew were detained at Ft. Lauderdale.
In the Spring of 1940 my mother paid a visit to the ARAUCA. She went there with the German crew of the LEKALA, who sailed up to Ft. Lauderdale to see them. There the Coast Guard also paid these vessels a visit. I have a photograph of the crew of the ARAUCA, there are 24 people on this picture including 3 Coast Guard men, and a puppy.
About a year later, the ARAUCA and its crew were still detained in Ft. Lauderdale harbor. My mother was working in Florida again and got permission to visit them, which she did twice. Not much later she found out through the newspapers that the ARAUCA had been confiscated and the crew interned. At this point America had still not yet entered the war.
My mother later visited the interned crew, which was being held in the uppermost story of the Miami City Hall. I don’t know how long they were held there. My mother and some other employees at her workplace had collected some money for these interned men and she was able to give it to them. The crew was later sent to Ft. Lincoln at Bismarck, North Dakota. On her way to the East Coast my mother was again able to give them some money collected by German-Americans.
As far as I know, my mother had correspondence with one of the crew after the war, and I remember her saying that this man committed suicide. I don’t know what happened to the rest of the crew after the war.
Postally unused in good condition.
Item ID: 1740