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Curious History of Honduras in World War II (Part 1 of 2)

Honduras provided vital fruit produce to US markets that became a target of German submarines. In the early months of World War II, Germany set about attacking allied merchant shipping in the Caribbean. Since Britain alone needed four full tankers of gasoline per day from Port of Spain, in Trinidad to keep its navy moving.

The primary targets for German navy were oil and petroleum routes from Trinidad, Venezuela and the Dutch islands. Almost as important were the cargo vessels hauling bauxite from Jamaica and the Guyanas to be used in the manufacture of aluminum. Thus the battle of the Caribbean began. After the fall of France in 1940, Germany and Italy based most of their submarine fleet on the island of Martinique. Not wishing to provoke the United States into entering the war, the Axis left the American banana boats alone.

Using the Honduran ports of Puerto Castilla and La Ceiba as supply dumps, Nazi agents began bribing workers from United Fruit and Standard Fruit, into providing the Germans with bootleg diesel siphoned from tractors, field generators, and other equipment. Germans were keen on supplying their mariners with fruit, liquor, beer, water, and other contraband merchandise. These would be surreptitiously loaded onto barges which would rendezvous with the U-boats in between the mainland and the Bay Islands.

Germany and Italy based most
of their submarine fleet

on the island of Martinique.

This illicit commerce ended when US entered the war in December 1941, declaring war on Japan on December 11 Germany and Italy declared war on the US in response. Honduras followed suit and declared war on Germany and Italy on December 12. A blacklist of the 510 documented Germans living in Honduras had been compiled by US intelligence.

These “undesirable aliens” were arrested, and their businesses and properties confiscated. These Germans were taken from their Honduran families and deported to internment camps in Texas. The men were sent to a 22-acre compound called Camp Kennedy and the women and children relocated to another camp called Crystal City.

A total of around 4,500 Germans from all over South and Central America would pass through these camps during the war.
Though many would be repatriated to Germany in exchange for seriously wounded American military personnel, many Honduran Germans would remain until late 1946, after the war’s end, returning to find their homes and businesses in ruins and unable to claim any reparations. To say that the German population of Honduras was inconvenienced during World War II would be a major understatement.

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