Posted by: notsofancynancy | November 21, 2012

German Prisoners at Santa Anita Race Track

Santa Anita to get Nazis

This clipping was in one of the letters Grandma Susie sent to Mom while she was in North Carolina in about March of 1944. Santa Anita is a famous horse race track here in California.  Although I knew it was used to inter Japanese Americans after Pearl Harbor I had no idea there were 2,000 German Prisoners

According to Allison Bell at the New York Times,

After the bombing of Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941, President Franklin D. Roosevelt ordered the evacuation of Japanese Americans to internment camps. While these relocation camps were being built, evacuees were ordered to stay for a few months at assembly centers throughout California, as well as in Arizona, Oregon and Washington.

Beginning in March 1942, about 19,000 Japanese Americans from Southern and Northern California lived at Santa Anita in hastily constructed barracks or in converted horse stalls, which some evacuees said never fully lost the stench of manure.

(Click here to read the full article)

It seems that once they got the internees to their camps they used the track for German Prisoners. Grandma Susie has not said anything about the article but they lived about five miles from the track and I have to wonder what her thoughts were on the subject, but then maybe not.

I find it very interesting having lived near Santa Anita most of my life. I never knew this. Once again I have learned something new. It’s not like I spent a lot of time at the racetrack, well ok there was that couple of years I dated that guy who loved to play to ponies.

I also found information about Camp Santa Anita at

(Click here to read the article about it)

Don’t forget to tune in tomorrow for the latest chapter in my fathers World War II Journey


  1. Nancy, I too have found similar information–only in Iowa–will be an upcoming post. Very interesting indeed. Thanks!

  2. Really good stuff! I can’t remember if I sent it to you or not but I have an article on POW camps stateside that can be emailed…

    • Yes I have it. I had forgotten though. I have some great pictures of Manzanar current day if you ever do a post about it and you need them.

  3. I had no idea. Nazis in prison in California?

  4. History! Better than science..

  5. How fascinating. I also knew about the Japanese, but not Nazis. My parents grew up in the area and have told me “war stories” from Santa Anita, but I don’t think they knew this either. I can’t wait to ask them! 🙂 The things you learn!

  6. In the mid-’70s I lived near Santa Anita for a year and would walk past the track on my way to school. I can remember seeing the losing betting tickets littering the sidewalks each morning. The ones that used to catch my eye were the $50 tickets. As a 10 year old, I couldn’t imagine somebody having so much money that could afford to gamble $50 on a a single horse race.

    Back then it wouldn’t have meant much to me if I’d learned Santa Anita had housed German POWs during WWII, but today I find it quite interesting. Apparently there were scores of such camps throughout the nation during the war, although few were pre-made like Santa Anita.

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