(p. 71) “What are you doing here?” the judge asked again.
“I cannot talk,” Ehrlich answered, in his hybrid English-German. “This guard will stab my heart out.”
“You talk to me,” Judge Alexander told him. “Now what are you people here for? It’s the middle of the night.”
“What’s that? A picture?”
An officer produced the picture that Ehrlich kept in his house–Kaiser Wilhelm and his family in formal pose.
“That’s a beautiful picture,” the judge said, then turned to the police. “Is that all you got against these people?”
“They’re pro-German. They’re hurting the war effort. Spies, for all we know.”
The judge turned to the Germans from the Volga. “How many of you are supporting America in the war?” All hands went up.
Ehrlich reached into his pocket and produced two hundred dollars’ worth of government stamps issued to support the war effort . A friend produced war bonds. The judge looked at the sheriff and asked him how many of his officers had war bonds or stamps. None.
(p. 72) “Take these people home,” the judge said. “If anything happens to them, I’ll hold you responsible .” They drove back in the freezing predawn darkness and released the men to their families at sunrise. A daylong party followed.
Egan, Timothy. The Worst Hard Time: The Untold Story of Those Who Survived the Great American Dust Bowl. Boston: Houghton Mifflin, 2006.
(Note: italics in original.)