Starr Pait was born in San Jose, California in 1911. She graduated from San Jose State and received a master's degree in Germanic
languages from Stanford. While on a fellowship to Germany she met and fell in love with Werner Gurcke. They married in 1936
in Santa Cruz, California before leaving for San José, Costa Rica where Werner Gurcke had previously immigrated. There they
started a family and Gurcke developed a thriving import-export business in Costa Rica, dealing in buttons, umbrellas and Hamilton
watches. But because he was still a German citizen, Werner Gurcke's business was one of 340 blacklisted by the Costa Rican
government, under pressure from the United States. He and his brother were arrested without explanation in July 1942. Six
months later, the whole family was put on the U.S. Army transport ship Puebla. Werner Gurcke spent all three weeks in the
hold of the ship, while Starr Gurcke -- described in a Department of Justice document as "sort of (an) American citizen" --
and her two young daughters slept in a cramped cabin with other families. When the Puebla landed in San Pedro, Calif., immigration
officials finally told Werner Gurcke their reason for holding him: he had entered the United States illegally. He was not
allowed legal counsel, and he and his family were taken by train to Crystal City, a former camp for farmworkers. Since Werner
Gurcke was married to a U.S. citizen, he was granted "internment at large" 18 months later at his first hearing.
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