Japanese-American Internment Camps

A historical fact that is not really "common knowledge" is the fact that, during World War II, over 100,000 Japanese-American individuals, the vast majority of which were actually American citizens, were rounded up and shipped eventually to internment camps. These consisted of poorly-constructed barracks surrounded by barbed wire, sentry posts and armed guards.

They were put in these camps, not because they had been tried and found guilty of something, but because either they or their parents or ancestors were from Japan and, as such, they were deemed a "threat" to national security. They were also easily identifiable due to their race. There was no similar large-scale roundups of German or Italian-Americans, even though we were also fighting them during World War II.

These people were forced to abandon their businesses, their homes and, in many cases, their families as some individuals were taken elsewhere and held, again without trial, for years. The Japanese-Americans suffered severe economic losses, personal humiliation and, in a some cases, death, due to this relocation.

The relocation itself was ordered by the then President of the United States, Franklin D. Roosevelt, and by an act of Congress.

The Japanese-American (Nisei) and the Japanese aliens (Issei) on the West Coast were rounded up and moved to assembly centers and then to internment camps. Few Japanese living in the East or Midwestern portions of the U.S., though, were treated the same way.

What is extremely interesting is that the Nisei and Issei living in Hawaii were not subject to a mass evacuation even though they formed a third of the population in Hawaii and were a lot closer to Japan than the Japanese-Americans on the West Coast of the U.S.

The reasons they weren't rounded up were both cultural and economic.

"There was no mass relocation and internment in Hawaii, where the population was one-third Japanese American. It would have been impossible to transport that many people to the mainland, and the Hawaiian economy would have collapsed without Japanese American workers. "

-from the book Japanese American Internment Camps by Gail Sakurai, 2002

"Ironically, the territory with the largest Japanese population saw the least discrimination. More than one third of all residents of Hawaii had some Japanese ancestry. Japanese labor was considered vital to the civilian and military economics of the Hawaiian Islands. Besides, the views of Delos Emmons, military commander of Hawaii, were the opposite of those of General DeWitt."

-from the book Japanese-American internment in American History, 1996.

As noted in some of the other reviews, there were a very small number of people arrested and detained in Hawaii and a small number that voluntarily went to the mainland camps, but primarily so they could find relatives. There was not a single act of sabotage in Hawaii by the Japanese Americans during the entire war.

In addition, since there were so many people of Japanese ancestry already living in Hawaii, about a third of the population, racism was not at all the kind of problem it was on the west coast.

Although prejudice and discrimination played major roles in the internment, economics and jealousy did also, as many Californians were jealous of the economic success that the Japanese-American farmers and store owners enjoyed. Thus arose a lot of the anti-Japanese-American feeling in the same way that some people despise Jewish people, largely due to their economic successes. The hard work, self-sacrifice, and strong efforts by the Japanese-Americans and Jewish people are overlooked and ignored when people of prejudice proclaim their judgments against Japanese-Americans and Jewish people.

The fact that the internment did happen here in the U.S. is something to never forget since what has happened once could very well happen again, especially in these days of growing anti-immigrant, anti-foreigner feelings in the U.S.

Basic Statistical Information

Relocation Center Data

Assembly Center Data

Relocation Center Features

Relocation Center Statistics

Agricultural Enterprises

Assembly Center Locations

All Locations

Typical Barracks Layout


Articles relating to Prejudice from the Internment Camp Newsletters
Timeline of Events
What Term to Use?
Civil Liberties Act of 1988
Bits and Pieces, mostly from Seattle
May 28,1969 letter from Richard Nixon
Memorandum for the Director, FBI, relating to the internment of Hawaiian alien Japanese.
Interesting Presidential poster
Cincinnati Enquirer article from 2006
My analysis of violence in the camps.

Definition of Terms

In the following book reviews I use certain terms without defining them every single time. These include the following:

Issei: people born in Japan who moved to the U.S. and settled here
Nisei: children born to the Issei, they were automatically U.S. citizens
Sansei: the children born to the Nisei
Kibei: People of Japanese ancestry born in the U.S. but returned to Japan to get their education, then came back to the U.S.
JACL: Japanese American Citizens League, a major, although controversial, national organization for Japanese Americans
Redress movement: the movement to get the government to apologize for what it did by interning the Japanese Americans and to provide the survivors with some form of monetary compensation
Assembly Center: Where people were initially held during the "relocation" process
Internment Camp: One of ten camps in various states where people were moved to from the Assembly Centers. Some sources use the term "concentration camp" instead of "internment camp."
PJA: Persons of Japanese Ancestry

Reviews of articles, books and movies

This section is going to consist of reviews of a number of things. Included will be reviews and summaries of books.There will also be reviews and summaries of various documents such as Proceedings of the Asiatic Exclusion League, and various others that relate to pre-war prejudice against the Japanese Americans, and the actual internment of persons of Japanese ancestry during the war. There are over two hundred reviews in this section.


Pictures from the Camps and Assembly Centers

Note: Please do not ask me where individual photos came from. I got photos from a large variety of sites and do not have a list of where specific photos came from. The National Archives is a good place to look for photos.

Assembly Centers and other related areas

Centerville, California
Eden, Idaho
Fresno, California
Hayward, California
Los Angeles, California
Marysville, California
Meyer, Arizona
Merced, California (+ Mercedian newsletter)
Mountain View, California
Other California places
Pinedale, California
Pomona, California
Portland, Oregon
Puyallup, Washington (+ Camp Harmony newsletter)
Sacramento, California
Salinas, California
Santa Anita, California (+ Santa Anita Pacemaker newsletter)
San Francisco, California
San Pedro, California
Stockton, California (+ El Joaquin newsletter)
Tanforan, California (+ Tanforan Totalizer newsletter)
Terminal Island
Tulare, California
Turlock, California
Woodland, California

Actual Camps

Gila River, Arizona (+ newsletter)
Granada (Amache) Colorado (+Granada Pioneer newsletter)
Heart Mountain, Wyoming (+ newsletter)
Jerome, Arkansas (+ newsletters)
Manzanar, California (+ Manzanar Free Press newsletter)
Minidoka, Idaho (+ Minidoka Irrigator newsletter)
Poston, Arizona (+ Poston Chronicle newsletter)
Rohwer, Arkansas (+Rohwer Outpost newsletter)
Topaz, Utah (+ Topaz Times newsletter)
Tule Lake. California (+ newsletters)

Citizen Isolation Centers (for "troublemakers")

Leupp, Arizona
Moab, Utah
Old Raton Ranch/Fort Stanton, New Mexico

Justice Department Camps

Crystal City, Texas
Fort Lincoln, North Dakota
Fort Missoula, Montana
Fort Stanton, New Mexico
Kennedy, Texas
Kooskia, Idaho
Santa Fe, New Mexico
Segoville, Texas

U.S. Army Facilities Angel Island/Fort McDowell
Camp Blanding, Florida
Camp Forrest
Camp Livingston, Louisiana
Camp Lordsburg, New Mexico
Camp McCoy, Wisconsin
Fort Bliss
Fort Howard
Fort Lewis
Fort Meade
Fort Richardson
Fort Sam Houston
Fort Sill, Oklahoma
Griffith Park
Honouliuli, Hawaii
Sand Island, Hawaii
Stringtown, Oklahoma

Federal Bureau of Prisons (for those convicted of draft resistance or interment-related issues.) Catalina
McNeill Island

Immigration and Naturalization Services Camps East Boston, Massachusetts
Ellis Island, New York
Seattle, Washington
San Francisco, California
San Pedro, California
Sharp Park, California
Tuna Canyon, California

State Department Camps

Assembly Inn, Montreat, North Carolina
Bedford Springs Hotel, Bedford, Pennsylvania
Cascade Inn/The Homestead, Hot Springs, West Virginia (holding Japanese diplomats)
The Greenbrier Hotel, White Sulphur Springs, West Virginia (holding diplomats)
Grove Park Inn, Asheville,North Carolina Shenvalee Hotel, New Market, Virginia

Temporary Detention Facilities

These were leased or loaned from other Federal agencies and were used to hold enemy aliens on a temporary basis. They include: Chicago (4800 Ellis Ave.); Pittsburgh (Penn Armory); Nanticoke, PA (State Armory); Tampa Florida (specific place?); Miami Florida (Stadium); Syracuse, NY (former fire station); Niagara Falls (former immigrant station); Cleveland (former police station); Houston (former police station); Cincinnati (Post Office building); Milwaukee (House of Correction); Kansas City (Municipal building); Salt Lake City (county jail space); St. Louis (county jail space); Portland (county jail space); St. Paul (county jail space); Hartford CT. (Community Center building) and Los Angeles (Terminal Island).

Other information

Hoover discusses pros and cons of evacuation, Feb. 2, 1942 memo
Wartime Exile: The Exclusion of the Japanese Americans from the West Coast, U.S. Dept. of Interior, War Relocation Authority, Jan. 1, 1946
The Relocation Program, U.S. Dept. of the Interior/War Relocation Authority. Jan 1, 1946.
The Japanese in the Camps are Being Pampered!
No, they are Not being pampered!
Draft the Nisei!
Oahu Internment Camp excavation
Segregation of Disloyal Internees
"Disloyal" Japanese-Americans
Deportation and Relocation
Initial Controls and Plans
Totally misc. material


Japanese Americans: Home at Last , April, 1986

Films and film clips about the internment camps.

42 (Rap song)
A Challenge to Democracy (1944)
And Now (You Tube)
Barriers and Passes
Canadian Concentration Camps (You Tube)
A Nisei Story
Baseball Beyond Barbed Wires (You Tube)
Beyond the Barbed Wire (You Tube)
From Barbed Wire to Barbed Hooks
George Takai interview
Hawaii Internment Camp (You Tube)
If Everybody Cared
Interview with Mrs. K (You Tube)
Internee #1, #2 Japanese Americans 1945 (You Tube)
Japanese American Documentary
Japanese Internment (1942)
Japanese Internment (You Tube)
Japanese Internment Camps in the U.S. (You Tube)
Japanese Internment in Canada
Japanese Internment Compilation tribute to Inada
Japanese New Immigration Photo Story (You Tube)
Japanese Relocation 1942 (You Tube)
Japanese Relocation (ca. 1943)
Masumi Hayashi exhibit
Sadness and Sorrow (You Tube)
Strawberry Fields (movie) The Japanese American Experience in New Mexico I (You Tube)
Japanese American Experience in New Mexico, part 2 (YouTube)
This is the Enemy (You Tube)
Time of Fear
Truth 101 (You Tube)
Various clips about the camps
Within the Silence
Yuri Kochiyama

My You Tube video on Gila Internment Camp

Important Newsletter Topics

There are certain topics that I think are very important, and that I scanned items from the newsletters about. These include things like crime, the control of Japanese literature, legal matters, maps, protests and strikes, repatriation, rumors and violence. The main index page for those is here

Books I've Done on these topics

I have picked three topics dealing with the internment camps to do ebooks on. These are available on Amazon.com. The titles are: From the Inside: Maps, Illustrations and Photos used in internment camp newsletters
From the Inside:Articles relating to violence as taken from the internment camp newsletters.
From the Inside:Articles relating to prejudice as taken from internment camp newsletters.


My thanks to Wes for the first link. Anyone finding other links that would be of good quality and relevent, please let me know and I'll add them here.

1. CBC Archives Relocation to Redress: The Internment of the Japanese Canadians. Covers Hiroshima, the internment of persons of Japanese ancestry, Canadian women in the Second World War, etc.

2. Densho. Densho's mission is to preserve the testimonies of Japanese Americans who were unjustly incarcerated during World War II before their memories are extinguished. We offer these irreplaceable firsthand accounts, coupled with historical images and teacher resources, to explore principles of democracy and promote equal justice for all.

3. Gerald Ford's Proclamation 4417, Confirming the Termination of the Executive Order Authorizing Japanese-American Internment During World War II

4. Historic Photos of the US Navy during World War II . This includes a number of various battles, nuclear testing on US Navy Ships, Bikiki Atoll 1946, etc.

5.Masumi Hiyashi photographs of the internment of Japanse-Americans

6. National Historical Publications and Record Division article.

7. San Francisco Virtual Museum main page on Japanese-American internment, leading to numerous other pages

8.Seattle Times 1996 article on Japanese-American internment.

9. The Preservation of a People: A Look at the Evacuation and Relocation of the People of Japanese Ancestry in the United States during World War II

10. The War Relocation Camps of World War II: When Fear was Stronger than Justice

11. Nisei help Germans escape.

This is something I didn't find any references to in the books. Apparently a couple of internee sisters helped some German prisoners of war to escape and were caught and then put on trial for treason. (The Oakland Tribune, Aug. 6, 1944). The article points out they are Nisei, which means they are American citizens and thus could be tried for treason.A rather unusual case of civilian aid to escaping German prisoners occurred the following month in Colorado. Two Afrika Korps corporals, who had escaped from Camp Trinidad, Colorado, were captured by the FBI several days later in Watrous, New Mexico. Among their possessions, the authorities found a photograph showing the two Nazis embracing three Japanese women who turned out to be Japanese-American sisters working on a farm near the camp. The sisters were Nisei who had been relocated from their homes in Inglewood, California, to the Granada Internment Center at Apache, Colorado, and who were, therefore, prisoners themselves. Whether their short relationship with the Germans was ideological or merely biological, the fact is that the Nisei girls aided their escape. At their well-publicized trial, in which the two Germans acted as witnesses against the girls, the jury returned a guilty verdict to the reduced charge of conspiracy to commit treason. The girls each received a two-year prison sentence and a $10,000 fine. ¬Book references at the bottom of the page may give you more info: ¬Nazi prisoners of war in America - Krammer The Faustball Tunnel - Moore New York Times ¬Sayonara! John . Thanks for the information, John!!!!

German and Italian Internment

Although the internment of persons of Japanese ancestry is the focus of this section, I will point out that the same type of thing, although on a smaller scale, happened to some people of Germany and Italian ancestry.

There are various sources on this material, including:

All of these books are available from Amazon.com

Fear Itself: Inside the FBI Roundup of German Americans during World War II by Stephen Fox,

Uncivil Liberties: Italian Americans Under Seige during World War II by Stephen Fox

We Were Not the Enemy: Remembering the United States: Latin-American Civilian Internment Program of World War II by Heidi Gurke Donald,

Una Storia Segreta: The Secret History of Italian American Evacuation and Internment during World War II by Lawrence diStasis.

There are various websites to examine, including:

Una Storia Segreta, dealing with Italian internment.

German American Internee Coalition, dealing with German internment.

I'd like to thank Robert Seward for providing me with this information.

Note on Scholarship

There have been some people writing to me, wanting to know what book and what page of that book I found a particular quote or other piece of information in, and could I send that to them. In many parts of my pages I do, indeed, have specific sources listed, but in many I don't.

This is an informal site. I am not doing a thesis or anything like that. I examine literally hundreds of books (as is shown in my reviews) and thousands of pages of documents to find information for this site.

I don't record what exact book or page any particular section of information comes from. My attempt is to examine lots of sources of information and then, holistically, boil these down to basic information that I then put on my website.

The books in my reviews are the primary sources of information, along with the documents. I have obtained my sources from the library, from Half.com, from Ebay, from local bookstores, from Amazon.com, and anywhere else I can find the information I need.

I know people doing reports for school need more specific sources but this site is just not structured to provide those. I would suggest you look over my reviews of books and see which of those might be usable to you, and then get them from your local library.

Main Index
Japan main page
Japan and World War II index page