WORLD WAR II FROM A TO Z

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J

Why must we leave our home mama?

Why can’t I go to my school papa?

Why did they say we weren’t American?

I pledge allegiance to the flag.

I have so many questions.

"Members of the Mochida family awaiting evacuation bus. Identification tags are used to aid in keeping the family unit intact during all phases of evacuation. Mochida operated a nursery and five greenhouses on a two-acre site in Eden Township. He raised snapdragons and sweet peas."
“Members of the Mochida family awaiting evacuation bus. Identification tags are used to aid in keeping the family unit intact during all phases of evacuation. Mochida operated a nursery and five greenhouses on a two-acre site in Eden Township. He raised snapdragons and sweet peas.”

Shortly after the attack on Pearl Harbor which brought the United States into the war, Executive Order 9066 was signed into law on February 19, 1942.  Nearly 120,000 Japanese Americans and Japanese resident aliens mostly from the West Coast were forcefully interned by the U.S. government starting in April 1942 and for the remainder of the war.  Sixty-two percent of the internees were United States citizens.

AtMap_of_World_War_II_Japanese_American_internment_camps

At first, American public opinion did not turn against Japanese Americans.  The Los Angeles Times characterized them as “good Americans” and many Americans believed that their loyalty was unquestionable.

A Japanese American unfurled this banner the day after the Pearl Harbor attack. This Dorothea Lange photograph was taken in March 1942, just prior to the man's internment.

A Japanese American unfurled this banner the day after the Pearl Harbor attack. This Dorothea Lange photograph was taken in March 1942, just prior to the man’s internment.

About six weeks after the attack on Pearl Harbor, public opinion began to change.  Much of it was from racial prejudice.  Lieutenant General John L. DeWitt, head of the Western Command and administrator of the internment program testified to Congress.

I don’t want any of them [persons of Japanese ancestry] here. They are a dangerous element. There is no way to determine their loyalty… It makes no difference whether he is an American citizen, he is still a Japanese. American citizenship does not necessarily determine loyalty… But we must worry about the Japanese all the time until he is wiped off the map.

WRA Relocation Centers
Name State Opened Max. Pop’n
Manzanar California March 1942 10,046
Tule Lake California May 1942 18,789
Poston Arizona May 1942 17,814
Gila River Arizona July 1942 13,348
Granada Colorado August 1942 7,318
Heart Mountain Wyoming August 1942 10,767
Minidoka Idaho August 1942 9,397
Topaz Utah September 1942 8,130
Rohwer Arkansas September 1942 8,475
Jerome Arkansas October 1942 8,497

 See also my post about Executive Order 9066 in This Week in WWII – War Relocation Authority

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16 responses

  1. gpcox says:

    Your great post here and my reblog hopefully are going to give you a rather busy day! You deserve it, Maryann!

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  2. jazzfeathers says:

    Well, they weren’t interned at the time, but this sounds a lot what happened to American Germans during WWI. The anti-German sentiment was instrumental in having Prohibition passed.

    It’s just crazy.

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    • Yes it all came from fear and fear breeds. For me it is hard to step into the shoes of people of the time and know how I would react. There were some detainments of German, over 11,000 but this resulted from examination on a case by case basis. At the time of WW2 there were over 1.2 million German nationals, 5 million children of 2 German parents and 6 million with 1 German parent

      Liked by 1 person

  3. Arlee Bird says:

    Though relocation of the Japanese-Americans was a bad thing in retrospect, I can kind of understand the paranoia that must have prevailed at the time. German-Americans didn’t receive the same level of discrimination, but then I guess that was the racial component of it all.

    Arlee Bird
    A to Z Challenge Co-host
    A Faraway View

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  4. a gray says:

    There was an internment of Italian Americans that is little explored. It was not large, but those that were interned, I understand, were intensely ashamed.

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    • Yes I seemed to read that the detainment of Germans and Italians were on a case by case basis so the numbers were not as great as the Japanese. It is all sad but it’s necessity will always be debated just like the Atomic bomb.

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      • a gray says:

        Some months ago at a Genealogy Fair, I was speaking with members of a local Italian genealogy society. During our conversation, they brought to my attention a book, Una Storia Segreta : The Secret History of Italian American Evacuation and Internment During World War II. that I did not know. The book was published in 2001. The back cover of the book carries the following statement:

        1942, the first full year of World War II for the United States, was a time of fear and uncertainty for Americans of Italian descent. Wartime regulations required that 600,000 Italian “resident aliens” carry photo-identity cards, restricted their freedom of movement, and forced an estimated 10,000 along the West Coast to relocate. Local police searched homes for guns, cameras, and shortwave radios. Within six months after the war was declared, 1,500 Italian resident aliens were arrested for curfew, travel, and contraband violations, and some 250 were imprisoned I n military camps for up to two years. Even some naturalized citizens had to leave their homes and businesses because the military decided that they were too dangerous to remain in strategic areas.

        While the Italian experience may not be as notorious as that of the West Coast Japanese, there is a story there that appears to beg for more attention.

        Liked by 1 person

  5. kristin says:

    I’m happy to see you posted about this. I remember arguing with a social studies teacher when I was in high school in the 1960s. He said the internment never happened. A very sad chapter in US history.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Wow failing to cover it in the curriculum is one thing but denial is ridiculous. I suppose this teacher was also one that would later claim that Armstrong never really walked on the moon. Thanks for reading.

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  6. Birgit says:

    It is so sad how much fear propagates racism and hate. The Japanese were the most clearly seen but the German were also suspect and taken and the Italians. Very little is known about the last 2. It is a negative mark for sure

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    • I agree but at the same time, I can’t begin to know the feeling people had during that time. If you lived in California or Hawaii people must have been in real fear and that fear would breed all kinds of actions. I like to think I wouldn’t jump on the hate bandwagon but I live in an age of enlightenment. In 1942, I would probably not be so enlightened.

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  7. rolandclarke says:

    Britain interred ‘enemy aliens’ such as Germans, Austrians and Italians and many of those were active against the Nazis, Some were even Jews and many were fleeing for their lives. U think some of the fear behind the actions was more political. Check out: http://cupola.gettysburg.edu/cgi/viewcontent.cgi?article=1052&context=ghj&sei-redir=1&referer=http%3A%2F%2Fus.yhs4.search.yahoo.com%2Fyhs%2Fsearch%3Fp%3DInternment%2Bduring%2BWorld%2BWar%2BII%2Bin%2BBritain%26fr%3Dgoodsearch-yhsif%26b%3D1%26param1%3D914404071#search=%22Internment%20during%20World%20War%20II%20Britain%22

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