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Concentration Camp- a large number of people, mostly political prisoners or minorities. Deliberately imprisoned in uninhabitable facilities in a very small area. The prisoners are forced labor and awaited execution.
The first concentration camp started in 1895 by Arsenio Martinez Campos, the camps were set up to relocate Cuban rebels. Camps were held by the Spanish the “reconcentración” were rural Spanish-held cities. Wrapped in barbed wire and armed with guards such as modern day prisons.
December 7th, 1941, 8 a.m. hundreds Japanese fighter planes descended on United States Naval base in Honolulu, Hawaii. Destroying twenty American naval ships, three hundred airplanes, and slaughtered 2,400 Americans troops.
Hours after the bombing one thousand two hundred and ninety one Japanese-Americans were rounded-up and taken to “time zones”. Any religious leaders, or people in the community were persecuted. Then were taken by the F.B.I without any evidence for arrested, all assets were frozen.
Early February, the United States War Department assembled twelve time zones along the Pacific Coast, for the Japanese population. If one stayed out past nighttime curfew they were picked up and arrested. Political power was still fumbling with the idea of camps.
February 19th, 1942, President Roosevelt, Signed Executive Order 9066, all though it wasn’t meant for Japanese they were targeted the most. The Germans, Italians, and Aletus, they too were thrown into the exclusion until the war was over. Canada and Mexico took part in this, by sending all Japanese inland to the United States.
“I shall remember that day that I was evacuated for the rest of my life. I shall remember how I stood on the corner of Garvey & Atlantic with about a thousand others- then the busses came and whisked us off to camp. I shall remember the lump which came into my throat as the bus went down the street and when some of the people on the sidewalks.’ The Diary of Stanley Hayami
The F.B.I searched thousands of Privately owned homes. Ransacking the homes and taking everything it was labeled as contraband and could threaten war efforts. Kicking out homeowners to the street to wait on the buses to pick them up.
On March 18th, 1942, War Relocation Authority (WRA) was created. The plan was to take all Japanese into custody and surround them with troops. Take away all rights from owning or buying land. They were given four days to two weeks to gather all belongings and move out. Forcing to sell cars, business, and other belongs way below market value. If cars weren’t sold, the government promised to keep the cars safe until they returned after the war. But all cars were sold to the U.S Army for cut rate prices.
One third of all Hawaii population was of Japanese descent. They owned all the off-store fishing boats and fish markets. The boats were impounded and the stores were taken by the United States government. Fifteen hundred Japanese were sent to the U.S mainland to be sent to camps.
After being impaled out of their homes and businesses ,the Japanese-Americans were taken to assembly centers. From there, they were sent to internment camps in the western region of the United states. These camps were located in California, Wyoming, Colorado, Arizona, Arkansas, Idaho, and Utah with a total of ten camps. The camps were located in very harsh biomes, most were located in deserts or other barren landscapes. With holding large a population of one hundred and twenty thousand Japanese.
The relocation centers had there own towns. With post offices, farmland, schools,colleges, and general businesses. Also the town provided its own government, council, newspapers, sports teams, concerts, and a place of worship. It was its own town behind barbed wire and sniper towers.
The camp offered jobs including manufacturers, ranching, field workers, teachers, doctors and mechanics. The best paying job at the camp was five dollars a day. This was a manufacturing job of Naval ships. All items made were used in the camps for self-sufficiency, or sold for profit to fund the war. When there was a job shortage in the centers, the Japanese were sent to other states for seasonal farming.
(Hayashi, 2008) “….There was no furniture in the units, only army cots to sleep on, blankets and a single light bulb that hung from the ceiling in the middle of every room. Apartments had neither cooking facilities nor a lavatory …” P.g 17
Living conditions at the relocation had a military army barracks flavor. The “apartment” inhoused multiple families in some cases up to forty people. The house was furnished with two things, cots and a wood burning fireplaces. The apartment had no running water, no restrooms, nor a facilities to cook at. All residents of the camp used a common place for showers,restroom and a place to do laundry.
Camps were super crowded holding eight thousand to twenty thousand people. A very small percent of the population at camps were vaccinated, before being sent to camps. Whooping cough, smallpox, diphtheria were the leading causes of death in the centers.
Hospitals were run by cucasains, with Japanese doctors. The hospitals were very low on staff members and very unequipped with equipment. The doctors were seriously underqualified for the position. Most picked up the practice from other doctors in the camp. A total of one thousand and nine hundred died from diseases.
In 1942, Fred Korematsu protest and refused to go to an internment camp. His case made it to the Supreme level of court. He argued that it was against his fifth amendment and he ouldn’t be taken to a camp. Creating the case Korematsu v. United States. Korematsu lost the case, but Roosevelt looked into it , and decided that not all Japanese were bad people.
In March 1943, Inmates went on strike because of terror tactics used by authority. Inmatest refused all work and to follow any orders. After the act Internment camps supervisors removed all guards with guns, and allowed workers to travel to the mid-west or east to work on farms.
“[T]he security in Topaz was nonexistent. In fact, there were no more guards up there, there were no guns, and nobody was in the guard towers.” -Reiko Komoto
Others were allowed to move west as migrant workers, and some choose to enlist in the military. A little more than one fourth of the people in internment camps enlisted. They wanted to show they were loyal Americans too.
One all Japanese unit, the 442nd Regimental, became one of the most remembered units in United States history. They received eighteen thousand decorations. This Included twenty nine distinguished service crosses, twenty one medals of honor, also the congress gold star
On December 18th, 1944, Internment camps ended with case Endo V. The United States. After filing a Habeas Corpus Petition the Supreme court decided she was a “loyal American” and to let her free. She wouldn’t leave until all Internment camps were shut down. Two years later, the Supreme Court decided it was time to shut down all camps. The power was given to Roosevelt for closure of all camps. One day later, Roosevelt decided for closure of all camps and the Supreme court revealed the decision. By March 1946, all camps were closed even the maximum security camp, Tule Lake, California.
When inmates were released they had no idea what to do with their lives. Everything had been taken from them. They had no businesses, no homes, no cars, no jobs, and had very little if any money. Many struggled for years and still were looked down upon. This created getting a job difficult. Most of the Japanese Americans came together in the community and showed off their work ethic. Pieces finally started to fit with the community, and the trust was regained by the American society.
In 1976, President Gerald Ford officially repealed executive order 9066. In 1988, Congress formally apologized to the people who were in Internment camps. The Civil Liberties Act, gave twenty thousand dollars to over eighty thousand people who were involved.
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