Japanese American Internment Camps
"The fact is that the Japanese were sent to concentration camps not by a group of West Coast racists seeking economic advantage, but by a popular and powerful government run by democratic liberals." -The Journal of Historical Review
Over the following months, approximately 120,000 Japanese Americans, two-thirds of them native-born citizens, were forced to abandon their homes and businesses. They were transported to the government’s internment camps located mostly in the desolate interior region of the West. They were placed there simply because of their ancestry.
Personal Interview with Karen Korematsu, Daughter of Fred Korematsu
Co-founder and Executive Director of the Fred T. Korematsu Institute
Each internment camp contained barracks, a mess hall, a recreation hall, and a few other buildings.
"The barbed-wire stockade surrounding the 18,000 people was like that of the prison camps of the Germans. There were the same turrets for the soldiers and the same machine guns for those who might attempt to climb the high wiring. To reach the unheated latrines, which were in the center of the blocks of fourteen buildings, meant leaving the residential shacks and walking through the rain and snow -- again a lower than penitentiary treatment, even disregarding the sick and the children. Also was the crowding of the 18,000 people in the one story shacks." - Chief Judge William Denman of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals on the Tule Lake camp
"Life began each day with a siren blast at 7:00 a.m., with breakfast served cafeteria style. Work began at 8:00 a.m. for the adults, school at 8:30 or 9:00 for the children. Camp life was highly regimented and it was rushing to the wash basin to beat the other groups, rushing to the mess hall for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. When a human being is placed in captivity, survival is the key. We spent countless hours to defy or beat the system." -Kinya Noguchi, Internment Camp survivor
Grant Ichikawa on His Personal Experience in an Internment Camp
"THAT DAMNED FENCE
An anonymous poem circulated at Poston Camp
They've sunk the posts deep into the ground
They've strung out wires all the way around.
With machine gun nests just over there,
And sentries and soldiers everywhere. We're trapped like rats in a wired cage,
To fret and fume with impotent rage;
Yonder whispers the lure of the night,
But that DAMNED FENCE assails our sight.
We seek the softness of the midnight air,
But that DAMNED FENCE in the floodlight glare
Awakens unrest in our nocturnal quest,
And mockingly laughs with vicious jest.
With nowhere to go and nothing to do,
We feed terrible, lonesome, and blue:
That DAMNED FENCE is driving us crazy,
Destroying our youth and making us lazy.
Imprisoned in here for a long, long time,
We know we're punished--though we've committed no crime,
Our thoughts are gloomy and enthusiasm damp,
To be locked up in a concentration camp.
Loyalty we know, and patriotism we feel,
To sacrifice our utmost was our ideal,
To fight for our country, and die, perhaps;
But we're here because we happen to be Japs.
We all love life, and our country best,
Our misfortune to be here in the west,
To keep us penned behind that DAMNED FENCE,
Is someone's notion of NATIONAL DEFENSE!"
Loyalty Questionnaire Given to Japanese Americans during World War II
Courtesy of the Fred T. Korematsu Institute