Removal and Incarceration

Uploaded by DenshoProject on 22.09.2009

Voiceover Narration: At the end of March 1942, less than four months after the bombing
of Pearl Harbor, the army started removing tens of thousands of Japanese Americans from
their homes and communities. Two thirds of these individuals were U.S. citizens.
Half of them were under the age of 18. These individuals were not given hearings, or charged with any
wrongdoing, and yet, they were removed from homes they had spent a lifetime building.
KK: And it was such an odd feeling, it just... as we pulled out I can remember my father
holding onto the arm of the seat, hard seat. The blinds had been drawn, but you could,
before they did that you could see the shadow of Mt. Adams and the sun behind it.
And looking at his face I could just feel that he was saying goodbye to the place that he'd known
so well. Pictures like that just really, when you think about it, were very sad. But it
was... it was such a -- it's hard to explain the kind of feeling, the atmosphere of that
time. But... and we went, traveled through the night
with the shades drawn and got to Portland livestock center, our evacuation center about,
really about dawn. And I stayed until the last person got in the, into the compound
and heard the gate clang behind me. And I think -- when people ask what my memory was
about evacuation -- I think I'll always remember the sound of the gate clanging behind you
and knowing that you were finally under, you had barbed wires around you, and you were
really being interned.
Voiceover Narration: Japanese Americans were brought to temporary detention camps, that the government called
"assembly centers," set up at race tracks and fairgrounds. Living conditions
were crude in these quickly assembled, temporary quarters. Many were angry as they saw how
little their U.S. citizenship protected them.
MW: I had been to Puyallup a few times when it was the fairgrounds of Western Washington.
Little did I know that I would replace the pigs and the cows and that type of stuff,
you know, 'cause they, they restructured the fairgrounds and the parking lots into these
temporary hovels. And they had a hell of a lot of nerve calling it "Camp Harmony."
But anyway, it was... boy, it was a real traumatic type of living, where you're in the former
stalls where the pigs and the cows and everything else were. Temporary shacks, just the walls
were so many feet off the ground, and families of six and seven were crowded into one little spot.
I think intentionally, I forgot a lot of "Camp Harmony." I hate to use the word
"harmony," but it was just not a very good experience.
I just felt that all this liberty and crap was all crap. You know, it just, you read
so much about democracy and all this and it was a real eye-opener to see what could happen
to citizens and what does citizenship mean. 'Cause it just bothered the heck out of me
to think that I tried to be a good citizen and, man, they are tossing me into joints
like this.
Voiceover Narration: After a few months, Japanese Americans were moved to ten incarceration
camps in sparsely populated and isolated areas, mostly on unused desert or swampland under
Federal control. These detention facilities were located in the states of Arizona, Arkansas,
California, Colorado, Idaho, Utah, and Wyoming. 120,000 Japanese Americans lived in barracks
in these camps surrounded by barbed wire fences and armed guard towers.
In 1945, after three years of incarceration, Japanese Americans were allowed to return
to their homes on the west coast. For those who returned to the west coast it was difficult,
as they were confronted with hatred or they found their homes vandalized and property
MH: Well, it was a great shock, couldn't believe it. How anything could be left like that for
us to come home and face. It wasn't as hard for me as it was to my parents, because they
were the one that had cleared the land, built up that land to make it to a farming ground,
and they worked real, real hard on it.
All the windows were broken, every room the wallpapers are torn, the linoleum was all
pulled out in a mess. And, of course, the outside was... the weeds were about 6 feet
tall, every piece of ground outside, and the greenhouse we had, all the glasses were all
broken down and couldn't even use the greenhouse when we got home. And so it was nothing --
and the well was, of course, full of garbage.