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Description of Japanese Internment Camps Essay

Granada War Relocation Center

Located in Amache (Granada) Colorado this camp had a peak population of 7,318 Japanese Americans mainly from California. This camp opened on August 24th, 1942 and closed on October 15th, 1945; within this time there were 120 deaths, and 31 volunteers to fight in the war. Conditions in this camp were primitive; there was no insulation or furniture in the barracks, and they were heated through coal-burning stoves. The Granada center became the tenth largest city in Colorado and had its own hospital, post office, schools, and stores.

Gila River

Out of all the Japanese internment camps the Gila River Relocation Camp was the most laidback and sympathetic to the evacuees, there was only one watchtower and the barbed-wire fences were removed early on. It was opened on July 20th, 1942 and closed on November 10th, 1945 and had a population of 13,348 at its peak. Camp administrators were so sympathetic to the thousands of Japanese Americans in this camp that they were lenient in giving them access to Phoenix and recreational activities in the surrounding areas, which was very rare. Gila River was a showplace compared to the other camps, with rougher conditions. Eleanor Roosevelt made a surprise visit in 1943 to look into allegations of special treatment to the evacuees.

Heart Mountain Relocation Center

Opening on August 12th, 1942; the Heart Mountain Internment in Wyoming held up to 10,767 evacuees at any point. Unlike the climate that the mostly Southern Californian Japanese-Americans were not used to the cold climate, which resulted in lots of illness and an overcrowding hospital. Dissimilar to the Gila River Relocation Camp with one watchtower, the Heart Mountain Camp had nine watchtowers with military police and searchlights. Within the camp, ran a garment factory, the produced silk would usually be made into posters for the navy and other camps. In early 1945 evacuees were allowed to return back to the West Coast with $25 and a train ticket, but by June 1945 only 2,000 people had left, It wasn’t until November 10, 1945 when the last trainload of evacuees left Heart Mountain.

Jerome Internment Camp

At its peak containing 8,497 Japanese Americans, Jerome Internment Camp was the shortest lasting relocation camp, only being open 634 days from October 6th, 1942 and closing June 30th, 1944. This camp in particular was very hard for the West Coast evacuees to adjust to due to rain which resulted in mud, humidity which caused mosquitos to flourish and spread malaria, there were also surrounded with snakes which contained some of the deadliest snakes in America. Jerome was also the only site to report shooting by civilians, which had happened several times at this camp. The first of the ten relocation camps to close, the Jerome Internment Camp was later used as a German POW camp until the end of the war and the remaining evacuees were sent to the Rohwer Relocation Center 30 miles away.

Manzanar Relocation Center

Located 5 miles south of independence California, Manzanar Relocation Center was open from March 21st, 1942 to November 21st, 1945. To help the war effort many worked at Manzanar’s camouflage netting factory, and others joined the army. The conditions of this camp were very similar to the others with no heating or furniture. Manzanar included an orphanage known as Children’s Village, for the Japanese American orphans half of who lived in Caucasian foster homes.

On December 6th, 1942, the most serious of civil disturbances occurred in Manzanar, a man was charged for beating another man in his sleep and sent to jail. After this incident 1,000’s of evacuees protested for him to be released, Center director brought back the man to the camp jail, but this still angered the protesters. Administrators called for more military police because the protestors were now arming themselves with any weapons they could find. While the protestors kept pushing soldiers fired into the crowd and killed two people, and wounded 10 others. By December 1946 the camp was completely dismantled, except for several buildings.

Minidoka Relocation Center

The Minidoka Relocation Center opened up on August 10th, 1942 and closed on October 28th, 1945 and reached a peak population of 9,397 most of these people being from the Pacific Northwest. Unlike many of the camps, the evacuees got along with the administrators and security was somewhat lighter than other camps. But they also had their hardships, such as blinding dust storms that would cause regular sore throats and nose bleeds, and 8-9 people lived in a single room apartment. Minidoka functioned like a regular town with its own schools, block managers, hospitals, newspapers, library, and activities. Agriculture was very important in this camp with 350 acres being cleared and farmed in 1942 and 740 acres by 1944. Now it’s mainly farmland where the camp used to stand.

Poston Relocation Center

Located about 12 miles south of Parker Arizona, the Poston internment camp opened on May 8th, 1942 and closed November 28th, 1945, with a peak of 17,814 people from Southern California. Poston was a 71,000 acre camp and was the hottest of the 10 camps, summers would swelter at 115 degrees. The center was split into three camps Poston I, Poston II, and Poston III. The food at this camp was “inedible” to most people and they had to raise their own chickens, and fruits and vegetables to eat. Evacuees could work within and outside the camp, inside they could earn $12 to $19 a month.

By fall of 1942 conditions got worse on the camp, there were food shortages, heating stoves still had yet to be installed, yet to get promised clothing and allowances. In November of 1942 a man who the people suspected to be an informer to the administration was beat and officials arrested two men who were believed to have committed the crime. When they were tried in Arizona Courthouse protesters gathered, and were later settled by freeing one of the suspects, and having the other ones trial within the camp. There is now a monument that stands where the camp used to.

Rohwer Relocation Center

Located 5 miles west of the Mississippi River and 30 miles south of Jerome Relocation Center, this swampy camp opened on September 18th, 1942 and closed on November 30th, 1945 with holding up to 8,475 people at one point. Farming in this camp and outside the fences was very difficult due to irregular weather, but they still managed to cultivate 85% of their vegetables. Evacuees built drainage ditches and wooden sidewalks around each block because of all of the muddy conditions. Now the land holds 24 graves, two monuments built by the evacuees, one for the Japanese Americans in the 100th battalion and the 422nd Regimental Combat Team, and the other for the 24 Japanese Americans who died at the camp. There were two newer monuments put up in 1982 for the 31 men that died in the 100th battalion and the 422nd Regimental Combat Team, and the other for the relocation center.

Topaz Relocation Center

Also known as the Central Utah Relocation Center then the Abraham Relocation Center, the Topaz Relocation Center was located 16 west of Delta and opened on September 11th, 1945 and close on October 31st, 1945 with a peak population of 8,130 people. Described as a “barren, sand-choked wasteland” the average summer temperatures were in the 90s. Even though evacuees had the occasional frustration flares, it was overall quite a peaceful camp. The biggest of these flares was when a guard said he had seen an Issei names James Hatsuaki Wakasa trying to escape, and had warned him, but James did not understand what he was saying, and the guard shot him. James autopsy later revealed that James was shot in the chest, so he would have had to have been facing the guard at the time of being shot.

The evacuees demanded to hold the deceased funeral at the spot he was shot and that there be an investigation. The guard was found not guilty and they censored this news from the camps to avoid further strikes and rioting. Life settled down and the evacuees continues in their day to day lives with cultivating gardens, school, recreational activities, and poor living conditions such as when it snowed in October and there were still no windows on the barracks. No buildings are left on the land, but in 1976 the Japanese American Citizen League erected a large monument, and there is another monument in nearby town of Delta with directions to the camp.

Tule Lake Relocation Center

As the largest and most controversial relocation camp the Tule Lake Relocation center opened on May 27th, 1942 with a peak of 19,789 people mostly from northern California, Washington, and Oregon. Tule Lake was also the only camp to become high security because most of the people answered a questionnaire and answered no to “Are you willing to server in the armed forces of the United States on combat duty, wherever ordered?” and no to “Will you swear unqualified allegiance to the United States and faithfully defend the United States from any or all attack by foreign or domestic forces, and forswear any form of allegiance or obedience to the Japanese emperor, or any other foreign government, power, or organization?”, this showed disloyalty, and they were condemned as trouble makers. Martial Law was imposed in this camp until January 15th, 1944 after Army poised to take over because evacuees were rioting for food because there were shortages. Tule Lake was not only the largest and most controversial internment camp, it was also the last to close on March 28th, 1946.


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