A | More | Perfect | Union --  Japanese Americans and the U.S. Constitution
The Japanese American ExperienceReflectionsCollection SearchResourcesCredits

click to enlarge Internment
Permanent camps

Conditions varied from the heat and dust of Manzanar, Poston and Gila River, to the rains of Jerome and Rowher, and the bitter winter cold of Heart Mountain and Minidoka. The one thing that all 10 camps had in common was geographic isolation.




click to enlarge click to enlarge click to enlarge



click to enlarge "As a member of President Roosevelt's administration, I saw the United States Army give way to mass hysteria over the Japanese...Crowded into cars like cattle, these hapless people were hurried away to hastily constructed and thoroughly inadequate concentration camps, with soldiers with nervous muskets on guard, in the great American desert. We gave the fancy name of 'relocation centers' to these dust bowls, but they were concentration camps nonetheless."
—Harold Ickes, Secretary of the Interior, Washington Evening Star, September 23, 1946



click to enlarge
click to enlarge

Individuals arriving at a camp were shocked to find that they would live behind barbed-wire fences, watched over by armed military police in guard towers.

Morgan Yamanaka: Arriving at Camps (oral history transcript)

Mutsu H.: A Human Being (oral history transcript)




click to enlarge click to enlarge click to enlarge



click to enlarge

"The sound of the camp gates closing behind us sent a searing pain into my heart. I knew it would leave a scar that would stay with me forever. At that very moment my precious freedom was taken from me." — Mary Tsukamoto, We the People

Masao W.: Rejection is Very Hard (oral history transcript)




click to enlarge click to enlarge



click to enlarge

" ...We had another violent dust storm... Soon barracks only a few feet away were completely obscured by walls of dust and I was terrified the wind would knock me off my feet. Every few yards, I stopped to lean against a barrack to catch my breath, then lowering my head against the wind, I plodded on." — Yoshiko Uchida, Desert Exile: The Uprooting of a Japanese American Family


Next Gallery: Conditions





Smithsonian - National Museum of American History - Behring Center
FLASH 5 RICH MEDIA VERSION