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click to enlarge REMOVAL

Registration of all Japanese Americans, both resident aliens and citizens, was the first step toward forced removal. In the spring of 1942, scenes like these were repeated in every Japanese American community along the Pacific Coast. General John L. DeWitt, military commander of the Western Defense Command, issued more than 100 military "Exclusion Orders" directed at civilians of Japanese ancestry living on the West Coast. These Exclusion Orders were based solely on race and ancestry.

click to enlarge "A Jap's a Jap. It makes no difference whether the Jap is a citizen or not."
— General John L. DeWitt, Commander, Western Defense Command, 1942
click to enlarge "I am determined that if they have one drop of Japanese blood in them, they must go to camp."
— Colonel Karl Bendetsen, Administrator, Wartime Civil Control Administration, 1942

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Timeline of Events

March 2, 1942
General DeWitt issues Public Proclamation Number 1, dividing the West Coast into military areas from which groups of individuals might be excluded under E.O. 9066.

March 11, 1942
General DeWitt names Colonel Karl R. Bendetsen as director of the Wartime Civil Control Administration, which would supervise the removal of Japanese Americans under E.O. 9066.

March 21, 1942
President Roosevelt signs Public Law 503, which makes violation of military orders issued under E.O. 9066 a federal offense. The bill passed in both houses of Congress without a dissenting vote.

March 24, 1942
General DeWitt issues Exclusion Order Number 1, ordering all Japanese resident aliens and Americans of Japanese ancestry on Bainbridge Island, near Seattle, Washington, removed under military guard.

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At first, the forced removal of all Japanese Americans from their homes on the West Coast was the responsibility of a newly organized Army agency, the Wartime Civil Control Administration (WCCA), headed by Colonel Karl R. Bendetsen. The WCCA divided the West Coast into 108 exclusion areas, each with a population of roughly 1,000 Japanese Americans. These residents were ordered to report to a central point in their neighborhoods from which they would be taken to an "approved destination." "Evacuees" could take only those possessions they could carry.

Sue Embrey: Registering After the Notice (oral history transcript)

Rae T.: FBI Search (oral history transcript)

Next Gallery: Moving Out

Smithsonian - National Museum of American History - Behring Center