Rare, haunting photos from the Japanese internment | KUOW News and Information

Rare, haunting photos from the Japanese internment

Feb 18, 2017

It’s not often that we look back on ugly times in our nation’s history. We’re not very good at that as Americans.

But the Japanese internment has been coming up a lot lately.

That’s because Donald Trump has focused on immigrants in the month that he has been in office, focusing on Mexicans and Muslims. He signed an executive order threatening cities like Seattle that don’t question undocumented immigrants, and another order to temporarily ban people from seven Muslim-majority countries. That order was put on hold by judges in Seattle and San Francisco.

The Japanese internment, which marks its 75th anniversary this year, also came out of an executive order signed by President Franklin D. Roosevelt. After the bombing of Pearl Harbor, Japanese-Americans along the West Coast were rounded up and sent to dusty camps in the desert, where they lived in shacks. They were released years later, often to total poverty.

If these walls could talk, the stories they would tell

Washington Gov. Jay Inslee told NPR: “My neighbors were locked up by the federal government and sent to camps for years while their sons fought in the Army in Italy and were decorated fighting for democracy. We regret that. We regret that we succumbed to fear. We regret that we lost moorage for who we were as a country. We shouldn't do that right now.”

Seattle Mayor Ed Murray, whose husband has relatives who were interned, also spoke out against Trump, saying the city would not be bullied into giving up its sanctuary status. 

Below are photos from the beginning of the round up of 110,000 Japanese-Americans in February 1942. Among them are several images by famed war-time photographer Dorothea Lange.

Original caption: Oakland, Calif., Mar. 1942. A large sign reading 'I am an American' placed in the window of a store, at 13th and Franklin streets, on December 8, the day after Pearl Harbor. The store was closed following orders to persons of Japanese descent to evacuate from certain West Coast areas. The owner, a University of California graduate, will be housed with hundreds of evacuees in War Relocation Authority centers for the duration of the war.
Credit Dorothea Lange/Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.print

Original caption: Lone Pine, Calif. May 1942. Three Japanese-American girls with suitcases, who have just arrived by train from Elk Grove and who will be transported by bus from Lone Pine to Manzanar, a War Relocation Authority Center where they will remain for the duration of war.
Credit Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

Original caption: Mrs. Shigeho Kitamoto had no time for tears when she was evacuated along with other Japanese from Bainbridge Island in Washington State on March 30, 1942. She was too busy looking after her four children. Corporal George Bushy, a member of the military guard that supervised the departure of 237 Japanese for California, gave her a hand with the youngest.
Credit AP Photo

Original caption: Japanese relocation, California. All baggage is inspected before newcomers enter the Santa Anita Park Assembly Center at Arcadia, California, for evacuees of Japanese ancestry. Evacuees are transferred later to War Relocation Authority Centers for the duration.
Credit Dorothea Lange/Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.print

A look at the barracks where Japanese-Americans were forced to live during the internment during World War II.
Credit Densho

Original caption: Los Angeles, Calif., April 1942. A shop just before Japanese were evacuated from Little Tokyo.
Credit Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

Interned Japanese, carrying belongings in paper bags, leave Seattle by train for Fort Missoula, Montana, on March 19, 1942, while relatives waved through station cars, right. A group of 150 internees had been held in the Seattle immigration station.
Credit AP Photo

A family upon arrival at Manzanar.
Credit Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

Japanese-Americans transferring from train to bus at Lone Pine, California, bound for the War Relocation Authority Center at Manzanar.
Credit Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA

Original caption: Manzanar, Calif. Apr. 1942. Yaeko Yamashita, in doorway, watching Fujiko Koba trying a new pair of geta, which are stilt-like sandals especially useful in dust. They are evacuees of Japanese descent living at the War Relocation Authority Center here.
Credit Library of Congress Prints and Photographs Division Washington, D.C. 20540 USA http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.print

An American soldier guards a Japanese internment camp at Manzanar, Calif., May 23, 1943.
Credit AP Photo