71st Anniversary: Roosevelt’s Concentration Camps

On April 1, 1942, California announced the order for the arrest and deportation of Japanese citizens in California. They were sent into internment camps — read: concentration camps in Idaho. Here are photos and an accompanying account. Here are other photos.

We all know this story. President Roosevelt signed an executive order on February 19, 1942, authorizing the program. Congress never voted on this. The program was implemented by Secretary of War Henry Stimpson. The only major figure in Washington to oppose this was J. Edgar Hoover, the Director of the FBI.

The prisoners were released in early 1945. They were given $10 and a train ticket back home. But they had no homes to go to. Most of their homes had been sold, along with their possessions and businesses, at bargain basement auctions in 1942.

This executive order stayed on the books until February 19, 1976, when Gerald Ford rescinded it. In 1982, the American government issued a formal apology. It made token reparations to survivors of $20,000 each.

This is the airbrushed version. This part of the story could not be hidden from the public. It got into American history textbooks.

The suppressed version is worse.


The hard-core version is this: the U.S. government had several governments in South America round up Japanese residents, who were then shipped to the U.S. The government put them in concentration camps. These camps received no publicity. One of them was in Crystal City, Texas.

This was kidnapping, pure and simple.

This story is so horrifying that the history textbooks never mention it. You will see no show about it on the History Channel. You can read about ithere.

These people were sent to Japan after the war.

In 1945, delegates to the Mexico City Conference on the Problems of War and Peace agreed that “any person whose deportation was necessary for reasons of security of the continent” should be prevented from “further residing in this hemisphere if such residence should be prejudicial to the future security or welfare of the Americas.” In the United States, President Harry Truman issued a Presidential Proclamation in September that authorized the removal from the Western Hemisphere of enemy aliens “who are within the territory of the United States without admission under the immigration laws.”[9] Most of the Japanese Latin Americans, therefore, were forced to leave.

Between November 1945 and June 1946, more than 900 Japanese Peruvians repatriated to Japan.

That’s just part of it. The U.S. government insisted that about 5,000 Germans also be rounded up by Latin American governments and shipped here. Some of them were Jews. Then the government used them to trade for incarcerated Americans in Nazi Germany.

What’s that? You say you don’t recall reading about this in your high school U.S. history textbook? Or your college history textbook? Or in grad school when you earned your Ph.D in American history? Well, neither did I.

Did the beloved Franklin Roosevelt do this? His government did. So, down the memory hole went that story.

I wrote about it in 2001. A few sites did pick it up. The History Channel didn’t.

If it were not for the Internet, no one would remember the story.

I don’t think the government could get away with this again. The Internet would blow the cover off the story. Anyone who argues that things are getting worse for liberty in America does not know the story of Franklin Roosevelt’s New Deal.

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