Japanese-American Internment (1942-1945)
Internment- forced relocation and imprisonment without any trial
“In one of its policies, the United States came close to direct duplication of Fascism. This was in its
treatment of the Japanese-Americans living on the West Coast. After the Pearl Harbor attack, anti-Japanese
hysteria spread in the government. One Congressman said: „I‟m for catching every Japanese in America,
Alaska and Hawaii now and putting them in concentration camps…Damn them! Let‟s get rid of them!‟
Franklin D. Roosevelt did not share this frenzy, but he calmly signed Executive Order 9066, in February
1942, giving the army the power, without warrants or indictments (formal criminal charges) or hearings, to
arrest every Japanese-American on the West Coast—110,000 men, women, and children—to take them from
their homes, transport them to camps far into the interior, and keep them in prison conditions. Three-fourths
of these were Nisei—children born in the United States of Japanese parents and therefore American citizens.
The other fourth—the Issei, born in Japan, were barred by law from becoming citizens. In 1944 the Supreme
Court upheld the forced evacuation on the grounds of military necessity. The Japanese remained in those
camps for over three years.”
-Howard Zinn‟s A People’s History of the United States, p. 416
1. From the reading above, what was Executive Order 9066?
2. What are two ways that the United States discriminated against Japanese-Americans prior to
the attack on Pearl Harbor in 1941?
3. Did General DeWitt‟s report on Japanese-Americans produce any evidence that they were in
fact a danger to the United States?
4. Did Executive Order 9066 apply to German-Americans or Italian-Americans?
5. Describe what life was like in the internment camps.
6. What was the most highly decorated U.S. military unit during WWII? Does this surprise you?
7. How valuable did General Willoughby think that the MIS was for the U.S. war effort?
8. What is one way that Americans displayed racial prejudice after the September 11th attacks?
9. Do you think it‟s possible that the United States could inter another group of Americans again?
Why or why not?
10. Think about how Germany and the United States treated its citizens during WWII. In a
thoughtful response (at least THREE paragraphs):
a. Compare/contrast the experiences of German Jews and Japanese-Americans. Be as
specific as possible, citing evidence from your question answers.
b. How does, or how can, war change a society, both positively and negatively?
i. Think about values: democracy, freedom, unity, duty, sacrifice, patriotism,
ii. Think about people: women, children, soldiers, military leaders, politicians,
minorities, etc., from both sides of the war. For example, you might want to talk
about how the main character‟s mother in The Boy in Striped Pajamas changed
dramatically throughout the movie as a result of her husband‟s war actions.