Well, dudes- I don’t know if you are getting all the recent propaganda attacking the USA and it’s internment camps, but somehow I can’t get them to listen & print th etruth. So, even if you non-californios haven’t seen the who-ra in the press, here is my take on it.

There are three separate issues to be considered. First- is the legal, moral & normal internment of “Enemy Aliens” in time of war. International law assumes you are loyal to the nation you are a citizen of, not the nation you are a (perhaps temporary) resident of. Thus, the USA had every right- legal & moral- to intern Citizens of Germany, Italy & Japan during WWII. Most every belligerant did the same. Same for WWI.

This also protects the internee. If you were a US Citzen auto worker, working in Germany prior to Dec 1941, and the Germans did not intern you- and you kept working for th eGermans… you could (and some were) be prosecuted for Treason or aiding & abetting.

Thus, the US (or any other combatant’s) internment of Enemy Aliens during WWII is not a “national discrace” or “shame”. It was the right & legal thing to do.
But next- we have the internment here in CA of US Citizens who happened to be of Japanese descent. This was racism, pure & simple, and not morally right. SCOTUS said it was legal, true, but …

Thus - yes, we could & should have interned a “green card” permanent Resident, but not the Citizen. Clear? We owed (and paid) the US Citizens we interned a debt. We owe nada to the citizens of the enemy nations we interned- not even an apology.
Thirdly- the rounding up of “illegal” aliens for potential terrorist nations. We are not yet at “war” (nations don’t very often bother with an actual “declaration” anymore, however, if we invade Iraq, we’ll be “at war” with them, declaration or no*). Thus, we do not have a moral or legal right to “intern enemy aliens”, as there is no enemy. Now, in some/most of these cases, the alien is not here legally, thus they have some right to detain those who have no legal immegration status. But- this is not “internment”, and should not be confused with it.
*(thus, yes, for a breif time, we were de facto “at war” with the Taliban government of Afganistan)


It was not only enemy aliens which were interred during WWII, but US citizens of Japanese, German and Italian ancestry. Children of immigrants were interred, though they were natural-born American. At the Minidoka Relocation Center, 2/3 of the inmates were American citizens, supposedly covered by the same Constitutional rights as you or I, something which was utterly ignored because they were of Asian, German or Italian ancestry.The U.S. Supreme Court ruled in *Hirabayashi v U.S., *Yasui v U.S. , and * Korematsu v U.S. * that the denial of civil liberties based on race and national origin were legal. In a later, contradictory ruling in Endo v. U.S., the Supreme Court decided that a loyal citizen could not be detained, but this did not stop the internment.


It was not for the protection of the Japanese and Germans that these people were interred, but ostensibly to prevent sabotage and espionage. Propaganda posters hinted that Japanese people may look like average Americans, but really were just spies for the Emporer. People were inundated with images that saboteurs were around every corner, and paranoia led to hatred and mistrust. The Japanese, being more identifiable, caught the brunt of the abuse.

There were numerous hate crimes against Asians. The violence was so widespread that * Time * magazine was obliged to run an article entitled “How to Tell the Chinese from a Jap” because people were heaping abuse on the wrong nationality, and Chinese people wore buttons which proclaimed them as such. (No where in the article was the violence condemned. People were just cautioned to make sure they had the right Asians. It was complete with a diagram explaining the difference in Japanese and Chinese faces.) You can see the Chinese diagram here. You can see the “Jap” here. Read the text of the article here.

According to this site:

Ironically enough, the Japanese people living on Hawaii, site of the attacks that touched off the war, were never interred because of the difficulty of transporting them to the mainland. Also ironic is the fact that the only people convicted of spying for Japan during WWII were caucasians.

The "Forgotten Internees of WWII are the Alaskan Natives, whom we call the “Aleut” but are correctly called “Unanga.” The Unanga were removed from their homes in the Aleutian and Pribilof Islands and were herded into cramped transport ships, most allowed only a single suitcase. The soldiers burned their villages as they left to prevent them from “falling into Japanese hands” though non-Native villages were undisturbed, and the non-Native inhabitants allowed to go on with their daily lives.

For two years they would remain in the camps, which were abandoned canneries, with inadequate heat and sanitation. Illness of one form or another struck almost all the evacuees, but medical care was often nonexistent, and the authorities were dismissive of the Unanga complaints. Nearly ten percent of the internees died at the camps.


It was pointless, racist, and cruel. These people were forced to sell their possessions for pennies on the dollar, quit their jobs, give away their pets, and leave their homes. The American citizens were denied their Constitutional rights. They were considered guilty, without any evidence, and nothing they did could adequately prove their loyalty. Many young Japanese-American men fought for the United States while their families were imprisoned. The highly decorated, all Japanese-American 100th Battalion /442nd Regimental Combat Team that fought in Italy is one example of this irony.

I would like to share this quote with you:

The Federal Reserve Bank declared that they would not be responsible for “loss” of possessions of internees committed to their care, so most internees declined to store their things with banks, and instead sold them for whatever they could get, rather than lose them entirely.

Some internees were German people who had immigrated to South America. They were rounded up and brought to the United States, ostensibly to use for prisoner exchange with Germany, though only a few such trades were made. Some were Jews trying to escape the Holocaust. The ones sent back to Germany were usually put into concentration camps because the Germans were concerned that they were spies for the US.


I can’t disagree with this more strongly. Our country is supposed to stand for something: for decency, for justice, and for fair treatment for all. People immigrate to the United States to escape oppressive, cruel and injust governments. How can we hold up our heads as the paragon of Democracy’s principles if we act just like those governments we are taught to despise for their cruelty?

An apology is the LEAST of what we owe to anyone we unjustly imprisoned, regardless of their nationality. My God, we would go ballistic if a country rounded up our citizens and imprisoned them without just cause. We would call them evil, barbaric and cruel, given that these people were guilty of nothing but being Americans.

Yeah, well, once it was perfectly legal to own people who happened to be darker-skinned than a paper bag. Assuming you had a valid title to them, that is.

America is what we make of it. Nothing more… and nothing less.

Hell of a note when terrorists can scare us into letting politicians pull stunts like this. There will come a time of shame over this.


I don’t blame the terrorists. I don’t even necessarily blame our leaders, though they took shameless advantage of a tragedgy to weaken civil liberties, and they’re the ones who try to keep America in a panic to further their political agenda. I blame the American people for being so poorly educated as to what is going on in the world around them, and for being so apathetic politically. It’s the American who hears half of the story, or a rumor and takes it as gospel truth who’s to blame. It’s the American with the deplorably short memory, easily confused and ignorant, yet loudly vocal in their opinion who is to blame. (Such as revealed in the poll which showed that 30% believed that all of the September 11th terrorists came from Iraq, and 66% thought that Saddam was responsible for the attacks.) It’s the American who wholeheartedly believes slanted and biased stories in the media without doing any further research who is responsible for the mess we’re in.

There’s much truth in the old adage that a country gets the kind of government that it deserves, and even more truth in the statement made almost two hundred years ago by one of our founding fathers: “He who would sacrifice liberty for security deserves neither.”

Bullshit. There’s no such thing as “de facto” war. We are not at war, dude. That argument won’t wash.

It really helps to read the OP before you post. Now, go back up, and read the OP (that’s my first post here). I’ll wait…:rolleyes:
… Ok, done?

Now, see where I said it was “legal & moral” to intern ENEMY ALIENS? (An “enemy alien” is a citizen of a nation we are at war with.) Not US citizens. You can’t normally be both an “enemy alien” and a US Citizen. Then go to point #2, where I state clearly that interning US CITIZENS was WRONG. Got that? “Enemy aliens”= Yes, Citizens= NO! Sheesh.

In WWI, and in WWII, all the US Citizens in the Central Powers or the Axis nations were “rounded up and imprisoned”. GB did the same to it’s enemies. So did France. Heck, even Neutral powers “interned” soldiers (such as pilots who bailed out over their borders) who entered their borders- Switzerland & Sweden had quite a few Allied soldiers in internment camps until WWII was over. Standard practice, legal & accepted under International Law. Ireland had both Germans & Brits in their camps.

Of course, small children of such enemy aliens born in the USA would be “dual status” citizens. Since it would be wrong to forcibly separate them from their parents, if their parents were “enemy aliens”, then they’d probably have to stay with their parents.

Yes, indeed- there were hate crimes against the Japanese. There were hate crimes against the Germans too- even in WWI. That has nothing what-so-ever to do with “internments”.
Diogenes- if you are of the opinion that “war” only happens when a formal declaration is issued- well, you’re simply wrong. Governments don’t bother with such declarations any more. But you are right- (AFAIK right now) we are “not at war”. However, when we invaded Afganistan, a sovereign nation- we were- at least until the Taliban was no longer the legal government.


Look, in this world, you can’t assume someone knows anything. I was trying to give a general over-view of internment in case you, or anyone else reading this thread was not familiar with the history. No need to be snippy.


I know the difference between a citizen and an enemy alien. I think it wrong to imprision * either * without due cause. A piece of paper and a quick oath administered in an office does not fundamentally change a person. If they were a “threat” worthy of being rounded uip and placed in camps two days before they took that oath, then it would stand to reason that they’re still a threat afterward. (The only difference is that a citizen is supposed to be protected by the Constitution, which was not the case during WWII.) My point being that if it is wrong to imprison people who posess that piece of paper, then it must be wrong to imprison those without it.

Internment is nothing more than profiling taken to extremes. It is ignorant and unjust to paint everyone from a certain nation with one brush, especially when there is no evidence that they pose any danger, or threat whatsoever. We deplore nations which imprison people, citizens or no, without just cause, and yet we’re willing to act just like them out of fear and prejudice.


So? Just because other nations do it, that makes it autmoatically “okay”? I’ve heard that in the old U.S.S.R they used to round people up without just cause as well.

As I said before, this country is supposed to stand for something. Around the world, oppressed peoples dream of America, the shining beacon of democracy and justice. We’re the example, the standard, to which all other governments are compared. Acts such as wholesale internment diminish this standing in the eyes of the world, and make us look like hypocrites.

I’ll give you one example of an “enemy alien” interred during WWII: Eddie Friede, a German Jew who escaped the concentration camps only to be thrown into a camp once he reached the United States. How terrifying that must have been for him, and how ironic to look up at the American flag from beind barbed wire, watching armed guards pace in the towers.

These people did nothing wrong! Their only crime was their nation of origin. These were people trying to start a new life in our “land of the free” who found themselves losing everything they had worked for, for no reason other than anger and mistrust.

Despite a person’s citizenship status, how is it right or justified to treat them like criminals when they have neither been accused or convicted of a crime? In no way were these people a legitimate threat to security, nor was it proved that any of them were disloyal.

In this country, we have a system of justice which involves, but is not limited to, a right to a trial, and a right to counsel when someone, even an alien, is accused of a crime. These people were declared criminals and imprisioned without these benefits, and without any due process.

Forget for a moment the moral and ethical considerations, and answer this: how is it beneficial? Camps are expensive to build and maintain, even if you keep the inmates in the poor conditions of the WWII detainee camps. The sheer manpower involved in rounding up and transporting these people is staggering. Thus far, we have experienced no acts of sabotage that would justify such an expense, and the idea of espionage actually harming this country in any significant way is almost laughable. Not to mention that internment for no clear reason or cause would hurt our prestige in the eyes of the world.


The children suffered far worse than internment alone. They lost their homes, their schools, their sense of security, and their faith in democracy. How terrible it must be to know that even as a citizen, the Constitution does not protect you from being rounded up and shoved into camps. It’s a miracle that being so unjustly treated did not push these people over the edge into becoming the danger they were accused of being.

And it wasn’t just “small children.” Imagine those soldiers of the 100th Battalion /442nd Regimental Combat Team returning from war and finding that they had no home anymore because mom and dad had been thrown into a camp and as a result lost their house and their jobs or business. I know I’d be bitter.


You spoke of the camps being a “protection” for the internees against accusations of sabotage. My statements about the hate crimes grew out of this.

But to adress your point more directly, I’m not so sure that the internees would be all that grateful for this “protection.” In their shoes, I’d rather take my chances with an accusation of espionage or sabotage, instead of getting the “sentance” without committing any crime. I’m also quite sure the German government’s motivation was not concern for the welfare of the thousands of people they locked up.

To be perfectly blunt, I would be sickened, appalled, and ashamed if my government ever again rounded up aliens the way they did during WWII. This is not in line with what we’re supposed to stand for, and it is a national shame, indeed.

Let’s go over this again. It is standard practice, enshrined in International law to “intern” (which is not “imprison”, note) “enemy aliens”, ie citizens of the nations one is at war with. No- “the fact that other countries do it does not make it OK”. The fact that it has been done for centuries and by nearly every nation, and is generally accepted- that’s what makes it “OK”.

If these “enemy aliens” were in fact loyal to the USA, then indeed- they were, by definition- being 'disloyal". They were being disloyal to the nation they were Citizens of. One is expected to be loyal to the nation one is a citizen of, you know. I am loyal to the USA. Even if I make a vacation to Canada or Mexico- I continue being a US Citizen, and continue being loyal to the USA. Evene if I got a job overseas- I would STILL continue to be loyal to the USA. That is the whole point- you are expected to be loyal to the nation you are a citizen of. If you are loyal to it’s enemy… well, they have a word for that- it’s “treason”.

Nor did I say that the interned enemy aliens were being protected from “accusations of sabotage”. Once a war is over, one side usually is the winner. If any of their citizens continued to work & support the enemy nation, they’d be accused of “aiding & abetting” or even treason. It happened to several Allied citizens who kept working for the Nazis after their home nation declared war. Heck- Russia shot quite a few dudes for this, you know. Thus- being interned protects one from this. Now, sure- Germany & Japan weren’t in any condition to try their “disloyal citizens” after the war. That’s because we won. If we hadn’t have won, they have accused many of their citizens who supported us of treason, etc. (Well, no, they simply would have rounded them up & shot them, but still…).

The Nazis also rounded up lots of their citizens. We had war crimes trials for this, and hung many of their leaders for doing so. But they were not accused of the crime of rounding up Allied citizens… as long as those citizens were only “interned” (actually, many were returned to their native nation. This protected many Jews). That’s because interning “enemy aliens” isn’t illegal or a “war crime”.

Nor should one treat “every person from a certain nation” “with one brush”. Their country of origin, or their racial background should have nothing to do with it. OTOH, their citizenship, their SWORN loyalty to a nation- should have everything to do with it.

You seem to think that citizenship is “only a piece of paper and a quick oath”. No, it is far more than that. If that’s all you think it is- I am truly sorry for you.

The “enemy aliens” were NOT “declared criminals”. No criminal record was filed, no charges. They were interned because they were exactly that- citizens of a nation we were at war with, citizens who MUST BE ASSUMED to be loyal to that nation.

Oddly, in some wierd way- the racial profiling we did so- by interning Nisei Citizens- protected them from being imprisoned. Some 50000 of them refused to sign a statement saying they were loyal to the USA, and would serve in the armed forces. They simply continued to be “interned”, whereas US Citizens of other heritage would have been sent to Leavenworth for 5 years for refusing to serve.

Note also that in theory, all the internees property was sold (by them) at FMV- it was not “siezed”. However, it is true that many Japanese did not recieve anything like FMV due to the circumstances.


Slavery was also once standard practice and generally accepted for centuries by the many nations which practiced it. It didn’t make it “okay.”


When you’re on vacation, or take a temporary assignment overseas, you’re not trying to start a new life in a new country, or to immigrate. A lot of these people probably never intended to return to their homeland. They were trying to settle in our country.

There are many reasons why these people may not have become citizens immediately, and not necessarily because they hesitated to sever their ties to their homeland out of loyalty. Gaining citizenship is a long process, and if these people were struggling to build a new life and become fluent in their new language, it may have taken even longer. Some feared to become citizens because of potential repercussions against family who remained in the Old Country. Some saw no need because their children were already citizens.


In no way was it realisticly thought that America might be taken over, so the concept of Japanese and German people in the United States being punished by their invading homelands after the war is not a valid excuse.


This is the first time I have ever heard of Nazi camps “protecting” Jews.

There, of course, is a difference between a prisoner of war and an internee. Not many Americans chose to stay in Germany or Japan once they saw the way the wind was blowing.


So, just because one is a citizen, they cannot disagree with their home nation? I am an American, yet I do not blindly support everything my country does.

So, at this point, it would be acceptable for Iraq to round up all Americans and place them in camps in anticipation of war? (I think we would probably referr to this as “hostage taking.”) What about the “War on Terrorism?” Is it acceptable for the nations which support terrorism, and thus are targets, to round up our citizens?


No, that’s not all that I think there is to citizenship. My point was that if someone intends to immigrate for the purpose of infiltration and sabotage, becoming a citizen will not fundamentally change that person and make them less of a danger. In this scenario, the new citizen would not be interred, and would be free to comit whatever acts he wished, while his innocent, and harmless non-citizen neighbor would be placed in a camp. If you intend to remain loyal to your home nation, becoming an American citizen will not magically change that.

Precisely. They were * treated * as criminals without being able to defend themselves against the accusation.


This is ridiculous. The Jew who fled Nazi Germany to save his life was still loyal to the regime who killed his people? The Japanese internees whose sons fought for America were still loyal to Japan?


Cite? As I understand, a good deal of them were imprisoned even after signing loyalty oaths, or never even given the opprotunity. Nothing they did could adequately prove their loyalty. Personally, I would be somewhat offended if it was demanded that I sign anything to “prove” my loyalty when I had done nothing to make myself suspect. On the other hand, if I meant this nation harm, I would happily sign and go about my nefarious business. A piece of paper is only worth the value with which the signer gives it.

These camps were not nice places to live. Pictures show some of them to be about as comfortable as the avgerage concentration camp; some of them were filthy, lacking in essential sanitation facilities and temperature control. Some lacked adequate medical facilites. They were prisons, surrounded by barbed wire, and guards with machine guns.

As if the distinction between seizure and forced sale makes any difference. They still lost everything they had worked for. They lost the pets that they loved, family heirlooms, and their faith in our system of government. As I said before, I’m surprised that rage and frustration didn’t turn them into dangerous people.

You did not answer my question: what are the benefits of internment, besides a vague “protection” against accusations of treason by a conquering enemy?

:eek: :eek: :eek: :eek: :eek: :eek: :eek: :eek: :eek: :eek: :eek:

You just lost all credibility. Right there.

Additionally, it’s completely terrible to take away people’s freedom since they belong to a certain group. You can call it “interning”, 'imprisoning", or whatever, but it’s the same thing.
You’re taking away people’s freedoms. Not because they committed a crime, but because they were a member of a particular group.

To imprison anyone becuase of possible future actions is immoral and unamerican.

Let me tell you something DrDeth. You can rationalize the internment of Japanese citizens in the US all you want, but what you don’t realize is that they were legally prevented from becoming citizens.

Absolutely true. Asians were prohibited by law from naturalizing as U.S. citizens until (IIRC) 1952 or so. I’ll try to dig up a cite if anyone’s interested.

True- some were wanting to make the USA their home, and thus transfer loyalties. Some, OTOH, were not- they were still 100% loyal to Nazi Germany. How do you know which are which? Note that as the war went on- we began to release those who claimed they were loyal, and had always intended to become US Citizens.

The nazi camps did not protect the Jews. Being declared an “enemy alien”, or a citizen of a neutral nation so that you could be exchanged or leave Germany protected many Jews. Remember Wallenberg? He gave many Jews who were non-swedes Swedish papers, so they they could get out. If you were an American Jew, you also usually got to leave- after you were interned for a while- they were exchanged for “good germans” who wanted to get back to the Reich. And there, if nothing else is one “benefit” of internment. Many Allied Jews got to leave Germany, instead of going to the concentration camps- as they were exchanged for “loyal germans” we had “interned”. If we had not interned the “loyal germans” we wouldn’t have had anyone to exchange- thus the Allied Jews would likely have died in the Concentration camps.

shonuff - you got that? Those non-german Jews who got to leave Germany did NOT go to the concentration camps- they got exchanged for interned Germans. I’d say that was a pretty darn good “protection”. Where would you rather be, if you were an American Jew who had been visiting relatives when Hitler declared war? Back in America, after beriefly being “interned” then exchanged for a Nazi? Or staying in the Reich, in Aushwitz? I dunno, but that choice is pretty esy for me to make.

They were not interned because of “possible future actions” they were interned because of a right now, current fact- they were citizens of a nation we were at war with.

They were still legally citizens of Imperial Japan.

And for the 3rd time, Eva- Allied Citzens that continued to work for the Axis were accused after the war of “treason” or “aiding & abetting”- some were shot. There were not a lot of them- as most had been interned, and even echanged. But if all the Americans had stayed in Japan & Germany, and not been interned- they would have worked in jobs & such. Thus, they would have been to some extent supporting Nazi Germany or Tojo Japan. And- then to some extent- they would have been traitors. Being interned protected them from this- and also to a large extent allowed them to go home. (The USA had so many more Axis citizens that the Axis had US citizens that most of ours got back to the USA, whereas only a few of theirs were exchanged)

But what does this have to do with my post? It seemed that some posters were trying to imply that non-U.S.-born Japanese residing in the U.S. were somehow more likely to have suspect loyalties because of the mere fact of their citizenship. I was merely trying to point out that they couldn’t have naturalized as U.S. citizens before or during the war, even if they’d wanted to. The overwhelming majority had for all intents and purposes made the U.S. their permanent home, but could not become U.S. citizens by operation of law. This was not true for Germans or Italians.


I used to work in Immigration Court; one of the U.S. Immigration Judges is a Japanese-American whose grandmother was among the internees who later received government compensation. (Ah, sweet irony.) My thanks to him for most of my knowledge about this phenomenon, because Lord knows I didn’t learn about it in my high school U.S. History class.

I’ll probably regret this, but I really want to know what kind of answer I’ll get from the good doctor:

What about the United States citizens of Japanese ancestry? They were also subject to the internment order. And they certainly weren’t citizens of Japan.

Not really.
Some immigrants were Japanese citizens (mostly because we had denied them the right to be naturalized), however, the majority of the ethnic Japanese, placed in concentration camps solely on the basis of their ethnic identity, were U.S. citizens. The Supreme Court had ruled in 1898 that the children of aliens who were born on U.S. soil were natural born citizens–as most of those interned were.
The number of people detained as citizens of Germany and its European allies actually exceeded the number of ethnic Japanese detained, however there was a specific difference: the Europeans were detained based on their visas and passports or because they were deemed risks after an investigation. The ethnic Japanese were simply interned without probable cause.

Do you happen to have a reference indicating that this occurred on any more than the rarest occasions? Any figures for the numbers of exchanges?

Yes, you’re right- I am not sure as the the actual ratio, but the USA interned a lot of Japanese-Americans who were US Citizens. And, as I said in my first post- this was wrong, and both immoral & racist- even if it seems to have been legal. But for some reason, even tho I keep saying this over & over, dudes keep saying we interned US Citzens and that was wrong- and making that point in such a way as if they are disagreeing with me.

Again- only the internment of the Axis Citizens was right. Not a citizen of Nazi Germany, Imperial Japan, etal? - then internment by the USA was wrong.
I can look it up, or anyone can Google it. If this thread is still alive on Monday, I’ll get you some sort of figures. Not anywhere near the number of Japanese-americans we interned, however. Some thousand? How many did Wallenberg save?

Why are we arguing this? Surely we learned our lesson and will never again detain people without any appeal just because of panic, will we?

Oh, we are? Gee, nobody ever tells me anything!

What about the Japanese citizens that were not allowed to become naturalized US citizens? Was that right? That’s one helluva Catch-22 you seem to be accepting.

One of the main reasons that the Japanese in Hawai’i were not interned was that they made up a sizeable percentage of the labor force at the time. It there were no Japanese working in the Islands during WWII, it would have been very hard to get sugar even with rationing.

Instead Hawai’i was put under martial law.

Keep in mind also that the internment order only applied to the West Coast, Japanese-Americans living outside of a certain area could go on with little or no restrictions.

Interning Arab-Americans, besides likely being declared unconstitutional, would be a logistical nightmare. It would be impossible just to determine just who would have to be interned and then go find those people. Arab communities in the U.S. are not centered in any one particular part of the country.