Exposing the Myths of World War II Internment in the United States

by

Arthur D. Jacobs

2005

There are three major myths regarding internment in the United States during World War II.  These are:

    1.  Japanese Americans were rounded up and interned en masse.

    2.  Interned Japanese Americans were not afforded individual hearings.

    3.  Japanese Americans were interned because of their race.

The purpose of this web page is to dispel each of these myths using facts obtained from the official records of the Federal Bureau of Investigation, which as of this writing [10/07/2005] may be found online at the FBI's Custodial Detention web page.  On this page the reader will find this paragraph:

"During the World War II era, records were maintained concerning the apprehension of individuals of German, Japanese, Italian, Rumanian, Hungarian and Bulgarian nationality."

The foregoing paragraph is followed by the names of three files:  Part 1a; Part 1b; and
Part 02.  The supporting information provided for this page comes from one or more of the files listed.

Background:

    Why are the three myths presented?  On August 10, 1988, Congress enacted Public Law 100-383, Civil Liberties Act of 1988.  This law was enacted to implement the recommendations of Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians.

    This law defined the term "eligible individual" as any individual of Japanese ancestry who is living on the date of the enactment of the cited Act and who during the internment period "December 7, 1941 and June 30, 1946 was confined, held in custody...or otherwise deprived of liberty or property as a result of any Executive Order, Presidential proclamation or law of the United States.

    The cited Act, P.L. 100-383, by definition, excludes any German Americans and/or Italian Americans who were similarly situated.  Thus German Americans and Italian Americans who were interned under various proclamations and/or laws of the United States were denied equal protection under the law.  A supposition/premise of P.L. 100-383 is that the Japanese Americans who were included as eligible in this Act were interned solely on the basis of their ancestry.  The facts of the matter are this was not the case.

    The Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians, Congress, judges, justices, law scholars, historians, and the media have been misled by the Department of Justice and the National Archives and Records Administration.    
 

Exposing the three major myths of internment.

    Myth 1.  Japanese Americans were rounded up and interned en masse.

                  The following table is an excerpt from an attachment to a Memorandum to the Director of the FBI, J. Edgar Hoover, from D.M. Ladd of the FBI, dated September 1, 1943.  As of October 7, 2005, the memorandum and table are available in their entirety at pages 162 through 164 of Custodial Detention Part 2 of 3 

                 

It is clear from the foregoing table that the interned Japanese Americans were not interned en masse.  Or in other words Japanese American permanent resident aliens were arrested individually as were the German American and Italian American permanent resident aliens.

    Myth 2.  Interned Japanese Americans were not afforded individual hearings.

        The following statements are taken from a Department of Justice press release dated October 30, 1943.  As of October 7, 2005 the complete press release may be read at pages 34 through 36 at Custodial Detention Part 2 of 3

The cited Department of Justice press release also includes the statement:

In other words all persons interned were afforded a hearing before a Hearing Board. 

    Myth 3.  Japanese Americans were interned because of their race.

The following statements are taken from a Department of Justice press release dated October 30, 1943.  As of October 7, 2005 the complete press release may be read at pages 34 through 36 at Custodial Detention Part 2 of 3

                       

                  

This press release makes it clear that permanent resident aliens of axis nations were interned because they were the nationality of the enemy.

Below is additional evidence to dispel the myth that Japanese Americans were interned en masse; see the third map below.

The maps were generated by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to reflect the number aliens arrested by the time indicated by each of the Field District Divisions noted on each of the maps through December 9, 1941.  It should be noted that the United States did not declare war on either Germany or Italy until December 11, 1941.

 

This next table was compiled in 1990 from information received as a result of the Freedom of Information request cited in the source statement of the table.  The data used for the following table is now available on line in pages 222 through 231 at Custodial Detention Part 2 of 3  In addition to the data at pages 222 through 231 there are earlier data available, for example, pages 24 through 33 information showing the arrests between December 7, 1941 and October 5, 1943 when the total Japanese American arrests were 5,872 versus 6,026 on June 30, 1945.  Other such reports show that on May 5, 1943 5,680 Japanese Americans had been arrested,  and according to an FBI memorandum dated March 2, 1943, 5,589 Japanese Americans had been apprehended by that date.  The latter memorandum is available on page 75 of the FBI file at Custodial Detention Part 1 of 3

 

Your questions and comments are welcomed.  Please send same to webteam@foitimes.com

Posted October 8, 2005, Updated October 9, 2012

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