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Internment of Japanese Americans

     As usual, David Pike brings his erudition to bear on this problem:
     I have many hard things to say about the Japanese in World War II, and in my new book Twilight of a Totalitarianism, which Peter Lang (New York and Zurich) will bring out next year. I say them, but I find no balance in the recent exchange of opinion on the subject of the Japanese-Americans in that period. No one has mentioned the contribution of the 33,000 Japanese-Americans who served in the US military, some of them drafted straight from the camps when they came of age. The US 100th Infantry Battalion, made up entirely of Nisei, fought in Tunisia and Italy and won more medals than any other unit of its size. Its casualties were enormous, but the relics of the battalion were moved into the 42nd Regimental Combat Team and they gained the same distinction.

     Allow me to mention a few more passages from my book.
     -- Fifty years after the war, not a single documented act of espionage, sabotage or fifth-column activity had been attributed to a Japanese-American, whether before or after the Roosevelt edict.
     -- The Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians showed that the internment of the Japanese-Americans was the product of "racial prejudice, war hysteria, and a failure of political leadership."
     -- The sweep in 1942 was broadened to South America. Some 2,200 South Americans of Japanese ancestry were deported to the United States. Most of these were Peruvians, deported with the approval of the Peruvian Government. They included businessmen and community leaders, with their families. During the seaboard voyage north, these Latin Americans were deprived of their passports. Upon their arrival, they were labeled "illegal aliens." More than 800 were shipped off to Japan in exchange for American civilians held by the Japanese. The rest were sent to an internment camp in Crystal City, Texas. After the war most of them ended up deported to Japan.

     Since I spent the war in England, I'm curious to know what happened to German and Italian aliens in the UK and naturalized Britons of German and Italian origin, especially the antifascist refugees. I don't know that any book has been written on the subject. I seem to remember that there was a camp for aliens in the Isle of Man, but I haven't heard that any naturalized Britons were sent there. I remember that the chief medical officer in my school at the beginning of the war was German, and he remained in his post through the war.

     My comment: All this is true and important, but it should be noted that the Japanese were sent to fight in Europe, where their loyalty was not involved. Think of the German Americans who were sent to fight Germans.
     I was a child in England during World War I, and some wives of interned Germans were billeted with us. They were free, although I imagine they were restricted to the Torquay area. They got along with my mother (my father had been conscripted). The German women were very kind to me and put up with my childish nonsense. The situation was tragic because we saw young Englishmen going off the fight and hospital trains bringing back the wounded, some in horrible shape, to a local sanitarium.

Ronald Hilton - 10/13/99