Footnotes in History

I became quite fascinated with the Holocaust and the Italian “relocation” camps last fall. Jews were treated with respect in those camps and they were often allowed to continue to celebrate their faith. When I went to DC, I spent a few hours just wandering around the Holocaust museum, trying to soak up as much of the information about it as I could. In particular, I wanted to know if the Italian camps were represented within the museum. As far as I could tell, they were not. That was a shame because they would provide a small bright spot in an overwhelmingly dark period.

 This year, I want to learn about the relocation camps within the United States. It’s a part of our history that we don’t discuss or include in our history books. Many American citizens of Asian and Hawaiian descent were sent to them during WW2 in an attempt to squelch the possibility of espionage within the population. The camps that I know of were located in the American West. One is in California and the other in Eastern Oregon. I’m planning on visiting them and taking pictures. I’m also planning on interviewing survivors of the camps. I want to hear how they were treated, how they felt during their internment, and if they have any lingering resentment towards their country. I know two survivors so I’m going to start with them. If they are willing to talk, the circle may grow wider. If possible, I’d like to interview people who worked at the camps.

I know of two non-fiction books written on the camps within the last three years. Maybe I’ll write another. Who knows if anyone would read it – it’d certainly be a departure from my other books. I want to know how people were treated. Did American relocation camps resemble the infamous Nazi concentration camps or were they more similar to the Italian ones where citizens were treated with respect and dignity? I think the American people should know.

4 Responses to “Footnotes in History”
  1. Fig says:

    I had quite a few relatives in those camps, as well as many of my Grandparents’ closest friends (my grandparents themselves were in Japan at the time). My great-great uncle actually wrote a book, I believe of his sermons preached in Amache.

    My grandfather has visited many of the camps, taken pictures, compiled information, and conversed with many survivors. I know he would be happy to share anything you might find you need in the course of your research.

    I went with him to a round table discussion of the camps years ago. There were about fifteen people discussing their experiences as children in the camps. The attitudes ranged from boiling rage to utter forgiveness.

    Most of those people live in my area. If you come down here for research, it’d be great to meet you. 🙂

  2. Rachel says:

    hi, love 🙂

    One of those internment camps was at the present location of the Western Washington State fair in Puyallup, WA. Many Asians were held here. A sad blight on our history.

  3. Katherine Fan says:

    Hi, hon,

    Japanese-American internment camps were what got me to complete my Asian American studies major. 🙂 I had no idea they ever existed. Such are the joys of a homeschooled curriculum. You’d think my parents would’ve mentioned it more, too. <– you'd really like this book. The woman who used to work for the Vatican was my boss at IJM.

    • caitlinmuir says:

      I actually read that book right before I came to see you! There’s a review of it somewhere on my blog. 🙂

      I wish that more people talked about the internments. There have been a few books published in regional presses but they haven’t had much exposure.

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