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[TIMELINE] War Relocation Authority of May 1943 / Internment Camps

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  • madchinaman
    War Relocation Authority Washington, D.C. May 1943 http://www.sfmuseum.org/hist10/relocbook.html - The relocation centers, however, are NOT and ever were
    Message 1 of 1 , Aug 11, 2006
      War Relocation Authority
      Washington, D.C.
      May 1943
      http://www.sfmuseum.org/hist10/relocbook.html


      -

      The relocation centers, however, are NOT and ever were intended to
      be internment camps or places of confinement. They were established
      for two primary purposes:

      (1) To provide communities where evacuees might live and contribute,
      through their work, to their own support pending their gradual
      reabsorption into private employment and normal American life; and

      (2) to serve as wartime homes for those evacuees who might be unable
      or unfit to relocate in ordinary American communities. Under
      regulations adopted in September of 1942, the War Relocation
      Authority is now working toward a steady depopulation of the centers
      by urging all able-bodied residents with good records of behavior to
      reenter private employment in agriculture or industry.

      *

      Conservation of Evacuee Property

      When 110,000 people of Japanese descent were evacuated from the
      Pacific coast military area during the spring and summer of 1942,
      they left behind in their former locations an estimated total of
      approximately $200,000,000 worth of real, commercial and personal
      property. These properties range from simply household appliances to
      extensive commercial and agricultural holdings.

      At the time of evacuation, many of the evacuees disposed of their
      properties, especially their household goods, in quick sales that
      frequently involved heavy financial losses. The majority, however,
      placed their household furnishings in storage and retained their
      interest in other holdings even after they were personally
      transferred to relocation centers. Since these people are not in the
      position of absentee owners and since many of their properties are
      highly valuable in the war production effort, the War Relocation
      Authority is actively assisting them to keep their commercial and
      agricultural properties in productive use though lease or sale and
      is helping them in connection with a wide variety of other property
      problems.

      -


      Background
      During the spring and summer of 1942, the United States Government
      carried out, in remarkably short time and without serious incident,
      one of the largest controlled migrations in history. This was the
      movement of 110,000 people of Japanese descent from their homes in
      an area bordering the Pacific coast into 10 wartime communities
      constructed in remote areas between the Sierra Nevada Mountains and
      the Mississippi River.

      The evacuation of these people was started in the early spring of
      1942. At that time, with the invasion of the west coast looming as
      an imminent possibility, the Western Defense Command of the United
      States Army decided that the military situation required the removal
      of all person of Japanese ancestry from a broad coastal strip. In
      the weeks that followed, both American-born and alien Japanese
      residents were moved from a prescribed zone comprising the entire
      State of California, the western half of Oregon and Washington, and
      the southern third of Arizona.

      The Relocation Program

      The United States Government having called upon these people to move
      from their homes, also assumed a responsibility for helping them to
      become established. To carry out this responsibility, the President
      on March 18, 1942, created a civilian agency known as the War
      Relocation Authority.

      The job of this agency, briefly, is to assist in the relocation of
      any persons who may be required by the Army to move from their homes
      in the interest of military security. So far, the work of the WRA
      has been concerned almost exclusively with people of Japanese
      descent who formerly lived close to the Pacific rim of the country.

      At first, plans were made by the Western Defense Command and the WRA
      to build accomodations only for a portion of the 110,000 evacuated
      people. A considerable percentage of them, it was hoped, would move
      out of the restricted area and resettle inland on their own
      initiative. During March of 1942, some 8,000 actually did move, but
      the great majority were held back by limited resources, general
      uncertainty, and mounting signs of community hostility in the
      intermountain region. By the latter part of March, it had become
      apparent that such a large-scale exodus could be handled effectively
      on a planned and systematic basis. Accordingly, all further
      voluntary evacuation was halted by the Western Defense Command on
      March 29 and plans were initiated by the WRA for establishing
      relocation centers with sufficient capacity and facilities to handle
      the entire evacuated population for as long as might be necessary.

      The relocation centers, however, are NOT and ever were intended to
      be internment camps or places of confinement. They were established
      for two primary purposes: (1) To provide communities where evacuees
      might live and contribute, through their work, to their own support
      pending their gradual reabsorption into private employment and
      normal American life; and (2) to serve as wartime homes for those
      evacuees who might be unable or unfit to relocate in ordinary
      American communities. Under regulations adopted in September of
      1942, the War Relocation Authority is now working toward a steady
      depopulation of the centers by urging all able-bodied residents with
      good records of behavior to reenter private employment in
      agriculture or industry.

      The procedures are relatively simple. At a number of key cities
      throughout the interior of the country, the WRA has field employees
      known as relocation officers and relocation supervisors. These men,
      working in close collaboration with local volunteer committees of
      interested citizens and with the United States Employment Service,
      seek out employment opportunities for evacuees in their respective
      areas and channel such information to the relocation centers where
      an effort is made to match up the jobs with the most likely evacuee
      candidates. Direct negotiations are then started between the
      employer and the potential employee and final arrangements are made
      ordinarily by mail.

      Before any evacuee is permitted to leave a relocation center for the
      purpose of taking a job or establishing normal residence, however,
      certain requirements must be met:

      A careful check is made of the evacuee's behavior record at the
      relocation center and of other information in the hands of the WRA.
      In all questionable cases, any information in the possession of the
      federal investigative agencies is requested and studied. If there is
      any evidence from any source that the evacuee might endanger the
      security of the Nation, permission for indefinite leave is denied.
      There must be reasonable assurance from responsible officials or
      citizens regarding local sentiment in the community where the
      evacuee plans to settle. If community sentiment appears so hostile
      to all persons of Japanese descent that the presence of the evacuee
      seems likely to cause trouble, the evacuee is so advised and
      discouraged from relocating in that particular area.
      Indefinite leave is granted only to evacuees who have a definite
      place to go and some means of support.
      Each evacuee going out on indefinite leave must agree to keep the
      WRA informed of any change of job or address.
      The primary purpose of this program is to restore as many of the
      evacuees as possible to productive life in normal American
      communities.
      The specific procedures being followed have been approved by the
      Department of Justice as sound from the standpoint of national
      security and have been endorsed by the War Manpower Commission as a
      contribution to national manpower needs. As the program moves
      forward, the costs of maintenance of the relocation centers will be
      steadily reduced.

      Persons interested in employing evacuees from relocations centers
      for any sort of work should communicate with the nearest relocation
      supervisor of the WRA. The addresses and names of these supervisors
      are:



      The Evacuated People

      In the interest of both accuracy and fairness, it is important to
      distinguish sharply between the residents of relocation centers and
      the militarists of Imperial Japan. Two-thirds of the people in the
      centers are American citizens, born in this country and educated,
      for the most part, in American public schools. At all centers, the
      residents have bought thousands of dollars worth of war bonds and
      have made significant contributions to the American Red Cross. Many
      of them have sons, husbands, and brothers in the United States Army.
      Even the aliens among them have nearly all lived in the United
      States for two decades or longer. And it is important to remember
      that these particular aliens have been denied the privilege of
      gaining American citizenship under our laws.

      It is also important to distinguish between residents of relocation
      centers and civilian internees. Under our laws, aliens of enemy
      nationality who are found guilty of acts or intentions against the
      security of the Nation are being confined in internment camps which
      are administered not by the War Relocation Authority but the
      Department of Justice. American citizens suspected of subversive
      activities are being handled through the ordinary courts. The
      residents of the relocation centers, however, have never been found
      guilty–either individually or collectively–of any such acts or
      intentions. They are merely a group of American residents who happen
      to have Japanese ancestors and who happened to be living in a
      potential combat zone shortly after the outbreak of war. All
      evidences available to the War Relocation Authority indicates that
      the great majority of them are completely loyal to the United
      States.

      The Relocation Centers

      The physical standards of life in the relocation centers have never
      been much above the bare subsistence level. For some few of the
      evacuees, these standards perhaps represent a slight improvement
      over those enjoyed before evacuation. But for the great majority of
      the evacuated people, the environment of the centers–despite all
      efforts to make them livable–remains subnormal and probably always
      will be. In spite of the leave privileges, the movement of evacuees
      while they reside at the centers is necessarily somewhat restricted
      and a certain feeling of isolation and confinement is almost
      inevitable.

      Housing is provided for the evacuee residents of the centers in
      tarpaper-covered barracks of simple frame construction without
      plumbing or cooking facilities of any kind. Most of these barracks
      are partitioned off so that a family of five or six, for example,
      will normally occupy a single room 25 by 20 feet. Bachelors and
      other unattached evacuees live mainly in unpartitioned barracks
      which have been established as dormitories. The only furnishings
      provided by the Government in the residence barracks are standard
      Army cots and blankets and small heating stoves. One bath, laundry,
      and toilet building is available for each block of barracks and is
      shared by upwards of 250 people.

      Food is furnished by the Government for all evacuee residents. The
      meals are planned at an average cost of not more than 45 cents per
      person per day (the actual cost, as this is written, has averaged
      almost 48 cents), are prepared by evacuee cooks, and are served
      generally cafeteria style in mess halls that accommodate between 250
      and 300 persons. At all centers, Government-owned or Government-
      leased farmlands are being operated by evacuee agricultural crews to
      produce a considerable share of the vegetables needed in the mess
      halls. At nearly all centers, the farm program also includes the
      production of poultry, eggs, and pork; and at a few the evacuees are
      raising beef and dairy products. Every evacuee is subject to the
      same food rationing restrictions as all other residents of the
      United States.

      Medical care is available to all evacuee residents of relocation
      centers without charge. Hospitals have been built at all the centers
      and are manned in large part by doctors, nurses, nurses' aides, and
      technicians from the evacuee population. Simple dental and optical
      services are also provided and special care is given to infants and
      nursing mothers. Evacuees requesting special medical services not
      available at the centers are required to pay for the cost of such
      services. As all centers, in view of the crowded and abnormal living
      conditions, special sanitary precautions are necessary to safeguard
      the community health and prevent the outbreak of epidemics.

      Work opportunities of many kinds are made available to able-bodied
      evacuee residents at relocation centers. The policy of WRA is to
      make the fullest-possible use of evacuee skills and manpower in all
      jobs that are essential to community operations. Evacuees are
      employed in the mess halls, on the farms, in the hospitals, on the
      internal police force, in construction and road maintenance works,
      in clerical and stenographic jobs, and in may other lines of
      activity. Most of those who work are paid at the rate of $16 a month
      for a 44-hour week. Apprentices and others requiring close
      supervision receive $12 while those with professional skills,
      supervisory responsibilities, or unusually difficult duties are paid
      $19. In addition, each evacuee working at a relocation center
      receives a small monthly allowance for the purchase of work clothing
      for himself and personal clothing for his dependents. Opportunities
      for economic gain in the ordinary sense are almost completely
      lacking to the residents of the centers.

      Education through the high-school level is provided by WRA for all
      school-age residents of the relocation center. High schools are
      being built at most of the centers, but grade-school classes will
      continue to be held in barrack buildings which have been converted
      for classroom use. Courses of study have been planned and teachers
      have been selected in close collaboration with State departments of
      education and in conformity with prevailing State standards. Roughly
      one-half of the teachers in the schools have been recruited from the
      evacuee population. Japanese language schools of the type common on
      the west coast prior to evacuation are expressly forbidden at all
      relocation centers.

      Vocational training is provided at relocation centers as part of the
      regular school program for youngsters in connection with the
      employment program for adults. The purpose of this training is
      twofold: (1) To equip the evacuee residents so that they will be
      able to play a more productive role in agriculture or industry
      outside the centers and (2) to provide potential replacements at the
      centers for those who go out on indefinite leave.

      Internal security at each relocation center is maintained by a
      special police force composed largely of able-bodied evacuee
      residents and headed by a nonevacuee chief plus a few nonevacuee
      assistants. Misdemeanors and other similar offenses are ordinarily
      handled by the Project Director or by a judicial commission made up
      of evacuee residents. The maximum penalty for such offenses is
      imprisonment or suspension of work and compensation privileges for a
      period of 3 months. Major criminal cases are turned over to the
      outside courts having appropriate jurisdiction. At each center, the
      exterior boundaries are guarded by a company of military police who
      may be called into the center in cases of emergency. The Federal
      Bureau of Investigation is also called in from time to time as the
      need arises.

      Consumer enterprises, such as stores, canteens, barber shops, and
      shoe-repair establishments are maintained at the relocation centers
      in order to that the residents may purchase goods and services which
      are not provided as part of the regular subsistence. These
      enterprises are all self-supporting and are managed by evacuee
      residents mainly on a consumer cooperative basis. Each resident is
      eligible for membership in the relocation center cooperative
      association and all members are entitled to patronage dividends
      which are derived from the profits and based on the individual
      volume of purchases. As rapidly as possible the cooperative
      associations are being incorporated under appropriate laws.

      Evacuee government is practiced in one form or another at every
      relocation center. In some of the centers, formal chargers have been
      drawn up and evacuee governments roughly paralleling those found in
      ordinary cities of similar size have been established. In others,
      evacuee participation in community government has been along more
      informal lines and has consisted largely of conferences held by a
      small group of key residents with the Project Director whenever
      important decisions affecting the population must be reached. The
      evacuee governmental set-up is not in any sense a substitute for the
      administration provided by the WRA Project Director and his staff,
      but residents are encouraged to assume responsibility for many
      phases of community management.

      Religion is practiced at relocation centers with the same freedom
      that prevails throughout the United States. Nearly half of the
      evacuees are Christian church members. No church buildings have been
      provided by the Government but ordinary barracks are used for
      services by Protestants, Catholics, and Buddhists alike. Ministers
      and priests from the evacuee population are free to carry on their
      religious activities at the centers and may also hold other jobs in
      connection with the center administration. Such workers, however,
      are not paid by WRA for the performance of their religious duties.

      Leisure-time activities at the centers are planned and organized
      largely by the evacuee residents. The WRA merely furnishes advice
      and guidance and makes certain areas and buildings available for
      recreational purposes. At each center, recreational activities of
      one sort or another have been organized for all groups of residents
      from the smallest children to the oldest men and women. Local
      branches of national organizations such as the Red Cross, the YMCA,
      the YWCA, and the Boy Scouts are definitely encouraged. At some of
      the centers, athletic contests are arranged periodically with teams
      from nearby towns.

      Student Relocation

      Although the War Relocation Authority is placing first emphasis on
      relocation of evacuees in private employment, student evacuees are
      also being permitted to leave the centers for purposes of beginning
      or continuing a higher education. Applicants for student leave much
      meet the same requirements as all other applicants for indefinite
      leave and are permitted to enroll only at institutions where no
      objection to the attendance of evacuee students has been raised by
      either the War or Navy Department. The WRA provides no financial
      assistance to evacuees going out on student leave.

      Conservation of Evacuee Property

      When 110,000 people of Japanese descent were evacuated from the
      Pacific coast military area during the spring and summer of 1942,
      they left behind in their former locations an estimated total of
      approximately $200,000,000 worth of real, commercial and personal
      property. These properties range from simply household appliances to
      extensive commercial and agricultural holdings.

      At the time of evacuation, many of the evacuees disposed of their
      properties, especially their household goods, in quick sales that
      frequently involved heavy financial losses. The majority, however,
      placed their household furnishings in storage and retained their
      interest in other holdings even after they were personally
      transferred to relocation centers. Since these people are not in the
      position of absentee owners and since many of their properties are
      highly valuable in the war production effort, the War Relocation
      Authority is actively assisting them to keep their commercial and
      agricultural properties in productive use though lease or sale and
      is helping them in connection with a wide variety of other property
      problems.

      To carry out this work, the Authority maintains an Evacuee Property
      Office in San Francisco with branches in Los Angeles and Seattle and
      employs an Evacuee Property Officer on the staff at each relocation
      center. Two principal types of service are rendered. In connection
      with personal properties, such as household furnishings, the
      Authority provides–at the option of the evacuee owners–either
      storage in a Government warehouse located within the evacuated area
      or transportation at Government expense to a point of residence
      outside. In connection with real estate, commercial holdings, farm
      machinery, and other similar properties, the Authority acts more in
      the role of intermediary or agent. At the request of evacuee
      property-holders, it attempts to find potential buyers or tenants,
      arranges for the rental or sale of both commercial and agricultural
      holdings, checks inventories of stored personal goods, audits
      accounts rendered to evacuees, and performs a variety of similar
      services. Any person who is interested in buying or leasing the
      property of evacuees should communicate with the nearest Evacuee
      Property Office in the West Coast evacuated area. The locations of
      these offices are:

      Whitcomb Hotel Building, San Francisco, Calif.
      Room 955, 1031 South Broadway, Los Angeles, Calif.
      Room 6609, White Building, Seattle, Wash.

      Whenever possible, these offices will try to put potential buyers or
      tenants in touch with potential sellers or lessors among the evacuee
      population. It is should be emphasized, however, that the WRA has no
      authority to requisition the property of evacuees and cannot force
      any resident of a relocation center to sell or lease against his
      will. Final agreement on terms is solely a matter between the
      parties directly involved.

      Relocation of Japanese Americans. Washington, D.C. : War Relocation
      Authority, 1943.
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