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America's World War II Prison Camps

WORLD WAR II INTERNMENT CAMPS. Although many Americans are aware of the World War II imprisonment of West Coast Japanese Americans in relocation centers, few know of the smaller internment camps operated by the Immigration and Naturalization Service. Under the authority of the Department of Justice, the INS directed about twenty such facilities. Texas had three of them, located at Seagoville, Kenedy, and Crystal City. Prisoners included Japanese Americans arrested by the FBI, members of Axis nationalities residing in Latin-American countries, and Axis sailors arrested in American ports after the attack on Pearl Harbor. About 3,000 Japanese, Germans, and Italians from Latin America were deported to the United States, and most of them were placed in the Texas internment camps. Twelve Latin-American countries gave the United States Department of State custody of the Axis nationals. Eighty percent of the prisoners were from Peru, and about 70 percent were Japanese. The official reasons for the deportations were to secure the Western Hemisphere from internal sabotage and to provide bartering pawns for exchange of American citizens captured by Japan. However, the Axis nationals were often deported arbitrarily as a result of racial prejudice and because they provided economic competition for the other Latin Americans, not because they were a security threat. Eventually, very few Japanese ever saw Latin America again, although some Germans and Italians were returned to their Latin American homes. The majority of Texas internment-camp prisoners were Axis nationals from Latin America. The Seagoville internment camp, built by the Bureau of Prisons as a minimum-security women's reformatory in 1941, held prisoners from Central and South America, married couples without children from the United States, and about fifty Japanese language teachers from California. The facilities at Seagoville made it the most unusual camp operated by the INS. Twelve colonialstyle, red-brick buildings with cream limestone trim were surrounded by spacious lawns. Paved sidewalks and roads connected the buildings, and visitors remarked that the camp resembled a college campus. Nevertheless, a high, woven-wire fence surrounded the camp, which had a single guarded entrance. A white line painted down the middle of the paved road that encircled the camp marked a boundary that internees could not pass. The six dormitories had single or double rooms and were furnished with chests of drawers, desks, chairs, and beds. Communal laundry, bathing, and toilet facilities were located on all floors. Each dormitory had a kitchen with refrigerators, gas stove, and dishwasher, as well as a dining room with four-person maple tables, linen table coverings, cloth napkins, and china. Internees prepared their own food under supervision. Other facilities at the Seagoville camp included a hospital and a large recreation building. A female doctor directed the hospital and supervised a staff of six physicians, ten registered nurses, a dentist, and a laboratory technician. The recreation building provided a variety of activities, such as ballet and stage productions performed by internees in the auditorium. In addition, the recreation building had orchestral instruments, twelve classrooms for English and music instruction, a multilanguage library, and sewing and weaving rooms. Outside activities included gardening, farming, tennis, baseball, badminton, and walking around the prison grounds. Although conditions at the Seagoville camp were unusually comfortable for a prison environment, the internees did have some complaints. Many resented being held at a penal institution, which was still administered by a warden, Amy N. Stannard. The prisoners also disliked the censorship of their letters and the limit on their outgoing correspondence. In late

summer of 1942, the INS planned to reunite Japanese men from other internment camps with their families already at Seagoville. Anticipating this transfer, Seagoville received fifty oneroom, eighteen-square-foot plywood huts from the INS detention camp at Santa Fe, New Mexico, and a large building was constructed as a kitchen and mess hall. Laundry rooms and separate male and female communal toilet and bath facilities were built. The largest population interned at Seagoville was 647. In June 1945 the Seagoville alien enemy internment camp was closed and detainees were repatriated, paroled, or moved to other INS internment camps. In contrast to Seagoville, the Kenedy Alien Detention Camp housed only men. Before World War II, the site was a Civilian Conservation Corps camp; Kenedy business owners, in an effort to increase local prosperity, lobbied the INS to use the camp as an internment station. The camp received its first large group of prisoners on April 23, 1942, and during the course of its existence housed more than 3,500 aliens. The United States Army took over the operation on October 1, 1944, and from then until the end of the war it housed wounded and disabled German prisoners of war. Crystal City was the location of the largest internment camp administered by the INS and Department of Justice. To reduce hardships during internment and to reunite families, the INS originally intended to detain only Japanese at Crystal City, especially the many Latin-American Japanese families brought to the United States for internment pending repatriation. Germans and Italians, however, were also held in Crystal City. In the fall of 1942 the INS assumed ownership of the Farm Security Administration's migratory farmworkers' camp on the outskirts of Crystal City. Existing facilities were forty-one three-room cottages, 118 one-room structures, and some service buildings. Eventually, the INS spent more than a million dollars to construct more than 500 buildings on the camp's 290 acres. Warehouses, auditoriums, administration offices, schools, clothing and food stores, a hospital, and many housing units were built. Like the camps at Kenedy and Seagoville, the Crystal City internment camp provided jobs and revenue for the town. The first German internees arrived in December 1942. The first Japanese arrived from Seagoville on March 10, 1943. In addition, prisoners were taken to Crystal City from other INS internment camps in Hawaii and Alaska (not states at the time), the United States, Puerto Rico, the West Indies, and South and Central American countries. The population of the Crystal City camp peaked at 3,326 in May 1945. Languages spoken at Crystal City included Japanese, German, Italian, Spanish, and English; ages of internees ranged from newborn to elderly. The variety of prisoners added to the complexities of camp organization and administration. Camp officials tried to arrange housing so that similar races and nationalities would be together, but even so, strong differences emerged between those who wanted repatriation and those who wanted to stay in the United States or return to the country they were expelled from. The camp was divided into separate sections for Germans and Japanese. Though no physical boundaries separated the two groups, they did not interact often. They had separate auditoriums, community centers, schools, and stores. Housing units consisted of triplexes and duplexes that shared toilet and bath facilities, three-room cottages with indoor toilet and bath, and plywood huts with central latrines and baths. Except for the huts, all housing had cold running water, kitchen sinks, and oil stoves. Administrators assigned housing and set food allowances based on the age and size of families. Token money was issued accordingly, and families purchased food at a large grocery store. Two separate, large canteens were called the German General Store and the Japanese Union Store; these stores took tokens like the central grocery. The majority of store

positions were held by internees, including cashiers, store clerks, butchers, and warehouse workers. The Japanese were provided with special foods, such as soy sauce, tofu, seaweed, dried shrimp, and large quantities of rice. Internees could participate in a paid-work program. Workers were paid ten cents an hour and employed in all aspects of camp organization. They planted vegetables, tended orange orchards and beehives, raised pigs and chickens, washed laundry, repaired clothes and shoes, manufactured mattresses, furniture, and clothes, and made sausage and bakery items. Others worked in the stores, administration offices, hospital, or schools. Employment kept the internees busy and lessened the frustrations of internment. In many ways, the Crystal City camp resembled a bustling small town. The Crystal City internment camp had four schools to educate the numerous children detained there. The children of Germans and Japanese who desired repatriation were sent to language schools taught by internees. The Federal Grammar and High School provided an American-style education for a mostly Japanese student body. Gaining accreditation from the Texas State Department of Education was a challenge because of teacher and school-supply shortages, as well as the difficulty of organizing classes when all students were transfers. Team sports were very popular: thirty-two softball teams were divided into two leagues with a schedule of games and tournament play-offs. A chapel with more than thirty internee priests and ministers provided worship services. Also, camp officials granted many requests for picnics by the Nueces River, which was not far outside the internment camp boundary. At Crystal City, the INS administrators tried to make camp life as normal as possible, but security constantly reminded detainees of their lack of freedom. A ten-foot fence, guard towers, and floodlights surrounded the camp. Mounted guards patrolled the perimeter of the compound, a small police force was inside the camp at all times, and incoming and outgoing vehicles were searched at the gate. Officials kept dossiers on each internee and conducted head counts every day in the housing units. All letters were censored. Prisoners met visiting friends or relatives under surveillance, although college students and American soldiers on vacation were allowed to stay with their parents. Security was a priority; Crystal City did not have any escape attempts. With so many internees, camp officials realized a need for medical services. In December 1942 the medical division was composed of two nurses and a twenty-five-cent first aid kit. By July 1943 a seventy-bed hospital and clinic operated twenty-four hours a day. Internee doctors performed more than a thousand major and minor operations, and a Japanese pharmacist dispensed more than 30,000 prescriptions. Hundreds of babies were born at the detention station. By July 1945 hundreds of Germans and Japanese had been repatriated from Crystal City. More than a hundred had been released or paroled, seventy-three had been transferred to other camps, and seventeen had died. In December 1945 more than 600 Peruvian Japanese left for Japan because the Peruvian government would not allow them to return to Peru. That same month, a similar number of Japanese were allowed to go home to Hawaii. Some prisoners resisted repatriation to Japan and were not allowed to return to Central and South America. In late 1947 the United States determined to let them stay. November 1, 1947, more than two years after the end of World War II, the Crystal City internment camp closed-the last facility detaining alien enemies to do so.

Roger Daniels et al., eds., Japanese Americans: From Relocation to Redress (Salt Lake City: University of Utah Press, 1986). Roger Daniels, Prisoners Without Trial: Japanese Americans in

World War II (New York: Hill and Wang, 1993). C. Harvey Gardiner, Pawns in a Triangle of Hate: The Peruvian Japanese and the United States (Seattle: University of Washington Press, 1981). Houston Chronicle, December 8, 9, 10, 1941. Houston Post, December 9, 10, 1941. Jerre Mangione, An Ethnic at Large: A Memoir of America in the Thirties and Forties (New York: Putnam, 1978). Dorothy Swaine Thomas and Richard S. Nishimito, The Spoilage (Berkeley: University of California Press, 1946). U.S. Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians, Personal Justice Denied (Washington: GPO, 1983).
Emily Brosveen, "WORLD WAR II INTERNMENT CAMPS," Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed October 22, 2011. Published by the Texas State Historical Association. PRISONERS OF WAR PRISONERS OF WAR. During World War II Texas had approximately twice as many prisoner-of-war camps as any other state. Twenty-one prisoner base (permanent) camps were located on military installations, and over twenty branch (temporary) camps were constructed throughout the state. More than 45,000 German, Italian, and Japanese prisoners were interned in Texas from 1942 to 1945. As the war continued, a policy of maximum utilization replaced a policy of maximum security of the prisoners, which resulted in the use of over 27,000 prisoners in numerous agricultural tasks, such as picking cotton, pulling corn, and harvesting rice. The prisoners were well treated, and very few escape attempts occurred from the Texas camps. After the war almost all prisoners were returned to their native countries, and many expressed their desire to return to Texas. Over 100 prisoners who died of wounds or of natural causes are still buried in the Fort Sam Houston National Cemetery in San Antonio. See also GERMAN PRISONERS OF WAR, and WORLD WAR II, TEXANS IN. BIBLIOGRAPHY: Mark Choate, Nazis in the Pineywoods (Lufkin: Best of East Texas Publishers, 1989). Arnold Krammer, Nazi Prisoners of War in America (New York: Stein and Day, 1979). Robert Tissing, "Stalag Texas, 19431945," Military History of Texas and the Southwest 13 (Fall 1976). GERMAN PRISONERS OF WAR GERMAN PRISONERS OF WAR. When the United States went to war in 1941, what to do with enemy prisoners of war was among the last considerations of a country reeling from a Japanese attack and preparing for war in Europe. The nation had never held large numbers of foreign prisoners and was unprepared for the many tasks involved, which included registration, food, clothing, housing, entertainment, and even reeducation. But prepared or not, the country suddenly found itself on the receiving end of massive waves of German and Italian prisoners of war. More than 150,000 men arrived after the surrender of Gen. Erwin Rommel's Afrika Korps in April 1943, followed by an average of 20,000 new POWs a month. From the Normandy invasion in June 1944 through December 30,000 prisoners a month arrived; for the last few months of the war 60,000 were arriving each month. When the war was over, there were 425,000 enemy prisoners in 511 main and branch camps throughout the United States.

Texas had approximately twice as many POW camps as any other state, first because of the available space, and second, curiously, because of the climate. The Geneva Convention of 1929 requires that prisoners of war be moved to a climate similar to that where they are captured; apparently it was thought that the climate of Texas is similar to that of North Africa. In August 1943 there were already twelve main camps in Texas, and by June 1, 1944, there were thirty-three. At the end of the war Texas held 78,982 enemy prisoners, mainly Germans, at fourteen military installations: Camp Barkeley (Taylor County), Camp Bowie (Brown County), Camp Fannin (Smith County), Camp Hood (Bell County), Camp Howze (Cooke County), Camp Hulen (Matagorda County), Camp Maxey (Lamar County), Camp Swift (Bastrop County), Camp Wolters (Palo Pinto County), Fort Bliss (El Paso County), Fort Brown (Cameron County), Fort Crockett (Galveston County), Fort D. A. Russell (Presidio County), and Fort Sam Houston (Bexar County). In addition, seven base camps were set up especially for POWs: Brady (McCulloch County), Hearne (Robertson County), Hereford (Deaf Smith County), Huntsville (Walker County), McLean (Gray County), Mexia (Limestone County), and Wallace (Galveston County). The Hereford camp alone contained Italian POWs (2,580 men), and a few Japanese POWs were kept in Hearne (323), Huntsville (182), and Kenedy (560). The main camps were generally built to standard specifications: they were military barracks covered by tar paper or corrugated sheet iron; inside were rows of cots and footlockers. A potbellied stove sat in the center aisle. Each camp held an average of 3,000 to 4,000 prisoners. In fact, the only real differences between these POW camps and any normal army training installation were the watchtowers located along a double barbed-wire fence, floodlights, and, at some camps, dog patrols. Guards were kept to a minimum number and were usually GIs who, for reasons of health, lack of training, or psychological makeup, were not needed overseas. The actual discipline among the prisoners was rigidly enforced by German officers and sergeants themselves. However uncomfortable, the POW camps were sometimes considered too good for the captive Germans, and many a Texas community called its local camp the "Fritz Ritz." Since the war had drawn most of the nation's young men overseas, the War Department authorized a major program to allow labor-starved farmers to utilize the POWs. Consequently, in addition to the base camps, Texas had twenty-two branch camps, some containing as few as thirty-five or forty prisoners, to provide labor to farms and factories located too far from the main POW camps. The branch camps, like the labor program, were temporary and often housed in school buildings, old Civilian Conservation Corps facilities, fairgrounds, even circus tents like those erected for the Navasota branch camp. Grateful farmers paid the government the prevailing wage of $1.50 per day, and the prisoner was paid eighty cents in canteen coupons. The difference went to the federal treasury to pay for the POW program. German officers, like their American counterparts in enemy hands, were not required to work, and few volunteered. German POWs worked on such projects as the Denison Dam reservoir and the construction of state roads; they also served as orderlies at Harmon General Hospital (now LeTourneau College in Longview). Their greatest contribution, however, was to agriculture. From 1943, when the POWs arrived in large numbers, until the end of the war in 1945, the POWs in Texas picked peaches and citrus fruits, harvested rice, cut wood, baled hay, threshed grain, gathered pecans, and chopped records amounts of cotton. Many Texas farmers recalled their POW laborers with admiration and even affection; indeed, many farmers maintained warm friendships with them, and periodic reunions often saw entire communities turn out to renew those memories.

Daily life for the prisoners was basically the same at all base camps. Reveille was at 5:45 A.M., and lights were turned off at 10:00 P.M. Between those times, the prisoners worked, took care of their own needs, and entertained themselves with a large variety of handicraft and educational programs. Every camp had an impressive selection of POW-taught courses, ranging from English to engineering, a POW orchestra, a theater group, a camp newspaper, and a soccer team. Some prisoners even took correspondence courses through local colleges and universities, and their academic credits were accepted by the Germans upon their return. Apparently the majority of German prisoners who spent the war years in Texas remembered their experience as one of the greatest adventures of their lives. A few prisoners wanted to escape despite the insurmountable odds against success-the vast countryside, the language difference, and the absence of an underground railroad or safe haven. The records indicate that only twenty-one POWs escaped, the majority from Hearne and Mexia, and that every escapee was caught within three weeks, most of them much sooner. Motivated by boredom, the need for privacy, or a desire to meet girls, the prisoners often simply wandered away from their work parties and were picked up within a few hours, confused and helpless. Most escapes were comical affairs: a prisoner from Mexia calling for help after having been chased up a tree by an angry Brahman bull; three from Hearne who were found on the Brazos River in a crude raft hoping somehow to sail back to Germany; and another from Hearne who was picked up along U.S. Highway 79, near Franklin, heartily singing German army marching songs. There is no evidence that any of the escapees committed any act of sabotage while on the loose. After World War II ended, the prisoners were readied for repatriation. They were moved from the smaller branch camps to the base camps, and from there to the military installations at forts Bliss, Sam Houston, and Hood. Beginning in November 1945 the former POWs were returned to Europe at the rate of 50,000 a month, though most were used to help rebuild war-damaged France and Britain before their ultimate return to Germany. As the POWs left Texas by the trainload, the camps began to close. In Hearne the campsite and its 200 buildings were put up for public auction; in the 1980s the space comprised a small municipal airport and a proposed industrial park. The camp in Huntsville became part of Sam Houston State Teachers College (now Sam Houston State University); in April 1946 Camp Mexia became the site of Mexia State School for the Mentally Retarded; and Camp Swift in Bastrop later comprised scattered housing developments, a University of Texas cancer research center, a unit of the Texas National Guard, and an $11 million medium-security prison for first offenders. See also PRISONERS OF WAR. BIBLIOGRAPHY: Arnold Krammer, Nazi Prisoners of War in America (New York: Stein and Day, 1979). Arnold P. Krammer, "When the Afrika Korps Came to Texas," Southwestern Historical Quarterly 80 (January 1977). Robert Tissing, "Stalag Texas, 19431945," Military History of Texas and the Southwest 13 (Fall 1976). Richard Paul Walker, Prisoners of War in Texas during World War II (Ph.D. dissertation, North Texas State University, 1980). Richard P. Walker, "The Swastika and the Lone Star: Nazi Activity in Texas POW Camps," Military History of the Southwest 19 (Spring 1989). Weekly and Semi-Monthly Reports on Prisoners of War, June 194230 June 1946, Office of the Provost Marshall General (U.S. National Archives, Washington). Arnold P. Krammer

Citation The following, adapted from the Chicago Manual of Style, 15th edition, is the preferred citation for this article. Arnold P. Krammer, "GERMAN PRISONERS OF WAR," Handbook of Texas Online (, accessed October 22, 2011. Published by the Texas State Historical Association. An excerpt from Free to Die for Their Country The Story of the Japanese American Draft Resisters in World War II Eric Muller Illustration credit

Could it be, I asked myself, that the United States government had dared to conscript Japanese American internees into the army after forcing them into internment camps on suspicion of disloyalty?from the Preface

Chapter 1 Untold Patriotism A thoroughfare at the Minidoka Relocation Center in springtime. (courtesy of the Bancroft Library)

On the last day of spring in 1944, as American infantrymen began their assault on the Nazi-held port city of Cherbourg in northern France, the United States Army staged an induction ceremony for sixty-six new draftees in Idaho. In most ways, the ceremony was quite ordinary. The inductees, three abreast and twenty-two rows deep, marched into formation around a flagpole. Military music blared over a loudspeaker. Proud but worried parents and friends gathered around the new soldiers to listen to speeches of welcome and praise. Only one thing was unusual about this ceremony. The army that was welcoming these new draftees was simultaneously guarding them and their families at gunpoint as potential subversives. The ceremony was taking place behind the barbed wire of the Minidoka Relocation Center in Hunt, Idaho. Minidoka was one of the ten concentration camps that the federal War Relocation Authority ("WRA") set up in 1942 to house the nearly 120,000 Nikkeipeople of Japanese descent that the government had deported from the west coast on suspicion of disloyalty in the wake of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor. The Minidoka draftees were all "Nisei"American citizens born along the west coast in the 1920's to the generation called the "Issei." The Issei were immigrants who had come to the United States from Japan around the turn of the century but had been forbidden by American law to apply for American citizenship because of their Asian origin. Military service had been promoted to the Nisei as a precious opportunity to prove the loyalty and patriotism of all Japanese Americansqualities that the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor had sharply, even if unfairly, called into question. And Nisei loyalty was what the induction ceremony at Minidoka was designed to emphasize and celebrate. The chairman of the internees' community council pursued this theme in his welcoming comments to the draftees and the four

About the book During World War II the United States government conscripted Japanese American internees into the army after forcing them into internment camps on suspicion of disloyalty. Most were more than willing to fight or even die for their country, but they wanted their country to first treat them as citizens, to grant them their rights, as it insisted on their duties. Free to Die for Their Country by Eric Muller tells, for the first time, the story of their resistance, trial, and imprisonment.

About the author Eric Muller teaches constitutional and criminal law at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. He first learned of the Japanese American draft resisters while on the faculty of the University of Wyoming College of Law. The story holds special interest for him both because of his own experience as a federal prosecutor and because of his family's own experiences during World

hundred other internees in attendance. "We are mightily proud of you boys," said the Issei leader. "We know you will make good and we, and others, will point to your records; and weall of us hereIssei and Nisei alike, will benefit by your records." After these opening remarks, the president of the Minidoka Parent-Soldiers Association presented each of the inductees with a Bible and a shiny metal cigarette case as good luck presents. Then it was time for the swearing of the military oath. Lieutenant B. M. Harrington, a member of the army's Traveling Examining and Induction Board, rose to swear the boys in, and to offer a few inspirational comments to the boys and their families about the task they were undertaking. "We in the American armed forces," the lieutenant said to the new troops, "are happy to welcome you Japanese among our ranks, even though your country, Japan, is at war with the United States." The crowd stirred uncomfortably: Did the lieutenant not know that the draftees were all American citizens, not Japanese? Harrington continued. "The fact that you young Japanese are willing to fight against your country," he stressed, "should prove to all that there are a few Japanese who are good Americans." The lieutenant expressed his hope that at the end of the war, "all nationalities could live in peace in America," and then blundered to his conclusion, congratulating "you Japanese" for "making a splendid record in our Army, where you are welcomed and given all of the rights and privileges of any other citizen who is brought into the service." Harrington's comments visibly sapped the crowd of its enthusiasm. "Doesn't he know we were born here and are citizens of the United States, not Japan?" muttered one young man. Exclaimed another: "Why doesn't that guy get next to himself and discover to what country we belong? We are

War II as German-Jewish immigrants.

no Japs." A Minidoka administrator took Harrington aside after his speech and pointed out the lieutenant's errors: the Nisei draftees were Americans, not Japanese; they were leaving the camp to fight for their country, not against it; and the U.S. Army was as much theirs as it was Lieutenant Harrington's. Harrington accepted the suggestions and "agreed in good spirit to leave out such references in future induction ceremonies." But for the Minidoka internees, the insult had registered. One of the sixty-six young men turned his back on the assembly and walked away just before the oath was administered, joining in defiance the tiny handful of other young men from Minidoka who had decided to resist the draft rather than comply with it.

In the scheme of things, Lieutenant Harrington's words were actually a petty indignity. The men and women in his audience, and their fellow internees at the nine other WRA internment camps, had suffered far more painful wounds by June of 1944 than Harrington's insensitive speech. Indeed, it would be safe to say that by this point in the war, the United States government had placed almost impossible burdens on them. About two years earlier, in March of 1942, the government had confined them to their homes from dusk to dawn as suspected subversives. Then the government rounded them up and warehoused them for the summer of 1942 in so-called "assembly centers"filthy sheds hastily thrown up at local fairgrounds and race tracks. That fall, the government loaded them onto trains and shipped them off for indefinite detention behind barbed wire in desolate camps such as Minidoka, the Heart Mountain Relocation Center in Wyoming, and the Tule Lake Relocation Center in California. Their crime was their ethnicity, and the government had made them pay for it with their livelihoods, their possessions, their

Georg e Noza wa (right) , one of the Heart Moun tain draft resiste rs, and Frank Emi (left), one of the leaders of the Fair Play Committee, outside a barrack at the Heart Mountain Relocation Center in the summer of 1944. (courtesy of George Nozawa)

liberty, and their dignity. In January of 1944 the government demanded still more. It announced that it would begin drafting the very same Japanese American men it was jailing on suspicion of disloyalty. By early February, young men at the ten relocation centers began receiving notices directing them to report to their local draft boards for their preinduction physical examinations. They were to join the same army that had been guarding them for years, and that continued to aim weapons and searchlights at their parents and siblings. This extraordinary government demand left these young men with no good choices. On the one hand, they could swallow their outrage at years of mistreatment and leave captivity to fight for someone else's freedom. To do this would mean more than risking their own lives; it would also mean leaving their families behind to uncertain futures as wards of a hostile government. On the other hand, they could give voice to their outrage and resist the draft. To do this was to risk prosecution, many more years of incarceration, and the lifelong stigma of a felony conviction. Most of the young men in the camps, like the sixtyfive Minidokans who were sworn in that June day by Lieutenant Harrington, choked back their resentments and chose to accept the draft as just another unwanted test of their patriotism. Many served bravely in Europe with the 442nd Regimental Combat Team, the racially segregated battalion for Japanese Americans that the army created for them. Some lost limbs, others their lives. Some of the internees, however, made the other choice and refused to comply with their draft orders. Usually these were solitary acts of disobedience. At Minidoka, for example, nearly forty young men ignored their draft notices, each unaware that others were doing the same. At the Heart Mountain Relocation Center, on the other hand, draft resistance became a noisy and well-publicized political movement that led nearly ninety to resist. In all, more

than three hundred Japanese Americans from the ten WRA camps refused to show up for their physical exams or for induction. They pressed a simple moral question: If we are loyal enough to serve in the army, what are we doing behind barbed wire? Not only did the government decline to answer this question, but it punished the resisters brutally for asking it. Through the spring and summer of 1944, agents of the U.S. Marshals Service came to their tarpaper barracks and arrested them on charges of draft evasion, carting them off to local jails to await trial. Their cases came to trial in federal courtrooms across the western United States in the summer and fall of 1944.

Many of the defendants were at least guardedly optimistic; they knew that if there was one branch of the federal government that might protect them, it was the federal courts. Their optimism was guarded because they knew it was wartime and they knew that they looked like the enemy. While the Japanese threat to the U.S. mainland had vanished by the summer of 1944, most of the country still shared the view of Japanese Americans that the military official responsible for their evacuation and internment The sixty-three resisters from the Heart Mountain Relocation Center had publicly voiced: "A Jap's a on the first day of their trial in federal district court in Cheyenne, Jap." As long as the war was Wyoming, 12 June 1944. (courtesy of George Nozawa) still on, the resisters understood that they would have a hard time finding a sympathetic ear for their claim. But they viewed the federal courts as their best hope.

This was not entirely unrealistic. Franklin Delano Roosevelt had had twelve years to load the federal bench with New Deal liberals. This is not to say that the federal courts in 1944 were the institution we now recognize them to be; the Warren Court had not yet been born, and the activist era in the area of individual rights that it would usher in was still in the offing. But it was not far in the offing. Brown v. Board of Education, the most daring defense of individual freedom ever undertaken by any branch of the American government, was just a decade down the road. Already on the Supreme Court, beginning to find their judicial voices, were several of the eventual leaders of the Warren Court revolution. Decisions protecting the rights of Communists, blacks, labor unions, and unpopular religious groups were starting to appear with some frequency. The federal courts that would hear the prosecutions of the Japanese American draft resisters were in flux, moving from earlier, more timid times on matters of civil rights to the bolder ones that lay ahead. The federal courts, however, failed the resisters dismally. With but one exception, the federal judges hearing the cases waved aside the resisters' attacks on the legality of drafting internees and ran shoddy trials that produced across-the-board convictions. This disappointing group of federal judges then sentenced the resisters to lengthy terms of imprisonmentmost commonly two to three years, but sometimes as long as fivein federal penitentiaries such as Leavenworth and McNeil Island. The resisters traded in their years of detention as pariahs in relocation centers for years of incarceration as felons in federal prisons. Only one federal judge saw the cases differently. Judge Louis E. Goodman of the Northern District of California dismissed the government's charges against the twenty-six draft resisters from the Tule

More about the history Read historical documents and background information for a documentary film, "Conscience and the Constitution," about the draft resisters at Heart Mountain Relocation Center, Wyoming. The Heart Mountain Digital Preservation Project features documents and photographs from the Heart Mountain Relocation Center Collection at the John Taggart Hinckley Library. Website of the Tule Lake Committee has photos and information about the Tule Lake camp. The history section of the Japanese American Network includes links to information about WWII internment camps and Japanese American veterans. Links to statutes, the legal cases, and scholarly articles are included on the website Internment of Japanese Americans maintained by Vernellia R. Randall, Professor of Law at the University of Dayton School of Law. C. John Yu has a website on Japanese American internment which includes stories contributed by internees, as well as many other resources.

Lake Relocation Center, saying that the decision to prosecute them was "shocking to [his] conscience" and a violation of due process. The government did not appeal his decision, and so it might be said that the Tule Lake resisters won. But even these twenty-six winners ultimately lost: their prize for beating the draft evasion charges was a trip back to the barbed wire confines of their concentration camp. This story is an untold chapter in the history of the American justice system. With the exception of Judge Goodman, the chapter is a bleak tale of callous judges and overzealous prosecutors. But the chapter is a depressing one in a larger sense as well, because it is far from clear that the law would have enabled the courts to reach more satisfying results. Judge Goodman's decision was a good deal longer on courage than on careful legal analysis, and what little analysis there was pushed due process doctrine into unchartedpossibly unchartableterrain. The cases of the Nisei draft resisters thus illustrated with unusual poignancy how law can deviate from justice. The resisters' story, however, is not just a story about a failed judicial process. It is also a story of failure in the most elemental process of American lifethe process of assimilation. The America that entered the Second World War was a nation that had long cherished the image of the patriotic resister: a colonist heaving tea into the waters of Boston Harbor, Patrick Henry rising to demand his freedom or his death, Thomas Jefferson penning the list of the Crown's offenses in the Declaration of Independence. This was part of what set America apart from the totalitarian regimes it was battling: good citizenship was not the sole preserve of the obedient. To the children of its Japanese immigrants, however, America would not extend the option of loyal protest. Through the force of the criminal sanction, it demanded that these young Japanese Americans prove their patriotism through unquestioning obedience to authority,

ironically a trait more Japanese than American. Ultimately it was not only the federal government that demanded this of the draft resisters; much of the Japanese American community did too. And herein lies the greatest and most painful irony of the resisters' experience. Notwithstanding its wartime demands, the federal government soon made amends with the Japanese American internees who resisted the draft. President Truman granted them a Christmas Eve pardon in 1947, removing from their records the stigma of their felony convictions for draft evasion. To this day, however, the resisters have not been pardoned by some members of their own community who see their wartime defiance as an act of disloyalty and betrayal. So powerful was the condemnation within the Japanese American community for years after the war that many of the resisters did not share their story of oppression even with their own children. Even today, fifty-seven years after the resisters' federal court trials, the oldest and most prominent Japanese American civil rights organization has only just begun to overcome years of bitter internal conflict over apologizing to the resisters. And the sizable literature on Japanese America's wartime exile and incarceration almost completely omits the resisters' tale, focusing instead on those, like the sixty-five Minidokans "welcomed" into the army by Lieutenant Harrington, who said "yes" to the draft rather than "no." What follows is, in a double sense, a story of untold patriotism.

A group of Heart Mountain resisters poses in prison-issued suits on July 14, 1946, the day of their release from McNeil Island. Yosh Kuromiya stands in the back row, second from the left. (courtesy of Yosh Kuromiya)

Top illustration credit: Partial image of lithograph, courtesy of Roger Shimomura. Copyright notice: Excerpted from Free to Die for Their Country: The Japanese American Draft Resisters of World War II by Eric Muller, published by the University of Chicago Press. 2001 by the University of Chicago. All rights reserved. This text may be used and shared in accordance with the fair-use provisions of U.S. copyright law, and it may be archived and redistributed in electronic form, provided that this entire notice, including copyright information, is carried and provided that the University of Chicago Press is notified and no fee is charged for access. Archiving, redistribution, or republication of this text on other terms, in any medium, requires the consent of the University of Chicago Press.

Eric Muller Free to Die for Their Country: The Japanese American Draft Resisters of World War II With a Foreword by Senator Daniel K. Inouye 2001, 250 pages, 16 halftones Cloth $27.50 ISBN: 0-226-54822-8 Paper $15.00 ISBN: 0-226-54823-6 For information on purchasing the bookfrom bookstores or here onlineplease go to the webpage for Free to Die for Their Country.