Monday 19th February 2018,

Bad Ass Asians

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NPR: The Secret Story of WWII Internment

posted by Randall

Japanese American Memorial , Washington DCDid you know there was an incarceration camp in Texas for Japanese Americans during World War II? (The middle panel at the Japanese American Memorial in Washington, DC pays tribute to the 2500 held at Family Camp in Crystal City, Texas. Photo by Only1Tanuki)

It is not nearly as well known as 10 prisons which held 120,000 Japanese Americans during World War II.

This camp in Crystal City also imprisoned immigrants of German and Italian descent, reports NPR.

Hundreds of these prisoners were sent back to their countries of origin in exchange for American prisoners caught in enemy territory.

“In the run-up to the war, the president realized that Americans would be tracked behind enemy lines in Germany and in Japan, especially. And he charged the Special War Problems Division with creating pools of people that he could trade for important Americans – soldiers, diplomats, businessmen, journalists, missionaries,” said Jan Jarboe Russell who documented the story of Crystal City in her book The Train To Crystal City: FDR’s Secret Prisoner Exchange Program And America’s Only Family Interment Camp During World War II.

Just like with the other incarceration camps, many of those imprisoned at Crystal City were American citizens. It was an irony that many prisoners still today resent.

“What they are resentful about it is that thousands of internees in Crystal City, including their American-born children, were exchanged into war for more important Americans,” said Russell.

At least one Japanese American sent to Japan in a prisoner exchange made it back to America after the war. You can read about that in NPR.

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  1. Rowland Kumamoto says:

    RE: The secret story of WWII internment: My G’Father was imprisoned in Crystal City, TX. This was a DOJ (FBI) camp which held community leaders like businessmen, ministers, priests, educators, and civic leaders. As with the German and Italians, also political organization leaders, such as the American Nazi Party, Fascist Party of America, Bundt, and any one with ties to Japan. As a community leader and President of the Japanese-American Business Assoc, my G’Father owned a movie theater, and was guilty of showing newsreels fm Japan, which the US Gov’t considered propaganda, so they assumed my G’Father was a Nationalist sympathizer. Originally taken to the Terminal Island Federal Detention Center for a year, once the facility was completed in TX, he was moved there. Arrested on Jan 7, 1942, and kept until June 1947, a year after the war. The FBI didn’t want the intellectuals in the camp to return home and “stir up trouble.” His family was taken to the Santa Anita Assembly Center, then to Manzanar for 6 months, and finally moved to Amache, CO, all WRA camps. Did you know there were INS labor camps? They built logging roads in Idaho, and Wyoming. They were not paid, until the public found out and protested after the war. Internees, also were taken to migrant labor camps in OR to help with the harvest due to labor shortages and under poor conditions.

    1. AsAmNews says:

      Thanks for sharing your grandfather's story, Roland.

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