Japanese Internment Photostory

By: Bill Coffey and Max Mattenson

Life Before Pearl Harbor and Immediately After Pearl Harbor

My family lived in Los Angeles before Pearl Harbor. We owned a shop downtown and lived very comfortably within our means. When America was bombed, the white population started rioting in the streets. The White people of L.A. were hungry for blood and they wanted war on all Japanese, including the innocent Japanese Americans. My father was so afraid for our lives that he put up a sign in front of his shop that told people that we are Americans (4).

Neighbor's reactions

After Pearl Harbor, my white neighbors were really angry at us. They painted mean words all over my house. They say they are being patriotic and supporting their country. My father even tells me that politicians are using the public hatred of us to get re-elected. I don't like living here anymore because the people are so mean to me (2).

Notice of Forced Internment

There are notices posted all over town that we will have to leave. They are forcing everyone of "Japanese Ancestry" to evacuate. I was born in America and I am a citizen, but they are making my me move anyway (3). My white neighbors all seem very happy that we are moving. It hurt my feelings.

What We Could Take and What Happened to Our Other Possessions

With the evacuation under way, my family and I begin packing. We are only allowed to take what we can carry (1). I can carry two packs but many people can only take one bag. My father had to sell his business and our home. We got much less than we should have (1). There are piles of bags at the bus station that people could not take with them.

Transportation to Camp

My family and I were forced to board a bus with our bags. We were taken to a nearby horse track (1). The white men called it an Assembly Center. They told us we would be staying here a few weeks. We have to sleep in dirty horse stalls that smell of horse manure (1).

Life in Camps

We slept in old barracks made out of wood. They were barely heated by wood stoves and it was very cold during the winter. (5) Because I was a child, I had to go to school for most of the day while the adults worked mainly as farmers. (6) For meals we typically had bread, sausages, and tomato soup. As the farms grew, we had more fruits and vegetables to eat with meals. (4) Life in the camps was not anything close to the ones in Nazi Germany, but we still were not free.