controversy has surrounded the use of the words "Concentration
Camp" in reference to the plaque at the entrance to Manzanar.
Manzanar state historical plaque reads as follows;
"Manzanar In the early part of World War II, 110,000
persons of Japanese ancestry were interned in relocation
centers by executive order NO. 9066, issued on February
19, 1942. Manzanar, the first of ten such concentration
camps, was bounded by barbed wire and guard towers, confining
10,000 persons. The majority being American citizens.
May the injustices and humiliation suffered here as a
result of hysteria, racism and economic exploitation never
emerge again. California Registered Historical Landmark
NO. 850 Plaque placed by the State Department of Parks
and Recreation in cooperation with the Manzanar committee
and the Japanese American Citizens League, April 14, 1975."
Definition of "Concentration Camp"
The definition according to Webster's Dictionary confirms
this as an appropriate use of this term. "Concentration
Camp". A prison camp in which political dissidents, members
of minority ethnic group, etc. are confined." Webster's
New World Dictionary, 1986.
People that used "Concentration Camp"
Adding support to the use of "Concentration Camp"
on this sign is the use of it in reference to these
Japanese war relocation camps by others. President Franklin
D. Roosevelt (10/20/42, 11/21/44) President Harry S.
Truman (4/59) General Dwight D. Eisenhower, Assistant
Chief of Staff (3/28/42) Attorney General Francis Biddle
(12/3/44) Life Magazine (4/6/42) San Francisco Chronicle,
front page editorial (2/1/42) In addition, U.S. Supreme
Court Justices and congressmen also used the term in
Camp versus Death Camp
There are many reasons for this lingering controversy. One
is the association the words "Concentration Camp"
and the Nazi Death Camps. These Nazi Concentration Camps were
used primarily to exterminate the interned. Although some
people were killed during "The Riot" at Manzanar,
the purpose of the American Concentration Camps was only to
detain the interned.
Some people still harbor hatred toward Japanese Americans.
Some of these people sacrificed physically and/or emotionally
in the war with Japan. Some of these people hold Americans
of Japanese decent accountable for this war. This is somewhat
surprising, since World War II ended over a half century ago.
This hatred points out the racism that existed in the United
States at the time towards non-whites . Unfortunately, this
racism still exists to a certain extent. This racism becomes
more clear when you consider, no internment plan was ever
even considered or even discussed for Americans of German
decent. Such a proposal would have been considered preposterous.
Adams' words of wisdom Origami
Ansel Adams suffered greatly during World War II from his
views that the Manzanar Concentration Camp was wrong. History
has ultimately championed his viewpoint, and the words from
his 1944 book "Born Free and Equal" to raise awareness
of the relocation camps are worth remembering. "We must
be certain that, as the rights of the individual are the most
sacred elements of our society, we will not allow passion,
vengeance, hatred, and racial antagonism to cloud the principles
of universal justice and mercy".