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The National Veterans Network is a coalition that enlightens the public about the legacy of Japanese American World War II soldiers.
They were All American

The War Years:

Incarceration

Personal Losses

Fearing that Japanese Americans represented a threat to national security, authorities on the west coast gave Japanese immigrants and Japanese Americans as little as 24 hours to leave their homes and businesses for hastily constructed camps. Each person could take only what he or she could carry. Many sustained huge financial losses. They were forced to sell their property quickly to predators who offered them pennies on the dollar. Many left behind irreplaceable personal property and family heirlooms.

NATIONAL ARCHIVES

What do you call
the camps?

The Power of Words

During World War II, the government called them “relocation centers” and “assembly centers.” Others called them “internment camps.” Such euphemisms mislead the American people. They mask the fact that 120,000 innocent Americans were forcibly removed from their homes at gunpoint and imprisoned for years in deplorable conditions without due process of law – simply because of their race.

National JACL

Many today argue that these euphemisms should be replaced with phrases that reveal the truth of what happened. Some historians go so far as to argue that the camps should be called “America’s Concentration Camps.”

The Merriam Webster Dictionary defines “concentration camp” as “a facility where persons (as prisoners of war, political prisoners, or refugees) are detained or confined.”

Lane Hirabayashi, Professor of Asian American Studies at UCLA, distinguished three major types of concentration camps in a “Power of Words” workshop during the National JACL Convention in 2012: Nazi death camps, Soviet labor camps, and Japanese American camps. They vary in severity but all are concentration camps.

Abbie Salyers Grubb also addressed this dilemma in her PhD dissertation1. Although the camps holding Japanese Americans during WWII meet the technical definition of concentration camps, she argues that that term has become so inextricably linked with Nazi death camps that it misrepresents conditions in American camps.

The NVN’s interest is in historical accuracy, not advocating a point of view on what to call the camps. Therefore, throughout this web site, we will simply refer to the camps as camps, describe conditions inside them, and let readers supply their own adjectives.

Words have the power to reveal truth and obscure it. To preserve democracy and prevent future abuses of freedom, it is important for future generations to understand what truly happened.

1 “What’s in A Word?” Introduction to “The Internment of Memory: Forgetting and Remembering the Japanese American Experience During World War II.” Copyright 2009 Abbie Salyers Grubb.