Fort Missoula Internment Camp was an internment camp operated by the United States Department of Justice during the World War II. Japanese Americans and Italian Americans were imprisoned here during this war.
Fort Missoula was established near Missoula, Montana as a permanent military post in 1877 in response to citizen concerns of conflict with local Native American tribes. In 1941 Fort Missoula was turned over to the Department of Immigration and Naturalization for use as an Alien Detention Center for non-military Italian men.
1,200 Italian citizens were interned at Fort Missoula, including merchant seamen and World's Fair workers who were in the U.S. and could not be returned to Italy, as well as the crew of an Italian luxury liner seized in the Panama Canal. In addition, 650 Japanese American men were interned at the camp for questioning before being transferred to other facilities.
The Italians, who referred to Fort Missoula as Camp Bella Vista, worked in area farms, fought forest fires, and worked in other Missoula industries before being released in 1944.
Famed Italian actor Guido Trento (1892-1957), also known as Guy Trent and best known for his 1928 film Street Angel, was held at Fort Missoula and released in 1943 when Italy surrendered to the Allies. He later immigrated to the United States.
The Courtroom where the Japanese men were "tried" has been restored and is the only remaining site of its nature. BTW, none were found guilty of treason.
Those camps and relocation villages were not exclusive to the US. They also existed in British Columbia, and the family of the famous scientist and ecologist David Suzuki was also interned in one.
The term "concentration camp" is much older than the Nazi Lagers. I believe that the term got into use around the Boer Wars, but don't feel like looking it up. In terms of the Nazi camps, which were extermination camps and slave labour camps, it was to say the least a euphemism. Gulag was a similar euphemism for the Stalinist camps, where they didn't need gas chambers with -40 winters.
".....the English term concentration camp was first used in order to refer to the reconcentrados (reconcentration camps) which were set up by the Spanish military in Cuba during the Ten Years' War (1868–78) and similar camps were set up by the United States during the Philippine–American War (1899–1902)..."
The term does not necessarily denote Hitlerian or Stalinist camps, but it does denote a great denial of humanity, and probably including many innocent people, including children, in detention centres alongside some possibly guilty of violent crimes (such as drug gangsters).
In Europe concentration camps are immediately understood as the nazi camps. Albeit they may mean something else. Gulag is gulag but since a lot if people here were in awe of Stalin not so many people know what it really meant. As fir the Kolyma nobody has heard of it here.
In 1939, the French camps for Spanish republican refugees were officially called concentration camps (or sometimes internment camps) because that was the vocabulary of the time. Even though conditions were harsh, it wasn't really because the French didn't like the Spanish -- after all, they let them enter the country -- but France was just not equipped to handle so many hundreds of thousands of people. The situation is actually quite similar to the refugee camps of the 21st century in Jordan, Turkey and quite a few other countries -- a problem of not being able to handle the influx.
Naturally, countries that round up certain groups (or did so in the past) are a totally different category. The United States could probably be at least partially forgiven its Japanese mistake, but there is no real excuse for the camps for Mexicans and Central Americans.
And what about Guantanamo? Is that camp here forever?
The United States can NOT be forgiven its "Japanese mistake"! It's a "mistake" it made more than once and obviously is continuing to make. It keeps xenophobic sentiments whipped up and leads to the disaster that was the last presidential election.
From Wrong To Right: A U.S. Apology For Japanese Internment Bilal Qureshi August 9, 2013 4:24 PM ET (almost 6 years ago)
(photo caption) John Tateishi was incarcerated at Manzanar internment camp in California from age 3 until he was 6.
This month marks the 50th anniversary of the March on Washington, where the Rev. Martin Luther King Jr. shared his dream for a more equal America. But there's another anniversary looming: 25 years ago this week, the Japanese-American community celebrated a landmark victory in its own struggle for civil rights.
In 1988, President Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act to compensate more than 100,000 people of Japanese descent who were incarcerated in internment camps during World War II. The legislation offered a formal apology and paid out $20,000 in compensation to each surviving victim. The law won congressional approval only after a decade-long campaign by the Japanese-American community.
To mark the 25th anniversary of its passage, the Civil Liberties Act was put on display at the National Archives alongside the original Executive Order 9066, which authorized the internment. For senior curator Bruce Bustard, it was a powerful juxtaposition of the journey from a wrong to a right.
When she saw the Executive Order in a glass case, Marielle Tsukamoto, who grew up in an internment camp, said she had "shivers up and down [her] back" because she realized the order ruined lives.
To some, it might seem like a bureaucratic government document, but according to Bustard, that's precisely what makes this exhibition such a potent reminder of what federal documents really mean. "They are filled with legalese, and again that to me reinforces the idea that from these sorts of legal decisions that our government makes, these kinds of consequences can happen."
The Japanese-American internment camps were often nothing more than makeshift barracks, with families and children cramped together behind barbed wires. Most of the internees were U.S. citizens from the West Coast who were forced to abandon or liquidate their businesses when war relocation authorities escorted them to the camps.
John Tateishi says the experience was both humiliating and disorienting. "We came out of these camps with a sense of shame and guilt, of having been considered betrayers of our country." He says that after the war most families never spoke about it. "There were no complaints, no big rallies or demands for justice because it was not the Japanese way."
More than 100,000 people of Japanese heritage from the West Coast were sent to war relocation camps during World War II. National Archives But decades later and inspired by the civil rights movement, the Japanese American Citizens League launched a contentious campaign for redress. It divided the community along generational lines. Tateishi became a leader of the movement.
"You have to sometimes bring your community dragging and screaming behind you, but you better have strong convictions that what you're doing is right," he says.
In 1980, Congress responded by establishing a commission to investigate the legacy of the camps. After extensive interviews and personal testimonies from victims, the commission issued its final report, calling the incarceration a "grave injustice" motivated by "racial prejudice, war hysteria and the failure of political leadership."
Japanese-Americans then serving in Congress, including Robert Matsui and Norm Mineta, helped turn that report into legislative language, providing for tax-free compensation and a formal apology. Mineta has served in two presidential Cabinets, but he says that bipartisan effort remains one of his proudest achievements.
"Today I just feel that Congress is so polarized that I'm not sure a grassroots movement like this would have the kind of impact that we see resulting in the signing of the bill by President Reagan in 1988," he says.
Tateishi says the redress campaign was less about the compensation for those who had already suffered and more about the next generation of Americans.
"There is a saying in Japanese culture, 'kodomo no tame ni,' which means, 'for the sake of the children.' And for us running this campaign, that had much to do with it," he saysi. "It's the legacy we're handing down to them and to the nation to say that, 'You can make this mistake, but you also have to correct it — and by correcting it, hopefully not repeat it again.' "
It's a "mistake" it made more than once and obviously is continuing to make.
We should probably take the debate back to Indian reservations, except for the fact that even though they were disgraceful at the time, most native Americans probably thank their lucky stars now that they have patches of the country that are exempt from lots of the stupid federal and state laws.
Oh please. I was going to apologize for being so adamant in my last post, but I think the lucky stars comment put paid to that.
And the reason I am so adamant is that mistreatment of whatever group seems to so easily become acceptable or at least something easy to ignore. The ICE roundups that are going on right now under a president who is way too damned fond of executive orders are designed to get the American public used to public roundups. Remember the "other" is always at least potentially your enemy. Band together with your amorphous fears and support injustice!
America Has Tried Reparations Before. Here Is How It Went. By Adeel Hassan and Jack Healy June 19, 2019
With a renewed focus on reparations for slavery, what lessons can be drawn from payments to victims of other historical injustices in America?
(Image:A soldier in the Union Army and his family, in a photograph taken around 1863 that was later found in Cecil County, Md. Only fragmentary records, if any at all, may survive regarding many African-Americans from the slavery era.)
June 19, 2019 Ever since a Union Army general announced in Galveston, Tex., that “all slaves are free” on June 19, 1865 — a day now commemorated as Juneteenth — the question of how to compensate the country’s formerly enslaved people has hung over the United States.
Lawmakers in Washington addressed reparations for slavery for the first time in more than 10 years on Wednesday. A House Judiciary subcommittee discussed a bill to create a commission that would make recommendations concerning “any form of apology and compensation” to descendants of enslaved African-Americans.
[At a sometimes raucous hearing, the writer Ta-Nehisi Coates took direct aim at Mitch McConnell, the Senate majority leader, for opposing the idea of reparations.]
There is no direct template for reparations of that kind, but Americans have received compensation for historical injustices before. Examples include Japanese-Americans interned during World War II; survivors of police abuses in Chicago; victims of forced sterilization; and black residents of a Florida town that was burned by a murderous white mob.
Here is a look at what happened in those cases, and some of the lessons that can be drawn from them.
Native Americans did not get full control of money awarded to them.
(Image:President Harry S. Truman signing the bill providing for the establishment of the Indian Claims Commission.CreditThomas D. Mcavoy/The LIFE Picture Collection, via Getty Images)
After World War II, Congress created the Indian Claims Commission to pay compensation to any federally recognized tribe for land that had been seized by the United States.
The group’s mission was complicated by a paucity of written records, difficulties in putting a value on the land for its agricultural productivity or religious significance, and problems with determining boundaries and ownership from decades, or more than a century, earlier.
What Reparations for Slavery Might Look Like in 2019 May 23, 2019 The results were disappointing for Native Americans. The commission paid out about $1.3 billion, the equivalent of less than $1,000 for each Native American in the United States at the time the commission dissolved in 1978.
“On one level, it was remarkable,” said Melody McCoy, a lawyer for the Native American Rights Fund, a nonprofit group that has represented tribes in hundreds of major cases. “Congress listened to the claims of tribal leaders.”
But, Ms. McCoy said, the government took a paternalistic view, and kept Native Americans from having direct control of the funds, in the belief they were not “competent to receive such large amounts of money.”
“They did not make those awards, whether it was $200 million, $20 million or $20,000 — they held that money in trust accounts,” she said.
A separate agreement, struck with Congress in 1971, led to the biggest award — $962 million worth of land in Alaska, some 44 million acres — in return for Indians, Eskimos and Aleuts relinquishing their aboriginal claims to the rest of the state.
Once again, the compensation was not awarded directly; instead, the land was put in the control of corporations, and the beneficiaries were given shares of stock in them.
Some victims of forced sterilizations were left out.
One of the thorniest problems with making reparations to victims of sweeping historical injustices is deciding who is included and who is not.
In 2013, North Carolina became the first state in the country to pass a law intended to compensate the surviving victims among the 7,600 people who were sterilized under a decades-long eugenics program. The victims were largely poor, disabled or African-American. State lawmakers set up a $10 million fund to compensate them.
Conflicts arose over who was eligible. A state commission and state courts denied claims from relatives of victims who had died. Others were deemed ineligible because they had been sterilized by county welfare offices and not the state eugenics program, said Bob Bollinger, a lawyer who represented some of those victims.
“They got left out,” Mr. Bollinger said. “You’ve got to draw your reparations law broadly enough that you don’t leave out the people you’re trying to help.”
Defining the wrong done to Japanese-Americans was fairly straightforward.
(Image:A store in Oakland, Calif., the day after the Pearl Harbor attack. The store was closed and the owner was housed in War Relocation Authority centers for the duration of the war.CreditDorothea Lange/Library of Congress, via Reuters)
On separate occasions 40 years apart, Congress awarded payments to Japanese-Americans who were taken from their homes during World War II and sent to internment camps.
The Japanese American Evacuation Claims Act of 1948 offered compensation for real and personal property they had lost. About $37 million was paid to 26,000 claimants. But no provision was made for lost freedom or violated rights.
That came in 1988, when Congress voted to extend an apology and pay $20,000 to each Japanese-American survivor of the internment. More than $1.6 billion was paid to 82,219 eligible claimants.
The internment had been “carried out without adequate security reasons,” Congress declared, and was “motivated largely by racial prejudice, wartime hysteria, and a failure of political leadership.” The act acknowledged that the physical and emotional damage the internees had suffered, including missed education and job training, could never be fully compensated.
The bill produced “a wonderful feeling” among Japanese-Americans, according to Representative Robert T. Matsui, a California Democrat who was interned with his parents as a child. “It lifted the specter of disloyalty that hung over us for 42 years because we were incarcerated. We were made whole again as American citizens.”
The injustice began and ended on known dates, most victims could be readily identified through official records, and more than half were still alive when the compensation was awarded. The situation would be much more complicated and challenging for African-American claimants seeking reparations over slavery.
Counseling and education was part of making amends for police abuses in Chicago.
(:ImageAislinn Pulley, an executive director of the Chicago Torture Justice Center and a founder of Black Lives Matter Chicago.CreditDanielle Scruggs for The New York Times)
The men who survived brutal treatment by a Chicago police commander and his “midnight crew” of detectives wanted more than money.
As part of a $5.5 million reparations measure enacted by the city in 2015, Chicago agreed to compensate 57 victims — nearly all African-American men from the city’s South Side — who said the police had beaten, shocked, suffocated and psychologically tortured them to obtain confessions.
But the city also agreed to finance a Torture Justice Center to provide counseling to scores of victims of the commander, Jon Burge, and to other survivors of police brutality. The city supported building a public memorial, and agreed to weave lessons about the legacy of nearly 20 years of abuse into the public school curriculum. Students in Chicago now learn about police torture in history class.
“Reparations have been and always will be more than an apology and a paycheck,” said Joey Mogul, a lawyer who wrote a draft of the reparations ordinance and represented several survivors. “We have to consider all the harm people have endured.”
An apology for a Florida massacre mattered, but the money didn’t go far.
More than 70 years after a racist mob massacred black residents in Rosewood, Fla., and burned the hamlet to the ground, Lizzie Jenkins’s mother received exactly $3,333.33 as recompense.
In 1994, Florida became the first state to pass a reparations law acknowledging a need to confront an eruption of racist violence that government officials failed to stop.
The law set aside $2 million for those who survived the 1923 massacre, which began with an allegation that a black man had assaulted a white woman. A white mob that included Ku Klux Klan members swarmed into the largely black hamlet of Rosewood and killed at least six black residents, and perhaps many more. Churches and houses were burned, and the residents scattered, never to return.
Ms. Jenkins, 80, a historian and author whose aunt and uncle were attacked and nearly lynched in Rosewood, said that some survivors used the relatively modest payments to re-roof a house or do some remodeling. Her family used it to pay the taxes on the property where her aunt had grown up.
“They didn’t get a whole lot of money,” she said of the victims, “but at least Florida acknowledged they had made a mistake.”
When the reparations law passed, its supporters hailed it as a moment to “right an atrocious wrong,” while opponents complained about being held responsible for the “sins of our forefathers.” But Ms. Jenkins said the impact of reparations turned out to be surprisingly small, never enough to erase the bloody history or restore what had been taken.
“People just continued living their lives,” she said. “They lost everything — their personal items, their property, their hometown. Their dreams were derailed. But they didn’t lose their dignity.”
Georgetown University students are trying to repay a big debt with a small tuition increase.
(Image:Descendants of enslaved people sold by Georgetown University in 1838 spoke at a 2016 event about the university’s steps to atone for its past.CreditGabriella Demczuk for The New York Times(
In April, students at Georgetown University voted to increase their tuition to benefit descendants of the 272 enslaved Africans whom the Jesuits who ran the school sold nearly two centuries ago to secure its financial future.
“The school wouldn’t be here without them,” said Shepard Thomas, a junior from New Orleans who is part of the campus group, Students for the GU272, that pushed for reparations to be paid. Mr. Thomas, a psychology major, is descended from enslaved people who were part of the 1838 sale.
Mr. Thomas said the amount of the fee, $27.20, was chosen to evoke the number of people sold, while not being too onerous for students. (A semester’s tuition and fees for a full-time student come to $27,720.00.) The university has about 7,000 undergraduates, so the fee would raise about $380,000 a year for the fund.
The student-led referendum was nonbinding, and the university’s board of directors must approve the measure before it can take effect.
Georgetown University agreed in 2016 to give admissions preference to descendants of the 272 slaves; Mr. Thomas was one of the first to be admitted under the policy. The school also formally apologized for its role in slavery, and has renamed two buildings on its campus to acknowledge the lives of enslaved people.
Jack Healy is a Colorado-based national correspondent who focuses on rural places and life outside America's “City Limits” signs. He has worked in Iraq and Afghanistan and is a graduate of the University of Missouri’s journalism school.
One of the questions will always be the statute of limitations. How long is long enough? That has of course been an issue in Europe concerning WW2 with many restitution cases still in progress. But when does it all end?
There are probably people who would like to sue Italy for the Roman invasions of northern Europe.
Horrible things were done to native Americans even more than 300 years ago (and let's not even get into the Spanish and Portuguese invasion of Latin America).
I really wish that a date could be decided for bygones being bygones. It won't be fair but at least it will be closure, just like France and Germany.
On this date in 1988, American President Ronald Reagan signed into law a measure providing $20,000 payments to still-living Japanese-Americans who were interned by their government during World War II.