Vintage film on Japanese internment during World War II

May 20, 2009

[Google Video version is not showing or playing for reasons I don’t know; fortunately the National Archives (NARA) has uploaded a version to YouTube]

“A Challenge to Democracy,” by the War Relocation Board.  This film defends the relocation of 100,000 Japanese Americans during World War II.

Japanese-descended American citizens harvesting crops they grew during internment during World War II. Screen capture from "Challege to Democracy."

Japanese-descended American citizens harvesting crops they grew during internment during World War II. Screen capture from “Challege to Democracy.”

“These people are not under suspicion,” the narrator says.  “They are not prisoners, they are not internees.  They are merely dislocated people, the unwounded casualties of war.”

According to the Internet Archive, the film is a 1944 production.  That site has the film available for download in several formats.  The film is collected in the Prelinger Archives.  On my computer, some of the Internet Archive versions offer  better quality than the Google Video version above.

I originally found the film at a school site in Washington, Mr. Talmadge’s Wikispace site, apparently for his classes in the history of the State of Washington.  That site has a very useful series of links to good sites on the internet for information about the Japanese internment.  There are several other topics noted there, too, including the Chinese Exclusion Act, the Whitman Massacre in Oregon, and the Nez Perce Retreat.  I’d love to see Mr. Talmadge’s plan for the year.

What do your students do to display their work on the internet?

Typewriter of the moment: Heart Mountain Japanese internment camp

April 14, 2008

A remarkable device, in sad, remarkable circumstances.

The photos below show a typewriter that produces Japanese characters, an invention of no small achievement.

The photos also show American citizens, arrested for being Japanese, in the Heart Mountain internment camp in Wyoming, during World War II. They’re getting the machine in operation to produce a camp newspaper.

Newspaper volunteers reassemble a Japanese typewriter, for the Heart Mountain Sentinel

The official caption:

Members of the staff and volunteer helpers reassemble a privately owned Japanese typewriter to be used for the Japanese language edition of the Heart Mountain Sentinel, Center newspaper. The paper is wrapped around the rubber cylinder, the typist pushes the roller riding platen over the bed of type. After picking the next character, a lever is operated which picks up the type, presses it against the paper and replaces it in its niche. Complicated in appearance and operation, due to the shorthand characteristics of Japanese writing, the advance of thought is nearly equal in speed to a standard English typewriter. — Photographer: Parker, Tom — Heart Mountain, Wyoming. 1/13/43

Heart Mountain Relocation Center, workers assemble Japanese character typewriter for the newspaper, 1943

Official caption:

This complicated looking gadget is a standard Japanese typewriter, the private property of a resident of Japanese ancestry at the Heart Mountain Relocation Center. The machine, loaned to the center newspaper for its Japanese section which is printed for for the purpose of informing those residents unable to read English, is here being assembled by Sentinel staff members. The paper is wound on the round drum, which operates on rollers over the type bed, spotted over the required character, an arm picks the metal slug from the bed, presses it against the paper and returns it to its niche. Due to the shorthand character of Japanese printing, the typewriter is nearly equal in speed in conveying thoughts as a standard English typewriter. — Photographer: Parker, Tom — Heart Mountain, Wyoming. 1/13/43

These photos are available from several sites. The best quality is probably from UC Berkeley’s Bancroft Library’s contribution to the California Digital Library. Office also carries the photos, with attribution to the Department of Interior, War Relocation Authority, National Archives, Still Picture Branch, NWDNS-210-G-E691 and E728.

From the Office Museum:

The first typewriter with Chinese characters was produced about 1911-14. Nippon Typewriter Co. began producing typewriters with Chinese and Japanese characters in 1917. “The Nippon has a flat bed of 3,000 Japanese characters. This is considered a shorthand version since the Japanese language contains in excess of 30,000 characters.” (Thomas A. Russo, Office Collectibles: 100 Years of Business Technology, Schiffer, 2000, p. 161.) A successor company, Nippon Remington Rand Kaisha, was producing similar machines in the 1970s.

To use the typewriter, paper is wrapped around the cylindrical rubber platen, which moves on rollers over the bed of type. The operator uses a level to control an arm that picks up a piece of metal type from the bed, presses it against the paper, and returns it to its niche. While the machine is complicated, because of the shorthand character of Japanese writing, the Japanese language typewriter is nearly equal to an English language typewriter in speed for recording thoughts.

Other posts on typewriters, here. Other posts on Japanese internment, here.

World War II in Texas: Japanese internment

July 23, 2007

Girl Scouts at Japanese Doll Day celebration, in Crystal City, Texas, internment center, 1943-45

“Girl Scout drama presentation for Hinamatsuri (Doll’s Festival), on Japanese Girl’s Day, at the Crystal City, Texas, internment facility operated by the Justice Department, 1943-45.

Each of us has pockets of ignorance; some of the pockets are larger than others.

How did I miss that there were Japanese-American internees in Texas? If I stumbled across that fact before, it really didn’t register. Reviewing the website for the University of Texas – San Antonio’s Institute of Texas Cultures, I came across the Spring 2007 Newsletter, which is dedicated to the Crystal City internment facility.

Crystal City is unknown to many other Texans, too, I wager. Study of a list of the War Department “Relocation” camps shows nothing in Texas. Surprise! The U.S. Justice Department also operated camps of interned Americans of Japanese descent. The War Department rounded up Japanese Americans in west coast states and their neighbors; the Bureau of Immigration and Naturalization Services, the old INS which was rolled into the Department of Homeland Security after the 2001 attacks on New York and Washington, arrested and detained Japanese-Americans from the rest of the United States. INS operated at least four such camps in Texas. Read the rest of this entry »

Eugene, Oregon’s Japanese internment memorial

February 22, 2007

11th grade history courses should be finishing up with World War II about now. If the course covered the material planned, it included a discussion of the internment of Japanese-Americans in the U.S. during World War II. The discussion should have included questions about whether the internment was just, and whether the reparations paid and apology made later by the U.S. government adequately compensated the victim internees.

Eugene, Oregon, hosted a “civic control station” where Japanese-Americans were forced to register. Most were later sent to internment camps — from Oregon, many were sent to Tule Lake, California. Oregonians, especially those who were interned and their families, are working to honor the internees and pass on the stories of the events. They want to highlight the fact that many of the interned citizens served gallantly during the war.

A memorial is being built in Eugene, featuring a statue of a young Japanese American girl sitting atop her luggage on the way to internment, reaching for a butterfly.

Below the fold I copy the editorial from the Eugene Register-Guard about the memorial — I’ve taken the liberty of copying the entire piece, as well as including a link (free subscription required). If the Register-Guard wishes I not promote their work this way, they know where to find me. It’s a good editorial on important issues, and it deserves broader circulation and preservation.

Read the rest of this entry »

Sources for Japanese internment history

December 14, 2006

A reader graciously pointed the way to a very good source of information about the Japanese internment, especially on video, in comments to my earlier post about the book on Dorothea Lange’s photos of internment events.

Shay Witt suggested we look to the Japanese American National Museum.  In addition to exhibits, the museum store offers several VHS and DVD products that should be good for classroom use.  Witt specifically mentioned the award-winning documentary “Something Strong Within.”  That film is now available on DVD, in a compilation disc.

Tests tend to show that students are unfamiliar with this history.  It is particularly salient today, with our nation once again at war and imprisoning people unaccused of any particular acts.

Lange photos of Japanese internment show a different light

November 7, 2006

Unpublished photos of the internment of U.S. citizens of Japanese ancestry during World War II were found in the National Archives.

Japanese Americans line up at Tanforan Assembly Center

Dorothea Lange took the photos, but they were forgotten in the archives — they did not show the view that the government wanted to be shown, some speculate, and so were not widely disseminated.

The pictures are being published for the first time, in Impounded:  Dorothea Lange and the Censored Images of Japanese American Internment (W. W. Norton).

The New York Times carried some of the photos and a story about the book.

Lange, who died in 1965, showed families who had abandoned their homes and property. Because they couldn’t bring their belongings with them, they were often forced to sell them to speculators at reduced prices. In harrowing images that uncomfortably echo the Nazi round-ups of Jews in Europe, Lange’s photographs document long, weaving lines of well-dressed people, numbered tags around their necks, patiently waiting to be processed and sent to unknown destinations.

“There is no way to really know how much they lost,” Mr. Okihiro said in an interview, but he cited a 1983 study commissioned by a Congressional committee estimating that, adjusted for inflation and interest, internees had lost $2.5 billion to $6.2 billion in property and entitlements. Mr. Okihiro writes that one man, Ichiro Shimoda, was so distraught he tried to commit suicide by biting off his own tongue. When that failed, he tried to asphyxiate himself. Finally he climbed a camp fence, and a guard shot him to death.

Another man, Kokubo Takara, died after being forced to stand in line in the rain as a disciplinary measure at Sand Island in Hawaii. At assembly points in Hawaii, Mr. Okihiro writes, some detainees were forced to strip naked and had their body cavities searched.

Upon arrival at the assembly centers — including the Tanforan Assembly Center in San Bruno, Calif., a former racetrack — the internees passed through two lines of soldiers with bayonets trained on them. Lange was not allowed to photograph the soldiers, but she did manage some stark images of the horse stalls where the families lived, pictures that are included in the book.

Japanese-American internment: Statesman-Journal web special

June 29, 2007

Looking for good sources on Japanese internment?

Editor & Publisher highlights the web version of a special series on Japanese internment during World War II, put together by the Statesman-Journal in Salem, Oregon. The series is featured in “Pauline’s Picks,” a feature by Pauline Millard showing off the best use of the web by old-line print publications.

Beyond Barbed Wire, photo by Salem Statesman-Journal

The Statesman-Journal’s web piece is “Beyond Barbed Wire,” featuring timelines, maps of the Tule Lake internment facility (closest to Oregon), stories about Japanese Americans in Oregon, especially in Salem, photos, video interviews, and a significant collection of original documents perfectly suited for document-based studies.

Texas kids test particularly badly in this part of U.S. history. Several districts ask U.S. history teachers and other social studies groups to shore up student knowledge in the area to overcome gaps pointed out in testing in the past three years, on the Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills (TAKS). In teacher training, I’ve noted a lot of Texas social studies teachers are a bit shaky on the history.

The Korematsu decision was drummed into my conscious working on civil rights issues at the Senate Labor and Human Resources Committee, and complemented by Constitutional Law (thank you, Mary Cheh) and other courses I was taking at the same time at George Washington University. It helped that Utah has a significant Japanese population and had “hosted” one of the internment camps; one of my tasks was to be sure committee Chairman Orrin Hatch was up on issues and concerns when he met with Japanese descendants in his constituencies in Utah. Hatch was a cosponsor of the bills to study the internment, and then to apologize to Japanese Americans affected, and pay reparations.
The internment was also a sore spot with my father, G. Paul Darrell, who witnessed the rounding up of American citizens in California. Many of those arrested were his friends, business associates and acquaintances. Those events formed a standard against which he measured almost all other claims of civil rights violations.

Because children were imprisoned with their parents, because a lot of teenagers were imprisoned, this chunk of American history strikes particular sympathetic chords with students of any conscience.  Dorothea Lange’s having photographed some of the events and places, as well as Ansel Adams and others, also leaves a rich pictorial history.

(I found this thanks to the RSS feed of headlines from Editor & Publisher at the Scholars & Rogues site.)

World War II internments – 4,000 abductions from South America

December 29, 2011

Recent revisions to the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS) for U.S. history include more rigor in the study of internments of Japanese, German and Italian descendants during World War II (many of whom were U.S. citizens).

At some risk of irritating the copyright gods, we repost here a story from the Florida State University Office of Research, about a story from a book by Max Paul Friedman, Nazis & Good Neighbors: The United States Campaign Against the Germans of Latin America in World War II (Cambridge University Press, 2003).

In the past week I’ve discovered that many of the on-line archive photos I’ve used in the past have gone off-line, generally because the libraries lost funding to keep the archives going.  This is good material for Texas classrooms, which I hope will not go off-line; this is my attempt to preserve this story.


Roosevelt’s Wrong Enemies

In a hasty move made in the name of national security, FDR needlessly swept some 4,000 civilians from their homes in Latin America.

By Andy Lindstrom

Werner Kappel was no Nazi.

In fact, after the Gestapo threatened him and his father, a Jewish leather-goods dealer in Berlin, he and his dad had fled their native Germany in 1938. But after Pearl Harbor three years later, both father and son were snatched from the new lives they had built for themselves in Panama and deported to the United States in a roundup of what government officials called “dangerous alien enemies.”

Like more than 4,000 other Latin Americans of German heritage—the vast majority of them with no apparent connection to Adolf Hitler’s National Socialism or its rabid anti-Jewish ranting—they ended up behind barbed-wire fences in a desert Texas internment camp. A few were later released after agreeing to return to Germany; others stayed until U.S. courts finally ordered them freed, in some cases as late as 1947, two years after World War II ended.

In its early phase, the long-overlooked World War II roundup of German nationals in 15 South and Central American countries may have been grounded in an honest but exaggerated fear of a so-called “Fifth Column” of pro-Nazi subversives threatening the security of America’s southern flank, says Max Paul Friedman, an assistant professor of history at Florida State University.

Historian Max Paul Friedman Searching 16 archives in seven countries over a 10-year period, Friedman pieced together the all-but-forgotten story of U.S. relocation of Germans in Central and South America during WWII.

Eventually, though, Friedman found that proscription lists were drawn up by U.S. State Department and FBI officials who were woefully untrained for the task—few spoke Spanish or German. In many cases, their decisions were based on bogus accusations from local informants—often degenerated into naked confiscation of German properties that either were coveted by their non-German neighbors or competed economically with American business interests.

Such arbitrary policies damaged often-fragile U.S.-Latin American relations both during and after the war, Friedman said. The deportation and confinement of Latin Americans of German descent, he continued, became “a forgotten precedent” that should serve as a red flag in the present war against international terrorism.

“Now, when I read about Guantanamo (the American military prison in Cuba where uncharged Afghan detainees are being held indefinitely and without legal recourse or representation), and I hear about the revival of racial profiling, I hear echoes,” he said during a recent interview. “And I worry that we may be repeating some of the same mistakes.”

Friedman’s recent book (published by Cambridge University Press, August 2003), Nazis & Good Neighbors: The United States Campaign Against the Germans of Latin America in World War II, chronicles the deportations that showed what Friedman called “a complete disregard for Franklin Roosevelt’s vaunted Good Neighbor Policy (and) a not very effective way to combat the very real dangers in Latin America.”

Aside from Germans, more than 2,000 Japanese and 288 Italians also were deported from Latin America and interned in the U.S. during the World War II crackdown, Friedman learned from post-war statistics he discovered in the National Archives.

While this was going on, of course, the government was coordinating a massive-and far more well-known-roundup of Japanese and Japanese-Americans on U.S. soil. All told, about 110,000 persons of Japanese descent of all ages were “relocated” to inland internment camps from their homes on the U.S. West Coast in a move based solely on their racial identity.

Friedman’s book focuses on what he concedes was a “sideshow” to the Japanese internment during the war. Although small by comparison, the incident is an intriguing footnote to U.S. history, and demonstrates just how far the government will go to protect itself in wartime.

In hindsight, what Roosevelt’s policymakers feared most about the small number of relocated Germans in Latin America may seem irrational to some today-they actually worried that these people were Nazis or Nazi-sympathizers who were going to try to overturn governments south of the Rio Grande, take over the Panama Canal and thus pave the way for an invasion by Hitler’s forces from the south.

But in fact, the threat had a core of truth, since there were Nazi spies operating in the region, Friedman said.

“There was good reason to try to prevent a Nazi takeover of the region; the problem was in targeting the wrong people not because of anything they’d done, but just because of who they were.

“In this rather forgotten episode in response to the panic after Pearl Harbor, we did something that we do often-—-basically jettison legal principle, civil liberty, international law,” Friedman said. “We went looking for dangerous or potentially dangerous people on the basis of group affiliation. If they were German, spoke German or were of German origin—that was really enough to get people put in a camp.”

A specialist on U.S. foreign relations, particularly U.S. relations with modern Latin America and Nazi Germany, Friedman joined the FSU history department in 2002 with a doctorate from the University of California-Berkeley and some three years working for National Public Radio as a researcher and assistant producer. Friedman has worked with such NPR luminaries as former “All Things Considered” commentator Bob Edwards and, for 10 years, for investigative reporter Seymour Hersh, who broke the Vietnam-era My Lai Massacre and the more recent Iraqi prisoner-abuse stories.

Friedman’s book—six years in the writing and heavily documented with research from 16 archives in seven countries—has already received numerous accolades and honors, including the A.B. Thomas Book Award from the South Eastern Council on Latin American Studies and the 2003 Herbert Hoover Award for the best scholarly work on any subject of U.S. history during Hoover’s lengthy public career.

Friedman came onto the barely remembered internment of Latin American Germans during World War II purely by accident, he said. After hearing brief mention of it on a television news show, he was directed to a medical-school friend of the show’s producer who had recently treated a 96-year-old survivor of the camps. That led to an exhaustive search of government records, private correspondence and interviews with 40 former internees or family members now living in Latin America or Europe.

Fluent in four languages and with a reading knowledge of Italian, Friedman was particularly interested in talking to Jewish members of the German communities in each country because, he said, “they would have had no motivation to conceal what happened.” In fact, several of the Jews he contacted had actually been held in Nazi concentration camps, potential victims of the Holocaust, before making their way to what they thought was the safety of Latin America.

“The whole thing was very unfair,” Werner Kappel of Sun City Center, Florida, told Friedman in a 1999 telephone interview. “We had nothing to do with Hitler, because we were chased out by the Nazis. We didn’t even feel like Germans anymore, and the Germans didn’t think we were Germans-only the Americans thought so.”

American thinking about the dangers posed by Latin America’s numerous German communities apparently rested on two basic premises, Friedman said. One, voiced by Roosevelt three months before Pearl Harbor, was that Nazi agents already were at work among the expatriates setting the stage for what he called “intrigues …plots… machinations… sabotage,” even secret landing strips in Colombia with the Panama Canal as a reachable target.

(Postwar reports indicated no secret landing strips in Colombia or any other Latin American countries. In fact, no Nazi-related sabotage was ever reported in those countries, just as none happened on the West Coast during the Japanese-American internments.)

In Friedman’s opinion, a second motivation to intervene in what were essentially internal matters in the various countries south of our borders stemmed from what he called “the U.S. view of Latin America as a vulnerable, dependent region where Latinos are helpless and foreigners are the real actors.”

In other words, Friedman contends, despite all the much-ballyhooed promises of mutual cooperation and trust embodied in Roosevelt’s “Good Neighbor Policy”—when push came to shove, Latin American governments could not be trusted to police their own people.

Even while thousands of Germans in the United States—many with known ties to pro-Nazi organizations—remained relatively free from harassment (fewer than 1 percent were interned), detainees from 15 of Latin America’s smaller countries were shipped north either for eventual repatriation to Germany or to internment centers for the duration of the war.

Brazil and Chile, along with Mexico, refused to yield to U.S. pressure and set up their own holding facilities for suspected Nazi sympathizers.

The Swedish passenger liner Gripsholm was used to exchange Germans for citizens of the Americas. (far left) A german family boards the Gripsholm for repatriation to Germany in 1944.

As Friedman documents in detail, expropriation of German-owned businesses and the subsequent deportation of their owners proved to be both capricious and, in many cases, blatantly unjustified takeovers of properties that had no possible connection with Nazi war aims.

In one example, he cited a Panama shopkeeper who was interned because he allegedly had too many German customers. Paid informants, tempted by $50 bounties for each name they came up with, reported dozens of “Gestapo officials,” “imminent uprisings,” and so-called “German paramilitary units” that proved fabrications at best.

Altogether, Friedman said, the FBI found that only eight of the 4,058 Germans deported from Latin America and interned in the U.S. had active ties with Nazi espionage rings. As for outright sabotage, Friedman’s examination of the FBI records for the period showed what the FBI called “absolutely nil.”

And what were conditions like for these detainees, once they did make it to U.S. shores? Actually, Friedman found, in general they were treated quite well-particularly compared to what they would have faced at detention centers in most other belligerent nations.

“The prison camp was beautiful, at least for us kids,” one Costa Rican veteran said of his camp near Crystal City, Texas. Friedman quotes him in the book.

Camp Blanding, Florida, was described by the camp commander as a country club. Internees that Friedman cited tended to agree.

“We grew tan and swelled up like doughnuts from the good meals,” one reported in a letter to the German government, adding he was served three hot meals daily and could buy three kinds of beer at the canteen.

Despite the testing challenge of summer heat and winter cold in jerry-built buildings, detainees that Friedman interviewed from Camp Kenedy (sic), south of San Antonio, reported that their guards proved reasonably sympathetic as it became obvious most were ordinary farmers, older men and even whole families bewildered by the charges against them.

“Muy correctos,” said one from Guatemala. “I have no complaints against them.”

Official government policy that brought them to barbed-wire internment far from their lost homes and confiscated businesses was another matter. As Friedman discovered, Assistant Secretary of State Breckenridge Long was particularly notorious for refusing to investigate pleas of innocence by detainees. “They are lawless, scheming, defiant-and in many ways unassimilable (sic),” he wrote in his diary about Jewish refugees trying to enter the U.S. in the early years of Nazi repression. “Some are certainly German agents.”

FBI chief J. Edgar Hoover seemed to hold similar views about the subversive intentions of Jews and Latin American Germans in general, Friedman said. As the man responsible for large portions of U.S. intelligence gathering, especially in Latin America, Hoover passed on to the State Department what Friedman called such unsubstantiated whoppers as “1,400 airplanes and 50 submarines” poised in Martinique for an attack on the Panama Canal and other targets including the Florida Keys.

Hoover also forwarded to Washington a memorandum compiled by his Latin American agents that Germany was building a fleet of some 1,000 submarines to transport Nazi soldiers into Colombia and Venezuela where, it was assumed, they would link up with local sympathizers for an attack upon Allied forces.

“None of these claims was true,” Friedman said. “Even the State Department advised its bureau chiefs that data from the (FBI) should be treated with caution.”

But for the unsuspecting Germans of Latin America, Long set U.S. policy and Hoover supplied him with information. Clearly, Friedman said, the FBI and state department officials directly responsible for identifying suspected Nazi sympathizers in Latin America were among the most poorly informed to make such choices.

Long’s chief assistant, Albert Clattenburg, at first defended his agency’s policies gone wrong on the basis of national security. The deportation program began, he said in a 1943 memorandum Friedman quotes in his book, as a sincere effort to root out “the carefully prepared organizations of the Axis governments in the other American republics and thus to ensure the political security of this hemisphere.”

Instead, Clattenburg continued, “the motives of the other American republics in cooperating with us have only a thin veneer of concern for hemispheric security.” Deportees themselves, Clattenburg said, felt they were chosen as easy victims of graft by local governments while conniving U.S. officials used the program as a way to break up German commercial influence in areas where American business interests wished to move in.

Former Justice Department investigator Raymond W. Ickes, who traveled in 1943 to 18 Latin American countries to check on the operation, seems to have agreed with Clattenburg’s assessment. The most common reason behind a person’s deportation, Ickes told Friedman in 1997, was that the individual had “property, real property-land-that was attractive.” The U.S. policy provided such dictators as Nicaragua’s Anastasio Somoza and Tiburcio Carias of Honduras with a good excuse to expel the Germans and seize their property, Ickes said.

As Ickes recalled the deportation program, “When I got down there, I saw that this was not accomplishing anything,” he told Friedman. “It was wheel-spinning, and a complete abrogation of human rights.”

Because of the language barrier, he said, ”the local people could get away with almost anything.” As for the majority of internees, they had “no more business being in detention in the United States than I had.”

Ickes’ report actually helped prune the deportation lists, Friedman said. But it did little to change the long-term thinking of those who felt that the life-or-death dangers of global war left no time for political correctness. If mistakes happened, Friedman found that officials responsible considered them the price for pursuing a greater good-namely, national security.

Even at the highest levels of American government, Ickes told Friedman, the fear of Nazi subversion was so great that the deportation program, in his words, was “understandable, if not justifiable.”

Texas Interns: German deportees from Latin America arrive at Camp Kenedy, Texas in 1942

In principle, Friedman agrees with Ickes’ assessment. But he also insists that, by following such a course, State Department officials were making a costly mistake.

“Typically, in this country, we cast the debate as one between the bleeding hearts and the security hawks,” he said in a discussion of his book’s findings. “Either you’re for civil liberties because you don’t want the rights of the innocent to be trampled on. Or you’re for national security because you’re hard-nosed and you want to protect the country and you don’t have time for such niceties in a time of national crisis.”

During World War II and since, the government would have benefited from having more security agents trained for overseas assignments with the time to gain local experience and a working knowledge of an area’s languages, Friedman feels. Following high standards of investigation and evidence can guide officials to the right targets, instead of wasting resources on the wrong people, he said In this way, respecting civil liberties can actually help improve security.

Instead, as Friedman documented in the Latin America of six decades ago, “We wound up with 4,000 people, most of whom had nothing to do with the German war effort and, along with affecting some of our best friends in Latin America, and wasting ships and troops and guards and meals and diplomatic effort on a needless program, we did all that and gained very little if anything from it.”

Postscript: Werner Kappel was paroled from detention in 1943, found a job in St. Louis and was later drafted into the U.S. Army. Wounded and awarded the Purple Heart while fighting in the Philippines, he took the oath of citizenship shortly after the war ended. Six months later, he finally was released from supervision by the government’s Alien Enemy Control Unit.-EDITOR.

Query to historians: Material on German-American Internment in WWII?

June 14, 2008

Historians, help me out: What do you know about the internment of German Americans and Italian Americans during World War II?

The website of the German-American Internee Coalition lists several sources, and it has a lengthy set of lesson plans (too much for use in Texas, I fear). Is this information accurate? Has anyone used it in a classroom, and can you tell us your experience? Is there a mention of this in your world history or U.S. history text?

Please respond in comments.

Gate and guard tower at Fort Lincoln, ND, intern site for German-Americans and othersPhoto: At sunset, the gate and guard tower at Fort Lincoln, North Dakota, where German-Americans and Japanese-Americans were interned during World War II. From the John Christgau Collection of photos; courtesy the site at the German-American Internee Coalition (GAIC).

Carnival of History #43

November 15, 2006

History Carnival 43 is up at Axis of Evel Knievel.  Well, over there they call it “History Carnival XLIII,” but there’s not much Roman history involved.

Without pointing to too many posts, let me just urge you to go take a look.  The Carnival lists many good posts, listing history and talking about history.  You’ll do well to see for yourself.

I also want to thank D at the Axis of Evel Knievel for the link to the post on this blog about the newly released collection of Dorothea Lange’s photos of the Japanese internment in the U.S. during World War II.  The book, and the issue, deserve a wide audience.  Especially among Texas high school kids, whose tests show they need to know more about the Japanese internment, and World War II in general.  Especially, they need to know more before they march off to war, or march off to court to defend systems that allow our government to summarily imprison people who are otherwise peaceful.

Iva Toguri, RIP (Not “Tokyo Rose”)

September 30, 2006

Ima Toguri Aquino (NOT Tokyo Rose) (National Archives photo)

Iva Toguri D’Aquino died this week at age 90. She’s seen here in a file photo being escorted out of federal court after her conviction for treason in 1949. She was later pardoned. AP, via NPR National Archives photo (2-24-2007 blog update)

Scott Simon at NPR’s “Weekend Edition” had a remembrance of a woman from his old neighborhood in Chicago who died this week. It’s an audio report (transcripts are available for a fee from NPR).

As a Japanese American student stuck in Tokyo on December 11, 1941, Toguri was tossed out by her cousins. In order to live, she took a job with Japanese radio, and ultimately was one of a dozen women who read material between songs broadcast to American soldiers, known collectively as “Tokyo Rose.” Toguri refused to renounce her U.S. citizenship, ever. Assigned to work with Allied POWs in Tokyo, she read propaganda notices she said later were so silly that no GI could have believed them, written by an Australian POW for humor.

But at the end of the war, trying to get back to the U.S., Toguri was the only one of the woman broadcasters known. She was detained as a suspect Tokyo Rose for a year, then released — there was no evidence against her. Read the rest of this entry »

Topaz – monument to lack of civil rights

September 6, 2006

National history standards for high school U.S. history courses say kids should demonstrate knowledge about the internment of Americans of Japanese ancestry during World War II, under Executive Order 9066 in February 1942. Results from Texas’ TAKS test show that most students are not meeting the standards of knowledge.

I found an interesting presentation of photographs and audio interviews hidden away at the Salt Lake Tribune’s website. It is simply titled “Topaz” after the name of the internment camp outside of Delta, Utah.

My mother’s family lived outside of Delta, in Hinckley, Utah, for several years before 1930. It is not a pleasant place to be held captive, she said.

Utah’s Japanese population is quite large, now, and held considerable influence in the 1970s and 1980s when I was active in politics in Utah. Utah’s Japanese community sought the support of Sen. Orrin Hatch for an investigation into the violation of the civil rights of people interned during World War II, and Hatch cosponsored the bill to investigate, and then to pay reparations to victims and survivors of victims.

Some wag at the copy desk of the Provo Daily Herald took sport with our press releases; whenever we’d put “internment” in a headline, they would change it to “burial,” so that “Hatch supports probe of Japanese internment” became “Hatch supports Japanese burial probe.” I didn’t see significant humor in it, but the jest continued through the life of the investigation.

Congress passed the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 appropriating money to compensate victims. President Bill Clinton signed the official apology from the United States on October 1, 1993.

Don’t study war no more

July 20, 2006

Wizbang complains we don’t study wars enough in public schools. That could be correct.

Wizbang links to old posts by education writer Joanne Jacobsen and North Carolina AP history teacher Betsy to support the point. Interesting posts on interesting blogs (this is not an endorsement of the political views, only a judgment that the comments are interesting).

At Betsy’s old post (2004), I put up some comments anyway:

Gravatar The story of Henry Knox carrying the cannons of Fort Ticonderoga overland — 120,000 pounds worth! — in the middle of winter, to give Washington the bluff to win the siege of Boston, is the sort of story that sticks to the intellectual ribs of kids. The story of the “midnight crossing” at Trenton, after Washington got his tail whipped in New York and things looked more dire than they did at Boston, is another turning point battle. The war doesn’t make much sense, otherwise. They can be told in ten minutes, each. If a teacher wants to expand each into an hour-long exercise, with group activities including charts and graphs, it’s difficult — but what is wrong with good old lecture from time to time — especially riveting lecture?

The social effects are parts of longer threads — the continuous and continuing increase in rights, the rise of free and important women, increasing morality, increasing technology, American communities, and the birth and growth of American-style free enterprise.

All of those threads make the whole of history more comprehensible — but they are all interwoven. The Japanese Internments are part of a larger story on xenophobia and immigration, and the growth of civil rights. To treat it as a stand-alone feature of World War II is to slight the Chinese and Irish workers who built the transcontinental railroad, Sacco and Vanzetti, the Amish, the Mormons, all Hispanics and Vietnamese.

The difficulty I find is that the kids don’t come into 11th grade with anything they should have gotten from 8th grade. But I’ve been teaching at the alternative school. Certainly in AP, you can fly, can’t you?

Why not a unit on the top ten major battles in U.S. history? It would take a day. I have a 50-minute PowerPoint on Brown v. Topeka Board of Education that spans civil rights from 1776 to 2007, and links it all.

Textbook fight in Texas:Watch carefully!

July 17, 2006

Texas textbooks suffer from political wrangling by the state’s school board, which has little else to do with the texts but wrangle over what is in them and why. News suggests the board, recently fortified with primary election wins by extremely conservative, anti-public school forces, now will try to use the texts to change curricula statewide.

According to the Houston Chronicle, the Texas State Board of Education (Texas SBOE) will go after English literature in the next round of text approvals: Reporter Jane Elliott wrote:

“Many on the board want to replace a student-centered curriculum that calls on students to use their own attitudes and ethics to interpret texts with teacher-centered instruction that emphasizes the basics of spelling, grammar and punctuation.

“It was a fight social conservatives on the board lost in 1997, when moderates and liberals adopted the curriculum for all subjects. Now, with social conservatives expected to have a majority on the board for the first time after the November elections, the plan to rewrite the English standards is viewed by some as the opening shot in an effort to put a conservative imprint on the state’s curriculum.”

English does not lend itself much to political manipulation, generally. There is a set of classic literature that Texas teachers use, basically the same set teachers in other states use. It is possible that this change in process could help English instruction. Past experience suggests this is a stalking horse issue for the board to develop voting blocs and strategies to go after the content of U.S. history courses and biology courses later. Inherent dangers in these battles include the watering down of texts to the point that they are dishwater — deadly dull for students, and deadly to the teaching of the subjects.

Dr. Diane Ravitch, now of New York University, formerly the Assistant Secretary of Education for Research in the administration of George H. W. Bush, argues that both left and right share blame for bad textbooks as a result of these fights, in her book, The Language Police. I am most familiar with the Holt Rinehart Winston (HRW) series, The American Nation, from using it for three years (we were using an earlier edition of the book shown in the link).

The books must mention a broad range of specific topics and people. All of the approved history books suffer from a resulting dullness in their addressing the topics which makes history a real foot-slogging exercise for most Texas high school students. HRW offers significant additional products to help teachers — I made heavy use of the CD-ROM accompanying the text and especially its software to help generate tests. I found it necessary to use chunks from my extensive video library to supplement, and in critical areas for the Texas exit exam for seniors, the book did not inspire students to learn the material — for Wilson’s Fourteen Points, the Japanese internment during World War II, Truman’s decision to drop atomic bombs on Japan, Vietnam and the Cold War, for example. These specific areas do not stand out in the book, not as I wish they would, and not in a way that the average kid would understand the issues.

History should sing. The study of history should inspire students, as patriots, as citizens, as parents and as humans interested in real drama. Dull books put the burden on teachers to make the history sing, and too few teachers are up to the task, especially in a world dominated by state-mandated teaching to a test (Texas Assessment of Knowledge and Skills, or TAKS). I have a dream. I have high hopes that the Texas SBOE will make great new standards for English, standards that will lend themselves to helping teachers make the subject sing for the students so they will happily and well learn the topic.

I have a dream that this process will lead to a similar renaissance in U.S. history, and in biology, and in other topics. But I am dulled with the understanding of past history from the Texas SBOE.

Because Texas is a huge market for publishers, they will skew their books as Texas asks, often. You have a stake in the Texas curriculum regardless where you live. Watch that space!

Last few Texas TAKS Exit Level Social Studies students? Review here

April 11, 2014

Stealing this wholesale from my history class blog:  A few hundred students still need to take the old TAKS Exit Level Social Studies Test, in order to finish their high school diploma requirements.

Isn't the TAKS Test dead?  Not yet -- zombie like, it still prowls the nightmares of older students working to get a Texas diploma.  Test review and practice in this post

Isn’t the TAKS Test dead? Not yet — zombie like, it still prowls the nightmares of older students working to get a Texas diploma. Test review and practice in this post

You can do it; and if you’ve been out of class for a while, or if you just want to boost your score, here’s a review, and a few lines down here is a link to a place to take an on-line practice test which you can get scored.  The practice test questions should be mostly phased out by now, but the topics will remain.

It’s spring, and a young person’s fancy and earnest wishes turn to acing these tests to get a high school diploma.

From Mr. Darrell’s Wayback Machine:

Here’s a generalized, much truncated list of things high school juniors need to know, according to the Texas Essential Knowledge and Skills (TEKS).  This is a list from which the TAKS test questions will be drawn.

Earlier posts provided the definitions of each of these terms and phrases — check those out in your study, too.

We’ll add links to these terms as we find them — you may want to bookmark this post so you can find it again.

You can download a MicroSoft Word version of this study guide, essentially the same as here in a dozen posts, in one file that prints out to about 12 pages; click here to get the printed study guide.

Update 2012:  Go here to link to an on-line, TEA-released TAKS Social Studies Exit Level Test.

Things to Know for the Grade 11 TAKS Social Studies Test


  • Thomas Jefferson
  • George Washington
  • Theodore Roosevelt
  • Woodrow Wilson
  • Clarence Darrow
  • William Jennings Bryan
  • Henry Ford
  • Charles A. Lindbergh
  • Harry Truman
  • George C. Marshall
  • Joseph McCarthy
  • Susan B. Anthony
  • W. E. B. DuBois
  • Martin Luther King, Jr.
  • Rachel Carson
  • Ronald Reagan
  • Thurgood Marshall


  • 1776 – Declaration of Independence
  • 1914-1918 – World War I
  • 1929 – Stock Market Crash (beginning of Great Depression)
  • 1941-1945 – World War II (U.S. involvement)
  • 1787 – Constitution written
  • 1861-1865 – Civil War
  • 1898 – Spanish American War, debut of U.S. as a major world power

Primary Sources (mostly documents):

  • Declaration of Independence
  • U.S. Constitution
  • Bill of Rights
  • 13th Amendment
  • 14th Amendment
  • 15th Amendment
  • Wilson’s 14 Points
  • 16th Amendment
  • 17th Amendment
  • 19th Amendment
  • Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka (Supreme Court case from 1954)
  • 24th Amendment
  • 26th Amendment


  • Magna Carta
  • Bubonic plague
  • Columbian Exchange of food
  • English Bill of Rights (1789)
  • Declaration of Independence (1776)
  • American Revolution
  • Articles of Confederation
  • Philadelphia Convention (1787 – wrote the Constitution)
  • Federalist Papers
  • Bill of Rights
  • Nullification Crisis
  • Civil War (1861-1865, TEKS dates)
  • Thirteenth Amendment
  • Fourteenth Amendment
  • Fifteenth Amendment
  • Spanish-American War (1898, TEKS date)
  • Panama Canal
  • Sixteenth Amendment
  • Seventeenth Amendment
  • World War I
  • Wilson’s Fourteen Points
  • Treaty of Versailles
  • Nineteenth Amendment (Women’s Right To Vote, or Women’s Suffrage)
  • Red Scare
  • Prohibition (of production and sale of alcoholic beverages)
  • (Scopes Trial)
  • Stock Market Crash, October 29, 1929 (TEKS date)
  • Great Depression
  • New Deal (FDR’s program to pull U.S. out of Depression)
  • FDIC (Federal Deposit Insurance Corporation)
  • Social Security Act
  • World War II (1941-1945, TEKS dates)
  • Pearl Harbor, “a day which will live in infamy” (December 7, 1941)
  • Internment of Japanese Americans
  • Battle of Midway
  • Holocaust
  • Normandy Invasion (D-Day)
  • (Hiroshima and Nagasaki) (Atomic bomb targets)
  • Truman Doctrine
  • Marshall Plan
  • NATO (North Atlantic Treaty Organization, established in 1949)
  • GI Bill
  • Korean War
  • McCarthyism
  • Brown v. Board of Education of Topeka
  • Sputnik I (1957; TEKS date)
  • Civil Rights Act of 1964
  • Twenty-fourth Amendment (banned poll taxes, a civil rights issue)
  • Twenty-sixth Amendment (18-years old to vote)
  • Vietnam Conflict
  • (Watergate)
  • (Resignation of President Nixon)


  • Colonial grievances
  • Unalienable right
  • Free speech
  • Freedom of the press
  • Absolute chronology
  • Relative chronology
  • Demographic patterns
  • Subsistence agriculture
  • Market-oriented agriculture
  • Cottage industries
  • Commercial industries
  • Physical geographic factors
  • Human geographic factors
  • Population growth
  • Technological innovations
  • Telegraph
  • Scientific discoveries
  • Railroads
  • Labor unions
  • Big business
  • Farm issues
  • Minority group
  • Child labor
  • Migration
  • Immigration
  • Unrestricted submarine warfare
  • Prosperity
  • Bank failures
  • Dictatorship
  • Home front
  • Atomic bomb
  • Rationing
  • International trade
  • Political equality


  • Representative government
  • Revolution
  • Independence
  • Confederation
  • Constitution
  • Limited government
  • Republicanism
  • Checks and balances
  • Federalism
  • Separation of powers
  • Popular sovereignty
  • Individual rights
  • States’ rights
  • Civil war
  • Reconstruction amendments
  • Free enterprise system
  • Spatial diffusion
  • Economic growth
  • Traditional economy
  • Command economy
  • Market economy
  • Industrialization
  • Standard of living
  • Urbanization
  • Expansionism
  • World power
  • Reform
  • (Militarism)
  • (Nationalism)
  • Imperialism
  • Depression
  • Civil rights movement

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