1944 December 17

Japanese-American Internment Officially Ends


The U. S. Government officially ended the evacuation and internment of the Japanese-Americans on this day. The government acted, somewhat suspiciously, one day before the Supreme Court ruled, in Ex parte Endo (December 18, 1944), that the U.S. could not detain people it conceded were loyal to the U.S. Some historians believe that the government was tipped off about the adverse decision by Justice Felix Frankfurter, who was very close to President Franklin Roosevelt and improperly communicated with him on a number of issues.

The evacuation and internment of the Japanese-Americans during World War II is widely regarded as the greatest civil liberties tragedy in American history. Almost 120,000 people, 90 percent of whom were American citizens, were forced to leave their homes and were placed in what were called Relocation Centers but have been more aptly labeled concentration camps. The Supreme Court upheld the power of the government first with respect to a curfew in Hirabayashi v. United States (June 21, 1943), and second with respect to evacuation in Korematsu v. United States (December 18, 1944).

Read about the Japanese American tragedy: Peter Irons, Justice at War: The Story of the Japanese-American Internment Cases (1983)

Read a first-hand account of the evacuation and internment: Jeanne Wakatsuki Huston and James D. Houston, Farewell to Manzanar (2002)

Watch an interview with Jeanne Wakatsuki Huston: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=wDDFw5TGkJo

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