The Difference Between the Japanese American Internment Camps and The Concentration Camps in Europe
World War 2 was a huge historical battle that was fought between the Allies (United States, Canada, Great Britain, France and the Soviet Union) and the Axis Powers (Germany, Italy, and Japan). Two of the biggest issues regarding the fate of human rights were the concentration camps in Europe set up by Nazi Germany and the Japanese internment camps set up by the U.S Government. Now there has been a lot of flack about the Japanese internment camps. Many in the professional and academic world have condemned the United States for taking away the rights of Japanese Americans and sending them to the camps against their own will. Some have now claimed that it was a racial move to control interracial population. However, we should remember that before this happened, Imperial Japan was the one who provoked us to start fighting in the second world war by attacking Pearl Harbor. When stuff like that happens, it would be understandable that white Americans would start harboring fear to their Japanese neighbors. Why would they? Because some factors stand out: fear of spies, unloyalty to the United States, tendency to provoke viewpoints that are un-American and start a conflict with neighbors and friends.
The question comes to this: was it right for the U.S Government to place many Japanese and Japanese Americans in internment camps? The particular question that should be asked next is: were the Japanese in America REALLY being mistreated by the U.S Government?
To answer the first question, I would say that the United States did what it had to do to protect its citizens and its national interest. America just wanted to make sure that there were no infiltration going on inside the country. It's unfortunate that the Japanese in America, both foreign and domestic, had to be the ones affected by the actions of Imperial Japan. I'm sorry for what happened to them. To answer the next question, my answer would be that the American government DID NOT totally mistreat the Japanese Americans. How can that be you might say? Let's now compare between the internment camps in America and the Nazi concentration camps in Europe.
First up is the standard of living. When the Japanese arrived at the camp, they had rooms and cabins built up for them. They were gathered to the living quarters in proper order and fashion. While living there, they still had nice clothes worn. When it was time to eat, they were given proper food and they were provided with nice mess halls to enjoy their breakfast, lunch, and dinner. For the Jews at the Nazi concentration camps in Europe, they had rooms that were very hazardous to their health. Insulation was very low during the winter so prisoners had to suffer from the cold, which led to sickness. The clothes that the prisoners wore were very torn, ragged, and barely or never washed. Food was disproportionately served and many Jews died of hunger in the camps.
(The top photo shows the Japanese Americans in the American internment camps enjoying a meal in a well placed mess hall. The bottom photo shows the Jews in the Nazi concentration camps in cramped bunker beds. Which is worse?)
The second issue to point out is the loyalty of these two ethnic people to their adopted homeland. For the Japanese Americans, many had to prove themselves for many months that they were loyal to the United States. When their loyalties were proven, many had the opportunity to join the Army and train themselves for war. When their training was complete, thousands served in Europe bravely and valiantly, winning the respect of their fellow white and black Americans for their courage and willingness to fight. Some have even earned the Congressional Medal of Honor. For the European Jews, many were loyal to their adopted homeland before World War 2 began, especially to Germany. But when Hitler came to power, things gradually changed for the worse and Jews were stripped of their citizenship even though they have proven their loyalties by assimilation. In the Nazi concentration camps, Jews were never given a chance to prove their loyalty because the main goal of the Nazis were to kill every single Jew. No person that were revealed were Jewish served bravely and courageously in the Nazi military. There were Jews that did serve in the Nazi military but that was before their ethnicity were revealed. When it was revealed, their position would be stripped away, even to the ones that served in a higher position and would be forced to resign.
(The top photo shows Japanese Americans proudly standing firm as U.S Army soldiers where one holds the American flag. The bottom photo shows Jews continuing to suffer in the Nazi concentration camps.)
Let's make the third issue, cultural celebration, another factor. For the Japanese Americans, hundreds managed to celebrate and fully exhibit their culture while interned at the camps. They managed to wear Japanese cultural dresses, wear the kimonos, display their cultural fans plus wear make-up. They even made the usual dragon dummies fitted for four people to wear and walk around. For the European Jews, hundreds more were so weak they couldn't manage to light the menora and celebrate either Passover, Yom Kippur, or Rosh Hashanna. Hundreds of Jews were still continuing to build their own camps with guns pointed at their heads, which did not provide them any opportunity to celebrate their Jewish culture and religion.
(The top photos shows a group of Japanese Americans fully dressed in Japanese cultural outfits in the internment camps while the photo on the bottom continues to show Jews dressed in filthy striped pajamas)
With all these three facts I have written down and the comparison photos I have shown, shouldn't it question to you dear readers on which of the ethnic groups had it better when interned in camps during the Second World War? It is painfully obvious that the Japanese Americans were treated more better by the U.S Government than the Jews in Europe. Clearly, the United States did everything it could to maintain their civilized reputation in that time period of war. Nazi Germany were never threatened by Jews. Remember, for those who don't know history at all, there was no physical nation of Israel threatening Nazi Germany of war. Israel came back as a nation three years after the reign of Nazi Germany, so there would be no reason to blame and declare war on Jews. This reign of terror happened because of one man's personal relationship struggle with Jews and his ability to propagandize the German people into thinking Jews were behind every problem of their society.
Am I trying to applaud the U.S Government of that time. No, per se. But I do understand what they had to do for the purpose of national security. It is hard for people to accept other groups of people in a country where that group's ancestral nation declares war. In the end, America is not a 100 percent racist country. Yes it had racial problems for many many years but throughout those times, it has tried to fix it, again and again, both the government and the people. I could be more specific on that but that would be in another future article. So if people start criticizing about our historical treatment of the Japanese Americans in internment camps, always remember to compare it to them between what happened to the Japanese and what happened to the Jews.