The Rohwer War Relocation Center site is now an Arkansas State University Heritage Site,[12] and features a memorial, the camp cemetery, interpretive panels and audio kiosks. Born in Allen, Texas in 1886, he was an army chaplain in France in World War I. The remaining two-thirds were American born citizens–Nisei. The monument was built by internees to honor those Japanese who served in the european theater during the war. About 2,000 students attended the camp's schools, which were opened on November 9, 1942 after some delay. 42. [2], The architect of the camp was Edward F. Neild of Shreveport, Louisiana, who also designed the camp at Jerome. Though not technically permitted, many inmates operated private Japanese language schools for children out of their barracks, which the WRA knew about, but was unable to prevent. “We sort of looked up to them in awe I guess because they were from L.A. and they really acted like they had been around.”, “At first I didn’t want to meet too many of the Santa Anita bunch as I didn’t want to be taken for a sucker,” Sato added. Furushiro, who was stationed at Camp Robinson, had been on his way to visit his sister in Rohwer. [3], Rohwer opened on September 18, 1942, and reached a peak population of 8,475 by March 1943. This was done in part to encourage Rohwer inmates to leave. The "loyalty questionnaire," as it came to be known, created anger and confusion because of two questions: one asked Japanese Americans if they were willing to volunteer for military service (despite their mistreatment by the government and the army) and the other if they would "forswear their allegiance to the Emperor of Japan" (although many had never held such allegiance in the first place). The former were a mostly rural population who came from Stockton, Lodi, French Camp, and other area communities; the latter included a mixture of Los Angeles city dwellers from Boyle Heights/East Los Angeles and other parts of the city, along with farmers from the southwestern and southeastern parts of Los Angeles County and communities such as Lawndale, Gardena, and Whittier. Dive into These YA Books on the Wartime Incarceration of Japanese Americans, Announcing Densho’s 2021 Artists-in-Residence, Join Densho for a Week of Action and Remembrance, Meet the Sansei Researcher Exploring the Intergenerational Impacts of Japanese American Incarceration, Supporters of Amache have pushed to establish it as a unit of the National Park System, a designation that could pu…, Write a short reflection on what you learned this week. The internment camp was officially declared open but not completed on September 18, 1942, and would operate under the direction of Project Director Ray D. Johnston. A highlight for Rohwer inmates was the performances of traditional Japanese dance led by legendary dance teacher Fujima Kansuma, who had been based in Los Angeles before the war, and who was incarcerated at Rohwer. Rohwer’s population peaked at 8,475 in March 1943, and later took in many of the residents from nearby Jerome Relocation Center, which was shut down and converted into a German POW camp … The Rohwer population was almost equally divided between those from the Stockton and Santa Anita Assembly Centers. According to Wisdom, the community management staff under Hunter were the most friendly to the inmates and Hunter himself “was considered excessively pro-evacuee and even pro-Japan by many of the staff.” Hunter remained in Arkansas after the war and was a key figure in early preservation efforts of the Rohwer Cemetery in the 1960s. Photo by Charles E. Mace, courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration.]. This view is in block 7.” June 16, 1944. Governor Homer Adkins initially opposed the WRA's proposal to build Rohwer and its neighbor, Jerome, in Arkansas, but relented after being assured that the Japanese American detainees would be controlled by armed white guards at these facilities and they would be removed from the state at the end of the war. Residential barracks at Rohwer Relocation Center near McGehee, Ark., as photographed in 1943. As at other camps, one slightly smaller barrack in each block was designated for recreational use. The tallest structure is the smokestack from the hospital incinerator. This monument stands at the site of a World War II Japanese internment camp near Rohwer, Arkansas (in the Mississippi River Delta). The camp housed, along with the Jerome camp, some 16,000 Japanese Americans from September 18, 1942, to November 30, 1945, and was one of the last of ten such camps nationwide to close. [15], World War II internment camp for Japanese-Americans, Shooting of residents by a civilian at Rohwer, U.S. National Register of Historic Places, disenfranchisement of African-American citizens, List of National Historic Landmarks in Arkansas, National Register of Historic Places listings in Desha County, Arkansas, "National Register of Historic Places Registration", https://www.dropbox.com/sh/2nihl23t9tg7uxv/AAAUYc2PkAR72q99FMxy7jGfa/14)%20SOLDIERS%20AND%20CAMPS?dl=0&preview=!SOLDIERS+AND+THE+CAMPS+(Alphabetical)+646B.pdf&subfolder_nav_tracking=1, "Report to the President: Japanese American Internment Sites Preservation: Rohwer Relocation Center", Encyclopedia of Arkansas History & Culture, http://southernspaces.org/2008/john-yoshida-arkansas-1943, Rohwer Relocation Center Memorial Cemetery, Arkansas Highway 1, Rohwer, Desha County, AR, Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians, Crystal City Alien Enemy Detention Facility, Fort Lincoln Alien Enemy Detention Facility, Fort Missoula Alien Enemy Detention Facility, Fort Stanton Alien Enemy Detention Facility, Seagoville Alien Enemy Detention Facility, Japanese American Memorial to Patriotism During World War II, Densho: The Japanese American Legacy Project, Japanese Evacuation and Resettlement Study, Bainbridge Island Japanese American Exclusion Memorial, History of the National Register of Historic Places, National Historic Preservation Act of 1966, https://en.wikipedia.org/w/index.php?title=Rohwer_War_Relocation_Center&oldid=1001653658, Buildings and structures in Desha County, Arkansas, Historic American Landscapes Survey in Arkansas, Tourist attractions in Desha County, Arkansas, World War II on the National Register of Historic Places, Protected areas of Desha County, Arkansas, National Register of Historic Places in Desha County, Arkansas, Temporary populated places on the National Register of Historic Places, Short description is different from Wikidata, Pages using infobox NRHP with governing body, Creative Commons Attribution-ShareAlike License, This page was last edited on 20 January 2021, at 17:42. The town lies between two places of great sadness: Jerome internment camp to the southwest, and Rohwer camp to the northeast. The euphemistically named "Rohwer Relocation Center" in Arkansas was one of ten concentration camps administered by the War Relocation Authority (WRA) to house Japanese Americans forcibly removed from the West Coast during World War II. [9] Thirty-one who came from Rohwer died in action, and their names are inscribed on the memorial, as well as a later memorial raised nearby.[10]. Finally, a private guard hired to protect the wood supply of one of the camp contractors fired birdshot at inmates, injuring them. Hall 19, the dry goods store in P.S. The Rohwer War Relocation Center was a World War II Japanese American concentration camp located in rural southeastern Arkansas, in Desha County. After another trip to Japan in 1941, Hunter aided Japanese Americans incarcerated at Santa Anita and Manzanar before being hired at Rohwer. | design by, shot at three Japanese Americans from Rohwer. Your donations allow us make our material free to everyone and to continue in the important work of preserving the stories of the past for the generations of tomorrow. It was listed as a National Historic Landmark in 1992. Under this order, over 110,000 Japanese Americans and their immigrant parents were forcibly removed from the three Pacific Coast States—California, Oregon, and Washington. All rights reserved. The camp site was listed on the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. Thinking that she would take a group of about 30 in the spring of 2018, she launched the “Unofficial Rohwer-Jerome Pilgrimage” Facebook page to publicize it. In his position, he oversaw many of the areas that involved interaction with the inmates including education, recreation, and religion. Rower barracks had small rudimentary closets installed in individual living units. 12, dubbed “Rohwer Toyland,” a toy library inmates set up for children aged six to fifteen. We were known as the Sharpies from Stockton and they thought we weren’t so ‘square’ when they saw how we were dressed. We always went out all draped out in style like the L.A. fellows so that we got along good.”. Rohwer. “The Stockton bunch were influenced quite a bit by the Santa Anita fellows and they were getting pretty wild,” said Kubota. The Santa Anita Nisei “sort of felt superior to the Stockton people as they thought we were just hicks,” said Kubota. Extensive clearing and draining was necessary, making construction at the site a difficult and slow-going task. Neither of these is marked in any way to indicate historical significance. The largest remaining structure is the high school gymnasium/auditorium, which was added to and was in service with the local school before it closed in July 2004. Over 8,000 of its inmates left to return to their original homes. The cemetery is located 0.5 miles (0.8 km) west of State Route 1, approximately 12 miles (19.3 km) northeast of McGehee, Arkansas. Some 2,147 others, a quarter of Jerome's population, were classified as "disloyal" after giving unfavorable responses to the questionnaire. Rohwer Incarceration Camp in Arkansas was located in wooded swampland with persistent drainage problems. To arrive at camp, the incarcerees endured a three-day train ride to Arkansas. These were used to supplement the inmates' food rations (kept to a bare minimum of 37 cents a day per inmate to avoid rumors that the WRA was "coddling" Japanese Americans).[2]. Over seventy years ago, my family and I were forced from our home in Los Angeles at gunpoint by U.S. soldiers and sent to Rohwer, all because we As 500 acres (200 ha) of the site used for residences and other buildings, officials used the remainder of Rohwer's land to grow more than 100 agricultural products. It closed on November 30, 1945. Five anti-Japanese bills and two Senate resolutions were introduced, with an alien land law type measure that would have targeted Nisei as well as Issei passing both houses with 28-1 and 76-1 margins before being signed into law by Adkins on Feb. 13, 1943. Returning to the U.S. in 1926, he began doctoral studies at Yale, but ended up moving to Little Rock to become the founding pastor of Pulaski Heights Christian Church, remaining there until 1940. It was constructed in 1942. Full citations will be included there, but feel free to post questions in the comments or email us at info@densho.org in the meantime! As with prewar Japanese language schools, sessions ran on weekday afternoons and evenings after regular school and on Saturdays. “The architects or engineers who planned them must have anticipated a very short race of people.”. Furushiro managed to avoid injury beyond powder burns even though he had been less than feet away from the shooter. In 1943, the WRA required all adults in Rohwer and the other camps to submit to a series of questions. The influx of Japanese Americans inspired a particularly virulent reaction from state officials led by Governor Homer Adkins, a Ku Klux Klan member, who instructed Arkansas colleges to bar Japanese American resettlers and limited their work on local farms. Was there a new aspect of this history that you learned, or…. A significant number of former Jerome inmates were transferred to Rohwer. One third of those removed were foreign-born Issei. Rohwer inmates organized two kinds of private schools. While these students were able to participate in sports and other activities, their forced confinement meant Generational Rohwer was one of the last camps to close, with the last inmates leaving on November 30, 1945. degree from Vanderbilt University in 1920, he went to Japan as a missionary for the Disciples of Christ and taught there as well. Officially, it was presented as the registration process to obtain clearance to leave camp for work or school — and it was initially distributed only to the citizen Nisei who were eligible for leave, before being extended to the first-generation Issei — but administrators soon began to focus instead on assessing the "loyalty" of imprisoned Japanese Americans. Adkins’ successor as governor, Benjamin Travis Laney Jr., was less obstinate in opposing settlement in Arkansas after taking office in January 1945, and a handful of inmates did remain in Arkansas after the war. You can see the smokestack in the distance that was once the infirmary at the camp which gives a visual for just how large the camp was. Rohwer Relocation Center The Rohwer Relocation Center in Desha County was one of two World War II –era incarceration camps built in the state to house Japanese Americans from the West Coast, the other being the Jerome Relocation Center (Chicot and Drew counties). It was one of two camps near St. Louis. However, the closet shelves and rods were extremely low. This was the only camp to have a stockade, or military-style prison. The tallest structure is the smokestack from the hospital incinerator. The 10,161-acre (4,112 ha) of land on which Rohwer was built had been purchased by the Farm Security Administration from tax-delinquent landowners in the 1930s. After the Rohwer camp was closed in 1945, the barracks were removed by the surrounding communities and most were refashioned to suit other needs. Click here for instructions on how to enable JavaScript in your browser. The Rohwer Outpost (October 24, 1942 to July 21, 1945) was the newspaper of the Rohwer , Arkansas, concentration camp. Along with some of her students, Kansuma performed at Santa Anita and Rohwer and also traveled to Jerome to put on shows there. Some of the rails date back to World War II and before. *This is true for the Jerome concentration camp as well, which was also located in Arkansas. As at other WRA camps, talent shows and other performances by inmate groups served as one of the most popular forms of entertainment. [1] A tank-shaped memorial, made of reinforced concrete, guards the cemetery, commemorating Japanese Americans who fought for their country during World War II. "I found out one of my neighbors, Sadami Yada, and her brother, Sam Yada, and his family, were in camps at Rohwer Relocation Camps. This rail line also served the Jerome War Relocation Center, which was located 30 miles (48.3 km) southwest of Rohwer. It planned to use this facility to incarcerate ethnic Japanese, including American citizens from West Coast areas considered strategic to the war effort. Only 2 percent of eligible men in Jerome (and in Rohwer) enlisted. There are buttons to push at each sign with a recording of George Takei. The Japanese Americans were working in the woods under the supervision of a government engineer when the shooting occurred. The site was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. Rohwer Relocation Camp, Cemetary , 1995, panoramic photo collage, 33"x 65". Deterioration is discussed in a report from the National Park Service to the President. [1][5] It has a monument to Japanese American war dead from the camp, and also a monument to those who died at the camp. The camp was still under construction when the first inmates began to arrive. “Most of the fellows started to wear drapes and let their hair grow long like the L.A. guys.” Once they started acting the part, Sato said, “we started to meet a lot of the L.A. fellows and girls. [1] Deterioration is visible in photographs of the site. Camp director Ray D. Johnson wrote that Brown was “a hunter who apparently was either drinking or slightly deranged.” Whatever the case, Brown managed to escape going on trial for the shooting. He met his wife, fellow missionary Mary Cleary, there, and their two children were born in Japan. Most of the administrative staff at Rohwer were white Southerners, including both locals from southeast Arkansas and those from other parts of the South. During this era, Arkansas had Jim Crow laws and continued with its disenfranchisement of African-American citizens started at the turn of the century. Densho: The Japanese American Legacy Project, © Copyright 2019 Densho. In its National Historic Landmark summary on the Rohwer Relocation Center Cemetery, the National Park Service writes: Rohwer Relocation Camp was constructed in the late summer and early fall of 1942 as a result of Executive Order 9066 (February 19, 1942). They were among the most decorated and suffered some of the worst casualties in the war. Between 1942 and 1945, more than 8,000 Japanese Americans were interned at Rohwer—a 500-acre camp surrounded by barbed wire and armed guards. If there’s one true thing about studying history, it’s that there’s always more to learn. The rail line used to bring internees and supplies to the camp remains, though it is apparently abandoned. 581 men[6] joined the U.S. Army from this camp, either volunteering or accepting their conscription into the legendary 100th Infantry Battalion,[7] the famed 442nd RCT[8] and MIS. 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