[10] The Find A Grave website lists 25 memorials for Rohwer War Relocation Center Cemetery.[11]. Today, the cemetery is the only part of the Rohwer Relocation Center that remains. The Rohwer War Relocation Center was a World War II Japanese American internment camp located in rural southeastern Arkansas, in Desha County.It was in operation from September 18, 1942 until November 30, 1944, and held as Many Issei were more than 50 years old and prohibited from becoming American citizens. It was in operation from September 18, 1942 until November 30, 1944, and held as many as 8,475 Japanese Americans forcibly evacuated from California. If there’s one true thing about studying history, it’s that there’s always more to learn. This year’s Rohwer Pilgrimage will take place this weekend, and Densho Content Director Brian Niiya has collected ten little-known facts about the former incarceration site to get ready. Over 8,000 of its inmates left to return to their original homes. During this era, Arkansas had Jim Crow laws and continued with its disenfranchisement of African-American citizens started at the turn of the century. 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. Neither of these is marked in any way to indicate historical significance. Deterioration is discussed in a report from the National Park Service to the President. Though the administration opposed this effort, after a series of negotiations, it did agree to allow such schools as a vehicle to keep children occupied in the last days of the camp. Keep reading to learn more — and look for Brian at the pilgrimage to ask your own questions! As one might expect, initial encounters between the Stockton and Santa Anita groups resulted in a mixture of curiosity and conflict. In order to post comments, please make sure JavaScript and Cookies are enabled, and reload the page. Rohwer became home to approximately 2,000 school-age children, who attended classes within the confines of the camp. This view is in block 7.” June 16, 1944. Later, Sam Yada, a former Rohwer inmate who settled in Arkansas after the war, led an effort to build a new monument at the cemetery, which was dedicated on Memorial Day in 1982. It was in operation from September 18, 1942 until November 30, 1944, and George Hosato Takei was born April 20, 1937, in Los Angeles, California. "[1], In its summary on the Rohwer Relocation Center Cemetery, the National Park Service indicates that the cemetery's condition is threatened due to deterioration of the grave markers and monuments, but that ownership of the site is unclear. 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). Furushiro, who was stationed at Camp Robinson, had been on his way to visit his sister in Rohwer. The Rohwer Japanese American Relocation Center in Arkansas is largely lost to history. “There is strong Santa Anita-Stockton rivalry,” Rohwer Outpost managing editor Kaz Oshiki told WRA Community Activities Supervisor Ed Marks during the latter’s October 1942 visit. Furushiro, who was stationed at Camp Robinson, had been on his way to visit his sister in Rohwer. Finally, a private guard hired to protect the wood supply of one of the camp contractors fired birdshot at inmates, injuring them. As at other WRA camps, talent shows and other performances by inmate groups served as one of the most popular forms of entertainment. The monument was built by internees to honor those Japanese who served in the european theater during the war. 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. Residential barracks at Rohwer Relocation Center near McGehee, Ark., as photographed in 1943. After the Rohwer camp was closed in 1945, the barracks were removed by the surrounding communities and most were refashioned to suit other needs. 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. That same year, a stabilization project for the bases of the original monuments was completed. Rohwer was one of the last camps to close, with the last inmates leaving on November 30, 1945. Ruth never returned to visit her family in Rohwer who were released from the camp in November 1945. Extensive clearing and draining was necessary, making construction at the site a difficult and slow-going task. 12, dubbed “Rohwer Toyland,” a toy library inmates set up for children aged six to fifteen. Over seventy years ago, my family and I were forced from our home in Los Angeles at gunpoint by “One of the amusing observations in this respect was the extreme lowness of these rods,” read a Reports Office summary of the living quarters. 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. [1] A tank-shaped memorial, made of reinforced concrete, guards the cemetery, commemorating Japanese Americans who fought for their country during World War II. Photo by Charles E. Mace, courtesy of the National Archives and Records Administration.]. However, the closet shelves and rods were extremely low. 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 … Furushiro, who was stationed at Camp Robinson, had been on his way to visit his sister in Rohwer. A barrack from Rohwer Internment Camp … Adults took jobs with the administration, hospital, schools, and mess halls, in addition to agricultural work or labor details outside camp. halls.” They were used in similar ways as at other camps, as makeshift churches, headquarters for clubs, venues for movie screenings, etc. Shasta is 50 miles away and visible on a clear day. To arrive at camp, the incarcerees endured a three-day train ride to Arkansas. 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. Sign up for our Newsletter >Subscribe. While these students were able to participate in sports and other activities, their forced confinement meant Ultimately the camp held administrative offices, schools, a hospital, and 36 residential blocks, each with twelve 20' by 120' barracks divided into several "apartments", as well as communal dining and sanitary facilities, all contained within a guarded barbed-wire fence. It was in operation from September 18, 1942, until November 30, 1945, and held as many as 8,475 Japanese Americans forcibly evacuated from California. Now all that remains of the camp … Some of the rails date back to World War II and before. On November 13, M. C. Brown, a local tenant farmer, shot at three Japanese Americans from Rohwer who were working outside the camp with a white overseer, wounding two of them. We were known as the Sharpies from Stockton and they thought we weren’t so ‘square’ when they saw how we were dressed. In 2011, a coalition led by the University of Arkansas Little Rock received a Japanese American Confinement Sites Grant to restore the monuments and another in 2014 to restore the twenty-four headstones. The Rohwer population was almost equally divided between those from the Stockton and Santa Anita Assembly Centers. Hall 19, the dry goods store in P.S. We always went out all draped out in style like the L.A. fellows so that we got along good.”. 42. 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. 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. Some of the rails date back to World War II and before. 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). A community analysis report claimed that, “It was the opinion of many Nisei here that Japanese language schooling increased at Rohwer over what it had been prior to evacuation.”. In his position, he oversaw many of the areas that involved interaction with the inmates including education, recreation, and religion. In response, the Rohwer Community Council began plans to start its own school. 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 Densho’s extensive digital collections chronicle the WWII incarceration of Japanese Americans. Some 2,147 others, a quarter of Jerome's population, were classified as "disloyal" after giving unfavorable responses to the questionnaire. The rail line used to bring internees and supplies to the camp remains, though it is apparently abandoned. Just as their three years of internment left an indelible mark on the landscape of their lives, so they altered the place called Rohwer, both figuratively and literally. “The Stockton bunch were influenced quite a bit by the Santa Anita fellows and they were getting pretty wild,” said Kubota. After gained an M.A. Stay up to date on Densho News. Click here for instructions on how to enable JavaScript in your browser. 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. The land was heavily forested and swampy due to its proximity to the Mississippi River 5 miles to the east. [2] The Rohwer War Relocation Center Cemetery is located here, and was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1992.[1]. Over 10,000 evacuees passed through Rohwer during its existence, and over two thirds of these were American citizens. It was listed as a National Historic Landmark in 1992. These barracks were called “recreation halls” at all of the other WRA camps, but at Rohwer, they were called “public service halls” or “P.S. Most of the administrative staff at Rohwer were white Southerners, including both locals from southeast Arkansas and those from other parts of the South. It was constructed in 1942. | design by, shot at three Japanese Americans from Rohwer. [3], Rohwer opened on September 18, 1942, and reached a peak population of 8,475 by March 1943. Remnants and ruins of the camp still scatter the fields planted in On November 13, M. C. Brown, a local tenant farmer, shot at three Japanese Americans from Rohwer who were working outside the camp with a white overseer, wounding two of them. All rights reserved. This rail line also served the Jerome War Relocation Cen… Rohwer was located at 140 feet of elevation in Desha County in southeastern Arkansas, 110 miles … The camp was still under construction when the first inmates began to arrive. 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. This rail line also served the Jerome War Relocation Center, which was located 30 miles (48.3 km) southwest of Rohwer. With the end of the 1944–45 school year, Rohwer administrators announced that the schools would be shut down for the duration given the camp’s imminent closure. Born in Allen, Texas in 1886, he was an army chaplain in France in World War I. A significant number of former Jerome inmates were transferred to Rohwer. The Rohwer library was initially housed in P.S. For many Japanese Americans, the upheaval of losing everything, most importantly their right to freedom and a private, family life, caused irreparable harm. Furushiro managed to avoid injury beyond powder burns even though he had been less than feet away from the shooter. The cemetery became a National Historic Landmark in July of 1992, and a new granite monument with bronze plaques was dedicated. As with prewar Japanese language schools, sessions ran on weekday afternoons and evenings after regular school and on Saturdays. “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. About 2,000 students attended the camp's schools, which were opened on November 9, 1942 after some delay. Brown claimed that he thought they had been trying to escape. Most Nisei were under 21 years old. 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. A bill that would have prohibited “members of the Mongolian race” from attending white schools failed to pass. The Rohwer Outpost (October 24, 1942 to July 21, 1945) was the newspaper of the Rohwer , Arkansas, concentration camp. The tallest structure is the smokestack from the hospital incinerator. The town lies between two places of great sadness: Jerome internment camp to the southwest, and Rohwer camp to the northeast. Perhaps the most unusual use of a public service hall was P.S. 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. But the fear and fascination soon turned to mimicry. [13], The Japanese American Internment Museum opened in nearby McGehee, Arkansas in 2013 and serves as the history museum and unofficial visitor center for the Rohwer War Relocation Center. Most detainees had been forced out of their homes and businesses in Los Angeles or the San Joaquin Valley in California. degree from Vanderbilt University in 1920, he went to Japan as a missionary for the Disciples of Christ and taught there as well. After another trip to Japan in 1941, Hunter aided Japanese Americans incarcerated at Santa Anita and Manzanar before being hired at Rohwer. Densho is a Japanese term meaning “to pass on to the next generation,” or to leave a legacy. 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]. She did not see her parents again until 1948. [14], M.C. Rohwer. Rohwer inmates organized two kinds of private schools. 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. The site was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1974. The tallest structure is the smokestack from the hospital incinerator. These Americ… In contrast to most of the relocation center sites, many of the blocks in the Rohwer Center are shaded by trees. As a result of these policies, relatively few Japanese Americans left Rohwer and Jerome to do outside agricultural work, something that thousands of Japanese Americans did at other WRA camps. Rohwer Relocation Camp, Cemetary , 1995, panoramic photo collage, 33"x 65". The monuments found within the camp's cemetery are perhaps the most poignant record of this time. The rail line used to bring internees and supplies to the camp remains, though it is apparently abandoned. Generational Rohwer Relocation Center Memorial Cemetery in Desha County, Arkansas, also known as the Nisei Camp Cemetery, is one of only three extant Japanese American relocation center cemeteries in the United States. Signs identify the graded road which goes from the highway to the cemetery, where there is room to park automobiles. The second camp … 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. [1] Deterioration is visible in photographs of the site. The Rohwer War Relocation Center was a World War II Japanese American internment camp located in rural southeastern Arkansas, in Desha County. A large portion of Rohwer inmates were school-age children, most born in the US. While other WRA camps were seeing their populations gradually decline through 1943 and 1944 as inmates began to leave to “resettle” in areas outside the West Coast restricted area, Rohwer’s population suddenly increased by over a third with the arrival of 2,489 people from Jerome upon that camp’s closing in the summer of 1944. [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]. Rohwer Incarceration Camp in Arkansas was located in wooded swampland with persistent drainage problems. The legacy we offer is an American story with ongoing relevance: during World War II, the United States government incarcerated innocent people solely because of their ancestry. [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 Santa Anita Nisei “sort of felt superior to the Stockton people as they thought we were just hicks,” said Kubota. On November 13, M. C. Brown, a local tenant farmer, shot at three Japanese Americans from Rohwer who were working outside the camp with a white overseer, wounding two of them. “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. Less (in)famous than sites like Manzanar and Tule Lake, Rohwer was one of two WRA concentration camps located in Arkansas, where inmates were exposed to the unique climate and racial politics of the South, and had regular interactions with Nisei soldiers training at nearby military facilities. Although most physical remains have been wiped from the landscape, important stories remain to be shared. 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. 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. The Rohwer War Relocation Center was a World War II Japanese American concentration camp located in rural southeastern Arkansas, in Desha County. 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. The residents have done much to make their tar paper barracks more livable by the planting of flowers and vegetable gardens and the building of rustic walks and bridges. From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia The Japanese American Internment Museum, also known as the WWII Japanese American Internment Museum and the Jerome-Rohwer Interpretive Museum & Visitor Center, is a history museum in McGehee, Arkansas. The camp is located at an elevation of 4,000 feet on a flat, treeless area in Modoc County, 35 miles southeast of Klamath Falls, Oregon, and 10 miles from the town of Tulelake—the town is spelled as one word and the concentration camp as two. War hysteria, racial prejudice, and failure of political leadership led to the forced removal of 120,000 Japanese Americans from the West Coast following the 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. Along with some of her students, Kansuma performed at Santa Anita and Rohwer and also traveled to Jerome to put on shows there. 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). Hunter had an unusual background. Currently you have JavaScript disabled. It remained largely abandoned until the War Relocation Authority, which oversaw the World War II incarceration program, took it over in 1942. 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. 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! She did not see her parents again until 1948. 13, and the shoe store in P.S. A few families remained in Arkansas, because they had "I found out one of my neighbors, Sadami Yada, and her brother, Sam Yada, and his family, were in camps at Rohwer Relocation Camps. Densho: The Japanese American Legacy Project, © Copyright 2019 Densho. Exhibits include a film, oral histories, photographs and personal artifacts of the internees. Click here for instructions on how to enable JavaScript in your browser. In the decades after Rohwer’s closing, the camp cemetery has become the focus of preservation efforts and a symbol of the camp. The set-up of the questions was confusing and internees were suspicious of their true purpose. One of Kansuma’s students, June Berk, wrote that the “Japanese dance performances lifted the morale of the Issei and Nisei who had to live behind barbed wire fences.” A 1990 reunion booklet recalled that she produced shows “with such impeccable costumes, precision and staging that the viewers were virtually transported into another world and relieved for a few hours of the deplorable and futile life in a concentration camp.” Kansuma would resume her teaching in Los Angeles after the war and recently celebrated her 100th birthday. Anita and Rohwer camp to the `` segregation Center '' at Tule Lake, California inmates... History that you learned, or… are midgets, ” said Kubota Japanese language schools, sessions on! Relocation camp cemetery, the cemetery was dedicated as an Arkansas State historical Park on 1961 reading to more. ” from attending white schools failed to pass highway to the cemetery was dedicated began. 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