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UER Forum > Archived US: South > WWII Japanese Relocation Camp, Rohwer Arkansas (Viewed 1031 times)
dwtaylor999 


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WWII Japanese Relocation Camp, Rohwer Arkansas
< on 2/6/2011 6:48 AM >
Posted on Forum: UER Forum
 
The Rohwer War Relocation Center was a World War II Japanese American internment camp located in rural southeastern Arkansas, in Desha (pronounced DE-SHA) County. 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. The Rohwer War Relocation Center Cemetery is located here, and was declared a National Historic Landmark in 1992.

I'm working in the area and thought I'd check it out. I didn't have much in the way of expectations, as these would have been temporary wooden structures and would likely not have survived. This in fact turned out to be the case with the exception of the old smoke stack from the camp hospital and the old cemetery.

In its 1992 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. It appears that two decades later, ownership is still unclear, as the location has continued to fall into ruin.

I drove past the place initially, turned around, found an old sign, but thought it was bogus as it was pointing into a cotton field. I found a gravel road a bit further away and followed it, an lo and behold, I found it.







The cemetery was built by the internees using reinforced concrete. The workmanship is exceptional, especially considering what they had to work with. There where two original monuments, one to those who died at the camp, and one to those who died serving in WWII. There where also the graves and markers of those who died at the camp. The site was ringed with concrete posts, with the original entrance on the north side facing where the barracks used to be. The only other remaining part of the camp is the smokestack from the hospital incinerator.























The Japanese American veterans memorialized here where part of the 442nd regimental combat team, now the 442nd infantry. The 442nd was a self-sufficient fighting force, and fought with uncommon distinction in Italy, southern France, and Germany. The unit became the most highly decorated regiment in the history of the United States armed forces, including 21 Medal of Honor recipients.













































The original entrance.


















This grave is outside the cemetery proper, and may predate it.







The old abandoned rail line connected the Jerome and Rohwer camps and is also how the internees arrived.









In closing, to say I'm disgusted with the National Park Services treatment of this landmark is a bit of an understatement. Heads should roll and resignations accepted. One last tidbit, this little boy spent part of his childhood in this camp. His name was George Takei. Us Trekies know him as Mr. Sulu.





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Re: WWII Japanese Relocation Camp, Rohwer Arkansas
<Reply # 1 on 2/6/2011 7:20 AM >
Posted on Forum: UER Forum
 
Great find, and interesting history. Nicely covered, thanks for sharing.

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Re: WWII Japanese Relocation Camp, Rohwer Arkansas
<Reply # 2 on 2/6/2011 2:44 PM >
Posted on Forum: UER Forum
 
In a word, poignant. You prolly won't get many replies here, as it's one of those parts of history most Americans would like to forget. Thanks for taking me there.
......................................Kurtz

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Re: WWII Japanese Relocation Camp, Rohwer Arkansas
<Reply # 3 on 2/6/2011 3:08 PM >
Posted on Forum: UER Forum
 
Some of these pictures made me more pro-Japanese internment. Especially the monument shaped like a tank.

Also, don't most North Americans know about Japanese internment? David Suzuki was pretty outspoken about it, at the very least.

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Re: WWII Japanese Relocation Camp, Rohwer Arkansas
<Reply # 4 on 2/6/2011 7:57 PM >
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great set - very moving and informative! it is quite sad indeed to see all these fallen American warriors in such a seemingly forgotten place.

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Re: WWII Japanese Relocation Camp, Rohwer Arkansas
<Reply # 5 on 2/7/2011 2:22 AM >
Posted on Forum: UER Forum
 
Wow. Very nice. I had no idea that was there, and it's not that far from me. I too agree that it should have received better care than it has.

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Re: WWII Japanese Relocation Camp, Rohwer Arkansas
<Reply # 6 on 2/7/2011 4:14 AM >
Posted on Forum: UER Forum
 
Nice find and good documentation something we dont see on here much.

Im curious though is that monument to "those that sacrificed their lives for freedom and peace" about the Japanese Imperial Army ?

Just shows how little I know being a product of public school and all, ha! they actually taught us those guys sacrificed their lives for the Emperor! so he could expand Japan's control of the Pacific.

Never would've guessed.

dwtaylor999 


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Re: WWII Japanese Relocation Camp, Rohwer Arkansas
<Reply # 7 on 2/7/2011 4:20 AM >
Posted on Forum: UER Forum
 
No, the war memorial is to the Japanese American soldiers who died fighting with the 100th, 442nd in Europe, which was comprised almost entirely of Japanese Americans at the time. Google 100 442 for more info.

There is an interesting sidenote to the 100th, 442nd concerning their rescure of the Texas 141st inftantry regiment. The 141st was surrounded by the Germans and cutoff. Two attempts where made to reach them but where repulsed by the Germans with heavy casualties. A third and final attempt by the 442nd was successful, though with appalling casualties. Google texas lost battalion form more info
[last edit 2/7/2011 4:25 AM by dwtaylor999 - edited 1 times]

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Re: WWII Japanese Relocation Camp, Rohwer Arkansas
<Reply # 8 on 2/7/2011 4:22 AM >
Posted on Forum: UER Forum
 
Posted by dwtaylor999
No, the war memorial is to the Japanese American soldiers who died fighting with the 100th, 442nd in Europe, which was comprised almost entirely of Japanese Americans at the time. Google 100 442 for more info.


ahh so!



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Re: WWII Japanese Relocation Camp, Rohwer Arkansas
<Reply # 9 on 2/7/2011 4:29 AM >
Posted on Forum: UER Forum
 
Posted by 2Xplorations


ahh so!




I would feel like a total dipshit right now if I were you...

=P

Nice pictures. I started thinking "this is a lot of pictures for a cemetary", but then I got drawn into looking at them. Nice coverage on the site.

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dwtaylor999 


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Re: WWII Japanese Relocation Camp, Rohwer Arkansas
<Reply # 10 on 2/7/2011 4:30 AM >
Posted on Forum: UER Forum
 
LOL

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Re: WWII Japanese Relocation Camp, Rohwer Arkansas
<Reply # 11 on 2/7/2011 11:14 PM >
Posted on Forum: UER Forum
 
Posted by Therrin


I would feel like a total dipshit right now if I were you...

=P

Nice pictures. I started thinking "this is a lot of pictures for a cemetary", but then I got drawn into looking at them. Nice coverage on the site.



well feel free to feel like a dipshit then

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Re: WWII Japanese Relocation Camp, Rohwer Arkansas
<Reply # 12 on 2/10/2011 5:18 AM >
Posted on Forum: UER Forum
 
Posted by dwtaylor999

In closing, to say I'm disgusted with the National Park Services treatment of this landmark is a bit of an understatement. Heads should roll and resignations accepted.



Why? Just because it's a NHL, it doesn't mean there is NPS or anyone else has funding for a staff, plus of course the ownership of the site is under dispute. You seem to be annoyed enough at the almost 20 year long ownership dispute to complain about it, but apparently not annoyed enough to look into the issue & see what the problem is.

Are you bothered that no one had the foresight in the 1940s to think that one day, the site may have historic significance & thus argue that the site & structures should be preserved intact, or are you bothered that the old cemetery looks like an old cemetery?



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dwtaylor999 


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Re: WWII Japanese Relocation Camp, Rohwer Arkansas
<Reply # 13 on 2/10/2011 5:58 AM >
Posted on Forum: UER Forum
 
A valid statement. Indeed, I have looked into it. Sam Yada, an internee in the camp fought for national recognition of the camps for most of his life. He passed away in 1991, but succeeded in getting the sites listed as locations of NHS, though this was done after his death. There was/is a strong remembrance movement, but it primarily in the western part of the country, where most of the camps were located, and most of the internees returned to. South East Arkansas is a little light on Japanese American diversity, and in fact, from my conversations, most of the people in the region don't even know these camps once existed in Arkansas.

The ownership issue is bullshit. The National Park Service has responsibility for the site. Period. They dodged ownership by trying to put it off on the state of Arkansas. Arkansas's response was that this was a site created by a government decree, and was declared by the government as a place of National Historic Significance, and is therefore the park services responsibility.

If the problem is the physical ownership of the land itself, it is a small patch in the middle of a cotton field in an economically depressed area and could be purchased for little or nothing. Hell, the owner would probably donate it.

I've talked to some of the Arkansas State parks and recreation people, and essentially it boils down to nobody cares. If this site was located close to California, it would be an entirely different story.

I'm a realist, and know that the primary reason for the current state of affairs is that nobody cares. It will take someone high enough up the political food chain in Arkansas to get some action from the NPS. Sam's effort from the top essentially only succeeded in a declaration and a cheap plaque. I'm going to try through Arkansas's congressional channels and see what happens.

It's one of the few internment locations that actually has some remaining physical evidence of its existence, and they could at least trim the damn grass.


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Re: WWII Japanese Relocation Camp, Rohwer Arkansas
<Reply # 14 on 2/10/2011 1:00 PM >
Posted on Forum: UER Forum
 
Posted by /-/ooligan
Why? Just because it's a NHL, it doesn't mean there is NPS or anyone else has funding for a staff, plus of course the ownership of the site is under dispute. You seem to be annoyed enough at the almost 20 year long ownership dispute to complain about it, but apparently not annoyed enough to look into the issue & see what the problem is.

I think dwtaylor999's disgust is still valid, regardless of your personal indifference to the shape the landmark is in.

Posted by /-/ooligan
Are you bothered that no one had the foresight in the 1940s to think that one day, the site may have historic significance & thus argue that the site & structures should be preserved intact, or are you bothered that the old cemetery looks like an old cemetery?


Seriously? Your theory is that no one, shortly after the close of the Second World War, thought that a memorial cemetery dedicated to World War Two vets had historical significance? Is your point that no one thought that Japanese Americans fighting for the Allied forces were historically significant because they were not American Americans? They built a memorial for shit's sake, that in itself proclaims the significance! Do you want to rethink that?

Who the memorial is dedicated to is completely irrelevant. This is not a problem isolated to this site either. Ownership dispute? The place shouldn't fall into ruin regardless. If it wasn't for every single - every single person - regardless of citizenship and heritage, who fought on behalf of the Allied Forces we would all likely be speaking German. The significance of that fact was well known during the time of construction of this site.

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Re: WWII Japanese Relocation Camp, Rohwer Arkansas
<Reply # 15 on 2/11/2011 6:12 AM >
Posted on Forum: UER Forum
 
Posted by dwtaylor999

I've talked to some of the Arkansas State parks and recreation people, and essentially it boils down to nobody cares. If this site was located close to California, it would be an entirely different story.

I'm a realist, and know that the primary reason for the current state of affairs is that nobody cares. It will take someone high enough up the political food chain in Arkansas to get some action from the NPS. Sam's effort from the top essentially only succeeded in a declaration and a cheap plaque. I'm going to try through Arkansas's congressional channels and see what happens.

It's one of the few internment locations that actually has some remaining physical evidence of its existence, and they could at least trim the damn grass.



Yeah, NPS, like most other agencies, tends to allocate $$$ to where the political interest is.

I think most of the internment sites have some remaining physical evidence, though in many cases it's best viewed for the air -- a former network of roads & building foundations that show up well on Google Earth.

I consider myself very lucky to have visited the remains of the Manzanar Relocation Center in California. As usual, most of the structures are long-gone because they were designed to be temporary facilities, & sold off after the site closed, but there is a cemetery/memorial on-site with plenty of Japanese in California able to make a pilgrimage to help keep it clean, as well as probably to have lobbied the US gov't NPS to preserve & interpret the site.

http://www.nps.gov/manz/index.htm


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Re: WWII Japanese Relocation Camp, Rohwer Arkansas
<Reply # 16 on 2/18/2011 7:40 PM >
Posted on Forum: UER Forum
 
Nice set of pics. I don't know too much about that part of history but thanks for sharing. I really liked the tank. That's pretty cool. Really like the shots with the flag in the background.

UER Forum > Archived US: South > WWII Japanese Relocation Camp, Rohwer Arkansas (Viewed 1031 times)



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