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Manzanar Japanese internment camp

Manzanar National Historic Landmark (better known as Manzanar War Relocation Center) was a Japanese internment camp during World War II that operated near Independence, California. Manazanar was one of ten camps at which Japanese American citizens and resident Japanese "aliens" were interned as a "precautionary measure" during World War II. Located at the foot of the imposing Sierra Nevada Mountains in eastern California's Owens Valley[?], Manzanar has been identified as the best preserved of these camps by the United States Park Service[?] which maintains and is restoring the site as a United States National Historic Landmark[?].

Almost all the buildings were sold in the 1940s, and the United States Park Service[?] is now trying to purchase these buildings back so that a demonstration block can be built. This particular camp held 10,046 internees at its height. Many Japanese-Americans and Japanese citizens were relocated and interned as a precautionary provision of Executive Order 9066. Many lost everything they owned.

During the waning years of the war, the military presence of the camp was lessened and many internees were allowed to wander around the countryside and even fish and hunt in the Sierras. The camp was closed in November of 1945. Many internees did not want to leave because most had nothing to leave to. 135 people died here during its operation as a War Relocation Center but only 15 were buried there (the rest were buried in hometown cemeteries). On December 6, 1942, there was a riot and sentries shot two American born Nisei Japanese.

In February of 1943, provisions of the Registration Act[?] required camp officials to sort loyal from disloyal Japanese. After the turmoil that this caused, the residents began to improve the camp significantly.


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A shrine in the form of an obelisk was built in the cemetery by a group of internees led by Ryozo Kado[?] in 1943. There is an inscription in Japanese on the shrine that reads, 慰靈塔 (What are the romaji?) ("Monument[?] to console the souls of the dead.") The inscription on the back reads "August 1943" and "erected by the Manzanar Japanese." The obelisk shrine currently is draped in strings of origami and has offerings of personal items left by survivors and visitors. The park service periodically itemizes and collects these items in order to gauge the changing feelings of visitors.

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See also: Internment camp, Japanese internment



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