Wars and Ethnic Groups in America


The Second World War started in the wake of September of 1939 and lasted until 1945. It resulted in the deadliest of all wars in the human history by ending up with over 60 million deaths. The war started by the German invasion of Poland and Slovakia. Jerel (2004, 216), there followed a massive spread of the conflict involving major powers in the world both in the west and Asia. However, at this stage the United States was not part of the war. Near the end of 1941, precisely December 7, Japan suddenly attacked Pearl Harbor, which was America's naval base. This automatically sparked a conflict between the US and Japan. A few days later, Germany, under Adolf Hitler declared war against the U.S automatically involving the U.S in this deadly war of all time.


This essay discusses the various effects that this war brought to the many ethnic groups in the US particularly Japanese living in America during and after this war. A Japanese immigrant makes the most of this discussion because it was their motherland that started war on the U.S. We, therefore, study what they went through as this result during the wartime and how life was to them following the aftermath of the war. The effects were far reaching, including physical, social, and political to psychological effects on the Japanese immigrants in the U.S.

To start with, on the February 1942, President Roosevelt accented to the Executive Order 9066. Under this new policy, Japanese immigrants rounded up and detained in internment camps. This saw close to 13000 people believed to be of Japanese origin living in the U.S removed from their homes and placed in these camps. The U.S government at this time justified its actions saying that it had very strong reasons to believe that as long as these people were free, they were always a threat as they could spy for the Japanese. Looking closely at the history of most of the people placed in the camps had never shown any sign of disloyalty. Unfortunately, close to thirds of this camps had American citizens, and more than a half comprising of children. It resulted to the separation of families as this detention involved random placement to the camps.

Life in the detention camps was hard. The internees could bring in only few of their possessions. This predisposed the internees to scrupulous market dealers who gave them prices way less than the existing prices for the goods and services they could not take. The internees served in barracks, providing various kinds of labor and allowed only allowed use of communal areas for their own activities such as washing, eating, and laundry.

Because of the harsh living conditions in these camps caused by extreme temperatures, very poor sanitation conditions, physical, and mental abuse, people died. In most cases, due to lack of medical attention, internees died in these camps. Generally, the living conditions that internees were can only be termed inhuman. The camps were under 24-hour surveillance by foot soldiers and immigrants who disobeyed rules or caused troubles in the camps sent to the Tule Lake facility in California. The environment of the camps itself had very adverse effects on the internees, both physically and psychology. It was not easy living under full observation of the troops with no privacy or little if any.

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Following the Pearl Harbor bombing, an Alien Enemies Act passed as a foreign policy. As a result, presidential proclamations 2526, 2525, and 2527 designated immigrants of Japanese, German, and Italian origin as enemies of state. By use of intelligent information provided by the Custodial Detention Index, (CDI), Japanese, German, and Italian nationals located and rounded up. Following these presidential proclamations in 1942, it required aliens of these nationalities to inform the relevant authorities of any change of address, occupation, or name. The Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) oversaw this. This lead to the arrest and detention in concentration camps of individuals who did not follow these rules.

Looking closely at the US's responded to the attacks, it is clear that these actions were rather racial and not military actions to protect the interests of U.S citizens. Therefore, as the authorities, engaged these aliens in restrictive measures, they were also feeling the pinch from the American civilians. It sparked various racial conflicts in the U.S as it gave the civilians the conception that every other foreigner was an enemy to the state and threat to their security.

Their relations changed almost overnight show the differences that these policies on foreigners created among civilians. Foreigners received cold treatment in social places and were highly prejudiced in the way they received formally available services. To say that the government's response to these attacks was racially motivated rather than as an essential military action is true to some extent. This, according to Michael (2009, 45) justifiably true considering the way the US handled its immigrants. For example, all Japanese, regardless of their age, physical disabilities, or orphans found themselves in concentration camps. On could possibly pose the question as in what way were disabled and orphaned children a threat to security.

The media also played a major role in secluding the Japanese immigrants. The Roberts Commission for instance cited for propagating fear and prejudice among the civilians. This report aimed primarily at linking Japanese immigrants to the Pearl Harbor bombing. This, according to William (2003, 100), sparked enmity between U.S farmers and the aliens who were at that point practicing farming. To further- prove the argument that response was rather racial and not a military necessity, we find out that white farm owners admitted that, for their own self-interests, they required the removal of Japanese immigrant farmers.

The events that followed the Pearl Harbor Bombing lead to a infringement of civil rights. Foreigners, especially of Japanese accent, were restricted from accessing various initially free areas. They lost their freedom of expression. This is evident from the shutting down of all the radio stations broadcasting to Japan. In addition, Japanese immigrants who previously owned land reduced to tenants. Michael (2009, 42), argues that, those who held in camps were denied movement and could only do so with permission and under very close observation by soldiers.

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After the war

January of 1945 saw the exclusion order abolished permanently. Internees returned to their homes and start all over. However, camps completely done away with as those detainees who were not ready to go back received accommodation in the camps. Unfortunately, many internees lost most valuable possession during the exclusion period. They had their property stolen and destroyed by American civilians. In 1948, under new administration, following American Evacuation Claims Act, Japanese-Americans got compensation for economic losses incurred during concentration and forced evacuation.

After the war, America's opinion of the Japanese changed. Japan as a country was undergoing, with the help of the US, a rebuilding process. Following the change in the perception of Japanese, American-Japanese received the right to neutral U.S citizenship.


To conclude this research, it suffices to say that the way in which the U.S government responded to the attacks was unnecessary. Contrary to its attempt tom justify its reaction on the basis that it wanted to safeguard the security interests of its people; it is evident that this was not the case. Critics observe that the response was devoid of objectivity in its hatching and execution.

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