SEVENTY YEARS AGO this month, the US began its internment of thousands of Japanese-Americans following the Pearl Harbour attack in December 1941 and America’s subsequent entry into WWII.
More than 110,000 men, women and children were forced to leave their homes and relocate to the internment camps; Manzanar is the best-known and largest of the ten camps set up by the US authorities and it covered 6,200 acres. Two-thirds of the people held at Manzanar were aged under 18.
Around 11,000 people were held there before its closure at the end of the war. Manzanar has since been taken over by the National Park Service and is open to the public as the Manzanar National Historic Site.
In 1943, noted landscape photographer Ansel Adams travelled to the Manzanar facility to photograph prisoners at the camp.
Adams later donated a collection of these images to the Library of Congress. In the letter accompanying his work, Adams said that the “purpose of my work was to show how these people, suffering under a great injustice and the loss of property, businesses and professions, had over come the sense of defeat and dispair [sic] by building for themselves a vital community in an arid (but magnificent) environment.”