Honouliuli Internment Camp
Honouliuli Internment Camp
|Nearest city||Waipahu, Hawaii|
|NRHP Reference #||09000855|
|Added to NRHP||February 21, 2012|
Construction and operation
Run by the US. Army, the camp's supervisor was Captain Siegfried Spillner. The camp was constructed on 160 acres (0.65 km2) of land near Ewa on the island of Oahu to hold internees transferred from the soon-to-close Sand Island camp. It opened in March 1943. An 8-foot (2.4 m) dual barbed-wire fence enclosed the camp, and a company of military police stood guard from its eight watchtowers. The isolated location in a deep gulch led Japanese American internees to nickname it jigoku dani (地獄谷?, "hell valley").
The camp was designed to hold 3,000 people. At one time it held 320 U.S. civilians. It was divided by barbed wire into sections, intended to separate internees by gender, nationality, and military or civilian status. By August 1943, there were 160 Japanese Americans and 69 Japanese interned there, according to the report of a colonel from the Swedish Legation who inspected the camp under the Geneva Convention.
Eventually, the camp held more than 4,000 Okinawans, Italians, German Americans, Koreans, and Taiwanese as well. The first Korean prisoners were believed to have arrived in late 1943 or early 1944; they comprised non-combatant laborers captured during the Gilbert and Marshall Islands campaign. A Korean-language newsletter, the Free Press for Liberated Korea (자유한인보), was written and mimeographed by three Korean soldiers of the Japanese Imperial Army interned in the camp; it continued publication until December 1945. Beginning in 1943, the Japanese American internees were either released on parole or transferred to Department of Justice camps on the mainland. After the third transfer in November 1944, twenty-one U.S. civilians remained in Honouliuli and the camp served primarily as a holding center for POWs. At the end of the war, some 4,000 POWs were confined at Honouliuli; repatriation efforts began in December 1945 and continued into 1946.
Closure and aftermath
After the camp's closure, the land was purchased by the Oahu Sugar Company, which already grew sugar on adjacent lands. However, they did not grow sugar on the camp land itself, but rather let others use it as a dumping ground for wrecked cars. Campbell Estate later acquired the land and rented it out to farmers for cultivation. Some former barracks were converted into vacation cabins. In 2007, the Monsanto Corporation purchased the land.
The fact that the land had once held an internment camp was largely forgotten until the late 1990s, when Jane Kurahara, a volunteer from the Japanese Cultural Center, began a search for it; she located it in 2002 by tracing an aqueduct in the background of an old photo. The efforts to learn more about the camp's history attracted the attention of archaeologist Jeff Burton, an expert on Japanese American internment in the mainland; he visited the camp site in February 2006 to conduct a preliminary survey, including mapping the foundations of old barracks. The survey concluded that the camp may be eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places. It was added to the register on February 21, 2012.
On July 6, 2012, Governor Abercrombie signed Senate Bill 2678 into law, creating an advisory group to develop and present recommendations for an educational resource center to lawmakers in the next legislative session. The Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaii, whose president said the signing will "help ensure ... that history will be preserved and taught for future generations", conducts public tours of the former camp. Two buildings and some other remnants still remain at the site, which current-owner Monsanto is interested in transferring to the National Park Service.
- Sanji Abe, legislator for the Territory of Hawaii
- Seishiro Okazaki (Henry), noted healer and founder of the Danzan-ryū Jujutsu system
- Thomas Sakakihara, legislator for the Territory of Hawaii
- Pak Sun-dong, Japanese Imperial Army draftee who later worked for the US Office of Strategic Services and wrote an award-winning memoir
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