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The Japanese Internment of American Civilians in the Philippines, 1941-1945

Frances B. Cogan

Publication Year: 2000

More than five thousand American civilian men, women, and children living in the Philippines during World War II were confined to internment camps following Japan's late December 1941 victories in Manila. Captured tells the story of daily life in five different camps--the crowded housing, mounting familial and international tensions, heavy labor, and increasingly severe malnourishment that made the internees' rescue a race with starvation. Frances B. Cogan explores the events behind this nearly four-year captivity, explaining how and why this little-known internment occurred. A thorough historical account, the book addresses several controversial issues about the internment, including Japanese intentions toward their prisoners and the U.S. State Department's role in allowing the presence of American civilians in the Philippines during wartime.

Supported by diaries, memoirs, war crimes transcripts, Japanese soldiers' accounts, medical data, and many other sources, Captured presents a detailed and moving chronicle of the internees' efforts to survive. Cogan compares living conditions within the internment camps with life in POW camps and with the living conditions of Japanese soldiers late in the war. An afterword discusses the experiences of internment survivors after the war, combining medical and legal statistics with personal anecdotes to create a testament to the thousands of Americans whose captivity haunted them long after the war ended.

Published by: University of Georgia Press

Title Page, Copyright, Dedication

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pp. ix-xi

I owe thanks to many people and organizations. I would like to thank the Center for the Study of Women in Society for its summer grant when I started working on this project. I would also like to thank the Social Science Research Council for its seed-grant for another summers work. I owe the University of...

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pp. 1-8

A number of years ago, just before I actually began writing this book, I remember friends and various family members asking me quizzically why I became so heated over the subject of American internees in the Philippines. What was it to me? they asked. I had been born two years after...

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1. Pearl of the Orient: Manila and the Prewar Philippines

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pp. 9-32

Beginning with the Philippines' acquisition at the end of the Spanish-American War, America s attitude toward its new colony seemed a muddled mixture of entrepreneurship and paternalism. Throughout the years up to World War II, benevolence wound itself around both geopolitical advantage...

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2. First Dark Days

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pp. 33-62

With the bombing of Pearl Harbor, American civilians in the Philippines began the journey that would lead eventually into internment — for many in less than a month (as early as December 9, 1941, on Vigan Island, for example [Halsema Itr, May 21, 1997]). Disbelief in any kind of American...

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3. Meanwhile, on Several Islands Not Far Away

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pp. 63-107

The unfortunate Americans on Luzon almost immediately faced capture and internment by the Japanese in what seemed a Pacific Blitzkrieg, as we have seen. By December 31, the island had been invaded in two different locations, and a full-scale army was settling in. Americans on the...

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4. Inside the Gate: The Nature of the Japanese Administration of the Civilian Internment Camps

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pp. 108-146

When Ethel Chapman got down from the truck at Silliman, when Alice Bryant and her husband heard the gates shut behind them at Bacolod, or when Jay Hill, Grace Nash, and others found themselves dumped unceremoniously in the dusty center of Santo Tomas, where was it exactly...

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5. The Japanese Soldier's Ration: Food and Health in Civilian Internment Camps

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pp. 147-176

More than the crowded rooms, the whimsical restrictions on movement, or even the ultimate loss of home and money, food and its availability became for most internees the defining concern of their captivity. It is a rare account that does not list the grim details of calories, portions, and...

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6. Hunger Time: April 1943–February 1945

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pp. 177-206

The next eighteen months in camp saw several important benchmarks in terms of health and food. The Davao camp closed, and its internees moved to Santo Tomas, then to the newly established Los Banos camp; a typhoon hit in November 1943; and the first (and only) U.S. Red...

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7. A Roof over Their Heads: Shelter in Civilian Internment Camps

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pp. 207-224

If food and related health problems would prove to be the overreaching concern of the internees —and the aspects of camp life they usually remembered most vividly —still the nature of their housing and the work they did to fill their hours and keep up their domiciles occupied many...

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8. Idle Hands Are the Devil's Playground: Work in the Camps

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pp. 225-259

Under the best of circumstances, being crowded in with others and lacking basic privacy cause friction, even without disliking fellow internees personally. The fact that the missionaries were people many of the other internees would have avoided, as the missionaries would have ignored...

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9. Angels and Tanks: Rescue Comes

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pp. 260-310

The cavalry arrived in February. From the out-of-the-jaws-of-death raid on Los Bafios camp to the simple retreat of the guards at Old Bilibid Prison, no rescue duplicated another, and, predictably, internee reactions varied widely as well. The threat to internee lives also seemed to shift, from the...

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pp. 311-318

Freedom for some remained a difficult fit. As one psychiatric study about POWs suggests, some internees found that the reality of life outside the barbed wire did not live up to their expectations (Russell, 253). The 1956 HEW Report suggested that such studies could also be used broadly to...


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pp. 319-320

A Note on Sources

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pp. 321-332


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pp. 333-335


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pp. 337-346


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pp. 347-357

E-ISBN-13: 9780820343525
E-ISBN-10: 0820321176
Print-ISBN-13: 9780820343525

Page Count: 384
Illustrations: 10 b&w photos, 2 illus.
Publication Year: 2000