Honouliuli Internment Camp

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Honouliuli Internment Camp
Nearest cityWaipahu, Hawaii
NRHP Reference #09000855[1]
Added to NRHPFebruary 21, 2012
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Honouliuli Internment Camp
Nearest cityWaipahu, Hawaii
NRHP Reference #09000855[1]
Added to NRHPFebruary 21, 2012

The Honouliuli Internment Camp was one of five internment camps in Hawaii during World War II.[2][3]

Construction and operation[edit]

Run by the US. Army, the camp's supervisor was Captain Siegfried Spillner.[4] 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.[5] It opened in March 1943.[6] 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.[7] The isolated location in a deep gulch led Japanese American internees to nickname it jigoku dani (地獄谷?, "hell valley").[8]

The camp was designed to hold 3,000 people. At one time it held 320 U.S. civilians.[7][9] 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,[10] Koreans, and Taiwanese as well.[7] 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.[6] 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.[7]

Closure and aftermath[edit]

After the camp's closure, the land was purchased by the Oahu Sugar Company, which already grew sugar on adjacent lands.[2][11] However, they did not grow sugar on the camp land itself, but rather let others use it as a dumping ground for wrecked cars.[11] Campbell Estate later acquired the land and rented it out to farmers for cultivation.[2] Some former barracks were converted into vacation cabins.[12] In 2007, the Monsanto Corporation purchased the land.[13]

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.[2] 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.[3] The survey concluded that the camp may be eligible for listing on the National Register of Historic Places.[13] It was added to the register on February 21, 2012.[1]

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.[14][15]

Notable internees[edit]


  1. ^ a b "Weekly List of Actions Taken on Properties: 2/27/2012 through 3/2/2012". National Park Service. March 9, 2012. Retrieved March 15, 2012. 
  2. ^ a b c d Gordon, Mike (2005-11-27), Wartime stain in history retraced in O'ahu's brush, The Honolulu Advertiser, retrieved 2009-12-10 
  3. ^ a b Gordon, Mike (2006-02-05), Under Honouliuli brush, dark history, The Honolulu Advertiser, retrieved 2009-12-10 
  4. ^ Hirose 1993, p. 167
  5. ^ Kashima 2003, p. 84
  6. ^ a b c Choe 2009
  7. ^ a b c d Rosenfeld, Alan. "Honouluili" Densho Encyclopedia. Retrieved June 13, 2014.
  8. ^ a b c Chun, Gary C. W. (2009-12-07), Exhibit shows the harsh life of Honouliuli internment camp, Honolulu Star-Bulletin, retrieved 2009-12-10 
  9. ^ Gordon, Mike (2008-03-03), WWII internment camp revisited, The Honolulu Advertiser, retrieved 2009-12-10 
  10. ^ Burton, Jeffery F.; Farrell, Mary M. (May 9, 2011). "National Register of Historic Places Registration Form, Honouliuli Internment Camp" (PDF). National Park Service. Retrieved August 3, 2014. "The camp was built to intern German American and Japanese American citizens and long-term Hawaiian resident aliens as well as POWs captured during military operations during World War II." 
  11. ^ a b Kashima 2003, p. 86
  12. ^ Wilson, Christie (2008-02-17), Clues sought to Honouliuli's dark past, The Honolulu Advertiser, retrieved 2009-12-10 
  13. ^ a b Hope for a Visitor's Center at Honouliuli May Become Reality, Pacific Citizen, 2009-03-09, retrieved 2009-12-11 
  14. ^ Bernardo, Rosemarie (July 7, 2012). "Bill recognizes internment site". Honolulu Star-Advertiser. p. B1. 
  15. ^ Barton, Justin (July 5, 2014) "Historic Preservation: Using Technology to Build Heritage Advocacy" LiDAR News Spatial Media LLC, Frederick, MD
  16. ^ Pak 1967


Further reading[edit]