Rohwer camp and museum
Rohwer in Arkansas, USA
, was one of the ten “War Relocation Centers”, de facto concentration camps
for Japanese Americans from the West Coast during WWII
This camp was similar to others (see Amache
) with 36 blocks, each consisting of a dozen residential barracks shared by several families, plus communal latrines, bathhouses, laundries and mess halls. There was a hospital, schools and other ancillary buildings. The camp opened in September 1942 and had a peak population of nearly 8500. Rohwer closed relatively late in November 1945 after most of the others (except Tule Lake
Like the other camps Rohwer was dismantled after its closure. Most of the buildings were either removed or demolished. Hence very little remains today, only a smokestack from the camp hospital incinerator and a school gymnasium, but neither are commodified for visitors. The main things to see at the authentic site
are the camp cemetery, which is still in place, and a few monuments that have been put up over the years nearby. The rest of the former camp’s area has been turned into farm land, so not even the foundations of any buildings remain (whereas at Amache
these form the core of what authentic remnants can still be found).
However, in the town of McGehee, 17 miles (27 km) from the site of the Rohwer camp, there is a “Japanese American Internment Museum
” (at 100 S Railroad St, open Tuesdays to Saturdays from 9 a.m. to 4 p.m.). It’s not as comprehensive as the equivalent exhibitions at Manzanar
, but does feature several original artefacts along with photos and documents plus text panels which tell the story of the internment camps in general and of Rohwer in particular, as well as that of the other Arkansas relocation center: Jerome. At the museum’s dedication ceremony the actor George Takei gave a speech and his voice also features in audio stations in the museum. Takei was a former camp internee at Rohwer as a young child. He later became best known for his role as Mr. Sulu in the "Star Trek" TV series and later movies, but is also a political activist, for instance for LGBT rights.