Manzanar: “Never Again” Released – Video by Ken Burns: Watch It Here!

UPDATE, AUGUST 23, 2012: Video has been re-encoded and is now viewable on iOS devices (iPhone, iPod Touch, iPad).

Manzanar: “Never Again,” a short film by critically acclaimed documentary filmmaker Ken Burns, has been released by WETA-TV (Public Television in Washington, D.C.) and Florentine Films. The mini-documentary is one of five such films produced by WETA and Florentine Films as part of their Untold Stories project.

Manzanar: “Never Again” was shown at a preview screening at the Beverly and Jim Rogers Museum of Lone Pine Film History in Lone Pine, California on April 24, 2009. It was also screened at the Manzanar At Dusk program on April 25, 2009, following the 40th Manzanar Pilgrimage, held earlier that day at the Manzanar National Historic Site.

The mini-documentary looks at the interconnected stories of Japanese American internment during World War II, former Manzanar Committee Chair Sue Kunitomi Embrey’s efforts to commemorate the Manzanar concentration camp, and the ongoing work of Manzanar National Historic Site to educate visitors about civil rights. At the heart of the of the film is the site’s annual Pilgrimage and the words of Sue Embrey, who speaks movingly about protecting all citizens’ rights, especially in times of national crisis.

The Manzanar Committee would like to express our thanks to Susan Shumaker, one of the writers and producers of the film, and Ann Harrington at WETA for their support of our education and outreach efforts, part of which is making it available right here for you to watch:

LEAD PHOTO: Ken Burns. Photo: Cable Risdon/Courtesy PBS

© 2009, WETA. Used with permission. For documentation of WETA granting permission to the Manzanar Committee to stream this video here on our web site, click here.

PBS has a discussion guide that accompanies this mini-documentary that is suitable for use by teachers. You can view/download a printable copy here (requires Adobe Reader software to view/print):

The National Parks: America’s Best Idea, Untold Stories Discussion Guide – Sue Kunitomi Embrey and Manzanar National Historic Site – View/Download/Print

Creative Commons License The Manzanar Committee’s Official web site is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-NonCommercial-NoDerivs 3.0 Unported License. You may copy, distribute and/or transmit any story or audio content published on this site under the terms of this license, but only if proper attribution is indicated. The full name of the author and a link back to the original article on this site are required. Photographs, graphic images, and other content not specified are subject to additional restrictions. Additional information is available at: Manzanar Committee Official web site – Licensing and Copyright Information.

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37 thoughts on “Manzanar: “Never Again” Released – Video by Ken Burns: Watch It Here!

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  1. Heartfelt thanks to Ken Burns and all involved in the making of this magnificient video. I will share it far and wide.

    –Susanne La Faver, great niece of Margaret D’Ille, Director of Social Welfare at Manzanar.

  2. Manzanar, Tule Lake, Tanforan….and so many other internment camps that stain the fabric of the United States, the Bill of Rights, and Due Proces….We need much much more than 15 minutes. Hopefully this is just a start…

  3. Great video clip. Not too many people, still, don’t know about what happened. If people like Michele Bachmann would put more effort in fighting for peoples civil rights, instead of creating drama around the US Census, things like this wouldn’t happen. As it is, those same people are working to take civil rights away from American citizens. My grandfather came home to an anvil, I guess it was to heavy for people to take.

  4. I was in Tule Lake and, later, Heart Mtn. as a young teenager and I must say that this is one of the better documentaries on camplife. I am going to forward this to all of our children plus friends, as I think it depicts what happened those many years ago. I especially liked what the Park Department had to say. Thank you.

  5. I have visited the Camp sight in September 2007.
    I was deeply touched and felt so bad for the evacuees who left their precious belongings and to go into the unknown future. I am very proud of them to have endured such hardships.
    A very good documentary!

  6. Terrific video clip. I visited Manzanar in the late ’60s, before the monument. There was nothing there except cracked dishes with Japanese design. It reminded me to the “cracked” lives of these brave people. It was very moving. I am what I am because of their sacrifices..

  7. Just as an FYI, the cemetery monument, if that’s the monument you were referring to, was built by the prisoners during their time at Manzanar. It was dedicated in August, 1943.

  8. We went to the Honorary degree ceremony at UCSF for the folks who couldn’t finish their UC educations because of our ”camp” experience. The Dean of one of the UCSF professional schools told me that he had no idea of what had happened in 1942. That’s why this film, the ceremony we attended and all the other efforts to keep our fellow citizens aware of what happens when hate and greed are allowed to prevail and national leadership seeks political gains.

  9. Don…thank you for your comments. To clarify, all comments posted must be approved by the moderator/blog editor (yours truly) before they are published here. We do that to prevent spam from appearing here. We have automatic spam filters, but they aren’t perfect.

  10. A very well put piece about our camp experience! How well I remember the spring of ’42 when we boarded the SP buses for the long trip to Manzanar!

    I recall very well how hard the east wind was blowing and the sand and dust coming up through the floor boards!

    Although I was only 8 years old, I still remember many things about Manzanar! I even recall that we housed in 24-1-4.

    Have not been back to the area since we left for Utah in ’44, but I do want to see the exhibits that I have told about!

  11. relocation center=concentration camp
    call it as it was
    I was very young, but it still pisses me off.

    1. In 1986, when I was a sophomore in high school, my social studies teacher vehemently corrected my use of the word “concentration” when paired with “camp” in my paper describing my parents’ and grandparents’ experience in the Rohwer, Arkansas concentration camp. He said that I was wrong for using the word “concentration” and that the more accurate description should have been either internment or relocation camp. Although I don’t remember the score he gave my paper, I will not forget the anger in his voice as he spoke to me.

  12. Dec. 16, 2009, I am 88 years old. I was at Pomona Assembly Cemter and Heart Mt. I knew Sue quite well, attended the first few Manzanar Pilgrimage but now I am too old to go.

    So glad Sue is remembered for her so many years of dedication to her cause, she worked the committee out of her own home.

    I’ve read many of the books on what happened but what has not been told was at Ht. Mt., nightly, we would sit at the latrine to the wee hours, discussing what is happening to us. Our only source of information is the untrue accusations of how evil we are, all the bad things we did, etc. in the papers and the rumors that always gets around. That might have resulted in the resisters. I believe they played an important part to the history of this as someone did challenge the government that this is wrong and did so knowing they will be sent to prison for two years.

    I was there with them. Never was in Japan, never were out of Southern California, graduated High School, but we are here in a concentration camp. Just did not make sense. So glad the next generation accomplished so much.

    Thanks to all who are rewriting history with truth.

  13. It is very hard for me to understand how we could do this to US citizens. Why didn’t we round up all the Germans and Italians? So I guess it goes to say that our government discriminated against the Japanese citizens of the USA. Sad, very sad. By the way great film.

    1. This documentation filled me with so many emotions – anger, frustration, indignation, deep sadness and yes, even pride – pride at the resilience of our Japanese/Americans.
      Anger, frustration and indignation at the mere $20,000 to each person – a PITTANCE compared to the TRILLIONS of $$ we STILL spend on the South Pacific Islands trying to make up for our H-Bomb Bikini Island boo-boo…

      HOW DARE!! Does America think this is at all fair?? These people in the prison “camps” were/are American citizens…and in spite of all this the 442nd was created and our American Japanese went on to become the most highly decorated unit of all during WW2.

      My grandparents house was BULLDOZED on Maui because they had a Buddhist shrine – honoring their parents!
      And they were accused of planting their vegetables in a manner that would be a “message to the Japan pilots”…my grandfather had documents signed by the then Emperor of Japan saying that his children were not Japan citizens to try to protect them from harm.

      My tears from watching this film were for my ancestors and the humiliating and undeserved treatment they suffered at the hands of their own country – America!

      War does strange and often horrid things to the human mind….most of the bad things are born from fear. Yes, may we never forget – so that it does not happen ever again.
      Thank you for this!

      1. As frustrated that I am at the unfair, hurtful and undeserved treatment the US chose to impose upon their own American people during WW2, I need to make it very clear that I would not move to another country – ever. I’ve had the privilege of living is several different countries and though I do not agree with all the laws and rules and regs that America imposes on us as citizens, American is still the very best country in the world.

  14. I am married to a Japanese American man. My parents, Caucasian mother-Hawaiian father lived in California during the war. My father was a merchant marine at the time. My parents were very unique and were called communists because they wanted the girls in our school to have the same opportunities as the boys. Knowing this, I asked them why they went along with the internment of the Japanese people. My mother told me that the government said that it would be safer for her children and for the Japanese people to be “protected”. My point, even the well educated “left leaning people” of that era got duped by the media and government of that time period. We mustn’t be duped again about any race or religion.

    1. In regards to the above comment, my husband was interned as an infant with his three year old sister (what a threat they must have been) and their parents.

  15. The story of Sue Kumitomi should be produced in a film documentary for young people to learn what one person can accomplish. I knew Sue and she was the engine of the Manzanar movement that opened doors to all other camps for historical information. I attended her early pilmgrimage that people came in charter buses from universities. Hope Sue will get the support and recognition that she deserves.
    Sue’s narration was similar to my experience so I relived it as I read it. I did not tell my son’s about it as I thought it might be negative influence to their life.

  16. When I was languishing on a cot with a straw matress, I was troubled and puzzled. I learned that the Constitution and the Bill of Rights guaranteed my civil rights. What am I doing here in a Concenration camp? Even after 65+ years, whenever I see the words Constitution or Bill of Rights I think of concentration camps. The two always go together in my memory.

    Every morning in home room we had to recite the Pledge of Allegiance while saluting it with outstretched right arm. When we got to “…with liberty and justice for all.” I used to mumble “with liberty and justice for some.” I said “some” softly so no one would report me to the FBI. I was fearful of the FBI because they made thousands of people disappear and I didn’t want to disappear.

  17. Great documentary. I think we are fortunate to live in a country where such can be made, and where such things are seen as a mistake. I want to mention that Italian-Americans and German-Americans were also cracked down on, though nowhere near as much as Japanese-Americans. Most of that happened in California, though German-Americans in central Texas are still angry about the loss of their schools (those few who are old enough to remember and still alive). German-American communities were vibrant before the war, you’ll find few traces of them today.

  18. What amazes me are the people I know that were at Manzanar and other camps throughout the country as they came back to reastablish their lives, showed no bitterness. In the fifties when I worked with a man that was interned (an ugly word) at Manzanar, He never spoke of his misfortune. The same for a neat person I went to school with and still see to this day. We do talk about the past and try to come to any understanding of how and why? All the money can’t wipe away this ugly past. Thank you for your work to not let us forget our special friends.

  19. While the people in these camps certainly weren’t physically tortured in the manner of the Nazis, they were corralled and held in a manner that certainly left them vulnerable to any whim of the government, including torture. And they were held in the camps—adults and children alike—by machine gun towers. When first deprived of certain civil rights, then later stripped of all property but the clothes on their backs and rounded up and taken to unknown destinations in blacked-out transport, these US citizens, just like the Jews in Europe, still held on to the belief that their government would “maybe go this far, but certainly, no further”, as one outrage followed another. And like the European Jews, 98% complied with whatever their government told them they must do. As “good American citizens” they maintained trust in their government, in their neighbors, to a degree that made people in later years wonder “why did they go along with all this?”, as if they were somehow complicit in their own treatment.

    But what citizen has the power to do anything else? What citizen believes that the government whose laws they follow and which they pay taxes to can legally sweep all their rights off the table? What citizen can believe that her/his neighbors will stand by and watch such outrages and not pitch in to help their neighbor resist, knowing that they could be next? Like Native American families through the centuries, and Arab American family members in 2001, these Japanese American families were “detained” without reason, for an indeterminate period of time and technically did not know what our government might do with or to them ultimately. Mike Masaoka certainly wasn’t the only person saying these American families should—not might, but should—be used as hostages to be exchanged for any white American soldiers captured by the Japanese government. And we know now what happened to people held in Japanese POW camps.

    To a degree, governments count on citizen’s unwillingness to jump in and help neighbors whose rights are being abused by their government. Especially when the neighbors have a slightly different culture than our own, whether because they were born in another country, have been ostracized from mainstream society due to race, belong to a different religious group, have a different sexual orientation, or speak English with an accent. Fathers, mothers and children were murdered, and horribly, in Waco, Texas during the Clinton Administration through their neighbors’ unwillingness to stand up for their rights. Murdered on national television with daily coverage!!

    Waco went on for days, and I didn’t so much as made a phone call to the White House in protest while this was happening before my astonished eyes. I must always remember that.

    But I stood with my Arab American neighbors in Fremont CA, in 2001. I’ve decided want to be like Marjory Sperling, the woman in this film who said, “If it were to happen today, oh, my, I would raise SUCH HELL.”

  20. this was a great doc. i really would like to see Ken Burns document the whole experience through all of the camps, and what it kind of led to as far as the Sansei being taught to be more passive, or people like Yuri Kochiyama who went in the total opposite direction because so many people are still clueless of this incident, i would’ve thought that it would’ve been included in the schools history books by now but it isn’t and it is a shame. i first heard of the internment camps when i was about 13 or 14 from my Grandmother. her family was sent to Heart Mountain, she didnt really say much about it because it bothered her so much, but through the years i’ve heard stories from other aunties and uncles who lived it, and i gotta say it still angers me. i have not trusted this government ever since the first time i heard of this

  21. I’m a little late in commenting but I have to say this video is just as powerful today. It is outrageous what happened to these families. I can see Sue Kunitomi Embrey was fearless and her family continues the work today. Countless heart wrenching stories and just as internee Marjory Sperling said – “Asinine” that the Japanese American families showed up at the evacuation points “all dressed up and on time” and I feel and share her outrage – and Sets Tomita’s description of how he felt being sent to Manzanar, like “being abandon” – His memory of fishing was a memory my father also experienced and shared with our family – A very bold move for dad to sneak under the barbed wire fence to fish in the first year of his incarceration at Manzanar. Armed guard security was extremely tight and at its peak. So many heartbreaking stories in this film and so many other stories still untold. Thank you for this film and I hope many more will see it.

  22. I am not of Japanese ancestry, but I have a strong interest in this subject. My people have suffered dearly by these same kinds of people to, ever since Columbus arrived, and some are angry, or have been cut off from reality as well. We grew up having the same kinds of political correctness arguments thrown in our faces to, all the way to this day.

    I feel for you guys and am sorry you had to go through that unfortunate part of our story. Burns has covered my people to in a few films as well. America owes people of color a big apology. It’s been a long time coming and we must as individuals try to learn to live our lives, without forgetting what happened.

    We are a melting pot of communities in America and there are some really great people across all lines, across all colors today. We have made some great advancements, even during this terrible time of trump. We must become a people in order to right the wrongs of the past. We must teach the young one’s to be that generation. Go in peace my friends and thank you for reading.

  23. India, country of my ancestors, did exactly this same injustice to Indian-born Chinese after Beijing’s sneak attack and the ensuing hysteria in 1962. Indian Chinese offered donations, condemned Mao’s attack, but were never given a fair hearing. To this day, India just pushes this matter under the carpet.

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