Breaking the Silence sheds light on WW II Internment, POW Camp in Hawai'i

New book features research from UH West Oʻahu faculty, community groups on confinement impact

University of Hawaiʻi-West Oʻahu
Julie Funasaki Yuen, (808) 689-2604
Public Info Officer, Communications Department
Posted: Jul 24, 2014

Breaking the Silence
Breaking the Silence

The bombing of Pearl Harbor marked the beginning of the United States’ involvement in World War II. Much is known about the events leading up to that fateful day but until recently, little was known about Hawaiʻi’s detention of more than 2,000 local residents and the imprisonment of nearly 17,000 captured enemy nationals during the time of martial law in the islands following the bombing.

Breaking the Silence: Lessons of Democracy and Social Justice from the World War II Honouliuli Internment and POW Camp in Hawaiʻi, is a collection of articles covering the archaeological, historical, sociological, political, psychological, cultural aspects, and impact of confinement in Honouliuli during World War II. Featuring research from nine University of Hawaiʻi – West Oʻahu faculty members and community partners from the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaiʻi, Densho, King Kamehameha V Judiciary History Center, and the National Park Service, the book details the historical significance of Honouliuli as Hawaiʻi’s largest and longest lasting of at least 13 internment and 13 POW compounds in the islands during World War II. The articles are supplemented by 57 black-and-white illustrations. Breaking the Silence is volume 45 and a special issue of Social Process in Hawaiʻi, a journal covering outstanding social science research on the people and institutions of Hawaiʻi.

Breaking the Silence is an important work because it uncovers the history and stories of the Honouliuli Internment and POW Camp in West Oʻahu, one that many people were not aware is part of Hawaiʻi history,” said UH West Oʻahu Chancellor Rockne Freitas. “Our UH West Oʻahu faculty have worked hard to research and tell the stories of thousands of internees and prisoners of war during a dark time in our nation’s history, and help to ensure that future generations remember the sacrifices made by those who came before us.”

“The World War II Honouliuli Internment and POW Camp was like no other,” said Breaking the Silence editors and contributors UH West Oʻahu Anthropology Professor Dr. Suzanne Falgout and UH West Oʻahu Sociology Professor Emeritus Dr. Linda Nishigaya. “The work of our multi-disciplinary team of scholars tells the complex story of incarceration of hundreds of local Hawaiʻi peoples of Japanese, Okinawan, German, Italian, Austrian, Norwegian, Danish, Lithuanian, Swedish, Finnish, Irish and Jewish heritages and thousands of POWs who were mostly young men who had served as non-combatant laborers. In this special issue of Social Process in Hawaiʻi we aim to uncover the facts of the Honouliuli internment and imprisonment experiences and the valuable lessons of democracy and social justice that can be learned so that the harrowing injustices of wartime Hawaiʻi might never be repeated again.”

Breaking the Silence tells the complete and complex story about Honouliuli and includes the following articles by UH West Oʻahu anthropology, early childhood education, English, Hawaiian-Pacific Studies, history, psychology, and sociology faculty as well as community partners:

  • “Ka I‘a Hāmau Leo: Silences that Speak Volumes for Honouliuli” by Leilani Basham draws on Hawaiian language resources to describe and explain the Hawaiian landscape that housed the World War II Honouliuli Internment and Prisoner of War Camp.
  • “Finding Honouliuli: The Japanese Cultural Center of Hawai‘i and Preserving the Hawai‘i Internment Story” by Jane Kurahara, Brian Niiya, and Betsy Young describes the efforts of the Japanese Cultural Center of Hawaiʻi and its Hawaiʻi Confinement Sites Committee to discover, preserve, and educate the public about Hawaiʻi’s internment story.
  • “Hell Valley: Uncovering a Prison Camp in Paradise” by Jeff Burton, Mary Farrell, Lisa Kaneko, Linda Maldonato, and Kelly Altenhofen uncovers facts and insights about the internment experience by examining the physical evidence of the camp’s operations during wartime Hawaiʻi.
  • “Neither Aliens nor Enemies: The Hearings of ‘German’ and ‘Italian’ Internees in Wartime Hawai‘i” by Alan Rosenfeld identifies people from a variety of ethnic backgrounds interned at Honouliuli during World War II and how these individuals were apprehended through J. Edgar Hoover’s Alien Enemy Control program.
  • “Honouliuli’s POWs: Making Connections, Generating Changes” by Suzanne Falgout explains the varying conditions of imprisonment of the different POW groups that depended on their ethnicity, reputation, wartime political status and other factors.
  • “Transnational Identities, Communities, and the Experi­ences of Okinawan Internees and Prisoners of War” by Joyce Chinen investigates the reasons why three Okinawan subgroups were imprisoned and how the local Okinawan community in Hawaiʻi responded to them.
  • “Reviving the Lotus: Japanese Buddhism and World War II Internment” by Linda Nishigaya and Ernest Oshiro uses rational choice theory to clarify some of the difficult individual and group decisions made by Buddhist priests and their leadership to protect the future of Buddhism and its followers in Hawaiʻi and the U.S. mainland during World War II.
  • “From Priestesses and Disciples to Witches and Traitors: Internment of Japanese Women at Honouliuli and Narratives of ʻMadwomen’” by Amy Nishimura reveals the unjust treatment of two Japanese American priestesses imprisoned in Honouliuli.
  • “The Effect of Internment on Children and Families: Honouliuli and Manzanar” by Susan Matoba Adler discusses the weakening of the nuclear family unit in Honouliuli and Manzanar and how the traditional roles of women changed during the period of displacement and political unrest in World War II.
  • “Psychic Wounds from the Past: Investigating Intergenerational Trauma in the Families of Japanese Americans Interned in the Honouliuli Internment and POW Camp” by Garyn Tsuru examines the intergenerational effects of trauma on three families of Honouliuli internees. 

Breaking the Silence retails for $20 and is now available for purchase at the UH West Oʻahu Bookstore and via the University of Hawaiʻi Press website. For more information, view a video on Breaking the Silence featuring an interview with UH West Oʻahu Anthropology Professor Dr. Suzanne Falgout at

UH West O‘ahu became a four-year, regional comprehensive university when it served its first class of freshmen in fall 2007. The University offers quality education, small classes and personalized attention at convenient locations. UH West O‘ahu serves approximately 2,400 students at its brand new, state-of-the-art campus that opened in the City of Kapolei in 2012. For more information, visit,, or call (808) 689-2800 or toll-free (866) 299-8656.