Battle of Los Angeles


Ironic name given a false alarm in Los Angeles in the early morning of February 25, 1942. A warning by the army that enemy planes had been seen approaching and the sighting of what was later thought to be a weather balloon sent Los Angeles into a panic at 2:25 am, with anti-aircraft guns firing into the night, searchlights sweeping the skies, and a massive traffic jam forming. No enemy attackers ever materialized. Though a false alarm, the "Battle of Los Angeles"—and the broad press it received—contributed to the fear and hysteria that led to widespread public support for the mass forced removal of Japanese Americans from the area. The incident was dramatized in the popular 1979 film 1941, directed by Steven Spielberg.

Authored by Brian Niiya, Densho

For More Information

Girdner, Audrie, and Anne Loftis. The Great Betrayal: The Evacuation of the Japanese-Americans during World War II. Toronto: Macmillan, 1969.

Verge, Arthur C. "The Impact of the Second World War on Los Angeles." Pacific Historical Review 63.3 (Aug. 1994): 289–314.