The invasion of the Philippines came hours after the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on December 7, 1941. Thousands of American civilians living in the Philippines were captured and held in captivity by the Japanese until the end of World War II. As the war progressed, the internees found themselves living a nightmare of steadily deteriorating conditions inside the camps—struggling for food and other necessities of life over a three year period.
Santo Tomas University, in downtown Manila, was converted to an internment camp that held more than 4,000 civilians. Among them was Marie Adams, a Red Cross worker, approximately fifty years old, who was held there from May 1942 until the camp was liberated in February 1945. Throughout her confinement, she worked in the compound’s hospital, adapting to the increasing medical needs of the camp’s population, even as her own physical condition declined. Four months after the camp was liberated, she wrote a report describing the dire conditions in the camp and how she calmly calculated how to ensure the survival of the greatest number of the internees, as well as her own.