JAPANESE AMERICAN

WWII INTERNMENT CAMP

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55 West Main, Delta, UT
(435) 864-2514

The internment of Americans of Japanese ancestry during WWII was one of the worst violations of civil rights against citizens in the history of the United States. The government and the US Army, falsely citing “military necessity,” removed 120,000 men, women, and children of Japanese ancestry, about two-thirds were American citizens, from their homes on the West Coast and forced them into ten remote camps controlled by the War Relocation Administration (WRA). There were also other types of detention facilities including male-only camps controlled by the Justice Department. None of the people of Japanese ancestry were ever convicted or even charged with sabotage or espionage, yet were confined, some up to four years, in camps surrounded by barbed wire and armed guards.

Internees could apply for clearance and leave the camps to go east for college or jobs, but the West Coast was off limits until January 1945.

Historical aerial view of Topaz Camp

The WRA Topaz camp, near Delta Utah

The findings of the 1982 Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians found three causes for the injustice “race prejudice, war hysteria and a failure of political leadership.”

After President Ronald Reagan signed the Civil Liberties Act of 1988, President George H.W. Bush issued a formal apology and monetary compensation to all living survivors. The events and causes of this tragic page in history must never be forgotten. If we can understand what occurred and why, we can be more vigilant making certain a similar denial of civil rights will never happen to any other Americans.

This website contains information about one of the ten WRA camps, Topaz, which was located 16 miles northwest of Delta in central Utah, on the lip of the Great Basin. Topaz had a peak population of 8,100 and recorded 11,212 people processed into the camp while it was in operation from September 11, 1942 to October 31, 1945.

The Topaz Museum Board, a non-profit, volunteer organization, owns 634 acres of the one-square mile of the Topaz site. The entire camp was 19,800 acres. The address of the monument at the site is 10750 West 4500 North. It is better to visit the Topaz Museum before traveling to the Topaz site. The Topaz Museum is located at 55 West Main in Delta, Utah. Admission is by donation.

Topaz Museum exterior

Photo: Brian Buroker

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