Central Utah Relocation Center (Topaz Internment Camp) has been designated a National Historic Landmark.
On February 19, 1942, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed Executive Order 9066. Without any judicial hearings and due process of law, more than 120,000 persons of Japanese ancestry were forcibly uprooted from their homes and taken under armed guard for relocation and detention in a system of assembly centers and internment camps.
Over 8,100 Japanese Americans were confined here at Topaz, including Fred Korematsu and Mitsuye Endo, whose involvement in Landmark U.S. Supreme Court cases challenged the constitutionality of the exclusion and relocation. In December 1944 the court held that “admittedly loyal” citizens could not be deprived of their liberty and held in relocation centers.
This site possesses National significance in illustrating the history of the United States of America.
Over 120,000 Japanese-Americans, two thirds of whom are U.S. Citizens, are uprooted from their west coast homes and incarcerated by their own government. It is 1942, wartime hysteria is at a peak. They are imprisoned in ten inland concentration camps where they remain behind barbed wire, under suspicion and armed guards for up to 3 1/2 years. Topaz is one of the ten camps.
Without hearings or trials, this act of injustice is based solely on the color of their skin and the country of their origin. America’s fear and distrust of these citizens – precipitated by Japan’s attack upon Pearl Harbor – is placated.
Lost within this rush to judgement is the denial of constitutional rights, major losses of personal property and the labelling of its own citizens as enemy. Ironically, through this mass incarceration is spearheaded by thoughts of disloyalty, not a single case of espionage against the U.S. is ever discovered.
Indeed, the 442nd RCT and 100th Battalion, composed entirely of young Japanese–American boys (many of whom volunteered from internment camps), suffer major war casualties and go on to become the U.S. Army’s most highly decorated combat unit in its history.
Topaz is closed in October of 1945. The memory of Topaz remains a tribute to a people whose faith and loyalty were steadfast – while America’s had faltered.