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Utah Travel Headlines

Thursday, April 05, 2007

Topaz WWII Internment Camp Designated National Historic Landmark

A desolate field in southern Utah has been designated a National Historic Landmark, marking the spot where some 8,100 Japanese-Americans were forcibly interned during World War II.

The people were not charged with any crime, not tried in any court, but were held behind barbed wire fences and guarded by armed soldiers. At the time, Topaz was one of the largest communities in Utah, with all of those people packed into an area of only about one square mile.

The site is located west of Delta, in the Great Basin Desert. The Topaz Museum has been established to preserve its history. An educational “pilgrimage” to the site will be held on June 30, 2007. Here's more info about that event.

The information below was taken from Deseret Morning News and Salt Lake Tribune newspaper articles about the new designation. This website has a map and other info about the site.

“The guard towers, armed soldiers watching residents, barracks, mess halls and shops are gone. But among the desert brush are many remnants, such as concrete building foundations, broken crockery, rocks used to outline small gardens and wooden signs designating blocks of barracks.

“A flagpole and monuments just outside the camp's boundary help tell the story of Topaz. Visitors are allowed to drive the roads through camp, but are asked not to pick up any of the pieces of broken glass or other relics.

“The camp, now mainly a windswept field, was used during the war to jail Japanese-Americans and recent immigrants as racial fears increased; nine other camps also held those of Japanese descent during the war and five of those have earned a similar historic designation.

"Most of the residents of Topaz were from northern California, especially the San Francisco Bay area," says the department's release. "More professional artists were confined at Topaz than at any other camp."

“To Grace Oshita, who was dragged from her San Francisco home at 17 and spent three years at the rural Utah camp, the recognition as a national landmark is an important distinction she hopes will help future generations recall the infamous policy. "A mistake like that if you know about it, it might not happen again," says Oshita, now 82 and living in Salt Lake City.

"But so many don't know what we went through."


  • At 10:43 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said…

    When I first learned about the internment camps I was shocked. I was shocked that a country that was built on the words all men are created equal could have been so naive as to destroy 120,000 lives over just the fact that they look different and spoke a different language. Because in truth that is what they did they hurt 120,000 people to their cores, sadistically destroyed all they had worked hard for because they were racist and conceited and arrogant. They took those peoples, those Americans lives away because they just didn’t like the fact that they were better at certain things like farming in harsh soil than they were. It was a cruel and uncalled for punishment when no crime was committed. I'm only 14 and even I know that legaly and moraly they were wrong.


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