The incarceration of Japanese Americans from 1942 to 1946 remains a significant part of World War II history, as President Franklin D. Roosevelt’s Executive Order 9066 notoriously eliminated the constitutional rights of people of Japanese ancestry while simultaneously portraying them as the foreign enemy.
Approximately 120,000 Japanese, over two-thirds of whom were U.S. citizens, were forced to leave their homes and move into a designated one of 10 camps that were established along the West Coast by the War Relocation Authority (WRA). The most controversial camp was the Tule Lake Relocation Center, which was later renamed the Tule Lake Segregation Center and turned into a maximum-security prison camp for those labeled as “disloyal” to the government because they did not answer “yes” on questionnaires asking if they would swear their allegiance to the U.S.
World War II lasted six years, ending in September of 1945. Tule Lake Segregation Center closed on March 20, 1946.
NBC Asian America spoke with five Americans who recounted the years of their lives spent behind the camp’s barbed wire, the ways in which their community fought back, and how, years later, they continue to find healing through collective memory.