The Tragedy of War: Japanese American Internment


“I was born here, and I had the Bill of Rights that should have backed me up. . . . How can they do that to an American citizen?”– Robert Kashigawa

During World War II 120,000 ethnic Japanese on the west coast, two-thirds of them American citizens, were forced into a series of camps to live under armed guard. Japanese-American confinement was authorized by President Franklin D. Roosevelt and supported by Congress and the Supreme Court. Authorities feared that Japanese residents were disloyal and might aid in a Japanese invasion of the United States. Japanese Americans contested these charges throughout the war and later sought formal redress.

In 1983, a bipartisan congressional committee concluded that confinement was based on war hysteria, failure of government and military leadership, and racism against those of Japanese ancestry. "The Tragedy of War" revisits the injustice of Japanese-American confinement by telling their stories and asking a question that resonates today: At what point should the rights of citizens be limited or denied to ensure our nation is secure?

Please email us to inquire about availability of this traveling exhibit for your organization.

  • Teacher's Guide

    This guide helps educate students about the history of this important period and asks students to consider a question that resonates today: At what point should the rights of citizens be limited or denied to ensure our nation is secure

  • Self Guide

    Download, print, and distribute this self-guide to allow your students to explore and think critically about the exhibit at their own pace. Students may also work through the self guide in pairs.

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