From Hawaii to the Holocaust-The Japanese Americans who liberated Dachau.

The Japanese who liberated the Dachau Concentration camps complex..

The soldiers were from the 442nd Infantry Regiment an infantry regiment of the United States Army. The unit is most known as a fighting unit composed almost entirely of second-generation American soldiers of Japanese ancestry aka Nisei.
Although some of them had been in internment camps themselves, after the attack on Pearl Harbor by the Japanese Imperial army, they still volunteered for the US army, and even though many of their family members remained in internment camps these soldiers fought valiantly and were in fact one the most decorated units in the US Army.
The Nisei 522nd Field Artillery Battalion was organized as part of the 442nd Regimental Combat Team; but towards the end of the war, the 522nd became a roving battalion, helping out wherever they were needed.


They had the distinction of liberating survivors of the Dachau concentration camp system, from the Nazis on April 29, 1945.
Here are just some of their testimonies.


Technician Fourth Grade Ichiro Imamura: “I watched as one of the scouts used his carbine to shoot off the chain that held the prison gates shut …. They weren’t dead, as he had first thought. When the gates swung open, we got our first good look at the prisoners. Many of them were Jews. They were wearing striped prison suits and round caps. It was cold and the snow was two feet deep in some places. There were no German guards. The prisoners struggled to their feet …. They shuffled weakly out of the compound. They were like skeletons – all skin and bones ….”


Scouts from the 522nd were among the first Allied troops to release prisoners from the Kaufering IV Hurlach satellite camp, one of nearly 170 such camps, where more than 3,000 prisoners were held.


Joseph Ichiuji testimonial: “As we came around the way, there were a lot of Jewish inmates coming out of the camp, and I heard that the gate was opened by our advanced scouts. They took a rifle and shot it. I think it was a fellow from Hawaii that did that. I think it was a Captain Taylor, Company B was one of them, but another person from Hawaii, he passed away. They opened the gate and all these German, I mean, Jewish victims were coming out of the camp”


Minoru Tsubota testimonial: “Then, when we finally opened the Dachau camp, got in, oh those people were so afraid of us, I guess. You could see the fear in their face. But eventually, they realized that we were there to liberate them and help them”
Minoru Tsubota testimonial: “They were all just skin and bones, sunken eyes. I think they were more dead than they were alive because they hadn’t eaten so much because, I think, just before we got there the S.S. people had all pulled back up and they were gone. But, we went there, and outside of the camps there were a lot of railroad cars there that had bodies in them. I had the opportunity to go into the camp there, but you could smell the stench. The people were dead and piled up in the buildings, and it was just unbelievable that the Germans could do that to the Jewish people. I really didn’t think it was possible at all actually”

Sources

https://resourceguide.densho.org/From%20Hawaii%20to%20the%20Holocaust:%20A%20Shared%20Moment%20in%20History%20(film)/

https://www.worldcat.org/title/from-hawaii-to-the-holocaust-a-shared-moment-in-history/oclc/31954150

https://www.timesofisrael.com/these-us-soldiers-liberated-dachau-while-their-own-families-were-locked-up-back-home/

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Inside Manzanar concentration camp.

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Manzanar is most widely known as the site of one of ten American concentration camps where over 110,000 Japanese Americans were incarcerated during World War II from December 1942 to 1945. Located at the foot of the Sierra Nevada in California’s Owens Valley between the towns of Lone Pine to the south and Independence to the north, it is approximately 230 miles (370 km) north of Los Angeles. Manzanar (which means “apple orchard” in Spanish) was identified by the United States National Park Service as the best-preserved of the former camp sites, and is now the Manzanar National Historic Site, which preserves and interprets the legacy of Japanese American incarceration in the United States.
Although it was called an internment camp or relocation, technically it was a concentration camp. Albeit not comparable to the camps built by the European Fascist regimes.
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The attack on Pearl Harbor fueled mass paranoia in the United States, paranoia that led to the development of domestic concentration camps not long before the U.S. would take part in liberating similar camps abroad.

Over the course of just a few years, the U.S. federal government forced 120,000 people of Japanese descent into these camps in an attempt to quarantine and surveil them — and it took decades before these victims saw any form of redress.

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In early 1942, President Roosevelt signed an executive order that legalized the creation and use of these camps.

Executive Order 9066

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Evacuation orders were subsequently distributed to people along the West Coast, often giving Japanese-American families less than a week to gather their things, leave their homes, and be forcibly relocated. With no information on where they were going or how long they would be away, people were forced to sell or abandon their homes and businesses.

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Preschoolers  children on the way to their barrack homes from morning class.

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Barracks under construction at Poston. Barrack construction and materials were the same at all ten camps, including Manzanar. Poston, Arizona May 5, 1942

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Typical interior scene in a Manzanar barrack apartment. Note the cloth partition separating one apartment from another, lending a small amount of privacy. June 30, 1942

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Bunk space at Manzanar.

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A camp mess hall.

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Members of the Mochida family awaiting evacuation bus. Identification tags are used to aid in keeping the family unit intact during all phases of evacuation. Mochida operated a nursery and five greenhouses on a two-acre site in Eden Township. He raised snapdragons and sweet peas. They may have been deported to another camp, but what is striking her is that they were tagged.

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Replica of an historic watch tower at the Manzanar National Historic Site, built in 2005. Eight watchtowers, equipped with searchlights and machine guns pointed inward at the incarcerees, were positioned around the perimeter of the camp. April 27, 2007

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Of course in retrospect it is easy for anyone to judge. I am not saying that the US government did the right thing, because they didn’t , but if I had been put in that situation would I have reacted differently? I just don’t know.

The Children of WWII-Part 4

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A child is born with no state of mind,blind to the ways of mankind.

During WWII,as in any other war, all the children were victims,without exception.Of course the degree and severity on how they were victims had a significant difference. Some lost their lives,while others lost their innocence. Many of those who lost their innocence had to live with the emotional scars for the rest of their lives, for they had been forced to do things no child should ever have to do.

The only ‘crime they committed was being born at the wrong time,in the wrong place and sometimes to the wrong parents.

The picture above is of a young boy in Germany trying to sell his Father’s iron cross in 1945.

Below are pictures of some the Children of WWII, some of these images may be distressing but I feel it is important to show them.

A child blinded by the atomic bomb in Hiroshima. 1945.

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A child’s gas mask during WWII

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The internment of Japanese-Americans into camps during World War II was one of the most flagrant violations of civil liberties in American history. According to the census of 1940, 127,000 persons of Japanese ancestry lived in the United States, the majority on the West Coast.

A child looks at a soldier as he assembles for evacuation with his family.

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First graders at a public school in San Francisco pledge allegiance to the flag before evacuations are ordered.

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A mother and daughter assemble for relocation at a Los Angeles train station.

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On 2 October 1940, Ludwig Fischer, Governor of the Warsaw District in the occupied General Government of Poland, signed the order to officially create a Jewish district (ghetto) in Warsaw. It was to become the largest ghetto in Nazi-occupied Europe. All Jewish people in Warsaw had to relocate to the area of the ghetto by 15 November 1940.

A young boy selling a handful of sweets from a chair in the street.

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Two emaciated children, one of them asleep or unconscious, begging on the street of the ghetto.

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Gas masks for babies tested at an English hospital, 1940

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Mothers outfitting their children with “baby helmets”.

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A Japanese boy standing at attention after having brought his dead younger brother to a cremation pyre, 1945

A Japanese boy standing at attention after having brought his dead younger brother to a cremation pyre, 1945

Excuse me I am Chinese,not Japanese!

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World War II brought momentous change to America’s Chinese community. For decades, Chinese were vilified in America, especially in California, the center of the U.S.’s anti-Chinese feelings. The Chinese had initially come to California for the Gold Rush and later the building of the Transcontinental Railroad, but public sentiment quickly turned against them. Competition for jobs and a depression in the 1870s all led to a racist backlash against Chinese. Eventually Chinese immigration was ended with the 1882 Chinese Exclusion Act. The Chinese in America found themselves a hated minority segregated in Chinatowns. The attack on Pearl Harbor on Dec. 7, 1941 changed all of that.

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After Pearl Harbor perceptions of China and Chinese Americans were suddenly transformed. China went from being known as the “sick man of Asia” to a vital ally in the United States’ war against the Japanese. Likewise, Chinese went from the “heathen Chinese” to friends. In 1943 a congressman said if not for December 7, America might have never known how good Chinese Americans were.

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Motivated by fear and indignation, Chinese Americans also tried to distinguish themselves as much as possible from the Japanese and “prove their undivided loyalty to the American war effort”. Mere days after Pearl Harbor, the Chinese consulate in San Francisco started issuing identification cards, and Chinese Americans began wearing buttons and badges with phrases like “I am Chinese” on them. Hoping to prove their loyalty to the United States beyond any doubt, Chinese periodicals also adopted the inflammatory anti-Japanese rhetoric and racial epithets used by the mainstream press.

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Although there was some sentiment of pan-Asian solidarity, it was definitely not the norm. Chinese Americans, fueled by anger at Japanese aggression in their home country, their American patriotism, and their desire to be seen as American patriots, were, consciously or not, complicit in the persecution of their Japanese neighbors.

The internment of the Japanese was more or less ignored by the Chinese community, with the exception of a few individuals. In fact, Chinese periodicals also participated in spreading the belief that Japanese Americans were guilty of treason or aiding Japan .
Japanese internment actually presented an opportunity for economic and social advancement to the Chinese. Chinese merchants moved into formerly Japanese-owned businesses. And when the Japanese were removed from their farm jobs, the United States Employment Service issued a call for Chinese Americans to replace them.

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World War II was an opportunity for the Chinese to gain economic and social standing in mainstream American society; however, the shift in white America’s perceptions of the Chinese Americans must also be remembered as a consequence of racist attitudes directed towards the Japanese Americans and the ensuing internment of a whole ethnicity. Tides quickly shifted after World War II, when the United States declared another war, this time on communism. Power, given rather suddenly to the Chinese during the war, was just as quickly taken away afterwards.

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