[House Hearing, 111 Congress]
[From the U.S. Government Publishing Office]
TREATMENT OF LATIN AMERICANS OF JAPANESE DESCENT, EUROPEAN AMERICANS,
AND JEWISH REFUGEES DURING WORLD WAR II
SUBCOMMITTEE ON IMMIGRATION,
CITIZENSHIP, REFUGEES, BORDER SECURITY,
AND INTERNATIONAL LAW
COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
HOUSE OF REPRESENTATIVES
ONE HUNDRED ELEVENTH CONGRESS
MARCH 19, 2009
Serial No. 111-13
Printed for the use of the Committee on the Judiciary
Available via the World Wide Web: http://judiciary.house.gov
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COMMITTEE ON THE JUDICIARY
JOHN CONYERS, Jr., Michigan, Chairman
HOWARD L. BERMAN, California LAMAR SMITH, Texas
RICK BOUCHER, Virginia F. JAMES SENSENBRENNER, Jr.,
JERROLD NADLER, New York Wisconsin
ROBERT C. ``BOBBY'' SCOTT, Virginia HOWARD COBLE, North Carolina
MELVIN L. WATT, North Carolina ELTON GALLEGLY, California
ZOE LOFGREN, California BOB GOODLATTE, Virginia
SHEILA JACKSON LEE, Texas DANIEL E. LUNGREN, California
MAXINE WATERS, California DARRELL E. ISSA, California
WILLIAM D. DELAHUNT, Massachusetts J. RANDY FORBES, Virginia
ROBERT WEXLER, Florida STEVE KING, Iowa
STEVE COHEN, Tennessee TRENT FRANKS, Arizona
HENRY C. ``HANK'' JOHNSON, Jr., LOUIE GOHMERT, Texas
Georgia JIM JORDAN, Ohio
PEDRO PIERLUISI, Puerto Rico TED POE, Texas
LUIS V. GUTIERREZ, Illinois JASON CHAFFETZ, Utah
BRAD SHERMAN, California TOM ROONEY, Florida
TAMMY BALDWIN, Wisconsin GREGG HARPER, Mississippi
CHARLES A. GONZALEZ, Texas
ANTHONY D. WEINER, New York
ADAM B. SCHIFF, California
LINDA T. SANCHEZ, California
DEBBIE WASSERMAN SCHULTZ, Florida
DANIEL MAFFEI, New York
Perry Apelbaum, Majority Staff Director and Chief Counsel
Sean McLaughlin, Minority Chief of Staff and General Counsel
Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees,
Border Security, and International Law
ZOE LOFGREN, California, Chairwoman
HOWARD L. BERMAN, California STEVE KING, Iowa
SHEILA JACKSON LEE, Texas GREGG HARPER, Mississippi
MAXINE WATERS, California ELTON GALLEGLY, California
PEDRO PIERLUISI, Puerto Rico DANIEL E. LUNGREN, California
LUIS V. GUTIERREZ, Illinois TED POE, Texas
LINDA T. SANCHEZ, California JASON CHAFFETZ, Utah
ANTHONY D. WEINER, New York
CHARLES A. GONZALEZ, Texas
WILLIAM D. DELAHUNT, Massachusetts
Ur Mendoza Jaddou, Chief Counsel
George Fishman, Minority Counsel
C O N T E N T S
MARCH 19, 2009
The Honorable Zoe Lofgren, a Representative in Congress from the
State of California, and Chairwoman, Subcommittee on
Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and
International Law.............................................. 1
The Honorable Steve King, a Representative in Congress from the
State of Iowa, and Ranking Member, Subcommittee on Immigration,
Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International Law.. 4
Mr. Daniel M. Masterson, Professor of Latin American History,
U.S. Naval Academy
Oral Testimony................................................. 6
Prepared Statement............................................. 8
Ms. Grace Shimizu, Director, Japanese Peruvian Oral History
Oral Testimony................................................. 11
Prepared Statement............................................. 12
Ms. Libia Yamamoto, former Japanese of Latin American Descent
Oral Testimony................................................. 14
Prepared Statement............................................. 16
Mr. John Christgau, author of ``Enemies: World War II Alien
Oral Testimony................................................. 25
Prepared Statement............................................. 27
Ms. Karen E. Ebel, President, German American Internee Coalition
Oral Testimony................................................. 31
Prepared Statement............................................. 33
Ms. Heidi Gurcke Donald, Board and Founding Member, German
American Internee Coalition
Oral Testimony................................................. 40
Prepared Statement............................................. 42
Mr. John Fonte, Director of Center for American Common Culture
and Senior Fellow, Hudson Instutute
Oral Testimony................................................. 48
Prepared Statement............................................. 49
Mr. David A. Harris, Executive Director, American Jewish
Oral Testimony................................................. 62
Prepared Statement............................................. 64
Mr. Leo Bretholz, author of ``Leap Into Darkness''
Oral Testimony................................................. 67
Prepared Statement............................................. 68
Mr. Valery Bazarov, Director of Location and Family History
Service, Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society (HIAS)
Oral Testimony................................................. 70
Prepared Statement............................................. 72
Mr. Michael Horowitz, Senior Fellow, Hudson Institute
Oral Testimony................................................. 81
Prepared Statement............................................. 83
Material Submitted for the Hearing Record
Prepared Statement of the Honorable Zoe Lofgren, a Representative
in Congress from the State of California, and Chairwoman,
Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border
Security, and International Law................................ 93
Prepared Statement of the Honorable John Conyers, Jr., a
Representative in Congress from the State of Michigan, and
Chairman, Committee on the Judiciary........................... 93
Prepared Statement of the Honorable Sheila Jackson Lee, a
Representative in Congress from the State of Texas, and Member,
Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border
Security, and International Law................................ 94
Additional Material submitted for the Record..................... 95
OFFICIAL HEARING RECORD
Material Submitted for the Hearing Record but not Reprinted
``Last Man Out: Glenn McDole, USMC, Survivor of the Palawan Massacre in
World War II,'' by Bob Wilbanks
``The Misplaced American,'' based on the memoirs of Elsie, Karl, Henry,
Marta, Lisbeth, Armin and Ursula Vogt, by Ursula Vogt Potter
``We Were Not the Enemy: Remembering the United States' Latin-American
Civilian Interment Program of World War II,'' by Heidi Gurcke
``From the Heart's Closet,'' A Young Girl's World War II Story, by
Anneliese ``Lee'' Krauter
``Magic: The untold story of U.S. Intelligence and evacuation of
Japanese Residents from the West Coast During WWII,'' by David D.
``Enemies: World War II Alien Internment,'' by John Christgau
TREATMENT OF LATIN AMERICANS OF JAPANESE DESCENT, EUROPEAN AMERICANS,
AND JEWISH REFUGEES DURING WORLD WAR II
THURSDAY, MARCH 19, 2009
House of Representatives,
Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship,
Refugees, Border Security, and International Law
Committee on the Judiciary,
The Subcommittee met, pursuant to notice, at 12:15 p.m., in
room 2237, Rayburn House Office Building, the Honorable Zoe
Lofgren (Chairwoman of the Subcommittee) presiding.
Present: Representatives Lofgren, Sanchez, Waters, King,
Also present: Representative Wexler.
Staff present: Ur Mendoza Jaddou, Majority Subcommittee
Chief Counsel; Andres Jimenez, Majority Professional Staff
Member; and Andrea Loving, Minority Counsel.
Ms. Lofgren. The Subcommittee will come to order. This is a
hearing not on any bills, but on the issues of a part of our
U.S. history that many of us are unfamiliar with. Much is known
about the internment of 120,000 Japanese Americans during World
War II, partly due to the enactment of the Commission on
Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians Act in 1980, the
commission's report in 1983, and the subsequent Civil Liberties
Act of 1988, that provided an official apology.
What is not as well-known to today is the mistreatment of
thousands of Japanese and European Latin Americans, European
Americans, and Jewish refugees prior to and during World War
II. The 1980 commission did detail the mistreatment of
Japanese, German, and Italian Latin Americans, but only in the
appendix of the report. It also included one chapter, 13, on
the mistreatment of German and Italian Americans in the United
Further, no recommendations were made on these populations;
no apology, as was done for the Japanese internment, pursuant
of the Civil Liberties Act. And I think it is time for this
history to be fully heard and considered.
As I mentioned, although there are two bills that have been
referred to the Subcommittee concerning the issues we are
examining today, this is not a legislative hearing. Before we
consider specific legislation on an issue that many are very
unfamiliar with, it is important that we learn the facts and
listen to the history to determine whether legislation is the
appropriate response. If it is, we will then turn to those
referred to this Subcommittee and examine whether the specific
language in the bills is appropriate or whether amendments
would be needed.
I welcome comments in the bills and will consider them if
we decide to move legislation in the area. Today, however, I am
particularly interested in learning about the issue and whether
another commission is indeed necessary to review history that
has not been told in an adequate way.
Before recognizing the Ranking Member, I would like to ask
unanimous consent to submit to the record a statement from our
colleague, Congressman Becerra, and without objection that is
made a part of the record and I would also like to note the
presence of our colleague and my fellow Santa Fean, Congressman
Mike Honda, who is here with us.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Becerra follows:]
Prepared Statement of the Honorable Xavier Becerra, a Representative in
Congress from the State of California
Chairwoman Lofgren, Ranking Member King and distinguished members
of the subcommittee, thank you for scheduling today's hearing. I
appreciate your efforts to examine the United States government's
treatment of Latin Americans of Japanese descent during World War II,
an issue and a community whose story been overlooked far too long.
To ensure that the United States properly examined this issue, I
introduced H.R. 42, the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment
of Latin Americans of Japanese Descent Act. This legislation
establishes a commission to investigate and review the facts relating
to the abduction and internment of Japanese Latin Americans during
World War II by the U.S. government.
Before I proceed any further, I would like to thank Grace Shimizu,
Libia Yamamoto, and Professor Daniel Masterson who will be testifying
in the first panel of today's hearing. Their extensive knowledge and
poignant stories of the Japanese Latin American experience will provide
valuable insight and a deeper understanding of the tragedy this
community endured during World War II.
I would also like to recognize and honor the wonderful men and
women of the Campaign for Justice and the Japanese American Citizens
League for their constructive advice and indispensable support. These
groups can be an invaluable resource to this committee as you continue
to study this issue.
Finally, I want to thank Senator Daniel K. Inouye of Hawaii, a
decorated World War II hero and an exemplary public servant who has
been a tireless advocate in moving the Japanese Latin American issue
forward in the Senate.
Nearly 70 years ago, nations of the world engaged in a battle that
determined if the principles of democracy would be the predominant form
of government around the world. When the Empire of Japan attacked Pearl
Harbor in 1941, the United States entered World War II and led the
battle to topple tyranny and restore liberty. However, in the course of
this unrelenting and necessary fight, the government took extraordinary
actions under the mantle of domestic security and sent 120,000 Japanese
Americans to internment camps across the country. Even as U.S.
servicemen fought in the Pacific to liberate Allied soldiers from
Imperial Japanese prisons, our own government held thousands of people
in camps across the country solely on the basis of their ethnic
It took another thirty five years for America to come to terms with
and acknowledge its egregious actions during the war. In 1980, Congress
established the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of
Civilians and charged it with the responsibility of reviewing the facts
and circumstances surrounding the internment of people of Japanese
descent and to recommend appropriate remedies. After twenty days of
hearings, testimony from 750 witnesses, and review of thousands of
government and military records, the Commission concluded that
internment of Japanese Americans was the result of racism and wartime
hysteria. Their findings vindicated these loyal Americans and President
Ronald Reagan's signing of the Civil Liberties Act of 1988 brought
closure for thousands who suffered unspeakable indignities and
Unfortunately, the Commission did not fully address our
government's treatment of Japanese Latin Americans. As a result,
Japanese Latin Americans who were unjustly abducted and interned by the
U.S. continue to live with the painful memories of those lost years.
Many remain hopeful they will one day be able to have their important
accounts included in the official narrative.
Art Shibayama is one of the few remaining living Japanese Latin
American internee and he anxiously waits every day to share his
experiences before time runs out. Art served this nation as a corporal
in the U.S. Army from 1952 to 1954. Like many veterans, he was not born
in the U.S. He was born in Lima, Peru to Isseis, first generation
immigrants from Fukuoka, Japan. Despite uncertainty and war ravaging
abroad, Art and his family had an idyllic life. His parents had a
thriving textile business and he spent leisure time with his two
brothers, three sisters and grandparents. That life ended when the
entire Shibayama family was detained and transported to an internment
facility in Crystal City, Texas. In addition to losing all their
material belongings, Art's grandparents were forcibly sent to Japan
shortly after the family's arrival in the United States. Art and his
family never saw them again. After two and a half years in the
internment camp, he and his family were released and they moved to
Seabrook Farms, New Jersey and then to Chicago in 1949. After receiving
his citizenship in 1970, Art moved to California where he continues to
reside today. Art was unable to travel to participate in today's
hearing, but I want him to know that he is in our thoughts at this
Art's experience is not uncommon. There are hundreds of other
internees from Latin America who can tell similar stories about the
fear endured while being led out of their home at gunpoint, about the
trauma of a 21-day boat ride from Peru to New Orleans and of the
humiliation of being forced to strip naked upon arrival in the U.S. and
sprayed with insecticides. Others can share vivid accounts of living in
the squalor of an internment camp barrack, the emotions of being a
``stateless'' person facing language barriers and having to traverse
the federal bureaucracy to obtain legal resident status, and about the
heartbreak of being permanently separated from a family member. This is
the reality thousands of Japanese Latin Americans faced.
In fact, approximately 2,300 men, women, and children of Japanese
ancestry were abducted from 13 Latin American countries and deported to
internment camps in the United States during the World War II. The U.S.
government orchestrated and financed this operation with the intention
of using these individuals as hostages in exchange for Americans held
by Japan. Over 800 people, some who were second or third generation
Latin Americans and had no familial or linguistic ties to Japan, were
used in two prisoner of war exchanges. This was the ultimate fate of
Art Shibayama's grandparents. Some of the remaining detainees were held
in U.S. internment camps until after the end of the war.
The virtue of our nation lies in its ability to reconcile the past
and come to terms with its mistakes. There is no better way to do so
than to complete the historical narrative on this part of our nation's
history. In the appendix of the Commission's report to Congress,
Personal Justice Denied, the federal government's role in kidnapping
and detaining Japanese Latin Americans was recognized. However, the
Commission acknowledged it had not researched documents that existed in
distant archives or received official testimony from government
officials or internees. Surviving internees must be given the
opportunity to testify so they may have the closure and justice they
H.R. 42, the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of
Latin Americans of Japanese Descent Act, would establish an official
record of this tragic incident in American history. Nine commissioners
appointed by the President, the Speaker of the House of
Representatives, and the President pro tempore of the Senate would be
charged with holding public hearings and submitting a report of their
findings and recommending appropriate actions to Congress.
Madam Chair, thank you for examining the issue of our government's
treatment of Japanese Latin Americans during World War II. With the
advanced age of many of the remaining internees, there is an urgent
need to act expeditiously. I urge this committee to promptly consider
and report H.R. 42 so that surviving Japanese Latin American internees
can finally have their experiences registered in the official account
of our nation's history. I look forward to working with you and my
colleagues to pass the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment
of Latin Americans of Japanese Descent Act.
Ms. Lofgren. Mr. King, you are recognized.
Mr. King. Thank you, Madam Chair. I want to thank the
witnesses in advance.
Congress and the Executive Branch have addressed the issue
of World War II internment many times. In fact, a quick perusal
of the issue finds no fewer than four pieces of legislation
passed by Congress and enacted into law. Two sets of amendments
made to some made some of the point that legislation at least
two commissions established to report on the issue, at least
four occasions when the Federal Government financially
compensated individuals for their relocation, two apologies
from the office of the President of the United States, and at
least $2 billion spent investigating, researching, and
providing compensation to individuals affected by these
There is no shortage of the Federal Government's
acknowledgement of the World War II relocation policies. What I
might point out, however, is that I could find relatively
little mention of the country's predicament at the time of the
enactment of these policies, and then-President Franklin
Roosevelt's issuing of Executive Order 9066, which was on
February 19 of 1942.
The context is that the United States was being attacked in
an all-out global war that we did not seek. U.S. citizens were
being killed. The future of civilized society lay in the
balance, and the President has a responsibility to protect the
population from future attack and from the theft of military
and intelligence secrets and acts of sabotage by our enemies.
There have been a few writings on the issue. For instance,
David Lowman, former special assistant to the director of the
National Security Agency, wrote about espionage tactics by the
Japanese that involved soliciting Japanese Americans to spy on
U.S. institutions. I would have liked to have invited Mr.
Lowman to testify today, but he is deceased; however, he did
testify in front of the House Judiciary Committee about this
same topic in June 1984.
I also looked at the report of the Commission of Wartime
Relocation and Internment of Civilians, thinking it would
surely mention the intelligence gathered by the Roosevelt
administration as a reason for the enacting of the relocation
policies, but there didn't seem to be any mention of it in that
report either. In fact, Mr. Lowman points out in his book, the
commission concluded, ``The commission concluded that there was
no evidence of espionage by west coast Japanese residents.''
He does go on to note that the commission overlooked the
intelligence on the subject which was charged to--which it was
charged to investigate and that this same intelligence was the
reason Executive Order 9066 was issued by President Roosevelt
in the first place. Such a rewriting of history is indefensible
and does a disservice to good people who had to make tough
decisions in trying times.
Maybe what we need is a commission on useful accounting of
the espionage, sabotage, and pro-Nazi, pro-Hitler agitation
that did take place on our shores before and during World War
II. I understand that there have been some groups of people not
included in the reports previously issued on the topic of
treatment of civilians during World War II. But how many more
times will we be forced to revisit this issue?
To establish a commission to review how U.S. government
treated every person during World War II is ludicrous, yet that
is exactly where we are heading each time this issue is raised.
There is no getting around the fact that the Federal Government
must take appropriate actions during times of war to protect
In fact, our founding fathers recognized, and they
recognized that when they enacted the Alien Enemies Act; that
was in 1798. Not taking necessary action would be abdicating
perhaps the foremost responsibility of the Federal Government:
to protect its population from those who would do us harm.
Let me also discuss, briefly, where I think this is going
and what kind of a pattern that we are in. We held at least one
hearing in the last Congress on slavery reparations. We have
had a President who apologized to an entire continent for
slavery--for America's act in slavery. And I will point out
that when we judge our predecessors by contemporary values, we
always lose something in that contextual analysis.
When a nation is under attack--well, let me just take it
back to slavery. When you have a--I think that we deserve a lot
of credit as a Nation and as a civilization for eradicating
slavery, and yet we are wallowing in a guilt for these
generations for sins that were committed by previous
generations. I think we need to recognize the accurate history
and do so objectively, but I don't think that we can
legitimately atone for those mistakes by rewarding the third
generation of people who perhaps were disenfranchised for a
And I think we have to take this into the context of,
President Roosevelt had intelligence; he acted on that
intelligence, whether or not it was in good faith. We can't
really help the people that had their lives altered by that.
But I would also point out that we are not here talking
about reparations or compensation for the descendents of those
who were killed in World War II, that same war where about
450,000 Americans lost their lives--and in fact, there is a
missing generation there for those children that were never
born because their fathers were killed defending the freedom
that we enjoy. So if we are really serious about compensating
those who have suffered an injustice, it more goes to those who
have had their parents lose their lives in these previous wars.
And I want to add, also, that, you know, this pattern of
finding another victims group and finding a way to reach into
the pocket of the American taxpayer and eventually, through
this process, whether it is at not a formal hearing today, but
eventually we get to this point where there is a request for
reparations and a request for an appropriation. This is the
process, this is the pattern, and I don't think that America
has enough to be guilty about that we ought to be wallowing in
self-guilt here today, under the third and fourth generation,
and that is biblical.
And if I could just conclude my statement, Madam Chair, I
would do so in a sentence, and that is that it has been
reported that about 645,000 slaves were brought into this
country, and I would say that there is also a reference to
about 1.25 million Christian slaves who were also enslaved in
the previous centuries, and I hear no mention of that as well.
So let us get on with our future lives and stop wallowing in
this thing that we would propose upon our ancestors that would
be a request for funding from today's producers.
I thank you, and I yield back.
Ms. Lofgren. The gentleman's time is expired. I am going to
introduce the witnesses and ask unanimous consent that your
full statements be made part of the official record. And we
have time for 5 minutes of oral testimony; I am going to be
strict on the 5 minutes because we have many witnesses today,
and we want to make sure they all have a chance to be heard.
So let me first introduce the first panel. We have
Professor Daniel Masterson, who teaches Latin American history
at the Naval Academy. He has written extensively on militarism,
insurgencies, immigration, race relations. He has a number of
important books to his credit, and we are pleased to have him
as a witness today.
We also have Grace Shimizu, who is the director of the
Japanese Peruvian Oral History Project and the coordinator for
the Campaign for Justice: Redress Now for Japanese Latin
Americans. She is also the project director of a groundbreaking
traveling exhibit, and we are very pleased that she is here all
the way from California to be a witness for us today.
And finally, I would like to introduce Libia Dideko Mauki
Yamamoto. Ms. Yamamoto was born is Chiclayo, Peru, at the age
of seven was interned in the Crystal City Internment Camp in
Texas. After release from camp, she and her family resettled in
California. She is the founding member of the Japanese Peruvian
Oral History Project. She is trilingual, in English, Spanish,
and Japanese, and lectures often about her internment
experiences. And she is a resident of Richmond, California, and
we are grateful to her as well, coming all the way from
We have this little machine, and when the light turns
yellow it means you only have 1 minute left; and when the light
turns red it means your 5 minutes are up and I will ask you to
cede the testimony to the next witness.
If we could begin with you, Professor Masterson?
Could you turn on your microphone?
TESTIMONY OF DANIEL M. MASTERSON, PROFESSOR OF LATIN AMERICAN
HISTORY, U.S. NAVAL ACADEMY
Mr. Masterson. Okay. Thank you all for inviting me and
giving me an opportunity to speak on this issue. I have studied
and written on this for about 20 years, but my books don't
exactly reach bestseller proportions, so I think it needs a
wider audience, to say the least.
I just want to do three things today as quickly as I can:
to talk about the Japanese relocation and internment issue, to
speak about the nature about the Japanese in Latin America, and
also to look at the question of whether or not a commission
should go ahead and address this issue with wider study.
The internment issue, I think, is only known to a small
number of scholars and the participants themselves, despite the
fact that there are a number of books written on this topic. We
obviously had a situation between 1942 and 1945 in Latin
America where the United States felt compelled to, number one--
this was one option--to have the Latin American governments
intern their own Japanese, which they did. This was the case in
Mexico; this was the case in Brazil; this was the case in
Paraguay. Those nations chose not to participate in the
internment and relocation process.
Twenty-two hundred and sixty or so chose--the
representative governments chose to send 2,260 to the United
States in the relocation process, which was primarily designed
not so much for internal security issues, but for a prisoner
exchange to Japan. Ultimately, about 1,400 of these ended up in
Japan in a prisoner exchange, primarily because they entered
the United States as stateless citizens; their passports were
taken from them upon their departure from Peru, in most cases,
where there were about 1,800 Peruvian nationals who were
essentially sent over.
What this does, basically, is establish a precedent for
prisoner exchange, which, in many instances, thefts the
credibility of international law, at this point. Many of these
people were selected not through a systematic process of
identification and counter-espionage activity, but rather
through dragnets in Lima, Peru, for example, where the Lima
police, in most cases, simply selected an individual or someone
who was easily available.
The third secretary of the Peruvian embassy at this point,
a man named John Emerson, looked upon this situation very
carefully from 1943 through 1945 and said it was a very
haphazard process, one in which--it did not involve a
systematic detaining of Latin American Japanese who were
primarily perceived of as a difficult--I should say a
possibility for espionage threats. These people eventually
ended up in war-torn Japan without recourse for the citizenship
status, because Peru would not accept them back when the United
States chose to deport them between 1943 and 1945--actually
Now, were they guilty of espionage? This is a question
which has to be addressed, perhaps in the pursuit of this
commission, but I have looked--and a number of other people
have looked--at Federal Bureau of Investigation files available
at the Franklin Roosevelt Library in New York, and they
concluded, as did John Emerson, that there was no evidence of
any espionage whatsoever within the realm of the Peruvian
Japanese or the Japanese Peruvians during World War II. The FBI
was given responsibility for counter-espionage activities in
Latin America, and they pursued this quite diligently in Peru,
quite diligently in Panama, where the Panamanians in Japan were
interned, and their files are available for further perusal,
which would be, I think, a very good possibility for some
future commission to justify this point.
Who were these Japanese Peruvians? Who were these Japanese
Latin Americans? They came from the southern prefectures of
Japan beginning in 1899; they went to Mexico, where they were
cotton farmers; they went to Mexico and northern Mexico to work
on the railroads; they worked as miners; in Brazil they worked
as coffee pickers. They ended up, in many cases, in Brazil upon
established colonies in the interior, in San Paulo state, and
became some of the most productive agriculturalists in all of
In Peru, they came as sugarcane cutters, where almost
immediately they found the conditions on the sugarcane fields
to be so abhorrent that they fled and ended up in large numbers
in Lima, Peru. About 85 percent of all Japanese Peruvians today
live in Lima. There, they established very profitable
commercial enterprises and, in fact, became the commercial
backbone of many Lima businesses.
Small numbers of these business memcores were basically
just trying to survive, and I think I would be instrumental to
point out one of them. He was the father of Alberto Fujimori,
Ms. Lofgren. Professor, we are going to ask you to wrap up
because your time is expired.
Mr. Masterson. Okay. I am wrapping up.
He was the father of Alberto Fujimori, who later became
president of Peru. He, like many thousands of Japanese
Peruvians, had his property seized during World War II.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Masterson follows:]
Prepared Statement of Daniel M. Masterson
It is well known that the great trauma of World War II caused
untold suffering for tens of millions of people throughout the world.
Nearly forgotten in the context of this enormous tragedy is the fate of
more than two thousand Japanese Latin Americans. Their war time
experience in many ways mirrors that of the 120,000 people of Japanese
heritage in the United States who were interned for most of the
duration of the War in camps throughout the Western United States. But
in important ways these Japanese Latin Americas were even more
vulnerable and their circumstances even more devastating than their
U.S. counterparts. These Japanese residents of eight different Latin
American nations, were arrested often without charges, briefly detained
and then deported to the United States for internment in camps in the
Southwest. Most significantly, before entering the United States these
deportees were compelled to turn over their passports to U.S.
officials. They thus entered the United States as ``illegal aliens'
making them subject to deportation once their internment in the U.S
came to an end. When the vast majority of their former Latin American
nations refused to allow them to return after the War, these detainees
became ``stateless'' and unwilling refugees who were powerless to
prevent their deportation to devastated post war Japan. Over the past
two decades a handful of historians, journalists and activists have
attempted to shed light on the story of these individuals whom one
historian called ``Pawns in a Triangle of Hate.'' This committee
hearing represents a very important effort to further U.S. government
awareness of misguided U.S. policy during the World War II years.
japanese latin americans
Who were these Japanese Latin Americans, why did they emigrate, and
what prompted some Latin American governments to willing cooperate in
their deportation to the U.S. and not others? The first Japanese
emigrants arrived in Mexico and Peru in the late 1890's. Within a
decade thousands more would settle in Brazil, which would become home
to nearly 200,000 Japanese-Brazilians by the beginning of World War II.
These emigrants came mainly from the poorest southern prefectures of
Japan and the Ryukyu islands, mainly Okinawa. Seeking relief from
increasing agrarian and working class unrest, the Japanese government
saw emigration as a ``safety valve'' that might relieve some of the
suffering caused by the nation's rapid modernization during the Meiji
\1\ Taoke Endoh, Exporting Japan: The Politics of Emigration in
Latin America (Urbana: University of Illinois Press, 2009).
In Mexico these Japanese emigrants settled in Baja California and
successfully raised cotton, They also worked in the mines and on the
railroads of the Northern states of Coahuila, Sonora, and Durango. In
Peru, mostly male Japanese emigrants were enlisted as contract laborers
to work in coastal sugar and cotton plantations. Terrible working
conditions on these coastal estates drove many of them to flee and
settle in Lima where they turned to small scale commerce and the
building trades with good success. By World War II, at least 75 per
cent of Peru's Japanese lived in the Lima metropolitan area where they
proved vulnerable to government agents once the deportation process
Brazil received the largest number of Japan emigrants because it
needed laborers for its huge coffee estates and because large tracts of
land were available in its Southern states of Rio de Janeiro and Sao
Paulo. Japan heavily subsidized the establishment of Japanese colonies
in Brazil in the hope that it would become the principal haven for its
overseas Japanese. This policy succeeded as Brazil today has more
people of Japanese descent (1.2 million) than any nation outside of
Most Japanese who migrated to Latin America did so with a sojourner
mentality. That is, they firmly intended to return to Japan after their
hard earned savings allowed them to live comfortably ``near the bones
of their ancestors.'' But this hope was rarely realized. Instead, the
vast majority of the Japanese established tightly knit and comforting
communities within the Latin American nations. Japanese culture
flourished within these communities, Japanese schools taught the
Japanese language and Japanese language newspapers kept the news of
Japan and these communities available to their readers. The vitality of
the Japanese communities cultural bonds was both a great strength, and
a telling weakness. The insularity of the Japanese in Latin America
caused them to be accused of being unwilling to assimilate. Of course,
this same accusation could have been leveled against other ethnic
groups, but it rarely was. In fact, Peru's most prominent Japanese,
Alberto Fujimori took pride in being more Peruvian than Japanese. He
was educated in non Japanese Schools in Peru, France and Milwaukee and
distanced himself from the Japanese community when he ran for president
The 1930's saw Latin America's Japanese face increasing resentment
brought on by their relative economic success in the midst of the
Depression as well as Japan's increasing militarism. Prior to World War
II, for example, Japanese-Brazilian farmers were eight times as
productive as their Brazilian counterparts.\2\ Still, the nations with
the two largest Japanese populations, Brazil and Peru enacted
legislation that effectively ended Japanese emigration to their
countries. Brazil's president Getulio Vargas issued decrees that
severely restricted the Japanese communities' activities. Most
importantly, Japanese-Brazilian schools were closed and the use
Japanese language was prohibited in public. In May 1940, the worst
anti-Japanese riots to occur in the Western Hemisphere flared in the
capital's Japanese neighborhoods and in the agricultural centers of
Chancay and Huaral. Fueled by false rumors Japanese military
activities, two days of nearly unrestrained destruction and looting of
Japanese properties ruined the livelihoods of many Japanese-Peruvians.
Nearly every Japanese-Peruvian business was either completely destroyed
or badly damaged. In Lima police stood by while the rioters wrought
their havoc. The capital's major newspapers choose not to report on the
\2\ Daniel M. Masterson, with Sayaka Funada Classen, The Japanese
in Latin America (Urbana, Illinois: 2003), 131
\3\ Ibid, 156-157.
arrest, deportation and internment:
Washington had plans for the internment of Japanese-Latin Americas
a few months before Pearl Harbor. These plans called for the round up
of Panama small group of four hundred Japanese and relocate them on the
isthmus. The protection of the Canal was indeed the primary reason
given for the interment of Japanese Latin Americans on the west coast
of South America. The other primary reason: the exchange of Japanese-
Latin Americans for United States citizens caught behind Japanese
military lines seems to have been suggested by the Chairman of the
Joint Chiefs of Staff, George Marshall and
Secretary of State Cordell Hull in late 1942. The U.S. citizens in
question numbered 7,000 civilians captured in China, the Philippines,
Guam and Wake Island.\4\ Hull advocated the deportation and internment
of Japanese Latin Americans for the specific
\4\ George Marshall to Commanding General Caribbean Defense
Command, 11 December 1942, National Archives, College Park, Md. Records
of World War II, Army file AG 014.311 as quoted in Thomas Connell,
America's Japanese Hostages: The World War II Plans for a Japanese
Latin America (Westport, CT. 2002), 152, and Connell, Japanese
plans for internment
purposes of exchange. The Secretary of State seemed indifferent to
the fact that many of these potential deportees were second generation
Nisei and had never seen Japan. Hull at one point advocated the removal
of all Japanese from Latin America for security purposes, not seeming
to be aware of the enormous logistical, diplomatic or legal
implications of this policy. Relocating Brazil 200,000 Japanese was
never even a remote policy, even if the that country's leadership had
that intention. Since the Japanese were Brazil's most productive
farmers, that hardly seemed possible. President Franklin Roosevelt even
weighed in on the issue of internment. Commenting on the supposedly
delightful climate of the Galapagos Island, F.D.R. suggested that the
Japanese from the west coast of South America could be interned on one
or more of the island off Ecuador.\5\
\5\ Connell, America's Japanese Hostages, 5
Not all Latin American nations allowed their Japanese residents to
be deported to the United States for reasons of security or possible
exchange. Mexico, seeking to maintain a nationalist and independent
status relocated its Japanese from Baja California and it northern
states to centers in the Federal District in central Mexico. Much of
their property was lost as a result but most were able to rebuild their
lives in Mexico City after the War. Brazil confined its Japanese to
their remote agricultural cooperatives in the states of Sao Paulo and
Rio de Janeiro during the war but did not technically intern them. Very
importantly, families were allowed to remain intact and the property of
the Japanese-Brazilians remained largely intact. After the War, the
large Japanese-Brazilian community thrived.
the internees and their fate
More than 3 of 4 of the more than 2,000 deportees from Latin
American from 1942 to 1945 were from Peru. The government of President
Manuel Prado saw the expulsion of the Japanese from his nation as
benefit to his political popularity. He pursued this process of
deportation with vigor. Additionally, some in Peru wanted to take
advantage of the dilemma of the Japanese-Peruvians for their own
financial benefit. U.S. officials were fully aware of this. One U.S.
intelligence official noted in late 1941 that ``for every Japanese
owner of a hardware or price goods store or barber shop, there are at
least three (Peruvian) candidates (waiting) to take over their
\6\ Office of Strategic Services Memo, 12294, 20 December 1941, RG
226, U.S. National Archives.
How were these Japanese Latin America identified for deportation?
In the case of most Latin American nations, F.B.I. agents assigned to
intelligence work in Latin America worked with the U.S. Embassy and
Latin American governments to create ``Black Lists'' of suspect
Japanese for possible deportation. Since none of the F.B.I. agents in
Peru, for example, spoke or read Japanese, these blacklists were
largely drawn from membership lists of prominent Japanese associations.
Further, when many of these suspects went into hiding or bribed
Peruvian officials, Prado's police in exasperation arrested the
majority of detainees haphazardly to fulfill arrest quotas.
These injustices were compounded when the deportees reached their
debarkation location at New Orleans. Their passports were taken from
them and never returned. They were thus declared illegal enemy aliens
and were subject to deportation when their confinement in the United
States came to an end. Taken from their families, these early internees
were without a family and without a country. A good number of these
detainees were reunited with their families when their wives and
children chose to join them in confinement. The vast majority of these
nearly 2,000 Japanese-Peruvian never returned to Peru. The Peruvian
government refused to readmit all but seventy-nine in a policy that
remained firm through the 1950's. Peru has not issued a formal apology
for its war time deportation, but in the mid 1960's the government of
Fernando Belaunde Terry donated a sector of land in central Lima for
the construction of the Japanese Cultural Center. Of the 2,200 Latin
American deportees only about 15 per cent were able to remain in the
United States. The case of the ``stateless'' internees was taken up by
the lawyer Wayne Collins who successfully argued for their continued
residency in the U.S. The remainder of these unfortunate Japanese Latin
Americans were deported to a Japan that lay in ruins. It was a country
most had never seen and only existed in the images wrought by their
parents or in their schoolbooks. The reality of the destruction and
death they encountered was a great trauma. Nearly unbelievably, some of
these Japanese Latin Americans were ``relocated'' to Hiroshima!
The narrative of these Japanese Latin American during World War II
has been told in books, articles and movies by talented filmmakers. But
it is narrative that is still not widely known. Almost every U.S.
citizens knows the story of the internment of our own 120,000 Japanese
American. Congress needs to encourage the discussion of U.S. policy
toward the Latin American Japanese during World War II. U.S. archivists
have diligently collected and declassified the documentation in
thousands of pages in material in the Special War Problems Division
files of the Department of State. Our full understanding of this
injustice in the past, may help the prevention of this type of policy
in the future.
Ms. Lofgren. Thank you very much, Professor.
We are now going to turn to Ms. Shimizu.
TESTIMONY OF GRACE SHIMIZU, DIRECTOR, JAPANESE PERUVIAN ORAL
HISTORY PROJECT (JPOHP)
Ms. Shimizu. My father was born in 1906 in Hiroshima, Japan
and immigrated to Peru when he was 18 years old to work with
his brother in a family business. During World War II, our
family charcoal business was put on La Lista Negra, the
blacklist of so-called potentially dangerous enemy aliens,
which affected successful businesses and individuals, often
with no connection to the Axis powers, but who were community
leaders like journalists, teachers, business owners, priests,
or officers of prefectural clubs or cultural organizations. My
family members and others on this list were never charged with
a crime; there were no search warrants issued, no hearings
When U.S. transport ships came into the harbor of Callao,
some men on the blacklist went into hiding, my uncle included.
The first time the Peruvian authorities came looking for my
uncle, who headed our family business, they took my cousin
instead. My cousin was interned in the U.S. and used in the
second prisoner exchange.
In 1944, when my father was 38 years old, the authorities
deported him to a U.S. military camp in the Panama Canal Zone
for detention and hard labor, which was in violation of the
Geneva Convention. My father never shared his experience in the
Panama camp, but we do have the statement of another Japanese
Peruvian who recalled being put to work clearing the jungle
around the camp.
One humid day the internees, many of whom were elderly,
were told to dig a pit. He thought he was digging his own
grave. When they were told to fill the pit with buckets of
human waste from the guards' latrines, then the older men were
so tired that they could not run fast enough to please the
guards, they were poked and shoved by guards with bayonets.
My father was detained in the Panama camp for several
months. When the next U.S. transport arrived, the prisoners
included his first wife, his brother, and his brother's wife
and children. They were taken to the U.S. for indefinite
internment at Crystal City, Texas for the purpose of prisoner
exchange. My father's wife died in that camp due to the trauma
of the imprisonment and lack of adequate medical care.
While interned, my father also learned that seven other
members of our family who remained in Peru had been killed, and
circumstances surrounding their murders were never solved.
At the end of the war, my uncle and his family were
deported to Japan and dumped off to find their way to the home
of my grandmother in Hiroshima. My father was released on
parole from camp under the sponsorship of Japanese American
relatives living in northern California. His intention was to
return to his home, business, and surviving relatives in Peru,
but internees were not allowed reentry by the Peruvian
He eventually remarried and started a family with my mother
in Berkeley, California. In the 1950's, with changes in the
immigration laws, he was allowed to change his status from
illegal alien to legal permanent resident. I have come to
understand the significance of my father's wartime experience
through the work of the Japanese Peruvian Oral History Project.
We are learning that our families' wartime experiences were
part of a larger Latin American program whereby the U.S.
government went outside its borders to 13 Latin American
countries and seized 2,264 men, women, and children of Japanese
ancestry, both citizen and immigrant residents of those
country, forcibly deported them to the U.S. internment camps
without legal extradition, without due process, without
charges, and deprived of legal counsel.
We are also learning that German and Italian communities in
the U.S. and Latin America were also swept up in this turmoil.
In total, over 31,000 so-called enemy aliens of German,
Italian, and Japanese ancestry in the U.S. and from Latin
America were apprehended and detained, and thousands interned
in camps, which were different from the 10 War Relocation
Authority camps where Japanese American were incarcerated.
We are also learning more about the prisoner exchange
program, where over 4,800 men, women, and children were
forcibly thrust into the warzones of the Far East and Europe.
Of these, over 2,800 were of Japanese ancestry, about half of
whom were Japanese Latin Americans.
What is being uncovered is a shocking picture of how the
U.S. government initiated and orchestrated a program of massive
civil rights violations, crimes against humanity, and war
crimes spanning two continents before, during, and after World
War II. U.S. government policies and actions and what our
former Japanese Latin American and other enemy alien internees
endured during World War II warrants deeper investigation.
We are here today to urge your support for passage of H.R.
42. Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Shimizu follows:]
Prepared Statement of Grace Shimizu
My name is Grace Shimizu. I am the director of the Japanese
Peruvian Oral History Project and the daughter of a Japanese internee
from Peru. On behalf of the former Japanese Latin American internees
and our families, I would like to express our appreciation to
Chairperson Zoe Lofgren and members of the House Judiciary Subcommittee
on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security and
International Law. It is so heartening to be able to share our wartime
experiences. This hearing is very significant to us because our
experiences have never been part of the mainstream historical narrative
of this country, nor have our experiences been included as part of our
own community's narratives--both Japanese American and Latino
communities. Our story is a hidden part of our community history and a
suppressed part of US wartime history.
My father was born in 1906 in Hiroshima, Japan and immigrated to
Peru when he was 18 years old. He joined his brother who had arrived
earlier as a contract laborer and begun to develop a family business.
During World War II, our family charcoal business was put on ``La Lista
Negra,'' the blacklist, the informal name for what the US called ``The
Proclaimed List of Certain Blocked Nationals.'' This list of
``potentially dangerous enemy aliens'' affected businesses and
individuals, often with no connection to the Axis powers, like
journalists, teachers, business owners, priests, or anyone who held a
position in the many prefecture clubs or cultural organizations. My
family members and others on this list were never charged with a crime.
There were no search warrants issued, no hearings held.
When the US transport ships would come into the harbor of Callao,
many on the blacklist would go into hiding, my uncle included. The
first time the Peruvian authorities came looking for my uncle who
headed our family business, they took my cousin instead. My cousin was
interned in the US and used in the second prisoner exchange. In 1944,
when my father was 38 years old, he was taken by the authorities. He
was forcibly deported from his home in Peru to a US military camp in
the Panama Canal Zone for detention and put to hard labor, which was in
violation of the Geneva Convention. My father never shared his
experience in the Panama camp but we do have an interview of another
Japanese Peruvian who recalled being put to work clearing the jungle
around the camp. One humid day, the internees, many of whom were
elderly, were told to dig a pit. He thought that he was digging his own
grave. Then they were told to fill the pit with buckets of human waste
from the guards' latrines. When the older men were so tired that they
could not run fast enough to please the guards, they were poked and
shoved by the guards with bayonets. After three months at hard labor,
the young man was taken to the US for internment.
My father was detained in the Panama camp for several months. When
the next US transport arrived, the prisoners included his first wife,
his brother and his brother's wife and children. They were taken to the
US for indefinite internment at Crystal City, Texas for the purpose of
hostage exchange. During internment, my father's wife died in that
Texas camp due to the trauma of imprisonment and lack of adequate
medical care. My father also learned that seven other members of our
family who remained in Peru had been killed and circumstances
surrounding their murders were never resolved.
At the end of the war, my uncle and his family were deported to
Japan and dumped off to find their way to the home of my grandmother in
Hiroshima. My father was released on parole from camp under the
sponsorship of Japanese American relatives living in northern
California. His intention was to return to his home, business and
surviving relatives in Peru, but he along with other Japanese Peruvians
were initially not allowed reentry by the Peruvian government. He
eventually remarried and started a family with my mother in Berkeley,
California. In the 1950s, with changes in the immigration laws, he was
allowed to change his status from ``illegal alien'' to legal permanent
resident. Despite his decision to live the rest of his life in the US,
he never became a US citizen. Part of his thinking was, if the US were
ever to violate the rights of persons of Japanese ancestry again, he
and his family would not become stateless and would be able to find
refuge in the country of his birth.
I didn't understand the significance of my father's wartime
experience until I began to work with the Japanese Peruvian Oral
History Project, which was established in 1991 by six families in the
SF Bay Area. Like other Japanese Americans of my generation born in the
US, I was lucky to have read about the Japanese American incarceration
in a US history book, even if it was just one sentence. And there was
never mention about the internment of Japanese Peruvians. Also, my
parents and I, like so many other Japanese Americans and Japanese Latin
American families at that time, didn't talk much about the war,
internment or the traumatic impact that experience had on us
personally, our families and community.
Through our work in the Japanese Peruvian Oral History Project, we
are learning how the WWII internment history of Japanese Americans and
Japanese Latin is integrally linked. We share many similarities with
Japanese American families, including our immigrant roots. We formed
community with Japanese Americans while living side by side in
Department of Justice internment camps and US Army facilities and being
used as human pawns in hostage exchanges. During the resettlement years
after the war, Japanese American and Japanese Latin American families
in the US struggled to reestablish our lives, with many Japanese Latin
Americans becoming part of Japanese American neighborhoods and marrying
into Japanese American families.
Through our work, we are learning that our families' wartime
experiences were part of a larger Latin American program whereby the US
government went outside its borders to 13 Latin American countries and
seized 2264 men, women and children of Japanese ancestry (both citizens
and immigrant residents), forcibly transported them to US internment
camps without legal extradition, without due process, without charges
and deprived of legal counsel.
We are also learning that such wartime experience of civil and
human rights violations was not limited to persons of Japanese
ancestry. German and Italian communities in the US and Latin America
were also swept up in this turmoil. Following the Japanese military
attack on Pearl Harbor, over one million immigrants in the German,
Italian and Japanese American communities in the US became ``enemy
aliens'' overnight. From about 19 Latin American countries, over 200
persons of Italian ancestry and over 4,000 persons of German ancestry
(including 81 Jewish refugees) were seized and deported to the US for
internment. In total over 31,000 enemy aliens of German, Italian and
Japanese ancestry in the US and from Latin America were apprehended and
detained. Many thousands of them were interned for reasons of
``national security'' in over 50 facilities run by the US Department of
Justice and the US Army, which were different from the ten War
Relocation Authority camps where Japanese Americans were incarcerated.
We are also learning more about the hostage exchange program. In
time of war, civilians from warring nations should be allowed safe
passage to their home countries. But what should have been a
humanitarian program became a program of human rights violations. Over
4,800 men, women and children were forcibly deported to war zones of
the Far East and Europe in the prisoner exchange. These included US
citizens who were the minor children of permanent resident aliens. For
persons of German ancestry in the US and from Latin America, there were
about six separate exchanges with a total of at least 2,000 people. Of
them, it is unclear how many were German Latin Americans. For persons
of Japanese ancestry, there were two separate exchanges with over 2,800
civilians, half of whom were Japanese Latin Americans.
It is now widely recognized that the incarceration of 110,000 US
citizens and residents of Japanese ancestry during WWII was one of the
worst violations of the constitution in our nation's history based on
wartime hysteria, racial prejudice and failure of political leadership.
With growing knowledge of the WWII Enemy Alien Program and its Latin
American component, that mass imprisonment of the Japanese American
community is now put into a broader international context of
relocation, internment and forced deportation of persons of Japanese,
German and Italian ancestry What is being uncovered is a shocking
picture of how the US government initiated and orchestrated a program
of massive civil rights violations, crimes against humanity and war
crimes spanning two continents before, during and after WWII.
Later review of records of these so-called ``dangerous'' enemy
aliens shows there was often no specific evidence of subversive
activities. Rather they lost years of their lives on the basis of
``potential'' danger. The impact of these violations has been long
lasting in our communities and has current day significance for our
democratic institutions and freedoms.
We, former internees and our families, are here today to register
our plea with you, members of the House Judiciary Subcommittee on
Immigration. We ask for your support of HR 42, the Commission on
Wartime Relocation and Internment of Latin Americans of Japanese
Descent Act, to investigate the treatment of Japanese Latin Americans
In 1980, the Congress authorized a similar fact finding study which
examined the treatment of Japanese Americans during WWII. During the
course of that study, information began to be uncovered about the
treatment of the Japanese Latin Americans. Such information was found
significant enough to be included in the published Commission report
and warrants deeper investigation. The Japanese Latin American
commission bill would extend the initial investigation of the 1980
We ask your support to get this commission bill passed.
Ms. Lofgren. Thank you very, very much.
And finally you, Ms. Yamamoto. Thank you so much for being
with us today.
TESTIMONY OF LIBIA YAMAMOTO, FORMER JAPANESE OF LATIN AMERICAN
Ms. Yamamoto. My father migrated to Peru in 1914, at the
age of 20, as a contract laborer from Japan. Through hard work
and dedication, my father rose from his humble beginnings to
become a successful businessperson and establish our family as
one of the many respected in the Peruvian city of Chiclayo and
a nearby sugar plantation of Hacienda Toman.
The period during World War II was very confusing for
everyone in our community as we began to feel the effects of
the war. Still, I never thought that our family would be
affected. I was wrong.
On the night of January 6, 1943, the police came to our
house in the Hacienda and said to my father, ``Senor Maoki, we
have to take you by the order of the United States of
America.'' That night they took him to jail. We did not get any
explanation; everything happened so suddenly that my father had
no time to pack any of his things.
We knew nothing of his situation until the next morning
when my father was moved to the city jail, and I went with my
mother to visit my father there. During this time, the mothers
who were there to see their husbands in jail held their tears
in and tried to be strong; some were more successful than
Then a truck came and our fathers were forced to get on it.
That truck drove away, and we didn't know where they were
taking them, why, for how long, or if they would come back. As
my father and the others waved goodbye, I remember our mothers
lost their composure and collective weeping erupted into loud
This was an extremely traumatic experience for me at age
seven. Finally, after an entire month, we received a letter
from my father in Panama. We were just so happy to hear that he
was alive. Later, we learned that his passport was confiscated
and he was interned in a Department of Justice camp in Texas.
There my father learned that the men from Peru were going to be
shipped to Japan in a prisoner exchange. My father and the
others began protesting because they knew this meant indefinite
separation from their families.
The so-called solution to this problem was to reunite these
men with their families in Department of Justice camps. I think
the U.S. government did not mind this because, in effect, it
provided more hostages. Still, there were some families who
were never able to reunite.
We left Peru from the Port of Callao in July 1943. Boarding
the ship was horrifying because there were U.S. soldiers on
board pointing their big guns at us as if we were criminals.
When we got to New Orleans officials inspected our baggage and
some families had precious belongings thrown into the water.
The Peruvians on our ship were among the lucky ones,
because I later learned from my friend that she and other women
and children were let off their ship first and marched to a
warehouse. They were ordered to strip and stand in line naked,
and then were sprayed with insecticide. I can't imagine the
humiliation my friend felt having to strip her clothes off in
front of boys who are our age. How awful this must have been
for our mothers, whose modesty was violated.
Despite the physical conditions of the camps, my family was
glad to be reunited with my father. At the end of the war the
U.S. government told us to leave the country because we were
illegal aliens. My sister and her family were deported first to
Japan. She later wrote to us in camp that many people were
starving and her family had to pull out weeds from the ground
just to feed themselves, and her 5-month-old baby died from
When it was my family's turn to leave, my father became
very ill and our deportation to Japan was canceled.
Fortunately, we had Japanese American relatives in Berkeley who
sponsored us out of camp in 1947, and we moved to Berkeley,
California as parolees.
I am now 73 years old, and many of my friends my age who
had similar experiences have passed on. I come here today to
ask that you support this commission bill to study what
happened to families like mine. Please help pass this bill
before it is too late. Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Yamamoto follows:]
Prepared Statement of Libia Yamamoto
Ms. Lofgren. Thank you very much, Ms. Yamamoto, for sharing
your story. I know it is difficult to speak, but it is
important that your voice be heard, and we do appreciate your
We now have a time when Members of the panel can pose
questions to the panel for as long as 5 minutes. Mr. King,
would you have questions?
Mr. King. I do, Madam Chair. I thank you, and I would say
again to the witnesses, thanks for your testimony.
And Ms. Yamamoto, I understand that it is very difficult to
relive this after all these years, and I recall you saying that
you were 7 years old at the time. I appreciate you all coming,
and there are things that we do to serve our countries and to
serve humanity that cause us to have to rise above, sometimes,
the things we might not want to do.
So I am not going to ask any questions. I will give you a
little relief in that; maybe you can sigh a little. And I will
direct the other witnesses, who I think maybe can illuminate
this a little bit for me, too.
And I would ask Ms. Shimizu, is it your position that there
should be an apology by the United States?
Ms. Shimizu. We are here today to urge that what happened
to our parents, our families, really be investigated further.
And through that investigation, as more of the information
comes out and the background becomes more clear, I think our
faith is put in the commissioners to make the appropriate
Mr. King. Then if that investigation--if there is full
acknowledgement, then if that investigation concludes, I think,
a conclusion that you have drawn, then would you, then, be
asking for proper redress?
Ms. Shimizu. Well, I would be looking at what the
recommendations were, and then at that point, I mean, we would
be at a better position to respond to that.
Mr. King. Okay. Thank you, Ms. Shimizu.
I would ask Professor Masterson, and you mentioned that
there was very little public knowledge about the Peruvian
detainees, and I mentioned in my testimony a book--I have the
copies of it--by David Lowman, called ``Magic.'' Are you
familiar with it?
Mr. Masterson. Well, there is three books on this topic--at
least three--and two more that I have written that deal with
it. But what we have to be aware of is that the scholarly
community is a relatively small scholarly community, and does
this information get to the public?
Mr. King. So excuse me, but are you familiar with this
Mr. Masterson. Yes, I have heard of it, yes.
Mr. King. Thank you. And have you had an opportunity to
Mr. Masterson. No, I haven't.
Mr. King. Okay. I would encourage you to do that, because
to have a balance in the history that you are talking about, I
think it is important for you to understand the other side of
this. And I would just comment that as I listened to your
testimony, one thing stood out to me, that the Japanese workers
fled from fields in Peru, and, you know, I might have
characterized it that they migrated to better opportunities;
there were a lot of bad circumstances during those times.
And then what I mentioned in my testimony about the
historical chronology of the Christian slaves--1.25 million,
which is about twice as many Christian slaves as there were
African Americans brought here under slavery, at least by some
accounts--is that is a piece of history that you have had an
opportunity to study?
Mr. Masterson. Of course. But you are looking at two
Mr. King. Sure I am.
Mr. Masterson. You really are. And what you have, of
course, is a situation in Peru where individuals are taken from
their individual environments, many of whom have no
justification whatsoever with regard to association with
espionage, and in fact, you could argue that it wasn't directly
related to the security of the United States; it was more right
directly related to the welfare of American citizens who were
behind American lines, and the exchange was being done for
Mr. King [continuing]. My clock is ticking. I want to be
respectful, but--and I think that that is true, they are
different circumstances, and I would go--I would ask it this
way: This was a global war----
Mr. Masterson. Yes.
Mr. King [continuing]. It was a world war, and there were
political entities for every nation state, and there were sub-
entities within the nation states, and each of them are
operating for national survival as well as doing a calculus off
the intelligence that they had at the time.
And so we had internments that went on around the world,
and there were some horrible things that took place, and I
would ask unanimous consent to introduce this book, called
``Last Man Out.'' It is about the internment also of some
American prisoners in the Philippines, and I think it is
important to add to this scholarship as well.
Mr. Masterson. May I respond to that?
I would then just----
Mr. King. Professor Masterson, you have done a thorough
study of this, and in the time we have left I would just offer
back to you to conclude your statement so--respectful of your
Mr. Masterson. There is a parallel to this, and it is that
many of the Latin American governments who were involved in
counter-insurgency wars during the 1970's and 1980's, where
substantial violations of human rights occurred, have created--
reconciliation commissions. Argentina has done one, Peru has
done one, and that is designed to do exactly what we are
talking about today: rectify a situation, which needs to be
done, with regards to the----
Ms. Lofgren [continuing]. The gentleman's time has expired.
I am going to ask, since we have three panels, that we go to
see if Mr. Lungren has questions.
Mr. King. Madam Chair, could I just ask unanimous consent
that I may just pose a brief yes or no question to the witness?
I thank you, Madam Chair, and--do you support or oppose,
Mr. Masterson. I am of the opinion that the reparations
issue should be resolved by a commission which we are asking to
be formed. We are not prejudging any of this until the
commission does so.
Mr. King. Thank you.
Thank you, Madam Chair.
Ms. Lofgren. Ms. Sanchez has no questions.
Mr. Lungren, do you have questions, or can we move to the
Mr. Lungren. Thank you very much.
Ms. Lofgren. Then we will thank you, witnesses, for being
here and ask the second panel to come forward.
As the second panel is coming forward, I would like to
introduce them. First, we have John Christgau. Mr. Christgau is
the author of eight nonfiction books, including ``Enemies:
World War II Alien Internment,'' the first book published on
the subject. For the past 8 years, he has been a member of the
Enemy Alien Files Consortium, creators of the photo exhibit,
the ``Enemy Alien Files: Hidden Stories of World War II.''
I am also pleased to introduce Karen Ebel. Ms. Ebel is the
daughter of a recently deceased German American World War II
internee. She is president and a founding member of the German
American Internee Coalition, which was created to educate the
public about and advocate ethnic German American and Latin
American internees and their families. She is also a member of
the multiethnic Enemy Alien Files Consortium, representing the
German American community.
Next I would like to introduce Heidi Gurcke Donald. Ms.
Donald and six members of her family were deported from Costa
Rica for internment in the United States during World War II. A
founding member of the German American Internee Coalition, she
serves on their board and writes for their Web site. She is the
author of, ``We Were Not the Enemy,'' a book about her family's
World War II experiences.
And finally, I would like to introduce Dr. John Fonte. Dr.
Fonte joined the Hudson Institute in March 1999 as a senior
fellow and director of the Center for American Common Culture.
He has been a visiting scholar at the American Enterprise
Institute, where he directed the committee to review national
standards under the chairmanship of Lynne Cheney. He also
served as a senior researcher at the U.S. Department of
Education and a program administrator at the National Endowment
for the Humanities.
As noted with the first panel, your full written statements
will be made part of the official record. We would ask that
your oral testimony consume 5 minutes. When you have 1 minute
left the yellow light will go on, and we are going to be strict
about the timeframe because we have still a third panel after
you. We want to hear everyone.
So if you would begin, Mr. Christgau?
If you could turn on your microphone, thank you.
TESTIMONY OF JOHN CHRISTGAU, AUTHOR OF
``ENEMIES: WORLD WAR II ALIEN INTERNMENT''
Mr. Christgau. Thank you, Madam Chairwoman.
I appreciate this opportunity to talk about a piece of
World War II history that has been largely ignored. At
nightfall on December 10, 1941, just 3 days after the Japanese
attack on Pearl Harbor, an unusual thunderstorm struck southern
California. The deep booming thunder sounded like an enemy
bombardment, and jittery citizens of Los Angeles and San Diego
feared they were under attack.
An immediate lights out order was issued from Bakersfield
to San Diego, and the coast went dark. Los Angeles residents
shot out streetlights in the frenzy to black out the city.
Hospitals were swamped with calls for ambulances to cover
traffic accidents involving panicked drivers.
That panic did not disappear, especially from the west
coast, and in the weeks after, long-held ethnic and racial
prejudices aggravated by the wartime panic led to the
internment of over 30,000 so-called enemy aliens of German,
Italian, and Japanese nationality. The arrests were done under
the provisions of the Alien Enemies Act, which says that
whenever war is threatened or declared, all citizens of the
hostile nation who shall be within the United States shall be
liable to be apprehended, arrested, detained, and removed as
For months prior to the start of World War II, the FBI had
been investigating so-called enemy aliens. The FBI sent its
investigative reports to the Special Defense Unit of the
Justice Department. That unit created what was called a
custodial detention index, or ABC lists, which classified the
aliens with respect to how dangerous the government considered
Aliens on the A list were considered the most dangerous and
were subject to immediate arrest and detention in case of war.
Those lists were based on hearsay gathered mainly from
confidential informants. In San Francisco, a Jewish immigrant
named Eddie Friede, who had narrowly escaped death in a
concentration camp in Germany, was arrested, detained, and then
interned in North Dakota. In a letter to Eleanor Roosevelt he
pleaded, ``Please see what you can do to get me released from
Eventually, wartime Attorney General Francis Biddle
recognized the unreliability of the lists and wrote, ``It is
clear to me that this ABC classification system is inherently
unreliable. It should not be used.'' Still, eight internment
camps for enemy aliens were established in Texas, North Dakota,
New Mexico, and Idaho. In addition to those eight camps, there
were dozens of other sites, from hastily constructed detention
centers to compounds run by the Army.
Those combined facilities detained and interned a total of
31,285 enemy aliens and their families between 1941 and 1948.
Approximately 16,000 were Japanese; nearly 11,000 were German;
and 3,000 were Italian.
Beyond those who were interned, tens of thousands more,
mainly Japanese but also Italians in large numbers and some
Germans were forced to evacuate their homes in critical
military zones on the east and west coast and relocate their
families. Once the aliens and their families were detained or
interned, they were given a brief hearing before an alien enemy
hearing board to determine their guilt or their innocence. The
hearings lasted from 5 to 15 minutes, and there was no
opportunity for the internees to learn the FBI's charges
So why has so little historical attention been paid to the
World War II Alien Enemy Control Program, which affected so
many thousands of people from German, Italian, and Japanese
communities? Perhaps the answer lies in something one German
internee chose to call ``Gitterkrankheit,'' the fence sickness.
After you have been behind barbed wire for months and years,
the internee explained, a part of you begins to feel like a
criminal even if you have done nothing wrong. When you finally
get out, he said, you would rather not talk about the past.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Christgau follows:]
Prepared Statement of John Christgau
The United States is a nation of immigrants who were drawn here by
economic opportunity and the promises of democracy. The fragility of
immigrants' rights in times of war and economic stress is a global
concern. An understanding of the history of the WWII Alien Enemy
Control Program is important to the creation of effective national
Italian and German immigrants began arriving in the U.S. in large
numbers in the 19th century, with influx to the West beginning during
the 1850s Gold Rush. Japanese immigration began in 1868 to Hawaii for
plantation labor. Later, many went on to the U.S. mainland, mostly
California. By 1940, Italians constituted the largest foreign-born
group in the U.S., with Germans as the second largest.
In 1936, the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) started
compiling lists of so-called ``dangerous persons.'' The lists included
prominent business, cultural, and religious leaders in the German,
Italian and Japanese communities. Officially known as the ``Custodial
Detention Index,'' the list identified those ``potentially dangerous''
persons who would be arrested if the U.S. entered the war. The lists
were the product of rumor, hearsay, gossip, and ethnic and racial
prejudices gathered from confidential informants. The FBI also
maintained a ``Suspected Organizations List'' for Italians, Germans,
and Japanese in the USA.
In 1940, as fears of German and Japanese aggression escalated, the
Federal Alien Registration Act (``Smith Act'') required all aliens to
register, to be fingerprinted, to provide information about their
membership in organizations, and to report regularly to designated
authorities. By the spring of 1941, the Justice Department had
developed procedures to detain and intern aliens and ``potentially
At dawn on December 7, 1941, the Japanese military attacked the
U.S. Naval base at Pearl Harbor, Hawaii. Later that day, Franklin D.
Roosevelt issued Presidential Proclamation 2525, authorizing FBI agents
to arrest without warrants any Japanese citizen fourteen years or
older. On the following day, the President issued similar proclamations
against German and Italian aliens, and declared war on Japan.
Overnight, a million immigrants were transformed into ``enemy aliens.''
The Justice Department's arrest and detention of thousands of
Germans, Italians, and Japanese was authorized by the Alien Enemies Act
of 1918--US Code, Title 50, Sections 21-24--which governs war and
national defense. The Alien Enemies Act is based on the 1798 Alien and
Sedition Laws, which specified that citizens (age 14 and over) of enemy
nations can be ``apprehended, restrained, secured and removed'' in case
of declared war, or actual or threatened invasion by a foreign nation.
No distinction is made between resident immigrants and aliens in the
U.S. on a temporary basis.
restrictions, evacuation, individual exclusions
By nightfall of December 7, 1941, even before the U.S. formally
declared war, FBI and other agents of the government descended upon the
homes and businesses of people they had deemed to be dangerous. Three
days after Pearl Harbor, 3,846 Germans, Italians, and Japanese had been
apprehended without being charged with any crimes. Local FBI agents
especially targeted community and religious leaders, people with
business, cultural, or political ties to their home country, editors/
publishers of German, Italian, and Japanese language newspapers, and
teachers at language schools. Homes were searched and possessions
seized. Many were arrested and jailed without explanation. Their
families had no idea where or why their loved ones were taken.
Within a month, all German, Italian, and Japanese aliens residing
in the U.S. were ordered to be fingerprinted, photographed, and to
carry photo-bearing ``enemy alien registration cards'' at all times.
German, Italian, and Japanese immigrants who were designated as enemy
aliens were ordered to turn over ``contraband'' to local police.
Prohibited items included all firearms, short-wave radios, cameras,
knives, and ``signaling devices'' such as flashlights. FBI agents
searched homes and confiscated personal property, much of which was
never returned. Ownership of such property could later be grounds for
internment. The Coast Guard appropriated fishing boats belonging to
Italian and Japanese fishermen, depriving them of their livelihood. In
addition, all German, Italian, and Japanese enemy aliens in the Western
Defense Command were subject to a curfew between 8 p.m. and 6 a.m.
daily and were not allowed to travel more than five miles from home
unless a travel permit was applied for and granted. Many aliens'
assets, such as bank accounts, were frozen, making life even more
difficult for those affected.
In January of 1942, the Department of Justice designated restricted
areas around military sites. By the first week of February, the
Attorney General had designated 133 prohibited zones for ``any person''
around airports, damns, power plants, and military installations. In
addition, the DOJ set up 88 prohibited zones in California for German,
Italian, and Japanese enemy aliens. Thousands of enemy aliens living in
the prohibited zones were ordered to move elsewhere. These individuals
were given ten days to close their businesses and homes. Most sought
out family and friends in other states who could help them relocate and
find jobs. In many cases, the government advised new employers of the
excludees' circumstances, making resettlement even more difficult. Some
excludees had been U.S. citizens since the turn of the century and many
had been in the U.S. for at least twenty years. To keep families
together, many citizen spouses and children went with the alien head of
the family, who was often the only breadwinner. Families who stayed
behind were left without financial support.
Not all government officials agreed with the mass orders. U.S.
Attorney General Francis Biddle, head of the Justice Department, issued
a memo in July 1943 stating that the FBI should only investigate
activities of persons who may have violated the law, rather than
classifying persons as to dangerousness. ``The notion that it is
possible to make a valid determination as to how dangerous a person is
in the abstract and without reference to time, environment and other
relevant circumstances is impractical, unwise and dangerous,'' he
wrote. The ``dangerous person'' label should never again be used to
justify arrests or internment because it was not based on valid
Biddle ordered the FBI to abolish its Custodial Detention Index,
but FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover simply changed the name to ``Security
Index'' and concealed its existence from the Justice Department.
Nevertheless, the Justice Department relied on FBI reports to support
its program of arrests and detention of German, Italian, and Japanese
nationals in the U.S. and Latin America, which continued throughout the
war, with some Germans held in U.S. camps until 1949.
Restrictions on Italian aliens were lifted in October 1942, largely
because of the impending Congressional elections that November, and
because of the reported morale problems among military personnel due to
restrictions on their parents. The support of Italian Americans was
needed for the impending U.S. invasion of Italy and for the Italian
population's own revolt against Mussolini. However, the status of
Italian excludees and internees remained unchanged until late 1943
after an armistice with Italy.
detention and internment
The arrest and internment of U.S. resident enemy aliens began the
evening of December 7, 1941. The arrests were done on the basis of the
Security Defense Unit's ABC lists, which were in tern based largely on
hearsay information gathered from confidential FBI informants. Among
those arrested and detained was Eddie Friede, a Jewish immigrant in San
Francisco who had narrowly escaped death in a concentration camp in
Germany. Eddie was arrested the evening of December 7, detained, and
then interned in North Dakota. In a letter to Eleanor Roosevelt, he
pleaded with her, ``Please, would you see what you can do to get me
released from internment.''
By war's end, the number of aliens arrested and detained had
reached 31,275: 16,849 Japanese, 10,905 Germans, and 3,278 Italians,
and some 200 Hungarians, Bulgarians and Romanians. Some were U.S.
citizens. Though not all were formally interned, they were held for
periods ranging from a few days to several years without ever learning
the charges against them. After arrest, the aliens were turned over to
the Immigration and Naturalization Service (INS) for detention. The
detainees received cursory hearings, in some cases not until after
months of detention. During the hearings, they were not able to have an
attorney, question witnesses, or see the evidence against them. The
hearing boards recommended release, parole, or internment. There were
eventually eight permanent INS internment camps--in North Dakota,
Idaho, New Mexico, and Texas--and over fifty additional detention
centers and internment facilities, from small local jails to Army POW
camps, that held enemy aliens.
Detainees' families often did not know where they were for weeks.
Sometimes both parents were taken and the children were left to fend
for themselves until relatives or the local government took custody.
Many women struggled to support their families and, having lost
everything, sought refuge in a family internment camp. Border Patrol
agents of the INS operated the DOJ camps, located at migrant worker and
Civilian Conservation Corps camps, military bases, and prisons. Some
housed men only, others women only, still others married couples. Camp
conditions varied widely.
Many internees were shifted from camp to camp. Italian internees at
Fort Meade were sent after some months to a similar facility at Fort
McAlester, Oklahoma. The very first West Coast German, Italian, and
Japanese internees, arrested in early December 1941, were sent to the
INS internment camps at Fort Missoula, Montana, and Fort Lincoln, North
Dakota, before they had hearings. After hearings, they were either
transferred to army-run internment camps in Texas and Oklahoma, or
In May of 1943, with captured Axis military personnel coming to the
United States for imprisonment, the Army asked to be relieved of its
civilian internees. Thus, all internees were returned to the custody of
the INS, with Italians returning to Fort Missoula, and most Germans
sent to Fort Lincoln. Japanese internees were kept mainly at Fort
Lincoln, Fort Missoula and Santa Fe in New Mexico, until many went to
War Relocation Authority camps to join their families.
In addition, nearly 3,000 German and Italian merchant seamen whose
ships happened to be docked in U.S. or Latin American ports were also
turned into ``illegal aliens''. Their ships impounded, these sailors
were sent to internment at Fort Lincoln, North Dakota and Fort
release from camp: hostage exchange and postwar deportation
When the German government learned that some of its overseas
citizens had been seized in Latin America and interned in the United
States, it ordered the seizure of U.S. and Latin American citizens
living in Europe. Complex negotiations followed, resulting in several
exchanges of civilian prisoners. From 1942 to 1945, at least 2,000
persons of German ancestry and at least 37 Italians, including women
and children, from the U.S. and Latin America were sent to Europe in
six exchanges across the Atlantic Ocean at the height of the war.
The U.S. did not want to return any aliens who might aid the Axis
war effort, and State Department policy was to exchange only harmless
people of German or Japanese ancestry. Repatriates to Germany signed an
oath not to perform military service. Some died as civilians, killed by
Allied bombs, while others were imprisoned under suspicion of being US
Japan also agreed to prisoner exchanges but did not want to accept
``repatriates'' who did not want to return. There was also difficulty
in finding ships. Two exchanges occurred in 1942 and 1943 involving
2,800 persons of Japanese ancestry from the U.S. and Latin America.
Some deportees were drafted into the military service of Japan and died
in combat. Others lost their lives in air raids as civilians.
The Alien Enemy Act only permitted internment for the duration of
the war. After the European hostilities ended in May 1945, President
Harry Truman issued Presidential Proclamation 2655 ordering deportation
of ``dangerous enemy aliens'' who were still interned. Thus, many
Germans and their U.S. citizen families were involuntarily
``repatriated'' to war-devastated Germany and left there to fend for
themselves. Germans who did not want to repatriate remained interned
and fought desperately for years to avoid being deported. By mid-1948,
the camps were empty, though some internees remained in custody on
Ellis Island until 1949. Some had been interned for seven years.
impact on families, uncovering hidden stories, breaking the silence
During WWII, the U.S. government assured the public that it was
protecting national security by publicizing arrests of enemy aliens.
However, officials made efforts to conceal specific details of the
Justice Department camps and the hostage exchange program from the
American public. Guards at the alien internment camps were required to
sign statements agreeing not to reveal information about the camps. The
internees themselves were also warned not to talk. Some have reported
signing oaths of silence with which they complied all their lives,
fearing the FBI would again come to their doors.
For half a century, internees kept their stories hidden. Many felt
shame and fear long after the war and refused to discuss their
experiences, even with their families. Even today, after more than six
decades, many internees are reluctant to talk to researchers or allow
their real names to be used in books and articles.
Yet the emotional toll from their wartime trauma was extensive.
After being labeled as enemy aliens and incarcerated, internees
conducted daily life behind barbed-wire fences, klieg lights, and
watchtowers patrolled by armed guards with dogs, experiencing all the
problems associated with imprisonment. Mail was restricted and heavily
censored, with no drawings, erasures or references to movements of
internees or to the enemy nation allowed. For those in camps far from
home, visitors were rare. Most of the internees were men separated from
their families and loved ones. Army restrictions for internees tended
to be even more severe than those imposed by the INS. Internees were
housed in tents with wooden floors, four to a tent. Most were given POW
uniforms to wear. Any lapse into the ``enemy language'' was forbidden.
Internees were paid 10 cents a day for chores they performed.
Having lost the fruits of a lifetime of labor, and facing an
uncertain future, many adults suffered depression, listlessness, and
despair. Many had grown children in the U.S. military, fighting
overseas for a country which had locked up their parents. Many
internees spent their days appealing to the government for release.
Their pleas for rehearings were generally ignored. When the government
persistently asked whether they wanted to repatriate to Germany or
Japan, some grudgingly accepted this alternative to indefinite
internment. Some were offered the chance to work outside the camps,
such as on railroad construction. Most preferred the hard labor to
There were also tensions and violence in some camps. A few hard-
core German loyalists in the camps occasionally quarreled with and
intimidated those with whom they disagreed politically. Jewish
internees, unaccountably placed near pro-Nazi prisoners, were harassed
and sometimes beaten. Pro- and anti-fascist factions among the Italians
Most internees had a very difficult time reentering society after
their long incarceration. They had lost their homes and belongings and
could not go back to their old jobs. Many were stigmatized,
particularly in the communities where the arrests and internment were
well publicized. Others, particularly children, had their educational
and economic opportunities seriously curtailed. Most internees never
completely made the transition back to life before the FBI first
knocked on their doors. Deportees trying to return to the United States
had an even more difficult time adjusting.
legacy of the world war ii experience
The Alien Enemy Act of 1918, which authorized internment of ``enemy
aliens'' during WWII, remains intact. It permits arrests, evacuation,
internment and other actions against ``enemy aliens'' if the United
States becomes involved in a war, or a foreign country threatens
invasion. Resident aliens who have not become naturalized citizens are
still vulnerable any time their birth-country is perceived as a threat
to U.S. interests.
All of the communities affected by the wartime treatment of enemy
aliens agree that public education about the past is vital to
preventing future mistreatment of immigrants. As former Chief Justice
Charles Evans Hughes wrote during his term from 1930-42:
``You may think that the Constitution is your security--it is
nothing but a piece of paper. You may think that the statutes
are your security--they are nothing but words in a book. You
may think that [the] elaborate mechanism of government is your
security--it is nothing at all, unless you have sound and
uncorrupted public opinion to give life to your Constitution,
to give vitality to your statutes, to make efficient your
An understanding of the history of the Alien Enemy Control Program
can help policy makers avoid the mistakes of World War II.
What were those mistakes?
First, we relied on weak intelligence to help us separate the very
few who were truly dangerous from the many who were innocent.
Second, we assumed that aliens are the enemy. The very title of the
Alien Enemies Act weds the two ideas. It led to a dragnet approach in
which a net was thrown over entire German, Italian, and Japanese
communities in the hopes of catching a few spies or saboteurs.
Finally, in dealing with our immigrant population, we ignored the
very due process provisions of the Constitution that bought those
immigrants here seeking freedom and opportunity.
So why has so little historical attention been paid to the Alien
Enemy Program which affected so many thousands of people from German,
Italian, and Japanese communities? The simple answer is historical
neglect and governmental shame. But perhaps the answer also lies in
something one German internee chose to call ``Gitterkrankheit,'' the
fence sickness. After you've been behind barbed wire for months and
years, the internee explained, a part of you begins to feel like a
criminal. When you finally get out, he said, you would rather not talk
about the past.
Ms. Lofgren. Thank you so much. And I didn't know the Los
Angeles storm story; it is fascinating.
Ms. Ebel, I would like to hear from you.
TESTIMONY OF KAREN E. EBEL, PRESIDENT,
GERMAN AMERICAN INTERNEE COALITION
Ms. Ebel. My father, Max Ebel, a German internee, died in
Ms. Lofgren. Could you turn on your microphone, please?
Ms. Ebel. I am sorry.
Ms. Lofgren. Very good.
Ms. Ebel. My father, Max Ebel, a German internee, died in
May 2007. I am sitting where my father should be. One of the
last times we talked, he told me how sad he was that the
Wartime Treatment Study Act had not passed. He said, ``Karen,
this is important. Don't give up.'' Moments after he died, all
I could think of was that I had failed. Almost 88, Dad still
didn't live long enough to hear his government acknowledge his
internment. He didn't even talk about it until he was 80, and
then only with much prodding.
Only 17, Dad arrived in New York Harbor in 1937. He left
Germany because he had had a dangerous knife fight with local
members of the Hitler Youth. They were angry because he
wouldn't join in their activities. Following his father to
America, Dad boarded the ``SS New York'' with a nickel in his
pocket, new woolen knickerbockers, and hope. He once told me
``I was an American right from the beginning, and I always will
be. I appreciated my freedom as much as a fish let out of a
On December 5, 1941, Dad learned that his citizenship
application was accepted. Two days later, he and a million
Germans, Japanese, and Italians became the enemy with a stroke
of FDR's pen. Our country was in grave danger, and America had
to protect itself. Most escaped the internment disaster and
some deserved what they got, but thousands didn't. My father
was one of them.
Dad was arrested and detained in September 1942, his
adversarial hearing board recommended parole, but the
Department of Justice deemed him potentially dangerous to the
public peace and safety of the United States. Internment was
ordered. After 3 months in a Boston detention center, he was
sent to Ellis Island, where he joined hundreds of other
internees living in squalid conditions.
Then, by blacked out railcar under guard, it was on to Army
facilities at Fort Meade, and later Camp Forrest in Tennessee.
Finally, he landed at Fort Lincoln, in Bismarck, in May 1943.
The only descriptive note in his calendar says, ``Arrived.
North Dakota. This is Hell.''
Dad was back in the fishbowl he thought he had left behind.
He had no idea why or how he would get out. This was not his
He eventually found a way out that he was happy helped his
new country, too. That fall, about 100 trustworthy internees
marched out of Fort Lincoln. For several months they lived in
boxcars, still under guard, replacing rails on the North Dakota
In April 1944, he was drafted into the Army. Now my
dangerous father was trustworthy enough to fight, but he
flunked his pre-induction physical and remained interned.
Because the railroaders' good work helped the U.S. war effort,
he got a rare rehearing.
Dad really never knew why he was interned, but the release
recommendation he got years later implied it was because he
didn't want to fight in Europe and made pacifist remarks. He
apparently once said Hitler builds good roads. It states that
Dad was in no sense disloyal, that his further internment was
unjustifiable and recommends unconditional release. He was
Back in Boston, he was not allowed near railroads. Three
years after his arrest, he was finally free. One day in the
'80's listening to the news about Japanese Americans, Dad said,
``You know, something like that happened to me.'' I didn't
pursue it; he didn't either.
Ten years ago, we did. We learned about the enemy alien
laws, the camps, the exchanges, and the Latin American Program.
I think my country is better than this. The internees deserve
recognition, and the public should know what happened. Progress
has been made, but slowly and not enough.
Many still don't believe Germans and Italians were
interned. Others think there really weren't enough to care
about, that the internees were mostly only aliens, and that
they must have been guilty of something to be there in the
first place. Many internees are still afraid to speak.
Eight years ago, the Wartime Treatment Study Act was
introduced for the first time. It was a wonderful, miraculous
day for the internees. The bill was just introduced for the
fifth time. We are so grateful to Representative Wexler,
Senators Russ Feingold and Charles Grassley, for their
The advanced age of the remaining internees weighs heavily
on my mind. Acknowledgment is long overdue. Sadly, my dad can't
be here to see it. You can help make sure the remaining
internees do. Please make the study commission a reality. Thank
[The prepared statement of Ms. Ebel follows:]
Prepared Statement of Karen E. Ebel
Ms. Lofgren. Thank you very much. Before we ask Ms. Donald
to give her testimony we would note that we have been joined by
Congressman Robert Wexler, a Member of the Committee.
Ms. Donald, we would love to hear from you now.
TESTIMONY OF HEIDI GURCKE DONALD, BOARD AND FOUNDING MEMBER,
GERMAN AMERICAN INTERNEE COALITION
Ms. Donald Libia Yamamoto, from the last panel, and I are
sisters, sort of, since she came from Peru and my family came
from Costa Rica. Seven members of my family were taken from
Costa Rica for internment in the United States in 1943: my
parents, my aunt and uncle, my cousin, my sister and I were
all--and thousands of others--lost our livelihoods, our homes,
our personal property, our countries, and our freedom.
Over 3,000 ethnic Germans of Latin America were also
deported through the United States to war-torn Germany. Some of
them lost their lives. So when I tell you my story, realize
that my story is one of the least terrible of the stories.
In World War II, my father was labeled by the United States
as one of Costa Rica's 35 most dangerous enemy aliens. After
the war, in a U.S. governmental review done in 1946, they found
that there were no facts to that claim. Our family's whole
ordeal hinged on unsubstantiated allegations by anonymous
informants with one true fact: My father had been born in
By mid-1941, the U.S. Proclaimed List had ruined my
father's business. He and my mother, who had barely ever
gardened, tried to figure out a way to eke their way through
the war years. They ended up with the idea of a farm, and for
about a year they were semi-successful. By mid-1942, though, my
father and my uncle were thrown into a dirty, vermin-filled,
overcrowded prison. My mother, Starr, who was a United States
citizen, born and raised in San Jose, California, wrote this
anguished letter to her brother:
``July 17, 1942. Since the day before yesterday, Werner has
been in the local penitentiary. We haven't the remotest idea
why they arrested him or what is going to happen to him and the
many others there, and they won't let me see anyone to find out
the charges against him or to do any explaining. Heidi wakes up
at night screaming, `Papi, Papi,' and today is Ingrid's first
My father also wrote desperately to the United States
officials. On the 8th of September, ``In a last effort to solve
the situation of my family, I, Werner Gurcke now interned in
the concentration camp in San Jose, Costa Rica, sincerely ask
to consider the following points: There does not exist a real
motive for my internment otherwise than that I am German. Even
if you do think so, there must be a mistake, and I am sure to
convince you of it if you will have the kindness to present to
me the reasons.''
But there was no kindness. There were no hearings; there
were no legal proceedings; there was nothing.
So in January 1943 we were loaded onto the United States
Army Transport Puebla for deportation to the United States. We
sailed on January 26 and arrived in San Pedro, California on
February 6. There, we were declared to have entered the country
illegally because our passports and our visas had been
confiscated on shipboard.
We were given tags to tie to our clothes--these are my
family's tag. Imagine: tagged like a piece of baggage--loaded
onto a train to the Crystal City Alien Detention Station, which
later euphemistically has been called a family camp. There,
public health officials found that of our group of 131 people,
66 people required immediate medical attention. Two children
required immediate hospitalization, and 55 of us children were
sick with whooping cough, including my sister and me.
Then finally, over 1\1/2\ years after my father was
arrested, in January 1944, he was finally given a real hearing,
and by May of that year we were allowed to leave camp, although
we were forbidden to go home to Costa Rica. My uncle, Karl
Oscar, and his Costa Rican wife and daughter were sent to
Germany that same year.
Did our experience leave scars? Consider these facts and
draw your own conclusions: My parents lived with uncertainty
and fear for almost a decade. My father was barely 61 when he
died of lung cancer caused or exacerbated by chain-smoking
begun during the long ordeal. And more than 50 years later my
mother, at age 83, finally tried to tell me the story. It took
me a month of daily visits, collecting her memories through her
Our suffering, our pain, our loss of civil rights has never
been acknowledged by Congress. Thousands of lives were damaged;
enormous amounts of money, which could be better spent
somewhere else, were spent with no tangible results except
broken families and destroyed lives. Without a commission we
are being written out of history. I think we, as a people, can
and should do better than that.
[The prepared statement of Ms. Donald follows:]
Prepared Statement of Heidi Gurcke Donald
Ms. Lofgren. Thank you very much.
And finally we will turn to you, Doctor.
TESTIMONY OF JOHN FONTE, DIRECTOR OF CENTER FOR AMERICAN COMMON
CULTURE AND SENIOR FELLOW, HUDSON INSTUTUTE
Mr. Fonte. Thank you, Madam Chairman and Ranking Member
Many historical facts cited in the Feingold-Wexler
legislation are wrong. It is charged that the actions of the
U.S. government during World War II had a devastating impact on
Italian American communities. Now, I am an Italian American,
and for decades have visited many little Italys, but there is
no evidence offered in this bill of any devastated Italian
The FBI rightly picked up pro-fascist, pro-Nazi aliens and
citizens, including members of the German American Bund, and
the blackshirts. Those interned were a relatively small number
of people compared to the huge German American and Italian
American populations in the United States who were
It is significant, there is not reference in any of this
legislation to pro-Nazi, pro-fascist, and pro-Imperial Japanese
activities by residents of the United States, including aliens
and citizens. Why not?
Distinguished historian Robert Abzug, in a review of Mr.
Christgau's book in the Holocaust Review, wrote that, ``One is
struck''--this is from Mr. Christgau's book; reading the book,
Abzug said, ``One is struck by the benign treatment of the
aliens and the extraordinary access they had to the legal
system and to appeal procedures.'' He said even pro-Nazi German
aliens were given all of these rights. Professor Abzug noted
that most German aliens returned home or became American
citizens and, ``few emerged with permanent scars.''
In 2007 the Department of Justice sent a letter to Senate
Judiciary Chairman Leahy. The DOJ letter stated that Justice
had contacted the senior historian at the U.S. Holocaust
Museum. The historian said that the bill's intended depiction
of the treatment of Axis citizens and European American
citizens were, ``outrageously exaggerated.'' The Holocaust
Museum historian, when asked about the bill's accusations that
the U.S. government violated the civil rights of European
American citizens, said that he is aware of no historical facts
to support these conclusions.
Now, the facts concerning the Jewish refugees in this bill
are accurate, whereas the facts in the rest of the bills are
not. So the Jewish refugee section could be made into a
separate bill, perhaps.
The bill's very terminology is fraudulent. It defines
German American as American citizens and resident aliens of
German ancestry. But a German alien living in the United States
in 1941 is not a German American, but a German national, a
citizen of the Third Reich living in the United States.
The bill establishes an independent commission, but there
is nothing independent about it. The commission includes two
members representing the interests of the Italian American
community, two representing the interests of the German
American community. Italian American community--am I going to
be represented, or millions of other people? Who is going to be
representing the interests of the American community?
The activists will have four of the seven seats on the
commission. They will recommend appropriate remedies, which, as
the Justice Department letter noted, could include financial
There is nothing in this bill that would prevent the
commission from making recommendations for financial
compensation for former supporters of the Nazi and Fascist
regimes. The commission is also charged with making
recommendations for public education programs. These public
education programs could become the propaganda of moral
equivalence: they did bad things in the war, we did bad things
in the war. They had concentration camps, we had concentration
camps. That term has been thrown around today.
In fact, we heard in the earlier panel a direct reference
to the language used in the Nuremburg Trials in describing the
actions of the U.S. government during World War II. I quote--
earlier, on the first panel--``war crimes and crimes against
humanity. This is the level of severity of the human rights
violations for which the United States has not been held
This phrase is the exact charge brought against the major
Nazi war criminals at Nuremburg. The use of the term suggests
similarity between the behavior of Franklin Roosevelt's America
and Adolf Hitler's Germany.
If this commission goes into effect, we, as a Nation, have
moved from honoring the greatest generation to trashing it. The
commission is supposed to make recommendations affecting
American national security, protecting the civil liberties in
wartime. The agenda is clear. The implicit logic of this bill
says that there can be no special scrutiny under any
circumstance for any group at any time.
During World War II, my Italian American relatives were
subject to special scrutiny. And they should have been. Today,
we are in a conflict with radical Islam. Common sense tells us
that there should be, in some cases, special scrutiny for some
If there is a conflict with China, then common sense would
tell us there should be special scrutiy for some Chinese
nationals. If there is a conflict with Iran, or Serbia, or
Luxembourg, the principles of common sense, special scrutiny
should apply for resident aliens and American citizens
connected to this foreign power.
This bill is not only historically inaccurate, it will
teach us the wrong lessons of how best to protect our country
in the future. Thank you.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Fonte follows:]
Prepared Statement of John Fonte
Thank you Chairman Lofgren and Ranking Member King.
To begin with many historical facts cited in the Wartime Treatment
Study Act are wrong. It is charged that the actions of the government
of Franklin D Roosevelt's during World War II had a ``devastating''
impact on Italian-American communities whose ``detrimental'' effects
``are still being experienced.'' I am an Italian American and for
decades visited many relatives in a lot of ``little Italys'' through
our country. There is no evidence that Italian-American communities
were ``devastated.'' No proof has been offered in this bill of any
``devastated'' Italian American community.
The FBI rightly picked up those Italian aliens and Italian-American
citizens, who were pro-Fascist and those German aliens and German-
American citizens who were pro-Nazi, like members of the German
American Bund, the German-American Settlement League and participants
in the pro-Nazi Camp Siegfried in New York state. They were a
relatively small number of people. My grandparents and hundreds of
thousands of other resident aliens (at that point, enemy aliens) were
not disturbed. About 11, 000 people of German ancestry (mostly aliens)
and about 1, 500 people of Italian ancestry (mostly aliens) were
interned, The numbers are disputed, but, in any case, they are small
compared to the huge German-American and Italian American populations
in the United States that were overwhelmingly loyal and deeply involved
in the wartime struggle.
It is significant that there is no reference in this legislation to
pro-Nazi, pro-Fascist, and pro-Imperial Japan activities by residents
of the United States including aliens and citizens during the period
from the late 1930s through the Second World War. This certainly
existed and was successfully combated by the Roosevelt Administration.
Why isn't pro-Axis activity by residents of the United States discussed
or examined in this legislation?
History Professor Robert H. Abzug of University of Texas (who is an
expert on Jewish studies) in a review of John Christgau's book, Enemies
wrote that, ``one is struck by the benign treatment of aliens and the
extraordinary access they had to the legal system and to the appeal
procedures.'' This included ``even pro-Nazi German aliens.'' He notes
most of the German aliens returned home or became American citizens and
``few emerged with permanent scars.'' [source: Holocaust and Genocide
Studies, Vol., I, No. 2, pp 330-31 (Washington: US Holocaust Memorial
The inclusion of the issue of Jewish refugees to this bill was not
part of the original concept of the bill and is an obvious fig-leaf,
added later. On May 8, 2007 the Department of Justice sent a letter to
Senate Judiciary Chairman Leahy on the Wartime Treatment Study Act
signed by Principal Deputy Assistant Attorney General, Richard A.
Hertling. The DOJ letter stated that in 2001 Justice had contacted the
Senior Historian at the US Holocaust Memorial Museum and the historian
said ``that the bill's identical depiction of the treatment of Axis
citizens and European Americans [US citizens] was ``outrageously
exaggerated.'' The Holocaust Museum historian when asked about the
bill's accusation that ``the United States Government violated the
civil rights of European-American citizens'' stated that he is ``aware
of no historical facts to support those conclusions.''
The facts concerning the Jewish refugees are accurate, whereas the
facts in the rest of the bill are not. Therefore, if this issue is
going to advance further, it would make sense to separate the Jewish
refugee section into perhaps another bill and not include it in the
issue of wartime treatment of German and Italian nationals.
The bill's terminology is fraudulent. It defines ``German-
American'' as US citizens and resident aliens of German ancestry. But a
German alien living in the United States in 1941, that is to say, a
citizen of Nazi Germany who is not a citizen of the United States is
clearly not a ``German-American,'' but a German national living in
America. The same fraudulent terminology is used in the term ``Italian-
American.'' Italian Americans should be defined as American citizens of
Italian ancestry, not citizens of Italy living in the United States.
This misuse of terminology comes from the earlier Japanese American
legislation and this also should be corrected.
For the most part, the Roosevelt Administration was not dealing
with American citizens (except for those who had shown an affinity for
Fascist Italy and Nazi Germany. We have heard complaints that American
born children of German nationals (who would be American citizens by
birth) were returned to Germany with their parents. Under the
circumstances what was the administration of Franklin D Roosevelt
supposed to do: separate the children from their parents?
It is charged by the activists for this legislation that, for
example, Italian resident aliens and Italian-American fishermen were
unfairly prohibited from fishing in certain areas. Stephen Sulejman
Schwartz, a moderate Muslim-American journalist discussed this issue in
the Weekly Standard as follows:
``Venturing into restricted waters was forbidden to all vessels of
every kind, whether commercial or pleasure boats, without regard for
their owner's citizenship. Allegations that Italian-American fishing
boats were confiscated also turn out to be a hoax. Boats were
requisitioned by the federal authorities through charter or purchase,
and the only craft confiscated belonged to owners who had repeatedly
made incursions into prohibited waters.''[source: The Weekly Standard,
December 10, 2001]
There are complaints by the activists supporting this legislation
about loss of civil liberties because of travel restrictions and the
requirement to carry an identity card, and the like. But, as the same
Weekly Standard article notes:
``What American's freedom was not restricted during World War II? A
draft was instituted, and evaders of it were imprisoned; consumer goods
were rationed, wages, prices, rents, and other transactions were
controlled . . . travel was limited and ordinary people were regularly
stopped and interrogated. . . . Wars are by definition unfair and
uncomfortable. Loyalty tests may be especially uncomfortable to some,
but should not trouble those whose loyalties are clear.'' [source: same
Weekly Standard article as above]
The bill allegedly establishes a so-called ``independent''
commission. But there is nothing ``independent'' about it. As the
Justice Department letter stated, the results are already
``predetermined.'' We have already been told in the bill that the
administration of Franklin D. Roosevelt was guilty of gross human
rights violations. The commission is to include ``two members
representing the interests of the Italian American community'' and
``two members representing the interests of the German American
community.'' How is that going to be determined? As an Italian American
are my interests going to be represented? Remember the fraudulent
definition of German American and Italian American communities means
that we are not necessarily taking about the interests of American
citizens when using these terms. Who, one wonders, is going to be
representing the interests of the ``American community.''
In short, the activists are going to be in charge with four of the
seven seats on the commission. They are supposed to recommend
``appropriate remedies,'' which, as the Justice Department letter
notes, ``could include financial compensation.'' In other words, they
could recommend ``reparations.'' Certainly, there is nothing in the
bill that would prevent the commission from making recommendations for
financial compensation for former supporters of the Nazi and Fascist
regimes, whether the beneficiaries are American citizens or German or
Italian citizens. Clearly, there is nothing to prevent the commission
from making such recommendations as the legislation is currently
The commission is also charged with making recommendations for
``public education programs related to the US Government's Wartime
Treatment of European Americans.'' Is there any doubt that these
``public education programs'' will be the propaganda of moral
equivalence: ``they did bad things, so did we; they interned people in
camps, so did we.'' For example, one activist who is testifying here
today used the direct language of the Nuremberg Trials in describing
the actions of the United States government during World War II in a
speech five years ago:
The activist declared: ``War crimes and crimes against humanity--
this is the level of the severity of the human rights violations for
which the United States has not been held accountable.'' The phrase,
``War crimes and crimes against humanity'' were the exact charges
brought against the major Nazi war criminals at Nuremberg, many of whom
were found guilty and executed. The use of the terms ``war crimes and
crimes against humanity'' cannot be accidental, but an attempt to
suggest similarities of behavior between Franklin Roosevelt's America
and Adolf Hitler's Germany during World War II. [source: http://
If this commission goes into effect, we, as a nation, will have
moved from honoring the ``greatest generation'' to trashing it. The
generation that through tremendous sacrifices defeated the totalitarian
axis of Nazi Germany, Fascist Italy and the militarists of Imperial
Worst of all, this stacked commission of activists and special
interest pleaders is supposed to make recommendations for the future
affecting American national security such as ``assessing the continued
viability of the Alien Enemies Act'' and protecting ``civil liberties
in wartime.'' There is, of course, nothing in this legislation about
how to combat internal subversion in wartime from residents (aliens and
citizens) of our country whose loyalty is not to the United States.
What recommendations for the future will be forthcoming from this
commission? One of the activists, who is a majority witness here today
``The necessity for this [public] education has been underscored in
the aftermath of 9/11 and the unfolding of the global and domestic `war
on terrorism.' ''
What happened during World War II ``is history repeating itself in
the government's current racial profiling.'' [source, same as previous
web listing on Campaign for Justice website]
The agenda here is clear and it weakens American security. The
implicit logic of the bill says that there can be no special scrutiny
for any particular group at any time, as, for example, occurred was
during World War II. However, we should implement common sense special
scrutiny actions where appropriate. For example, it makes sense for
security at our nation's airports (TSA) to examine special scrutiny
measures used by other liberal democratic nation--states such as Israel
and Spain in dealing with potential threats.
In fact, if we are serious about protecting lives, we need at
different times to exercise a particular type of special scrutiny.
During World War II it made sense to treat the communities of German
and Italian aliens and citizens differently from other citizens and
residents of the US. It certainly made sense to treat those who had
expressed an ideological affinity with Nazism, Fascism, and Japanese
imperialism differently from other residents and citizens of the US.
My relatives as Italian Americans during World War II were subject
to special scrutiny and they should have been. Today, we are in
conflict (whether admitted or not) with radical Islam. This means that
common sense tells us that there should be, in some cases (not blanket,
but in some cases), special scrutiny for Muslims (residents and
citizens) in America. If there is a conflict with China, say over
Taiwan, then common sense would tell us that there should be special
scrutiny for Chinese nationals (and some other residents, including
citizens) living in the US. Likewise, if there is a conflict with
Venezuela, Iran, Serbia, Somalia or Luxembourg, the same principle of
common sense special scrutiny should apply for resident aliens and
American citizens connected with the foreign power.
The Wartime Treatment Study act is not only historically
inaccurate, most importantly, it will teach us the wrong lessons on how
best to protect our country in the future.
Ms. Lofgren. Thank you. The gentleman's time has expired.
Now we will turn to Members of the Committee to see if
there are questions for any of the panel members.
First I will turn to you, Mr. King.
Mr. King. Thank you, Madam Chair.
Again, I thank all the witnesses for their testimony. A
series of questions arise for me, but I would--before I ask
them, I have an article here that is the ``Campaign for
Justice,'' dated February 22, 2004, an article written by Grace
Shimizu, that I ask unanimous consent to introduce into the
Ms. Lofgren. Without objection.
[The information referred to follows:]
Mr. King. Thank you, Madam Chair, and all. That is direct
contradiction to the earlier testimony. And I wanted to point
out that ``Hill or Bill's good rules by all account, I think
so,'' on a statement made that turned out to apparently be the
lead of our pejorative.
But some of the questions that come to mind to me would be,
as I listen to Mr. Christgau, this tone of America. And I am
just asking myself as I listen to your testimony, if you were
to list the countries in the world and in order of their
morality, or their relative morality, where would you put the
United States with----
Mr. Christgau. Number one.
Mr. King. As the most moral Nation?
Mr. Christgau. Yes.
Mr. King. Very good. That really helps me put your
testimony on a different perspective, and I just appreciate
And I would ask also of Ms. Ebel this question, and I know
that this gets focused on the family history and the things
that you know because of personal experience, et cetera, but
have you rolled over the thought about how everybody's destiny
is changed by a war? And I know that your testimony reflects
upon how your family's destiny was changed because of the
actions that took place within the context of this war.
Have you speculated on how different it might be if the
internees had been drafted rather than interned? A certain
percentage would have gone into combat and been put at great
risk. Would that have been an injustice to draft them into the
military rather than intern?
Ms. Ebel. It is true that they could have been interned or
they could have been drafted and gone into the war. In my
father's case, he objected to it because he had family in
Europe, and he was concerned about fighting against his brother
and his cousin, and so that is why he objected to it. In his
release recommendation, they also noted that he was
disappointed that he had flunked his pre-induction physical,
and that he was willing, then, to go and fight.
But are you asking me whether it would be better to draft
enemy aliens and have them fight in the war than intern them?
Mr. King. I would like to ask you a more general question,
and less specific. But, if there was a conscientious
objections, or as going back to Germany where my uncles went
even though my grandmother came from there the previous
generation, there was another theater in Japan, which we have
heard about, so from that perspective, I would just ask if you
have contemplated about, as you speak for many others, I
believe, here as a witness, how the destiny might have changed
had some of them been sent into the front and perhaps been
captured by the enemy and put through those camps instead?
Wouldn't we have had more fatalities--some fatalities among
this group that you are representing today that wouldn't have
lived through the war?
Ms. Ebel. Yes, I think we would have.
Mr. King. And would that have been a worse atrocity?
Ms. Ebel. For them to go in and fight in a war and die for
their country? Yes. But I also wanted----
Mr. King. And many of our contemporaries and many of our
parents were engaged in that in a noble patriotic effort and
lost their lives. So I raise that at the beginning. I just am
having trouble getting past that comparison.
I think I should turn to Mr. Fonte and ask if you would
comment on that?
Ms. Ebel. Well, I just want to say that my father was
willing to go to the Pacific, but he had objected to going to
Germany. And I also want to add that there were many internees
who had family members fighting in Europe and in the Pacific
while they were sitting in internment camps.
Mr. King. I agree. Thank you.
Mr. Fonte. Well, in fact, my uncle was involved--and fought
against the Italians and Sicilians during a war, too, so as
many Italian Americans did.
Mr. King. I thank you.
Madam Chair, I yield back.
Ms. Lofgren. The gentleman yields back.
I would ask Ms. Sanchez if she has a question.
Ms. Sanchez. I just very briefly wanted to follow up on
something that Ms. Ebel said regarding the fact that many
aliens who were interned during this period had grown children
that were fighting for the U.S. military effort, and I wanted
to ask--our first witness, were there--how often that happened
that they had family that was fighting for the United States
while their parents while their parents were sitting in
Mr. Christgau. It happened frequently.
Ms. Sanchez. And that was never taken into consideration
when they were deciding who would be interned.
Mr. Christgau. No, it was not.
Ms. Sanchez. Ms. Ebel, you stated that your father, while
he was being interned, was called up to be drafted by the Army.
Don't you find it kind of ironic that they would be drafting a
so-called dangerous person to serve in the military for the
Ms. Ebel. Well, I thought it was a great irony that he was
so dangerous that he couldn't be free in the United States, but
he could go and fight on behalf of the United States. And then
when he flunked his physical, he went right back into the
internment camp again.
I just want to add one interesting anecdote in response to
your earlier question, was that during the Jimmy Doolittle
Raid, one of the navigators for Jimmy Doolittle was a German
American-born man, and his father was an alien internee in
Ms. Sanchez. A wonderful way to treat patriots.
Last question for you: Those who were allowed to go home
after the end of the war in 1945 had to sign an oath of silence
not to talk about their internment. Do you know what the
penalty was for speaking out against what had happened?
Ms. Ebel. My understanding is that the penalty was possible
deportation and possible internment, and that was the precise
reason why many who signed the oath never spoke. I have heard
of several stories where there were deathbed confessions of
internment, and the family was just around, they couldn't even
believe what they were hearing. So the devastation to the
individuals who were interned continued long after the
Ms. Sanchez. Thank you all for your testimony, and I yield
Ms. Lofgren. The gentlelady yields back.
The gentleman from California wishes to ask a question.
Mr. Lungren. Yes, thank you, Madam Chair.
As you may know, during my prior service in Congress I was
selected to serve on the Commission on Wartime Relocation, and
the civilians always know me, sitting Member of Congress who
served on that panel. I did that because I grew up in southern
California and was completely unaware of the treatment of
Japanese Americans and Japanese nationals.
My home area, I lived not too far--I grew up not too far
away from Federal Island, unaware that prior to World War II
there was--Japanese American village there--fishing village--
that was never returned after the war. And I grew up with the
Japanese Americans in my community that had never heard about
that. So when this was brought to my attention in the first
Congress--the first time I was in Congress--I supported the
effort to establish a commission.
I did so by getting sufficient Republican votes to make
sure that we could pass it, but I did so at that time by
promising Members that it was not a simple excuse for granting
reparations; rather, it was a commission--study the record and
establish what the history was. But I do recall at the very
first meeting that we had of the commission, one of the
commissioners turned to us assembled and said, ``Okay, how much
money are we talking about?'' which, frankly, put off alarm
bells in my head because I had promised Members that was not
the purpose of it. Rather, I had thought it was important for
us to investigate that period of time, since it was fairly well
unknown about the treatment of fellow citizens and people who
were here legally at that time.
I still think it is important for us to have historical
records so that we know. I don't think we know enough about how
we--what the decisions were with respect to the Japanese Latin
Americans here, and there is a lot of lack of knowledge with
respect to Germans and Italians.
But I would say that--and I am a co-sponsor of legislation
to look at the question of Japanese Latin American treatment,
but I would say this: I think we ought to be careful about how
we handle this.
I hear about members of your family who were reluctant to
talk about their experiences. My dad was drafted into World War
II as a doctor. He was a battle--he was a physician who was
within one block, as I was told by someone who called me just a
year ago, within one block of the front lines in Normandy. He
received a Purple Heart there.
He never spoke in any detail about his experiences in World
War II. It wasn't because he signed some oath. Because that
experience was so horrendous. He told me he did not--he tried
not to make friends, because he lost them so fast. He described
to me one time one friend he did make who was blown up in front
of his eyes, and there were just pieces of flesh and that was
all that was left.
So there are many who suffered, and many who, in that
generation, sacrificed. I would hope that if we move on these
bills, and the bill in which I have cosponsored, that we would,
I hope, look at establishing a proper historical record as
being the prime reason we are doing this, not that we are
looking at making amends by reparations or something like that.
Let me just say this: It is awfully easy for a generation
60 years later to say, ``God, you were terrible, and we
wouldn't have done this.'' My hope is that if you have a
historical record established, we learn from those experiences,
try and adopt some perspective and some policies which prevent
us from making some mistakes that were made.
But just to set a little record, because there was some
talk about the FBI. There was one person in the higher
positions of the Federal Government who disagreed with Franklin
Delano Roosevelt's decision to round up Japanese Americans and
nationals from the east and west coast. You know who that
person was? J. Edgar Hoover, who said that based on the best
information he had he thought he could limit the number of
people we are talking about to the ones that he thought were
suspicious. Now, in retrospect, we probably know that he was
wrong on some of the people they would have rounded up.
Wouldn't that have been a better process than what we did do?
And in fact, if you want to look at the historical record,
it was in Hawaii that we did not impose that same order because
the military commander in Hawaii said if we had that same order
that was imposed in Hawaii we wouldn't have enough workers, and
we wouldn't have an opportunity to be able to maintain the
economy there. And so there we used J. Edgar Hoover's approach,
and we only rounded up a few people of Japanese American
The only point I am trying to make is as one who has been
through this, who has been through the commission, sat on it,
the only sitting Member of Congress who was willing to sit on
that commission, I know the emotion that goes into it, and I
know the possibilities of utilizing language. For anybody to
say that we had concentration camps, and therefore equate what
we did with what the Germans did, it is historically incorrect
and casts a dispersion upon that generation.
And to suggest that we engaged in war crimes or crimes
against humanity, frankly, I think, is more than exaggeration.
It upsets the historical record and frankly, it is not the way
to gain support in the Congress of the United States and for a
commission to look at any of this. I hope we would understand
Ms. Lofgren. The gentleman's time has expired, and we have
given extra time because of your service on the first
commission. And we would thank this panel for your testimony.
Ms. Ebel, I was particularly touched by your commitment to
your father. As someone who has lost her father, I know that
those obligations are important ones indeed, and I think you
are living up to your promise.
Ms. Ebel. Thank you.
Ms. Lofgren. Thank you very much, and we will ask our next
panel to come forward.
I will introduce them as they step forward. First, Valery
Bazarov. Mr. Bazarov was born in Russia in 1942, immigrated to
the United States in 1988. He holds two graduate degrees from
Odessa State University and Hunter College. He joined the
Hebrew Immigrant Society in 1988 and currently is committed to
finding and honoring the heroes of Jewish and non-Jewish
descent who rescued European Jews during the Holocaust.
Our next witness is David Harris. Mr. Harris has been the
executive director of the American Jewish Committee since 1990.
He travels the globe meeting with world leaders to advance the
wellbeing of Israel, combat anti-Semitism, monitor the
condition of Jewish communities, and promote intergroup and
inter-religious understanding. He is a prolific author and
commentator, and his insightful weekly AJC radio broadcasts are
heard by an estimated 35 billion listeners nationwide on the
CBS radio network.
Next, I am pleased as Mr. Leo Bretholz is here. Mr.
Bretholz was in France in 1940, and by the summer of 1941, HIAS
had assisted his aunt and uncle in the U.S. to apply for a visa
for their nephew. However, in July 1941, just a day after the
bombing of Pearl Harbor, his visa was delayed. Mr. Bretholz
spent the next 6 years running from city to city around Europe
barely escaping death several times. Finally, in 1947, he
obtained a visa to the United States. He has published a book,
``Leap Into Darkness,'' that describes his life between 1941 to
And the final witness is Michael Horowitz. Mr. Horowitz is
the director of the Hudson Institute's project for civil
justice reform and project for international religious liberty.
He served as general council for the Office of Management and
Budget under the Reagan administration and has taught law at
the University of Mississippi and at Georgetown. He has also
practiced law as a partner at several national firms.
Now, before I ask you to testify, I would like to note the
presence in our audience today of Ira Crispen, who is a pretty
famous immigration lawyer and author of immigration text that
is used as a sourcebook throughout the United States.
So Ira, we are very happy to have you here today, and
honored, actually, by your presence.
Ms. Waters. And he is my friend.
Ms. Lofgren. And also, Ms. Waters' friend, so also to your
We would ask, as you have heard before, your full
statements will be made part of the official record. We would
ask your testimony to consume about 5 minutes, and then we will
have an opportunity to ask questions.
So if we could begin with you, Mr. Bazarov?
Mr. Bazarov. Madam Chair, may I ask your permission to
testify after Leo Bretholz, and you will understand why----
Ms. Lofgren. That would be fine.
Mr. Bazarov. Thank you.
Ms. Lofgren. Then we will go to Mr. Harris.
TESTIMONY OF DAVID A. HARRIS, EXECUTIVE DIRECTOR, AMERICAN
JEWISH COMMITTEE (AJC)
Mr. Harris. Do I get his 5 minutes too? [Laughter.]
Madam Chairwoman, distinguished Members of the
Subcommittee, my name is David Harris. I am the executive
director of the American Jewish Committee. Thank you for
holding this hearing on the topic of immense historical
importance that resonates to the present day.
Time does not permit more than a brief discussion of U.S.
immigration policy during the years of the Third Reich.
Fortunately, there are many scholarly works and personal
testimonies to fill out the picture. They make clear that as a
Nation we did far less to rescue Jews who were targeted for
extinction by the Nazi juggernaut than we could and should
Allow me to cite just three examples that I believe
encapsulate the larger story. In May 1939, a passenger liner,
the ``St. Louis,'' set sail from Hamburg with over 900 Jewish
refugees. It was destined for Cuba, but on arrival Cuban
officials canceled the passengers' transit visas and refused to
let all but a handful disembark.
The ship then headed for the coast of Florida, coming so
close that the refugees could see the lights of Miami, but U.S.
officials refused to let it enter a port. The ship was sent
back to Europe, and more than a quarter of the passengers, we
know, were killed by the Nazis. Imagine, Madam Chairwoman, our
country could find neither the compassion nor the legal basis
to admit 900 Jews fleeing Hitler who were within sight of our
The next year, 1940, Assistant Secretary of State
Breckenridge Long wrote his now legendary words, ``We can delay
and effectively stop for a temporary period of indefinite
length the number of immigrants into the United States. We
could do this by simply advising our consuls to put every
obstacle in the way and to require additional evidence and to
resort to various administrative devices which would postpone
and postpone and postpone the granting of the visas.''
Imagine key State Department officials, when they were not
suppressing information coming from Europe about the fate of
the Jews--and that is its own story--were seeking ways to block
entry into the United States. In so doing, they failed even to
meet the strict immigration quotas operative at the time. From
1933 onward, and I would wish to stress this point, the annual
country quota for immigrants from Germany was only filled
once--exactly once--even though, as you can well imagine, there
was no shortage of applicants. The obstacle was a lack of
And the refugees had few other places to turn: Britain,
which itself took in 70,000 European Jews, succumbed to Arab
pressure and tightened still further entry into Mandatory
Palestine when, tragically, there was no sovereign Israel to
offer safe haven. The vast majority of Europe's Jews, feeling
the Nazi noose tightening around their necks, were trapped--
literally trapped--even when they could still leave countries
like Germany and Austria. Too many had nowhere to go; they were
the unwanted flotsam of the Second World War.
And third, on January 16, 1944, Henry Morgenthau, the
secretary of the treasury, wrote his now famous cri de coeur to
President Roosevelt. He quoted a Senate Foreign Relations
Committee report recommending a commission to formulate plans
to save Europe's Jews. The Committee report said, ``We have
talked; we have sympathized; we have expressed our horror; the
time to act is long past due.''
At the conclusion of Morgenthau's admirable letter, with
anger and anguish he wrote to the President, his friend,
referring to the State Department--our State Department--``The
matter of rescuing the Jews from extermination is a trust too
great to remain in the hands of men who are indifferent,
callous, and perhaps even hostile.'' Morgenthau's intervention
resulted in the creation of the U.S. War Refugee Board, which
protected an estimated 200,000 Jews from otherwise certain
It was a stark reminder of what this country was capable of
when it resolved to act. If only we had acted sooner. But alas,
the government spent little time considering ways to rescue
Jews, slow down the transport trains to the camps, bomb the
machinery of death, or warn the Nazis of sever retribution for
their genocidal policy.
Madam Chairwoman, ladies and gentlemen, I cannot end this
testimony without a personal word. Even with the falures of
omission and commission in American policy, an estimate 200,000
Jews were able to enter the United States from 1933 to 1945.
That number may have been a mere pittance compared to those who
sought and were eligible for entry, but nonetheless, those
200,000 Jews were saved.
I would not be here today were it not for that group of
200,000. My mother and maternal grandparents were among them,
arriving in New York in November 1941. Their entry into the
United States, though, was not easy, I assure you. But in the
end, having crossed the Iberian Peninsula to Lisbon, the
boarded the ``SS Exeter'' and found a safe haven and new start
in this country.
If only more leaders had had the capacity not only to grasp
the genocide at had, but also to identify with the anguish of
the victims who, until the very end, wanted to believe that
their plight would not, could not, go neglected. Then there
would have been no need at least for my part of the panel. And
yes, there would be many more people like myself, today proud
to call America home.
Thank you, Madam Chairwoman.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Harris follows:]
Prepared Statement of David A. Harris
Madame Chairwoman, Distinguished Members of the Subcommittee,
My name is David Harris. I am the executive director of the
American Jewish Committee.
Permit me to thank you for holding this hearing on a topic of
immense historical importance that continues to resonate--and haunt
us--to the present day.
Time does not permit more than a brief review of U.S. immigration
policy from 1933 to 1945, the years that coincide with the rule of the
Third Reich. Fortunately, there are many scholarly works on the
subject, as well as personal testimonies, which fill out the picture.
Upon assuming office in 1933, President Franklin D. Roosevelt was
immediately confronted with two daunting challenges--one domestic, the
At home, President Roosevelt faced the devastating impact of the
Great Depression and the pressing need to rebuild the economy and
restore confidence in the nation.
Abroad, President Roosevelt took office just weeks after Adolf
Hitler ascended to power in Berlin.
From the start, the President showed courage and sagacity in
dealing with the domestic challenge, while, over time, recognizing, to
his everlasting credit, that a country unenthusiastic about the
prospect of once again rescuing Europe from its own demons, as it had
in the First World War, needed to be prepared for that eventuality.
But the Roosevelt era included one great failing. As a nation, we
did far less to rescue Jews, who were targeted for extinction by the
Nazi juggernaut, than we could and should have.
Who was to blame? Frankly, it would be easier, and much shorter, to
list who was not to blame.
The reasons, excuses, and defenses for those who failed to act
could fill volumes.
However sensitive President Roosevelt might have been to the Jews'
plight, and there is reason to believe that he was, domestic politics
at the time made it difficult for him to act.
He was fearful of inciting the fertile ground of domestic anti-
Semitism and facing the wrath of widespread nativist sentiment, both
attested to by public opinion polls at the time. Moreover, he was
convinced, once the U.S. entered the war, that the best way to help
Europe's Jews was to vanquish the Nazis as quickly as possible, without
any so-called distraction or diversion of resources.
The Congress, while including some Members who desperately wanted
to help beleaguered Jews, could not overcome the resistance of
restrictionist colleagues, who, reflecting the popular mood, were
unwilling to revisit strict immigration laws adopted in 1924, leaving
those laws intact throughout the period under discussion here.
The State Department, plagued by the bureaucratic instinct for
inertia and legalism at its worst, not to mention a tissue-thin facade
that barely concealed the anti-Semitism of some of its key decision-
makers, was the last place in Washington to look for help.
The general public was certainly not clamoring for the gates to be
opened. Fearful of more newcomers, who were seen as threats to scarce
jobs, and influenced the hysteria wrought by demagogues like Father
Charles Coughlin, who railed against the Jews in his popular radio
broadcasts, the American people exerted little pressure on elected
officials to do something dramatic to help Europe's embattled Jews.
In fact, a 1942 survey, cited by Leonard Dinnerstein in
Antisemitism in America, found that Americans rated Jews as the third
greatest ``menace'' to the country, behind only Germans and Japanese,
the country's sworn wartime enemies. By 1944, Jews had moved to the top
of the list, with 24 percent of Americans believing that Jews posed the
With notably few exceptions, the media did not experience its
proudest moment, either. In such leading newspapers and opinion-molders
as the New York Times, stories about the plight of Hitler's victims
were often brief and buried, and editorials were few and far between.
They hardly contributed to an understanding of, much less a popular
outrage against, what was taking place in Europe, even as the grisly
facts of the Nazi eliminationist plans emerged.
Jewish agencies, including my own, were alarmed by the trajectory
of developments and sought in their various ways to raise consciousness
and reach decision-makers, though, it must be said, their clout was
severely limited. Indeed, as historian Henry Feingold despairingly
notes in The Politics of Rescue:
Much of their formidable organizational resources were
dissipated in internal bickering until it seemed as if Jews
were more anxious to tear each other apart than to rescue their
I could go on. Suffice it to say that this was not our country's
In the interests of time, let me cite just three examples that, I
believe, encapsulate the larger story.
In May 1939, a passenger liner, the St. Louis, set sail from
Hamburg with over 900 Jewish refugees. It was destined for Cuba, but,
on arrival, Cuban officials cancelled the transit visas that had been
issued to the passengers and refused to let all but a tiny handful
disembark. The ship then headed for the coast of Florida, coming so
close that the refugees could see the lights of Miami, but U.S.
officials callously refused to let it enter a port and discharge its
passengers. Rather, the ship was sent back to Europe. More than a
quarter of the passengers, it is known, were subsequently killed by the
Imagine, our country could find neither the compassion nor the
legal basis to admit 900 Jews fleeing Hitler who were within sight of
The next year, Assistant Secretary of State Breckenridge Long, no
friend of Europe's Jews, to say the least, wrote his now legendary
words: ``We can delay and effectively stop for a temporary period of
indefinite length the number of immigrants into the United States. We
could do this by simply advising our consuls to put every obstacle in
the way and to require additional evidence and to resort to various
administrative devices which would postpone and postpone and postpone
the granting of the visas.''
Imagine, key officials in the State Department, when they were not
trying to suppress information coming from Europe about the fate of the
Jews, were actively seeking ways to block entry to the United States.
In so doing, they failed even to meet the strict immigration quotas
operative at the time. Shockingly, from 1933 onward, for example, the
annual country quota for immigrants from Germany was only filled once.
In 1939, for example, there were over 300,000 applicants for the
27,000 German slots alone. The failure to do so was not for any
shortage of applicants, cumbersome though the process was--including,
hard as it may be to believe, a Certificate of Good Conduct from German
police officials and, as of September 30, 1939, proof of permission to
leave Germany. Rather, the problem was a total lack of compassion.
Nor were the refugees excluded in the knowledge that, if the United
States did not resettle them, other nations would. Indeed, few other
Apropos, Britain, which itself took in 70,000 European Jews,
succumbed to Arab pressure and tightened still further entry into
Mandatory Palestine, another theoretical escape route, when,
tragically, there was no sovereign Israel to offer safe haven to Jews
in desperate need.
Two major intergovernmental conferences, Evian in 1938 and Bermuda
in 1943, were touted as venues for discussion of the refugee crisis,
but the U.S. and other participants seemed more far interested in the
politics of symbolism than in substance.
In other words, the vast majority of Europe's Jews, feeling the
Nazi noose tightening around their necks, were literally trapped, even
when they still had the chance to leave countries like Germany and
Austria. Too many had nowhere to go. They were the unwanted flotsam of
the Second World War.
And on January 16, 1944, Henry Morgenthau, the Secretary of the
Treasury, wrote his cri de Coeur to his friend, President Roosevelt.
In it, he said:
The best summary of the whole situation is contained in one
sentence of a report submitted on December 20, 1943, by the
Committee on Foreign Relations of the Senate, recommending the
passage of a Resolution (S.R. 203), favoring the appointment of
a commission to formulate plans to save the Jews of Europe from
extinction by Nazi Germany. . . . The committee stated: `We
have talked; we have sympathized; we have expressed our horror;
the time to act is long past due.'
Concluding his admirable letter to the President, Morgenthau wrote,
referring to the State Department:
The matter of rescuing the Jews from extermination is a trust
too great to remain in the hands of men who are indifferent,
callous, and perhaps even hostile.
Imagine, the Secretary of the Treasury felt compelled to resort to
such language about governmental colleagues in a letter to the
President, so angry and anguished was he about U.S. refugee policy.
Importantly, the result of Morgenthau's intervention was the
creation of the U.S. War Refugee Board, which, through sheer ingenuity
and audacity, was successful in rescuing an estimated 200,000 Jews from
otherwise certain death.
It was a stark reminder of what this country was capable of when it
resolved to act. If only we had done so sooner--but, alas, the
government spent little time considering ways to rescue Jews, slow down
the transport trains to the extermination camps, bomb the machinery of
death, or warn the Nazi regime of severe retribution for its genocidal
Madame Chairwoman, I cannot end this testimony without a personal
Even with the grievous failures of omission and commission in
American policy, an estimated 200,000 Jews were able to enter the
United States in the 12-year period from 1933 to 1945.
That number may have been a mere pittance compared to those who
sought entry and, indeed, were eligible for admission under the
existing quota system, but nonetheless those 200,000 Jews were saved.
I would not be here today, Madame Chairwoman, were it not for that
group of 200,000. My mother and maternal grandparents were among them,
arriving in New York in November 1941.
Their entry into the United States was not made easy, I assure you,
but in the end, having crossed the Iberian Peninsula to Lisbon, they
were able to board the SS Exeter and find a safe haven, and new start,
in this country.
But if only more leaders had had the capacity not only to grasp the
genocide at hand, but also to identify with the anguish of the
victims--the victims who till the very end wanted to believe that their
plight as human beings would not, could not, go neglected--then there
would have been no need for this hearing. And, yes, there would be many
more people like myself today proud to call America home.
Thank you, Madame Chairwoman.
Ms. Lofgren. Thank you, Mr. Harris.
Mr. Bretholz, we will be pleased to hear from you.
Could we get a microphone?
TESTIMONY OF LEO BRETHOLZ,
AUTHOR OF ``LEAP INTO DARKNESS''
Mr. Bretholz. Madam Chairwoman, it is a pleasure to be here
and a privilege to have been invited to share my story with
I am not an angry man. I am a disappointed man. I am sad
because what Mr. Harris just said spells it all out. In
addition to Breckenridge Long, there was a man at the State
Department by the name of Robert Borden Reams, and Robert
Borden Reams was informed by a man in Geneva by the name of Dr.
Guerhard Reidner--he was the representative in Geneva of the
America Jewish Congress--that he had just learned that the
Final Solution has been decided on the the Wannsee Conference.
Robert Borden Reams notified the American consulates
overseas not to pay attention to Dr. Reidner's report, because
for your information, Reidner is Jewish. And Robert Borden
Reams was in charge of the Nazi Jewish desk at the time at
My story is one very personal of survival during the
Holocaust. I was living in Vienna in Austria in March 1938 when
Hitler and the German army entered the city and--the annexation
of Austria, and at the encouragement of my mother, I fled
Austria. In April 1941, I had an aunt and uncle in Baltimore
who prepared affidavits hoping to obtain a visa of immigration
to the United States. That autumn, deportations from Vienna
During this time, I was in France dreaming of immigrating
to the United States, and every day I went to the post office
hoping to find good news somewhere beyond so much awfulness.
One day my eyes fell on a red, white, and blue bordered envelop
from America. The postal clerk knew.
For weeks I had been sighing disappointedly when no mail
arrived from the United States, and now my aunt in Baltimore
was writing to me. And with the help of the HIAS Hebrew
Immigration Aid Society, my affidavit was accepted by the U.S.
Immigration and Naturalization Service. In the near future, my
aunt wrote I should receive notification from a U.S. consulate
to appear at its office for my visa.
In November, I received notification that stated, ``Present
yourself at the U.S. consulate in Marseilles on December 8,
1941.'' Early in the morning December 8, I stopped at the
newspaper kiosk on my way to the U.S. consulate in Marseilles.
I saw a headline. For those who know French, ``Le Japon Attaque
La Flotille Americaine A Pearl Harbor''--Japan has attacked the
American fleet in Pearl Harbor.
Now, I didn't know who this Pearl, was, you know, an
unknown person to me, of course. I stood transfixed. Never had
I heard of Pearl Harbor, and now it was the fulcrum of my
entire life. At 9 o'clock I presented myself at the
receptionist--to a receptionist at the consulate and saw more
than a dozen visa applicants.
We waited at the consulate for someone in authority to
enter the room to tell us our pleas would be answered, that an
exception would be made for us. No one came. As I left, the
consulate seemed a descent into doom, because the consulate had
notified, no visa applications are going to be examined.
After being denied a visa to the United States, I spent the
next 6 years on the run, barely escaping death--as I like to
say, trying to be one step ahead of those who wanted me dead.
And that was in Vichy, France. I escaped Germany by swimming
across the River Sauer into Luxembourg; I escaped the French
camp at St. Cyprien near the Pyrenees Mountains; I crossed the
Alps by foot into Switzerland, hid into attics; I was sent back
to Vichy, France from Switzerland--by the way, I was arrested;
I escaped and leapt from a train at night that was bound for
Auschwitz--that was on the 6th of November, 1942, and were it
not for this night of November 6, 1942, I would not be sitting
here talking, because in that train, 20 cattle cars, 50 each,
1,000 people, only five survived, and I am one of them. I had
escaped from the train with a friend on the night of November
I wanted to find myself in the United States, and from
Baltimore I received a letter from my aunt telling me to be
patient. She had prepared another affidavit of support with the
help of the HIAS Hebrew Immigration Aid Society. But at the
time, there were thousands like me trying to immigrate to the
United States. The process was slow.
Almost a year later, on March 18, 1946, I received a letter
from the American consulate in Bordeaux saying that I had been
given a low case number, number 531. Receiving the low case
number made me feel very important.
In December 1946 I received my French exit visa. A week
later I was booked passage on the steamer ``John Ericsson.'' I
departed for the United States in January 1947; I arrived here
62 years ago.
I reached America in 1947 and hid my story for the next 14
years. Why had my life been spared when so many had been taken?
Would some miracle arrive in the mail telling me that my mother
and sisters were still alive somewhere in the wreckage of
Europe? However, I do know that if I and many others had
received visas to immigrate to the United States in 1941, many
of us would have been spared the horrific experiences we
endured, and many more people would have survived.
My mother and sisters were murdered in a death camp, and 20
more family members. In addition to the story of the ``St.
Louis,'' there is also one other story that has to be
mentioned, that while 10,000 children were admitted to England
in 1938 and 1939, at that time there was a bill introduced in
the United States Congress to admit several hundred children
and it was voted down in the United States.
I want to end, Mrs. Chairwoman, with a quote from George
Fantayana, and this is all the exercise here, but this is not
recrimination because we are changing the past. That is the
past. That cannot be changed. But George Fantayana said, ``If
we do not remember the lessons of history, we are condemned to
repeat them.'' And this exercise here is to make sure that that
will never get repeated.
Thank you very much.
[The prepared statement of Mr. Bretholz follows:]
Prepared Statement of Leo Bretholz
I was living in Vienna, Austria in March 1938 when Hitler and the
German army entered the city. At the encouragement of my mother, I fled
In April 1941, I had an Aunt and Uncle in Baltimore who prepared
affidavits, hoping to obtain a visa of immigration for me to the United
States. That autumn, deportations from Vienna began. An Aunt and cousin
of mine were shipped to a Lodz ghetto en route to Auschwitz. An Uncle
of mine was already there. During this time, I was in France, dreaming
of immigrating to the United States. Every day, I went to the post
office, hoping to find good news somewhere beyond so much awfulness.
One day, my eyes fell on a red-white-and-blue bordered envelope from
``Enfin, ca y est,'' the postal clerk said. At last, it's here.
The postal clerk knew. For weeks, I'd been sighing disappointingly
when no mail arrived from the United States. Now, my Aunt in Baltimore
was writing to me. With the help of the Hebrew Immigration Aid Society,
my affidavit was accepted by the U.S. Immigration and Naturalization
Service. In the near future, my Aunt wrote, I should receive
notification from a U.S. Consulate to appear at its office for my visa.
In November, I received the notification that stated: ``Present
yourself at the U.S. Consulate in Marseilles on December 8, 1941.''
Early in the morning of December 8th, I stopped at a newspaper
kiosk on my way to the U.S. Consulate. I saw a headline: Le Japon
Attaque La Flotille Americaine A Pearl Harbor.''
I stood transfixed. Never had I heard of Pearl Harbor, and now it
was the fulcrum of my entire life. At nine o'clock, I presented myself
to a receptionist at the consulate, and saw more than a dozen other
We were told by the consulate that, ``In view of the hostilities,
the consulate has been instructed to cease all visa-processing
formalities until further notice.''
A woman standing with her small children began to cry, so the
children also cried. A dreadful wailing commenced. A mistake, we
proclaimed. People are waiting for us, we moaned. Yes, yes, we were
told by the consulate, but this is war and we all must make sacrifices.
We waited at the consulate for someone in authority to enter the
room, to tell us our pleas would be answered, that an exception would
be made for us. No one came. As I left the consulate it seemed like a
descent into doom.
After being denied a visa to the United States, I spent the next
six years on the run, barely escaping death. I had escaped Germany by
swimming across the River Sauer; I escaped a French camp at St.
Cyprien; I crossed the Alps by foot into Switzerland; hid in attics and
ceiling crawlspaces; I escaped and leapt from a train at night that was
bound for Auschwitz; I was arrested by French gendarmes, beaten by
prison guards, and escaped again; and I joined the French resistance
until the War in Europe was over.
The end of the War in Europe in 1945 was not like the end of a
winning ballgame or the beginning of a new year. Instead, it felt like
the winding down of an endless era of exhaustion, and the beginning of
a great unknown.
I wanted to find myself in the United States. From Baltimore, I
received a letter from my Aunt telling me to be patient. She had
prepared another affidavit of support with help from the Hebrew
Immigration Aid Society. But, at the time, there were thousands like
me, trying to immigrate to the United States. The process was slow.
Almost a year later, on March 18, 1946, I received a letter from
the American Consulate in Bordeaux, saying that I had been given a low
case number, 531. Receiving the low case number made me feel important.
In December of 1946, I received my French exit visa. A week later,
I was booked passage on the steamer John Ericsson. I departed for the
United States in January of 1947.
Early on the morning of January 29, 1947, I saw seagulls gliding
through the air. An airborne welcoming committee, I thought. Our
steamer was approaching the coastal waters of the United States. In the
afternoon, the steamer entered New York harbor, moving past a fog-
enshrouded Statue of Liberty. Many of us stood on the deck of the
steamer and gaped, not quite believing we had finally arrived.
Spontaneously, we applauded her welcoming figure.
I reached America in 1947 and hid my story for the next fourteen
years. Why had my life been spared when so many had been taken? Would
some miracle arrive in the mail, telling me that my mother and my
sisters were still alive somewhere in the wreckage of Europe? However,
I do know that if I and many others had received visas to immigrate to
the United States in 1941, many of us would have been spared the
horrific experiences we endured and many, many more people would have
Ms. Lofgren. Thank you, Mr. Bretholz.
Mr. Bazarov, you have reserved the time for after, and then
we will go to Mr. Horowitz.
TESTIMONY OF VALERY BAZAROV, DIRECTOR OF LOCATION AND FAMILY
HISTORY SERVICE, HEBREW IMMIGRANT AID SOCIETY (HIAS)
Mr. Bazarov. Thank you.
Madam Chairwoman, Ranking Member King, Members of the
Subcommittee, thank you for inviting me to testify before this
Committee which addresses the issue long time overdue.
If somebody asks, ``Why address the matters which lost
urgency a long time ago and with not many witnesses left who
can testify their own experience?'' the answer is, we must
address the matters which happened in the past just not to
allow them to happen again. It could be argued that nobody
learns from history. That is true. But there is always hope
that the next time it will be different. I hope that this time
it will be different.
I have the honor to represent here, at this hearing, the
Hebrew Immigrant Aid Society, HIAS, which opened its doors in
1881, and since then until this day, assists Jews and other
people whose lives and freedom are in danger. The objective of
this statement is to show that the numbers of Holocaust
survivors would have been far greater were it not for the
policies of the U.S. State Department toward the immigration of
From 1933 through 1941, Germany permitted immigration. The
problem was finding safe haven for the desperate refugees. It
was only in the end of 1941 that the Nazis instituted the
infamous Final Solution and the fate of millions of Jews was
Immigration in the time of peace was not an easy
assignment. During the war, with the rules set by the State
Department, it became almost mission impossible. To leave
France, for example, a refugee needed an exit visa, a transit
visa, an entry visa for the country of destination, affidavits
of support--laural and political affidavits, certificates of
good behavior, and paid tickets for the ship destined for the
United States or other country of immigration. Documents with
expiration dates had to be valid on the day of departure. Just
one document had expired and the refugees needed to start all
In addition, visas were valid only for up to 4 months, and
the tickets overseas were sold out for many months ahead.
Moreover, the tickets would be not sold without issued entry
visas, and of course the United States consulate would not
issue a visa without a ticket. It is not surprising that the
majority of the refugees could not make it.
Sometime ago, I interviewed Hellen Katel, who worked for
HIAS in France in 1940 and 1941. She remembered that she and
her colleagues wept when they were obliged to choose from among
the thousands of applicants only a few who met the requirements
of the State Department.
In 1941, FBI, through the State Department, reviewed
allegations against HIAS, which allegedly was bringing the
Gestapo agents under power of the refugee status. The answer of
the consulate was straight and left no doubt that HIAS's
integrity was intact.
However, 3 weeks after the positive reports, State
Department addressed the consulate with the following document:
The Department received information from reliable confidential
sources indicating that the Gestapo is using the Jewish refugee
organization, HICEM--it is another name of HIAS in Europe--in
getting their agents into the United States and other western
hemisphere countries. It is suggested that any application for
visas of persons to whom this information applies be examined
in the light thereof. The only plausible reason for the State
Department to issue such decree was an attempt to restrain
lifesaving Jewish immigration.
Now, I asked for permission to testify after Mr. Bretholz
because his testimony is not complete. He doesn't have in his
documents, and I was able to procure them from our archives. He
was denied the entry to the United States for the first time in
June 1941, long before Pearl Harbor happened. That is when he
received the letter from the consulate that the rules of the--
again, and his visa was canceled. Now remember, David Harris
quoted this quotation from Breckenridge Long, ``Postpone, and
postpone, and postpone.''
According to the Jewish tradition, to save a life is to
save the world. We will never know the exact number of those
who might be saved were it not for the U.S. State Department
policies in effect at that time. What we do know is that the
loss is incalculable as millions of universes were extinguished
[The prepared statement of Mr. Bazarov follows:]
Prepared Statement of Valery Bazarov
Ms. Lofgren. Thank you.
And finally, Mr. Horowitz.
TESTIMONY OF MICHAEL HOROWITZ, SENIOR FELLOW, HUDSON INSTITUTE
Mr. Horowitz. I am Michael Horowitz. I am a fellow at the
Hudson Institute. I have spent my career fighting racism,
dealing with human rights. I was a professor of civil rights
law at the University of Mississippi teaching the first
integrated classes and had my share of run-ins with the Ku Klux
Klan. I have been deeply involved over the last 10 years with
right-left coalitions that have passed laws like the
International Religious Freedom Act, the Trafficking Victims
Protection Act, the Sudan Peace Act, the North Korea Human
Rights Act, the Prison Rape Elimination Act, and other such
I deeply believe that American interests are only strong
when American values are honored, and so I am pleased and
honored to be here today. I have got a wife who is a doctor; I
have been a little under the weather, but I am here. If it were
my deathbed I would be here, because I think that importance of
this hearing is so critical.
How can it be said to be critical? I mean, you are dealing
with billion, trillion dollar bailouts and collapses of
economies. My judgment is, how a nation defines itself, how it
sees its own history--if it gets it right, if we get it right--
it will do more to solve the toxic mortgage problem than all of
the bailouts. History is how we understand ourselves and how we
move on in the future.
And so let me say that I am on this panel with men that I
am just so honored to be with, and I agree with everything they
have had to say, because a great nation needs to learn from its
mistakes. If we are blind to our mistakes, we will not remain a
great nation. And I would say as a Republican, my last
appearance before a Judiciary Committee came when I opposed
with all I had in me Bush administration policies that defined
material support in ways that would require--that treated as
terrorists women who were forced to wash the clothes of
I come here in context of H.R. 1425, and I think it is
very, very important to indicate that we learn from history
only if there is balance, not prejudgment; if there is
scholarship, not anecdotal work. And that is why I am here to
talk about Section 101 of the bill, the one that deals with the
German, Italian, European Commission.
I would get off my sacred deathbed to ask this Committee to
delete or oppose that provision, and here is why: That
provision profoundly ignores context. You read the findings, it
is as if we never fought World War II; it is as if we were
never vulnerable to lose World War II.
Doctors talk about a retrospectoscope; everyone is perfect
when they have one, but there is no balance there. And there
are no facts as one looks at that hearing--at that provision.
The bill ignores, it blurs the treatment between enemy alien
citizens of Germany and Italy and the United States citizens.
Its numbers are wildly skewed. One looks at numbers like
300,000. We don't know what the numbers are but we can, I
think, fairly be confident that the numbers in the findings
section are not accurate.
The bill also ignores the fact that in context, we were
looking at, as I am sure John Fonte has indicated, brownshirt
and blackshirt and Bund organizations that were rampant
throughout the United States. I grew up in the Bronx, and I
have got to tell you that my Italian friends--and most of them
were Italian--would not have given hearings, however imperfect
they may have been, and appeals to many of the people who were
interned; they would have had them executed. And I note that
the bill talks about that they love this blessed land, and they
hated the kinds of people who were actively intimidating in
support of the Fascists and Nazis who had taken over their own
And so I think that that bill ignores that. It ignores the
hearing rights that were present. It ignores the spy networks.
And frankly, having sat on this panel and been moved by it, it
just offends me so deeply that this bill, inadvertently or
otherwise, ties America's treatment, imperfect as it was, of
the enemy aliens with what we did to immigrants seeking to come
into the United States. Every one of those immigrants would
have given anything to have been treated twice as badly as we
treated those enemy aliens.
Now, the main point I want to make about that commission
is, its--I will wrap it up--not only its lack of balance, but
its call for membership. It calls for four members who are
involved in, who are active in the Italian American and German
What we need if we are going to do it right is scholarship,
and we have talked about Professor Abzug. Let me just close.
There are two things I want to say.
One, I don't have the chance to talk about its impact on
the crisis we now confront with terrorism, but Professor Abzug,
just before this hearing, asked me--authorized me to say
something about the scholarship, and Mr. Christgau who--he
cares--but here is what he had to say, this Regents professor:
``As my review stated, the Christgau book is lightly
researched, anecdotal, and in no way delivers compelling
evidence of widespread abuse that can be compared to the
situation of Japanese Americans during the war. In fact, I came
away from reading the book with the distinct impression that
abuses were present, but not widespread, on the basis of the
author's lack of evidence, lack of research and rigor,
especially when one considers the security context of the
So if you are going to do it, insist that scholars like the
kinds of scholars who research what Abraham Lincoln did during
the Civil War, who can provide balance----
[The prepared statement of Mr. Horowitz follows:]
Prepared Statement of Michael Horowitz
Ms. Lofgren. Mr. Horowitz, your time is expired. We do
appreciate your testimony, and we appreciate the testimony of
all of the witnesses.
At this point we have time for questions, and I would turn
first to the Ranking Member, Mr. King, to see if he has
questions for the panel.
Mr. King. Thank you, Madam Chair, and as I listen to the
testimony, something occurs to me, was a statement made in the
Judiciary Committee 2 years ago by one of our Members, who
said, ``Nazis predominantly were Christians and the Holocaust
was a Christian tragedy.''
I would ask first Mr. Harris, would you agree with that?
Mr. Harris [continuing]. That is going to require a
separate hearing. I would put it this way, sir: I would say
that European soil for centuries was tilled by Christian anti-
Semitism. And when the pagan philosophy of the Nazis, however
they were born, whatever their baptismal certificate said,
came, and they pursued the notion of a final solution, they
found very fertile ground largely because of the result of
centuries of the teaching of contempt and the imposition of
everything from forced conversions to inquisitions, and so
forth. So I would be a little more careful in the wording than
the question presented, but nonetheless there is a connection.
Mr. King. And it is a cultural connection rather than
religiously based. Would you agree with that?
Mr. Harris. I would agree that the Third Reich did not act
in the name of Christian faith. To the contrary, there were
many Christian clergy in countries like Poland who themselves
were targeted, who were incarcerated in concentration camps,
and in many cases killed as Christian zealots and others.
Mr. King. And you had described it as a pagan philosophy.
Is Nazism a pagan philosophy?
Mr. Harris. That is the way they themselves would describe
Mr. King. As I would too, and I think that point of clarity
needed to be brought, Mr. Harris. And then, have you in your
studies--first, I have got great sympathy for this argument
that here, and I can't put myself into the context of the
history back in that time, but, you know, I would think that
bringing the ``St. Louis'' into the United States would be
something I would like to think I would have approved in a
heartbeat. This one really is stark, and it stands out to me.
But I don't think I am hearing the other side of this--the
balance, the historical balance in this. And that is, the end
that was put to Nazism by the free world, would you say that--I
don't want to put words in your mouth, I just wondered, do you
have a speculation on how many Christians gave their lives to
end the Nazi Holocaust?
Mr. Harris. First of all, in my full written testimony,
Congressman King, I speak about the dramatic issues that
Franklin Roosevelt faced as President of the United States,
including a country that itself was largely unwilling to go to
war after rescuing Europe in the First World War. I give him
credit for leading this Nation to the realization we would have
to fight again, and you men particularly--young women as well,
but primarily young men on the battlefield, and I would add not
just Christians, but people of all faiths including many Jews--
500,000 American Jews served in the military--and yes, we
should never lose sight of the fact that at the end of the day
the Allies, lead by the United States together with Great
Britain, and I have to add the Soviet Union, vanquished the
Nazi dream of a 1,000-year reign; there is no question about
Mr. King. I thank you, Mr. Harris, and I think it does take
another hearing to flesh this out. Myself, I feel the urge to
go way deep into that history and lay out a lot more of the
foundation of it.
I wanted to ask Mr. Bretholz that--I would think there
would be a bond there, but have you read Victor Frankl's
Mr. Bretholz. Yes.
Mr. King. And I just, as I listened to your testimony,
Mr. Bretholz. He was Viennese, by the way. He was Viennese,
just like I.
Mr. King. Yes.
Mr. Bretholz. I like to say, I am from Vienna, but nothing
is perfect in life, you know.
Mr. King. The delivery and the tone in your testimony
brought that to mind as I listened to you today, and I wanted
to reference that and ask if you learned anything from his
search for meaning.
Mr. Bretholz. If I had what?
Victor Frankl's search for meaning. Well, it is a text in
schools now, just like my book has been taken and also is a
text recently, but it has confirmed everything that I had
experienced myself. And of course, Victor Frankl had a
different reaction and he made something positive out of his
life, while--from Italy, what is the fellow that came--Primo
Levi was a destroyed man after the camp. Frankl did something
positive and Primo Levi could not exist after that.
Mr. King. Thanks, Mr. Bretholz.
I thank you all for the witness. Mr. Horowitz, if I could--
Mr. Bretholz. One more thing about Christians.
Mr. King. Yes.
Mr. Bretholz. Do you know the late historian, Professor
Halebrook, said that Hitler's plan to annihilate the Jews was
the culmination--this comes back to the point of Christians--
was the culmination of what had happened for centuries. There
is a book written by a Jesuit priest, Edward H. Flannery, he
called it ``The Anguish of the Jews''--23 centuries of anti-
Semitism. But the early missionary said you may not live among
us as Jews, so the Jews converted. They may be allowed to live.
Then came the secular Christians, and they said later on in
the Middle Ages, they said, ``You may not live among us.'' So,
you may not live among us, so they went into shtetles, in the
first shtetle in Venice, is an Italian town, and then came
Hitler and he made it a very simple, short--, ``You may not
live,'' you know? And this was the culmination of it all.
Ms. Lofgren. Thank you, Mr. Bretholz. The gentleman's time
has expired, and we are about to be called for votes, so I am
going to ask Ms. Sanchez if she has a question before hearing
from Mr. Lungren.
Ms. Sanchez. Well, in the interest of time, because we are
going to be summoned for votes shortly, I will submit written
questions for our panelists and some of our previous panelists.
I just really want to commend all of you for your testimony and
your bravery in coming forth and sharing your stories, and I
think that absolutely those that don't study history are doomed
to repeat it, and I think your stories show that, you know, and
idealized version of history does nobody any good. We really
need to examine the good and the bad in the hopes that in the
future the bad won't be repeated.
And with that I am going to yield back my time.
Ms. Lofgren. The gentlelady yields back.
I would turn to Mr. Lungren to see if he has a question.
Mr. Lungren. If I could just make a comment, and some may
think this is a little off, but one person that we don't
recognize for his greatness during this time is a fellow,
Dwight D. Eisenhower, for the great contributions he made to
make sure that we knew that there was a Holocaust and that
there were concentration camps. He was a Midwestern raw-boned
American who--justice did his job as he thought he should, and
we don't give him enough credit for the enormous job he did.
But secondly, it was his innate goodness and his--horror
that he found with the concentration camps that lead him to
make sure that we documented that so that the non-believers and
the disclaimers would be put to a lie. I know that is not the
subject of this hearing, but he happens to be one of my heroes,
and we just don't mention it often enough.
Ms. Lofgren. At this point, the bells are going to ring any
moment. So I would just like to not ask questions but really
thank, once again, the witnesses, from Mr. Masterson and Ms.
Shimizu and Ms. Yamamoto, especially those of you who came all
the way from California to talk about your stories and to
inform us, this is on the Web. So not only are we looking at
your testimony here in this room; I think people all over the
world have had the benefit of what you have said. And hopefully
this will inform us as we move forward. I am enormously
grateful for your presence and also the extra efforts that you
have made over the years.
For our second panel, I know Mr. Christgau and Ms. Ebel and
Ms. Donald and, of course, Dr. Fonte, we appreciate your
approach on the bill, but the personal stories are hard to
tell. I know that. And that you would share them with us to
inform us as we proceed means a lot to me and, I think, to all
of the panel.
And finally this last panel. Mr. Bretholz, as you were
speaking I leaned over to Mr. King and said, what a tremendous
feat of survival and bravery that you were able to share with
us. And really the history that we have learned, you are right,
is to inform our future.
And that is really what we are talking about with all of
this. We can't undo the past, but we can try to understand our
history, to acknowledge when mistakes were made--only a big
country can do that--and to learn so that we can be a better
country going forward.
So I want to thank each of you for being here today and for
your tremendous efforts. We will keep the hearing record open.
If Members have additional questions we would ask that they
would be submitted to you and that you respond to them within
the--saved by the bell, yes, those bells there are to let us
know that our presence is required on the House floor, so we
will adjourn this meeting asking Members to submit additional
questions within 5 days. And thanks to all of you.
This hearing is adjourned.
[Whereupon, at 2:15 p.m., the Subcommittee was adjourned.]
A P P E N D I X
Material Submitted for the Hearing Record
Prepared Statement of the Honorable Zoe Lofgren, a Representative in
Congress from the State of California, and Chairwoman, Subcommittee on
Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security, and International
I would like to welcome the Subcommittee Members, the public, and
especially our witnesses, many of whom have come from all over the
country to share a part of U.S. history that many of us are unfamiliar
with. Some of our witnesses will tell us deeply personal stories that
are very difficult to share and I would like thank them for being here
today to provide this important part of history for us.
Much is known about the internment of 120,000 Japanese Americans
during World War II, partly due to the enactment of the Commission on
Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians Act in 1980, the
Commission's report in 1983, and the subsequent Civil Liberties Act of
1988 that provided an official apology for the internment of Japanese
Americans. What is not as well known today is the mistreatment of
thousands of Japanese and European Latin Americans, European Americans,
and Jewish refugees prior to and during WWII.
The 1980 Commission did detail the mistreatment of Japanese,
German, and Italian Latin Americans, but only in the appendix of their
report. It also included just one chapter of thirteen on mistreatment
of German and Italian Americans in the U.S. Furthermore, no
recommendations were made on these populations and there was no
official apology, as was done for Japanese internment, pursuant to the
Civil Liberties Act of 1988.
It is time for this history to be fully heard and considered.
I would like to note that although there are two bills that have
been referred to this subcommittee concerning the issues we are
examining today, this is NOT a legislative hearing. Before we consider
specific legislation on an issue that many are very unfamiliar with,
indeed, our general history books are sparse in this area, it is
important that we learn the facts and listen to the history to
determine whether legislation is the appropriate response. If it is, we
will then turn to the bills referred to this subcommittee and examine
whether the specific language in the bills is appropriate or whether
amendments are needed. I welcome comments on the bills and will
consider them if we decide to move legislation in this area. Today,
however, I am particularly interested in learning about the issue and
whether another commission is indeed necessary to review history that
has not been told in an adequate way.
Prepared Statement of the Honorable John Conyers, Jr., a Representative
in Congress from the State of Michigan, and Chairman, Committee on the
Reconciliation and justice can only come after the truth is known,
and as commissions of inquiry have played important roles in the United
States and abroad. Today, we are going to look at how the US Government
undertook broad sweeps against perceived ``enemy aliens'' after an
attack on our country. But unlike hearings we've held on rendition,
detention, and mass round-ups in the wake of the September 11 attacks,
today we're going to look at the government's actions during World War
II. Let me lay the playing field as I see it:
First, there is a consensus that the Commission on Wartime
Relocation and Internment of Civilians in the 1980s was particularly
effective in confronting the historical record of the arrest and
internment without due process of Japanese Americans during the Second
World War. The work of that commission which led to an official apology
and some measure of restitution for the victims of internment.
Second, despite the good work of that commission, there is
additional history involving other populations that were also
mistreated during World War II that have not been sufficiently
examined. This history involves the rendition of thousands of Japanese
and European Latin Americans to the United States for incarceration,
the internment of at least 1,500 German and Italian-Americans, and the
callous rejection by consular and immigration officials of Jewish
asylum seekers seeking to flee Nazi oppression.
There are several bills being circulated in Congress for
commissions of inquiry into these matters, and today's hearing will
help us weigh those proposals.
Third, what we do today will not substitute for sustained study
that grapples with the hard questions of what America does with
minority communities in a time of war. While we can shine a little bit
of light today on these unfortunate chapters in our history, one
hearing is just part of the historical conversation.
We have seen this in other areas--the Committee's oversight
hearings on rendition, torture, surveillance, and racial profiling of
Arab communities have had an impact on American policy, but they are no
substitute for a truth and reconciliation inquiry into abuses in the
name of the war on terror.
So too, legislation that we passed in the 110th Congress
commemorating the 200th anniversary of the Slave Trade Act and to
provide new tools to enforce the 13th amendment's guarantee of freedom
do not take the place of a commission that would help us confront the
ongoing effect of chattel slavery on this nation.
So I am looking forward to hearing from our witnesses today, and
participating in the ongoing conversation about how we can preserve the
rights of ethnic minorities and refugees in wartime, so that these
tragic episodes are not repeated.
Prepared Statement of the Honorable Sheila Jackson Lee, a
Representative in Congress from the State of Texas, and Member,
Subcommittee on Immigration, Citizenship, Refugees, Border Security,
and International Law
Thank you Madam Chairwoman for convening today's very important
hearing where we will consider, ``The Treatment of Latin Americans of
Japanese Descent, European Americans, and Jewish Refugees During World
War II.'' This hearing explores the treatment of Latin Americans of
Japanese descent. In addition, there are other populations mistreated
during WWII whose histories have not been fully examined by the Federal
Government in a similar manners as the histories of the Japanese and
Italian Americans mistreated during WWII.
The Japanese, German, and Italian American communities have
advocated for an official government study of the mistreatment of their
communities in Latin America by the U.S. government in a similar manner
as was completed for Japanese Americans interned during WWII.
The mistreatment of Japanese Latin Americans is the subject of H.R.
42, a bill that has been referred to this subcommittee. H.R. 42
establishes a fact-finding Commission to extend the study of the
Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians to
investigate and determine facts and circumstances surrounding
relocation, internment, and deportation to Axis countries of Latin
Americans of Japanese descent from 1941 to 1948, and the impact of
those actions by the U.S., and to recommend appropriate remedies. The
mistreatment of German and Italian Latin Americans is the subject of
H.R. 1425. In addition, the mistreatment of Jewish refugees during WWII
is the subject of H.R. 1425.
Today we have distinguished panelists on three separate panels. I
look forward to hearing today's testimony and hearing from each of the
witnesses on this topic.
Chairwoman, thank you, again. I yield the balance of my time.
Additional Material submitted for the Record
Note: Due to the voluminous amount of material submitted, only a
portion is being published in this hearing. All material submitted is
on file with the Subcommittee.