All comes to an end. This is my last post on this blog. Good bye.
Japanese Internment in Canada during World War II.
I had always known about Japanese internment in the United States, having studied World War II as a child and having taught lessons on it when I was a teacher. Today it’s a topic that’s becoming more and more common in the popular consciousness of America. However a topic I recently learned about is quite surprising, something I had never known before. Canada also interned people of Japanese ancestry during World War II.
The road to Japanese internment in Canada began only one day after the attack on Pearl Harbor. On December 8th, 1941 the Canadian government ordered the impounding of 1200 Japanese Canadian owned fishing vessels, a move that was seen as a defense measure. From here a number of measures were passed which served as stepping stones to internment. On December 17th, 1941 all persons of Japanese descent were required to register with the Royal Canadian Mounted Police. On the 29th of February, 1942 the Defense of Canada Regulations were amended to forbid Japanese Canadians from owning land or growing crops. On the 26th of February, curfews were instituted, and Japanese Canadians were forbidden from owning motor vehicles, cameras, radios, firearms, ammunition, and explosives. Finally, on March 4th, the War Measures Act was amended to evacuate Japanese Canadians from the Pacific Coast.
Altogether around 27,000 people, 14,000 of which were native born Canadians and some of which were veterans of World War I, were forcibly removed from the Pacific Coast. Most were interred in hastily built camps in the interior of British Columbia. Around 2,000 were forced to work in road camps, basically mobile camps that performed maintenance on roads, railways, or other transportation infrastructure. Another 2,000 were forced to work on beet farms in the prairies. All property that couldn’t be carried was seized and sold off for pennies on the dollar. This included land, houses, businesses, boats, vehicles, various valuables and personal items. Financial items were also seized such as stocks and bonds, while bank accounts were frozen and seized. The money raised by liquidating seized property was used to fund the internment program.
Living conditions in the camps were rough. Many of the camps consisted of hastily built shacks and shanties,some were tent cities, some were ghost towns left over from long abandoned logging operations, while some were nothing more than farm buildings and animal stalls. The only item the government provided for internees was a potbellied stove. Everything else, including food, clothing, and toiletries had to be bought from special government commissaries. Since the internees had all of their property and assets seized, they often had no choice but to take part in menial work projects in order to feed and clothe themselves and their families. The Red Cross even had to bring in food shipments so that those who couldn’t work, such as the elderly or infirm, wouldn’t starve.
The war ended with Japan’s official surrender on September 2nd, 1945. However, newly freed internees found that they couldn’t return home. In August of 1944 Prime Minister Mackenzie King announced that Japanese Canadians who were to be repatriated after the war were forbidden from living west of the Rocky Mountains. This was actually a part of government policy to resettle Japanese Canadians, and drew popular support from Canadian voters. Parliamentarian Ian Mackenzie stated,
“It is the government’s plan to get these people out of B.C. as fast as possible. It is my personal intention, as long as I remain in public life, to see they never come back here. Let our slogan be for British Columbia: ‘No Japs from the Rockies to the seas.’”
Newly freed internees found that they were legally forbidden from returning home but had to move east to new homes in eastern part of the country. Some refused to move east and were deported as a result. Most internees were unable to move east, having no money, means of transportation, or personal possessions, and likewise were forcibly deported. Altogether
Japanese Canadians were deported after the war. Even the 200 Japanese Canadians who served in the Canadian Army during World War II returned to find that they had no rights, could not return home, and risked deportation. The policy of forbidding Japanese Canadians west of the Rockies remained in place until 1949.
In 1988 Prime Minister Brian Mulroney made an official apology for the internment program. All Japanese Canadians affected were awarded a $21,000 compensation package.
Japanese-American soldier in Berghof, Hitler’s mountain retreat in the Alps shortly after surrender of Nazis.
British factory workers posing with newly built Valentine Mk I tanks destined for the USSR, 1941.
Imperial Japanese Navy Marines of the 6th Kure SNLF Division, on New Georgia, Solomon Islands, November, 1942.
That was the name Werner Goldberg was given by a German newspaper in 1939, shortly after WW2 began. Participated in invasion of Poland alongside his childhood friends. Irony is … he was half Jew. He was blond and blue-eyed. His image was even used for recruitment posters. In 1940 he was expelled from Wehrmacht for being a Jew. He went to work for a clothing company that was originally owned by a Jew and a German and supplied clothes to Army and Navy. In 1942, his father who was 100% Jew, was admitted into hospital, where Gestapo found about his heritage and sent him to a Jewish hospital/prison that was sending people away to Auschwitz. On Christmas eve, the guards at the prison were drunk and Werner managed to take his father away. Soon after his father got caught again and was scheduled for deportation. Werner told him not to show up at the deportation time (as we now know, many Jews willingly went away, thinking they only going to prison camps and not death camps). Werner’s father, alongside Werner himself, was the only surviving member of Goldberg’s side of the family.
Werner died in 2004 in Berlin. He was a part of documentary called Hitler’s Jewish Soldiers produced by Larry price.
A damaged Sherman being repaired during the aftermath of the British Disaster at Villers-Bocage, June 14th, 1944.
A tank commander of the Imperial Japanese Army 26th Tank Division, posing with his Shinhoto Chi-Ha on Iwo Jima, 1944.
The Papuan Infantry Battalion, Papua New Guinea, World War II.
“Soft lands breed soft men; wondrous fruits of the earth and valiant warriors grow not from the same soil.”
—Cyrus the Great
In the early years of World War II as the Japanese Empire expanded across the Pacific there was fear that the Japanese would choose Australia as it’s next target. Leading a force of Australian and American soldiers, Gen. Douglas MacArthur was determined to stop the Japanese at New Guinea. A recently organized part of the Australian Army in New Guinea was the Papuan Infantry Battalion (PIB), which was more like a small regiment consisting of 4 battalions.
Led by 77 Australian officers and NCO’s, the PIB consisted of 550 men recruited from tribal natives of New Guinea. Known for being fierce fighters, the native men of the PIB made excellent light infantry, adept at reconnaissance, patrol, skirmishing, ambushes, and operating behind enemy lines. Being tribal natives who where born and raised in the rugged and unforgiving New Guinea jungle, these were hard men who were well adapted to their environment. The challenges and terrors of the jungle such as heat, disease, insects, parasites, and starvation which plagued Allied and Japanese solders was everyday mundane living for PIB recruits. As a result, the men of the PIB had several amazing abilities. They could travel hundreds of miles in a matter of days through thick jungles, swamps, and highlands with little trouble. They could also operate deep behind enemy lines, using their knowledge of edible flora and fauna and knowledge of medicinal plants to live off the land and operate independently of military supply. One interesting aspect of the PIB was their uniform, or lack thereof. The typical PIB soldier chose not wear clothes aside from a simple loincloth, and necessary military packs and webbing for ammunition and equipment. They didn’t even wear boots. They didn’t need them. Clothes just make you hot and cause jungle rot. Boots just slow you down. The Persian king Cyrus the Great once stated, “soft lands breed soft men.” Papua New Guinea is not a land for soft men, and the soldiers of the PIB were as tough as they come.
When the Japanese invaded New Guinea in January of 1942, the PIB were the first Allied forces to make contact with the enemy by reconnoitering their positions and slowing the enemy advance by conducting a series of ambushes surprise attacks, and delaying actions. Throughout the war, PIB battle honors included the Kokoda Trail campaign, Salamaua-Lae campaign, Ramu Valley-Finisterre Range campaign, Bougainville campaign, and Aitape-Wewak campaign.
Personnel from the PIB received the following decorations: one Distinguished Service Order, three Military Crosses, one George Medal, three Distinguished Conduct Medals, 15 Military Medals and three Mentions in Despatches. The PIB suffered 74 dead, 25 wounded, and 15 missing.