Same War Different Battlefields

Same War Different Battlefields - Jean Goodwin Messinger From SAME WAR DIFFERENT BATTLEFIELDS, 2008, White Pelican Press  ISBN 987-1-60725-043-2   312 pages  |  paperback  |  $18.95
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From the "Introduction"
       Historians, psychologists, politicians, sociologists, and political analysts have devoted endless pages since the end of WWII trying to explain, even justify, the phenomenon of Nazi Germany.  We are aware and probably in agreement that postwar WWI conditions in Germany provided a ripe climate for a charismatic leader who would promise to bring back prosperity, honor, and self-respect to a fallen and disgraced nation.  The puzzle remains how its leaders were able to turn a society of law-abiding, hard-working, God-fearing, family oriented people into instruments of destruction for the most horrific war in the history of mankind.

       Perhaps the quest for understanding of those years will never be completely satisfied nor unified in conclusions.  Ultimately, by understanding, the civilized world hopes to avoid a recurrence of such madness, which brought unimaginable destruction to Europe and shame to Germany in the name of the vilest ideology.  And is it a warning that if it could happen in Germany it might happen somewhere else?

       These same citizens had seen their forebears by the thousands come to America, and they made the U.S a better place wherever they settled.  Germans of 150 years ago and Germans of today are still highly respected for their many admirable qualities: their work ethic , devotion to family and education, practicality, thrift, discipline, industriousness, and organizational ability.  Many Americans proudly claim heritage from those immigrants, and many parts of America retain a distinctive German character, including telephone books filled with German names. .  .  .

Table of Contents - click here

Acknowledgements     vi
Preface     viii
Introduction     x
Japanese Americans     1
Mary Shibao     2
Internment     16
Okiko Onisi Matsushima     20
Ralph Carr     28
Camp Amache     32
Harry and Kimi Shironaka     34
Norma Sekiya and Alma Sekiya Shironaka     40
 John & Daisy Kiyota     46
Chikako Murata     56
Mary Jane Rust     64
Life in Wartime Europe     70
Dr. Rudolph Jacobson     72
Skip Johnson     86
Ursula Stack     98
Eric Brettschneider     110
Elsie Streeb     124
Reinhard Rosin     136
Suzette Von Riesen-Erbel     142
Marcelle King-Abens     158
Victor Abens     168
Doris Alexander     174
Venita Mann     184
Engberdine Voute     194
Renate G. Justin     202
Jacob & Marie Bechthold     208
M & S     218
Pastor Hugo Becker     224
Stateside     230
Home Front     232
The Wehrmacht in Colorado     236
Letter from a Former POW     240
Martha Matula     246
Ava Molnar Heinrichsdorff     256
Gene Ostermiller     264
Harold Long     270
Ida May Brunemeier     274
Annie Hall     282
Lorna Hoagland Knowlton     290
Kay Egger O’Keefe     294
Epilogue     306

Narrations are from multi-national, immigrant Americans and a few native Americans, describing how WWII impacted them as civilians.

From Mary Shibao, Japanese-American who was stranded in Japan during the war, renamed "Takeko" in Japanese. Teaching in a community nearby, Takeko witnessed the bombing of Hiroshima. Her conclusion ". . . .I wish there had been a different way. . . ."
". .. .One day in early August of 1945, the children at Takeko's school in Misho were assembled in the gymnasium for a special program. The principal was speaking when there was suddenly a bright flash of light, like lightning. The day was clear, and there was no sign of oncoming rain. Then there was an enormous boom, the earth began to rumble, and sirens screamed. The school building itself shook, shattering windows. Thinking it was an earthquake, staff quickly evacuated the building. Takeko hurried her class into an assigned school dugout shelter. When they emerged after the sirens stopped, they saw the infamous mushroom cloud over Hiroshima, caused by the atomic bomb explosion. Mary remembers clearly the fright and bewilderment over what she was witnessing. It was definitely bombing like no other that anyone had ever experienced.

The true nature of that nuclear explosion was not disclosed initially, perhaps not realized, nor was the extent of its devastation. Three days later, volunteers were requested to help relief efforts in the city, and Takeko joined a group of her colleagues. Apparently no one at this point recognized the danger from radiation poisoning. They were able to take a train part way to Hiroshima, but as they walked closer, they saw nothing but black skeletons of the former city.
No sign of life.

Blackened corpses littered the ground. Mary describes the shock of seeing the river literally flowing with corpses. Fortunately, the destruction of the bridge over that river kept Mary's group from continuing into the city. Wisely conceding that there was nothing to be done at the site, they returned to Hashirano, overcome by what they had seen. . . ."
Dr. Rudolph Jacobson: The Story of the St. Louis, a German cruise liner that took Jews from Germany to Cuba in 1939 but were turned back to Europe. Few survived the war.
". . . .My survivor story is that I was a passenger on the ship SS St. Louis.

After his dad was arrested by the Gestapo, ". . . .he was released when my mother showed the authorities proof the family was ready to leave Germany. This meant having a visa or landing permit for another country and that she had booked passage to get to that country, namely Cuba in our case. Prisoners were released with the understanding that they were going to leave Germany within sixty days, never to return.

All assets had to be sold and proceeds turned over to the state. . . .By the time these people left, they were practically penniless. Most of the men had been beaten into a submissive state by the time of their release.

We had landing permits for Cuba, but when we arrived, the authorities there told us the landing permits were invalid, and that unless we had a Cuban visa we could not get off the ship. The American government wouldn't take us in either. . . .If the U.S. had accepted the St. Louis passengers, all would have been saved, since none would have been returned to Europe, where two-thirds were caught again by the Nazis. . . ."

Some passengers were taken by England, France, Belgium, and Holland. ". . . .Our family was in the group of 181 the Dutch government allowed in. . . ." Subsequently, a relative in Milwaukee, Wisconsin sent the family money to bring them to safety in the United States in February, 1940, before the occupation of Holland by German troops.