World War II | KUOW News and Information

World War II

Echoes from Northwest history rang loudly for people in the present at a memorial ceremony Thursday to mark 75 years since the U.S. government forcibly removed the first Japanese Americans from their West Coast homes and sent them to internment camps. This happened in the wake of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor in World War II.

Caption by photographer Dorothea Lange: Ester Naite, an office worker from Los Angeles, operates an electric iron in her quarters at Manzanar, California, a War Relocation Authority center where evacuees of Japanese ancestry will spend the duration.
Dorothea Lange/Library of Congress Prints & Photographs Division Washington, DC 20540 http://hdl.loc.gov/loc.pnp/pp.print

It’s not often that we look back on ugly times in our nation’s history. We’re not very good at that as Americans.

But the Japanese internment has been coming up a lot lately.

KUOW PHOTO/BILL RADKE

Bill Radke speaks with author Frank Abe about his 2000 documentary "Conscience and the Constitution," which looks at Japanese who resisted their internment in American camps during World War II. Abe explains why this resistance was so controversial at the time, why it means so much now and what modern resistance looks like. 

Bill Radke talks with writer and Humanities Washington speaker Mayumi Tsutakawa about the 75th anniversary of the World War II order that led to Japanese internment in America. Tsutukawa explains her own personal connection to internment, and how it can help educate about modern prejudices.

Clare Hollingworth, the war correspondent who told the world of the outbreak of World War II, has died at 105.

She died Tuesday evening in Hong Kong, according to long-time friend Cathy Hilborn Feng, who says Hollingworth "had a smile before she left us."

Updated at 6:50 p.m. ET

President Obama and Japanese Minister Shinzo Abe made a historic appearance at Pearl Harbor, 75 years after the surprise attack that prompted U.S. entry into World War II, praising the reconciliation and partnership between their respective nations.

In a somber ceremony Tuesday, the two leaders touted the U.S.-Japan alliance that arose in the aftermath of the bitter conflict and became a "cornerstone of peace and stability in the Asia-Pacific region," Obama said.

Photo taken from a Japanese plane during the Pearl Harbor attack
Photo courtesy of U.S. Navy

Fujiko Tamura Gardner was 9 years old when Pearl Harbor was attacked. She remembers hearing about it on the radio at her parents’ farm in Fife, Washington.

“I just remember the horror and not really understanding what was going on and what was going to happen,” Gardner said.

Stephen Bannon, center left, back, campaign CEO for Republican presidential candidate Donald Trump, looks on as Trump speaks during a campaign rally on Election Day.
AP Photo/ Evan Vucci

In journalism, we avoid wonk.

Which is why we at KUOW discussed whether to use the term “alt-right.” Mainstream news sites have plugged it into headlines, but our readers and listeners were confused. What does that label even mean?

Online editor Isolde Raftery reads an old residential ledger at the Puget Sound Regional Branch of the Washington State Archives in Bellevue.
KUOW Photo/Amina Al-Sadi

First, an admission.

We were clueless when we started researching the house at 1643 South King Street in Seattle's International District.

As the U.S. Army Air Corps prepared to unleash the world's first attack by an atomic bomb on Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, Japanese schoolgirl Kikue Takagi, age 12, woke up feeling sick and stayed home that day.

Her classmates were sent to Hiroshima's city center to clean up debris, doing their part in the war effort as Japan struggled to hold off the rapidly approaching U.S. military. Those students were near ground zero when the American bomb obliterated the city.

At home on the outskirts of Hiroshima, Takagi was spared.

Nicholas Winton is often referred to as "Britain's Schindler."

He was a young British stockbroker when, in December 1938, he canceled a trip to go skiing in Switzerland, and instead went to visit a friend in Prague who was helping refugees fleeing from the Nazis.

A reprint of Adolf Hitler's notorious autobiography, Mein Kampf, or "My Struggle," is for sale in German bookstores today for the first time in 70 years.

The annotated edition is being published by the Munich-based Institute for Contemporary History, and its editors say the new version points out Hitler's lies and errors and includes critical commentary on how the original version, published in the 1920s, influenced Nazi atrocities.

Siblings David Ko and Karen Ko
Courtesy of StoryCorps

When Roy and Alice Ko were released from internment camps after World War II, they ended up in Richland, Washington – home to the Hanford Nuclear Reservation. Their children David and Karen Ko talked about growing up in Richland in the years after the war.

Army recruits in Seattle being fitted for uniforms after the Pearl Harbor attack, 1941.
Courtesy of MOHAI, Seattle P-I Collection, PI28235

David Hyde speaks with local historian and radio producer Feliks Banel about the reaction of the Pearl Harbor attack in Seattle and the lasting impact it left on the city. 

In January 1945, in a German POW camp, a U.S. soldier named Roddie Edmonds defied the threat of death to protect the Jewish troops under his command.

Seventy years later, he's being recognized for his valor.

It's the first time a U.S. soldier has been named Righteous Among the Nations, an honor from Israel's Holocaust remembrance and research center reserved for non-Jews who risked their lives to save Jews during the Holocaust.

Reporter Ashley Ahearn dug into the Northwest history of the B-17 bomber with her father, Joe Ahearn, Jr.
EarthFix Photo/Katie Campbell

There’s an old photograph in my father’s office that I’ve always wondered about. In it my grandfather and nine other young airmen stand in front of their B-17 plane, shoulders squared, staring proudly at the camera. They were probably in England at the time, getting ready to fly bombing raids over Germany in 1943.

Share Your Family Connection To World War II

Sep 27, 2015

In a recent story, KUOW Ashley Ahearn reports on the making of the B-17 bomber in Seattle – and the women who moved here to work on Boeing’s production lines.

We want to hear from you. How was your family affected by World War II? Share your memories and photos with us. Write to pictures@kuow.org. If you send photos, please be sure to describe what's pictured.

Submissions may be published at KUOW.org and our social media accounts.

Henry Chamberlain looks at mementos from World War II. He spent three and a half years as a prisoner of the Japanese.
KUOW Photo/Patricia Murphy

In 1945 President Harry Truman declared Sept. 2 as Victory Over Japan Day. Japan surrendered aboard the USS Missouri. It was the official end of World War II.

But the suffering wasn't over for Henry Chamberlain, who had been captured on the Philippines' Bataan Peninsula more than three years before.

Georgie, age 35, wearing her favorite Christmas earrings.
Courtesy Georgie Bright Kunkel

When World War II came, millions of women joined the fight – not on the front lines but doing the vital work of building weapons to defeat the Axis powers. Georgie Bright Kunkel was one of them.

“It was a life-changing event,” she told KUOW’s Jeannie Yandel about the experiences that American women had by the time the war formally ended Sept. 2, 1945.

Seattle Post-Intelligencer Collection, Museum of History & Industry, Seattle; All Rights Reserved

As World War II came to a dramatic end 70 years ago on Aug. 14, the role that the Northwest played in the conflict was fully revealed in the aftermath of the atomic bombing in Japan.

In a much-anticipated speech, Japan's Prime Minister Shinzo Abe expressed his "profound grief" and "sincere condolences" for his country's role in World War II.

But the leader stopped short of renewing apologies extended by his predecessors, and he said he doesn't want future generations to be "predestined to apologize" for the war.

The name Hiroshima is so tied to the atomic bomb that it's hard to imagine there were other possible targets.

But in early 1945, the U.S. was still months away from building its first bomb and certainly didn't know what to hit.

"Should it be a city? Should it be a military installation? Should you be just displaying the bomb, without killing anybody?" These are questions that were yet to be decided, says Alex Wellerstein, a historian at the Stevens Institute of Technology.

Seven Pacific Northwest veterans of World War II leave for Tokyo Thursday. They're carrying 70 captured Japanese flags to return for the 70th anniversary of the end of the war.

Updated at 6:10 p.m. ET

Japan's Mitsubishi corporation is making a big apology. It's not for any recall or defect in its products, which include automobiles, but for its use of American prisoners of war as forced labor during World War II.

James Murphy, 94, traveled from his home in Santa Maria, Calif., to the Simon Wiesenthal Center in Los Angeles, where a ceremony was held and Hikaru Kimura, a senior Mitsubishi executive, made the apology in person.

Living witnesses to the forced relocation of West Coast Japanese-Americans during World War II are growing fewer every year. Many who were incarcerated are in their 80s and 90s now.

Alessia Pierdomenico/ Reuters

Breaking the code behind the Nazis' enigma machine was crucial to the Allies winning World War II.

The new movie "The Imitation Game" tells the story of Alan Turing and the machine he developed to break that code — known as the bombe machine. All that code-breaking took place at a British manor known as Bletchley Park.

And many of the great minds working at that top secret location were women.

This week in 1941, Japanese forces attacked Pearl Harbor. Over the next few years, millions of Americans would leave home to fight in Europe and the Pacific. They had few comforts and little in the way of escape or entertainment — at least not until American publishers got involved.

An 89-year-old man accused of aiding the killing of 216,000 Jews as a Nazi camp guard at the concentration camp located in Auschwitz, Poland, during World War II, has been arrested in Philadelphia.

Johann "Hans" Breyer, who immigrated to the U.S. in 1952, was arrested by U.S. authorities Tuesday night. He is being held without bail.

The Associated Press says:

Brian Payton's book "The Wind Is Not A River."

Steve Scher talks with author Brian Payton about his new book "The Wind Is Not A River." The story is about the Japanese occupation of the Aleutian Islands in Alaska during World War II.

More than 70 years ago Wednesday, President Franklin D. Roosevelt signed an executive order that led to the internment of more than 110,000 Japanese-Americans during World War II.

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