The forgotten women of the ‘war in the East’
Many of us were shocked to learn how common was internment of “aliens,” even in the U.S., where Japanese-Americans (including citizens), Italian-Americans, the indigenous peoples of the Aleutians and Dutch Harbor (now Alaska).
Few people have heard that once Japan had conquered South-East Asia, the Europeans, Americans and Australians who had been living there as planters, teachers, missionaries and civil servants were rounded up and sent over 300 “civilian assembly areas” – in reality concentration camps. Three thousand Americans were held in the Phiippines.
“By the time liberation came on 15 August 1945, the degradation of these women was complete. Like the POWs in their loin cloths, they had virtually no clothes, many wearing old tea towels for bras, and “sandals” fashioned out of strips of rubber tyres. Like the POWs they were skeletally thin, half-blind with malnutrition and, as with the POWs, huge numbers had died.” (BBC.com)
So thousands of women and children also lived with a sad existence in camps, and it is about time to remember their history, their trials. I await the arrival of my copy of Wolff’s Ghostwritten.
Isabel Wolff’s novel, Ghostwritten, was published in March