Monday, December 06, 2010

“cause of death”

When I came upon Lynn Schooler’s description of the internment camp for Aleuts in Funter Bay, I was surprised, not remembering having heard of it before.

“On June 7, 1942, a special task force of the Imperial Japanese Army invaded Kiska Island, one of the westernmost islands in the Aleutian chain. … [I]n the turmoil that followed, U.S. troops evacuated more than 880 Aleuts from their treeless, windswept home and forced them into internment camps a thousand miles away in Funter Bay. While German POWs housed in well-built bunkhouses twenty miles west in Excusion Inlet organized orchestras and tried on warm woolen coats (courtesy of the Red Cross), the Aleut Americans were huddling in the dank, leaky remains of the abandoned cannery, dying of depression and medical neglect while trying to subsist on a meager diet of rice. The records of the sole harried doctor assigned to care for the declining Aleuts sometimes listed the cause of death as simply ‘pain.’ …

“During the summer of 1943, in spite of the fact that they had ostensibly been evacuated to protect them from the invading Japanese, most of the able-bodied men interned at Funter Bay were transported back to the Pribilof Islands to conduct an annual harvest of fur seals under the auspices of the federal government, leaving the women and children to fend for themselves. … When some … men expressed their dissatisfaction, they were labeled as mutineers, and the cook received orders not to feed them. … [E]pidemics of disease ravaged the [Funter Bay] camps … dystentery, influenza … measles …”

Ah, the Good War. The Greatest Generation. The golden days of yore.

source: The Blue Bear by Lynn Schooler

No comments: