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A Bitter Reminder

November 08, 1987

I will lump the missive of Johanne E. M. Zell with the rest of those who, with apologies to Times writer Charles Champlin, have "appalling little historical information about their country. . . . Their past was yesterday afternoon, or perhaps only earlier this morning." Their position in opposing reparations for Japanese Americans who were interned I find repulsive and lacking in historical scholarship and intellectual honesty.

It has been established in our courts of law, thanks to the Freedom of Information Act, that mass relocation and imprisonment of Japanese Americans was done for racial reasons.

I would call Zell's attention (and others with similar views) to the fact that German Americans in Wisconsin, with the support of U.S. Sen. Joseph McCarthy, came to the aid and support of German SS soldiers who had been tried and convicted for the Malmedy Massacre of American soldiers at the Battle of the Bulge. Death sentences for some were commuted.

I would call her attention to the fact that more than 95% of the cases involving fifth-column activities involved persons of German and Italian descent.

President Truman commuted to life imprisonment the death sentences for William C. Colepaugh (American citizen) and Eric Gimple (German citizen). Both had landed from a German U-Boat off the coast of Maine in 1944.

Ezra Pound never stood trial for his treasonable activities. Fighting for his release were the likes of T. S. Eliot, Dag Hammarskjold, Ernest Hemingway, Archibald MacLeish, Robert Frost and Clare Boothe Luce.

Only two Japanese Americans were tried and convicted for treason after World War II. Iva Topguri D'Aquino (Tokyo Rose) and Tomoya Kawakita, a camp guard who mistreated American POWs. Twenty-seven years after D'Aquino's conviction, two witnesses who testified against her admitted they were coached by the prosecutor under extreme duress. In 1977 President Gerald Ford granted her a full and unconditional pardon, the first time in American history that such a pardon has been granted in a treason conviction.

VAL RODRIGUEZ

Signal Hill

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