Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Gene Akutsu Interview
Narrator: Gene Akutsu
Interviewers: Larry Hashima (primary), Stephen Fugita (secondary)
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: July 25, 1997
Densho ID: denshovh-agene-01-0010

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SF: Gene, at the beginning of the incarceration when you first went into Puyallup, what did you think about what was going to happen, your feelings about the country, what your attitudes were, in the early days of the internment?

GA: Well, as a, as a young kid I really didn't think too much of it, not as an older person should or would think. That we'd say, "Well, it'll be over in a few days or few weeks and it'll be back to normal," kind of an attitude. We used to have visitations and these people from Seattle would go out there, the white people, the church members and so on and so forth, would come down and they'd come to see the people who were incarcerated. And when they would try to go up to the, through the barbed wire fence and try to shake hands, the guards would say, "Get away from there," and then you find out that gosh, you really mean business here where they really don't trust us. But there's a few people who came visiting and that's how they were treated, and eventually, the cold hard facts starts to penetrate. I wasn't bitter or anything, but then I thought it wasn't right. As I have spoken before, in my senior -- I mean, not senior year but junior year, no, sophomore year we were learning civics, the working of the democracy, how the branches of the government and structure and all, anything to do with democracy, and all that was completely wiped out when the Executive Order 9066 was signed by the president. And that was quite disappointing. This was an afterthought of, I thought, gosh, maybe what I should have done was to write a little note to my civics teacher and tell him, "All that which you taught us went down the drain." But I never did get around to doing that.

LH: Well, going back to the, further on into Puyallup, those later months right before you were, you were sent to Hunt, how much did your attitude change toward the government in terms of how long you were going to be incarcerated?

GA: Well, I guess my thoughts were still the same: that all this would be just a short while and things will go back to normal because we've never experienced anything like this. But the latter part of August they had asked for volunteers to go out to, into Idaho and to our new permanent internment to help get things ready to accept the crews or the bunch of people that would be coming every week and we were the first group, I think first... yeah, I think it was the first group to head out that way.

<End Segment 10> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.