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Title: Aiko Yoshinaga Herzig Interview
Narrator: Aiko Yoshinaga Herzig
Interviewers: Larry Hashima (primary), Glen Kitayama (secondary)
Location: University of California, Los Angeles
Date: September 11, 1997
Densho ID: denshovh-haiko-01-0007

<Begin Segment 7>

LH: Well, I'd like to go to a sort of another question, actually, if we could. Yesterday, during the big panel session, you mentioned a particularly good story about finding a key document for the coram nobis cases. I was wondering if you can recall that story for us again, finding the "tenth copy" as it were.

AH: Oh, yes, the book.

LH: The book, yes...

AH: In 1943, General DeWitt, who was the commanding general of the Western Defense Command, who was greatly responsible for the exclusion of Japanese Americans, wrote a book called Final Report: Japanese Evacuation from the West Coast, 1942. Actually, his name appears as the author, but we know that it was Colonel Karl R. Bendetsen who did the writing. I mean, you could, there is no question about it when you read, when you go through the archives that he was the total architect. And I think Mr. -- Colonel Bendetsen was also the architect of the Executive Order 9066. We have some documents that almost unquestionably -- I don't think you even have to read between the lines to realize that it was he who in conjunction with Mr. McCloy and Provost Marshall General Gullion -- they are the makers of E.O. 9066. Mr. Roosevelt just signed it. But, of course, he approved it but, so he signed it.

Okay, now General DeWitt issued, wrote this report. And I don't want to use the word, I don't think I want to use DeWitt, I think I want to use Bendetsen, because I think he is primarily responsible. The final report in the name of the General DeWitt was written by Bendetsen. Okay, I'm repeating that. Okay, in 1943, ten copies of this report were printed, type was set. But only ten copies bound like a finished product. And Colonel Bendetsen and General DeWitt were so sure that it was such a wonderful report that they told the printers, "Don't break down this type. Just leave it as is, we're going to give you orders for more prints." They sent copies, three copies to the Secretary of War, three copies to Chief of Staff George Marshall and copies to Mr. McCloy, Assistant Secretary of War McCloy, or two copies, I guess. And they saved a couple of copies in the Western Defense Command Headquarters in Presidio, San Francisco.

Okay. When Mr. McCloy saw this report, he hit the ceiling. He said, "Some of the statements in this report are not -- do not reflect the policy of the War Department. And it was not right for the general to make these statements without clearing it with us." And so he called long distance, Mr. McCloy, who was in charge of the Japanese question for the War Department, and Mr. Stimson, the Secretary of War, did everything Mr. McCloy said because he felt this was the expert, he's going to take care of it. Mr. McCloy called Bendetsen, Colonel Bendetsenm and raised hell with him. He said, "How, you can't do this, this report is just nothing but a self-serving, self-aggrandizement document for the General. And besides, there are several things he says in here that show what happened to the Japanese Americans was based on racist, racism, bigotry and we cannot have an official document, with approval of the War Department stamp on it published for public consumption and for international reading that's full of this kind of nonsense." Even though Mr. McCloy may have believed that, all the things written in there, he didn't want it in print for ridicule and for criticism later.

One of the things, for example, that I did not mention during the session, that Mr. McCloy objected to was that the report said Japanese Americans were removed from the West Coast because no matter how long it took, we would never be able to determine whether or not they are loyal to the United States. Now, Mr. McCloy said, "Now if that is not a racist, bigoted statement, what is?" And Mr., General DeWitt's statement also said, "Well, we had to, we didn't have time to separate the sheep from the goats." That put us in a such a category, sub-human nature, even Mr. McCloy objected to that. The other thing the statement said was that, "We want to keep these people, anybody with Japanese blood, 1/16th Japanese blood, in these camps for the duration of the war." And as I mentioned yesterday, Mr. McCloy was horrified at that idea, because he wanted to clean out the camps right away, as soon as possible. He wanted them to be relocated outside the military zone and to start homes elsewhere because by the end of the war he did not want some conditions comparable to Native Americans' reservations, having Japanese American reservations that the government would be responsible for taking care of, and he was determined the camps be closed as soon as possible. But, he was trying to give General DeWitt some respect as a commander, however, this was just too much for him to take, and he was not pleased about the report.

Okay, so he said to Colonel Bendetsen, "I thought you were going to show me this report and let me approve it before you issued it." And he said, Bendetsen said, "Oh, don't worry, there's only ten copies of these we printed." He said, McCloy said, "Bound, already finished?" Colonel Bendetsen said, "Yes. And we made arrangements with the printer that we're going to have more copies made but I wanted to show you what a finished product looked like." So, well, Mr. McCloy was totally unhappy with not just those three or four things I told you about, but many other parts of the report. And so this began a series of memos and telephone conversations between the West Coast and the War Department in Washington as to the nature of the changes, the words to be changed, the phrases to be knocked out. And I knew that this had taken place because I saw a file. And I saw the file which included -- after the corrections were made and the newer version was printed. There was a warrant officer who was charged with making sure that anything having to do with the original version of the final report be destroyed, including galley proofs or everything.

So I found this document signed by Warrant Officer Theodore J. E. Smith saying that, "I have witnessed the destruction of galley proofs, memos, letters having to do with the first version of the final report." Okay, so since I knew the history behind the fact that there was an original version, I had seen it; that was the only reason I recognized this particular book that was sitting on the corner of an archivist's desk that I was thumbing through. I looked at it and said, "Ooh, this looks like the final, DeWitt's final report." But I noticed in the margin many handwriting things: "delete," "scratch," "change to," "move to page so and so." And, oh, my goodness. This is one of the first versions. And this is the one that they could not locate. There had been ten copies, messages and cablegrams went back and forth between McCloy's office and the Western Defense Command saying, "Hey, we got nine copies back, where is the tenth copy? We've got to find it." Well, apparently they never found it. I never saw any documents saying, "Here is the tenth copy," or anything. It ended up in somebody's office in the War Department when everything was moved over to the archives. It got mixed in with all the papers that belonged to the War Department. Either the War Department downtown -- in Washington or Western Defense Command. I think it's the Western Defense Command, because they worked from the notes to make the changes. So I recognized this as that one, the tenth copy that was missing. And I told the archivist, I said, "Do you know what you have here?" No, he didn't realize. And I gave him a brief run-down. And I thought, he was really tickled about it because there was supposedly, it was supposed to have been lost. And here he, now he had it. Somebody said, "Well why didn't he know about it?"

<End Segment 7> - Copyright © 1997 Densho. All Rights Reserved.