Densho Digital Archive
Densho Visual History Collection
Title: Eugene Tatsuru Kimura Interview
Narrator: Eugene Tatsuru Kimura
Interviewer: Tom Ikeda
Location: Seattle, Washington
Date: September 5, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-keugene-01-0025

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TI: And so when you, when you finished your school, I mean, your degree, your doctorate program in Chicago, then what did you do?

EK: Well, I was searching for where I would work. And my keen interest through all the years I'd been, to see New York City. So then when I first heard that there was a job opening in Yonkers, New York, at the Nepra chemical company, N-E-P-R-A chemical company, I applied to and got the job there. The company was owned by about three or four Jewish brothers named Lazdens. And, of course, because of the nature there, the, many of the chemists and so forth were living in the Bronx, Brooklyn and so forth, way down in New York. Their only job opportunity was to join a Jewish chemical company so they commuted long distance here, to Yonkers, New York. So here again, my acquaintances were Jewish people, and then there were people from Ukraine, Russia and so forth, all the other... and a couple of blacks there, too. So that my life has been primarily with non-Japanese.

TI: So I'm curious, when you, when you met, you're in Yonkers and you meet the Jewish community and other, sort of, Europeans, I'm thinking about World War II and their experiences in some of those communities. Did you ever share what happened to Japanese Americans on the West Coast? Were they aware of this?

EK: Share what?

TI: Share what happened to Japanese Americans, that they were picked up, incarcerated, put in concentration camps. Were they aware of that?

EK: Yeah, the Jewish people were, primarily because they themselves were subjected to discrimination. So much so that they finally put, put some trust in me, and then one day they had a kosher lunch, they Jews brought their own pots and pans and so forth, and they invited me to lunch and so forth. And then there was a Ukrainian worker there who wanted a couple of witnesses to be, when he was sworn in as a citizen. So he invited a couple of us to act as a witness. And he prized that citizenship quite a bit. So after the ceremony, he gave each of us an ice cream cone. [Laughs] But we knew that he was very happy.

TI: Did you ever get in discussions about the concentration camps that Japanese Americans --

EK: Yeah.

TI: And what kind of discussions did you have? What was discussed?

EK: I discussed what had happened to us, the discrimination and so forth. So they were sympathetic with that. Plus the fact that they lambasted Roosevelt. Because from what I understand, a boatload of the Jewish refugees came to this New York City, and then they could not be permitted to land in the States because the local unions said that, "They will be taking away our jobs," so the ship was turned back. That's what I hear. Whether this happened, really happened, I do not know, but they were very vehement about that.

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