Densho Digital Archive
Emiko and Chizuko Omori Collection
Title: Ernest Besig Interview
Narrator: Ernest Besig
Interviewers: Chizu Omori (primary), Emiko Omori (secondary)
Location: San Francisco, California
Date: October 1, 1992
Densho ID: denshovh-bernest-01-0008

<Begin Segment 8>

EO: Around the time of Pearl Harbor, you were here in San Francisco?

EB: Oh yes. I was, not here, down on... I was living in another house. It was not 'til 1930 that I moved to this house. 1930? '40, '50, '60... forty years here, pretty good, too.

EO: Was there, the, generally, the public, was there an immediate reaction against the Japanese and Japanese Americans?

EB: Well, of course, we were expecting to be attacked. And we were required to, to close the windows and so we'd put, we'd board up the windows, it seemed silly, but I didn't expect any Japanese to suddenly appear in their... either on board vessels or to travel all the way from Japan. That seemed a little ridiculous. But that was the rule, so you had to abide by it and Besig abided by the rule. And he, he still went out at the proper time, but kept the lights out of his house.

EO: Well, we've been reading that there was, that the public was not necessarily as hysterical about the Japanese and the Japanese Americans in this country. That that came about say a month or so afterwards that the hysteria against us. Because there were groups that suggested we had hearings and that sort of thing, that it wasn't just a mass...

EB: Well, there was a group that was established but it was a rather small group; it was sensible. Generally they were university type of people. But beyond that I don't think that you had any, anything more than concern at the beginning, the possibility of an attack in the area. The concern wasn't about the persons who had been excluded so much as a concern about a possible attack on San Francisco or someplace up and down the coast. The newspapers continued to express their, their concerns and the Hearst papers had pretty venomous statements but I don't think that there, there was any substantial support of the Japanese at the beginning. There were individuals who were being supported for one reason or another. That did happen, but that was very limited, and not general.

<End Segment 8> - Copyright © 1992, 2003 Densho and Emiko Omori. All Rights Reserved.