Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Midori Suzuki - Sanzui A. Takaha Interview
Narrators: Midori Suzuki, Sanzui A. Takaha
Interviewer: Kristen Luetkemeier
Location: Millbrae, California
Date: July 13, 2015
Densho ID: denshovh-smidori_g-01-0029

<Begin Segment 29>

KL: One of the things I think -- oh, this is tape three, I think, four, tape four, we're continuing an interview with Sat Takaha and Midori Suzuki. And one of the things I think is really useful also about these oral history interviews is that people who've never been in a war zone can have something of an understanding of what it's like. So I wonder if you wanted to say anything more about things you saw in Germany during that time.

ST: Well, all I saw was complete devastation. You know, in Munich it was really hard hit.

MS: Where else did you go?

ST: And I remember people living in these apartments with no wall, you know.

KL: Where were you stationed? Where did you live?

ST: Munich and Augsburg.

KL: What's Augsburg like? What did you see there?

ST: I guess a typical German town.

KL: Was it equally devastated to Munich?

ST: I don't think, no, not quite as much.

KL: What was your job in the army?

ST: Post office.

KL: That's an important one. I meant to ask if you guys kept in touch with your older brothers, if they wrote to you while they were at war.

ST: Oh, yeah.

KL: What did they tell you about their experiences?

ST: I know one brother went to Japan and met our grandmother.

KL: Tell us about that.

ST: Well, he's the only one that ever, that she ever saw, of the family.

MS: She's the one that said that, with all the boys in the family, she figured one of 'em would at least be able to come to Japan, so she told them she couldn't die until then. So she was happy when he showed up. And apparently she did pass away not too long after that. That was our, the maternal grandmother. Apparently he did meet the other grandmother also.

ST: Oh, yeah?

MS: Yeah, but I never heard him say anything about it.

ST: When me made out the family tree, didn't he put that down?

MS: No, he didn't. It was Tsuki that said that, that he met both grandmothers.

KL: Those are such interesting circumstances for him to meet her as a U.S. soldier at the end of war. Did that color their meeting at all?

MS: I don't think so. And he's the only one that got to meet some of the cousins and other relatives. And it was kind of interesting, when the congressional medal issue came up recently, he didn't want to go because he felt that he had the privilege of getting to go to Japan, which he thought he would never be able to do if he hadn't been drafted. So he didn't feel that it was... because he didn't see combat, that he should be entitled to the congressional medal. So his daughter talked to him and made him go, and I think he was happy he did. He's very proud of his medal now.

KL: So they went to Washington?

MS: No, no, they did it locally. You know, they went to different locations. I'm sure he has it with him at the assisted living place so he can look at it.

KL: So he was there during the occupation?

MS: Yes, yes.

KL: What about the brother in Europe? Did you two have any overlapping locations, was he still...

ST: Well, we visited each other a couple of times.

KL: So he was still in the army when you got there?

ST: Oh, yeah.

MS: Yeah, he was the career army man, stayed in for... he was going for thirty years, but I think he got out.

KL: Which of your brothers was it who was in Europe?

MS: That's the oldest, Yoneji.

KL: Okay. And he was the person who was kind of the spokesperson with your mom, too, right? He's the one who had a career...

MS: The big brother.

ST: He was the disciplinarian of the family, too.

MS: Yeah, he was.

ST: Took over from our father.

<End Segment 29> - Copyright © 2015 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.