Densho Digital Archive
Manzanar National Historic Site Collection
Title: Susumu Yenokida Interview
Narrator: Susumu Yenokida
Interviewer: Richard Potashin
Location: Denver, Colorado
Date: July 5, 2008
Densho ID: denshovh-ysusumu-01-0011

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RP: So tell us a little bit about the draft. You were, you got your notice to, for induction in the camp. And can you tell us how you reacted to that, and did you, did you get together with other resisters at Amache to form some type of legal recourse? Did you have an attorney represent you? Can you lead us through the events that took place?

SY: I kind of think that that time... I might have attended some meetings about the, the questionnaire, twenty-seven and twenty-eight.

RP: Twenty-eight. Okay.

SY: And I know for sure that I had said, "yes-yes" on that thing. But after considering the fact that, that we were taken out of our home, put into camp without any legal process and everything, I didn't, I didn't report for the induction for the physical. Probably if I had gone at that time I wouldn't have passed the physical. But then, that was not the idea. I wanted to show that I'd, I had objected to, to this, to this horrendous treatment that we had become involved in. So I didn't, I didn't go. I... the marshal came one day and says, "Mr. Yenokida, you're not gonna go to the army?" I said, "I'm not going." "Well, you have to come with me." So that's what happened. And in that group, there was five persons in that group. And I never knew them before, no. We never discussed any intention of violating the law to anyone until that time came when the marshal came.

RP: So it was a personal decision, act of conscience, on your part to do that.

SY: Right.

RP: You weren't influenced by other people in the camp?

SY: No, no.

RP: There was a draft resistance movement in the Heart Mountain camp.

SY: We never knew about it.

RP: You never knew about it. So this was all independent of that. Uh-huh.

SY: But I kind of believe that we, the five, were the first ones to object to the draft. By that I mean, I think I recall reading an article in the Denver Post about our resistance, and it was on January 26, 1943.

RP: 1943, uh-huh.

SY: And if I remember correctly, maybe my year might be wrong, but I know the date is January 26th. Yeah.

RP: And so where did the marshals take you? To Denver? Or...

SY: First of all, he took us to Pueblo and we spent the night there because the distance is from, from Amache to Denver would be quite a distance and we'd be too late during the day to get processed. So we spent the night in Pueblo and instead of going into Denver he took us into federal correctional institute in Inglewood, Colorado. There we were processed and we had a cell, and the five of us was there for about maybe two weeks, or three weeks, and the other ones followed and they came also. And I was there without trial, pending trial, for three months before any movement came along. And while we were there, Mr. Min Yasui and Grant Noda, no, Grant Masaoka came and tried to persuade us to change our mind. And I told 'em, "Hey, I've made up my mind. No matter how much you whip me, you may also kill me, but I will not change my mind." That's, that's what I said. So in the meantime, Mr... what's his name? What's the name? Hideo Ito, Mr. Yamazumi, Mr. Taguma, that's three of 'em, told 'em to go to hell in Japanese. Yeah. "You fellows go to hell." And through that language, in Japanese... he didn't know that Mr. Yasui was a linguist at that time and they were sent in to the, to the hole, which is only what? Three feet wide, 8 foot long. And the temperature in there is about 80-90 degrees. It's heated. So they were in there stark naked for overnight, you know. And they were saying that if we have to stay here over week, we couldn't stand this kind of treatment. But, they were there one day in that hole. But after they came out, we were all together again.

RP: And then did, did you eventually... did the case go to trial in Denver?

SY: Well, we spent three months in Inglewood at the federal correctional institute. After this interview with Mr. Yasui and Grant Masaoka, we were sent to the Denver county jail, 1448 Klamath Street. And somewhere along the line, I have enough time to see if I can't locate that thing next couple days. So, that's what happened. And when we were in, in the Denver county jail, I can't tell you the exact amount, but I think somewhere close to twenty people got involved in this, this resistance. Not, not with a gathering, but everybody making their own decision that they're not gonna go to the army.

RP: Oh, twenty more people in Amache?

SY: Yeah. But I'm not too awful sure because there's quite a number of people there and I can't remember exactly who was there anymore. It's, it's too many years.

RP: Uh-huh. That's sixty-six years ago.

SY: Yeah.

<End Segment 11> - Copyright © 2008 Manzanar National Historic Site and Densho. All Rights Reserved.