TESTIMONY of Retired Colonel Boris T. Pash
at the 8-11-81 hearing of the Commission on Wartime Relocation and Internment of Civilians, held in San Francisco, California,
based on tape recording {"6 minutes" penciled in}

Western Defense Command 1940-43

Having been called to active duty in June of 1940, I was assigned as the Chief, Counter Intelligence Division, first with headquarters at the 9th Corps area, and after its activation, with the headquarters Western Defense Command four times, which included the 7 Western States and Alaska.

A situation developed in 1939 while I was teaching and coaching at Hollywood High School in California which had seriously modified my personal attitude toward persons of Japanese background in the United States... and I had a lot of Nisei playing football. I was planning to take an all-Nisei high school level baseball team to Japan. During the preliminary planning, one of my Nisei players, Ashimoto {hereafter corrected to "Hashimoto"}, cautioned me about including boys of 18 years and older, or those who would be 18 during the trip. He told me that all American Japanese held dual citizenship and at the age of 18 they became subject to military service in Japan and were expected to fulfill this obligation, and if in Japan at that time they would be held until completion of the service. According to Hashimoto, many accepted this obligation. I reported this to the Los Angeles F.B.I. Field Office. Special Agent Eros Nichols under the cover of a sponsor team, and I, discussed this matter with Hashimoto and it was decided to drop the project for the time. Later Nichols asked me to pursue the situation. Subsequently, in 1975, Nichols recalled the incident and prepared a memo of which I will present a copy with this statement.

Following up on Nichols' request, I visited the Japanese Consul office in Los Angeles and was told that all Japanese in the United States including Nisei were considered to be Japanese citizens and at the age of 18 must fulfill their military obligations in Japan. A registry of all Japanese in Southern California was kept in the Consular Office in Los Angeles. And many young men picked up their passports and returned to Japan to fulfill their military obligations. (LAUGHTER by crowd almost all of whom were Japanese)

In 1940 I received a postcard from Japan: "(Bonsi?{Banzai?}), I am in the Japanese Navy," signed "Hashimoto."

Let me jump ahead to 1946. One day while on occupation duty in Tokyo, I was stopped by a young Japanese who had recognized me. He had played on my football team in the thirties. After mutual greetings he asked: "Can you help me get back to the United States?" In response to my question he told me that he was in Japan at the outbreak of the war. He later got married and during the war he worked for the Toma {"Domei"? penciled in} Agency. My response to him was: "You come to my office, and if you can tell me that at no time did you do anything inimical to the interests of the United States, I shall try to help you. If you cannot, don't come." He never came.

Two short comments. Information you probably have, but which I consider significant. On the 16th day of November, 1945, the day after release from camp, about 1500 Japanese repatriates, most of them American born, left for Japan. On 1 November 1980, a Japanese individual stated on TV on Channel 2, San Francisco, that over 1500 Japanese Americans were killed in Hiroshima during the explosion of the atomic bomb. My personal question is: Were there such numbers in other areas and why were they not confined to camp? How did they exist?

The Western Defense Command intelligence report on 14-21 February 1942, reported that: "The Mexican Government has already removed the great majority of person of Japanese ancestry from lower California and Sonora to inland places." In the same report: "Canada has ordered the removal of all aliens, including 2500 Japanese, from British Columbia area to east of the Cascade Mountains by 1 April." A copy of this report I am also submitting.

One of the disturbing factors was that at no time prior to Pearl Harbor or thereafter, particularly during the critical early months of the war, was any information received from local Japanese sources on suspected clandestine or anti-American activities or attitudes within the community. No reports on persons from the local areas who had gone to Japan.

Then on 23 February 1942, a warning by an anonymous caller referred to as a "West Coast Japanese" was made to the Navy more than one hour prior to the shelling of oil installations in Elwood, Ca., by an enemy sub. That information had to come from someone, I am sure, who had advance information.

On 24 February 1942, two more such anonymous calls were received. A copy of this _____ report I will also submit.

What was the situation within the Western Defense Command? The weekly intelligence periodic report of 16-23 May 1942, gave the ????? capability of conducting surprise raids or attacks on the Pacific Coast, with the possibility of an attack of the Alaska area as a feint to draw our Naval & Air Forces prior to a strong attack on the Pacific seaboard. I have that attachment here.

I am not here to object to whatever redress, if any, our government should decide on, keeping in mind that equally as large, if not larger numbers of other Americans suffered similar financial losses as a result of the war. I am here to ask that the action taken in 1942 be considered in the light of times -- the conflicting information which was available, and honest estimates made by our military command, including the President of the United States as to what was necessary to preserve the nation. Since the action taken in early 1942 was taken solely in the honest opinion that it was urgently necessary for the security of our nation and all its people, including Americans of Japanese ancestry. I do not believe that our nation owes anyone an apology for those emergency measures. This is the end of my formal statement and I shall be happy to answer any questions.

{"Questioning 30 minutes" penciled in}

Commissionner. Are you denying that a mistake was made?

C. Pash. If we knew what we know today, there probably would be an adjustment.

Comsnr. We apologize for our mistakes in life, don't we?

C. Pash. Yes.

Comsnr. Well, isn't that what a lot of people want the government to do? To say: "We made a mistake"?

C. Pash. I don't think so. A mistake is when we do something wrong. Under those circumstances we had no other way out.

Comsnr. It's against all the testimony that has been accumulated through the years. There were many other ways out if in fact there was any necessity of a way out.

C. Pash. May I respond to that and say that frequently "everybody" refers to "concentration camps." You get the impression they were locked up in camps. (LAUGHTER) By "locked in camps" I (would take it to) mean that you cannot go out. (LAUGHTER)

Comsnr. Quiet, please. Let's keep order here.

C. Pash. I have a couple of papers here.

Comsnr. What are you trying to prove?

C. Pash. What I am trying to show is that offers were made to those in the relocation camps to go out into private industry in the states of Utah, Nevada and so forth -- to work at the prevailing wages and to receive housing---

Comsnr. The senior citizens couldn't go out. There was no way they (senior citizens) could escape the concentration camps. (APPLAUSE)

Comsnr. (To woman who was in the aisle near the front:) Ma'am, will you please take your seat! This is not an (open?) meeting. I am going to have you removed if you do not. Have the Security come down and remove this lady who is disrupting the proceedings. Please remove her. (The woman was complaining to the Commissioners about not being allowed on the agenda in S.F. when she had proof of Col. Pash's statements, proof of the gov't's offer for Japanese to leave camp.)

Woman. He (Colonel Pash) is telling the truth! (LAUGHTER & "AWs")

Comsnr. Alright. Let's proceed.

C. Pash. I just want to say that today we know that maybe something could have been done differently. But we're not sure.

Comsnr. (The Chairman recognized Senator Brooke.)

Sen. Brooke. Colonel Pash, you served at the time in the counter intelligence corps?

C. Pash. Yes.

S. Brke. Did you make any recommendations to a member of the 4th Army relative to the operation Japanese internment?

C. Pash. No, that was not my responsibility.

S. Brke. At any time did you have any information that any Japanese Americans were involved in espionage or sabotage?

C. Pash. Well, the thing is we had no information except at that time, for example, a preliminary warning of a submarine attack. Now somewhere, and that attack took place by the way, an hour or so after that warning came.

S. Brke. (Senator Brooke asked how the warning was received.)

C. Pash. An anonymous phone call.

S. Brke. Did you presume that to be a Japanese American?

C. Pash. No, we didn't presume. The person calling said he was a West Coast Japanese. That's what I stated. (LAUGHTER)

S. Brke. Who received that call?

C. Pash. The Navy, and they transmitted it to us. I have a copy of the report in here. I would like to also state at the time -- and I have an Ordinance report in here. For example, the United States was rushing by express, ammunition to the Coast, there was a battery of guns coming down from Utah -- horse drawn at a fast pace. (LAUGHTER). We were militarily defenseless. I'm not a military expert as you know, as I was teaching... I was a reserve officer in the Intelligence and I was called in. And as a result I would not be able to discuss technical military status here. But from the point of view of the F.B.I., for example, they were at a loss. We were at a loss and we had not one report coming in. Now we had reports from Germans, from the Italians, from the Russians, coming in to the bases about Mr. So-and-So. There were none that came in from the Japanese.

S. Brke. And what conclusion did you draw from that? (LAUGHTER)

C. Pash. The only conclusion we could draw was that we could not tell. You see 1500 or 2000 men disloyal to the United States out of maybe 120,000 could have caused serious consequences if an invasion actually took place.

S. Brke. Could you prove there were 1500 disloyal?

C. Pash. No, I'm just giving you an illustration. I personally had two instances in which I realized that these boys, young Nisei, according to information I had at the time, held dual citizenship and many of them, as the Consul told me, went to Japan to serve.

S. Brke. Are you giving me some justification for the incarceration of 126,000 Japanese Americans?

C. Pash. No, I'm telling you the situation as we knew it in the Intelligence Division. Now the relocation was a matter of an entirely different group (responsible for the decision) and they were not associated directly with the Army. There was a special commission established by the President of the United States to study this question.

S. Brke. But you made a statement that they were in camps. Did you see any of these camps?

C. Pash. No.

S. Brke. Well, how do you know that they were in camps? How do you know they weren't concentration camps as they were called by many? You don't know, do you? You don't know, you've never been there.

C. Pash. From photographs I have seen, they were about the type of the camps, as a matter of fact I understand that one camp was being prepared for our troops---

S. Brke. How can you tell this Commission that a camp that has barbed wire and armed guards is not a concentration camp?

C. Pash. A concentration camp you cannot go in or out.

S. Brke. And could they go in and out at any time?

C. Pash. They could go out to work, yes. And they worked in the fields---

S. Brke. But you don't know this of your own knowledge, do you?

C. Pash. Yes.

S. Brke. You were there?

C. Pash. You obtain knowledge by reading.

S. Brke. (Harshly, if not angrily) What did you read?

C. Pash. I read some books referring to that particular---

S. Brke. Will you tell this Commission what you read? Cite those books, at this time, if you will.

C. Pash. I will see if I have them here. I could provide the Commission with---

S. Brke. I ask you to provide the Commission with any citations to books that you read which described these concentration camps at the time. Now we are talking about at that time. Is that correct?

C. Pash. Yes.

S. Brke. And you said that you did all this in the name of national defense? More things have been wrong in this country in the name of national defense... (LOUD APPLAUSE)

C. Pash. A lot of things have been done in the name of something which are wrong.

S. Brke. Yeah. In the name of God (LAUGHTER) or in the name of national defense (LAUGHTER). And you say this was done in the name of God as well as in the name of national defense?

C. Pash. I don't say either one.

S. Brke. It's not my purpose to ridicule a witness, but you could be a very helpful witness. You were there at the time. You were in an important position in counter intelligence. But you didn't visit any of the concentration camps. You had no responsibility for the decision which resulted in the incarceration of Japanese Americans.

C. Pash. I had no responsibility for the camps.

S. Brke. You had no responsibility for the camps. You never saw those camps.

C. Pash. And neither did the military. They were turned over to the---

S. Brke. Well, that is a question we will have to decide for what the military's responsibility was. At least your counter intelligence had no responsibility whatsoever. You had no input into it whatsoever.

C. Pash. Into the camp (plans)?

S. Brke. Yes.

C. Pash. No.

S. Brke. Or into the decision to incarcerate the Japanese Americans?

C. Pash. No.

S. Brke. So you are just giving your opinion and things you have read and calls from anonymous people?

C. Pash. I am giving you the sum total of the intelligence that we had at the time. (LAUGHTER)

S. Brke. You make this sound very official. The sum total of the intelligence that you had. Now are you speaking of the Italians or what? (LAUGHTER)

C. Pash. Intelligence received of any activities that take place and then you evaluate it and as a result you produce a degree of intelligence.

S. Brke. And you evaluated this information and materials.

C. Pash. Yes, when you do not get any information, that is information in intelligence. (LAUGHTER)

S. Brke. I can't believe that {is how?} our intelligence system works (LOUD LAUGHTER). Is that what you're asking us to believe? You say that no information was the basis for your conclusion?

C. Pash. No, I told you that our information was that Japanese, all young Japanese had dual citizenship. Some of them served in the Japanese Army. That was information that we had.

S. Brke. Well, let's assume that you are correct. That the Japanese Americans had dual citizenship... Did that form the basis for the conclusion that these Japanese Americans should be incarcerated in camp as potential enemies?

C. Pash. No, not necessarily.

S. Brke. Well, what conclusion did you draw from the dual citizenship?

C. Pash. The fact that they either had loyalty for Japan or loyalty for the United States.

S. Brke. They could have had loyalty for either or both?

C. Pash. Yes.

S. Brke. Were they under surveillance at the time?

C. Pash. Well, there were thousands of them so we didn't survey all of the Japanese. I mean we didn't pinpoint anyone. Now I had a specific instance where this young man who told me that he had dual citizenship, I had information that he eventually went to Japan and did serve in the Japanese Navy.

S. Brke. Alright, that is one case. And you only have information -- you don't have any definite documentation that he did. You can't give us any documentation?

C. Pash. No.

S. Brke. And if he did, then so what? I presume there were some Germans that went back to Germany and served in the army and some Italians that went back to Italy and served in the army or the navy or air force.

C. Pash. That's right.

S. Brke. Then what is the basis for your conclusion? I still don't understand that. Is that one instance---

C. Pash. If there were, in fact, on the Pacific Coast, and if there were a reasonable (number) group who were disloyal and a landing was effected somewhere -- we had Guadalupe, that's just north of Santa Barbara, as probably a prospective place to land --  we would have a problem to get our troops down there; we didn't have any of the guns that could challenge the (Japanese) Navy or the landings at that time and we gave them that capability clear into June of 1942. Now I think you will appreciate the fact that one of the reasons the United States was in such a position is because as soon as the robber doesn't come around you take the policeman off the beat, you see. We had no intelligence organization of any consequence at that time.

S. Brke. I am not arguing that point. The question is, who is the robber? (LAUGHTER) In your example, the robber is not the Japanese Americans.

C. Pash. No, the Japanese. The robbers are the Japanese Navy. Now if they tried to effect a landing somewhere on the California Coast, we would not be in a position to challenge that landing unless, until it finally came about.

S. Brke. It sounds to me as though you all were in an utter state of confusion. (LAUGHTER)

C. Pash. I think the nation was in a state of confusion. So you really can't pick out the Intelligence group or the Western Defense Command -- we were trying to reorganize and train while we operated.

S. Brke. Being in that state of confusion and chaos, you reacted arbitrarily, did you not?

C. Pash. No, I think it was an honest effort -- I am speaking on behalf of those people who had the decision to make. I think they acted in an honest opinion that this was the thing to do in order to protect not only the Coast, but if something happened, and there was quite a bit of passion -- the people in California were very much in excitement about the presence of Japanese -- everybody was suspicious one way or another---

S. Brke. They were suspicious even before the war, weren't they? They had problems before the war that were carried on after.

C. Pash. Now I had no problems. I was teaching an entire Japanese Nisei football team to play football. I coached---

S. Brke. Now just a minute, because I have lived all my life and "some of my best friends are black." (LAUGHTER and APPLAUSE)

C. Pash. I had a---

S. Brke. You understand what I am saying.

C. Pash. Yes -- well, I'd like to tell you---

S. Brke. Sometimes I wonder if you do understand. (LAUGHTER)

C. Pash. I had---

S. Brke. You hear what I am saying? Just because some of these Japanese played football on your team doesn't mean very much to me.

C. Pash. No, what I'm trying to tell you was my attitude with the Nisei boys -- I was asked to go up to San Francisco to coach the Japanese team which was a Nisei team -- football team -- that played against the Chinese team at Kezar Stadium. My attitude to these young men was a sincere--- I don't consider and I certainly don't feel that the use of such terms as Japanese Americans, Black Americans, Spanish Americans -- I think we are all Americans. We might be of Japanese background or we might be of---

S. Brke. Sometimes we aren't all treated like we're all Americans. That's what we are here to find out. (APPLAUSE)

C. Pash. Then the Committee will accept my statements, made in an honest way, of a situation which developed then and which probably if our country was permitted without the newspaper interfering on intelligence activities, we might be in a better position to do something else.

S. Brke. ...I would just like to ask you one further question. You started out by saying we must look at the time these events occurred; now looking at it in hindsight, do you think we made a mistake in incarcerating -- putting into camps -- and let's not argue about what kind of camps they were because I don't think you know any more about it than I know and I wasn't there -- you weren't. But at any rate, let's say they were put into camps -- do you think we should have have incarcerated 126,000 Japanese Americans, (put?) Americans in camp even in those times?

C. Pash. That is very hard to resolve -- you cannot say what would have happened if we did not. And I'm sure that I was not one to be in a position to say there was something else we could have done.

S. Brke. Should we have put all the Germans, rounded up all the Germans and put them in concentration camps?

C. Pash. That was an entirely different situation. Germans were not clustered in the first place---

S. Brke. I think it would be more important... to know where they were. (LAUGHTER)

C. Pash. Will you let me repeat my statement? (C. Pash was INTERRUPTED AGAIN & AGAIN)

S. Brke. Yes.

C. Pash. We had numerous reports from people from within the German community and when we found out and investigated these reports there were Germans, Italians, Russians who were more or less pro-Fascist you might say, were DEPORTED TO AREAS OTHER THAN THE COAST.

S. Brke. Were the Italians clustered?

C. Pash. we had a lot of information -- you see the thing is---

S. Brke. No, no, answer my question.

C. Pash. Well, I don't know whether the Italians were---

S. Brke. The Japanese lived in ghettos, blacks lived in ghettos, and Italians lived in ghettos. Today they still do.

C. Pash. I don't call them ghettos.

S. Brke. That's because you never lived there. (LAUGHTER & APPLAUSE) Now you said because the Japanese were clustered. I am just trying to distinguish why Japanese were clustered and the Italians weren't clustered, assuming the Germans were spread throughout the community.

C. Pash. Yes, the Japanese probably -- and I think this is true -- kept to themselves more tight-knit that did the Italians and Germans, because we got quite a bit of information from both Italians and Germans.

S. Brke. Well, we could go on and on with this and I am going to conclude. I would just like to say -- I can't see, and we still have open minds and are going to listen to all the witnesses, but I can't see that you can make a case for justification of the incarceration of 126,000 Americans in World War II, no matter whether it be Japanese, Italians, Germans or whatever. It's wrong AND I THINK YOU YOURSELF KNOW THAT IT WAS WRONG.

C. Pash. At the time, I don't think it was wrong.

S. Brke. And now?

C. Pash. And now I'd have to question whether or not what would happen.

S. Brke. You are entitled to your opinion. I thank you but I think you are wrong.

Comsnr. What consideration was given by your intelligence corps to the General Mark Clark recommendation, the F.B.I. recommendation, the Munson Report and the Commander Ringle(?) Report that the mass evacuation was not necessary? Were any of those given consideration at the time, trying to reach some other solution in your Intelligence Office that day?

C. Pash. As I told the Committee, that question did not come to my office. I was not involved in those questions. I was asked information with regard to concentration of people. I mentioned Guadalupe because that was a heavy concentration of which we had practically no immediate control. By control I mean it was far away from any of our installations. We had very little information and so forth. I provided what information I knew about the background. As a matter of fact, I think that I might have been preparing for another assignment.

Comsnr. For this background, these (Munson, F.B.I., etc.) reports, but not your background.

C. Pash. No. The question of the actual relocation? No.

Comsnr. I would just like to pursue Senator Mitchell's question further. Were you aware of the Munson Report, as part of the Intelligence operation, did you have the opportunity of reading it and evaluating it along with all of this other information to which you call our attention?

C. Pash. I don't recall the Report under the title Munson, and I don't know when it came out.

Anr. Cmr. Did the United States government recognize dual citizenship? Are you aware of whether or not we did or didn't?

C. Pash. No, I am not aware---

Anr. Cmr. Well, would it surprise you to learn that we do not recognize dual citizenship -- what some foreign government may do is their business and we couldn't care less. Are you aware of that now sir?

C. Pash. I don't understand in what context you mention this.

Anr. Cmr. Well, you mentioned dual citizenship as a factor. Did you trouble yourself to learn, to determine what our own government's position was at that time in reference to dual citizenship? You, as a counter intelligence officer?

C. Pash. I did not look into that matter. You see, the allegation that---

Anr. Cmr. Well, I think you have answered the question, sir. Let me move on to another point. When was that call about the submarine shelling that you received -- the advance warning by some unidentified person who said he was Japanese?

C. Pash. I think it was in February. Yes, right here, it was the 23rd of February 1942.

Anr. Cmr. And do you know what the status of the Japanese was at that point during the War?

C. Pash. Yes, that is we could give---

Anr. Cmr. No, where were they?

C. Pash. Well, they were moving into Southeast Asia.

Anr. Cmr. No, no, excuse me -- the Japanese Americans here on the mainland. You are aware that President Roosevelt handed down an Order, 9066 on February 19th. You are aware of that?

C. Pash. Uh huh.

Anr. Cmr. And what did that Order eventually result in, if you know.

C. Pash. I don't recall the--- (LAUGHTER & APPLAUSE) ---and I can't quite understand.

S. Brke. One question which disturbs me and Senator Mitchell and others have referred to it, you were Chief of Counter Intelligence (LAUGHTER) and I want to find out what input, if any, your information or recommendations had on the ultimate decision of the President to issue this Executive Order?

C. Pash. Any personal report that I might have made certainly went through the Command and whether it went back or not, it would be only used, I presume, by the Commander of the Western Defense Command and those involved to evaluate their own information and their own position.

S. Brke. So you would have had some input you think? I would suspect that you would have some input if you were the Chief of Counter Intelligence at the time. I imagine that the Commander---

C. Pash. A report from us would---

S. Brke. A report from you would be evaluated and then form the basis of some judgment that they would make.

C. Pash. Yes, but I think it would be included in the report that the Commander of the Western Defense Command would make, but it wouldn't be my report as such going in; it would be his evaluation based on my report and other information that he had.

S. Brke. Because it just seems to me that that information is so spotty and doesn't have any real basis -- I mean a telephone call -- an anonymous telephone call. I just hate to think the government would make a decision based upon anonymous telephone calls and frivolous -- I won't call them frivolous -- but weak information.

C. Pash. No, the reports from the F.B.I., reports from Naval Intelligence, would all have gone into that.

S. Brke. Would have gone into that?

C. Pash. Yes.

S. Brke. Alright. Thank you.

Comsnr. I have a question for the Colonel. On your theory about the people being clustered and so on, would you have felt that the U.S. Army, the United States at that time, should have interned the one third of the population of Hawaii that was Japanese?

C. Pash. That was a question that was handled in a different way because, as I understand it, the Japanese, the Filipinos, the Chinese all lived in rather the same environment there and they weren't separated. Now they were, at the early--- (LAUGHTER)

Comsnr. If the United States had in fact, logically and consistently in a certain sense, if they had interned one third of the population of Hawaii, would you be here today saying: "Well, that was plausible at the time"?

C. Pash. I don't know the situation there, therefore I cannot tell you. I heard, for instance, when they went out into the fields to work they had to leave their machetes (LAUGHTER) and knives. There were some reports from the Filipinos, but this is second-hand information. I have no direct information about Hawaii.

Comsnr. Did you know of any acts of sabotage on the part of the Japanese? Did you know of any?

C. Pash. No. (APPLAUSE)

Comsnr. Thank you.

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