The trial of Ken Matsumoto depicted in the novel is a compilation of facts and circumstances taken from the four cases of those Japanese Americans who contested their removal and went to trial. Their cases eventually ended up in the Supreme Court. The scene where Ken Matsumoto is taken into custody by an MP in the court room is taken from Fred Korematsu’s account of what happened to him to at the end of his trial.
Manzanar was one of ten concentration camps in the western United States hastily established to house some of the 120,000 Americans of Japanese descent who were ordered to leave their homes in 1942. At its peak it housed 10,000 men, women and children. This YouTube video begins with the governments reason for the forced relocation and but then shifts to a contemporary documentary that graphically shows what life was like in Manzanar and the demoralizing effect it had on its residents.
In the autumn of 1943, Ansel Adams was invited to Manzanar by the Camp Director Ralph Merritt to take photographs of the facility and the Japanese who were being forced to live there. The photographs and the book he had written about his experience at Manzanar entitled Born Free and Equal were first exhibited at the Museum of Modern Art in 1944. The photographs depict the internees as non-threatening human beings and the camp as a place run in an orderly and humane way. The public, used to seeing Japanese depicted as threatening and monstrous, reacted negatively to the photographs and the book. Many of the photos were taken down from the exhibit and many of the books were destroyed. The link below is to the photographs.
The book Born Free and Equal is available thru Amazon at and other book sellers. Click here for the Amazon link.
UNITED STATES DISTRICT COURT. COURTROOM NO. 1 CIRCA 1942-LOCATION OF THE MATSUMOTO TRIAL IN THE BOOK AND ACTUAL THE KOREMATSU TRIAL
REGILLUS APARTMENTS OAKLAND CALIFORNIA
THE CLAREMONT HOTEL
BEETHOVENS FIFTH PIANO CONCERTO PLAYED ON SEPTEMEBER 4TH, 1944 IN BERLIN
Walter Gieseking was a brilliant pianist in the middle decades of the twentieth century. The reference to the listening of Beethoven’s fifth piano concerto in Lagrange’s bunker is based on the fact that he performed the concerto in September of 1944 in Berlin. It was broadcast live over Berlin radio and recorded in what is believed to be the first stereo recording ever made.
Despite the environment in which it was performed, a noted critic had called the recording brilliant. If one listens closely one can hear the sounds of anti-aircraft fire in the background.
Gieseking was the son of a German doctor and spent most of his adult life in Germany. Ironically he was born in Lyon.
It is available on CD. The adagio from this recording can be listened to by going to the following link which contains a picture of Gieseking and a bombed out Berlin.
KLAUS BARBIE – A VIDEO IN FOUR PARTS
Klaus Barbie – part one of four
Klaus Barbie – part two of four
Klaus Barbie – part three of four
Klaus Barbie – part four of four
Bernard’s escape while being transported from the Ecole is taken from an account of the escape of Raymond Aubrac planned and carried out by his wife, Lucie and members of the Resistance. Her life and the escape are recounted in the 1997 film Lucie Aubrac, and in her biography, Outwitting the Gestapo. She died at the age of ninety-four. Raymond Aubrac lived to be ninety-seven.
The escape of Chantal is based upon the experience of Marie-Madeleine’s and her escape from a jail cell as recounted in her autobiography Noah’s Ark.
The description of the use of the MOLE device used to blow up trains came from a training film prepared by the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). It is available on YouTube
THE LOST BATALLION
The rescue of the “Lost Battalion” by members of the all Japanese 442nd Regimental Combat Team is fact. The rescue was given wide publicity in the states but with little mention of the families still in the camps. The link is to news reel coverage of the rescue.
Japanese members of the 522nd Field Artillery Team were some of the first to enter a satellite camp of the main camp at Dachau. They helped liberate thousands of Jews.
The way Wells Lewis was killed is accurately portrayed in the novel. He led a short, but remarkable life. A documentary entitled “Wells Lewis; Lost Heir to a Minnesota Son,” is interesting and compelling in that it discusses his life growing up as the son of a Nobel Laureate and his own achievements. It is also heartbreaking given that a life full of promise was extinguished so abruptly.
This is a link to the video.
As was said in the novel, war chooses its victims arbitrarily.
It is with sincere gratitude that I acknowledge the following persons who read the manuscript and made constructive suggestions, many of which were adopted. I have listed them in alphabetical order;
Bella Barany, Lincoln Bergman, David Billingsley, Jim Brosnahan, Hon Carol Brosnahan, Beth Chapmon, Kevin Cragholm, Paul Dorroh, Susan Farrow, Patricia Golde, Ivan Golde, Matthew Golde, Clair Green, Tran Ha, James Hermann, Hon D. Lowell Jensen, Hon Ken Kawaichi, Alyson Madigan, Jim Rothe, and Michael Thorman.
I owe a special debt of gratitude to the late Barclay Simpson founder and retired CEO of Simpson Manufacturing, who has been by friend for almost fifty years. He read the first rough manuscript and encouraged me to push on. He also fought in World War II, and helped preserve our way of life which made it possible to correct the wrongs that were done to Japanese Americans. He recently passed away.
I am indebted to Peter Irons who wrote the book Justice at War. It is the most comprehensive work on the Interment cases ever written, and it was from his work that I was able to piece together the events that occurred during the four cases that went to trial.
Special thanks to Beth Barany and Carol Malone my editors and Ezra Barany who proof read the original manuscript and made constructive suggestions.
And finally to my wife Monique who read the manuscript as an editor, proof reader, and partner. She also allowed me the freedom to spend countless hours writing and researching to the exclusion of her and the many things we could have done together.