Two families, two very different experiences in World War II

During World War II many families found themselves on more than one side of the war. Immigration and changing national boundaries were often the culprits in these cases, more than any divided loyalties. For the Maroscher and the Fukuhara families the war came to be about far more than the what was occurring on the battlefields in Europe of the Pacific.

diearoundhereI always like to support local authors and when a local author writes a memoir so readable it could be a novel, I’m even happier to endorse and promote it. Gerhard Maroscher’s oddly titled memoir, Why Can’t Somebody Just Die Around Here? is a book I think any World War II buff will enjoy. [The perplexing title is explained early in the story.]This is not the traditional story of fleeing the Nazis. The Maroscher’s were not Jewish. But their home in Romania became their home in Hungary in the post World War I days and then was consumed by the Nazis in World War II.

Eventually, due to all of this and more, the family became displaced persons and endured the long process to immigrate to the United States where they settled in Columbus, Ohio. Here they were fortunate to have sponsors who helped them land in a job that included housing upon arrival. I personally found this aspect of the story to be the most interesting as I have read far less about the refugee experience here in the United States. No, matter my preference, though, the entire book is excellent. Why Can’t Somebody Just Die Around Here by Gerhard Maroscher.

midnightThe Fukuhara family’s war was even more trying. Being divided by geography, legal status in both the parent’s native Japan and the children’s home in the United States (the children were citizens but the parents were not allowed to become Americans by law) was confusing and heart-wrenching enough, but the parents, unintentionally made the situation worse. Like many first-generation Japanese immigrants, they struggled financially in America. To make things easier, and, they believed, to make life easier for their children, the two eldest were sent home to Japan to have a formal Japanese education. For the only daughter this was seen as especially important as it would greatly improve her marriage prospects. For the three youngest boys, life was a normal, small town American childhood in Auburn, Washington. One son, Harry, even steadfastly refused to learn anything in Japanese school.

Over the years of their upbringing, all the Fukahara children would be uprooted and forced to change cultures and countries. This led to trauma for some, and profound displacement for one. When World War II arrived things grew more complicated. They family’s story during the war is one of equal parts grit and diplomacy. Midnight in Broad Daylight by Pamela Rotner Sakamoto.

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