Jimmie Kanaya
Guest of the Third Reich

While some of their families were behind barbed wire in America, Japanese Americans faced the danger of being held prisoner of war by the enemy. In the Pacific, two Japanese Americans became prisoners of the Japanese while in Europe dozens of Japanese Americans were captured by the Germans. To break the POWs down, German interrogators would fixate on the question of why the Nisei were fighting for America. Jimmie Kanaya had the misfortune of being a POW in Germany, a "Guest of the Third Reich." Born in Clackamas, Oregon, Kanaya enlisted in the Army at age twenty in April 1941. After Pearl Harbor he was transferred from Hoff General Hospital in Santa Barbara further inland while his family was sent to Minidoka War Relocation Center. In 1943, Kanaya transferred to the newly formed 442nd Regimental Combat Team and he fought with them through Italy and France. In October 1944, near Biffontaine, Kanaya was captured, spending the rest of the war as a POW of the Germans, chiefly in Oflag 64. Before liberation outside of Nuremberg, he escaped three times. Kanaya made the military his profession and continued to serve his country during the Korean and Vietnam Wars.

This exhibit has been made possible through a gift from The Annenberg Foundation

With additional support from the Eugenie and Joseph Jones Family Foundation