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May 23, 1986 - Image 24

Resource type:
Text
Publication:
The Detroit Jewish News, 1986-05-23

Disclaimer: Computer generated plain text may have errors. Read more about this.

24

Friday, May 23, 1986

THE DETROIT JEWISH NEWS

Summer Is Here!

CUSTOM PLAN A SUMMER OF FUN
JEWISH COMMUNITY CENTER DAY CAMP

LOOKING BACK

Memories

Continued from Page 22

for campers entering grades 5-9
BLOCK SPECIALTY PROGRAMS

- Select 1/2 day blocks in tennis, gymnastics,
perfortningarts, computers, fine arts, dance and sports.

Limited openings available in all camp programs
for pre-schoolers through 10th graders. Child care
option available.

For your cgnvenience, the day camp will be open on the
following Sundays: June 8, 15 and 22 from 10 a.m. until 3
p.m. Additional information can be obtained by calling

661-1000, extension 254.

KARrw,Ittlifi,

.

moments of self-debate, he
realized that if he resisted sur
render there would be no chance
for survival. In a further effort
to survive, he discarded his H
dog tag.
It was way too far for any
U.S. forces to rescue me. I'd
starve or die of thirst. The only
water was salt water. I decided
to take the chance."
During his first days as a
POW he was continuously inter-
rogated. When his captors posed
questions he was unable to an-
swer, they would hit him. "After
I realized that if you didn't an-
swer, you got slugged, I gave
them an answer to everything.
There was nothing I didn't
know," says Kaufman.
When they asked him how
many B-24's there were in . In-
dia, "768" was his immediate
reply. Where did they get the oil
for airplanes? "Oil wells in
Louisiana," he told them, and he
even devised a supply route.
The ability to think on his
feet helped pull Kaufman
through that year-and-a-half of
imprisonment. "What saved me
was my sense of humor," he ex-
plains. "The fellows who fared
best were the ones who could
laugh. Without a sense of
humor, you'd go crazy. Maybe
25 percent did."
It seems difficult, if not im-
possible to find humor in Kauf-
man's memories. "At Ofuna, the
first prison camp I was sent to,
the men were fed three rice
balls a day, lived in little cells
where we slept on tatamis
(straw mat) and had a bath once
a month. The malnutrition was
so bad that any illness could kill
you. If someone said he didn't
feel well and couldn't eat, you
knew it was only a matter of
time till he'd die."
The prisoners had no work as-
signments and Kaufman logged
many hours learning Japanese
from another American serv-
iceman who acted as camp in-
terpreter. When his friend was
transferred, Kaufman became
the unofficial interpreter, a posi-
tion which freed him from the
beatings given other prisoners,
usually accused of stealing food.
"The second POW camp was
Omori, located in Tokyo Bay be-
tween Tokyo and Yokohama.
There we started work, cleaning
up bombed areas. Then a big
change scared us. They had us
digging caves for storing muni-'
tions and food, a last ditch stand
that Japan made against an in-
vasion. When the Americans
dropped the atomic bomb in
early August we didn't know
what happened, but something
had happened because there was
no more work detail and the
Japanese doubled the guard on
us. We could tell something was
up." The men could also hear
the guards arguing.
"One faction wanted to kill us,
the other didn't. Finally around
Aug. 25, all the Japanese
guards and officials at the camp
buried the prisoners' records and
disappeared."
At the same time, American
planes began dropping candy
bars to the prisoners. The pris-

Judge Charles Kaufman

oners, all suffering from mal-
nutrition, including Kaufman
who at 6 feet weighed 100
pounds and was bent over with
protruding ribs, got sick from
the candy.
On Aug. 29, Omori prisoners
were evacuated, under the
command of Harold Stassen,
former governor of Minnesota,
to a hospital ship. Off in the dis-
tance the men could see the
USS Missouri where the proc-
lamation of peace was being
negotiated.
In his chambers, Judge
Charles Kaufman, a member of
the Michigan JWV's Silverman
Post, keeps a treasured framed
copy of the "Instrument of Sur-
render." About his decision to
chance a surrender to the
Japanese, Kaufman says: "Many
times as a POW I regretted that
chance but in retrospect, I'm
here today." ❑

Italian Envoy
Visits Israel

Jerusalem (JTA) — Foreign
Minister Julio Andreotti of
Italy told Prime Minister
Shimon Peres at a meeting here
last Monday that Peres' pro-
posal for a Middle East "Mar-
shall Plan" to stem the region's
economic deterioration had been
raised at the Western economic
summit meeting in Tokyo earl-
ier this month. It was attended
by the U.S. and the major in-
dustrialized nations of Europe
with the Japanese serving as
hosts.
Andreotti also met with
Foreign Minister Yitzhak
Shamir during his three day
visit. His talks here focussed on
the problem of international ter-
rorism. In that connection, An-
dreotti reportedly agreed with
Shamir that the 1980 Venice
declaration by the European
Economic Community (EEC)
ministers that the Palestine
Liberation Organization should
be "associated" with Mideast
peace talks no longer has any
practical validity.

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