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History Unplugged Podcast

with Scott Rank

The Japanese-Americans Who Fought Nazis in Europe

00:00 35:20
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The experience of Japanese-Americans in World War 2 is almost compoletely understood through the lense of internment camps. But for 10s of thousands of them, their most important experience was fighting Nazis.
The 442nd Infantry Regiment was an infantry regiment of the composed almost entirely of second-generation American soldiers of Japanese ancestry. Beginning in 1944, the regiment fought primarily in the European Theatre,[3] in particular Italy, southern France, and Germany. The 442nd Regimental Combat Team (RCT) was organized on March 23, 1943, in response to the War Department's call for volunteers to form the segregated Japanese American army combat unit. More than 12,000 volunteers answered the call, even thought many of the soldiers from the continental U.S. had families in internment camps while they fought abroad
Today’s guest is Daniel James Brown From the #1 New York Times bestselling author of The Boys in the Boat. He’s the author of the new book called FACING THE MOUNTAIN, a World War II saga of patriotism and courage about the special Japanese-American Army unit that overcame brutal odds in Europe; their families, incarcerated back home; and a young man who refused to surrender his constitutional rights, even if it meant imprisonment.

They came from across the continent and Hawaii. Their parents taught them to embrace both their Japanese heritage and the ways of their American homeland. They faced bigotry, yet they believed in their bright futures as American citizens. But within days of Pearl Harbor, the FBI was ransacking their houses and locking up their fathers. And within months many would themselves be living behind barbed wire.

Based on Brown’s extensive interviews with the families of the protagonists as well as archival research, FACING THE MOUNTAIN portrays the kaleidoscopic journey of four Japanese-American families and their sons—Gordon Hirabayashi, Rudy Tokiwa, Fred Shiosaki, and Kats Miho. One demonstrated his courage as a resister. The three others volunteered for 442nd Regimental Combat Team and displayed fierce courage on the battlefields of France, Germany, and Italy where they were asked to do the near impossible in often suicidal missions.
May 18, 2021
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Meet Your Host
Scott Rank is the host of the History Unplugged Podcast and a PhD in history who specialized in the Ottoman Empire and modern Turkey. Before going down the academic route he worked as a journalist in Istanbul. He has written 12 history books on topics ranging from lost Bronze Age civilizations to the Age of Discovery. Some of his books include The Age of Illumination: Science, Technology, and Reason in the Middle Ages and History’s 9 Most Insane Rulers.. Learn more about him by going to scottrankphd.com.
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