Life in Karafuto

005 Yumiko Gotoh

I interviewed my grandmother. She talked about her experience during the Second World War.

During the Second World War, she went to Karafuto to earn money. Shewas about seventeen years old at that time. She worked at a paper mill. Whileshe was working, many planes flew in the sky. One of the planes was a B-29. That was the first time she really felt the war.

Japan lost the Second World War, so she did not come back to Japan because she became a prisoner of war of Russia. The people who became a prisoner of Russia were sixteen altogether; ten men and five or six women including my grandmother. They wanted to come back to Japan. Three of them tried to escape from Karafuto but they couldn't escape, because they were caught escaping and one of them was gunned down by Russian soldiers. The women painted their face black using charcoal to confuse their sex. If they were founded that they were females by Russian soldiers, Russian soldiers took them out and they raped the women. The women hid in the ceiling when Russian soldiers came to their hiding place. They were not find though Russian soldiers picked the ceiling using their guns. Some women who became a prisoner of war of Russia got married to a Russian soldier and they could live in easy circumstances unlike otherprisoners. But the women who got married to a Russian soldier helped prisoners giving some foods and clothes. My grandmother sometimes envied them their living without great inconvenience and fear, but she did not want to get married to a Russian soldier. Because she was convinced that she would come back to Japan safely and she had a strong will to come back to Japan. And then the prisoners came to be returned. But Japanese ship did not come to Karafuto, so they couldn't come back to Japan easily. Until Japanese ship came to Karafuto, they were held in a building. They couldn't have free life in there. For example, they were not permitted to go out and given much food. So some people died of hunger.

Lastly my grandmother said that her feeling for Russian people is mixed. And she said, "I know that Russian people of today are not wrong, but I have hate for Russian. I hated the war and Russian soldiers forever."