The World before WWII

A Grateful Nation

Tyranny and oppression had been a way of life for most of the peoples of the world, since the beginning of recorded history.  History is supposed to provide knowledge of the longer context within which our lives take place. By understanding the reality of the people who came before us, we can see why we look at the world the way we do, and what our contribution is toward further progress.

By the beginning of the 20th century the entire world was under the domination of various colonial powers. There was not one continent on the globe that was not controlled by a western power. Their names, language and way of life superimposed on all indigenous people.

British Hong Kong                            French Indochina

Dutch Indonesia                                French Polynesia

Belgian Congo                             American Samoa                             Portuguese Azores                             Dutch East Indies

French Martinique                     British Rhodesia                             America Virginia Islands                 Dutch Guiana

French Algeria                            Portuguese Guinea                          French West Africa                            French Morocco

German East Africa                   Anglo-Egyptian-Sudan (British)          Italian Somali                             Tripolitania

Kaiser Wilhelm’s Land (Papua New Guinea)

The U.S. Civil War (1860’s) set off the American Industrial Revolution. With it came a great greedy need for markets, raw materials as well as strategic stop-off islands.  The end of slavery in the U.S. brought an end to the availability of cheap labor.  As wagers for the lowest paid workers increased, businesses were hard pressed to seek alternative resources.  In Hawai’i, this need gave rise to the importance of plantation laborers, high profit figures and ever-greater investments in sugar. In order to supply U.S. markets.

The Spanish/American War, “TO THE VICTOR GOES THE SPOILS,” 1898, America obtained possession of The Philippines, Guam, Samoa, Wake Island, and Puerto Rico, Cuba, the Virgin Islands, and the Panama Canal Zone in the Caribbean. The Annexation of the Hawaiian Islands was the result of the Armed Invasion and Illegal overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom by the U.S.

Following Admiral Perry’s journeys to Japan, Japan wanted into the European American Imperial game. Beginning a mission of conquest of Asia and the Pacific Islands, this culminated with the bombings on Dec. 7, 1941. The whole world literally went up in flamesIt all came unglued.

Not one nation, no matter how small escaped the ravages of war.  Everyone was scared.  No one was satisfied with the outcome of WWI.  The Peace Treaty, signed at Versailles in June 1919, which drew artificial borders in Europe and the Middle East and mandated Islands in the Pacific to Japan, thus limiting America’s expansion into the Pacific, was the preamble to WWII.

Bluejackets of the U.S.S. Boston occupying Arlington Hotel grounds during overthrow of Queen Liliuokalani & the Hawaiian Monarchy. Commander Lucien Young, U.S.N. in command of troops. 


Troops from the USS Boston

After the Overthrow of the Hawaiian Nation by the Americans in 1893, the racist policies were fully entrenched in Hawai`i. By the winter of 1941 the white American dominance was complete.  In 1898 America annexed the “territory” of Hawai`i. White Governors were appointed from Washington.  The government, the Big Five in league with the Republican Party and the U.S. Military controlled every facet of life in these Islands. There was a whole generation of non-whites that did not know what it meant to be free. The Hawaiian names had been replaced by American. The Native Hawaiians suffered from all of society’s ills. The U.S. Congress perpetrated an unthinkable hoax upon them. The Hawaiian Homes Act, with its racially defined blood quantum clause, dividing families of Hawaiians and limiting their growth ensuring their disappearance by the end of the 20th century.  They became strangers in their own home. “Aloha” has a hollow ring when they have the shortest life span and the highest incarceration rate of all the ethnic groups living in these Islands. They are at the bottom rung of the social ladder.

“Present governmental control should be by men primarily of the Caucasian race, especially selected for the most important positions in government of the islands; by men who are not imbued too deeply with the peculiar atmosphere of the islands or with the predominance of interfamily connections; by men without preconceived ideas of the value and success of the melting pot. . .the constitution of such controlling government. . .with limited suffrage. . .should include an officer of the United Navy, especially selected . . for these officers would be of value in deciding questions of relative civil and military importance.  . . “                                     Rear Admiral Yates Stirling Jr. Pearl Harbor commandant, 1932

Capt. Ernest A. Hood

My uncle, Lt. Ernest A. Hood was in the Corp of Engineers while the United States was in the thick of WWII, the role and organization of the Army grew and grew in the Pacific, the Hawaiian Department also expanded.

Uncle Ernest, an engineer, was an aid to the commanding general, Lt. Gen. Robert Richardson. They started the construction of a new headquarters on 10 May 1944 and completed in the remarkably short time of 49 days during 1944. The building became known as the “Pineapple Pentagon” and was the site of Army logistical planning for the battles in the Pacific Theater during the latter years of the war. Today, it serves as the headquarters for U.S. Army Pacific.

“The Orange Plan”

Pineapple Pentagon

 When the United States seized Pacific colonies in 1898, the emerging world power touched off a heated rivalry with another nation feeling newly energized and eager for colonial possessions to prove its standing. Japan saw the American presence in the formerly Spanish Philippines as a threat to its ambitions, and many Japanese took the overthrow of the Queen of Hawai’i as a direct affront.

Simple racism also pushed the conflict. When the Americans brokered a peace deal between Russia and Japan in 1905, some Japanese felt they had been robbed of the fruits of their victory, and that the white Americans had cheated them in order to help the white Russians.

The Orange Plan was the name given to denote war with the Japanese.  The American power was White and we are Black, the Yellow Peril was already taken. It was used to belittle the Chinese and other East Asians. Therefore the color Orange was used as a code word for war with Japan from 1897-1945.

The strategy of a war in the Pacific with Japan was the only part of American military planning that had a long, continuous history. The first US doctrine of expeditionary warfare came with the development of War Plan Orange in 1890. War Plan Orange changed several times from its initial inception. Theodore Roosevelt started War Plan Orange in case of war with Japan. The annexation of Hawaii in 1898 relieved tensions of possible Japanese claims on the island, but the United States remained wary and continued to update War Plan Orange.

Uncle Ernest said while moving files from the old headquarters in downtown Honolulu, to the new site, he found a copy of Lt. Col. George S. Patton’s original “the Plan Orange” subtitled surprised.

Col. George S. Patton

Lt. Col. George S. Patton was assigned as G-1 and G-2 of the Hawaiian Division at Schofield Barracks in Honolulu in March 1925. During his time in Hawaii, Patton was part of the military units responsible for the defense of the islands, and wrote his own Orange Plan called “Surprise,” which anticipated an air raid against Pearl Harbor, fourteen years before the attack by the Imperial Japanese Navy on Dec. 7, 1941. Fifty years after President Theodore Roosevelt started Plan Orange, his nephew, President Franklin D. Roosevelt completed the plan.

War Plan Red, the Atlantic Strategic War Plan for Europe. Another contingency war plan they developed was the Red-Orange Plan, which hypothesized a two-theater war, seeking to win first in the Atlantic, while fighting a holding battle in the Pacific, and then defeating Japan. When World War Two broke out, military and naval planners simply dusted off the old Red-Orange Plan.

In Hawai’i I based on War Plan Orange, identification of “Hawai’i local Japanese” and a general distrust of other local residents of Asian descent was an ongoing process.

1936 – FDR receives reports of people in Hawaii socializing with visiting Japanese naval ships. FDR orders lists made of all such persons as the first to be put into “concentration camps” (his words) in the event of war.

1936 – Led by the Navy, the military in Hawaii begins systematically gathering intelligence on the Japanese community in Hawaii.

1939 – An inter-ethnic Council of Inter-Racial Unity forms, begins discussions on how to get Hawaii’s people through a US-Japan war, particularly the nearly 40 percent of Japanese ancestry. Prominent figures include the educator Shigeo Yoshida and YMCA executive Hung Wai Ching.

Flying Tiger

Chief Commissary Storekeeper, Frank Fisk stationed aboard the Tangiers (which, while loaded with 900,000 gallons of fuel, saw 3 near misses on December 7) commented in the fall of 1941 . . “I have just come back from China and I have seen what is going on over there . . . the Flying Tigers; they are getting ready for war.

From July 1937, and before the United States officially entered the war with Japan, Americans were fighting the Japanese in China.

The Naval Treaty of  February 6, 1922, prescribing limitation of naval strength (especially for the United States) and signed by The U.S, United Kingdom, Japan, France and Italy, did not stop competitive building on a great scale. . .especially in Hawai`i.

“Aug 1939 – FBI Agent Robert Shivers, a close associate of FBI Director J. Edgar Hoover, reopens the Honolulu FBI office, mainly to further investigate the probable loyalty of the Japanese-ancestry community in the event of war. At home, he is influenced by a student boarder, Shizue Kobotake. At work, he is influenced by an esteemed community figure, Charles Hemenway, and by Harvard-educated attorney Masaji Marumoto. Robert Shivers becomes a participant in the Council for Inter-Racial Unity, along with other intelligence officers.

Summer 1941 – A group of Nisei (the second generation of the Japanese-born immigrants) step forward as volunteer police. Police Lt. John A. Burns is assigned to work with them and is deployed to support Shivers’ investigations. Together Robert Shivers and Burns emerge as two of the most effective advocates of the trustworthiness of Japanese Americans.

Police Captain John Burns, Civil Defense and civilian workers all knew that war was coming. “Within the week” said Jack Burns.

“7-Dec-41 – The crisis of Japanese Americans in Hawai’i becomes manifest”

“The First Battle”- Tom Coffman

Kenneth R. Joyner

The New York Times in its 12/8/41 PH report on page 13 under the headline “Attack Was Expected” stated the US had known that Pearl Harbor was going to be attacked the week before.

I have had so many people telling me parts of this story. My husband Kenneth Joyner, a retired Submariner, was a skinny young sailor in 1950. And for years he has told me “sea stories” which of course I’ll impart to you.

See you next time.  Stay tuned!