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GO FOR BROKE EDUCATIONAL FOUNDATION OPENS PROJECT WITH MUSEUM OF TOLERANCE TO EDUCATE PUBLIC ABOUT THE 522ND FAB – AMERICA’S UNLIKELY LIBERATORS OF DACHAU
Survivor Yanina Cywinska and 522nd Veteran George Oiye Share Their Stories At Launch Event at Museum of Tolerance
LOS ANGELES - (August 15, 2003) - The Go For Broke Educational Foundation is excited to announce the unveiling of “Unexpected Heroes: The Story of the 522nd Field Artillery Battalion,” a joint project with the Museum of Tolerance. Funded in part by the California Civil Liberties Public Education Program, the project’s goal is to educate the public, teachers, and students about the contributions made by the 522nd Field Artillery Battalion (FAB), unlikely liberators of prisoners of the Landsberg-Kaufering Dachau Death March and Dachau sub-camps.
The concentration camps of Dachau were located near the German cities of Landsberg-Kaufering where tens of thousands of Jews and others worked to their death. Thousands of prisoners also perished as they marched from Dachau due to starvation, thirst, exhaustion, and the brutality of the SS guards.
The segregated 522nd FAB provided the artillery support for the 442nd Regimental Combat Team and separated from the 442nd in 1945 to assist the fight in Germany. It became one of the driving forces that helped to liberate the Dachau sub-camp and death march survivors on April 29, 1945. The irony of this story is that these Japanese American soldiers faced hatred and racism in America during WWII, as many of the soldiers and/or their family members were interned behind barbed wire camps in remote areas of America.
At “Unexpected Heroes” launch event today was George Oiye, an 81-year-old veteran of the 522nd FAB took part in the liberation of Dachau prisoners. Though he and his parents were not interned, his older sister and family were incarcerated at the Manzanar camp. “We were fighting for a country where we had been excluded from the democratic process, mistrusted and treated like second-class citizens,” said Oiye. “Our determination to prove loyalty to the United States and commitment to overcome prejudice gave us all an increased motivation to fight.”
Reuniting with her 522nd liberators today at the Museum of Tolerance was 74-year-old Yanina Cywinska. She was initially taken at the age of 10 from Warsaw with her parents and brother to Aushwitz and then to Dachau. They had died in the gas chambers at Dachau, but she was fortunate, as she narrowly escaped death several times until the rescue by the 522nd FAB. Almost six decades after that day in late April 1945, the image of a Japanese American soldier smiling at her remains suspended in Cywinska’s memory.
“The heroism and significance of the 522nd FAB liberation of Dachau is an important part of history that is still widely unknown,” said Christine Sato-Yamazaki, executive director, Go For Broke Educational Foundation. “The Go For Broke Educational Foundation thanks the Museum of Tolerance for working together to ensure that the lessons of patriotism and tolerance that can be gleaned from this significant story is educated to the public.”
“I’m a firm believer in collaborative projects that educate the public of the importance of tolerance through experiences of others, and in this case the significance of the liberation of prisoners of Dachau by a segregated unit of Japanese American soldiers,” said Liebe Geft, director, Museum of Tolerance. “The Museum of Tolerance receives more than 350,000 visitors annually and through this project many people will have access to oral histories and other materials on the 522nd veterans.”
The “Unexpected Heroes” project featured at the Museum of Tolerance includes: an interactive component at the Museum’s Teacher’s Guide section of its Web site with text, photos and interview clips; 18 personal interviews on video of the 522nd FAB veterans available in the Museum’s Multimedia Learning Center; and a short video presentation depicting the 522nd FAB and its role in the Dachau liberation.
The Go For Broke Educational Foundation institutes educational programs focused on the heroism and history of the Japanese American soldiers of World War II, as well as the forced evacuation and incarceration of Japanese American and civil liberties issues raised by those events. Currently the Educational Foundation’s programs include An American Story teacher training workshops and curriculum development, Hanashi Oral History Program, and select media projects. For more information, go to www.GoForBroke.org.
The Museum of Tolerance is a high tech, hands-on experiential museum that focuses on two central themes through unique interactive exhibits: the dynamics of racism and prejudice in America and the history of the Holocaust. The Museum, the educational arm of the Simon Wiesenthal Center, was founded to challenge visitors to confront bigotry and racism, and to understand the Holocaust in both historic and contemporary contexts. Since its opening in 1993, it has hosted 3.5 million visitors from around the world, and nine heads of state including King Hussein of Jordan, three Prime Ministers of Israel and the Dalai Lama. The Museum receives 350,000 visitors annually including 110,000 children. For more information, go to www.museumoftolerance.org.
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