tv World War II War Brides CSPAN February 16, 2021 11:15pm-12:01am EST
lewis died in january at the age of 75. wednesday, we begin an night of programs on architecture and art. with two of his top from the new york historical society. first, mr. lewis discusses the design and construction of the iconic brooklyn bridge, which was built in the 18 seventies. that's followed by his look at the creation and evolution of new york city's greenish village. 1 million women from 50 different countries married american serviceman during and immediately after world war ii. up next on american history tv, a high school teacher from alabama, talks about these war brides, and their experiences during the war and after moving to the u.s.. hosted by the friends of the national world war ii memorial,
this is 45 minutes. >> hello my name is erin, and i am honored to be presenting at this first virtual conference. i teach in history class on world war ii, and work closely with world war ii veterans. this is a subject near to my heart. today i will talk to you about war brides. i have title this presentation, first came of, then came marriage, then came life in a strange new land, an affair will to everything familiar. it's a subject it hasn't received much attention, you will see a lot on canadian war brides, but not much on american war brides. this is a source that is untapped. between 1942 and 1952, 1 million american soldiers, married foreign women from 50 different countries. if you look at the presentation here, it's a rough breakdown. it's an estimate. 100,000 were british, 150 to
200,000 were from continental europe, about 16,000 were from australia and new zealand, 50 to 100,000 from the far east, including japan, and by 1950, 14,175 were given women. it was not supposed to happen this marriage between american gee eyes and foreign ladies. but the servicemen arrived and were given a 38 page handbook, instructing them to avoid upsetting the british during the so called friendly invasion. the british had already felt by the americans that they were overpaid. the gi's made more money than the british shoulders. they said they were really the british ladies were very attracted to these friendly
american g eyes. and they were over here. there was a bit of animosity already. so marriage was discouraged and july 1942 article in a magazine ran under the headline, which was don't marry don't promise or anything. marriage inside the u.s. is out. some might say it's an exaggeration but not really. but they did not want this fraternization. they required overseas troops, to obtain permission in order to web. if they web without this permission, it could lead to a court martial. this was not something, that fits you american government really wanted. if you fell in love, and you wanted to marry, it was a complex process to receive permission. it required around 15 forms and it could take up to a year to get permission or receive a rejection. meanwhile what they would do is they would have the british red
cross, that would go in and talk to will just focus on britain for the moment. they would talk to potential brides family. they could file a report on these ladies. the behavior, their appearance, their allegiance, how much money they had. things of that nature. their health. they would use this to gain permission. the same took place in america. the group's family, was actually interviewed. their bank accounts were looked at. if you are going to bring a bride back to the states, did you have enough money to support them? to support her or to support the family. once these investigations were over, the commanding officer, had to give approval. and there are stories of one gentleman, his commanding officer, tried to convince him to wait. wait and meet a good american lady back home. do not be hasty and marrying.
there is a story about a gentleman in montana, whose father rejected the marriage. it was not based on the she being from england. or she being a foreign or bride, it was based on their business. there was no reason for the government to intervene in a personal relationship such as marriage. so based on principle, he denied his son from bringing home a war bride. there are thousands of stories about this process. and this approval process. and in fact you'll watch some of the old movies, and you will see especially the war bride movies, you will see how that involves the commanding officer. but it happens quickly in the movies, and in real life it could take up to a year. these ladies, especially the british war brides were called
wall flower rides or wildflower wives. they were complies-ing on the opportunity to take americans money. this was prejudiced in their own country for this. and at times, these ladies had to wait and wait for this process, and there isn't an incident, in early 1945, where about 500 brides visited the u.s. embassy in britain daily. demanding one can i join my husband in the united states? we need answers? some of them had children to transport. november 1945, brides even took to eleanor roosevelt's hotel room in london, and demanding ships and we want to go. so after the marriage was approved, and they got that approval, they really were searching to get home. to get to their new home in the united states. but it did not come easy. there were even further blocks.
once you are approved to go to the united states, there was a holding center. look it was called the processing -- and that was in england. many saw it as a country club for war brides, but it was not anything close to a country club for war brides. they slept in large portal or partly heated dormitories. that were once used by american soldiers. they were fed, by this by the german and italian prisoners of war. it was not a happy reception at all. lots and lots of them, or most of the british ladies the had exams they have to undergo. a lot of those exams were humiliating to them. they were personal, in a female nature. and many of them, were raised in a very stoic, and kind of
sheltered, 1940s british upbringing. and were astonished, on how they were being treated. because of them because of this many of them bailed. we're not going to go to america, whether we're married or not. we are not going to be susceptible to such treatment. and many left. refusing to wait, and they were just tired of waiting to be with our husbands. and then came, 1945. war brides act, and this kind of was the answer these war brides were waiting for. congress enacted exceptions, to the immigrated abrogation act of 1924. they did this in order to help these world war ii soldiers, spouses and fiancée is that they met, it helped them to get to america. look they had to they had three years, to move those families to united states.
it was extended a few months later's, to include the fiancée's. and that was a three-month temporary visa, for these foreign fiancée's. they would come to america, they had three months to marry, or else return home. operation war bride did not begin, until after the passage of this bill in 1945. the first war bride operation, operation war bride, was in south hampton to new york, with 452 brides on it. heading to their new home in america let the war brides act of 19. 66, address the chinese wives on a non quota basis. we did not get japanese wives just yet, that came a little later in 1947. as you can see, the war brides act, altered immigration in the united states, which was a pretty big impact, of world war ii.
the queen mary, which was used to transport soldiers back and forth to england, and my husband's grandfather sailed on the queen mary, when he was heading for the d-day invasion in britain. and so these ladies were transported, and the queen mary took about 12,886 war brides to the u.s. from great britain. the journey was not always a pleasant one. as you know the sea can be rough. and my grandfather in law, all is said it was the first it was the worst feeling he ever had. sailing on the queen mary and being sick. so it was a journey that they were packed in their, and they were often with people, who kind of already had a bias against them. these were foreign women coming to their country. they were not 100% accepted
the. but the queen mary it tried its best, to make the ladies feel at home. they created a newsletter for them, called the story of wives away. and the newsletter was provided to the war brides but they were able to contribute to it as well it was kind of a way of saying we're going to give you tips on how to live in america. there are recipes and jokes and stories. there were ways to act written in the newsletter and all kinds of things like this preparing them for what it was going to be like when they stepped off of the queen mary and on to the short shores of the united states and it kept the ladies up to date and on stuff that they might have missed by current events and things like that. so when you look at that
magazine, it was a reach out to say hey we're welcoming you and we want you to contribute to our society and our way of life lock. when the war brides arrived in the united states, i said there were three things that they have to worry about. one was expectations, what was it going to be like when they got here? was everything they heard about the united states true? how would they assimilate and conform, or would they have to? and then family back home. so expectations, a lot of these ladies were quite surprised when they came to the united states. perhaps the grand homes they were promised by their husbands, turned out to be nothing but a farmhouse. a rickety farmhouse. a lot of them were lied to, about what to expect. some of them entered abusive relationships here in the united states. they were afraid to return home,
for fear they might lose children. some of them came into a family, that had a discriminatory look at them. for being maybe from a different country. so the expectations, sometimes fell short. and then for a lot of war brides, probably the majority. the expectations were exactly what they thought. america was a place for peace, it was a far away from the war zone. it seems to be more plentiful. and so those things turned out to be what they expected. as far as conformity, this is where these ladies really had some issues. do you a simulate? do you become all american? do you let go of york traditions from home? do you blend the two? this dependent on what country they were from. the british tended to be able
to keep those traditions. that they hadn't lived the american life with those traditions. and not be looked down upon, as others like from other countries. but family back home, the if not you read any war bride story, leaving family was the most difficult i think. and i think we would all assume that. they thought maybe i will never see my family again. this is the and a lot of the families wanted their daughters to go. they were live in living in a war torn area. and they wanted them to have that peace and security that they felt that the united states provided them. but overseas, that they also developed relationships with those war brides. they created the trends atlantic or brides association. it was a way to communicate with their children. also a way to work on how they
could visit the united states, and visit their children and their grandchildren. and the united states had similar organizations here that worked with that particular one overseas. as well as starting the war brides association, that limited women to connect in their specific areas and to discuss flat it was like they're able to talk to somebody who knew what it was like. and in fact, these were bright got together, there was a new york times article i will share with you during our q&as. that had these ladies together for the last time as they are getting older to kind of see the queen mary as they came back to the united states a few years ago. so a lot of them kept in touch and still keep in touch through various organizations. now we've talked about the british, how easy was to assimilate, but imagine being war bride from the to enemy countries.
so here on the slide, on the left there is a german war bride, she became the first the german war bride to enter the united states. and on the right, is a japanese war bride and. these ladies had it a little differently. they weren't accepted as much, in fact, a lot of them really felt that when they got the united states, they really needed to change their heritage, a lot of them felt really guilty written on whether countries had done. and if fraternization was not accepted with the british, it definitely was stipulated to the americans in postwar germany that this was not the way to go marrying the enemy. but of course a lot of these ladies took positions with the united states army as translators and office workers and eventually of course, love happened. the japanese particularly felt a lot different than the
germans, as you can imagine. as soon as the japanese ladies applied for their war bride status, they were giving different names. lots of times, the commanding officer would just pick a name for them, and america name. this particular lady on the right is name was kim co-and they quickly came to her name to peggy. so they just kind of pick names of girlfriends or loved ones and gave these ladies these names so they would feel -- try to make them fit in and assimilate a little more. these ladies come in and all their clothing, how they had to change that. many of the japanese ladies came from a very well to do families and found themselves after the war with nothing. so any hope of some kind of security really intrigued them with the american gi's and their families as well. this particular lady here on
the right came -- she really was denied entry for a while until a young congressman and east boston, by the name of john f. kennedy got hold of her case and he actually sponsored a bill called the hr eight five eight eight and this bill was called all for the relief of kim eco yamaguchi, may 1950 and this bill allowed for chemical or peggy to be able to follow her husband to the united states. so a little bit of history of president kennedy there and helping this couple settle in east boston. and there was not without drama as well with the war brides. there's a particular story of a war bride who was born in germany. she had it kind of an interesting background where
her family supported the nazi party and eventually post war, she secured some civilian employment with the war department, the war department loved her work, felt she was excellent and so they actually got permission from the commanding officer are commanding general to marry a u.s. citizen who was employed as a civilian in the u.s. army. and eventually she saw it for naturalization as a u.s. citizen. she was temporarily excluded from the u.s. by the attorney general. she fought it and it does go to the supreme court and the supreme court does uphold saying, you know, her background could be a threat to the united states, could not be in our best interest to allow her so she was one more bride that was denied entry into the united states. so, there was a little drama
sometimes with these were brides in the courts. the impact of war brides is to me, they culture that they brought to the united states. it's also the beginning of hyphenated in ethnic identities. we are now not just an american, if you're married you are japanese american. you could be a german american, and anglo american so so many of them began to hyphenate these names and brought this culture to the united states that we may have not seen before. in a different kind of way. they didn't quite say, i'm german, i'm german america now, i'm a citizen. and i'm going to assimilate and i'm going to do that by also bringing my ideas and my culture and to the marriage and into the united states and raise their children that way. so it brought in a lot of views
of foreign countries hand in immigration as well. and so, it is something to be studied. also, hollywood could not fail to capture on the war bride making several movies about war brides during the forties. one of them started carrie grant called i was a male war bride, if you have not seen that one, i do recommend. there was a japanese war bride successful movie and then john loves mary, ronald reagan actually start in which was a story about a war bride from england. so, it was a hot topic. something that we talked about in the post war period. weaving war brides into the curriculum. most of you guys probably teach american history or world history and you get to spend just a little moment in time on world war ii. where as i'm very fortunate and i get to spend 18 weeks
teaching it. but why would you even want to bring war brides into your curriculum when you have this small time? as i mentioned at the very beginning of our presentation. it's really untapped source for students in the united states. as i was gathering research for this and gunning to google and started looking for some stories and primary sources, there weren't many on the american side. not primary sources. there was a lot of canadian resources, a lot of canadian lesson plans written on wore bright and videos and you had to dig a little deep. as i got into the library of congress and started doing a little look, i did find a whole other avenue of war brides and that was the issue of interracial marriage. and so, there were some pictures of that particular couple and that discussion but nothing that was really out there.
so i think, it's a subject that needs to be explored. these ladies stories need to be told. as a history teacher, you already know this, i'm not telling you anything you wear anything different, but primary sources are the best way to get students engaged in the study of war brides. and i think the story of love, the story of assimilation, the story of what would you do in certain situations is a great way to learn about the impact of the united states and the goal is, what can these ladies teach us about postwar america? and all the things we went through. immigration, what was it like? if you are student sitting in class, would they want to go through all of that for simply love? and the treatment these ladies received? how about for a japanese war brides? you now, do you just to give up your entire identity? you know, to come to the united
states and it's a good way i think to look at how the united states became such a supreme power after world war ii and everybody wanted to live here. at some point, not today, i'm not going to present to you the lesson plan but you will receive some lesson plans from me for being a part of this conference. and it's going to be called walking in their shoes and i will present to you several primary sources to use and ways to use those. a little pedagogy session on how to get war brides into the curriculum and tell their stories. i will leave you with this thought, i work with a group called honored legacies for veterans and we are a local group that works with world war ii and world war ii veterans and korean where veterans and the number one thing we've learned about talking to these people is they want their stories to matter and they want their stories to live on. and the biggest honors they say anyone can give them is to make
sure that children in school learn about them. and so, i feel the same way about these were brides and what they contributed to our country and their stories need to be told. there is some really interesting ones and i'll leave you with this story. a lady fell in love, her name was eleanor and she fell in love with one of our pilots and the army air corps and they had been together for about a week when he was shot down and taken prisoner of war. he made sure that he was able to write to her through the red cross and they stayed in constant contact through his term there in prison in the p.o.w. camp, in fact, they camp he was in was wet the heroes television theories is based on. and they were able to marry as soon as he was released has a
prisoner of war, the war was over and he was able to get her to the united states and they were married 60 something years. so there are some great stories in there, some great gems that ice think into these days. if you want to make a great impact on our country and the post war period. after this culinary here, when you are interested, there is a great buckle jab rights here that i will -- tour give you some more information and wonderful of stories so thanks for taking the time to listen to me, i love world war ii and i appreciate everyone of you guys for being interested and wanting to teach your students about the greatest generation. >> thank you so much aaron for this wonderful presentation. we're going to jump it right into some culinary that are really coming in. are you ready for some q&as?
>> i am. my internet is saying it's a little bit unstable so i hope we can get through this. >> we'll see what happens. >> if you want me to start with a fresh question? >> i will read them out so we have them on the recording and everything. we'll do back and forth. from maggie b, how did mag japanese americans who had been in turn during the war feel towards japanese war brides? >> you know, that's a very interesting study and it's just what you would imagine. in japan, when they started falling in love and getting married to these american soldiers, of course the re-looked at basically as enemies and so when they came to the states, he was the same exact thing. those ladies that were in camps during the war, they saw these ladies come in and they were only upset by it. and so these ladies had a really difficult time, of
stimulating and america for those reasons. they were experiencing prejudice on both sides, they weren't accepted at home and yet no one really was in love with him over here. >> thank you. all right, from truly. have you exploited war brides from other wars? >> in my research for this, i'm just a world war ii researcher, i'm just absolutely have a passion for it. but i did find some articles on the same thing in world war i. it's handled a little differently, the prejudice wasn't as obvious as it was in world war ii, but i have not done enough research there to really be able to answer that question that. well >> okay, thank you. from sara, so did the k one visa process mostly known from tlc's 90-day fiancée have its roots in the legislation from 1945? >> yes. >> awesome. and i do see that somebody has their hand raised, i will try
to get through all the rain ones and then call on the hand razor, just so that i don't miss anything. >> i'm sorry, let me qatar very that other question. i see what's he saying now. talk about the reality television show. i don't know, maybe it does but i can't answer that. i misread that. i'm not a reality television person, so i'm sorry. >> fair enough. from gordon, what about stories of our enemy p.o.w. is brought to america who might have married americans? i know who they were with the p.o.w. camp in hot springs america, and the american go home with them. >> i haven't done much in my research but that's a very interesting question you brought up. have a very good friend who served as a p.o.w.. he was a guard in the p.o.w. camp of italians interments in wyoming. and, he often talked about the friendships that were established between and prisoners and also ladies has
proven prisoners. but he didn't expand on that too much for me and i know one thing, that's one thing for war brides but he was african american and he was denied serving as paratrooper, which is what he wanted. so eventually gets this position and he's always tells me that he learned more about african american history from this germans than he ever did in his own country. and he was raised in l.a. and so he said they were really beneficial and teaching him about his own history so -- >> that's awesome. from calf color, you mention that they were looked at, assuming the japanese women as prostitutes in the u.s., do you know how many actually were prostitutes when they met the american guys? >> these ladies were not. lots of these japanese more bread came from well to do families and, you know, war torn japan, they lost everything.
the reason they were looked at as prostitutes, because there are fighting the way out it was a. derogatory comment when okay this is from susan. her question. are there any archives that have information about war brides. she's been looking for resources other than just genealogy. she says her paternal grandmother, was a polish war bride, and she never saw her family again. can. >> okay that is super cool you know in my research i can find very much and a lot of the research comes from the university of montana i think i would try their if so as i
mentioned they focus a lot on interracial marriages during the war. which is an entirely different study our conversation the can go on forever. the university of montana popped up a lot, and that would be a good source. >> cool so from david, did many american women, you know today like an american nurse mary a british man and stay there? did that happen? >> yes it happened absolutely, more we're trying to get to america, as i said about arm in the british ladies they liked our men when they were over there. so they would fall in love that way, more so than the ladies with the guys. but there are stories the other way as well. >> so from melissa. do you have any recommendations,
on where to start looking for information on a specific war bride? rather than a you know the broader war bride information? >> a specific person in mind, i'm not sure. but a really good start, this book, is the gi war bride work the war bride book. this piece of work, you know i would suggest getting a copy of this, and then me i think it has information inside, but it's a great book for starting, where you might want to look. >> okay that's great thank you. >> from louisa. what goal did wardrobe war brides have in increased diversity in the civil rights movement? >> i think that's great, i think this is the one reason i wanted to talk about the impact of world war ii, because they really did have such an impact.
you know it started that first people wanted them to assimilate. but they brought so much culture from their countries, and they started to be proud of who they were so it started to have the you know the feeling of i'm a german american, our japanese american and being proud of that. so i don't know an exact correlation, but i know it also helped with women's rights as well. >> yes definitely. and then we have one from riyadh the. the chi said have you found any instances, where war brides were used to bring up the tension of the cold war. >> yes there was great stories of how war brides were used as propaganda during the cold war. and using their stories as they had to flee, so yeah.
there is a connection there. >> okay from michael rogers, was the process to marry foreign brides so difficult for safety reasons, or to discourage, it or for both. >> it was to discourage it absolutely. as you said you had many you know basically officers saying you can find a good american lady. what you want to do this. and the fact that they would go to the family into a lot of research on them to see where their legions was, you know and why they were marrying them whether it was from, money is i would say basic was discriminatory nature. >> from mary mcferrin, as a women waited to move to the u.s., how are they treated by their family and friends especially if they were from certain countries where they disown for marrying americans? >> the research that i went through, the families were excited for their family
members for their girls to move to america. you know america was peaceful and the war had not affected it directly so we weren't a war torn country. so even in certain countries, you know they were excited about them and the other side, they were upset about perhaps they could never see their families again. but most of them yes, and in japan it was a little different. in japan the families tended to be to basically shunned them. especially fathers. mothers or a bit more easygoing, but fathers basically it was a slap in the face that you would want to leave and go to america. >> so really it depends on what area they're coming from. >> right right thank you. from shannon, how many were brides divorced after coming to the u.s.?
where many of the marriages just for convenience, to get out of a war zone? >> they're allots a story of divorces, and most of them you know you can find that really the ladies came to america under false pretenses. they were shoulder and have mansions, and lots of money. and they came here and their husbands would be abusive, and alcoholics, and a lot of ladies look to some of these guys to get out of war torn countries. and they were widow's from the war, and they were looking for someone to help take care of their children. but a lot of it was they just got here, and basically their husbands lied to them, so that did cause a lot of problems. as i mentioned 11 stayed married out of fear. the fear that if i'm going to be if i'm going to divorce him, i would be shipped out. and will i keep my children? can i take them back with me? so a lot of those things that i think even abused women still
feel today. you know ladies no still felt that. >> -- here's another question, how frequent was it for them to decide not to live in america. >> i don't know the percentage, i'm sure there was a small percent, but the majority of them were basically coming back home. >> again from maggie, this is going to what you just spoke about, about divorces. but i guess the new part of the question is, if there is any research into how these marriages impacted the children? >> well basically i talked about keeping the kids, there is a wonderful picture in the library congress, which is a war bride with her children coming off the ship.
and she seeing her husband, who had arrived for ahead of them. and the kids are ahead of her. so they were looking for that farther figure, so i wouldn't study that, i would think the impact i would study the impact, of what it feels like to see dad a new country. the interesting. >> definitely. >> so another question have you ever read some of the fictional novels about war brides and are the useful? >> oh yes, i'm sitting in my world war ii room right now, and i have a ton of fictional falls. let's and yes, there are wonderful stories, and what i usually like to do is i like to look at the stories, it includes an sources on there. and i love to get in the
mindset, were yours euro war bride, boardroom, how would you communicate this to your family. and i think fictional novels are great for that. basically to pull out certain stories. >> yes definitely that is awesome. >> so from debra, she says her great uncle bill, brought his french war bride, and christine, she was from paris, and moved to a rural farm in tennessee. and she end up going to france, and you have any advice for the research, and -- . >> that is such a great story, that ties in with a lot of research i found. they get here in there like, oh no what do i do? you know i'm not completely happy. but by the way to know how long
they were married this couple? and i would start my research, with you don't they had somebody war brides, what's the word i'm looking for, you know they kind of found they found similar people, that understood and that's a great research, but i guess you're looking for research and i guess what she's talking, about finding research about how people get together, so and find people like them, so war brides finding other war brides. they're a lot of stories there. and i mentioned some of that in the presentation. >> great okay and i'm getting to the end i see one more question. everybody can keep their questions coming in, we have time. and i know there was a you know you're welcome to raise your
hand and as a question yourself. for debra, she want to tell you she passed away in the 19 sixties this person she was looking for. >> oh that's too bad. >> so keep the questions coming in. so mary much fierce in, she says john f. kennedy's sister was a war bride who stayed in britain after the war, even though her husband was killed shortly after they got married. are there any other high-profile were brides that you're familiar with? >> i am familiar with that story, and the i don't know of any more high-profile war brides. i'd be interested in that. the >> next project. >> so are there any more questions? keep them coming in a few do? you can also raise your hand if you want. >>.