Seldom mentioned is the West Coast terror that prompted the World War II evacuation you write about (“How an Injustice Touched Princeton,” On the Campus, Jan. 10), but you should be apprised of some of the facts that surround that time. At the time of Pearl Harbor the West Coast was cordoned off from Seattle to Los Angeles by a cordon of 19 Japanese submarines at regular intervals. On Christmas Eve 1941, Japanese sub I-15 surfaced offshore of San Francisco Bay with orders to fire on the city. Balloons released from subs landed on Oregon picnickers, killing two people, and a gasoline refinery in Santa Barbara was fired upon and set ablaze. Rumors were rife that the Japanese consulate in Hawaii had housed spies notifying Japan of Pearl Harbor shipping postures. That same conspiracy was feared for San Francisco – totally unprepared, an invasion was anticipated. None of this in retrospect can justify what was done, but it lends some understanding. It was the Midwestern colleges like Washington University in St. Louis, for obvious reasons, that generously accepted displaced students at this time.
In Response to: Essay: A National Transgression