Possibly the last officially recognized remnants of the Hitler and Mussolini regimes were the Axis diplomats under “technical custody” in the Japanese city of Atami, a seashore holiday resort a little over two hours by rail from Tokyo. There, in a shabby hotel halfway up Peach Hill, overlooking the narrow gray sheds of the railway station and a shaggy stub of peninsula poking into a murky sea, some 27 Germans and 19 Italians awaited repatriation or such other disposition as the Supreme Commander might make. While they were as a whole a good-humored bunch, they had a vaguely pathetic air, slightly unreal, like that of an old political poster on the wall that nobody has bothered to tear down long after the elections are over.
They could be seen strolling down the city’s busy slope to the beach of an afternoon, lean, grave, and rather carefully dressed, thoughfully eyeing the golden oranges in the black net bags, or watching the itinerant fortune-teller’s trained birds as they hopped to the gates of their miniature pagoda, rang a silver bell, and pecked up a tiny scroll. They were inclined to be self-conscious and supercilious, with tight little smiles that were apt to grow tired and fixed. Curious stares followed them for in this country, where a shamed, sullen, superstitious awe of the foreigner had washed back in the wake of defeat, they shared in the renewed prestige of a light complexion. The feline eyes of the Japanese girls ran with an avid restlessness over the coiffures and costumes of the foreign women. Sometimes a forward little boy would trot after the blonde consulate clerks with the familiar wheedle:
“Hello, hello, gum-u?”
The G.I.s who flooded Atami every weekend until, ostensibly as a health measure, all Japanese inns were placed off-limits in the middle of May 1946, fell into the same natural confusion. When they caught sight of the women from Peach Hill, their arms would loosen guiltily on the shoulders of the pudding-faced dancer beside them and they would smile, brightly, shyly, or awkwardly, but always with the identical quality of homesickness and a fugitive hope.
Or “Oh, you babe!”
Or “Excuse me, ma’am, are you American? Do you speak English?”
“Yes I speak English. No, I’m German. I’m Italian.”
Some of the G.I.s would say: “Oh, I see” and move on.
Others were glad enough to keep the conversation going, because their fathers and mothers had come from the old country, or just because they liked talking in English to someone not in uniform. But an awkwardness would have fallen by then. It would not be quite the same, especially since the hotel on Peach Hill was strictly off-limits to all Allied military personnel.
Afterward, when there were no longer any G.I.s in Atami outside of M.P. patrols and the fortunate but bored guests at the enlisted men’s recreation center at the Atami Hotel, a sense of the odd ambiguity of the aimless elegant people on Peach Hill remained among the Japanese. The word went around that they were Germans and Italians, former allies, and, depending on the sympathies of the person concerned, they earned either a latent hostility and contempt or a secret protective affection.
The Axis diplomats did not seem to care much one way or the other. They had reason to be content By virtue of a S.C.A.P. directive and international courtesy, the Japanese government continued to treat them as accredited representatives of their vanished regimes, providing them with quarters (a godsend since Japan was in the gip of an even worse housing shortage than the U.S.), special diplomatic rations (as distinguished from the ordinary foreigner and Japanese rations), and other privileges (such as the withdrawal of 1,500 yen per head of family per month from blocked accounts in yen, instead of the ordinary 100 yen). The Japanese government also paid their hotel bills.
Nobody seemed to be in any particular hurry about liquidating the affair outside of the Japanese government whose anxiety, as the bills continued to mount, could well be understood. But the Army of Occupation had more urgent tasks and had, to all appearances, forgotten its diplomatic charges after an initial flurry of raids, searches, seizures and interrogations. The Atami colony for its part knew when it should be thankful; it wasn’t every German and Italian, in fact there were precious few human beings in the post-war world, that could drift from day to day relieved from the perplexity of the next meal or the landlord’s bill.
This benevolent custody (it was called “protective” at first and later “technical”, a distinction which no one in Atami was quite certain how to interpret) was first imposed shortly after the entrance of the occupation forces in Tokyo. The Aix and Daitoa (Greater East Asia) diplomatic corps had fled the burning capital long before that and had taken refuge in the luxurious Fujiya Hotel in Miyanoshita, Hakone. This tourst hot-spring resort in the national park near Fuji was the evacuation center officially designated for them, the Soviet embassy having been shunted off to the Gora Hotel in the neighboring village of the same name after excited demarches on the lack of heating facilities in northern Karuizawa, where the other neutrals had been billeted.
The war had scarcely touched the Fujiya. Bombers had growled distantly and fleetingly above on their way to Tokyo from the rendezvous at Fuji but one could away from them by putting his head under the pillow. This was more than could be said for the kempei-tai or military police, whom it was rather more difficult to ignore. They had their headquarters in a converted curio store opposite the main hotel entrance and early risers could glimpse them reporting for work every morning, clad in soiled uniforms which they blandly hung up on the walls within sight of the street in order to assume various clumsy disguises. Every noon one of them would across the unpainted coop next to the gate and feed the pigeons. These plump and gentle birds never did carry any messages, as far as anyone could determine, and after the surrender they quickly disappeared, presumably into a kempei-tai kettle.
But the kempei-tai had more pitiable victims. One day a talkative Italian merchant, who mourned the American market a little too bitterly when in his cups, disappeared from the hotel simultaneously with the nice Japanese student who had been convalescing in the next room. Another time an over-diligent German newspaperman failed to show up for his usual chess game and was thereafter permanently absent. Next, a pale gaunt man, leaning heavily on a cane, made his cryptic and somber appearance; no one dared speak to him; he was said to be a Jew released from a kempei-tai prison in Manchuria for reasons that remained obscure.
But these were passing wraiths that everyone tried to forget and the kempei, outside of periodical loutish visitation and interviews, respected the traditional diplomatic immunities, injecting only occasional spurts of panic with the piecemeal disintegration of the Axis. As each satellite government fell, its nationals were forbidden to communicate with the other guests, an arrangement that reached its climax with the surrender of Germany when boundary lines were drawn with a truly European hysteria, the Bulgars glowering at the Finns who scowled at the Italians who nervously and reproachfully avoided the Germans. The pious Hungarian blonde married to a French count was finally compelled to talk to the Parisian divorcee who was not married to the French officer she was living with. However these were minor inconveniences.
It was really not until two U.S. Army photographers in a jeep drove up shortly after the Japanese capitulation that the diplomats at the Fujiya had their first startled look at war and defeat. Newspapermen followed the photographers (who turned out to be undercover men for the Counter-Intelligence Corps) and then various officers and men who seemed to be bent on nothing more startling than a steaming hot sulphur bath and dinner served on a white table-cloth by a pretty waitress. Things had almost settled down to a polite routine when a visiting G.I. gathered the impression one evening that the German diplomats at the next table were snickering at him and promptly started a fist fight.
The next morning the chiefs of all the diplomatic missions lodged at the Fujiya were summoned by a courtly and very correct gray-haired officer who introduced himself to them as Colonel Robert Loughlin, Judge Advocate Service, Eighth Army. The tall old colonel may have found the company that gathered promptly in his richly appointed Chrysanthemum suite in the Flower Palace, exhilaratingly odd. Certainly it would have been of interest to the curious and conscientious historian for nowhere else had the United States Army confronted simultaneously such a comprehensive roster of the Axis and its satellites.
The immaculate and wary German ambassador, Doktor Stahmer, showed his yellow teeth in an uncertain smile. The only other ambassador present, the Manchu Wang, equally tall in his green civilian uniform, stared vacantly; he knew no English. His eyes were troubled and far-away; perhaps he was thinking how he might have got away if the ferry to Korea had not had its stern blown out of the water while still within sight of Shimonoseki. The Chinese chargé, also Wang (a coincidence that tended to confuse the colonel) thrust forward a thin, delicately featured ivory face, pale with dread. The Italian chargé, Colonel Principini, grinned fixedly in exactly the same faintly horrible way he had grinned at the Japanese for the past two years. A twisted deep-purple smile played on the dark square face of the Thai counsellor while the Burmese captain representing the military attaché, sat stolidly, his small piggish eyes cold and watchful.
Whatever the colonel’s reflections were in the face of his mixed company, he did not voice them. Instead he briskly imparted the information that for their own protection the diplomats at the Fujiya would please consider themselves in the charge of the United States Army. The measure had been in contemplation for some time, the colonel explained, and it was in fact the reason he was at the Fujiya at all, but the recent disagreeable incident had forced him to act ahead of schedule. The hotel would be put off-limits for unauthorized military personnel; guards would be posted at the gates; and there would be the inconvenience of securing formal permission before the guests could leave the premises; but otherwise no other restrictions on personal movements was being imposed for the present.
The diplomats appeared to be relieved more than anything else. They had expected more drastic measures; there had been rumors and fears of a concentration camp, at the very least of an internment. No doubt of it, the Americans, after all, were gentlemen.
But almost immediately one of those stubborn conflicts of jurisdiction so common to the military broke out between the Counter-Intelligence Corps, whose agents had quietly started to corner and question the diplomats, and what might be called the Guard, whose commander was determined to respect diplomatic immunities. The progress of the hostilities can be gauged briefly and accurately from the successive ranks of commanders of the guard. The punctilious old colonel, who took his international courtesy so seriously that he personally accompanied the Burmese military attaché to Tokyo and stormed into the office of the C.I.C. to demand the withdrawal of an order of arrest, was quickly replaced by a soft-spoken but still firm major, who was in turn relieved by an indifferent captain, who gave way to a succession of good-natured second lieutenants, who eventually disappeared entirely from the scene and left the C.I.C. in complete control.
The Axis diplomats had ample reason to regret this outcome of the dispute. There was never, of course, any question of secret and confidential documents being seized; there was more than sufficient time to destroy them. But the C.I.C. did not take kindly to diplomatic niceties and placed its charge under a permit system which was succinctly described by an outraged embassy secretary. “I fell,” he said, “like raising my hand everytime I go to the washroom.”
Things were certainly more pleasant in the pre-C.I.C. era. In what, to borrow the terminology of Japanese history, might be called the Fujiya Period, the colonel and the major granted request for permits to travel, as from one gentleman to another, no questions asked. In October 1945 the Fuiya was taken over as an officers’ recreation center and the Axis diplomats were hustled over to the fomer Soviet quarters at the Gora Hotel, 10 minutes by train up the mountain. In this the Gora Period, after a perplexing interval when no permits at all were required, the captain and his successors the second lieutenants gradually surrendered their pass-issuing prerogatives to the C.I.C., which required written applications and granted them only in dire emergencies. In mid-April 1946 the Gora Hotel in turn was designated as a recreation center for enlisted men and the Atami Period was inaugurated during which the diplomats were entirely isolated and compelled to submit their applications on specific days twice a week when a C.I.C. agent from another city called to pass upon them.
This permit system, perhaps by design, impressed upon the Axis remnants, as nothing else could have done, the fact of their defeat. While avoiding outright bars and barbed wire, it contrived to place them in the exasperating and humiliating position of convent-school girls waiting on Mother Superior in a dither for a Sunday afternoon out. Since the inmates of Peach Hill had considerably more complex and urgent needs to satisfy than the ordinary boarding-school adolescent, the system led to rather more dissatisfaction and brooding than would at first sigh seem warranted.
Actually the C.I.C. was more considerate than the Axis would have been had the roles been reversed. In the Fujiya Period the diplomats were allowed to move freely only within the hotel grounds; in the Gora Period the zone was extended to include the Catholic chapel, two doctors, the park, and the village tram station, a pleasant if monotonous 10-minute walk; in Atami, the liveliest section of the city was open, including the central shopping district, several restaurants, one movie theater, a doctor and two dentists, and a strip of beach. The New Atami Dance-Hall was a few tantalizing steps off limits but the red-light district was well outside. A more intolerant vindictiveness might have been expected considering the fact that the C.I.C. lieutenant who fixed the boundaries was naturalized American Jew whose family in Germany had either been killed or driven into exile by the Nazis.
This balding paunchy young man with the diamond ring was replaced by a taciturn and wealthy New York painter but was some time before the German diplomats could consider his memory with equanimity. Their favorite joke about him was that he surely deserved a decoration from the fuehrer; he had made more Nazis among the local Germans than Goebbels. The Italians had slightly more reason for resentment against him. A frantic Neapolitan, despairing of ever securing a permit to go to Tokyo, screamed her way into his office one day, brandishing a tooth and demanding to see her dentist (there were none in Gora). The tooth was not examined too closely, which perhaps was just as well, and the permit was granted. There was talk afterward of passing the tooth around but it never did materialize. A more serious incident occured when a six year-old Italian boy caught a bad cold and his parents were refused permission to buy medicines in Tokyo; the cough developed into double pneumonia and a minor scandal ensued which prompted an investigation from the head office in Yokohama.
Basically, however, the diplomats’ impatience with the restrictions placed on their movements was of a puzzled and envious character. No one, not even the local C.I.C. agents themselves, seemed to understand why similar restrictions had never been placed on those Axis diplomats who did not happen to be at the Fujiya when the self-conscious G.I. opened his personal D-Day. By virtue of what appeared to be a purely arbitrary distinction, these diplomats in Tokyo, Hakone, or Karuizawa, enjoyed liberty of action with the spacious limits of the prefecture in which they were residing. The situation weighed upon the minds of the people on Peach Hill in their hours of discontent although the other considered them lucky devils, and even tried to join them, because they didn’t have to worry about bills. It was in a way a parable on the modern dilemma of liberty and security or on the older problem of human envy.
Possibly the envy hypothesis was the more valid; certainly it reduced the Axis orphans in Japan to the childish indignities of a shrill “You too!” and “He did it!” A considerable amount of intrigue was to expected among diplomatic gentry but the panic of self-preservation stimulated more sleeve-clutching behind-cupped-hands slander than an oil concession.
The Italians, who normally would have been satisfied to blame it all on the Germans, had their lives complicated by Mussolini’s “Italian Socialist Republic”. The Japanese kempei-tai did not stand much on ceremony and, upon Badoglio’s surrender, they packed off the Italian diplomats into an internment camp without giving them much of a choice or consulting any other rules of protocol but their secret dossiers. The only exception made was for the press attaché who was known to a personal friend of the fallen dictator. However, upon Mussolini’s resurrection, the Italian embassy was reestablished in Tokyo in the charge of the former military attaché in Nanking. The minor embassy employees and other Italian nationals in Japan were thereupon required by the Japanese to swear allegiance to the new regime at a ceremony in a Tokyo Catholic church, embellished with the appropriate Latin touches of melodrama.
The line thus drawn may have remained reasonably clear and undisputed even after Japan’s surrender had not the Badoglio diplomats, upon their liberation from internment, embarked upon an all-out vendetta. They hounded the erstwhile fascists out of their precarious jobs with the new military government, protested loudly when American officers took fascist girls out dancing to the same hotel where they were guests, and, having failed in persuading the Americans to throw the fascists into a concentration camp, reeled off long telegrams of denunciation to the government at Rome. This seemed somewhat presumptuous to their victims since, if fascism were the issue, the former embassy members had been fascists too and in fact the former ambassador, Indelli, had signed the tri-partite pacts in Tokyo. The squabble reached its clamactic end when Rome announced that it was paying for the repatriation of all Italian diplomats, whether pre- or post-Badoglio. The Badoglio group swallowed this rebuff quite literally. They omitted notifying the rival group until 24 hours before sailing time by which time it was too late to do anything but shake a fine Italian fist and put the evil eye on the successful conspirators (as a matter of fact, some them had their baggage dropped by a crane into the sea when trans-shipping at Panama).
Intrigue among the Germans was more tortured, more savage. It was imbued with that ponderous and deliberate frenzy, that implacable extremism, that is so unmistakably Teutonic. Where the Italians resembled two vain and petulant children quarreling about who first took the jampot down from the shelf and ate most of the jam, the Germans were nothing less than a couple of harridans snarling at each other over a scrap of bone they had dug out of the garbage-can. Where the Italians brought to mind the malicious gossip of a seminary for young ladies about what darling Mary was seen doing in the conservatory, the Germans were seized by the same degrading and terrifying cunning that impels the criminal to turn state’s evidence and pile all the blame on his accomplices.
The issue among the Germans was simply who was or was not a “real Nazi”. Not one of the 3,000-odd Germans in Japan seems to have been a “real Nazi”, outside of a few hopelessly compromised leiters and even these tried to argue that their positions were non-political and their main duty, the protection of the community. Since it is manifestly impossible to follow the tortuous course of each and every one of these allegations, it might be more convenient to concentrate on the higher embassy circles. Here the conflict was shaped early during the war, a handy starting point being the curious Sorge case.
Sorge was a German newspaperman, a surly and unkempt fellow from some accounts, who succeeded in some unexplained fashion in insinuating himself into the good graces of Ott, the German ambassador in Tokyo at the time. He won Ott’s confidence to such an extent that was gradually given access to secret files. When the Japanese discovered that Sorge was the head of Soviet spy ring, they asked for the relief of Ott who was sent in disgrace to Peking to sit out the war. Ott’s place was taken by Dr. Stahmer, then German ambassador in Nanking, who had previously been in Tokyo as Ribbentrop’s personal representative in the negotiations for the tri-partite pact. However Ott had left behind a latent source of opposition in a group of loyal subordinates and, upon the collapse of Germany, they came out into the open with a communication to the Japanese Foreign Office repudiating the leadership of Dr. Stahmer.
Not even the CIC, apparently, was able to weigh with any degree of assurance the relative merits or demerits of Stahmer, who negotiated the tri-partite pact, and Ott, who signed it in Tokyo. Stahmer, kept under room arrest throughout the Gora Period, was subsequently confined in Sugamo Prison but the opposing faction did not feel quite at their ease, Ott having been taken from Peking to Tokyo in the meantime. In fact if anyone gained any prestige from the shoddy business, it was the Stahmers. Dr. Stahmer himself contrived to maintain a steadfast dignity, standing stolidly on the rather shaky proposition that the tri-artite pact was designed to keep America out of the war and was thus defensive rather than aggressive, a contribution to world peace rather than to global war. Mrs. Stahmer, a handsome aristocrat inclined to worry about her husband doing his own laundry and her two soldier sons of whom she had no news, expressed, like her husband, a well-bred distaste for trading calumny for slander. She appeared to have more faith in the efficacy of her frequent protestations of friendship with such elegant figured as the Dukes of Windsor and Coburg.
The other Germans were rather less discreet and the agents of the CIC found most of their work done for them by a veritable Gestapo of informers. When two Germans were caught off-limits without a permit, they hastily pointed out that there was a third German a little further up the road who might just as well be taken in too; this third German, it might be noted, fully avenged himself by drinking down all the sake the party had gone out to obtain. When a DNB correspondent, in a belated access of prudence, decided to cache a file of his wartime cables to Berlin, someone saw to it that the C.I.C. knew exactly how to get to the tiny cave behind the hillside waterfall. The correspondent in turn, in the grip of an obscure impulse, sought consolation in charging a colleague with complicity.
With such eager volunteer assistants, the C.I.C. was able to hack away at the last remnants of the Axis with a minimum of overt measures. There were so few of these in fact that the outside observer might have found reason to fancy an unforgiveable lassitude or complaisance on the part of the C.I.C. One exasperated contributor to Stars and Stripes charged that the Axis diplomats were living in a fairy-land, a “veritable Shangri-la”.
It was not quite so pleasant. One day the Germans awoke at the Gora Hotel to find sentries posted at the doors of their rooms. A search was made of their persons and baggage, Army nurses having come up the night before the raid to take care of the women, who even had to comb out their pompadours. All cash and gold bars (into which many Germans had converted their cash through the former embassy courier to Shanghai) were taken away. Most of this was later returned except for such amounts as there was reason to believe belonged either to official embassy or Nazi party funds. But a shiver of apprehension ran through the hotel thereafte whenever a WAC or nurse showed up in the dining-room.
Subsequently the Germans the were ordered to submit sworn statements of their assets. Their bank accounts were blocked and frozen and they were forbidden to dispose of any personal property of any sort. However since, as far as the diplomats were concerned, their living expenses were borne by the Japanese government, this did not entail any excessive discomfort.
Sometime after the baggage search the Germans were also ordered to turn in all their tinned food (mostly Australian pork sausage, corned beef, marmalade, and evaporated milk, taken from prize ships captured by German raiders in the Pacific, as well as Japanese tuna, salmon, and sardines, originally canned for export to Germany and later purchased by the German embassy for distribution among its nationals in Japan). These too were later returned without explanation and the affair would have passed off without incident except for a naive German newspaperman called Bacher, the same one who had disappeared into a kempei prison during the last months of the war. Possibly because this experience had impressed on him a scrupulous devotion to literal exactitudes, he left impelled to ask the guard in charge of the collection for guidance.
“Does this order include American canned goods?” he inquired.
“Sure it does. What do you have?”
The conscientious Bacher thereupon brought out an armful of K-rations.
Since trading in G.I. supplies was then being rigorously suppressed, Bacher found himself being asked a number of embarrassing questions. How had he secured these supplies? From an American. Aga, and who was the American? Bacher, by now thoroughly terrified and seeinf visions of another term in a dungeon, blurted out the name of a C.I.C. agent who had until lately been assigned to Gora but who had recently left for home with one of Mrs. Bacher’s kimono.
The revelation was more embarrassing to the C.I.C. than to Bacher but he had no way of knowing it and he imagined the worst when was sternly bundled off to MP headquarters at Hiratsuka. The episode ended rather agreeably for Bacher but not before he had suffered agonies of apprehension. The MP commander turned out to be an understanding fellow who told Bacher to forget it, gave him a G.I. dinner and a spring mattress, and had him escorte the next morning to the railway station, when an impressed station-master cleared a whole compartment for him. He had not gone many stations when a couple of air-corps officers, just back from a profitable run from Manila, came in.
“Chum,” they asked him after some reflection, “would you care to buy some K-rations?”
Bacher nearly fainted. He couldn’t get out of the train fast enough.
Other C.I.C. interventions however were more conclusive, if slightly distorted by the press. For a considerable time during the Gora Period, the Thai ambassador, the German ambassador, the German military attaché ( a sturdy scar-faced general called Kretschmer), and other German embassy members were under room arrest. This confinement was lifted when Dr. Stahmer was taken to Sugamo, an affair which was widely publicized as a “sensational raid” but which was actually a question of the arresting officer stepping out of his room, down one floor, to the ambassador’s. The breathless excitability of the press relations officer concerned betrayed itself again when the C.I.C. impounded the funds of the German community association, which had been extending relief to hundreds of indigent German hausfrauen evacuated from the East Indies. These fund, amounting to 50,000 yen and used mainly to purchase food and pay rent, were inflated in the press to a thumping 50,000,000 yen, described as a secret fund of sinister implications. It was publicity such as this which gave the Germans reason to quip that the C.I.C. was really looking for Hitler in Japan.
Such widely spaced shocks and surprises scarcely distracted the Axis diplomats from their main preoccupations, intrigue, food, and repatriation. Food attained the proportions of an obsession among them. While they were provided far more than the average Japanese or foreigner in Japan, and in addition received special Foreign Office rations of sugar, butter, cigarettes, and whiskey, the gastronomic habits acquired and indulged during a long career of diplomatic cocktail-parties and state dinners rendered them proportionately more fastidious and exacting. Neither the wartime fare at Fujiya (fish and noodles) nor the food-crisis fare at the Gora (noodles and fish) was calculated to satisfy these long-thwarted appetites. As a consequence, much of the cash the diplomats were allowed to withdraw monthly from frozen accounts was spent on eggs, black-market steaks, cheese, fruits, coffee, and sweet preserves.
A haunting aura of broiling meat hung over the Gora Hotel during their stay there,
and the enlisted men now billeted in yhe matted Japanese rooms may perhaps still catch a lingering whiff or two of fried eggs. Even in Atami, where a more competent or more honest cook slung out a respectable meal, the denizens of Peach Hill might still be glimpsed haggling over a fresh lobster or bartering their Foreign Office Hikari cigarettes for box of dusty strawberries.
Curiously enough the Germans, who possessed whole cases of tinned goods distributed by their embassy during the war with typical efficiency and thoroughness, were also the center of the greatest number of disputes about food. The Italians were usually content with emotional displays that were scarcely filling. One excitable Italian dashed his plate of noodles at the feet of the Gora Hotel manager; another periodically sobbed when confronted with dried herring; a third brooded on a calculation of the daily number of calories served. He refused to stir from the armchair in the lobby to which he retreated after reading that he was consuming just enough calories for someone who did not move around too much. “Do you know,” he confided, “if you walk 100 meters on the number of calories we are given, the body will begin to live upon itself, to consume itself!”
The Germans were more ruthless. They approached the question of food with the true furor teutonicus. Two close friends stopped talking to one another and formally returned the gifts they had exchange through five years because they disagreed on the partition of a pound of butter. Another German, caught secreting a community barrel of lard and marking it with his name and destination “Hamburg”, squatted upon it in a dull stubborn rage and refused to allow its distribution until he was hauled off bodily. The violence of his feelings was due perhaps to the fact that he was under the influence, not only of the obsession with food, but also of the equally deep-rooted anxiety about repatriation.
The problem of repatriation haunted every inmate of the hotel on Peach Hill, once misnamed the Inn of Ten Thousand Tranquilities and after the surrender renamed more pointedly the Tourist Hotel. Periodically the community was shaken by rumors: dates for the departure, now imminent, now distant, were set by grapevine. Most of the time these rumors died out when they were proved false or when their place was taken by fresh conjectures and canards. Sometimes they had disagreeable consequences as when the Germans, in a panic at the report that they would be shipped off the next day with two suitcases per person, proceeded to dump all their tinned goods on a sagging market; there were black inquiring looks directed afterwards at those who seemed to be eating more than usual. The Italians became just as agitated by rumors that an ancient gunboat by the name of Eritrea was coming to take them all away, or to take only the fascists for trial, or only the seamen, or only certain personages on a secret list; they would proceed via the Panama canal, or the Suez; that they would sleep in cabins, or sleep on the deck; that they would have to pay for the passage, or that the Italian government had advanced it; that their silks and silver would be confiscated; that their dollars would be taken away; that they would be given $250 apiece.
There were constant reminders of this inevitable homecoming. The community had already contracted gently since the Fujiya Period. The Manchus and the Chinese were early taken to China via Sugamo; the Thai ambassador was flown home although the saturnine counselor remained at the Fujiya with full recognition from the Army of Occupation; the Burmese were nervously escorted to a ship by the British, desperately anxious not to antagonize the powerful party of the revolution. Dr. Stahmer had almost been flown back to Germany. The order was not countermanded until he had actually been taken to the airport. In Atami only Colonel Principini remained of the varied company that had first met the United States Army in the Chrysanthemum Suite of the Fujiya. With him there were only actually a handful of diplomats and their families; the others were consular officials or clerks not too anxious to call attention to themselves. They spent their time packing and repacking, nailing up huge cases of food, books, the curios accumulated during an extended tour in East Asia. The pessimistic scattered their essential belongings among different suitcases that if all except one were stolen, some sort of complete outfit would still remain. They were mostly Germans who had grown the hard cunning of the exile and refugee, like a callous shell on their bruised vanities.
The national differences of character between the erstwhile Axis partners was revealed by their attitude toward repatriation as much s by the quality of their intrigues. The Italians took a simple peasant pleasure in the though of going home. If they worried at all, they worried about small immediacies, such as the price of a pair of shoes, the duty on coffee, the damage to the old olive grove. The Italians in Atami were there because they remained loyal to Mussolini and served in his “Social Republic”. But even these, who might be called the last of the fascists, did not seem to mourn fascism or, what is more to the point, to feel guilty about it. Fascism to them was just a political party, a big company union. Italy itself, one suspects, not so important to them as Naples or Vittorio Veneteo or wherever it was they had a vineyard or a square stone house overlooking the bay. They wanted to go home because they were frightened, because life abroad had suddenly grown harsh and uncertain, but one felt that once they had ensconced themselves in their familiar corners, they would be content to survive if nothing else survived.
The Germans made a complete contrast. They were afraid to go home; they did not want to; they expected to because they had to but almost all intended to get out as soon as they could. More than the Italians, they were disheartened at the announcement thatonly those Axis nationals who had resided permanently in Japan before 1 January 1939 could expect to remain and, if they were former diplomatic officials, only in case they could prove they would make some contribution to Japanese social welfare. It was not only that many of these Germans lived in what is now Poland or Soviet Russia or the Soviet zone; fundamentally it was because they felt that Germany was gone and they had nowhere to go home to. Some talked bitterly of retiring to a remote farm where they would have nothing more to do with national ideals and racial destinies. But the very nature of their escape showed how futile it would be. A German without a Weltanschaung is a vacuum that will sooner or later attract a creed or collapse. He craves a loftier significance for life than mere personal survival or parochial calm. He requires a philosophy and a leader for which he can immolate himself. Naziism was such a philosophy and Hitler such a leader; he enfolded and consumed the very heart of the German and drove a whole frenzied people to the extremities of savagery and heroism. The utter annihilation of all this system left the individual German in Atami with an inner emptiness that crumbled under the renewed pressures of existence. He wanted desperately to stay a little longer in the rarefied atmosphere of Peach Hill.
Strangely enough both Germans and Italians were agreed on despising the Japanese, the Italians out of the usual racial vanity the Germans because of that and something more, possibly an obscure resentment that they fought ruinously to the very last gutter and cellar while the Japanese, for all their kamikaze, made a better deal with a meek surrender. Defeat has a way of exaggerating and distoring values but among the poor remnants of the Axis left over in Atami are found valid hints of the basic weakness of that once-monstrous alliance. The Italians were afraid of the Germans with an odd mixture of incomprehension and respect; the Germans frankly despised the Italians as opportunists and cowards; both were equally baffled and repelled by the Japanese who, in turn, after the surrender, affected toward them a virtuous indignation and horror.
The whole complicated snarl seems a little clearer when one considers the case of the Italian interpreter whom the Germans avoided because they suspected him of being a Japanese spy. It seems to sum up thing neatly.
The gossip from Nara is that the exiles there are getting on each other’s nerves. I suppose it is only natural; these proud, sensitive men, accustomed to adulation and power, now find themselves isolated, disgraced, under the perpetual strain of physical danger and mutual recrimination. And yet is is tragic to find them reduced to quarreling about their few shreds of precedence and dignity. The President is offended because the Speaker does not rise to his feet when he enters the hotel dining-room; the Speaker refuses to rise because, he explains to a curious Japanese, the President after all owed his election to him, the Speaker. The [manuscript ends here]