December 18, 1944


Dec. 18th – One week until Christmas, the worst and at the same time the best we have spent in this camp – It is wonderful what the women are making for the children out of nothing –

The camp was just on an alert basis at 10:20 today, after 98 hours of airraid alarm -No siren blew, so we assume that Manila is still under air-raid – No US planes today but there were some Jap planes around –

The Japs admitted yesterday the landing in Mindoro – This is fact, as is the report of the Polillo landing – It is rumored that the Japanese language paper admitted a landing in Tayabas – But

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This is rumor –

Kit stories current again – We are to get them before Xmas – Also a rumor –

3 things hit us very hard: 1) Lack of food 2) Lack of tobacco, 3) Lack of authentic news –

A man in our room collapsed today and had to be taken to the hospital – All hospitals are full, and the rooms in the buildings are full of sick people for whom there is no hospital accommodation –

There are signs that the Japs are becoming more lenient – But I am skeptical – Perhaps Shiragi, Kamatsu & Abiko will be


removed. Then I’ll believe it –

Have you ever read “My Antonia” by Willa Cather? It is delightful – Story of pioneer days in Nebraska and a Bohemian family – I wonder why I never read it before?

I was thinking of Paul Reif to-day – I consider him my very best friend, almost an older brother – An Austrian who went to Holland in the twenties – Charming wife – 3 little girls – I wonder where he is and what he is doing? I am looking forward to a reunion with him- I want you & Neil34 to meet him –

And so another day – The 1077th in this camp -Is it possible?

December 16, 1944


Dec. 16th – Bombing all last night and today! Same type of bombing and strafing – aim-immobilization. The Japanese papers today reported bloody fighting on the island of Polillo only a few miles off the Eastern coast of Luzon – There are rumors of landings on Luzon itself. Also reports of Japanese troops streaming back into Manila minus equipment, etc. These may be reserve troops who have been bombed out of their barracks in & around Manila –

People are so hungry, they are eating cats & dogs. Some are even picking up scraps of food off the ground and eating the filth

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from garbage cans.

I weigh 99 lbs now – It is impossible to stop this steady loss of weight, but at least the rate of decrease has fallen off from 1/2 lb per day in November to 1/4 lb a day in the 1st half of December.

Mentally I still feel very fine indeed – But I cannot stand in line, pick up anything heavy – Sometimes my thoughts float vaguely between the desire of rest and the desire of life – Tonight, even with release nearer, I feel completely neutral, as if it made no difference – But that is physical exhaustion.

December 15, 1944

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Dec. 15th – The air-raid alarm has been on since 8:00 am Dec 14th – Today we had the same type of bombing as yesterday – but heavier – Everything being kept from moving. There are reports of landings, but we are not going off the deep end too soon this time –

I wrote two short sketches today, one entitled “November 10th, 1938” describing the pogrom against the Jews in Germany, the other entitled “Land of Counterpane” a childhood fantasy – It’s great fun writing again.

December 14, 1944


Dec. 14th – Air raid! the first since November 25th – And an unusual type of raid – 8-10 planes over Manila all the time – Bombing and strafing, but apparently with the object, of preventing planes from coming up, transportation from functioning and troops from moving. Let’s hope there is a landing – it looks that way

Air-raid alarm all night tonight – two raids between 6 -11 PM – We are completely blacked out – I mean completely – Not a light showing anywhere in Manila – the Japanese in the Commandant’s Office are very upset and nervous.

December 13, 1944

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Dec. 13th – No news today – But kit rumors still persist – Jaques Maritain’s “True Humanism” becomes more and more interesting – I know the answer to Bertrand Russell. I should have known it all the time: man is not merely his natural self, but a supernatural person – And the mystery for us is the gratuitousness and sovereign liberty of divine grace in conjunction with man’s free will – See St. Thomas.

December 8-12, 1944

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Dec. 8th – Dec. 12th – In bed almost all the time during these 5 days – down to 100 pounds – The whole camp is getting weaker – the people look like disembodied spirits –
Very little news of the war – Apparently fighting is still going on in Leyte – We are cleaning up the Visayan Islands – Luzon has been bombed and shelled (we hear), But we have had no bombing around Manila since Nov. 25th

There have been many rumors about the relief supplies – We know they are in Manila (almost 3 weeks now) – But no distribution to us as


yet. Now there are two conflicting reports 1) That the kits will be distributed before Xmas, 2) that, Santo Tomas will not receive any kits because some internees still have reserve stocks.

The internees have put so much hope in these kits that I am afraid there will be a breakdown (tending towards melancholia) if they are not distributed –

Our net daily ration now is 240 grams of cereal, 1 1/2 oz of pressed soy bean meal, and from our gardens 1 oz of vegetables – A calamansi (1/2 the size of a lurre) rice per week – Calory value about 950 per day – the Japanese are short 15% on their rice and corn deliveries. Rice & corn

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stocks will last until Dec. 19th.

There seems to be no doubt as to the policy of the Japanese: deliberate starvation to break our health & morale –

They may break my health, but they cannot break my morale –

I have been reading “King Lear” with Landauer’s Commentary – And now Jacques Maritain’s “True Humanism – One thing about starvation: You can grasp complex theories more readily and you have greater ability of analysis –

13 days to Xmas – I never thought we’d spend another


Christmas here. But it looks very probable – We’ll make the best of it, and promise the children a real Christmas when this is over –

Have you ever read any of Ferrero’s historical writings – I have his “Life of Caesar”. Glancing through, it seems interesting.

What fun it will be to read the good books written since the war began – And the magazines – & PM – (I want to read Fortune, Nation, New Republic, Economist, Revue de Deux Mondes, Atlantic, Harpers, Foreign Affairs, Story) – Perhaps Reader’s Digest too – N.Y. Times Book Section – Journal of Political Economy –etc, etc. 6 months on a farm, good foods – books & peace.

December 7, 1944

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Dec. 7th – Dorita’s birthday – Blackout restrictions made even more stringent – The Japs seem to be expecting something – To-morrow is the 3rd Anniversary of Pearl Harbor – We are hoping –

Today the Japanese told us that they were taking 2/3 of the second floor of the Education Bldg. – Now, we know why the 150 were sent to Los Baños. The Gym must be converted into a hospital for old men. Literally hundreds are becoming so weak that they need special care – Sta. Catalina’s Men’s ward is a room for the dyingThe depressing effect of


The sulfa-drugs has worn off, and mentally, I feel much better. Physically, I am still very weak and just holding my weight at 103 – But when I see how badly others have fallen off, my 103 pounds seem heavy –

The internees at Los Baños are as badly off as we are. Only 2 meals a day, their gardens taken away from them – all sorts of restrictions – Lt. Konishi, who was so cruel here, is now in Los Baños.

We must help each other to hang on to life – That is what it has come to – and the Japs call themselves civilized!

December 6, 1944


December 6th – Total blackout ordered for the camp – What’s up?

Today, the Japanese said that they would bring into camp 150-200 kilos of freshly pressed soy bean meal per day – On the other hand, our cooking oil rations would be cut from 34 to 17 kilos per day, and our salt ration even more radically reduced. Finally, nothing could be done about shortweight rice deliveries (shortages recently have averaged 20%).

Well the soy meal will be welcome for its protein content – The gravy was good tonight.

No news about relief supplies – 2 more deaths.

December 5, 1944


Dec. 5th – 150 persons, almost all over fifty years of age, left, for Los Baños at 2:30 A.M. today –

I’ll believe all these reports about relief supplies, when they arrive in camp.

I put Hamlet aside for a few days – and am reading “Coriolanus.” – The two had one thing in common: They were both individuals fighting against the common mob and its deadening mediocrity – But Hamlet was a genius of fantasy, of thought, while Coriolanus was a genius of action – It would be interesting to write an essay on the reaction of each to the situation confronting the other – Both disdained power for its own sake – they were not ambitious –

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Speaking of Hamlet, do you remember his speech “0, that this too, too solid flesh would melt” – His wish would have been granted, if he had been interned by the Japs –

There were 3 robberies last night – The exchange booth, the locker of an old couple, and another cupboard on the 3rd floor. Shameful! All the foodstuffs taken – These robberies were not done by hungry amateurs but by professional thieves – And we are the great & mighty white race!

There is as much community spirit in this camp as among a pack of jackals.