Pain and Terror in the Prison

After leaving the hospital in Zelenodolsk, I was transferred to a prison constructed during the rule of the the Russian Imperial government. I was put in a prison cell alone. I had no idea how it happened but a German complained about me and the Soviet government had a suspicion that my identity and position were concocted and I was not who I claimed to be. Because of that, I had to go under a thorough investigation of how the military commanding office was functioning in Central China.

When I left Zelenodolsk, I was alone and taken to a prison in the town of Kazan by a sergeant from the convoy with a gun In his hand. Kazan was the capital of Republic of Tatars where there was an old University of Kazan where Lenin studied in his youth.

I have to emphasize, however, that it was my first time ever experience of life in a prison, and it is still torturous to even think about how it was. I never want to experience it again. I won’t write the details about what happened in this prison here because I wrote about this time in detail it in the chapter of “A Window Overlooking the Moat in my book “The Forest in Tatars” published previously.

A comparison with a Japanese prison is not possible as I have never been in one, but the prison in Kazan was such a painful place because I could not communicate with the prison guard and also because I was always under the threat of unexpected events that might be imposed on me as a captive.

Since I had no choice but to only accept what may happen to me, I was in a terrible mental state. I imagined I might be shot to death at any time or may have to experience terrible tortures. I thought I might lose my mind. In fact, it would have been much easier if I actually lost my mind.

Luckily, there was no physical torture, but I felt it was a type of torture when they repeated the interrogation throughout the night. I was taken out of my prison cell at the middle of the night, was put into an escort car without any windows for prisoners, and I was repetitiously questioned all night long. There tactics must have been making my state of mind confused by not bring given a chance to sleep. In In this way, they wanted to squeeze out any words they wanted to hear from me.

Additionally, there was an incident I would never forgive. It happened during a short period of time during a day when I was allowed to take a walk for fifteen minutes. A guard suddenly told me to stand where I could see the bullet marks on the brick wall. Then he raised up his mandolin gun and pointed the muzzle toward my face. Suddenly, I experienced the terrible terror of being shot to death. I felt my heart was beating so fast. I have heard of the expression, “the heart goes upside down.” I actually experienced the similar state right at that moment.

The guard smiled and dropped the muzzle of his gun. It was a joke for him, but it was an ultimate terror for me. This one incident made me think I would never forgive the Soviets.

In addition to such an experience, I would like to note that the life in prison forced me to realize I had to learn Russian. The purpose of my prison life in Kazan was for the investigation that took place in the Ministry of Home Affairs of the Republic. In the beginning, the investigator was the vice minister with a poor translator of Japanese. Then only one English translator was in charge of the investigation. She was a pretty girl a little over twenty. I still remember the sound of an accordion that kept playing music through the trees in the park nearby. The summer in the Northern land was so short and the youth were out there without going to sleep, not to miss their good time. In the country with limitation of freedom, the freedom for falling in love among young people was still there. As a captive, I felt very jealous of such a lovely relationship.