Democratization and Delegate Meeting

I became in charge of the salary section when Major Kondo, who was in charge of the accounting, was arrested by the Soviets. He was the successor of Colonel Yuji Iwagami, the higher rank accountant, from the accounting department of the 34th Military commanding office.

It is awkward to say he was arrested when he was already imprisoned in the Gulag. What happened was, however, that he was hand-cuffed and taken away to somewhere secretly in the night, and no one knew what happened to him after that. To this day, we never heard any news about him. A rumor was that he was executed, but I can not verify this. I don’t know why he was arrested, and the truth is unknown. Nonetheless, this is my speculation.

The year after we were interned, around 1946, German captive officers were in charge of various work details in the Gulag. It was our common knowledge that those in charge of salary were especially close with the Soviet’s counterpart. In other words, those Germans stole a part of the food they received, and sold it to the Soviet side in order to divide the profit between them.

Actually, there was no way to verify if that was really happening or not, but the actual quality and quantity of food we were provided made us believe what we heard was true. It depended on the kind of labor we were assigned, but on the average, the following was the norm defined by the Soviets. If the food provided was indeed more than 3000 calories as stated by the Soviets, most of us would have been better fed.

Quantification of the Basic Distribution of Food (for one day)
rice 100g, millet 300g, rye bread 300g, meat 75g, fish 80g, vegetables 600g, butter 20g, sugar 30g, salt 30g, miso 3g, tea 3g, oil 5g, tobacco 15g

Nevertheless, we were not sure if we were receiving food as was defined in the regulation. The worst thing was that the Germans were in charge of the decision making for cooking, and the Japanese were only cooks who did what was told. Therefore, there was no way to find out if the amount of food was changed in the back or not.

In the summer, labor became harder, but the food was definitely lacking. Everyone lost so much weight, and we all worried day by day in regards to the future of our health. In the middle of such a situation, a delegation meeting was held. The meeting consisted of a delegate from each respective regiment, and the senior officers of the regiments attended as supervisors who responded to the questions raised. Such structure was made in order for the democratization of the gulag.

One day, at a meeting, decisions were to be made for three items:“establishment of eight hours of work a day,” “adherence of the regulation of the amount of food to be served each day,”and “expelling the German managers.” If those items were not supported, the delegates were going to tell the Soviets that they would go on to strike.