Iwao Peter Sano, a California Nisei, sailed to Japan in 1939 to become an adopted son to his childless aunt and uncle. He was fifteen and knew no Japanese. In the spring of 1945, loyal to his new country, Sano was drafted in the last levy raised in the war. Sent through Korea to join the Kwantung Army in Manchuria, Sano arrived in Hailar, one hundred miles from the Soviet border, as the war was coming to a close. In the confusion that resulted when the war ended, Sano had the bad luck to be in a unit that surrendered to the Russians. It would be nearly three years before he was released to return to Japan.
Sano's account of life in the POW and labor camps of Siberia is the story of a little-known part of the great conflagration that was World War II. It is also the poignant memoir of a man who was always an outsider, both as an American youth of Japanese ancestry and then as a young Japanese man whose loyalties were suspect to his new compatriots.
Iwao Peter Sano was returned to Japan in 1948 and worked for the U.S. occupation forces before coming back to the United States in 1952. He is now a retired architect living in Palo Alto.