Germans in Japan 1935-1948

Discussions on all aspects of the Japanese Empire, from the capture of Taiwan until the end of the Second World War.
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Sewer King
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Re: Germans in Japan 1935-1948

Post by Sewer King » 24 Jan 2012 23:16

Thanks Hisashi and Peter H for the school photo location. The view angle is mostly blocked by the fence and gateposts, but it looks like some of the students might be standing in ranks on both sides as the HJ march out.

Here too are the triangle patches worn on upper arm of HJ uniform, including those at Shanghai. If they had their own Gebietsarmdreieck, it seems more than likely that those in Japan did too.
German HJ uniform arm triangles.jpg
Did any HJ have to return to Germany with the outbreak of the Pacific war?


Janel90, I am glad to see you are still here and that the Forum has been of further help.
Would the German admiral named below be the same who your mother’s stepfather worked under? This is from a small mention, in the preface to a standard English-language guide to ships of the IJN:
  • Jentschura, Hansgeorg; Jung, Dieter; and Mickel, Peter. Warships of the Imperial Japanese Navy 1869-1945 (US Naval Institute Press, 1977; also Lionel Leventhal Ltd, 1977). Originally published as DIe Japanische Kriegschiffe 1869-1945 (J. F. Lehmanns Verlag, 1970).
The idea for [this book] was that of Erich Gröner, historian of the German Navy ...
In October 1942, thanks to a special request by Hitler, the German Naval Attaché in Tokyo, Admiral Wenneker, was permitted to pay a short visit of inspection to a Yamato-class super-dreadnought in a dockyard, and then to cable a very detailed description of the ship to Berlin. On 22nd August 1943, Gröner was shown this report at the Führer HQ for the purpose of interpretation and preparation of a design sketch drawing, under security supervision. Later, at the time of the collapse of the Third Reich, he rescued a copy of this sketch intending to use it as the frontispiece of a volume on Japanese warships. Gröner embarked on an enthusiastic exchange of material with Shizuo Fukui, a Japanese naval constructor who planed similar publications in Japan ... [and so the foundation for this book began with] the information forwarded to Gröner by Fukui in the 1950s ...
Whether Wenneker or any other officer in this post, the German naval attaché in Tokyo would have been concerned with things like the support of U-boat operations in the Indian Ocean, the rising losses of German auxiliary cruisers and blockade runners, and the start of I-boat and U-boat transport missions to replace the latter.

He did not know of course, that his communications cipher had been broken by the Americans. It would be interesting to know what if anything they learned about Yamato from here.

If Jentschura et al are correct, It took almost eleven months for the Führer’s request to be answered.’s tabular record of movement for Yamato dates Admiral Wenneker’s visit to that battleship as 1943, when she was drydocked at Kure:
16 July 1943:

YAMATO is visited by the German Naval Attaché to Tokyo, Konteradmiral (later Admiral/Ritterkreuz) Paul Wenneker. Prior to Wenneker’s arrival there are a series of debates between Vice Admiral (later Admiral) Nomura Naokuni (former CO of KAGA), CO of the Kure Naval Base, and Rear Admiral Matsuda, YAMATO's CO, concerning security issues. [1]

The officers are of different opinions as to Wenneker’s ability to distinguish between large-caliber guns. A data sheet is given to the German prior to his visit that describes YAMATO's main armament caliber as 40 cm, rather than the actual 46 cm. Nomura thinks that the German Admiral, a former CO of the 28.3-cm gun Panzerschiff DEUTSCHLAND/LÜTZOW, will not be able to tell the difference between 40 and 46 cm. guns, but Matsuda is not so sure and opposes the visit.

Wenneker is invited to spend a night at the Kure Navy Club. He dons an IJN uniform. His stay aboard YAMATO the next day is fairly short and the route chosen avoids the main gun turrets. The tour is less than one hour and areas below deck are not shown at all. Wenneker admires the elevator, bridge, air defense center and the main gun director. The German attaché even starts a discussion about the best location for battleship reserve main gun directors with Matsuda.
The Admiral’s wear of Japanese Navy uniform is the only German example of this I know of. Wearing their own uniform is often a courtesy many armed forces allow their foreign allies for certain needs. Could there have been Japanese attachés with the Germans in Europe, for whom the same might have been done?

It might be said that German surface power at sea was waning at this time while that of the Japanese had been stopped from rising. But that would not have been known, either to Admiral Wenneker or, indeed, to his Japanese hosts.

What Germans in Japan had heard about the course of the war –- in both Europe and Pacific -- might also be an interesting perspective, although a general one.

Janel, you might consider –- if you think it is appropriate –- adding in your mother’s book an acknowledgment to the Axis History Forum, among the many others. If he agrees to it, Hisashi is the only one who might be named there among those of AHF, because his was the most important information in this thread. As a research forum, we have been pleased to assist many writers.

-- Alan
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Re: Germans in Japan 1935-1948

Post by hisashi » 25 Jan 2012 11:49

Arai's book begins with two wartime pics.
Above: Kriegsmarines around Susumu.
Below: Matsuzakaya's staffs.

Fujiya Hotel (since 1891)
Source page:
This hotel was the residence of German Embassy staffs in Hakone. Your mother might remember this construction.

Deutsche Schule 1988 (near the last days before move to Yokohama)
Buildings were rebuilt around 1966 but your mother might remember this narrow ground.
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Re: Germans in Japan 1935-1948

Post by janel90 » 26 Jan 2012 00:39

Thank you so much for your continuing interest in info from me and my mother, Gentlemen!

Did HJ return to Germany at outbreak the war? Mom has explained to me (and I have lots of the original repatriation documentation listing all the names of all the Germans ordered to leave) that all Germans were repatriated on US ships to Germany after the war. Her parents left Yohohama on the Gen Black in June 1947, but my mom was excused from repatriation because she had already personally received permission from US CID MGen Charles Willoughby to travel to the US under the sponsorship of US Army LtCol John Watson. She left Yokohama on the Presdient McKinley in late January 1948, arriving in SFO on 14 Feb 1948 (and I have the ship manifest...that interestingly lists her Race as "Aryan". I am trying to research why that word would have appeared on a US government form at that time in the world, especially after all that had just happened in Europe. Why not Caucasian or White? Curious.)

Admiral Wenneker -- Yes. That is exactly the General that my mom's stepfather worked for. She has mentioned his name often.

I will scan the Japanese soldier letters/envelopes and then try to upload the photos. Thanks for that tutorial.

Please ask any other questions that I might be able to offer info on. I know much of her story, but certainly don't know what would be of interest to readers here...


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Peter H
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Re: Germans in Japan 1935-1948

Post by Peter H » 26 Jan 2012 00:50

Wenneke's aide was Oberstleutnant Fritz von Petersdorf,pictured here.

See also here,German Military Attaches in Japan: ... 5&t=125256
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Re: Germans in Japan 1935-1948

Post by Treve » 26 Jun 2012 22:53

Does anyone have a year and location for the above picture?

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Sewer King
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Re: Germans in Japan 1935-1948

Post by Sewer King » 25 Sep 2012 03:47

A good general account of its title subject:
  • Shukert, Elfrieda B.; and Scibetta, Barbara S. War Brides of World War II (Presidio Press, 1988; paperback edition by Penguin Books, 1989)
“War brides” is the common American term for women married by overseas US servicemen during or just after wartime, especially WW2. Among many other things, the authors describe some of the prejudices against German and Japanese women who were war brides. This includes both legal and social prejudices they faced from both sides, and both at home and in America.

From page 194:
. . . A double shadow fell over a relationship between a Japanese woman and an American. Not only was there racial intolerance on the part of the Americans, but a man of a different race was unacceptable to a Japanese family wishing to insure a pure bloodline. “The Japanese are even more proud than the Germans for being a pure-blooded race,” explained Hertha [Wolf] Rogers, whose mother was full-blooded Japanese, but whose father was German, a former POW from World War I who had settled in Japan. He made his fortune in the import and export business and was the first manufacturer of safety razor blades in Japan. Her mother, a music teacher from Osaka, had been disowned by her family for marrying against their wishes.

Until her father’s death when she was nine, Hertha attended an English school, but when war was declared, the German Consul ordered her to attend the Kobe Deutsche Schule.
  • I became a member of the Hitler Jugend at the time when the blond Aryan race was held in such high esteem and I was of mixed blood. I felt discrimination but somehow I managed to make it through these periods. Even among my Japanese relatives I felt that I did not quire belong. I remember when I was very small and we visited my Japanese grandmother. She patted me on the head crying, ’If only your hair was black and straight.'
Until 1947, the Oriental Exclusion Act of 1922 prohibited a Japanese wife of an American serviceman from getting a permanent visa. That August, the Soldier Brides Act was signed into law by President Truman and then it became possible, although still with other difficulty. To marry Hertha Wolf, Lieutenant Bill Rogers had to get many signed papers and permissions -- including from General MacArthur’s staff. It was helpful that Hertha was fluent in Japanese, English, and German, and thus she could work in the Occupation offices.

The two were married at the Kokusai Hotel near Kobe, a modern hotel which had been built for the 1940 Olympic Games (page 212-213).
German-Japanese war bride Hertha (Wolf) Rogers.jpg
My mother did not necessarily disapprove of our marriage. She had several concerns, however. One, that I was very young -– I turned eighteen four days after our wedding, and Bill was twenty-six at the time. Another of her concerns was that would be leaving Japan and that she would not be able to come with us, nor did she want to at that time, and that we would be separated for some years. We spoke Japanese at home, but our household was predominantly German. And, having raised me as a German, I think my mother knew all along that I would not make Japan my home when I grew up. But knowing that, nevertheless, when the time comes to leave, it comes too soon. I don’t believe she had any apprehension for me as I contemplated making a life for myself in the U.S.
Even this short mention hints at more about the German presence in imperial Japan:.
  • Probably there were not so many people anywhere in Japan who were fluent in all three languages: Japanese, English and German? However, Hertha Rogers’ father might have been tri-lingual too.

    She mentioned the Deutsche Schule in Kōbe. How many such schools were there in all Japan?
Are there any known or accepted figures for how many Germans were resident in Japan at a particular time? For example, during the late 1930s, at the height of the Rome-Berlin-Tōkyō Axis.
  • Especially interesting is that one former German PoW of WW1 had settled in Japan. The German ex-PoWs who settled in the US and Canada after WW2 are fairly well-known. But how unusual was Hertha Wolf’s father to stay in Japan after WW1?

    The book did not say more about him, but the German PoWs taken in China were known to have been well-treated by their Japanese captors. Could he have been one of those prisoners? If so, good memory of his time in Japan may have encouraged him to stay there and do business –- same as some WW2 Germans held in North America.
He might be identifiable from his daughter’s mention that he was the first to manufacture safety razors in Japan. I thought he might be connected to the Feather Safety Razor Company, Ltd, established in Seki City in 1932. But whether this was correct or not, he seems too obscure a piece of corporate history to find.

-- Alan
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Re: Germans in Japan 1935-1948

Post by tigre » 18 Feb 2021 20:55

Hello to all :D; a complement..............................

Visit to Japan 1938!


Cheers. Raúl M 8-).
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Re: Germans in Japan 1935-1948

Post by Suzuko2023 » 04 Aug 2023 06:51

Hey Janel,

now a decade later I'm new here. you might have seen my first post about twelve hours old.
My aunt, Inge Künkele, a German born and brought up in Japan till 1947, worked at the German Embassy Tokio in the years 1955-1959. The name Ulla Ott rings a bell for me, but born 1950 myself I might be too young for helpful information.

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