By March 1945, the 442nd was in southern Germany. Soon it was at Dachau. Eddie Ichiyama of Santa Clara, Calif., who also was here recently, says that "even right now" he can smell the stench. The ovens were still warm. On a nearby railroad flatbed car, what looked to be a supply of cord wood was actually stacked corpses.
Nelson Akagi of Salt Lake City remembers an officer "adopting" Larry Lubetzky, a liberated Lithuanian Jew, as an interpreter. After the war, prisoner number 82123 went from Germany to Jerusalem to Canada to Mexico City, from where Akagi received a call in 1992. Akagi will search the Holocaust Memorial Museum archives for fresh information about Lubetzky.
After the war, Ito rejoined his loved ones, who had lost everything. He became a professor of cell biology and anatomy at Harvard Medical School. He retired in 1990 but still goes to the lab several days a week.
Such cheerful men, who helped to lop 988 years off the Thousand Year Reich, are serene reproaches to a nation now simmering with grievance groups that nurse their cherished resentments. The culture of complaint gets no nourishment from men like these who served their country so well while it was treating their families so ignobly. Yet it is a high tribute to this country that it is so loved by men such as these.
The Holocaust museum draws almost 2 million visitors a year, four times more than were anticipated when it opened 17 years ago. A museum official says dryly, "Human nature has been an enormous help." She means that atrocious behavior, a constant component of the human story, continually reminds people of the museum's relevance. It is, therefore, grand that the museum also honors those, like Ito, Akagi and Ichiyama, who exemplify the rest, and best, of that story.