You are here

Bluffton brushes with history

By Fred Steiner

In November 1945 Bluffton resident Betty Steinman experienced a brush with history like no other person in Bluffton.

It is one of several interesting brushes with history that Bluffton residents reported in The Bluffton News. Some of those account follow Betty’s. Each of the account in this feature are from the mid-1940s. `

Betty, whose nephew Jeremy Szabo lives in Bluffton, was an eye-witness to the war-criminal trial of Japanese General Yamashita at Manila. She wrote about her experience in a letter to her parents Forrest and Joyce Steinman, which was published on the front page of The Bluffton News in late November 1945.

Betty was on her way to the Philippines and Japan in Red Cross welfare work, when the group she was will stopped in Manila.


General Yamashita

Here is her interesting account of the trial in her letter:

“This morning I had one of the most exciting experiences, seeing Yamashita’s trial. I wish you could have seen it. When we walked in Yamashita was on the stand talking in Japanese.

They had to use an interpreter for everything that he said and everything spoken to him, so it was quite drawn out. He is quite heavy and had a crew haircut.

When he spoke he hardly moved a muscle in his face, in fact it was hard to know if he was talking or not.

They had mikes all around to pick up voices and news reels and flash photos were taken at regular intervals.

They had a ten-minutes recess every hour. We were up in the balcony and went over to a window where standing directly below me was Yamashita. I could almost reach down and touch him. He was just standing smoking and talking now and then to another Japanese. He looked up in the window at us several times. To listen to his side of the story, he is as innocent as a newborn babe.

Click HERE for more Bluffton brushes with history, including brushes with President F.D. Roosevelt, General George Marshall, Mickey Rooney and Albert Einstein.