A Historical Mystery Found in Graffiti

graphitti on Kiska

I discovered this seemingly weirdo incongruity while visiting an Internet site devoted to the Japanese occupation of the American island of Kiska during World War Two. This is the caption which accompanied this photo:

“Office of Japanese weather station occupied by Japanese, became U.S. officers’ headquarter; graffiti is written across wall behind desk.”

See if you spot the Bizarro-World nature of this graffiti which (we assume, based on the historical record) Japanese troops left behind on the wall of a weather station on the occupied island of Kiska in September, 1943.

Answer: the graffiti is in German, not Japanese! Was this a clever head-fake by the retreating Japanese, who left Kiska without firing a shot? Or were there actually German speakers on Kiska in 1943 – which would imply that the German High Command was considering using Kiska as a jumping-off point for an invasion of Alaska?

No; the latter doesn’t make any sense at all. It must be the former…

Here’s a link to the rest of a set of very memorable photographs of the island of Kiska, taken right after American forces liberated the place.

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