Wednesday, March 30, 2016

On Cherry Blossom and Lost Wanderers

I spent twenty minutes under the Japanese cherry tree today, marvelling at its ethereal beauty. We have only had these trees for ten years or so, I think; they are not native to Uzbekistan. The one I was admiring today grows near the Navoi Opera Theatre which was built by the Japanese prisoners after WWII, and I believe the tree has a symbolic meaning - was planted there for a reason.

I must admit that the topic of Japanese prisoners never was of a great interest to me - you see, our life in USSR was infused by the war, we were eating and drinking war - no, breathing it... every family would have veterans, or someone who was killed, or both; there were all those countless books, films, memorials - what does a handful of prisoners mean compared to this huge array of memories, evidence, emotions? However, when you stand under this tree, next to the theatre build by the prisoners from a faraway country, you have to think about them. I read that there were almost 24 thousands Japanese PoW in Uzbekistan, and that most of them survived - only 817 died and were buried here. Local people are kind, and even in the hungry time after the war they would share food with the foreigners. As one article said, "If civilians treated German prisoners like enemies, the Japanese were looked upon as tired wanderers far from home".

I hope that most of those lost wanderers finally made it home.


  1. beautiful photos, and such interesting history

  2. I did not know there were Japanese PoW camps in Europe. Now, I'm curious as to how this came about. Of course, it was only in the last five years that I found out that we had Germans and Italian PoW camps spread out through North America during WWII.
    Love the photos! Beautiful!


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