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Student Interview 2
 
The black experience in World War II

Name: Edwin Burkes
Age: 78
Race: African American
Hometown: Newark, New Jersey
Current Location: Newark, New Jersey
Post-war sentiment: Bitter

Born, raised, and educated in the City of Newark, Mr. Edwin Burkes graduated High School in June of 1945; by September he was drafted into the army.

“I did not have that ‘gung-ho’ patriotic spirit at that time because of my experiences with racial discrimination that I grew up with in the city of Newark. At that time Newark had racial segregation. The movie theater downtown did not allow black citizens to sit downstairs. It even extended to some of the neighboring restaurants downtown that did not serve blacks. During the time of my high school prom the white students elected to have prom at Frank Daily’s Meadow Brook in Cedar Grove, New Jersey. Frank Daily’s at that time did not allow blacks.

“I entered the service quite frankly I would say because I knew I had to. I was sent to Fort Dix, New Jersey and again I was faced with segregation. They had two separate posts at Fort Dix – one for white troops and one for black troops.

“After Fort Dix, NJ I went to Fort Leonard Wood, Missouri for basic training and again I was faced with an army post that had white soldiers on one end and black soldiers on the other end. After Fort Leonard Wood, I went to Fort Jackson, South Carolina and again faced racism. The worst part of the camp was a sandy base camp, which was where the black troops stayed. It was a quarter of a mile to the training. Our brother white troops were housed in a green lawned type of surrounding.

“Next I went to Fort Ord, California and was again faced with the same thing. I was placed with a service club with a beautiful structure that was built for white only troops therefore I was there because I had to be.

“In my mind it appeared that even though black troops had shown that they were willing to fight and die for their country during the Civil War that we still faced the same type of crisis. Afterward I was discharged from the army. I entered the service when the war with Germany was over. After the war with Germany was over the German troops were sent to the U.S. and placed in prisoner of war camps. I had an experience at a hospital in Fort Leonard Wood where I saw, on post, that the German prisoners of war, our enemies during World War II, were given more respect than the black soldiers here. We were called Niggers by the troops who returned to the U.S. [from fighting abroad]. After the war I carried with me a lot of bitterness concerning my time in the war.”

-- Interview By: Angelica Ceiro


Zusammenfassung des Interviews mit Mr. Edwin Burkes

Edwin Burkes wurde in Newark geboren und er ist dort aufgewachsen. Er schloss die Schule im Jahre 1945 ab und wurde in die Armee einberufen. In seiner Heimat hatte man es zu dieser Zeit als Afroamerikaner nicht leicht, weil es viele Rassisten gab. Er wurde nach Fort Dix in New Jersey geschickt und auch dort wurden die Gruppen in Afroamerikaner und Weiße eingeteilt. Später wurde er nach Fort Leonard Wood, wo auch Rassentrennung herrschte, versetzt, um das Basistraining zu absolvieren. Nach dem Krieg wurden die Deutschen trotzdem besser behandelt als die Afroamerikaner.

Zusammengefasst von Bernd Bucnik und Mathias Kollegger

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