It's all about my mom in Tokyo --
I'm hoping someone here can help me. I'm looking for any information about the Tokyo Dai Ichi Hotel when it was used for GHQ/SCAP Field Grade Officer housing for the US occupation forces in Tokyo. My family history has it that my mother was hired by a US Army Col. Joseph Muldoon to manage the basement snack bar in that hotel sometime during 1946. (and to distribute the rationed liquor!) She was 21 years old at the time, and spoke German, English and Japanese (that’s why she was hired, I suppose).
Our oral family history suggests an extraordinary life for my mother, Helga Hofmeier Kiderlen. Born in 1925 in Germany, her father was a published pediatrician (the family story is that he was a doctor to the Goebbels children in Berlin at one time). Her parents divorced when she was 3. Her new stepfather and mother sailed for Japan in late 1931, leaving her for several years with relatives in Munich when she was only 6. Her stepfather was eventually asked to work in the German Embassy’s Naval Attache office as Paymaster/Purchasing Agent by Admiral Paul Wenneker and he started work there in the mid-30s.
Mom followed, at age 10, on a steamship from Hamburg to Tokyo in 1935 - strangers hired to accompany her. She lived. a German in Japan, from 1935 to 1948. Little food, terrible times and, as a "gaijin", always on the wrong side. She was on the train to her best friend Ulla Ott's (daughter of the German Ambassador to Japan) birthday party when the train was stopped for Doolittle’s Raid, and everyone was told to take shelter. As she was only a very naive 17 years old, she tells me that she and her friends went to a nearby ice cream shop for a snack until the bombing was over (!!!). Geez!!
She survived her family home being burned to the ground during the March 10, 1945 fire-bombing of Tokyo, and was again on the train when the Emperor spoke to his public after Hiroshima. Her family had their summer house in Hakone, near where she met her first American GIs staying at the Myanoshita Hotel. She met my Dad, a Cajun from Louisiana, on a blind date in Tokyo very soon after his arrival in Japan as part of the USAF occupation troops.
Mom's parents were repatriated to Germany in 1947, and Mom accepted sponsorship by an American Army officer, Lt Col John Watson, and family to come to the US on their dime, but work out that payment as their nanny. I still have the original "contract" they all signed in January 1948. She sailed alone into San Francisco in February 1948, surprised to find nothing bombed. She spent 1948 as a nanny for the Army family. In December of that year, Dad finished his tour of duty in Japan, arrived in San Diego, paid off her indenture and married Mom three days later.....and then took her to his home in the bayous of Louisiana to "meet the parents", then to Omaha, to his next PCS assignment. After one year at Offutt AFB, she then returned to the bayous for one year, alone with me, an infant, while Dad went on an unaccompanied tour for one year to the nuclear testing site of Eniwetok Island. She became a naturalized US citizen while in LA. I still have the original newspaper articles from the local paper.
I continue to be amazed at her life - first as the child of an affluent and intellectual family, then as a German in Japan during the war, then working as a nanny, then living as "one of those bad Germans" in very conservative small bayou town in Louisiana on her own with an infant. Although I've heard many, many of her stories, I still am surprised at the resilience, poise, and lady-like class she retained throughout her life.
Because of all the above, I'd like to compose a bit of written family history, but need to verify the Dai Ichi story. Can you point me in a direction that might help me with some specifics/photos/info re US military history/Dai Ichi Hotel/officer housing/basement snack bar during 1946 Tokyo?
The Holy Grail would be to find someone who actually remembers the young blonde German girl who worked at the Dai Ichi Hotel basement snack bar.
I know it's a very long shot, but I'm trying anyway!
Sincere thanks for any help or direction you might be able to offer me ---