go to home page

... about
in Weihsien ...

Prison Koran Tricked Japs
Los Angeles Times (1923-Current Files); Nov 11, 1945:
ProQuest Historical Newspapers Los Angeles Times (1881-1987)

picture (left)

FOOLED JAPS - Ahmed Kamal and wife Amina show his mother, Mrs. Caroline Hathaway, novel in Turkish script, Bookmark clearance identifies it as Koran.


Ahmed Kamal, in order to save the manuscripts of three books he wrote during Japanese imprisonnement, relied on the inadequacy of Japanese as linguists. He had a hunch, and it worked, he said yesterday.

In 1941, the American-born Kamal, son of Mrs. Caroline Hathaway, 465 S. Lake Street, was in the Orient seeking to retrieve some books and documents which he had stored in Turkestan on an earlier visit. War came, and with it imprisonnement for the young author and his bride, a Tatar from Central Asia.

"Then we spent almost four years behind prison barricades." said Mrs. Kamal, herself a linguist and a former correspondent for Russian papers. "We were shuffled about from camp to camp."

Koran Permitted

"In moving," Kamal recalled, taking up the story, "the prisoners were allowed to carry no books or papers except a Bible<; Since we were not Christians but Moslems, I asked permission to carry a Koran."

The permission was granted.

Then Kamal and his wife set to work, translating his English manuscript of a novel, a history and a political study into Turkish script. The completed work ressembled a printed book in such detail that the Kamals were able to pass it off as such to unknowing Japanese guards. They even secured a permit slip from the Japanese (written in Chinese however,) giving them clearance.

"Now the job before us is translating the three volumes back into English," Kamal said.

The Kamals were liberated from the camp at Weihsien soon after the Japanese surrender. They arrived in the States Monday, landing at San Francisco.


Reproduced with permission of the copyright owner. Further reproduction prohibited without permission.