Bartlit's Topic: Silent Voices of World War II:
When the Land of Enchantment
Met the Land of the Rising Sun
When the Empire of Japan attacked Pearl Harbor, Nancy Bartlit was in kindergarten in New Jersey. She remembers having to ration food and shoes and
hiding under the bed when hearing sirens wail and search lights flash across the sky looking for German aircraft. She did not know then that when
America declared war on the Axis Powers, faraway New Mexico was one of the least populated states. After many family moves and travel since, she
learned how that remoteness determined the role of New Mexico in the War in the Pacific.
Participants in this important conference will present the state-of-the-science needed to preserve the physical legacies and memories of World War II
and the Cold War. Bartlit will describe her research, beyond books and films, traveling to World War II sites and interviewing persons who experienced
the War abroad or at home. Much of her knowledge derives from monuments and memorials already preserving their history, as well as from photographs,
artifacts, and stories—as a detective’s search or chance encounter provides.
When collecting material to learn New Mexico’s contributions during the War for her book Silent Voices of World War II, Bartlit interviewed World War II
Bataan Death Marchers and Navajo Code Talkers, Manhattan Project scientists, and a Santa Fe Internment Camp internee resettled in California.
The following stories demonstrate how language and customs spur misunderstandings.
In the Pacific Theater, the New Mexico National Guardsmen were among the first US troops to fight the Japanese, protecting Clark Air Base north
of Manila hours after the Pearl Harbor attack. They resisted for four months before being surrendered for lack of backup. These US Army gunners
endured a week-long march without food and water, only to suffer maltreatment for 3-1/2-years in POW camps.
Navajo men, even boys, from western New Mexico and eastern Arizona, volunteered as US Marines, but specialized as radiomen. They created a code
used to communicate between ships, beaches, and frontlines. The enemy could not decipher the messages translated within minutes without mistakes.
The ingenious code aided the plan of Admiral Chester W. Nimitz to secure the Pacific islands from Guadalcanal through the Mariana Islands to
Okinawa–ever closer to Japan.
Thousands of immigrants, later America-born, men of Japanese descent principally living along the Western Coast and leaders in their communities,
were classified as “Dangerous Enemy Aliens.” From 1942-1946, they were detained or interned in a former CCC (Civilian Conservation Corps) camp
within Santa Fe city limits.
On a plateau 38 miles northwest of Santa Fe, the Los Alamos Ranch School for young boys from the East was transformed into a scientific
laboratory to house civilian scientists and technologists assisted by US Army and US Navy personnel. Their assignment was to research and
develop atomic bombs—the biggest secret in World War II. After 28 months the Los Alamos effort was tested at a site near Alamogordo in
southern New Mexico.
Hearing the many ironies among these intertwining stories may change a listener’s perspective of wartime.
A Warm and Enthusiastic Welcome as Nancy Spoke to the San Juan County
From 1942 until the end of World War II the
Historical Society on October 11, 2017, in Aztec, New Mexico...
Navajo code was never broken by the enemy. Between 350–420 young Navajo U.S. Marines, trained in a unique language, fought from
Guadalcanal through Okinawa, a territory of Japan. Their military commander claimed that they shortened the war by a year. She'll
describe how the code was initiated by the original 29 Navajo U.S. Marine radiomen who had deep knowledge of Navajo culture and
environment, how the number of code talkers expanded to serve in six Marine divisions forcing increased vocabulary as new technology
was introduced on the battlefield, and how the "code-within-a-code" protected its secrecy. With precise accuracy the code was put
to use in the Pacific theater allowing the allied forces to island hop and get closer to target Japan.
KOAT TV's Royale Da Interviews Nancy about Santa Fe's Internment Camp...
Watch the interview with Nancy
on KOAT TV, July 24, 2017.
A Packed House!
Nancy Delivers the Powerful, Seldom-Heard
but Not Forgotten History of Santa Fe's Internment Camp...
Nancy presenting to a packed house, "The Santa Fe Internment Camp in the Shadow of
Los Alamos, 1942-1946,"
in the St. Francis Auditorium, New Mexico Art Museum on Tuesday, February 28, 2017.
or those interested in the Santa Fe Internment Camp history,
you would find Robert Mott's interview with Nancy, "South of Atomic City, a second secret community during WWII," as it appeared in the Santa Fe New Mexican, February 27, 2017.
The New Mexican—Posted: Tuesday, July 14, 2015, 11:00 pm | Updated: 9:14 am, Tuesday, July 28, 2015.
n the article, New Mexico, Japan Bound by Technology and Tragedy
Nancy is interviewed by Margaret Wright, who gives you the opportunity to read Nancy's comments and gather the history that was built in the
Pacific Theater during WWII. Here are two links where you can read about and also listen to Nancy's position on the atomic bombs:
Read Margaret Wright's article and see the short video: Trinity: 70 Years Later...
Read Nancy's Perspective: Nancy's View—Were
Two Bombs Necessary?
Armed with a vision and the passion to tell the stories we never knew.
ancy R. Bartlit is an author, oral historian, amateur photographer, and a Chautauqua lecturer listed with the N.M. Humanities Council and the Historical Society of New Mexico. A resident of Los Alamos for 52 years, she formerly was elected to the city/county council, serving as its Chairman (the "Mayor").
Bartlit is known as an environmental, health, and historic preservation activist. When she was President of the Los Alamos Historical Society, she signed the papers for the Society to own the home in which J. Robert Oppenheimer lived during WWII. In May 2011, Los Alamos dedicated bronze statues of Dr. Oppenheimer and General Leslie Groves, a project Nancy championed for seven years. She campaigned for Los Alamos, New Mexico, Oak Ridge, Tennessee, and Hanford, Washington, to become the Manhattan Project National Historical Park. The Manhattan Project National Historical Park Act was passed as a part of the National Defense Authorization Act of 2015, and then signed into law by president Obama the middle of December 2014.
Nancy graduated from Smith College, Northampton, MA, as a history major, and afterwards taught in Sendai, Japan, for two years, visiting all four main islands of Japan. She revisited Japan five times, one which was under the University of New Mexico Study of Japanese Business and Technology. Following completion of that program, she studied under Everett M. Rogers, a distinguished professor who headed the UNM Journalism and Communication Department and under whom she received her Master's Degree.
Rogers and Bartlit interviewed numerous New Mexico veterans to write Silent Voices of World War II: When Sons of the Land of Enchantment Met Sons of the Land of the Rising Sun
(Sunstone Press, Santa Fe: 2005). The book is approved by the NM Board of Education as a supplemental historic text. The pair interviewed U.S. Army survivors of the Bataan Death March, Navajo Code Talker Marine privates, Manhattan Project civilian and military personnel, and a survivor of the Santa Fe Internment Camp for Males of Japanese descent. (continued...)