Lieutenant (junior grade) Stephen Jurika’s correspondence reveals American subterfuge in Japan prior to World War II—and the information he uncovered there would ultimately be used to inform the Doolittle Raiders.
In the months between the German invasion of Poland on 1 September 1939 and the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor on 7 December 1941, the United States stood on the precipice of world war. During this time, the Americans on the frontlines did not fly aircraft or lead troops against a heavily defended position. Instead, they were in the presence of potential enemies, serving as naval and military attachés at embassies from Berlin to Tokyo. A revealing portrait of life in Tokyo emerges in the letters of Lieutenant (junior grade) Stephen Jurika, who served as an assistant naval attaché in the Japanese capital from 1939 to 1941.