Siegfried Buss and Frieda Nossaman

Recorded October 12, 2009 Archived October 12, 2009 37:22 minutes
0:00 / 0:00
Id: MBY005835


Siegfried Buss (78) talks with daughter Frieda Nossaman (?) about being a German missionary living in Japan.

Subject Log / Time Code

Siegfried talks about being born in Japan to German missionaries. He spent three years there before his family visited Germany. He then went back at attended German school in Japan.
Siegfried talks about not being able to play with Japanese children because it was forbidden by law. This was during WWII.
Siegfried tells a story about meeting the Japanese emperor after WWII had ended. He recalls democracy taking effect and the Japanese emperor touring Japan to console his people.
Siegfried talks about repatriation of Germans after WWII and remembers leaving for the United States from Japan and meeting his wife Edith who was an American from Virginia.
Siegfried tells a story about his pet cow “Kushi.” The cow was a very important part of his family and the German community in Japan.


  • Siegfried Buss
  • Frieda Nossaman

Recording Location

MobileBooth West


StoryCorps uses Google Cloud Speech-to-Text and Natural Language API to provide machine-generated transcripts. Transcripts have not been checked for accuracy and may contain errors. Learn more about our FAQs through our Help Center or do not hesitate to get in touch with us if you have any questions.

00:04 My name is Frieda. Nossaman. I am 39 years old today's date is October 12th 2009 and we are in Colorado Springs Colorado and I am interviewing my father Siegfried booth.

00:17 My name is Siegfried Buss. I'm 78. This is October 12th, 2009 and we are meeting in Colorado Springs. Colorado close to heaven.

00:30 So tell me when and where you were born. I was born in Japan on August one 1931.

00:42 Tell me about your childhood years. What were they like?

00:46 Well, I don't have any childhood memories of the early days as far as Japan is concerned because in 1934 my family moved to Germany for two years.

01:02 And they of course I had memories of meeting relatives grandparents and my eyes were open to the beautiful country of Germany. Can you share a memory of your grandparents that you have from that time in Germany? My grandpa on Father's Side and Grandma were living in what now is the province of poznan Poland and they had a huge farming project going. So I Remember The Farmhouse more than the grandparents because it was very unique and on the top of the chimney that was a nest and I saw, for the first time in my life storks. Nesting never was great.

01:54 Can you tell me about your parents? Can you state their names and something about your relationship with him?

02:04 And mother is Katarina Kathy. That's where you have that name. And what was the question? I memory about each one where Dad was a very strict disciplinarian.

02:22 Mother was very tender and caring and sacrificial and when they were problems, she was would say wait till daddy comes home.

02:38 And your family. Can you tell me about your siblings or six kids in the family? I'm the oldest and one girl, the boys would have stuck together, but I was closest golf course to my younger brother Reinhart. We were two years apart. We always had the same bedroom. We spent just about all of our Lives just for the two of us exploring the woods going away to home state program. Everything was together. Then I having only one sister.

03:18 There was a wheel attachment to her.

03:24 And leaving home always meant saying goodbye to sister brother into the other brothers.

03:31 Can you tell me who your best friends were growing up in Japan in Japan during the war you will not allowed to communicate with the Japanese as far as the law is concerned even though you were Germans and allies but they were a few youngsters in the neighborhood that broke the rules and we went swimming together at the local River and Hiking through the woods together and there was a family of two brothers that snuck to our house at night to bring some food. Are you still in touch with any of these grandfamilies? I mention the one is the Gilda family. Yes.

04:15 Yeah, I'm in touch with them and I saw them the last time three years ago.

04:21 Can you describe what it was like being a German in Japan during World War II was quite a problem being a German didn't mean that we were allies the Japanese considered us equals to the white Americans or the white race and there was a lot of friction the Germans had to live separately from the Japanese into large areas of Japan and

04:56 Things are very unpleasant put it that way.

05:00 Where did you live during the war? Will that took us birth to my birthplace car is over because we had a house there summer home.

05:09 And we had only two choices in Japan either carasolva or along Mount Fuji in hakone.

05:18 Can you share about the time that you met the Japanese emperor Hirohito?

05:22 Well, we weren't supposed to have any contact with the emperor that includes the Japanese you had to bow down deep. You could never be on the second floor level of a house you had to come down because you couldn't be higher than the emperor and all that kind of silliness, but when the war ended and democracy was introduced to Japan the emperor toward all of Japan to comfort those bereaved families from the war and and so on and he came to power Rosella.

05:56 I knew we had just finished German school at noon and the train was going to bring him up and sure enough Reinhardt my younger brother and I we were there on our bikes and the emperor was just getting into his limousine and it was a disappointment. We wanted to have a little of the emperor. So right and I pushed through the crowd alternator bikes and follow the lawn Entourage past the police past US military police before we knew it. We were right behind the emperor and the emperor notice us see waiver that's with his head in his hand and laughed and talked to the gentleman sitting next to him and then gave us real encouragement.

06:45 Like for you to realize that we were almost at the destination so we dropped back.

06:51 Emperor got out of his car made a speech 5 minute speech everybody shouted Bonsai several thousand of them the emperor had his head in his hand as always. It was good Reddit Legends race car, but then he stopped and he looked and looked and looked until he found the two boys to head made him laugh. Maybe for the first time in many years. That's my experience with syempre.

07:18 Do you have any other extraordinary stories from the wartime that you can share? Well, the war really is something that one wants to forget the extraordinary stories. I guess it's that's we had a community there in cars are of around 800 Germans and the Miracle is the most of us survived. The Nazis were after some of us if you were not members of the party. We were on The Blacklist and so that was one Jewish Family that committed suicide or died at Normandy.

07:58 Now that's the kind of situation we were in can you share about the Japanese family who took you and your brother Reinhart into their home when you were teenagers with that relationship took most of the Germans the German School closed and then the few struggled on for one more year of German school and then we have to look for the education and this was after the goal of Tokyo and so on the cities were all destroyed. It was very hard to feel so we'll find a place to find a school. But if we found a lovely School in Yokohama St. Joseph International School a Catholic school that took us in and arrange for the Homestay program.

08:47 And this was in the neighborhood of where we had lived before.

08:52 Turn out that the person was known as The Admiral because he was top naval officer and they took us in and it was a family of one married daughter to those children to girls our age then the Admiral and his wife and getting into that house didn't just mean signing a contract but passing an interview and the interview Focus match on the two daughters and our relationship and I told the Admiral

09:26 That time I had a sister at home and I miss her very much.

09:31 And that's why I consider the tude his daughters my sisters and I had one sister right now have to and for the first time there was a mile the Admiral said I tell you I had a son he was in the Navy with me. You are the pilot on on the on the ship and he scouted the Skies of the ocean and you didn't come back. He didn't come back but I have not two sons who have come to the relationship. We had you still in touch with that family now been in touch with the two daughters for a while, but I thought it was a little awkward because we were all teenagers at that time.

10:23 So I'm only in touch with you all this fun and I called her at least once a week and we have a half an hour check on the on the phone wonderful times together.

10:35 Can you explain how you ended up in the United States and eventually became an American citizen because the German government and the organization Express van service in Japan insisted that we not return with six children America was in auction.

10:58 And I was college-age.

11:02 So

11:04 I have applied to a school and went to the papers to go to the to America as an immigrant.

11:15 That was in 1950. When did you become a United States citizen shortly after that was a long time later. I was at Wheaton College then and the graduate school and teaching at the college and we were planning to get back to Japan had already been 10 years since I had left your pan, so.

11:41 In that connection, it was a wise decision because I'm head Mariner American from Virginia to become a citizen of that American. How did you meet your wife Edith? Imagine college she being from the south and everything from the Japan. I was sort of an awkward Arrangement and the parents were a little nervous and

12:08 It works out. Okay, we got married, but I had a hard time getting my marriage certificate because in the city hall when they saw that I was from Japan. This is an Asian cannot Mariners Maritime girl and white. It was still segregation going on and I talked to him differently and how long have you not been married if you got married in 1955, so that makes over 50 years than 54 years.

12:40 Why did you and Edith returned to Japan and how long have did you end up living there after your second second trip to Japan of my dream. I was enthusiastic about what they were doing and what what contributions at me to the Japanese society and I thought I could perhaps follow in their footsteps. And that's why I was worried. As I said what your 11 years had passed and we were not the youngest anymore. So to speak either had to learn the Japanese language and so on. Anyway, that's in 61. We made it back to Japan. I didn't stay there for 35 years and I was a professor at Tokyo Christian University for all those 35 years.

13:27 You had some other interesting occupations while you were in Japan. Can you tell us about the time that you train the astronauts that were on the space shuttle?

13:37 Yes, sir. That's it. That's an interesting situation because the last one Wakita has been just flying with.

13:49 List of space shuttle and then was stationed on the space station for a long time and he is the last flight was with the shuttle before landing flew over Colorado Springs. So I was looking for him. I thought maybe you would wave at me. So what was your purpose for teaching them? I was at an instructor at the school for simultaneous interpreter in Tokyo, and actually the first non-japanese graduate of the school and they kept me down for the last the next 20 years and somehow.

14:28 That school was selected in the training of the astronauts the first five estimates that was selected Sig that we would like you to have these five students in your class for half a year. So I got to know them very well and still keep in touch with him.

14:53 No family. No, can you name and describe each of your children?

14:58 I have is the most attractive once it's right in front of me. And that's the youngest that's that's it's Frida and Frieda in German means. Peace.

15:09 And

15:11 It does a special relationship with the youngest one because we stuck it out to steak and seeing my mom was very sick. And we stayed in Japan Just the Two of Us member didn't things didn't go too. Well between I was a little friction and I set you free to even have to make the best of this and we both agreed and let me make this one of the happiest times and those big bond between the two of us. Then there was Heidi is a super energetic girl athletes are outstanding and then anything's does. I mean she gets super grades and all that.

15:57 And the relationship Heidi was a little different of course, but of course, we just had her in Colorado Springs for Holy year. She was part of our family and it was a great time and then the oldest one Kathy.

16:12 No, it's still in the west coast in California. She is an adult education and

16:23 Has a header ups and downs in life and when it comes to health problems and so on and I really look forward to seeing her at Thanksgiving time.

16:32 Can you explain a family memory or a vacation that we took as a family that was special to you or place that we went to in the morning and got home at 9 or 10 is not like most Japanese do so. I didn't get to see that much except getting you kids to the train station in the car in the morning. Hurry up. Hurry up time and so vacation was a Sprint a special time.

17:02 And I wasn't camping and speaking quite a bit and I decided that I would only accept those invitations like camping if the whole family would be invited. So those were the Happy Times like in mutzabaugh record at the camp all the time when we're together travel to North almarie prefecture where I was there for Camp instruction and weep all the whole family was out on the beach tanning at those are really happy happy times.

17:38 Who was the most important person in your life looking back? And can you tell me about him or her?

17:47 My classmate very my roommate my classmate a Jerry.

17:53 He was an American Indian.

17:58 From the Niagara Niagara reservation originally

18:03 And Cherry came from very poor family, but they always had extra.

18:09 Play for me when I came weekends. I was very home lonely my freshman year and then

18:18 Jerry and I transfer to from New York to

18:27 Cleveland Ohio flower

18:30 Sophomore year Jerry again was my roommate.

18:34 And then that the first year my mother died at age 49.

18:42 And when the news was brought to my attention at the office, I went up to my room and there was cherry.

18:53 I couldn't retain my tears and sorrow and Jerry put his arms around me and said sick cry your heart out. I have all the time for you and he had all the time all his life. He just passed away a few weeks ago that he was a wonderful guy wonderful guy.

19:17 What is one of the most important lessons you've learned in your life?

19:23 I guess.

19:25 Patience

19:28 I don't have enough of that, you know, and then never put all your eggs into one basket that say I was told I had two jobs because I was just when I thought I was a backup system and that's the kind of

19:45 Thinking I guess it went through my life quite a bit.

19:48 Can you describe what your educational background is? I know you went to lots of universities and have a lot of different Houghton College for a bachelor's in Wheaton College in Illinois for my Master's and I taught that invited me to go to be an instructor in for German. So I taught there for years, but my master Sarah and then University of Chicago wasn't far away. So I got my masters from University of Chicago.

20:25 And then we're supposed to grease a oxy up together good teaching job in Japan, but then when I got into the fifties or sixties and fifties, I guess I realized it was my last chance to go back one more time. So I went to Vanderbilt to get my Ph.D.

20:49 Are there any words of wisdom that you would like to pass along to your grandkids and two others that may listen?

20:57 Well, I guess that would be quite a few you better look before you leap. You know, it's not okay.

21:07 My my grandkids I think.

21:12 When you think it's of life, I am reminded of my art teacher in high school you he was a wonderful painter oil painting.

21:22 And

21:24 He would stand in front of his portrait and he would say.

21:28 Nice from far but far from nice and I think that kind of thing in life, but you look at things. Sometimes you're nice from far, but you supposed to check them out.

21:41 What do you enjoy most about your retirement now?

21:45 Oh, I think the freedom, you know, the pressure is gone. You have your have Colorado Springs with a perfect choice because you were here and the grandchildren and grandchildren play a tremendous role in bringing satisfaction and you want to be a good example.

22:06 And of course, we spend a lot of time together almost daily. That's just great and then I don't want to neglect my other grandchildren. So we so the rotate quite a bit and then

22:18 Of course love nature and I climb Mount Fuji 10 times in the Rockies are very inviting now and ski season is almost 2 years or what does that mean and descending swimming and summer was supposed to but so fantastic. I mean I go to Santa and that my doctor have to send it to skin specialist and then that's having the time of day just so you know, I also feel sometimes bad that I was going so much during my days, but now we have 24 hours together in this wonderful.

22:54 In your life you had you've been a teacher many times two different people. Do you have a teacher that was special to you growing up?

23:04 Well, I think that takes me back to high school days in St. Joseph in Yokohama. We were Protestants and it was a Catholic school that was sort of a friction there. That's quite a few partisans all of a sudden showed up and we had to really be on our toes people stay with they reminded us that we were you know, there was a special kindness that that we had been admitted.

23:31 And then my that I was the first myself my Junior and Senior year. I see new year. I got very sick. And I missed so almost a semester and it was Christmas vacation and father Gerber brother Gerber said you missed all that lab work and all that is going to be a problem for you to graduate. But I have a suggestion secret. He said why don't you and I spend our vacation together in the lab.

24:06 And that was really a fantastic thing. So I made up on my work and I think that brother Gilbert he was a he was he was a saint. That was great.

24:18 As a missionary in Japan you live there for 35 years. Is there a particular moment in that time? That stands out that made it worthwhile being in Japan and living there?

24:30 Well, actually

24:33 I cannot point to a specific specific moment. The whole 35 years was most satisfying. My best friends are in Japan. My heart is in Japan.

24:48 May I didn't see the results maybe that you expect from a missionary, but when I think of the 500 students in on the college that the small Felix going to one-on-one quite a bit, but I had contact with 500 or so over the 35 years and there they are not what it seems I couldn't do they are doing

25:13 Then there was discouragement sometimes because people always like to see statistics of results, but

25:20 I reached know Japanese in California in two weeks as a simultaneous interpreter for Billy Graham. When was your Anaheim Crusade with overflow crowds every every day. They had reserved 250 seats for Japanese and I was there an interpreter booth and interpreting every day.

25:44 And then I saw the statistics at the end and it said 825 had committed himself to serve the Lord and I said hey, that's more than I can say for 35 years in Japan and that was two weeks.

26:00 So the other you know, the interesting size Sidelines and you don't see the results until sometimes you meet the Lord.

26:12 Living in Japan. We we lived in a home in Tokyo. And we also ended up in our summer home, which was the home that you lived in as a boy. Can you explain how that happened that situation with the cabin and Cutterys Ava how is ended up how we ended up keeping that in the family for some time when you know, my dad Mendoza missionaries, I mention from Germany and the heat he was not in a position to buy a cabin.

26:41 At that time the exchange rate was 1 Yen for maybe US dollar.

26:47 The relatives on mother's side.

26:53 Missionary Bush, she always has headaches because the summers are so hot if you had a place when in the summer we could you know recuperate and maybe you could put some money together. And so they gave us equivalent of $300.

27:11 The sea

27:14 Maybe I'm not exactly right on the money. But anyway to encourage that stupid to buy land and build a house and that house service. Well, then cold. My parents time and then my dad found out that I was going to return I was able to

27:39 Carrion and then of course there was a Nagano Olympics and car has ever became very important than the bullet train was going so that part of Japan and it just so happened that it had to go through our property. So that was the end of that house.

27:56 I know you had an interesting pet as a child. Can you tell us a little bit about that cow? That was your family dairy cow we have time. Okay that that's a coochie recorder. And you had a hard time deciding how to name the cow in the cat the calf came with it.

28:21 The reason we had a car was because my dad has a message came from pressure and farming. He was an expert in farming. So we cultivated Forest land have you rented land from local farmers have enough to sustain ourselves a family and help Germans in the community and the cow, of course provided the milk and the butter and the whipped cream and Khushi Khushi the name means black and white in Japanese and that's the reason that I mean we gave the name cuz she was because it's a Holstein and could she was a wonderful faithful cow. I mean she produce milk, I think because she knew that we needed it and we took good care of cuz she know cuz she had its dark moments that I can one time when her

29:21 The Rope that's connected to her to it 3 I'm in the office around from the nose ring, you know in the round horns and tight retreat in the rope and the one time and then tell Colin Tangled in the rope and cushy pulled and the tail was gone. So when Reinhardt came to music in the woods to another place, he had he brought the car in the tail and dad who had some medical training operation using the the needles and stuff that mommy mom had and so could you only had to stop for the rest of his life, but there was a new relationship with Russia because

30:12 You never know who you know you think a tail doesn't mean much to a cow, but it it.

30:18 It should have chased the flies away and all the all the other things.

30:24 Now we did that visit us watching the rain hadn't I took out turns and we didn't know how much that meant to Khushi until years later.

30:34 Kushi had been donated to a Japanese orphanage and my godmother was in charge of it off and itch and you said goodbye putting it on the train and the crushing left for the

30:52 What do you often H and

30:57 Vanilla Coke for a college then we must come and see me one more time say yes, but the reason why I wanted to see the cow and it was evening almost and I went before going to the often each other into the barn and

31:18 That was Khushi and she has a head turned the other direction and I just whispered who she and she turned around and almost knocked me over because she was trying to show her affection by rubbing her neck against me and I was holding you in my arms so to speak for long long time.

31:37 And that was the end of that little pet that as you said, she yeah, you have an interesting relationship because your father remarried two different times. Can you briefly tell me about your relationships with your new moms?

31:54 How does the

31:57 Actually, I am.

32:00 Both ladies were working in Japan. The first one was Pinckney. I do before I left for the states. And in fact, I interpreted for her and helped her in her work and I liked it very much. She introduced me to to a church in Upstate New York, and I visited the church and different things. That was a good relationship.

32:26 We like to very much. Unfortunately. She had brain tumor that

32:33 That that's how she passed away and then much much later.

32:39 Dad once again found a partner and and that was Marty Johnson, and she was teaching school in Japan.

32:52 And she was introduced to Dad and I remember one time getting a letter from that saying sick on such-and-such today. I want you to take some roses to that school and let you know what what is all about but he had proposed to Marty and Marty really we all call your mom. We loved her very dearly. She survived that into her dying day. All of the family just considered her a precious precious month.

33:24 In conclusion, how is your life been different than what you imagined? It would be Looking Back Now.

33:33 Well, I really thought I was I was a total wreck right from the beginning because you know when I was 2 years old, I fell in the hot tub, or I said in hot. Maybe the day my younger brother was born I burned myself so severely that.

33:50 After half a year that hospital said we can't do much more is better for him to die at home.

33:56 So physically, I always had handicaps and then because I had to lie in a certain position. I became cross-eyed and it was a real embarrassment to myself and then self esteem and all that and my posture was affected by that. So right from the start, I have all everything against me. Now. What was a question how has your life been different than what you imagined got off to a rough start to make a contribution to society to serve the Lord.

34:35 And to live a happy life and to enjoy retirement and to help tell the doctors doctors looking at me saying hey, what age were you know again, that makes me sort of fever.

34:48 Very appreciative of the privilege of having had the rich life and I can't thank the Lord enough for it.

34:56 In conclusion

34:59 When you look back on your life, how would you like your kids and your grandkids to remember you we all know you as a Storyteller and always making people laugh and even straight. No one's a stranger to you for very long. What are some of those things that are unique in your personality that you would like to be remembered by

35:19 Well, I don't know I was thinking about that.

35:23 I think the best way to be remembered by thermos, Grandpa.

35:29 I remember at the pool they when they when them kids from this from Japan has come alive. The youngest one.

35:37 All summary we were in the pool together, you know.

35:40 And when we when he went back to the states to the people that had watched us that Somerset, you know, what was the greatest Delight to see is swimming we heard Grandpa Grandpa Grandpa all day long and if it was a delight to them it was even the greatest Delight to myself.

36:02 Oh, I know that this time it's been real special for me getting to share some time with my dad and you've always had a story and we always trying to get stories out of you. So it's nice to get them all recorded in one place. Is there anything that you would like to conclude insane?

36:21 Well, I I think it's a reminder. You know that we have a time like this together be a reminder that life is short and there's some time if you want to have it record of it.

36:36 And the records as we keep her as it's a little different from what the records that our Lord keeps I think and I think that

36:50 Say it again last thoughts on this recording. I think it was a wonderful opportunity to just get over thoughts together a little bit and

37:04 To Rejoice together that we can have this opportunity of living something maybe to our loved ones and to remind them that it's a privilege to have these days on Earth.