Established in 1982 at LaGuardia Community College/ CUNY with a mission to collect, preserve, and make available primary materials documenting the social and political history of New York City. We hold nearly 5,000 cubic feet of archival records and 3,200 reels of microfilm with almost 100,000 photographs and 2,000,000 documents available on our website.

Wednesday, December 7, 2011

Photo of Fiorello La Guardia with Isoroku Yamamoto, Architect of the Pearl Harbor Attack

Steven A. Levine
Coordinator for Educational Programs

 Major La Guardia poses with two other early aviation enthusiasts, Captain Poggi of the 
Italian Army and Captain Isoroku Yamamoto of the Japanese Navy at the Austro-Italian Front, 1918.

During World War I, Fiorello La Guardia left his seat in Congress to serve in the Eighth Aviation Center in Foggia, Italy.  While in Italy he met officers from other countries interested in aviation, including Isoroku Yamamoto, a Japanese naval attach√© and later the architect of the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor 70 years ago today.  (See photo above and attached.)

Ironically, as Ian W. Toll recounts in today’s New York Times Op-Ed, “A Reluctant Enemy,” Yamamoto had been an opponent of attacking the United States.  (See http://www.nytimes.com/2011/12/07/opinion/a-reluctant-enemy.html?_r=1&ref=opinion) Before Pearl Harbor, he had traveled widely in the U.S. and Europe and based on his observations of the U.S. and its industrial might concluded that “Japan lacks the national power for a naval race with America.”   

The photo captures the chance encounter of two young men on divergent paths.  La Guardia was on his way to becoming the United States’ greatest mayor, while Yamamoto would become infamous for the attack on Pearl Harbor.  While we do not know what conversations La Guardia and Yamamoto had, one wonders if Yamamoto’s impressions of the brash, outspoken congressman from New York City added to his reluctance to attack the United States.

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