Elders reflect on Aleut evacuation during WWII

Heratina Krukoff, 90, was evacuated from St. Paul during World War II. (Hillman/Alaska Public Media)
This month marks the 75th anniversary of the Aleut evacuation. More than 800 Unangan people were removed from the Aleutian and Pribilof Islands and relocated to Southeast Alaska during World War II. Harriet Hope was among them. She was in Dutch Harbor during the bombing on June 3, 1942 then taken to Burnett Inlet. She shared some memories with Laura Kraegel and Zoe Sobel from KUCB.

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Heratina Krukoff was 16 when she and her family were evacuated from St. Paul Island in the Pribilofs and taken to an old cannery in Funter Bay. When recollecting her experiences to reporter Anne Hillman, she mostly chose to focus on positive experiences.

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Krukoff’s daughter, Alexandra Kashevarof, said she heard different stories when she was growing up which focused on the hardships at the camp. When asked directly by her daughter, Krukoff said that her cousin and auntie died at Funter Bay, and that many children were sick.

Conditions at the camps were unsanitary and people often lacked enough food or supplies. Of the nearly 300 people who were moved from St. Paul Island to Funter Bay, 24 died. About 85 Aleuts died in all of the camps combined.
About 40 people were taken from Attu Island by the Japanese as prisoners. Half of them died in Japan.
You can learn more about the evacuation by listening to this week’s Talk of Alaska.

Anne Hillman is the healthy communities editor at Alaska Public Media and a host of Hometown, Alaska. Reach her at ahillman@alaskapublic.org. Read more about Anne here.

Laura Kraegel covers Unalaska and the Aleutian Islands for KUCB . Originally from Chicago, she first came to Alaska to work at KNOM, reporting on Nome and the Bering Strait Region. (laura@kucb.org / 907.581.6700)

Zoe Sobel is a reporter with Alaska's Energy Desk based in Unalaska. As a high schooler in Portland, Maine, Zoë Sobel got her first taste of public radio at NPR’s easternmost station. From there, she moved to Boston where she studied at Wellesley College and worked at WBUR, covering sports for Only A Game and the trial of convicted Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev.

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