U. S. S. Houston Survivors Collection, 1976-1997Add to your cart.

By Perri Hamilton

Collection Overview

Title: U. S. S. Houston Survivors Collection, 1976-1997Add to your cart.
Predominant Dates: 1981-1997
ID: 01/ AR0903
Primary Creator: Otto Schwarz (1923-2006)
Other Creators: Gertrude (Trudy) Emma Kraft Schwarz (1923-2017)
Extent: 1.0 Boxes
Arrangement: The collection is arranged by the type of material.
Date Acquired: 00/00/1998
Languages: English


A collection of VHS tapes and cassette audio tapes that document the experiences of the survivors of the U. S. S. Houston.

Scope and Contents of the Materials

The bulk of the collection is made up of cassette tapes concerning the prisoners of war  from the U. S. S. Houston and the H.M.A.S. Perth.  The Americans and Australians  were held by the Japanese for three and a half years.  The tapes are a mix of commercially made and home made recordings of interviews and other programs on the survivors.  The collection also contains microfilm of documents concerning war crimes and reports on the U. S. S. Houston.  The VHS tapes appear to have been home recordings of television shows or lectures.

Collection Historical Note

The U. S. S. Houston was the second Navy ship to named in honor of Houston, Texas.  The ship was launched in 1929.  It was originally classified as a light cruiser.  It was redesignated a heavy cruiser in 1931. The ship served as the flagship of the Asiatic Fleet from 1931 – 1933.  From November 1933 to 1939 the ship was stationed in the United States.  President Franklin D. Roosevelt would take four cruises on the Houston.  It became the flagship of the U. S. Fleet in 1939 before leaving for the Philippines Islands in 1940.  The ship took part in the Battle of Makassar Strait (February 4, 1942), The Battle of the Java Sea (February 27, 1942), and was sunk during the Battle of Sunda Strait (February 28 – March 1, 1942). The ship was found and identified off the Java coast in 2014. There were 1,061 crew and 368 survived only to be captured by the Japanese and interned in prison camps. Many of the survivors were used as slave labor building the Burma-Thai Railway.  Seventy Seven of the initial survivors died in during their three and a half years in captivity. The U. S. S. Houston Survivors Association was organized in 1948.

Biographical Note

Otto Schwarz was born in Newark, New Jersey on September 6, 1923 and died on August 3, 2006 in Lyons, New Jersey.  He dropped out of high school and joined the Civilian Conservation Corps during the Great Depression.  He enlisted in the United States Navy in 1941.  Mr. Schwarz survived the sinking of the U. S. S. Houston in 1942 in Java. He spent three and a half years as a prisoner of war working on the Burma-Thailand Railway.  Mr. Schwarz was awarded the Purple Heart, American Defense service Medal, Asiatic Pacific Area Campaign Medal with two bronze stars, Philippine Defense Medal with one star, World War II Victory Medal, and  the Good Conduct Medal.  He married Gertrude Emma Schwarz in 1946. After leaving the Navy he worked for the United States Postal Service where he had a thirty-seven year career. He retired in 1980.  In the late 1940s he founded the U. S. S. Houston (CA30) Survivors Association and Next Generation.  His work on environmental issues and preservation of wooded land around Union, New Jersey was recognized with the naming of the Otto Schwarz Woods in 2003. He was buried in Arlington National Cemetery, in Arlington, Virginia.

Access Information

Access Restrictions:

This collection is not restricted.

Use Restrictions:

Reproduction and publication of materials in this collection are subject to the policies of the UNT Special Collections department. Copyright restrictions may apply.

Physical Access Note:

This collection is stored off-site and requires a minimum of 24 hour notice prior to use.

Reading Room or Duplication Requests

Depending on any access restrictions noted above, you may be able to request items be delivered to our reading room, or that we make reproductions for you. Just click on either the or icons in the listings below to be routed to our request form.

Administrative Information

Repository: University Archives
Acquisition Source: Otto and Gertrude (Trudy) Schwarz
Acquisition Method: Gift
Related Materials: Oral History Program Collection For more information please see https://findingaids.library.unt.edu/?p=collections/findingaid&id=203&q=Oral+History+Program#.WrkrqYjwaUk.
Preferred Citation: U. S. S. Houston Survivors Collection, University of North Texas Special Collections.


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