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Ranking WW2's Particpating Nations POW Treatment

Discussion in 'Countries, People and their part in WWII' started by JJWilson, Mar 20, 2018.

  1. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish WW2|ORG Editor

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    Friend of my grandfather's used to walk around people's houses at christenings, weddings etc picking things up and inspecting them.
    "What's he doing, dad?"
    "Looking for 'Made in Japan'. If he finds one he'll put whatever it is in the bin. Don't say anything."
    He did, and he did. (Item cheerfully retrieved after he left.)
    Several years of his young life at Changi, a death railway etc. etc.

    Made me read stuff. Not everyone had Lomax's remarkable eventual forgiveness.
     
  2. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    1982, Yokohama, Japan. I'm going by the local BMW dealership. They have a showroom with a three storey atrium, both street sides glass. Hanging from the interior walls were a IJN battle ensign and a Nazi naval ensign, floor to ceiling for both. I was impressed.
     
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  3. JJWilson

    JJWilson Well-Known Member

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    I can definitely see the arguments for Japan being the cruelest while being organized and efficient in their brutality. I Can also see the Soviets being moved to the Number 2 spot with their brutality as well. The Soviets kept some German prisoners up until the fall of the Soviet union in 1991......46 years after the war ended.............
     
  4. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    I spoke with a German POW who installed parquet flooring in Soviet dachas until 1985. He slept in partly completed houses year round.
     
  5. JJWilson

    JJWilson Well-Known Member

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    Wow, was he ever able to communicate with his family back home? Did he have a wife and kids?
     
  6. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    Not a single other POW ever saw him, so he was listed at dead and his wife moved on. (She wasn't notified that he was still alive because she had a whole other family by then.) His kids all died in the war. He was sponsored to the US in 1990 after working on a USAF housing project. The CO found out about his record and got him a visa.
     
  7. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    BTW, the information I've posted here comes largely from Japan's Longest Day, authored by the Pacific War Research Society. This is Japanese telling the story of Japan. It's a must-read if you're interested in the Pacific end-game.
     
  8. JJWilson

    JJWilson Well-Known Member

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    wow..............terrible stuff, he lost everything didn't he. Hard to imagine such an awful situation like that. I'm assuming he's long since passed away?
     
  9. harolds

    harolds Member

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    We had a family friend who bailed out of his B-17 into Holland in 1944. He said food was the biggest problem, followed by some sadistic tricks by one or two guards.The guards were often the inmates of mental institutions. It was the Red Cross packages that kept most of them going. However, it didn't really get bad until the Allies crossed into Germany. Then they were force-marched all over the place trying to keep them from being liberated. Food was almost non-existent and the guards killed anyone who couldn't keep up. Our friend remembers huddling in the lee side of a tree during a snowstorm, eating the last piece of a moldy potato, thinking, "This is the last food I will ever eat. I know I can't march any more and they'll kill me." When morning came the guards were gone and Shermans were coming down the road.
     
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  10. JJWilson

    JJWilson Well-Known Member

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    Pretty awful stuff those men went through, I had no clue about the guards coming from mental institutions, that's even more terrifying.
     
  11. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member Patron  

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    I tend to agree with Adam (von Poop). The Japanese were far and away the worst when it came to the treatment of POWs, no matter where they came from. The Soviets were a close second, but the tended to focus their treatment of Germans with particular vehemence. The Germans did the same to Russians, but were somewhat more lenient toward others, but the German approach to POWs wasn't very good overall. Fatal Crossroads by Danny S. Parker sticks in my mind, as does Flint Whitlock's account in If Chaos Reigns.
     
  12. harolds

    harolds Member

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    The Red Cross packages are seldom mentioned but kept a lot of PoWs from dying of malnutrition or disease. This was not only just by the food in them but also because they had items that were otherwise unobtainable in Germany. Cigarettes and (real) coffee being were very desirable and they could be traded to the guards for real food! Of course the "kriegies" would only trade with "nice" guards so any guards inclined to cruelty didn't get any goodies. Thus, there was a check on guards inclined towards sadistic behavior. In the last month or two of the war the packages stopped coming. Food was now a problem all over Germany and the packages were looted. The bombing of rail links also was instrumental in the scarcity of packages.

    @JJWilson: If memory serves me right, our friend said that when he first got to camp it was guarded by old men and those deemed unfit for regular military service. In the last few months of the war these guards were thrown into the maelstrom and inmates of mental institutions were substituted.
     
    Last edited: Mar 21, 2018
  13. JJWilson

    JJWilson Well-Known Member

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    Well this has been very enlightening for me, thank you all for your responses. Now what exactly made the Soviets more brutal than their German counterparts? Was it the torturing, beating, and starvation that took place in interrogation camps, or the use of labor in terrible conditions in and around Siberia? Because the Germans did similar things, so I'm curious as to why the Russians are worse in your views.
     
  14. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    Makes me wonder what the vets thought of Hogan's Heroes...a comedy...but then they made a comedy about the Korean war too...at least that had many serious moments and commentary on the idiocy of war.
     
  15. JJWilson

    JJWilson Well-Known Member

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    That is something I certainly haven't thought about CAC, not all German captors were bad though, A man here in Mesa, AZ who was captured during the Battle of the Bulge said his German guards shared cigarettes with them, and one particular German among the group spoke English, and got the nickname "Mr. Nice-Nazi" for his good treatment of the American POW's in his possession.
     
  16. R Leonard

    R Leonard Member

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    I had a junior high school (this, before the days of middle schools) teacher who was a former guest of the Germans. He said he did not find TV shows with well fed, wise acre colonels (one did not say "ass" before one's students in the late 1960's, at least not in Virginia) and fat German sergeants at all amusing.

    One of my father's best friends was a guest of the Japanese for a couple of years. One afternoon shortly after the war ended, my father called my mother and said he'd like to bring an old friend home for dinner and would there be enough?. Good navy wife, she was already cooking the chicken and just made more rice. So in walks my father with his friend, who had always been tall, but now looked like a scarecrow, and says, "you remember George, don't you?" My mother smiles and makes reassuring noises while her brain screams "OMG you're having rice!!!" George was a good sport, after all, it was at least food and he ate it. But forever after, if George were coming over, there was not a grain of rice to be seen. George made Rear Admiral the same year as my father . . . a few months later he died of a heart attack. Dad always said George hid it well, but he never totally recovered, physically, from his time as a POW.
     
  17. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    Ive heard stories of Australian POWs ONLY wanting rice after getting out...the "western food" was too rich. Good fresh clean rice was a delicacy to some.
     
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  18. RichTO90

    RichTO90 Well-Known Member

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    "According to the findings of the Tokyo Tribunal, the death rate of Western prisoners was 27.1%, seven times that of POWs under the Germans and Italians." Prisoners of War of the Japanese 1939-1945

    One of the most embarrassing incidents of my embarrassing youth was when we were in Darmstadt during Dad's last posting before retirement. While at dinner at the house of one of Dad's fellow officers when they were talking about the war, I had occasion to opine about the "injustice" of the American use of the atomic bomb. Our host's wife, who was British, simply said that her brother was captured at Singapore and died on the Burma railway, so she could have no sympathy with that POV. In my defense, I was thirteen and very stupid. Later, my Dad told me that I was probably here because of the bomb...he likely would have been one of the TD platoon commanders in OLYMPIC or CORONET.

    BTW Rich, I often wonder if we crossed paths at some time...I was at Falls Church High as a freshman in 1969, but graduated Thomas Jefferson High in Annandale in 1973.
     
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  19. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    I didn't track him, we just had that one meeting, him, my prof, and a few other people. He was tough enough to survive a good long while, I think.
     
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  20. R Leonard

    R Leonard Member

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    Yorktown HS, 1970. If you were perhaps interested in model airplanes, tanks, and such, during that time we may have crossed at the hobby shop in Arlington on Glebe Road where Ballston Station stands now. I worked there a night or two a week and Saturdays all through high school.
     
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