View Poll Results: Should American WWII veterans be charged with war crimes for EPW murders?

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  • Yes

    4 30.77%
  • No

    9 69.23%
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Thread: WWII Marine charged with murder for executing Japanese Enemy Prisoner of War in 1943

  1. #1
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    WWII Marine charged with murder for executing Japanese Enemy Prisoner of War in 1943

    I was just reading the poll discussion related to three German concentration camp guards recently having been arrested and charged (for some crime) for their actions during WWII.

    That got me thinking:

    I've read numerous accounts written by WWII Marines and Soldiers wherein they discuss having personally witnessed or participated in the murder of Japanese enemy prisoners of war (EPWs). I've read similar, though far fewer, accounts of WWII Soldiers having murdered or witnessed the murder German and Italian EPWs.

    Bear in mind that when I say "witnessed" I'm not talking about some guy watching a murder taking place 1000 meters away through a pair of binoculars; I'm talking about guys discussing murders committed right next to them by people they knew well - their buddies and shipmates.

    Likewise, I've read accounts of WWII Marines and Soldiers torturing Japanese EPWs and/or desecrating the remains of dead Japanese Soldiers.

    Understand that we're talking about guys unashamedly, and often proudly, admitting to murder in memoirs, diaries, and oral histories.

    Further understand that there is absolutely NO QUESTION that according to the letter of the law we're talking about murder here.

    This isn't a "gray area" created by the fact that the Japanese weren't signatories to the Geneva Conventions.

    By all relevant and applicable international conventions, federal law, and military regulations it was illegal for Americans to kill EPWs during the entire span of the Second World War.

    In many cases these murders were committed by the fighting man absent any direction from a higher authority.

    In almost all cases that made little difference since, at least early in the war (through 1943 at least), most field grade commanders of combat troops encouraged such murders (for a number of reasons).

    So...

    Should these men, American WWII veterans, be tried for murder or as accessories to murder, and if found guilty punished accordingly?

    Obviously the poll responses are "Yes" and "No" but please feel free to argue your position in any manner and to any extent that you wish.
    Last edited by soot; 02-21-14 at 03:00 PM.
    “Now it is not good for the Christian’s health to hustle the Aryan brown,
    For the Christian riles, and the Aryan smiles and he weareth the Christian down;
    And the end of the fight is a tombstone white with the name of the late deceased,
    And the epitaph drear: “A Fool lies here who tried to hustle the East.”

  2. #2
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    Re: WWII Marine charged with murder for executing Japanese Enemy Prisoner of War in 1

    How do you know field grade officers condoned murder? I will say I beleive there are times when it might become necessary to kill an unarmed prisoner. But very few.
    God Bless the Marine Corps.

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    Re: WWII Marine charged with murder for executing Japanese Enemy Prisoner of War in 1

    Quote Originally Posted by mak2 View Post
    How do you know field grade officers condoned murder?
    I've read quite a bit on the topic.

    I initially planned to become a historian and my intention was to specialize in the WWI/Interwar/WWII period of European with a special emphasis on the Postwar occupation of Germany.

    That was an interest that came out of my having served in the Army in Germany for a couple of years.

    Anyhow, that plan kind of fell to the wayside a number of years ago but I did a LOT of reading as a result of course work and independent study as an undergrad.

    I can't cite exact quotes and can't give references to specific books or archival holdings from where I'm sitting, but suffice it to say, or simply accept for the sake of discussion/argument that I'm not just making **** up.

    Alternatively, some quick Google Fu should satisfy you that it happened.

    Also, "condoned" probably isn't even strong enough a word.

    Many field grade commanders actively encouraged or even ordered the murder of Japanese EPWs.

    There was an entire movement in the War Department to get them to stop doing this because the scarcity of Japanese EPWs was putting a crimp on the intelligence-gathering capabilities of war planners.

    You can probably find reference to that too without going through a whole bunch of trouble.

    I will say I beleive there are times when it might become necessary to kill an unarmed prisoner. But very few.
    I agree.

    Exigent circumstances are exigent.

    But this went well beyond being a matter of absolutely necessity to being a matter of course.
    “Now it is not good for the Christian’s health to hustle the Aryan brown,
    For the Christian riles, and the Aryan smiles and he weareth the Christian down;
    And the end of the fight is a tombstone white with the name of the late deceased,
    And the epitaph drear: “A Fool lies here who tried to hustle the East.”

  4. #4
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    Re: WWII Marine charged with murder for executing Japanese Enemy Prisoner of War in 1

    I guess the winners get to say what history is real, wether true or not. I have often thought about if the US had lost the war we would now all believe in rampant American atrocities in WWII.
    Quote Originally Posted by soot View Post
    I've read quite a bit on the topic.

    I initially planned to become a historian and my intention was to specialize in the WWI/Interwar/WWII period of European with a special emphasis on the Postwar occupation of Germany.

    That was an interest that came out of my having served in the Army in Germany for a couple of years.

    Anyhow, that plan kind of fell to the wayside a number of years ago but I did a LOT of reading as a result of course work and independent study as an undergrad.

    I can't cite exact quotes and can't give references to specific books or archival holdings from where I'm sitting, but suffice it to say, or simply accept for the sake of discussion/argument that I'm not just making **** up.

    Alternatively, some quick Google Fu should satisfy you that it happened.

    Also, "condoned" probably isn't even strong enough a word.

    Many field grade commanders actively encouraged or even ordered the murder of Japanese EPWs.

    There was an entire movement in the War Department to get them to stop doing this because the scarcity of Japanese EPWs was putting a crimp on the intelligence-gathering capabilities of war planners.

    You can probably find reference to that too without going through a whole bunch of trouble.



    I agree.

    Exigent circumstances are exigent.

    But this went well beyond being a matter of absolutely necessity to being a matter of course.
    God Bless the Marine Corps.

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    Re: WWII Marine charged with murder for executing Japanese Enemy Prisoner of War in 1

    The events in the Concentration Camps, while having primarily taken place during the war, are rightfully dealt with in a different manner than actual battlefield events which tend to be focused on desperate men trying to stay alive and win the war.

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    Re: WWII Marine charged with murder for executing Japanese Enemy Prisoner of War in 1

    Murder had no statute of limits.

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    Re: WWII Marine charged with murder for executing Japanese Enemy Prisoner of War in 1

    I just dont think anyone under the rank or equivalent of Colonel or higher had much to say about what they were doing. I think German rank structure it might have been more like General.
    God Bless the Marine Corps.

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    Re: WWII Marine charged with murder for executing Japanese Enemy Prisoner of War in 1

    Quote Originally Posted by Ray410 View Post
    The events in the Concentration Camps, while having primarily taken place during the war, are rightfully dealt with in a different manner than actual battlefield events which tend to be focused on desperate men trying to stay alive and win the war.
    From what I've read, and again feel free to investigate this yourselves if you believe the information to be suspect, the murders of Japanese EPWs ran the gamut from VERY desperate men doing what was VERY necessary to stay alive (exigent circumstances) and simple raw brutality/retribution based on, sometimes, little more than hate/nationalism/bigotry and far removed from any urgent need. There are numerous reports of Japanese being rounded up in rear areas and machine gunned simply because they were Japanese.
    “Now it is not good for the Christian’s health to hustle the Aryan brown,
    For the Christian riles, and the Aryan smiles and he weareth the Christian down;
    And the end of the fight is a tombstone white with the name of the late deceased,
    And the epitaph drear: “A Fool lies here who tried to hustle the East.”

  9. #9
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    Re: WWII Marine charged with murder for executing Japanese Enemy Prisoner of War in 1

    Maybe I just dont want to believe that about our guys...
    Quote Originally Posted by soot View Post
    From what I've read, and again feel free to investigate this yourselves if you believe the information to be suspect, the murders of Japanese EPWs ran the gamut from VERY desperate men doing what was VERY necessary to stay alive (exigent circumstances) and simple raw brutality/retribution based on, sometimes, little more than hate/nationalism/bigotry and far removed from any urgent need. There are numerous reports of Japanese being rounded up in rear areas and machine gunned simply because they were Japanese.
    God Bless the Marine Corps.

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    Re: WWII Marine charged with murder for executing Japanese Enemy Prisoner of War in 1

    Anyone who has read With the Old Breed ought to know that that was how the Pacific Campaign was. No rules, no holds barred; just a murder-fest until one side ran out of people. That's what makes current heart-palpitations about snipers peeing on dead Taliban so hilariously ironic - our own military command (apparently) doesn't even know their own battle history (though perhaps that's just what happens when you make a navy pilot Commandant of the Marine Corps).

    Everyone who wants to put them on trial is free to build a time machine, travel backwards, and put themselves in that campaign.

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