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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. JJWilson

    JJWilson Well-Known Member

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    Hello Everybody, this has been a subject I've been curious about for quite some time. I have known for a very long time that the Germans, Japanese, and Soviets were among the most brutal captors among the other warring nations at the time. I want to get a clearer picture of the treatment of POW's in the major participants of WW2, an would appreciate any info and sources you send my way. I will rank these nations by how brutally they treated their prisoners, this is purely off of the info I have read and seen in my lifetime. They will be ranked from lowest amounts of Brutality to highest.

    14. Canada

    13. Australia

    12. United States

    11. United Kingdom

    10. France

    9. Finland

    8. Hungary

    7. Romania

    6. Italy

    5. Yugoslavia

    4. China

    3. USSR

    2. Japan

    1. Germany
     
  2. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    USSR was certainly the worst, then Japan and then Germany. Germany third because they treated western prisoners fairly well most of the time, but were brutal to Soviet prisoners.

    .
     
  3. GRW

    GRW Pillboxologist Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    Britain tended to treat German and Italian prisoners well through fear of retaliation against their own, but that continued even after the war was finished.
    PoWs going home to the British zone in Germany were allowed to take foodstuffs in short supply with them. They were also given all the money which had been put aside weekly for them from their pay during captivity.
     
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  4. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    Australia was home to the largest breakout of the war/in history...with over a thousand Japanese storming the fences...once out, few surrendered a "second time".
    Cowra breakout - Wikipedia

    <iframe width="640" height="360" src="" frameborder="0" allow="autoplay; encrypted-media" allowfullscreen></iframe>
     
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  5. JJWilson

    JJWilson Well-Known Member

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    Yes I have heard of that actually, was it 4 or 5 Aussies that died, and some 200 Japanese?
     
  6. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    4 Australians - 231 Japanese - 108 injured.
    Worth noting -
    • No complaints regarding treatment had been made by or on behalf of the Japanese before the incident, which appeared to have been the result of a premeditated and concerted plan;
    • The actions of the Australian garrison in resisting the attack averted a greater loss of life, and firing ceased as soon as they regained control;
    • Many of the dead had committed suicide or been killed by other prisoners, and many of the Japanese wounded had suffered self-inflicted wounds.[citation needed]
    Would totally recommend watching the series.
     
  7. JJWilson

    JJWilson Well-Known Member

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    Well there you go..........
     
  8. Takao

    Takao Ace

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    Wasn't there another Japanese POW incident "Down Under"...Camp Featherston or something like that? It's been a while and I am fuzzy on remembering the details.
     
  9. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    Do tell...haven’t heard of it...but that doesn’t mean much.
     
  10. OpanaPointer

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

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    The Japanese kept women and children, families of civilian fathers, in near starvation conditions in places like Santo Tomas prison in Manila.

    Gen. Anami, the War Minister in August, 1945, dictated that all 140,000+ Allied POWs, men, women and children, would be executed when the first Allied boot touched the beaches of Kyushu. Allied POWs were used in the bio-warfare experiments of Unit 731.

    They got nuked during the war and Godzilla attacked them at least twice by 1955.
     
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  11. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    Top post.
     
  12. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish WW2|ORG Editor

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    And at the top of the utterly needless PoW cruelty table, we have Japan, Japan & Japan.
    Closely followed by Japan, and then maybe a few Balkan nations.

    While it's probably foolish and/or pointless to look for some sort of relativism in cruelty, and both Germany and the USSR killed each other's captives, worked, starved and beaten to death, they still don't even approach the Japanese for sheer systematic abuse and cruelty towards military prisoners.
    They were uniquely awful in this regard.

    The militarist death-cult that gripped the nation from high to low meant they were the aggressor in every C20th conflict they engaged in, and took that aggression to the lowest level against defenceless diseased people they had starved to stick men. It's remarkable how many survived, and even more remarkable how many of them kept their sanity & humanity.

    tumblr_osnhby2R7L1s7e5k5o1_500.jpg

    (Gavan Daws's book 'Prisoner of the Japanese' is an excellent PoW's eye view of things to get started on the incredibly grim history, though even just scratching the surface reveals tale after tale of pointless inhumanity.
    Cartoonist Ronald Searle's images of his PoW life also worth seeking out.)

    searlewar.gif

    0af2487c60ece0c6899e84074d4aeda7--ronald-searle-illustration-artists.jpg
     
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  13. mcoffee

    mcoffee Son-of-a-Gun(ner)

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    Unbroken: A World War II Story of Survival, Resilience, and Redemption, the Louis Zamparini story is another...
     
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  14. OpanaPointer

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

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  15. KodiakBeer

    KodiakBeer Member

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    How many German/Italian prisoners ever returned from the Soviet Union? Not very many. Certainly a lower percentage of Soviet vs Japanese prisoners survived. The Soviets had the advantage of arctic conditions to aid them in killing off their starved prisoners, though the Japanese tried as hard as they could to keep up.

    At any rate, I'll keep the Soviets in the #1 position until someone proves otherwise.

    .
     
  16. OpanaPointer

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

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    My mother lived down the road from a Italian POW camp in WWII. She trade fresh veggies and fruit for wooden carved flatware and serving pieces. The guards in the towers had no problem with her making deals through the fences.
     
  17. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish WW2|ORG Editor

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    One of the things that make it my favourite FEPoW image.
    'Atom Bombs you say? Marvellous!'
     
  18. von Poop

    von Poop Waspish WW2|ORG Editor

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    It is of course impossible to rank such things in a crowded field of subjective awfulness, though to my eye the Soviet/German treatment of each other's captives has that banal feeling of dead-eyed bureaucratic neglect. Forms filled out and left to rot among bored criminal guards.
    The Japanese, however, pursued the brutality with bright-eyed enthusiasm. It was rewarded and celebrated. Seen as true service to the state & God-Emperor, with that hint of associated religious approval.
    A bit too keen.
     
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  19. OpanaPointer

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

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    One of the best "I'm not dead because of..." things. One year at Purdue we had a WWII veteran take the WWII class. He was very quiet during most of it, but when the prof asked him about the bombs he said "I'm here today because of them." Gave the bright young faces some reality.
     
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  20. GRW

    GRW Pillboxologist Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    Old Jock McCallum who lived across from my parents was on the Burma Railway. He looked about 120 when he died, and he was only 82 or something. He always walked like a half-shut knife.
     

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