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Why was the war in the Pacific so brutal ?


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#1 JCFalkenbergIII

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Posted 17 February 2008 - 08:38 AM

Why was the war in the Pacific so brutal ?



Because of the distance between the war theatres, warfare in the Far East and the Pacific region was of different manner in relation to Europe. The main burden was loaded on the back of the poor infantryman. But nothing was going on without amphibious operations, a daily event, nothing went on, in contrary to the European theatre.


Every war is brutal, but especially the war in the Pacific, because here ancient hostilities between yellow and other races focused together in unnecessary killing of civilians and prisoners.


Perhaps this was one of the reasons for the Americans for the fast and easy decision to bombard Japanese cities with a hail of napalm bombs, which didn't happen even to German cities like Hamburg or Dresden, followed additionally by atomic bombs on Hiroshima and Nagasaki. For an American soldier his Japanese opponent was inferior, yellow, some wild animal worth to be killed. For the Japanese soldiers a white man was something of a mystic monster against which his emperor led a holy war.


A lot of the Japanese soldiers inborn brutality which came in effect in their treatment of prisoners is to be explained by the words of the well known publicist John Toland:
"Brutality was a daily event for the Japanese soldier. He had to admit brutality against himself by his officers. This treatment he simply gave further to his subordinates or the prisoners, the last because they were inferior to him after their surrender. Surrender simply was not existing to him, because he fought to the last drop of blood. When he was captured after all because of wound or weakness, then this was dishonour until his lives end.
Captured Japanese were dead for their families. His name was cancelled from the register of birth. A remark in his soldiers book: " Take this advice, will you be captured by the enemy, you will not only dishonour the army, but also your parents and family until they will not be able any more to get upright. Therefore, always preserve the last bullet for yourself ".

If they were so brutal against themselves there can be no doubt about their behaviour against the enemy. On 24 April 1942, Tokyos newspaper The Japan & Advertiser, which was edited even in English, wrote in its introduction:
" They (Allied) surrender only when they have sacrifice all lives in their power excluding their owns. When they finally surrender themselves, then only to save their own lives ...
They have shown in all previous battles that they are totally egoistic. With this behaviour they have reached that we can not treat them as normal prisoners. They have broken Gods law, and therefore God will punish them with defeat. However, any mercy would prolong the war. The Japanese soldier fights in a holy war, in which there is no place for think over and uncertainty. Criminals must be annihilated ".


Such an expression of animosity against the opponent is finding good ground in wartimes and leads to the outbreak of dark sides of the character. We don't have to wonder then why the war in the Pacific Ocean was so brutal and dirty, can we ?

(taken from magazine Radar, Special Edition, No. 26)


I am always fascinated with how cultures that are diametrically different react to one another in times of war. Both sides see each other as the "Monsters". And it becomes common or ok to treat the enemy as such.
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#2 alephh

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Posted 18 February 2008 - 12:17 AM

It didn't help that American soldiers were teached/brainwashed that Japanese were hardly humans at all. I mean, I can understand that the smaller side uses all the means available, but when bigger democratic side starts to immediately use that kind of methods...

WWII-era propaganda to """educate""" people - especially soldiers - was just maddening. I think it was in the "Color of War" where one soldier wondered how so many GIs could take the "information" to seriously.

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#3 Falcon Jun

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Posted 19 February 2008 - 07:15 AM

The BBC produced an excellent World War II documentary series touching on this topic. According to the documentary, the Japanese military during the early 1920s had an excellent record of good conduct. The change began when the military expanded. Too many troops and too few professional officers and the training system was short circuited. The end result, a regime of brutal indoctrination to mass produce troops. That's what the documentary said.

#4 clems

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Posted 29 February 2008 - 12:54 PM

I don't think the war in the pacific was more brutal then in east europe (except in china). But in the two case, one nation is actively talking about the notion of "race" . But, the most brutal theater in the pacific was China.

#5 Tomcat

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Posted 29 February 2008 - 01:37 PM

I don't think the war in the pacific was more brutal then in east europe (except in china).


So which do you think is the most brutal? here you have said that east europe was more brutal (except in china) thats contradicting what you said, in the same sentence I might add.

The chinese and Japanese have always been 'rivals' for land, of course they were going to be brutal to each other they we tired of fighting one another just look at the British and French before ww1 the battles they had and the brutality they inflicted on each other over the years of there wars, in the end it brought a commom enemy to bring them together.

I don't think the Island hopping from both the Japanese and American forces helped the brutality of the pacific consistently doing amphibious operations on small and large scales.

However I think the pacific war was so brutal becasue the Japanese did not fear anyone or anything even death, they would sustain heavy casualities from artillery shells but still charge forward with an attack even if it was doomed to failure from the start, how can you use scare tactics against an enemy with now fear?
For want of a nail the shoe was lost, for the want of a shoe the horse was lost, for the want of a horse the rider was lost, for the want of a rider the battle was lost, For want of a battle the kingdom was lost, and all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

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#6 clems

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Posted 29 February 2008 - 02:03 PM

I think it is difficult to find a theater of operation more brutal then the East front in europe.
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#7 Tomcat

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Posted 29 February 2008 - 02:07 PM

I agree compelety just look at what the germans and russians did to not only each others soldiers, pow's and civillian populations.
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#8 Hufflepuff

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Posted 29 February 2008 - 02:09 PM

I think that there was more 'brutal' actions in the pacific war because of the cultural differences between the US and Japanese; they had a completely different lifestyle and religion (Buddhism) from the United States. In Europe, the cultural differences did not exist as strongly because the Germans were mostly protestants, like the Americans (even though some American soldiers were Irish Catholics (like me) and Jews). The Germans had mostly the same household laws growing up that the American boys had, unlike the Japanese, whose ideas of politeness and respect were far different from the western world in the 1940s. It may sound like a terrible thing to say, but I think racial difference played a role in the amount of brutality committed.
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#9 Tomcat

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Posted 29 February 2008 - 02:26 PM

Fair enough Hufflepuff I do agree with the races differences contributing

But you are forgetting about the Jewish people in Europe about the Nazi's and Stain's soldiers raping not only the land on there 'liberation' of germany from itself. Or the Russian prisoner of war camps just look at the captured 6th army from stalingrad.

The american's werent taught that the Jews were the problem to the worlds problems
For want of a nail the shoe was lost, for the want of a shoe the horse was lost, for the want of a horse the rider was lost, for the want of a rider the battle was lost, For want of a battle the kingdom was lost, and all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

Robert,


#10 Hufflepuff

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Posted 29 February 2008 - 02:34 PM

Fair enough Hufflepuff I do agree with the races differences contributing

But you are forgetting about the Jewish people in Europe about the Nazi's and Stain's soldiers raping not only the land on there 'liberation' of germany from itself. Or the Russian prisoner of war camps just look at the captured 6th army from stalingrad.

The american's werent taught that the Jews were the problem to the worlds problems


The Holocaust was brought about by psychopaths and carried out both by psychopaths and normal people; it was a huge outburst of hatred that makes the war in Europe possibly the most brutal aspect of WWII, so that is a huge factor

About the raping of German women by the Russians and the terrible treatment of the POWs, the Russians were mainly seeking revenge against the Germans, who had done the same to them in 1941-42. The highest number of people killed in the Holocaust, following European Jews, was Soviet POWs taken by the Germans. The Russians had thier share of revenge, too.

When I posted on brutality I was mainly talking about American and British soldiers involved; I forgot about the big picture; I apologize. Excellent points stated, Tomcat

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#11 T. A. Gardner

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Posted 29 February 2008 - 03:00 PM

A note on the ETO: There were more people of Germanic decent living in the US than there were Germans in Germany at the beginning of WW 2. With such a large segiment of the population sharing a similar heritage of course there would be more empathy than with the Japanese whose culture was literally alien, almost as if they were from a different planet, to Americans of that time.
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#12 Sloniksp

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Posted 29 February 2008 - 11:06 PM

I think it is difficult to find a theater of operation more brutal then the East front in europe.


Or at any time in the history of man kind. ;)

Or the Russian prisoner of war camps just look at the captured 6th army from stalingrad.


The Russians treated German POW's with much more humility then they themselves received. The Germans were not systematically starved. In fact many German POW's upon returning home in 1955 claimed that they were treated fairly and even ate the same as their guards.

A note on the ETO: There were more people of Germanic decent living in the US than there were Germans in Germany at the beginning of WW 2. With such a large segiment of the population sharing a similar heritage of course there would be more empathy than with the Japanese whose culture was literally alien, almost as if they were from a different planet, to Americans of that time.


An excellent point
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#13 Seadog

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Posted 07 March 2008 - 12:08 AM

While I agree that there was more animosity against the Japanese, but do not forget that they were the ones that attacked the United States in what was perceived as a cowardly act. Even the Japanese were horrified by the failure to declare war before the event.

There is also the factor that to the Japanese soldier, the cultural differences made them feel that the Americans were inferior for not fighting to the death. And their culture allowed them to treat them like the Germans treated the Jews. There was also credible reports about the Japanese brutality at Bataan and Naking. The treatment of the Jews in the camps were mostly unaccepted in the western world.

The use of napalm was because conventional bombs were not as effective as in europe. The flimsy construction and everything being spread out, made napalm the more effective choice. In europe, the use of napalm was not as favorable for destruction, but there were cases of its use.

Considering the Japanese treatment of our troops, and the situation they put us in, I would consider the treatment of their people in our hands to be mostly respectable.

Oh, and by the way, the Japanese were Shinto, not Buddhist.
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#14 TheRedBaron

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Posted 07 March 2008 - 12:35 AM

Propaganda, racial hatred, war crimes... Take your pick.

The Japanese didnt really endear themselves to the world with the way they treated anyone else... Look at what they did to the Chinese.

I have met many European war veterans that will happily sit and chat to German veterans.

I have never met a Far East veteran that has forgiven the Japanese...
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#15 Falcon Jun

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Posted 08 March 2008 - 09:11 AM

Propaganda, racial hatred, war crimes... Take your pick.

The Japanese didnt really endear themselves to the world with the way they treated anyone else... Look at what they did to the Chinese.

I have met many European war veterans that will happily sit and chat to German veterans.

I have never met a Far East veteran that has forgiven the Japanese...


My late uncle who served in Bataan with the Philippine Scouts and became a guerilla after escaping the Death March was among the few who has forgiven the Japanese. He told us kids that he held strong feelings for the war. Despite these strong feelings, he told us to be able to go on living, one must learn to forgive but never forget.

#16 Slipdigit

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Posted 08 March 2008 - 04:25 PM

Despite these strong feelings, he told us to be able to go on living, one must learn to forgive but never forget.


He is a wise man.

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#17 JCFalkenbergIII

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Posted 05 April 2008 - 03:34 AM

Bumped up in companion to the "Trophy" thread.
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#18 Skipper

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Posted 05 April 2008 - 07:34 AM

I don't think one could compare or measure atrocities committed during the War. How could we compare Nankin with Stalingrad, Okinawa with Sobibor or the Bulge with Pearl Harbor?
There was hated and despise in both camps , also some respect. Whether these feelings were balanced or not is another matter. The War in the Pacific was Horrific, so were all the other scenes. There is no clean war, it's all about death horror and destruction and behind each casuatly is the drama of a devastated mother.

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#19 Za Rodinu

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Posted 05 April 2008 - 09:40 AM

I don't think one could compare or measure atrocities committed during the War. How could we compare Nankin with Stalingrad, Okinawa with Sobibor or the Bulge with Pearl Harbor?


I don't quite see the logic...

Nankin - wholesale massacre of a civilian population
Stalingrad - battle between military forces with civilians in the middle (massacre of civilians was not the objective)

Okinawa - ditto (although in lesser number)
Sobibor - extermination camp

Bulge - battle between military forces
Pear Harbor - ditto

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#20 clems

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Posted 05 April 2008 - 12:03 PM

Yes but we can quite compare Stalingrad and okinawa, the japanese of Nankin and the einsaztgruppen, The Bulge and the battle for the philippines.
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#21 Hufflepuff

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Posted 05 April 2008 - 05:44 PM

Yes but we can quite compare Stalingrad and okinawa, the japanese of Nankin and the einsaztgruppen, The Bulge and the battle for the philippines.


he makes a point

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#22 clems

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Posted 05 April 2008 - 10:29 PM

Well, the type of warfare is still very different but we can compare it as excellents examples of the brutality of the war on the two theaters.

But we can also compare Stalingrad and the battle of Shanghai or the battle for belarus and the battle of Wuhan.
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#23 Tomcat

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Posted 05 April 2008 - 10:43 PM

I think in terms of comparing these various battles, you are all clutching at strings when comaring them, because although they fact that they were all battles between a few sides there are many differences, terrain, Countries invovled, cities, units used, support deployed, as well as aircraft, any naval bombarments and tanks.

Its like saying an apple is like an Orange, well despite the taste, colour, texture, look, juice quantity, seeds, and the fact that one can be totally eaten while the other one cant, thay are both round, so we can compare them.
For want of a nail the shoe was lost, for the want of a shoe the horse was lost, for the want of a horse the rider was lost, for the want of a rider the battle was lost, For want of a battle the kingdom was lost, and all for the want of a horseshoe nail.

Robert,


#24 clems

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Posted 05 April 2008 - 10:52 PM

Yes but you can stilll compare two "town warfare" examples of the differents theaters to identified the differences, that is why i think it is interesting to see Stalingrad and Shanghai.

The japanese fighter was known to be tough in every environment for example, while the german soldiers saw the battles in cities as real nightmares, ans Stalingrad is the best example.
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#25 John Dudek

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Posted 06 April 2008 - 04:19 AM

It didn't help that American soldiers were teached/brainwashed that Japanese were hardly humans at all. I mean, I can understand that the smaller side uses all the means available, but when bigger democratic side starts to immediately use that kind of methods...

WWII-era propaganda to """educate""" people - especially soldiers - was just maddening. I think it was in the "Color of War" where one soldier wondered how so many GIs could take the "information" to seriously.

_



Yes, Racisim by all sides was undoubtedly a determining factor.




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