Was it Bushido

Discussion in 'Military History and Militaria' started by scarletto, Oct 24, 2007.

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  1. The following is a poem written by an ex-POW of the Japs, i thought id put it in here as well maybe the poetry section of Arrse doesnt get as many visitors as here, however if someone wants to crosspost it please do.

    Its amazing that something written about something so Brutal can be very moving, its from a book called Beyond the Bamboo Screen by Tom McGowran OBE, about Scottish POWs in the Far East a very moving book.

    The Following poem was written after a picture of some Austrailians awaiting execution was printed,and was written to show that Bushido was driven by an addictive,compulsive urge for pleasure,it shows the torture meted out to many poor men and women.

    Was It Bushido by William Denneberg

    O, fortunate man:
    Wrists bound,knees bent, head bowed
    Staring into the shadowed trench;
    The blade is swift,the slice is sure.
    Sightless,he sees what might have been.
    Crushed into a basket,the wicker constrains
    The Drowning mans despairing, hopeful struggle,
    While the clear salt water scalds his lungs.
    Or,trailed behind the boat as shark bait.
    Leaking blood to attract the sport
    And excite the Laughter.

    Perhaps;at dusk,
    Strung by his thumbs to a branch
    (His toes even with the rocks attached,
    Yet still failing to reach the ground)
    He awaits the mornings bayonet drill.
    His friends had it even worse. Old Joe
    Trussed with barbed wire,mouth stopped,
    Pumped through his nose with water,
    Died beneath the boots that jumped and split
    His distended stomach open
    To their wearers laughter.

    But the Destruction of the body is nothing
    The ritual is spiritual.They do it for the pain
    And,yet,better for the agony
    And for the ectasy the agony gives them
    O,how they love the cruelty,
    These little yellow men.

    Thank god he hadnt been a woman
    A pleasured nurse. Gang rapedthrough the long night hours
    Tortured near to death
    Taken to the beach to wash
    Irremediable stains
    From broken body
    And machine-gunned standing in the waves
    Or,disembowelled to win a bet
    The soldier won (it was a boy)
    The woman lost(the child,her life)
    As God's blood dripped into the gutter

    And now,in the last few seconds of a lifetime
    Deep inside the shadowed trench
    He sees his children playing in the sand
    their mother,mourning,watching
    the blessed engraved blade sings its dirge
    The blood spurts, mushrooms
    Driven by the final heartbeat

    The Trench is Black
    His head falls into the Abyss
  2. A graphic and haunting portrayal of what happens when the beast gets loose.

    The title refers to Bushido but it is generic - it could be anywhere at anytime.

    I would call it an epitaph for the human race.

    I think anybody who reads that will take it away with them. Like it or not.
  3. Indeed JCS, indeed.

    I can't help but think though, that when the roll-call of evil is called, our little Jap friends will be in the front rank, won't they?
  4. No, the Germans will push to the front as usual. :twisted:
  5. Nah - dead heat. No pun intended.
  6. Perhaps this would make a good new thread:

    Judgement Day - The Roll Call of Evil.

    Who will be stood where and what will they have to say for themselves?
  7. I think anyone who can reduce their fellow human to an abstraction will be right up there on the podium, but I certainly detect a difference between the Germans and the Japanese behaviours.

    One of the arguments put forward in Germany for industrialising the killing of Untermenschen was the attritional effect close range mass killing was having on the men who carried it out. To me, that suggests that the individuals were overcoming some residual vestige of morality to do something they perceived as legitimate, regardless of how twisted the reasoning. There was some humanity left there, some recognition of wrongness.

    Tha Japanese, however, quite openly and cheerfully used their prisoners and the natives of occupied territories as targets for the most bestial of cruelties, never thinking twice about it. When you bear in mind that the Rape of Nanking was brought to the attention of the wider world by a staunch Nazi outraged at their behaviour, you'll see a graphic example of what I mean by a difference between the two regimes. The Imperial Japanese Army described the Chinese officially as 'insects' on more than one occasion and the troops were encouraged to treat them as such. Not a single Japanese soldier was ever disciplined for the summary killing of unarmed Chinese. Truly, in terms of slaughter the Eastern Front comes close, but still gets the silver medal. If you weren't Japanese, you were sh*t out of luck, an attitude that becomes more mystifying when you remember the praise Japanese forces had received for their treatment of enemy pax in the Russo-Japanese and First World Wars.

    Forgiveness is one thing, but they shouldn't ever be allowed to forget and nor should we.
  8. Well said, that man. :clap:

    The Japanese had a Medical Unit that carried out horrifying experiments on POW's. Doctors in this Unit refered to POW's as "Logs". They were not human, just material to be cut up, burned... :evil:
  9. Says it all.

    Bushido was the very same thing that caused the praise of the Japanese and their treatment of the POWs in the Russian-Japanese war. It was just somehow twisted to become what it became in WW2.

    The actual killing in Nazi Germany was carried out by a small select group, this was not true of the Japanese.

    Their disdain for life included their own, their own punishments were harsh and then, of course, the infamous Kamikaze. A tactic that was blanched at when suggested sausage side.
  10. It is interesting that both sides employed lesser but 'acceptable' races to share in the dirty work. The Japanese used Koreans and the Germans a motely hotch potch of Ukranians, Poles and Balts who had got anti semitism with their mothers milk and took to killing Jews like a Cossack to vodka.

    Alcohol was a major enabler for the Germans employed in genocide; it was freely distributed to them and its consumption encouraged. The Germans were still shackled by the vestiges of Christian culture and a moral education and had experienced political freedom within living memory. The cult of the Herrenvolk and Hitler worship was neither as binding nor absolute as the Japanese quasi Bushido ethic and unquestioning belief in the Emporer as a deity. The Germans had to be told that what they were doing was unpleasent and difficult work and were encouraged to think of their actions in extirpating Jews and others as a form of necessary personal sacrifice for the survival of Reich and Volk.
    The Japanese appeared to take a simple atavistic pleasure in violence and cruelty. Whether the rank and file killed with gusto because they liked it or whether there was huge peer pressure and an irresistable compulsion to conform I could not say. Probably they just liked killing and saw it as the natural order of the universe.

    Another factor was the differences in basic training. Japanese soldiers were subjected to quite brutal beatings and taught to hold their own lives cheap and their 'honour' as all important. As well as being taught to kill they were taught to die. And did.

    The Germans employed more conventional basic training and did not achieve the same contempt for life amongst the rank and file. With the exception of some SS units who trod a similar path to the Japanese - Kaminski and Dirlewanger spring to mind as extreme examples but even ordinary Waffen SS units killed prisoners routinely and only surrendered reluctantly.

    Different sides of the same coin I suppose. The net result was mass graves, bereavement and untold suffering.

    I think we tend to condemn the Japs as worse, because the Germans are closer to us culturally, and many of us have lived in their country, drank their beer and shagged their women.

    I would not trust either bunch too far and suspect that given half a chance they will trouble the world again.
  11. I'm not sure Kamikaze was directly attributable to the code of Bushido or any corruption of same. Every culture has a tradition of nobility attached to sacrificing one's life for the greater good - dulce et decorum est pro patria mori, anyone?

    I read a passage in JC Dunn's The War the Infantry Knew which demonstrated the point: paraphrasing from memory, it was about 2RWF facing German onslaught in 1914 and went along the lines of: CO to French liaison, "We're digging in here and we're not moving back". Frenchie, "M'sieur they weel flank you and you weel 'ave to move back". CO, "We are not moving back". Frenchie takes hint 'and salutes gravely'. Arab, Persian, Afghan and Japanese cultures are vastly different to our own but we all make a point of venerating self-sacrifice. The difference is one of immediacy.

    Bushido as traditionally practiced was completely incompatible with the behaviour exhibited in the 30s and 40s. One Japanese historian I read placed the blame on a combination of the growth of an extreme nationalism based on the Japanese myth of racial purity; and a rapid expansion of the Army which swelled the officer corp beyond the ability of the samurai tradition to man it. Add in the need to establish discipline swiftly and brutally on enlisted ranks and you have a mix which readily lends itself to atrocity.

    Edited for spelling.
  12. The Germans had a crack pot plan at the end of the war to fly manned V2 rockets into strategic targets - one included the Houses of Parliament. They were serious enough to start technical experiments which were halted by the end of the war.

    Most cultures and armies have produced suicide soldiers or men willing to volunteer for desperate missions for any number of reasons. The Forlorn Hopes that the British army used to deploy a possibly one such example.
  13. Cutaway

    Cutaway LE Reviewer

    Yeah, they'll have their towels on the deckchairs at first light.
  14. The Kamekaze, IIRC, was based more on the simple expediency of getting a bomb in on a plane that had a low chance of returning.

    Not sacrificing for your country, but simpley not bothering to try to return.

    I believe many posted to Kamikaze (yep, posted and you whinge when you don't get what is on your dream sheet!!!!) had to integrate for a few months before finally coming to terms with their mission and getting on with it.
  15. There was some element of spur of the moment expediency at first, in the manner of the Polish RAF pilots ramming German bombers when they ran our of Vickers ammo, but the full-blown kamikaze programme was a deliberate design using human beings in effect as missile guidence systems. BBC Link

    I can fully understand going into no-man's land on Operation Certain Death when it's a fairly certain you won't come back, but there's no way you'd get me to strap myself to a bomb regardless of the importance of the mission. It's the element of chance and that slender ray of hope that allow most people to face danger, IMO. Bushido frowned on pointless sacrifice - living your life in an honourable fashion was the whole point. There's no way IJ forces acted in accordance with the individual code of honour enshrined in Bushido.