In a sense, this was a vital part of the strategy of the Western allies. The US and UK were little different from Japan or Germany or Russia in their pursuit of total war (okay, Russia was arguably more brutal even there), but in its treatment of defeated enemies, either as prisoners of war or as occupied territory, the Western allies were consistently magnanimous and benevolent compared to the Soviets or the Axis. That's a great way to get high-value individuals (the German rocket scientists like Von Braun) or even entire countries to prefer to surrender to you.
Of course, as the article illustrates, it helps when you have brutal allies like the Soviets prone to rape and plunder everything they conquer for magnanimous treatment of one's enemies to really encourage surrender. As the Mongols discovered, it also helps to be absolutely ruthless with enemies who resist while benevolent towards enemies who surrender quickly.
Still, the press in WWII was not interested in making the government look bad. They were active participants in keeping many secrets throughout the war, including the fact that FDR was crippled from polio. "Total war", which is unknown to this country since WWII, means the entire civilization participates in the war effort, and while the press had the legal freedom to criticize the government and reveal their secrets, it would have been unconscionable at the time for them to do anything that could impede the war effort.
Even more importantly, it's hard to imagine the US matching the degree of Japanese, German and Soviet atrocities against POW's and occupied territories during the war. Souvenir taking against policy is one thing--deliberate plundering, torture, murder, and rape as policy is quite another.
Care to point out any instance of any order to do any of the things listed issued in any branch of the military in any of the countries you mention? I mean I know most Americans view everyone else as drooling, barbaric apes, but you seem to be an expert on the US media in WWII (https://www.cia.gov/library/center-for-the-study-of-intellig...), so I assume you can point out some specifics of why they are drooling, barbaric apes.
These two factors combined meant utter brutality and massacre for Soviet forces and contribute to them having overwhelmingly the highest number of causalities in the war. With a culture like that against their own soldiers, is it any surprise they loot, raid, pillage, and rape? That's all fairly well documented among Soviet forces, there's plenty of memoirs of the gulags (which had a lower survival rate than even Nazi concentration camps), and there's plenty of memoirs of the horrors the Soviet troops committed in occupied cities. German women would often offer themselves to Soviet officers so as to be protected from the brutality of the enlisted men.
> so I assume you can point out some specifics of why they are drooling, barbaric apes.
Utter brutality, a win at all costs mentality more than anyone else, and very inexperienced leadership. Much of this is directly attributable to Stalin, but really all the Socialist Soviet Republics and People's Democratic Republics went similarly (USSR, cultural revolution, Khmer Rouge, etc). For whatever reason, it doesn't seem to be governmental model conducive to high morale, dignity, and respect in their armed forces.
The second/third line infantry divisions essentially levied anyone who could walk into service, including criminals, POWs, etc. Those units were mostly the ones where summary shootings and no discipline were common.
That wasn't a phenomena unique to the Soviets, either. Life for a German in the French occupation zone wasn't a bag of cherries.
Slightly earlier than WWII, but some precious quotes by Lenin and other early leaders here, it pretty much set the tone for the USSR:
"We will turn our hearts into steel, which we will temper in the fire of suffering and the blood of fighters for freedom. We will make our hearts cruel, hard, and immovable, so that no mercy will enter them, and so that they will not quiver at the sight of a sea of enemy blood. We will let loose the floodgates of that sea [...] For the blood of Lenin and Uritsky, Zinoviev and Volodarski, let there be floods of the blood of the bourgeois - more blood, as much as possible." – Announcement of the start of the Red Terror on 1 September 1918, to the Bolshevik newspaper, Krasnaya Gazeta
> Wow, way to take my trolling seriously. I didn't ask you to regurgitate your reagan zombie history "facts,"
I might take this a little more seriously than most people since seeing the Killing Fields and Security Center 21 in Cambodia shook me to the core. Collectivism of any stripe - whether under a banner of socialism, communism, nationalism, whatever - produces really fucking evil results. Reagan was a decent American President in some ways, did a poor job in others, but that's besides the point. Playing down or ignoring or marginalizing the utter fucking atrocities that happened under National Socialism, Bolshevism, the Cultural Revolution, the Khmer Rouge, etc, etc - nothing else even comes close. Some people like to play a really backwards moral relativism card here - no, nothing else comes close. I've walked through the jails where they tortured people. Tons of real photos, the Khmer Rouge documented the hell out of it. I saw the metal plate that they cracked the the heads of the children of the "bourgeois" into as an inexpensive execution technique. These aren't Reagan zombie facts. This is reality. When people stop being individuals and give themselves over to a collective, all hell and madness breaks loose. If we forget this, we'll suffer for it.
Any other worn hollywood cliches happen to you while you were vacationing there?
"When people stop being individuals and give themselves over to a collective, all hell and madness breaks loose."
I bet you were really angry at healthcare reform.
This is why I love trolling HN political topics. Your responses are so predictable and thoughtless. Reagan zombie really is the right description. It has nothing to do with what happened or didn't happen in history - it's the way people like you interpret everything through your own narcissism and then filter it out through the viewpoints of some idiotic popular news cliches to support ideas you don't even care about to make yourself feel good for "standing up for justice."
I'll reply one last time, not for your benefit, but maybe for someone else reading.
I'm typically pretty unfazed by things, but I've never been more horrified than what I saw at Security Center 21. There's books full of laminated photos of people taken before they were executed. And this is in the room these people were executed.
There's stains on the floor and walls. It used to be an elementary school before they converted it to a prison, torture, and interrogation center. There's beds with shackles attached to them, and some of the classrooms have been converted with makeshift jail cells the size of a pen for small animals.
There's pictures of people being whipped and electrocuted. At the risk of another Hollywood cliche, you can feel the death in the air. The misery. They'd hang people by their feet and dunk them in water mixed with feces and hold them under until they passed out. They'd take them out of the water, resuscitate them, instruct them to confess, and repeat. After a while, they'd execute the people.
You hear about horrible things happening, but it never felt so real until I saw it. 6,000,000 people before the Khmer Rogue led their revolution and Cambodia became People's Democratic Kampuchea. 2,000,000 people were killed, usually with shovels or sharp sticks in order to save the cost of bullets. All the capitalists, all the business owners, everyone who spoke a foreign language, everyone who had any ties with the French, British, or Americans. They thought those people were "exploiters" and that punishing them would heal society. They thought resources just appeared easily and anyone who had more than anyone else must have stolen and done horrible things to get them. They felt comfortable killing all of those people.
There was a Khmer Empire once upon a time, it was the most powerful in Southeast Asia. They had roads, law, commerce, built amazing buildings, had crafts, and lived well for the standard of the era. It'll never rise again after the Khmer Rouge. Half the buildings in Cambodia are thatched hay or one piece of corrugated steel. It's the most backwards place I've ever seen.
Progress comes slow. There's a path to getting out of poverty. It's gradual. Trying to speed that process up with violence and social control has led to so much misery and horrible things. Look, I'm all for making light and joking about otherwise serious situations, but not too many jokes can be said about this one.
It's horrible and senseless. A charismatic leader comes along and promises an easy solution to problems that have never been easily solved. But it never works out the way they promise. If you've never seen the very real artifacts of collective violence in real life, maybe it's just gobbleygook on the internet to you. But after I saw it, I don't know, I feel like everyone needs to know about this. How utterly stupid would it be to go down that road again?
I might take this a little more seriously than most people since seeing the Hiroshima bombing museum in Japan shook me to the core. Capitalism of any stripe - whether under a banner of liberalism, democracy, whatever - produces really fucking evil results. Marx was a decent German Philosopher in some ways, did a poor job in others, but that's besides the point. Playing down or ignoring or marginalizing the utter fucking atrocities that happened under Reaganism, Thatcherism, the McCarthy Era, Winston Churchill, etc, etc - nothing else even comes close. Some people like to play a really backwards moral relativism card here - no, nothing else comes close. I've walked through the jails where they tortured people. Tons of real photos, the CIA documented the hell out of it. I saw where they incinerated hundreds of thousands of children of the "Japs" as an inexpensive execution technique to end the war. These aren't Lenin zombie facts. This is reality. When people stop being individuals and give themselves over to a collective democracy, all hell and madness breaks loose. If we forget this, we'll suffer for it.
Are you suggesting that the article is wrong in stating that the Japanese believed that the Americans would treat them better if they surrendered to them rather than the Russians? If so, perhaps you can provide some authority.
Hence, a perfectly sensible remark acknowledging the brutality of all sides in World War II, paired with the observation that the Western Allies at least had a deserved reputation for being countries one was better off surrendering to, opens up an entire chasm of nationalistic anger, first tacitly denying that any such atrocities occurred, even on the part of the Nazis themselves (http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1609926) followed, through the psychological mechanism of projection, by accusations of attempting to claim a "moral high ground" for the western Allies (http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1610175), judging as propaganda near-universally-accepted truths about the brutalities of certain regimes (http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1610199) and ultimately declaring that, whatever the evils of communism and fascism, the evils of the English speaking countries are worse (http://news.ycombinator.com/item?id=1611142).
Alternatively, the entire campaign can also be viewed as purely an exercise in negative nationalism, attempting to tear down the reputations of the English speaking countries with the initial, tentative defense of the Nazis and Soviets meant only as an exercise in moral equivalence, rather than a genuine defense of totalitarianism. The psychology is the same.
Either way, there's no real point being made here, just a nationalistic knee-jerk reaction to anyone pointing out unsavory aspects of the history of totalitarianism, or alternatively the "savory" aspects of the history of certain English speaking countries.
Do you know how if you read any article on the United States online today, there are people who comment "OMG Obama is causing the downfall of America"? Anytime a political topic comes up on Hacker News, someone will come out and say "OMG totalitarianism is evil." No original thought, and nothing even remotely relevant to the core issues of the topic. These morons are the same, their views come from Fox news or equivalent tripe.
This particular one was really amusing to troll; I enjoyed his Pol Pot Disneyland story. There is nothing cynical or cruel in that remark - I really do believe that (for some reasons why, this is a good place to start: http://web.inter.nl.net/users/Paul.Treanor/forget.html).
"Are you suggesting that the article is wrong in stating that the Japanese believed that the Americans would treat them better if they surrendered to them rather than the Russians?"
This is exactly why these Reagan zombies are so annoying. They've managed to shift the topic of discussion from Japan's plan for a USSR-mediated peace treaty (which is actually the novel point of the article), to "OMG EVIL RUSKIES" idiocy turned "fact" turned bad cliche paid for by the CIA (http://www.amazon.com/Who-Paid-Piper-Cultural-Cold/dp/186207...). Even the topic of American vs Soviet occupation is completely bypassed - right away the discussion shifts to "collectives are evil, and fuck and downmod you if you say different". They're very effective at re-framing the discussion into something superficially similar, but really a completely unrelated, cliched trope where they know the outcome ("BUT THINK OF THE CAMBODIAN BABIES!!!"). What the fuck does Cambodia have to do with this article?
It's pointless to argue with them - the course of discussion has been tread and re-tread for over 65 years thanks to US sponsorship of right-wing think tanks, and the shape and conclusions ("OMG YOU'RE A NATIONALIST, NO WAIT, MORAL RELATIVISM IS WRONG") have already been determined and they know that. The only appropriate response is to troll and enjoy the lulz.
The Japanese leadership believed they would be treated better by the Americans, probably correctly. On the other hand the Japanese people were preparing for mass suicide in case of US invasion, believing (probably incorrectly; but to be fair the Marines did manage to kill a quarter of all civilians in Okinawa) that the US soldiers would rape, torture and mutilate them. From what I understand they did not hold similar views about Soviet soldiers.
FDR was many things, but he wasn't a totalitarian thug who ordered the execution of prisoners. If he was, the US likely would have been no better than its enemies. And the US did happen to commit atrocities during the Second World War as a matter of policy, just not against POW's or occupied territory.
Now, let's be clear on what you're asking for. Any order to plunder, torture, murder, or rape either prisoners of war or the people of an occupied nation issued by any military branch of Japan, Germany, or the USSR.
"Military" does narrow it down a little bit--for instance, the only part of the SS that was really "military" was the Waffen-SS, which was separate from the SS departments that ran the concentration camps or rounded up the Jews. So I'm going to take the liberty of counting any state organization, including the SS and NKVD, not just the military itself.
Germany: If you're going to deny the Holocaust you're a very silly person and I'm not going to answer you.
Japan: Let's just start with Unit 731. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Unit_731 That's not the end of it, and it's barely the beginning, but all you asked for was an existence proof.
Russia: The Katyn Massacre (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Katyn_massacre), was carried out based upon orders signed by Stalin himself to murder Polish POW's and residents of Soviet-occupied Poland. Again, not comprehensive, but all you asked for was an existence proof. And I guess it might not technically count because NKVD are separate from military. Oh well.
Right, you just said that the leaders of Germany, Japan and the USSR made "plundering, torture, murder, and rape" a matter of official policy and everyone followed, whereas the United States took the high moral ground, and any such "plundering, torture, murder, and rape" would merit "stern disciplinary action," things like "until every murdering Jap is wiped out" notwithstanding. Go democracy!
There's value in illustrating the various evils and atrocities of any civilization--I can probably name just as many American and British atrocities as you can, beginning with the treatment of my own ancestors. This doesn't extend to whitewashing the truth about other civilizations' atrocities. I was making a strategic argument about not mistreating those who surrender to you; you're trying to make some argument that Hitler and Stalin were nice guys who never at all mistreated people in occupied countries. Respectfully, I don't think I'm the one with a nationalistic axe to grind here.
Stalins artificial famine in Ukraine was official policy:
There is no need to point out Germany's official policies of genocide, as they are well recorded and attested to in the historical record.