Nanking, capital of China, had fallen to the Japanese on December 13, 1937. As the Japanese entered the capital, only unarmed civilians remained. The victorious troops plastered the city with billboards featuring a smiling Japanese soldier handing a bowl of rice to an appreciative Chinese child. The poster proclaimed the peaceful intentions of “co-prosperity.” But instead the Chinese suffered an orgy of torture and death.
In less than a month Japanese troops, with the encouragement of their officers, killed up to 350,000 Chinese civilians. Pregnant women were marched to one killing field where Japanese placed bets on the sex of the fetus about to tumble from its mother’s womb, cut by a samurai sword. In another area of town drunken soldiers laughed and tossed babies in the air to be skewered on the ends of their buddies’ bayonets. Dogs grew too fat to walk, feasting on the corpses in the street.
Three hundred fifty thousand: That amounted to more civilians dying in one city in one month than died in entire countries during the entire war. In six years of combat France lost 108,000 civilians; Belgium 101,000; the Netherlands 242,000. The Japanese in Nanking killed even more than the atomic bombs later would. Hiroshima had 140,000 dead, Nagasaki 70,000.) The Japanese “loot all, kill all, burn all” scorched-earth policy in North China would eventually reduce the population from forty-four million to twenty-five million. Co-prosperity indeed.
The U.S. Army had encountered the Japanese army’s ways in the Philippines and Burma. Stories of buddies found trussed like pigs, disemboweled with their severed genitals in their mouths circulated, as did horrifying accounts of boys staked in the hot sun, forced to endure the voracious bugs who savored the honey rubbed into the prisoner’s eyes and mouth.
Bradley, James, and Ron Powers. “America’s War.” Flags of Our Fathers. Bantam Dell, a Division of Random House, Inc., 2006. 65-6. Print.