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Documentary on Japanese Atrocities (Read 11689 times)
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Documentary on Japanese Atrocities
Mar 7th, 2007, 5:51pm
 
New documentary on Japanese atrocities in the Philippines:

Manila 1945: The Forgotten Atrocities. This DVD puts the onus directly on the Japanese, where it belongs, for the rather gleeful massacre of 100,000 civilians in the battle for Manila. Lots of grim footage, interviews with survivors and witnesses. 50 minutes; also a "making of" section in this DVD.

Anyone interested could email Peter Parsons: ppars@aol.com.

Peter Parsons is the son of the legendary Chick Parsons who played a major role in supplying the guerrillas and the anti-Japanese underground in the Philippines by submarine during WWII.  Parsons himself made several trips to the Philippines, adopting a series of disguises to visit Manila and debrief Filipinos who were holding important positions in the Japanese-imposed wartime government.  Several members of his family were murdered by the Japanese.

Two recommended books on this atrocities in Manila are Richard Connaughton, John Pimlott and Duncan Anderson’s The Battle for Manila: The Most Devastating Untold Story of World War II, Presidio Press, Novato, CA., 1945 and Alfonso J. Aluit’s By Sword and Fire: The Destruction of Manila in World War II, 3 February—3 March 1945, Book Mark Inc., Makati, Philippines, 1995.  Both books do an excellent job of documenting atrocities; however, both are controversial in that they make the dubious claim that the massacres occured because American forces blocked a path of escape for the Japanese.  Editor
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Re: Documentary on Japanese Atrocities
Reply #1 - Mar 7th, 2007, 8:42pm
 
Mention is made of the book written by Connaughton, Pimlott and Anderson about the Battle of Manila – I felt the book deeply flawed - they were pontificating – they applied today’s rules of engagement , today’s morality, to the Battle for Manila in 1945, and by the end the entire book had became tinged with a distinctly British  anti-US flavor.  

There is always a tendency, where one comes to a topic with preconceived ideas or didactic experience, that one sees only the information which agrees with those ideas, and ignores factors contrary to them.  I think that’s what spoiled the book. Being lecturers at Sandhurst, I feel perhaps they brought to the analysis their modern ideals to this issue , their politically correct 2003 ideas of how urban wars should be fought – playing down that the Battle for Manila was more than just an urban battle – for the Japanese it was the harbinger of the destruction of their sacred imperial destiny, the first war lost in the history of their country, and the loss of their pride over everything western.

I felt that the book failed to assess the Battle by 1945 standards and factors. To truly communicate what it was like, and that surely is the purpose - to communicate - one has to accept the closed (less enlightened) “universe” of January 1945 as being unable to be compared with 2003, and write of 1945 in the firm and sincere belief that here is a cause necessary to fight,  to kill, and perhaps to die for.

I also feel that their emphasis on the US forces not allowing the Japanese forces an "escape route" from Manila, and using this to blame the U.S. forces for the tragic civilian casualties, is ingenuous.  The Japanese commander in Manila consciously redefined his orders to have a meaning otherwise than intended,  deliberately deciding to bring on an urban battle.  He was ordered to hold Manila Bay as long as possible, and to demolish installations of military value.  Instead he resolved to fight to the death all of his forces.

The authors themselves describe the Japanese forces as "little better than a confederation of armed gangs", and it should be obvious that there was no avoiding an urban battle.

Imagine, from Tagatay, the sight of Manila, Pearl of the Orient, shining whitely in the Luzon sun. Then, ominously, fires begin to break out all over the city.  The atrocities have already begun.

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Re: Documentary on Japanese Atrocities
Reply #2 - Mar 8th, 2007, 11:24am
 
Federico Baldassarre, a veteran who fought on Bataan, established the following website page on the Battling Bastards of Bataan website:  

Manila Massacre.  http://battlingbastardsbataan.com/som.htm

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Re: Documentary on Japanese Atrocities
Reply #3 - Mar 9th, 2007, 12:46pm
 
When I returned to military control at Alabang, I flew over Manila and saw devastation esp. south of Pasig river . There was no roof of buildings left. More than l00,000 civilians were massacred south of Manila where Josefa Llanes Escoda and others were killed. I was with USAFIP- Northern Luzon forces during the liberation under Col. Russell W. Volckmann commander of 15th Inf. Provisional that liberated four provinces without Americans other than logistics. The Japanese attempted to reinforce Gen. Yamashita's forces in Hungduan Mts area. But our troops were there in Bessang Pass  and later the 37th Inf. US arrived with 13th Air Force already based in Gabu near Laoag City. The enemy moved north via Aparri together with their hostages including BGen. Fidel V. Segunda, Major Feliciano Madamba and staffs/families who were massacred along the way to Bangui city in the north. That  was about a few weeks before I returned to Alabang for processing. The raid of the Japanese garrison in Dingras     in early 1944 was good timing not knowing about the landing in Leyte in Oct. 20, 1944.

Regarding the atrocities in Manila during the liberation. Iwabuchi was determined to die with his troops in Manila. They did not have any exit to Mt. Hungduan in Cagayan Valley. Even if they forced their way to Antipolo it s a rugged country towards Quezon province called Tayabas province. As to the devastation in Manila esp south of Manila it was necessary to do so. I am sorry to say that the American fire power was more devastating then what was ruined by the enemy. Most of the casualties were non combatants who were caught in a cross fire. One of them was my brother in law. He was able to swim the Pasig river limping. He was hit on one of his legs and had gangrene. He survived and he collected books about the war in the FE.  Fred Foz


Major Foz was a Sgt. in the 45th Infantry (PS) during WWII.  He fought on Bataan, survived the Death March and fought with the guerrillas following his release from POW camp.  Editor
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Re: Documentary on Japanese Atrocities
Reply #4 - Mar 12th, 2007, 2:10am
 
The Connaughton, et al, book was one of my resources for an article published in the "Filipino Press" in February, but the idea that the Americans might have been in some way responsible struck me as simply irrelevant.  That point of view doesn't jive with any of the facts, even the facts described in that book, or with any first hand sources.  

General Yamashita had ordered Admiral Iwabuchi and his men to leave the city before the battle even began, and at that point they could easily have escaped east to Fort  McKinley or up into the mountains toward Antipolo.  The American forces attacked from the north and the south, and the Japanese were not completely surrounded until the latter stages of the battle, after many of the atrocities had already been comitted.  But in any case, the horrendous "defense" of Manila by the Japanese had nothing to do with being trapped.   It was Admiral Iwabuchi's plan to fight to the death from the beginning.  

Japanese commanders in World War II were given a degree of freedom that is unheard of in most military organizations.  A field commander, particularly of general rank, could do pretty much as he pleased within his area of responsibility even to the extent of ignoring orders from the Imperial General Staff in Tokyo.  So Iwabuchi's refusal to obey Yamashita would not have been considered insubordination, or even worthy of much comment, within Japanese military circles.  Particularly since his actions were in line with the General Staff's "Sho" guidelines at the time.  The "Sho" plan called for Japanese troops to give their lives killing as many Americans as possible in each battle, in hopes that the U.S. public would grow tired of the carnage and call it off before U.S. forces reached the Japanese islands.

It is my opinion that the conduct of the Japanese soldiers and sailors in Manila stemmed from the fact that they all knew that they were going to die, they knew that the Philippines were lost, and they deeply resented the fact that the Filipinos had never welcomed the Japanese occupation but were ready to welcome the Americans back.  Since childhood, the Japanese soldiers had been taught in school and by the Shinto state religion that Japanese were superior beings, and that other humans were little more than sort of intelligent animals.  The Japanese soldiers were being ordered to die while killing others, all for an obviously lost cause.  The terrible atrocities in Manila and other places were the inevitable (and inexcusable) result.  

Although it is true that many of the civilian casualties in Manila resulted from American and Japanese artillery fire, the death toll from the atrocious behavior of the Japanese soldiers was huge.  American commanders knew that there were going to be civilian casulaties if they pressed their fight against the Japanese, but within the first week of the battle it became obvious that if they did not root out the Japanese, the Japanese would kill the Filipino civilians anyway.  The massacres in Fort Santiago and the slaughter in Intramuros, for example, were carried out systematically, before the walled city was even attacked.

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Re: Documentary on Japanese Atrocities
Reply #5 - Mar 12th, 2007, 2:58am
 
Agreed, though I consider you are letting the learned authors off in the same way they delivered judgment upon the Japanese forces - far too lightly.  

How does one deal with editorial comments such as "The manner in which hospitls and residential areas were systematically bombarded by US artillery is really indefensible" , "The fault lies with the commanders who had not prepared their troops for such a battle and who, once presented with the need to take the city by force, preferred to solve the problem with firepower" or "The Battle for Manila may have been costly and, at times, conducted with excessive force by the Americans.."

This is revisionist history, more desirous of laying blame upon the US command and its ways of war, than in delivering historic damnation for Manila's gottdammerung on the duteous servants of a Japanese heresy so discredited and perverse, so uncaringly and uncompromisingly evil, that the only just thing to do with it was to deliver a military coup de grace.
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Re: Documentary on Japanese Atrocities
Reply #6 - Mar 12th, 2007, 9:44am
 
The following letter to the editor was published in the International Herals Tribune in 1994 concerning a then-soon-to-open Smithsonian exhibit.  It protests the revisionist tendency found in the exhibit and  already in play towards Japan and its role in the war.  Japan itself has carried this to a much more extreme level in their memorials to the war and sanitized textbook versions of wartime events.  The uproar that ensued over the exhibit, which was built around the actual "Enola Gay" airplane which dropped the atomic first bomb, led to changes in the exhibit making it far less controversial.  The revised exhibit openned in 1995 and ran for three years.  Editor

The article on the Smithsonian Institution's planned exhibit on the atomic bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki ("Spin of Smithsonian's Hiroshima Script Under Fire," July 22, 1994 by Eugene L. Meyer) quotes a historian as saying that the exhibit refers extensively "to the brutal nature of American strategic bombing, and to Japanese casualties and suffering," while saying little about Japanese aggression and atrocities.

Allow me to say something about Japanese aggression and atrocities. The battle for the liberation of Manila, which lasted from Feb. 3 to March 3, 1945, claimed 100,000 lives. The city was first torched by the defending Japanese forces. Most of the remaining structures in the battle zone were then destroyed by the artillery of the liberating U.S. forces. Through those 28 days, the Japanese defenders preyed on Manila's defenseless civilians.

The Smithsonian exhibit should include photographs of Manila massacre scenes such as San Marcelino Church, St. Paul's College, the Spanish Consulate, the Red Cross Building and more, together with pictures of the destruction of much of the city. In a city under control of Japanese occupiers, noncombatant residents suffered a fate certainly comparable to that at Hiroshima and Nagasaki.

JUAN JOSE P. ROCHA.
Manila.


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Re: Documentary on Japanese Atrocities
Reply #7 - Mar 12th, 2007, 1:01pm
 
The UK Staff College (Col. Connaughton was a lecturer there) held a seminar on FIBUA (fighting in built up areas) and I was invited to attend. Their conclusion was that the mistake made was not to let a free passage out for the defenders. I disagree with this. I believe, as many others do, that the defenders were prepared to make a last ditch stand, and would not have escaped even if any passage had been provided. I believe the mistake was made by MacArthur's staff, who only planned a landing at Lingayen, and not a pincer movement like the Japanese used in 1942, when they landed both N and S of Manila. Finally, at the end of January, MacA decided to start another action, and the paratroops jumped at Tagaytay and landed at Nasugbu. These troops were at Paranaque, in S Manila in 3 days, and the Japanese fortifications there had only begun to be prepared after the Lingayen landings. If there had been 2 simultaneous prongs from N and S, Lingayen and Nasugbu, I believe that the troops from the S would have been in Manila in 3 days without resistance and captured the city intact. As it was, the troops moving south from Lingayen had to contend with Yamashita's troops flanking them on the left, and had to move slowly and deliberately towards Manila, giving the Japanese defenders in Manila time to prepare their last ditch stand.
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Re: Documentary on Japanese Atrocities
Reply #8 - Mar 12th, 2007, 6:27pm
 
I doubt whether a second landing south of Manila is a real alternative.  It would have split the invading forces,  reducing the impact of each.  Neither were there sufficient men and materials and shipping in the theatre to support two invasions of large troop concentrations. We weren’t dealing with Normandy-size logistics here.  The southern thrust was lightly armed and lightly supplied.





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