Excerpted from writings of a British Prisoner of War in Japan before the bombing of Hiroshima. This post is in honor of those who defend our lives and liberties. Thank you for a good life in the USA.
It is also to call down those who condone JWright’s denigration of the USA, while wallowing around in filthy hatred of the country that allows us to be as we choose.
Wonder how you would feel about giving up liberty if our troops get fed up and stop protecting? Keep filling your mind with garbage and you’re sure to find out.
Do you bite the hand that pampers and supports your freedom?
Please click on the link to read the entire page.
By Laurens van der Post
. . .”I began by trying to describe to the Japanese doctor what life had been like in a Japanese prisoner of war camp, because he confessed that even after all this time he personally had taken no interest in the matter and had read no literature about it. I tried to keep my description as factual as possible, and to keep my own emotions out of it. I barely mentioned the physical brutalities we had experienced at the hands of our Japanese guards. I skimmed over the grimmest of my own experiences. For instance, I said little of how I had been made to watch Japanese soldiers having bayonet practice on live prisoners of war tied between bamboo posts; of how I had been taken to witness executions of persons of all races and nationalities for obscure reasons like “showing a spirit of willfulness” or not bowing with sufficient alacrity in the direction of the rising sun. I had never known there could be so many different ways of killing people–cutting off their heads with swords, bayonetting them in many variations, strangling them, burying them alive. But, significantly, never by just shooting them.
I say “significantly” because the omission of this contemporary form of killing was for me striking evidence of the remote and archaic nature of the forces that had invaded the Japanese spirit. Awareness of this dark invasion actually made it impossible for those of us who were prisoners to have personal feelings against our captors. Even at our worst moments of torment, we generally viewed the Japanese as puppets of such immense impersonal forces that they did not really know what they were doing.
It was amazing how often men would confess to me, after some Japanese excess worse than usual, that for the first time in their lives they had realized the truth, and the dynamic liberating power, of the first of the Crucifixion utterances: “Forgive them, for they know not what they do.” I found that the moment one grasped this fundamental fact of our prison situation, forgiveness became not an act of will or of personal virtue, but an automatic and all-compelling consequence of understanding. The tables of the spirit strangely and promptly turned, and we found ourselves without self-pity of any kind, feeling instead deeply sorry for the Japanese, as if we were the free men and they the prisoners–men held in some profound oubliette of their own minds.
Nonetheless, what needed stressing was that by the beginning of 1945 we were all physically dying men. For more than three years [emph WfI] the Japanese had steadily cut down our rations. The daily portion of rice, which was almost our only food, fell in three years from 500 grams per man a day to 90 grams–a fraction over three ounces. There was not a person in my prisoner-of-war camp in 1945 who was not suffering from deficiency disease of some kind. The most feared affliction were the many kinds of malnutrition neuritis, which made men’s nerves burn so much with pain that they could not sleep at night, and in many cases deprived them of their sight or lowered their moral and physical resistance so much that they died of afflictions that in normal conditions would not even have sent them to their beds. Some drawings I possess of scenes in our prison, done months before conditions reached their grimmest, reveal faces and bodies of men who look like the inmates of Belsen.
I myself had no doubt that the Japanese would in time be defeated. But what I could not tell was how they would ever be defeated in such a manner that would relieve them of their overwhelming compulsions of duty, of their sense of historical mission to carry feuds aflame in their blood to final cataclysmic ends in which they and all their enemies would perish.
I knew no nation for whom honor, however perverted, was so great a necessity as Japan. Intimately familiar as I was with Japanese history and literature, I needed no reminders of the destructive forms their individual and collective sense of honor could assume. The one thing I was thoroughly convinced of was that unless the Japanese could be defeated in such a way that they were not deprived of their honor, these was nothing but disaster for them and for us in the end. This, more than immediate starvation or disease, I saw as the real danger that threatened us every minute of our long years of captivity. A slaughter could come either through a breakdown of restraint in an individual Japanese commander and his guards, or through a deliberate choice of the Japanese command to pull down their own sprawling temple, Samson-like, in order to destroy the European Philistines along with themselves, rather than endure ignominious defeat.
I found proof for this worry in the fact that as the war turned increasingly against the Japanese, their treatment of captives became progressively harsher. Our conditions of imprisonment were daily deteriorating in an alarming fashion. And in Java alone there were close to 100,000 of us Europeans impounded in Japanese camps.”. . .
–Sir Laurens van der Post is an award-winning British author. This article is extracted by the editors from his autobiographical wartime reminiscence The Night of the New Moon.