** World War II Japan surrender Allied reaction VJ-Day

World War II: Japanese Surrender--Saving Allied POWs and Civilian Detainees (August-September 1945)

Figure 1.--Too often the debate over the use of the atomic bombs focuses almost entirely on the less than 0.2 million Japanese civilians killed in the two cities, perhapss 0.3 million of the casualties are counted after the bombing. Very rarely is there any consideration of the many other people affected at the time. And very high on any lost of priorities should be 0.5 million civilian detainees and POWs in Japanese hands. They were being helad in terrible conditions and being abused--the death rate as very high and increasing because of the terrible conditions, especially the lack of adequatee food and medical care. Unless the War had been ended in August, few of these people would have survived. The Japanese were known to murder POWs. The civilan casualties were more likely to be through mistreatment and malnutrition. And at many camps the POW and civilan detaines were beginning to starve. This is a scene at the Lunghua Civilian Assembly Centre one of many civilan detention centers located throughout Southeast Asia and China. It was located on the campus of Shanghai High School. Children like we see here were likely to survive necause their parents gave them some of their meager ratiins. The photograph was taken shortly after the arrival of the Americans (August 19, 1945). Photographer: Oscar Seepol Shanghai.

One of the greatest American concerns in the final months of the War were the Western civilians and POWs in Japanese hands. Over 0.5 million people were involved. The United states liberated most of its civilians with the liberation of the Philippines (October 1944-February 1945). The Japanese still held American POWs and Western civilians and POWs in fetid camp where they were being routinely abused, starved, and denied medical care. Mortality rates were high and increasing because of the terrible conditions and lack of food. The Americans also were aware of Japanese plans to murder the surviving internees and POWs. The murder of American POWs on Palawan was known because a few of the victims escaped. If the atomic bombs had not been used, very few of these unfortunate people would have survived. Once the Japanese decided to surrender. Operations to resue the internees and POWs went into high gear. They were being held in multiple places throughout the Japanese Empire (Singapore, Dutch East Indies--DEI, China, Manchuria, and the Home Islands). It was impossible to get to them at once. The first step was air drops of food and medcine to known interment camps. Weihsien Internment Camp in China (Shandong Province) was the largest Japanese camp in China. Some 2,250 Americans, British, and Australians civilians living in northern China were interned there (early-1943). They were interned there for nearly 3 years. They were some of the first to be reached. American forces arraned a rescue plan (August 17). Here we see a civilian detainees camp Lunghua Civilian Internment Camp in Shagahai, China (figure 1). The largest number of Western civilians interned by the Japanese were the Dutch in the DEI. After the Japanese surrender, Indonesian nationlist militias (the pemuda), began attacking the detainees. The Japanese protected most, but several thousand detainees were reprtedly killed. British Gurka soldiers were the first to reach the Duch detainees, but they were held in so many widely dispersed camps that it was a logistical mightmare. Some were nor evacuated until 1946.


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Created: 6:50 PM 5/5/2021
Last updated: 6:51 PM 5/5/2021