“The Devil’s Doctors” by Dr Mark Felton (2)

Last time I was talking about “The Devil’s Doctors” by Dr Mark Felton which describes how, at Mukden POW Camp in Manchuria,  Allied prisoners of war, primarily Americans, were used to test Japanese biological weapons developed at Pingfan, the nearby headquarters of Unit 731. This is Manchuria:

The events at Mukden were not a unique series of atrocities, however. By no means:

The author relates the dreadful events which took place on May 5th 1945 when a B-29 was rammed and brought down over Japan by a kamikaze fighter pilot. Of the crew, the first fatality had his parachute lines cut in mid-air by the wing of a second Japanese fighter aircraft. A second American was attacked by a mob of Japanese civilians who came running across a field to kill him. With the six bullets in his revolver he shot five of them and then himself. A third man was shot by civilians. A fourth man was never found. A fifth was sent to Tokyo to be questioned under torture. The rest were rounded up and taken to Kyushu Imperial University where they were murdered by the medical staff who dissected them alive in the post mortem room. The witness to all this was Dr Toshio Tono, a young medical assistant at the time.

In the 1980s he wrote a book about the event which named names, most of whom were, by then, in senior posts within the university. According to the author, the dissection of the prisoners paid particular attention to the brain, heart, liver and stomach. Times and places are given. On May 17th 1945, two Americans were dissected, on May 22nd two more, on the 25th a single man and on June 2nd, the last three men died. The horror is not over yet. On June 3rd the last victim’s liver was preserved for a party that evening in the Officers’ Hospital. More than one witness has come forward to say that the meat was chargrilled, seasoned with soy sauce and served as an hors-d’œuvre to the military and civilian guests, who knew what they were eating and enjoyed the meal.

I suspect that this incident may well have inspired Hannibal Lecter.



Filed under Criminology, Film & TV, History, Pacific Theatre, Politics, Science, the Japanese, war crimes

14 responses to ““The Devil’s Doctors” by Dr Mark Felton (2)

  1. I clicked “Liked” solely to show that I had read your posting John. I did not “like” what I read. It is impossible to describe the horror that I feel when I read such accounts. There can be no apologies for such behavior.

    • I know exactly what you mean. People occasionally write about their own illnesses or family bereavements and I never know whether to click “Like” or not.
      Sadly, there is worse to come, and, of course, the perpetrators go on to have long, happy lives running multinational companies. Let’s hope that there is a Heaven and a Hell. (And a valid system of deciding which one we go to!)

  2. same here, john. i hesitated on ‘liking’, but the story is a riveting tale that must be told. that we may all learn some lessons of the past.

    • Your words are strangely reminiscent of the occasion years ago when we took a class to hear a Holocaust survivor talk about Auschwitz. He told my colleague and myself “You are teachers. Now tell my tale to as ,many people as you can. That way it will never be repeated”. And I like to think that I have made the effort!

  3. That unit was downright ruthless. What, if any, answers were developed from the “research and experiments!!”

  4. It just goes to show that power and money do have their rewards. These people should have, regardless of their ‘successes’, been tried and punished for these hideous crimes. What scientific benefit can they possibly lean on to get off of such barbaric actions. Just appalling. I do wish WordPress would change the ‘like’ to something else, maybe ‘read and appreciated’ after all many of the sites we follow have difficult reading and a reply shows your feelings on the subject matter. Too much of ‘faceache’ about ‘like’.

  5. I fully agree with you. One gentleman I follow had a sudden bereavement and it was very difficult to know what to do. Any words from me seemed ridiculous at such a time, and, as you say, “Like”, even more so.

  6. Chris Waller

    That is appalling. It is a level of depravity extreme even by the standards of the then Japanese military. What kind of mind could countenance such behaviour?

    • Strangely enough, in the very last post on this subject, you will see that, just as the Japanese Navy was about to exterminate the West Coast of the USA with bubonic plague and a cocktail of nerve gases, the Chief of the General Staff, Yoshijiro Umezu, put a stop to it all, on more or less, humanitarian grounds. So that means that perhaps not every Japanese was as crazy as the rest.
      I am currently reading a marvellous book called “Soldaten – On Fighting, Killing and Dying: The Secret Second World War Tapes of German POWs by Sonke Neitzel and Harald Welzer”
      Neitzel is a professor at Glasgow University and Welzer is a psychologist / sociologist. I’ve only read fifty pages so far but it is well worth the £1.10 second hand price on Amazon. A fascinating look at how and why the Germans could have done what they did and just how vile all human beings can be when they have the opportunity.

  7. Humans love to inflict pain for the sake of inflicting it.

    • You are absolutely correct! I am currently reading a book by two young German university professors and they call it “autotelic violence” which means violence for its own sake. It explains the German pilots who machine gunned English schools, or my friend’s mother, who was machine gunned in the same way as she worked in a farmer’s field.
      Perhaps nowadays one of the most frequent places to encounter autotelic violence is in the secondary school, or in the behaviour of far too many men towards women.

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