Ghost Soldiers Essay Example


“In August 1944, the War Ministry in Tokyo had issued a directive to the commandants of various POW camps, outlining a policy for what it called the ‘final disposition’ of prisoners. A copy of this document, which came to be known as the ‘August 1 Kill-All Order,’ would surface in the war crimes investigations in Tokyo. Bearing a chilling resemblance to actual events that occurred at Palawan, the directive stated: 

‘When the battle situation becomes urgent the POWs will be concentrated and confined to their location and kept under heavy guard until preparations for the final disposition will be made. Although the basic aim is to act under superior orders, individual dispositions may be made in [certain] circumstances. Whether they are destroyed individually or in groups, and whether it is accomplished by means of mass bombing, poisonous smoke, poisons, drowning, or decapitation, dispose of them as the situation dictates. It is the aim not to allow the escape of a single one, to annihilate them all, and not to leave any traces.” This is the quote from Ghost soldiers that really puts the hammer in the nail. The book is mostly about prisoners of war and their struggles in fighting these wars.

The quote breaks down to simply this; Tokyo became under investigation over executions, the Japs did just that to United States troops, the Japs would (after this directive was put in place) do just about anything to kill POWs, and this created a sense of fear in soldiers that would be indescribable. The book starts out with a few examples of this. There was the men enslaved as POWs at a Japanese air base who were meant to fix the runway after American bombers bombed it. The Japs told these men that there was going to be another bombing so they forced them into their bunker like areas and as soon as all the troops were in there soon  enough they started dousing them with kerosene. This is a war crime and the detail given about the screams and the horrors is terrible. This sets the stage for the rest of the book and is a prime example of what this quote really means. This quote is leading people to see what happened to US troops during the Japanese invasions of WWII.

This quote talks about the bold move by the Japs to kill off POWs which resulted in making things even worse for the Japanese. This boosted the want and need for the United states to win a war against them. This made the soldiers want to fight more and surrender less. This would lead to an increase in Japanese deaths and a possible decrease in US deaths. This made them targets for more countries also breaking war code and making them pay demoralizing Japan and crippling their already falling government and country.

These war crimes were Punished and thousands of Japanese troops were tried and hundreds were executed for their crimes. Officers and soldiers alike knew that execution was a war crime and most of the executions from war crimes were because of criminal executions. The Japanese racked up these titles of faulty acts of war and it gave them a poor reputation. Going back to previous examples this made other countries especially the US want to show them basically who was boss and they weren’t going to stand for their countries troops getting executed. With most of the world’s nations behind each other's backs Justice was served and redemption for the fallen troops was found.

Getting more into the POWs thoughts and feelings another quote from Ghost soldiers that goes right along with the one already mention is “I thought we’d been forgotten,” the prisoner said. “No, you’re not forgotten,” Robbins said. “We’ve come for you.” This is from the “Rescue Mission” section of Ghost Soldiers and however the end is the light at the end of the tunnel the first words “I thought we’d been forgotten,” have a lot of meaning. When you try to grasp what goes on with POWs this should come to mind. It is often hard or impossible to get some of these men back. Most have poor living conditions, are forced into a type of slavery, starving, facing medical issues, and a lot more mostly terrible things. I believe that the initial quote I talked about isn’t in the right spirit for the topic and it downgrades the horrors of these situations.

In conclusion I believe that the quote talked about is one that should be thought about. That quote let people know what these people were doing to US troops and it is extremely important to the book. Ghost soldiers tells the story of all the bad that needed to get out that needed the world to know. The quote sets the theme of the story in place and it is maintained throughout the story and it helps the book get across the living nightmares that these POWs faced.

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