WW2 soldiers radicalised by their diaries, finds study

May 08, 2013

A historian studying World War Two soldiers responsible for violent atrocities in the Far East, says they were partly radicalised by their own dairies.

Dr Aaron William Moore, from The University of Manchester, has been studying the private diaries of 200 American, Chinese and Japanese soldiers over the past ten years for a new book out next month.

The diaries he tracked down were written during the eight years of "total war", in which up to 20 million Chinese died and resulted in 2 million Japanese military casualties.

One low point was the 'Rape of Nanjing' following the Japanese capture of the former capital of the Republic of China on December 13, 1937.

Hundreds of thousands of Chinese civilians and disarmed soldiers were murdered by soldiers of the Imperial Japanese Army.

"The state did not 'brainwash' these people into committing atrocities," said Dr Moore.

"Rather, it was a number of factors, including their diaries, which they used to build up a rationale which normalised acts of ."

One 1937 diary, found by Dr Moore, was written when Chinese Nationalist soldiers began seeking out and executing, suspected 'traitors' without trial.

Luo Zhuoying wrote that 'every officer should search their vicinity for these traitors, selling their country and committing crimes, and execute them by firing squad.'

But Japanese troops also convinced themselves that acts of violence were acceptable:

Ōuchi Toshimichi was with one of the first units in Nanjing in 1937 where the massacre took place. Toshimichi wrote in his diary: 'The Chinese army has become really despicable to me; I want us to wipe them out as quickly as possible.'

Even a US Christian Army Chaplain, Charles Trent, marked in his diary the numbers of 'good', meaning 'dead' 'Japs'.

John Browning, an American artist and former Boy Scout, who witnessed the beheading of a Japanese captive by machete, wrote in his diary, 'War is war, and the Geneva Red Cross Convention … is a long, long way from the front line. There is but one law here, KILL, KILL, KILL!'.

Dr Moore said: "Diaries, written by soldiers in wartime, can actually be quite dangerous: they are seen by their writers as repositories of unchangeable truths.

"These often come from ordinary backgrounds, but through their writing established a rationale for extreme behaviour, getting angrier and angrier. You can't rewrite a document and you can't change history.

"It's also true that veterans in conflict - including Iraq - seem to have more difficulty in coming to terms with themselves if they have written a diary.

"If you are a soldier and decide to write a diary, you should think about your goal and the consequences of what you write."

He added: "Battlefield reports have always been a requirement in the field of war. But as the twentieth century culture of reportage emerged, they became more personal.

"Personal diaries were officially not allowed on the front line , but it would have been hypocritical for officers to stop them, as they were writing something similar themselves."

Explore further: A two generation lens: Current state policies fail to support families with young children

More information: Writing War: Soldiers Record the Japanese Empire, will be available on June 27.

add to favorites email to friend print save as pdf

Related Stories

War affects Iraqis' health more after fleeing

Nov 03, 2008

The risk of depression is greater among Iraqi soldiers who took part in the Gulf War than among civilians. Surprisingly, on the other hand, neither of these groups showed any signs of post-traumatic stress ten years after ...

First World War Christmas truces uncovered

Dec 15, 2010

Opposing troops putting aside their differences in 1914 to share Christmas carols and exchange gifts is one of the most enduring images of World War One.

UK study says violence more likely among vets, troops

Mar 15, 2013

Young men who have served in the British military are about three times more likely than civilians to have committed a violent offense, researchers reported Friday in a study that explores the roots of such ...

Intensive care diaries protect patients from PTSD

Sep 16, 2010

Some intensive care patients develop post-traumatic stress syndrome (PTSD) after the trauma of a difficult hospital stay, and this is thought to be exacerbated by delusional or fragmentary memories of their time in the intensive ...

Soldiers who desecrate the dead see themselves as hunters

May 21, 2012

Modern day soldiers who mutilate enemy corpses or take body-parts as trophies are usually thought to be suffering from the extreme stresses of battle. But, research funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) ...

The Growing Market for 'War Porn' -- What's Going On?

May 17, 2010

(PhysOrg.com) -- "War porn" -- videos viewed for entertainment that feature gruesome footage of dead American soldiers or the killing of soldiers and civilians in the Middle East wars -- are growing in numbers online, in ...

Recommended for you

Scholar tracks the changing world of gay sexuality

Sep 19, 2014

With same-sex marriage now legalized in 19 states and laws making it impossible to ban homosexuals from serving in the military, gay, lesbian and bisexual people are now enjoying more freedoms and rights than ever before.

User comments : 4

Adjust slider to filter visible comments by rank

Display comments: newest first

RobertKarlStonjek
3 / 5 (2) May 08, 2013
RATIONALISED not RADICALISED

And this error has been blindly repeated around other news outlets....

So many people are just toooo stupid to read their own text....
Mandan
1 / 5 (2) May 08, 2013
RATIONALISED not RADICALISED

And this error has been blindly repeated around other news outlets....

So many people are just toooo stupid to read their own text....


Wow. I won't call you stupid, but you kind of are. Worst of all, you're accusing someone else of being stupid while doing something stupid yourself. I know you probably won't understand any of this, but here goes:

A person cannot be rationalized. A person can be either rational or irrational. Only ideas, actions or motives can be rationalized-- i.e. to attribute (one's actions) to rational and creditable motives without analysis of true and especially unconscious motives ; broadly : to create an excuse or more attractive explanation for .

A person CAN however, be radicalized. A motive or action can be radical, and so can an individual be radical, but an individual can never be rationalized, nor a motive or action ever be radicalized.

VENDItardE
1 / 5 (1) May 08, 2013

Wow. I won't call you stupid, but you kind of are. Worst of all, you're accusing someone else of being stupid while doing something stupid yourself. I know you probably won't understand any of this, but here goes:



I will just accuse you of stupidity. Try using a dictionary before you attack someone......moron. Words do frequently have more than one meaning or usage.
RobertKarlStonjek
1 / 5 (1) Jun 01, 2013
The article clearly explains that soldiers *rationalise* their actions through their own diary accounts.

This is like saying that person was 'evangelised' by their own diary. Maybe someone could be converted to another religion or political view by their diary.

Let's get real here ~ these people wrote their own diary and they rationalised the actions they had already committed. If they had radicalised themselves (impossible for all but schizophrenics) then the diary entry would have to come BEFORE the act, not after it.

How can you radicalise yourself with a diary entry after the act. The stupidity of some people who defend an error knows no bounds...