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The Bataan Death March

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World War II was a very terrible war to begin with. More and more countries had begun to use more violent ways of winning with the U.S. finally ending the war with the most destructive weapon the world had ever seen: the atomic bomb. These ways of war were very sad and terrible. One devastating occurrence during World War II was the Bataan Death March. The march had been the aftermath of a terrible battle on the peninsula of Bataan. The Japanese had defeated U.S. and Filipino forces and forced them to go on this treacherous march. The Bataan Death March was considered a terrible war crime that may have been treated more harshly than it was.
On April 3, 1942, the Japanese Army led by Masaharu Homma staged an attack on Allied forces on the Bataan Peninsula. The attack smashed through the allied defenses and the generals surrendered. Then the Japanese forced them on this perilous march. The Japanese had not been prepared for the mass number of soldiers that they captured. They anticipated the Allied forces to hold out a month longer, long enough for the Japanese to prepare supply lines and for the prisoners. Since the Allied forces surrendered so quickly the Japanese had not been prepared.
The first major crime was the execution of 400 U.S. and Filipino officers after they had already surrendered. The Japanese expected to march the prisoners to Balanga in one day. They treated the prisoners very badly. Soldiers were beaten, bayoneted and even murdered. They were given no food or water. Heat and exhaustion claimed many lives. The troops were dying at a rate of 30-50 per day. The death toll reached 5,000-10,000 Filipino and 600 American troops by the time they had reached Camp O’ Donnell.
The Bataan Death March sparked controversies in the U.S. The public was shocked when informed of the march. The U.S. government also used the march to arouse fury in the public and to get them aroused about war. The Japanese government tried to cover up the mistakes they had made. They forced Filipino newspapers to print lies about treating the prisoners with dignity and respect and giving them proper food and medical attention. The Japanese tried to counter the U.S. propaganda with these newspapers.
After the war had been won by the U.S, the Japanese were accused of committing war crimes. Prime Minister Hideki Tojo was tried and convicted of war crimes and was executed for his deeds. Many other Japanese generals and officers related to the march were also executed. Kenji Doihara, Seishiro Itagaki, Heitaro Kimura, and Iwane Matsui were all tried and convicted and some executed for Japanese war crimes against humanity and the U.S. Many thought that the Japanese were wrongly convicted of war crimes. Many had not done to full extent of the crimes and some not even all the crimes that had been charged against them. Hideki Tojo’s daughter claims that her father did not deserve to be branded as a Class-A war criminal. Tojo was not that much of a war criminal and I do believe that he was charged too severely.
The Bataan Death March was a severe punishment for the soldiers of the U.S. and the Philippines. It was one of the most deadliest marches that occurred in World War II. The Japanese responsible for the march were rightly tried and most executed for the war crimes. The Bataan Death March was a main even in World War II that changed many lives of soldiers during that time. Without the march, the world would have been better. More soldiers would not have the terrible memories of the march. Many of the Japanese officials would probably be dead but they would have lived with a little more dignity. The Bataan Death March was a Japanese war crime that had been committed against the U.S. and it is a very important thing to remember and study as many lives were lost before and after the March.





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