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Topic ClosedHuman Trophy Taking in The Pacific War (WW2)

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NBSHistory View Drop Down

Joined: 15 Oct 2017
Location: Canada
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Direct Link To This Post Topic: Human Trophy Taking in The Pacific War (WW2)
    Posted: 06 Dec 2017 at 02:13

There is very little scholarly work on this subject involving the theft of Human Skulls and Teeth during the Pacific War. U.S Marine's shipped a lot of these back through the post office as souvenirs to their loved one's. I have done a piece on it (youtube link underneath) trying to show some of the cases that made headlines (even one found in Time Magazine).


Would love to hear any critique or further information on the subject as there is limited data on its events.
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franciscosan View Drop Down
WorldHistoria Master
WorldHistoria Master

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Direct Link To This Post Posted: 09 Dec 2017 at 14:39
Watched about half of it, not to my taste.  You seem to characterize WWII in the Pacific as a racial war, which it is in only a vague sense, the Japanese were very racial in the Great East Asian Co-prosperity Sphere, having a firm sense of "racial" superiority, they thought America would be weak and give in easily.  Americans in response demonized the Japanese, but intentionally avoided attacking the Emperor. Yes, there was a great deal of racial prejudice against the Japanese, but not against the Germans.  But, because the Americans didn't expect anything better from the Japanese (and did expect better of the Germans), their treatment after the war was more lenient, blaming everything on the Tojo regime, and again, leaving the Emperor out of war crimes trials.  
In contrast, look at how Eisenhower treated German soldiers who surrendered after the surrender of Germany.  Eisenhower did not treat them as POWs (which technically they were not), and many died of disease and malnutrition in holding camps.  Eisenhower, angry with what happened in the death camps, ignored the non-POWs' health in the holding camps between the limbo of the surrender, and the re-establishment of order by the allies.

Taking teeth does not make sense for trophies, taking _gold_ teeth makes sense, in economic way, not a trophy way.

Trophies are rather gruesome, but in ancient times, the head or the right hand showed how many enemy were killed.  Also with a head, there is no doubt about death, and no doubt about identity, if it was someone militarily/politically significant.  It does not serve that purpose (except symbolically?) now.  

In Vietnam, it was said that you wanted to be stationed near a ROK outfit (Republic of Korea- _very_ anti-communist) because they didn't mess around, but brought back heads.  Another story is ears.  There is a message there, you take heads, your tough, you not only can stomach the killing, but revel in it.  Ears become something a "bad-ass" can wear on a cord around the neck.  But ears don't have the identity to them, and probably don't become a trophy like a skull.  
One hopes that soldiers don't mutilate the dead, and ambulance corps are supposed to car for any wounded, non-aggressive former combatant or neutral party.  But, those are ideals, and the reality is often different.  I doubt many marines or army soldiers had time in their basic training to become instilled with those military ideals.  
I imagine that trophies were more an exception than the rule, but at the same time, I also imagine that they were an exception that everybody had at least heard about, or could imagine happening.  There are those ideals, but more likely more real was the refrain of Admiral Hap Arnold(?), who said, " kill Japs, kill Japs, kill more Japs."  But you know, it probably was kind of hard to value the life of Japanese soldiers and civilians when they often were so keen at dying.  Germans and Italians at least understood the concept of surrender, respected it and did so when a battle was lost.  Japanese seemed to want to die, and for them no quarter was given and expected.  
The Pacific war was vicious in another way, if you wanted to desert in Europe, one could do so fairly easily, end up in Paris or other place and live off theft from the black market.  On the Islands in the "Pacific" there was no getting away from the war, nowhere to go if you ran, and appallingly high casualties.  It was much more vicious, all around, but again look how America treated the Japanese (with 'emperor' McArthur) after the war.  The Japanese car industry got started making Jeeps for Korea and Vietnam.  Of course, the Japanese recognized the authority of the Occupation.  Originally, America started to break up the business conglomerates (Zaibatsus), but put them back together again in the Cold War after the fall of China, and the invasion of North Korea.  

The United States has done fairly well by Japan, first with Perry and then with McArthur.  There was racism on all sides in World War II, but I would like to think that World culture overall tries to reject that.  I say, "try" because again that is one of those ideals, that we have problems with.
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