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The Death March Essay

1631 words - 7 pages

Plan of Investigation
A tactic used in past wars, and also categorized as a war crime, is known as the death march. These marches have often been criticized for being inhumane, and forcing enemy soldiers into “conditions primitive and unsanitary.” (51 Allen) Both of the death marches studied in this historical investigation occurred in World War II. The first is the Bataan Death March, inflicted upon Americans and Filipinos by the Japanese. The second case studied will be the forced movement of “undesirables” (i.e. Jews, Homosexuals, blacks, gypsies, etc.) in the numerous Nazi death marches. How and why did the reasons and strategies for the Bataan Death March compare with those of the Nazi death marches? Both cases will be summarized and then analyzed. The justification for these marches will therefore lead to deciphering the extent that these marches helped the instigating countries, and what war would have been like without them. Primary sources, such as “Abandoned on Bataan,” along with secondary sources such as “Double Victory” will be utilized to fully comprehend the differences of the two marches.
Summary of Evidence
1) Bataan Death March
When General MacArthur of the United States surrendered, the Japanese were not prepared for the immense number of US and Filipino prisoners. Their justification for their war crimes comes from their culture. The Japanese were instilled with the idea of fight or death. Surrendering was not an option to the Japanese, because it made one scum, and not even human. In the Japanese perspective, the American soldiers that surrendered had intentionally put themselves in this position. The Japanese did what they were taught; their cultural traditions allowed for the violence and brutality. Japanese soldiers were conditioned to be harsh. Their training was not very respectful to the Japanese themselves. The death march could have been a release of cruelty that had been inflicted upon the Japanese regiments themselves. It was also a convincingly easy way to maintain discipline among POWs (Prisoners of War), the same way their sergeant had maintained discipline over them.

2) Nazi Death March
Numerous death marches led by the Nazis to transfer Jews, gypsies, and other cultures to various concentration camps towards the center Germany. Up until then, concentration camps were scattered all across Western Europe. The Reich was slowly being surrounded by the Allies, with the Soviets on the east and Americans on the west. Soviet soldiers had already “overrun the first of the major Nazi concentration camps, Lublin/Majdanek.” Due to fear that the rest of the Nazi death camps would have the same fate, concentration camps further away from The Reich were evacuated. This was done in order to prevent the Allies from discovering the happenings at their camps. The Nazis believed that containment of their prisoners in camps was a necessary aspect of the Final Solution and protecting the Aryan...

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