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'Annihilate them all'
(the order to murder PWs)
[Intercepted and decoded by the Allies, this message from the
Japanese Vice Minister of War to the Commanding General of
Military Police in Taiwan explains the conditions under which
prisoners of war could be executed without specific
orders from Tokyo. It was translated from the Journal
of the Taiwan P.O.W. H.Q. in Taiwan, dated 1 August 1944.
Linda Goetz Holmes, author of
Japan's Companies Built Postwar Fortunes Using American POWs,
points out that it was not a military order, but a policy
clarification, since the author in the war ministry did not have
the authority to issue orders. Still, according to Holmes, the
message was "transmitted to every POW camp commander in
Japanese-occupied territory as well as the home islands," and
widely known among former Japanese soldiers and former prisoners. The
memo was introduced into evidence at the post-war trials of
Japanese war criminals. -- Dan Ford]
2. The following answer about the extreme measures for POW's was
sent To the Chief of Staff of the 11th Unit (Formosa POW Security
3. Under the present situation if there were a mere explosion or
fire a shelter for the time being could be had in nearby
buildings such as the school, a warehouse, or the like. However
at such time as the situation became urgent, and it be extremely
important, the P.O.W.'s will be concentrated and confined in
their present location and under heavy guard the preparation for
the final disposition will be made.
The time and method of this disposition are as follows:
Although the basic aim is to act under superior orders individual
disposion may be made in the following circumstances.
(a) When an uprising of large numbers cannot be suppressed
without the use of firearms.
(b) When escapees from the camp may turn into a hostile fighting
2. The Methods.
(a) Whether they are destroyed individually or in groups or
however it is done, with mass bombing, poisonous smoke, poisons,
drowning, decapitation, or what, dispose of them as the situation
(b) In any case it is the aim not to allow the escape of a single
one, to annihilate them all, and not to leave any traces.