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HOME > JAPAN > ANNIHILATE

'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 No. 10)

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:

The Time.

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 force.

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 dictates.

(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.