[USA Today 12/24]
USA Today had an interesting article about Angelina Jolie’s new film. American Olympian Louis Zamperini gets shot down and captured by the Japanese in WWII and is put through a living hell. Even a poor student of history such as myself knew the Japanese were well versed in barbarism towards Americans and the Chinese in WWII. “Bataan Death March”, “The Rape of Nanking”, the Japanese Imperial Army was quite the collection of bastards.
Evidently a sizeable percentage of Japanese are upset with the telling of this story. Why? Did Jolie lie? Fabricate? Doesn’t sound like it. She tells history. How many times have we heard of young Japanese tourists coming to Hawaii, seeing the Arizona Memorial, and being completely taken aback. They knew nothing of Pearl Harbor.
One of the statistics in the article completely blew me away though. While just 1 % of American POWs died in the hands of the Germans, 40 % of American POWs in the hands of the Japanese died. 40 % ?? That’s incredible. How come Americans aren’t taught that in school? But then, why aren’t Americans taught a lot of things in school?
One of the nuggets of WWII history that has amazed me as an adult, is that of the Holocaust. There is a large percentage of Americans who believe the Holocaust consisted solely of 6 million Jews being murdered. They have no idea that 5.3 million “other” were murdered. Who were these 5.3 million? Where did they die? How did they die? When did they die? What was their story? Who knows.
Where a lot of Americans get their cultural history, Hollywood, has always been singularly uninterested in the 5.3 million. Only the 6 million. Why would that be do you suppose? Hmm. If in any conversation about mass murderers in history, Hitler will always be used as the example of the worst of the worst. Hitler is third place. How come so few people know that? Stalin is number two, and by quite a margin. He is believed to be responsible for the deaths of between 24 – 36 million Russians. Hitler isn’t even close, even when you add in the 5.3 million forgotten.
Mao Tse-tung is the number one killer of all-time! He’s got to be turning over in his grave, Hitler this, Hitler that, Hitler, Hitler, Hitler! Mao is listed for between 49 million and 78 million deaths. No one else is even close. Yet for some reason history is obsessed with Hitler. It must seem a little insulting to the Chinese that they don’t count. Whether it was the barbarism of the Japanese, or their own Mao.
They are the forgotten. Few books, no movies, no TV specials. Why is that? There are lots of holes in our history, why is that?