War Crimes : Allied Atrocities
excerpts from The Wartime Journals of Charles A. Lindbergh
published by Harcourt Brace Jovanovich, Inc., New York, 1970

"Judge not that ye be not judged." It is not the Germans alone, or the Japs, but the men of all nations to whom this war has brought shame and degradation.

Where had I seen starvation like that before? It was on Biak Island, too. ...the Japanese prisoners ...so starved that they could not stand to walk, thinner even than this Pole. Oh, we had not starved them in a prison camp like the Germans. We had been too "civilized," too clever for that. We had let them starve themselves in the jungle (their own fault) by simply not accepting their surrender. ... It was only necessary to shoot a few men advancing to surrender with their hands in the air. ("You can't trust a Jap to surrender. He'll throw a grenade at you. The only way is to kill him right now.") Or one could be more blunt about it and shout to an enemy emissary, as our infantry officers boasted of doing at the west caves, "Get back in there and fight it out, you sons of bitches."

A long line of such incidents parades before my mind: the story of our Marines firing on unarmed Japanese survivors who swam ashore on the beach at Midway; the accounts of our machine-gunning prisoners on a Hollandia airstrip; of the Australians pushing captured Japanese soldiers out of the transport planes which were taking them south over the New Guinea mountains ("the Aussies reported them as committing hara-kiri or 'resisting'"); of the shinbones cut, for letter openers and pen trays, from newly killed Japanese bodies on Noemfoor; of the young pilot who was "going to cream that Jap hospital one of these days"; of American soldiers poking through the mouths of Japanese corpses for gold-filled teeth ("the infantry's favorite occupation"); of Jap heads buried in ant-hills "to get them clean for souvenirs"; of bodies bulldozed to the road-side and dumped by the hundreds into shallow, unmarked graves ...to the approval of thousands of Americans who claim to stand for high, civilized ideals.

As far back as one can go in history, these atrocities have been going on, not only in Germany with its Dachaus and its Buchenwalds and its Camp Doras, but in Russia, in the Pacific, in the riotings and lynchings at home, in the less-publicized uprisings in Central and South America, the cruelties of China, a few years ago in Spain, in pogroms of the past, the burning of witches in New England, tearing people apart on the English racks, burnings at the stake for the benefit of Christ and God. I look down at the pit of ashes....This, I realize, is not a thing confined to any nation or to any people. What the German has done to the Jew in Europe, we are doing to the Jap in the Pacific.

One prisoner was taken, according to the first report; but an infantry colonel told me later that no prisoners were taken at all. "Our boys just don't take prisoners."

Some of the bodies had been so badly torn apart that there were only fragments left. And as one of the officers with me said, "I see that the infantry have been up to their favorite occupation",i.e., knocking out all teeth that contain gold fillings for souvenirs.

One of them had apparently been used for a hospital. One of the bodies on the floor was still lying, partially covered, on a stretcher. This is the cave where the Japs reportedly tried to surrender and were told by our troops to "get the hell back in and fight it out."

They often bring back the thigh bones from the Japs they kill and make pen holders and paper knives and such things out of them.

What is courage for us is fanaticism for him. We hold his examples of atrocity screamingly to the heavens while we cover up our own and condone them as just retribution for his acts. I stand looking at the patch of scorched jungle, at the dark spots in the cliffs which mark the caves where the Japanese troops have taken cover. In that burned area, hidden under the surface of the ground, is the utmost suffering - hunger, despair, men dead and dying of wounds, carrying on for a country they love and for a cause in which they believe, not daring to surrender even if they wished to, because they know only too well that our soldiers would shoot them on sight even if they came out with their hands above their heads.

Before the bodies in the hollow were "bulldozed over," the officer said, a number of our Marines went in among them, searching through their pockets and prodding around in their mouths for gold-filled teeth. Some of the Marines, he said, had a little sack in which they collected teeth with gold fillings. The officer said he had seen a number of Japanese bodies from which an ear or a nose had been cut off."Our boys cut them off to show their friends in fun, or to dry and take back to the States when they go. We found one Marine with a Japanese head. He was trying to get the ants to clean the flesh off the skull, but the odor got so bad we had to take it away from him." It is the same story everywhere I go.

It seemed impossible that men - civilized men - could degenerate to such a level. Yet they had. ...it was we, Americans, who had done such things, we who claimed to stand for something different. We, who claimed that the German was defiling humanity in his treatment of the Jew, were doing the same thing in our treatment of the Jap. "They really are lower than beasts. Every one of 'em ought to be exterminated." How many times I heard that statement made by American officers in the Pacific! "And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother's eye but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?"