War Atrocities

March 30, 1942

Report Outline
Atrocities Against Civilians in War
Military and Political Uses of Atrocities
Post War Investigations of Atrocity Stories
Trials of German War Criminals

Atrocities Against Civilians in War

Eden Report on Atrocities at Hong Kong

Charges that atrocities had been committed by Axis forces came from all fronts during the month of March. Most sensational of the reports was made by Foreign Secretary Anthony Eden in a speech to the House of Commons, March 10, in which he asserted that the British government had learned from eyewitnesses that Japanese forces in Hong Kong had bound 50 British officers and men and bayoneted them to death. In addition, he said the government had “confirmed beyond any possibility of doubt” that both Asiatic and European women in Hong Kong had been raped and murdered by Japanese soldiers. Eden called for a redoubled effort to insure the “utter and overwhelming defeat” of the enemy. British press comment the following day ranged from the Times' statement that these atrocities had been “seldom rivaled and never surpassed in the history of international war during the last century,” to the plea of the Daily Mirror “o stop talking, muddling, and planning, and to … revenge them with deeds, not sympathy.”

The Eden charges were denied by a spokesman for the Japanese government in a Tokio broadcast on March 13, but it was reported that Washington propaganda officials had already shortwaved the atrocity claims to a number of foreign countries. On March 21 the State Department announced that it had received from American official sources in the Far East reports which, “on the basis of information received by the reporting officers from a number of persons who have recently escaped from Hong Kong,” confirmed the charges made by Eden.

Other atrocity stories came from Moscow, recounting acts of cruelty being practiced on Russian children by German soldiers, and from Stockholm came reports that copies of ten Swedish newspapers which printed eyewitness accounts of Nazi tortures as related by escaped Norwegians, had been seized by the government.

ISSUE TRACKER for Related Reports
Ethics in War
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Aug. 06, 2010  Drone Warfare Updated
May 2010  Confronting Rape as a War Crime
Jan. 2010  Truth Commissions
Feb. 27, 2009  Closing Guantánamo Updated
Jul. 2008  Child Soldiers
Sep. 2007  Torture Debate
Aug. 25, 2006  Treatment of Detainees
Apr. 18, 2003  Torture
Dec. 13, 2002  Ethics of War
Sep. 13, 2002  New Defense Priorities
Jul. 07, 1995  War Crimes
Apr. 26, 1972  Status of War Prisoners
Oct. 07, 1970  Military Justice
Jul. 12, 1967  Treatment of War Prisoners
Dec. 03, 1952  War Prisoner Repatriation
Sep. 07, 1948  War Trials and Future Peace
Jul. 07, 1945  Enemy Property
Nov. 20, 1943  Courts-Martial and Military Law
Mar. 15, 1943  War Guilt Trials
Mar. 30, 1942  War Atrocities
Feb. 02, 1942  Prisoners of War
Aug. 11, 1938  Aerial Bombardment of Civilian Populations
BROWSE RELATED TOPICS:
Conflicts in Asia
Global Issues
War and Conflict
World War II