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.

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Sep. 07, 1948  War Trials and Future Peace
Jul. 07, 1945  Enemy Property
Nov. 20, 1943  Courts-Martial and Military Law
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Mar. 30, 1942  War Atrocities
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Conflicts in Asia
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World War II