A Crime of War is defined as excessive brutality during war in violation of an international treaty or convention. These crimes varied from massacres, looting, and torture of any form. In WWII, both sides committed such crimes. But, the Axis held the majority of them.
Germany is most known for the Holocaust during the Second World War. This was a Crime of War made up of hundreds of violations. Along with the Holocaust, the Germans have several other notable Crimes of War to add to their massive list. Some key examples are as follows: Massacres, killing of children, deportation, enslavement, persecutions on racial, religious, or political grounds, and experimentation.
One thing Japan and Germany had in common was their medical experimentations on prisoners throughout the war. They did different tests, but they shared a common ending. Almost all of their patients died from the experiments. The experiments ranged from testing gases to testing human boundaries of survival. One doctor in particular was oversaw many of the experiments on humans. His name was Eduard Wirths and he supervised the experiments done in Auschwitz. His specialty was twins. He did many experiments on twins, including sowing them together to form man-made Siamese twins to see what would happen. He committed suicide after he was captured in 1945 by British troops. Other medical experiments consisted of mass sterilization, exposure to extreme temperatures, transplants, head injury experiments, burning, altitude limits on human body, and countless other sadistic experiments.
Although Japan did not affect as many innocent people as Germany did, they made up for it in the heaviness of their Crimes of War. One crime that sums up the ferocity with which Japanese soldiers treated citizens was the Nanking Massacre.
Before this infamous and tragic massacre took place, a battle of Chinese and Japanese soldiers took place. Being poorly trained, the Chinese fell. The 50,000 Japanese soldiers that survived the battle of taking Nanking stormed the city. Infuriated by how long the battle took, the Japanese soldiers channeled their rage to the local population. The Chinese soldiers that surrendered were forced to die in preposterous and inhuman ways. Some were doused with gasoline and publicly burned to death. Others had to dig their own graves before they were used as human targets for bayonet practice. But most who surrendered were decapitated and had their heads put on display as a warning to the public.
The women and children weren’t as lucky as the men. An estimated 80,000 women were sexually assaulted. After they lived through these terrors, they were immediately killed to prevent the women from telling others what had happened to them. Ages varied from over seventy years old to under eight. Those who weren’t lucky enough to be killed were declared slaves of the Japanese soldiers, also known as comfort women. One gruesome practice committed by Japanese soldiers was against Chinese infants. The soldiers would toss a captured baby into the air and proceed to catch the innocent child on the end of their bayonets.
Other than organized murders and other atrocities, random killings occurred throughout the city. The Japanese had “authority” to kill who ever they wanted to for any motive they came up with. Along with all of the deaths, many buildings and pieces of privately owned land was burned to the ground after it was looted of any goods. After this damage was done, Japan needed to calm the people of Nanking down. To help pacify the population, they gave out doses of heroin and opium to the remaining survivors. An estimated 50,000 people became addicted to heroin in Nanking while many others let opium dens swallow their lives.
Some understandably refer to the Nanking tragedy as a small holocaust. After about six weeks of utter carnage, the population of 600,000 people was reduced to about 300,000. All of this occurred between 1937 and 1938, three years before the U.S. declared war on Japan.
Even though Russia was considered an allied power, they did things to the enemy that could be considered just as corrupt as the Axis. For example, the Red Army committed rape to women in European countries. There are several eye witness accounts of what happened to them, but they are extremely graphic and disturbing. The facts are, over 100,000 women were raped in Berlin alone. The rapes commonly went hand in hand with other tortures such as the removal of breasts.