All over the civilised world there are many museum’s and memorials dedicated solely to the Holocaust.
WIKIPEDIA lists 25 countries, which between them house no less than 156 dedicated buildings and/or permanent reminders.
The mainstream media, as well as Government funded education systems, continually push any Holocaust-related story, however insignificant or inaccurate it may be.
It’s almost as though they want people to believe, that the Jewish people were the only one’s who suffered any significant hardship during the Second World War.
There are any number of websites you can visit, which will give a far more accurate depiction of the Holocaust, than the mainstream media and the establishment would feel comfortable with people learning about.
But even the mere suggestion that the Holocaust did not happen the way the mainstream media and historians say it did, is now a criminal offence in many countries, punishable by fines or imprisonment, so I will not do that here.
I shall instead relate a story about another, equally important, but much lesser known second world war centred, Museum/Memorial.
Less than two hours drive from the city of Bangkok, Thailand, there is a town called Kanchanaburi.
In this town, there are two museums, the World War II Museum and the smaller JEATH MUSEUM
Built in 1977 by the chief abbot of Wat Chaichumpol, this bamboo structure closely resembles the huts that Japanese POW’s were forced to live in during their internment.
The World War II Museum, located at the site of the old railway bridge, was opened on 5th December 1988 by Boonyiam Chansiri and her family.
Her father died fighting the Japanese when she was only eleven years old.
The word JEATH incidently, is an acronym for the soldiers of Japan, England, Australia, Thailand and Holland, all of whom helped build the now infamous ‘Death Railway.’
The Railway stretched for 415 km from Thanbyuzayat in Burma to Nong Pladuk in Bangpong District in Ratchaburi province in Thailand.
304 km of the railway was located in Thailand, the remaining 111 km in Burma.
More than 16,000 prisoners died during the construction of the railway, which works out as about thirty-eight prisoners perished for every km of the railway.
The prisoners died of sickness of all types, malnutrition, torture, ill treatment and pure exhaustion.
There was very little or no medical treatment made available to them and many of the prisoners suffered horrendously before they finally died.
Their ‘diet,’ as it was, consisted of a single dish of rice and salted vegetables, served twice a day.
They were then forced to work up to sixteen hours a day, under what were often atrocious weather conditions.
Many of them were also brutally tortured, even for the smallest misdemeanours.
Some of the more routine ‘Punishments’ included savage daily beatings, being made to kneel on sharp sticks while holding a boulder for up to three hours at a time, holding full buckets of water at arms length and shoulder height, and being tied to a tree with barbed wire and left for two to three days without food or water.
There were often more inventive types of punishment that are on record, including being buried in the ground in all weathers, with only the prisoners head protuding.
Crucifixion with bayonets was another ‘punishment’ that was known to have occurred, usually reserved for any clergymen who were captured.
One army chaplain from South Wales, who somehow survived his time as a POW, had bitten off his own tongue in an attempt to not cry out, as the steel blades were driven through his hands and lower legs with a piece of wood.
From the very start of the war, the Japanese POW guards had acted no better than savages towards their charges, and were well known to turn at a moment’s notice into sadistic executioners.
Although Japan had signed the 1929 Geneva Convention relative to the treatment of POW’s, it did not ratify it.
Some of the reasons for this barbaric behavior may have lain in their attitude towards surrender.
The Japanese would willingly commit suicide ‘Hari-Kiri’ than give in to an enemy.
Coupled with their belief that POW camp guards were classed as cowards by their own countrymen, and a disgrace to their families and the Japanese Empire, this usually meant their own humiliation ensured the inhuman treatment of their captives.
The POW camps were also built close to the railway and other strategic positions, so POW’s also became very vulnerable to Allied air attacks and many prisoners were killed in the ensuing bombing raids.
Many of these prisoners were only in their late teens and early twenties and it was probably their first time away from home.
In his book, ‘No Time For Geishas’, Geoffrey Adams wrote: “Those POW who never went above the bridge at Tamarkan could count themselves fortunate indeed, for the Japanese in the base areas never displayed the same cruelty and callousness as did those further up-country in the jungle camps.
Conditions there, especially during the 1943 monsoon, were unimaginable by those who did not suffer them.”
It could be argued by some, that as these men were captured soldiers, the treatment they recieved was somehow less of an injustice than was suffered by Jewish civilians in Ghettos and concentration camps under the Nazi regime in Europe.
But that argument does not take into account, that by early 1943, disease, starvation and sheer overwork had so decimated the work force that the Japanese had utilised more than 200,000 Asian coolies to help finish the railway.
Many of these were simple labourers, they were not prisoners and were certainly not captured enemy soldiers.
They were predominately Chinese, Malay, Tamil and Burmese nationals, but were treated in a similar terrible manner as the POW’s by the Japanese.
It is believed that at least 80,000 of these labourers died during the construction of the railway, but the actual number could even be as high as 150,000+ as no official records of them were found or probably even kept.
The remains of about 12,000 prisoners lie in three cemeteries at Kanchanaburi, Chungkai (which is across the river and about two km down the road from Kanchanaburi) and Thanbyuzayat in Burma.
Upwards of 61,700 prisoners were brought in to build the death railway.
One in five of all workers died during it’s construction.
The Death Railway was both a testament to man’s immense capacity for evil and also, to man’s unfailing tenacity, ingenuity, bravery and fortitude of the human spirit.
Should that not be remembered in a similar manner around the world too?