Atom bombs saved millions of people in Asia


On the 6th August annual memorial events took place in Japan to commemorate the victims of the two very first A-bombs on Hiroshima (6th August 1945) and Nagasaki (9th August 1945).


The massive anti-A-bomb pro-Hiroshima demonstrations in the West  have sunk in oblivion. Notwithstanding the horror, victims of the Japanese concentration camps are finally able to say how grateful they are that the A-bombs saved them from mass destruction. And not only the quarter of a million or so allied prisoners, but also the millions of Asian people in the various occupied regions, who would have fallen victim to Japan’s war atrocities if the USA had not been able to force Japan to capitulate. Total surrender was so offensive to the Japanese military tradition that they would rather die and let millions of others die with them.


Gradually more and more secret war documents, that were intercepted by the US Army Secret Service,  are being declassified and their content opened to the public. Such as the emperor’s secret order (August 1944) to eliminate all imprisoned enemy-persons, both Western and Asians, as soon as the Allies invaded Japan, or made warfare for Japan difficult. The camp commanders were free to choose the liquidation method most appropriate for the situation. The original document offers a choice of  poisons, poisonous gases, encleavement, drowning and mass bombardment. There was one condition – “ Let no prisoner escape and do not leave any traces”.


In Ambarawa 6, the wellknown  prisoncamp for women and children in Mid-Java, (Indonesia) rumours were circulating, in the first half of 1945, that mass liquidation was at hand. The mothers were wondering how the Japanese would do it. Just leave them alone, and let them starve? Or let them free in the jungle? How naive these women were. But then how could they know about “weapons of mass destruction”?


Up till the 22nd of August 1945 (Japan surrendered on the 15th!) transports of women and children arrived in the Ambarawa region, from various other parts of Java, where they were crammed in the overpopulated barracks. On hindsight, the concentration of women and children was undoubtedly meant to be able to handle the planned total liquidation as efficient as possible. Was the Imperial Marine Fleet which was sitting in the Javanese waters and which was completely fitted out for chemical warfare, perhaps the chosen tool for DIE-DAY ? According to a newly declassified Imperial order of August 24th it was commissioned to destroy all equipment and documents on board the vessels. The fixed prisoners liquidation day was August 26th.


Also from personal testimonies it appeared that towards the end of the war the preparations of the liquidation project was in full swing.


Royal Marine sailor  Adriaan Kannegieter reports in his manuscript: “A Royal Marine sailor on a World Voyage ended up as a Slave Labourer on the Burma Railway”, that in his last work camp he and his prison mates were ordered to dig trenches in the earth  6 ft (2 metres) wide  by 3 ft (1 metre) deep and machine-gun hills in each corner of the campsite.”


“This was on August 15, the day Japan surrendered, but we did not have a clue. We only understood what they meant to do to us..... and we were feverishly discussing what we should do if the Japs started to do what they were meaning to. With the prospect of being slaughtered like cattle any time, we were going through very  devastating weeks.”


Martin Haar, a prisoner of war who was lastly in Bodjo slave camp at Pare Pare (Sulawesi, Indonesia) for building air strips, describes a similar experience. Of his group of 594 only 368 survived at the time that they were commanded to dig tunnels in the mountain side. “In order to safeguard you from the allied air assaults”, the Japs explained. However, a mate who was a Dutch mining engineer  told them not to believe their guards. “These tunnels are meant for easy liquidation. One or two hand grenades are sufficient to let the tunnels come down. We will be dead and buried and no one will ever find out”. 


This liquidation order of all prisoners in the occupied Asian regions was intercepted by the Americans. They knew that a quarter million allied prisoners and uncounted for Asian prisoners were at risk. They also knew that Japan was ready for chemical and biological warfare (first attempt on the US Westcoast was made in 1944, but failed due to technological shortcomings) as well as for an atomic bomb assault although their A-bomb was only small in size and destructive capacity.


Nevertheless, initially an invasion of Kyushu and Hoikkado was planned. Two dates were set - the 1st of November 1945 and the 1st of March 1946, dependant on the weather. However, as of April 1945 large troop movements in the direction Kyushu were spotted. Even on the 17th of July a new division arrived, which made the number of troops over 1.6 million.


The American High Command calculated that an invasion would cost a lot of American lives. In fact they knew quite well by the experience of the Normandy Invasion on July 4th, 1944 (D-Day) what was in store. On top of that there was another risk from the side of the USSR (Russia). McArthur wanted to avoid by all means the Russians arriving in Japan first and taking sole control of Japan, as they had done in Europe.        


Even if there never was an Imperial order for the destruction of millions  of prisoners on August 26th, it was not expected that the majority of the near-starved and sick prisoners of the Japanese concentration camps would have survived until November 1945. Let alone until March 1946!



Lilian Sluyter

Support Group

Stichting Vervolgingsslachtoffers Jappenkamp (SVJ)