Sunday, November 1, 2009


To justify killing during wartime, soldiers resorted to the process of dehumanizing and demeaning of the enemy. American soldiers arranged the Axis powers on a scale from the most courageous down to most cowardly and also from the most animalistic to the most humane.

The Japanese were depicted to as brave yet were the most feral creatures. They were stereotyped as small insect like rodents that were able to survive on a handful of rice, roots and grubs. They thought that these feral creatures could see in the dark like animals in the jungle. Many condescending names were given to the Japanese such as Japs, jackals, Chinks, bestial apes, Nips, monkey-men, sub-human, and the yellow Huns of the east.

The Italians were depicted as timid humans that lacked courage. The stereotype was that they were music loving, ice-cream eating well dressed incompetent Wop's. It was said that they took one step forward and two steps back ( London dance step of the time- Tuscana).

The Germans were considered cold, sinister, methodical human beings. The Krauts were depicted as enemies of human decency. Some referred to them as "diseased Germans" because they were not right in their minds.

Magazine's such as Life, The Saturday Evening Post, and Collier's Magazine ran articles filled with pictorial propaganda of our enemies in order to keep every American family enraged with our enemies.

The Americans hatred of the Japanese escalated after the Bataan Death March and the attack on Pearl Harbor. These events validated American thoughts that these "non-white" Japanese had to be animals. The skulls of Japs were cleaned and kept as trophies, even sent to loved ones as a souvenir. Because they did not consider Japanese as human beings, they felt this practice was as acceptable as hanging the head of hunted game. However, the thought of keeping the skull of an Italian or a German was considered practically sacrilegious.

American Soldiers boiling a skull of a Japanese soldier

The decapitated head of a Japanese soldier

During wartime brutal murder is inevitable, however Americans took it to another level because of their prejudges against non-white human beings.

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