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The Horrors of Unit 731

Written by Ellison Morgan

Edited by Shania Sheth and Sharon Park


Hi Readers! This article on Unit 731 is the second article in our Social Psychology series, written by Ellison Morgan. Read on to learn about the horrors of the experiments that took place in Unit 731, and why they should never be repeated again.

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Neville Chamberlain once said, “In war, whichever side may call itself the victor, there are no winners, but all are losers”.


World War II was a time of global instability. Countries lost millions of soldiers to the war, and it will be forever remembered as an event that showed the world how inhumane we could be in pursuit of victory. Unit 731 was a unit in the Japanese military that was composed of doctors, nurses, and scientists stationed in Pinfang, China during the World War II era. The Unit conducted a variety of highly unethical experiments on both Chinese citizens and prisoners of war to discover methods for treating different illnesses, and injuries, and to test methods of future biological warfare. These experiments were so unethical that they often violated the Geneva Conventions, treaties agreed upon by the world's nations to limit the inhumane acts that may occur during wartime. Let’s take a look at some types of experiments that were performed by Unit 731:





Vivisection

Subjects were routinely cut open to see the effects of a disease or germ they were infected with. To make matters worse, some patients were not put under anesthesia. “I cut him open from face to stomach, and he screamed terribly…” recalled one anonymous doctor that was interviewed. Once cut open, scientists carefully studied their organs in order to observe the full effects of various diseases, such as the Bubonic Plague, Typhoid, Cholera, and Anthrax. When the researchers were done experimenting, the victim would be executed.




Frostbite

Another experiment conducted by the unit involved exposing victims to extremely cold and harsh conditions to the point of frostbite. The researchers would time how long it would take for a victim’s limb to fall off. They experimented with ways to re-warm frostbite-infected limbs. In the end, they discovered that immersing the limb in warm water was more effective than rubbing the limb repeatedly.



Ballistics

Prisoners were also regularly bound to poles and shot. This would allow doctors to practice treating different types of injuries that result from gunshots. Appendectomies, tracheostomies, and amputations were regularly performed. The lifeless bodies would also be used as dummies for bayonet practice done by soldiers.




Unit 731 was an example of how inhumane humans can be. The Japanese employed around 20,000 people to work for Unit 731. Ironically, about 2,000 researchers died from diseases related to the unit’s experiments. After World War 2 ended, the unit was disbanded, and its buildings were destroyed. The Japanese government denied its very existence until the late 90s. The US made a deal that if the Unit gave them their data, then the US would not put anyone on trial. Russia however went on to put several people on trial and charge them for their crimes.

The horrors of Unit 731, and the lives of the victims of this brutal experiment should never be forgotten and should never be repeated.



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Thanks for reading the 2nd article in our social psychology week! We hope you were able to learn about Unit 731, and the atrocities that were secretly committed by officials.


If you liked this article, check out the first article in our Social Psychology week on Euthanasia Ethics, written by Arushi Neravetla.


See you next time,

Ellison and the Writing Committee :)



Sites:

International, Hektoen. “Atrocities in Asia: The Story of Japan's Infamous Unit 731.” Hektoen International, 7 Jan. 2021, https://hekint.org/2021/01/07/atrocities-in-asia-japans-infamous-unit-731/.

Nicholas. “Unmasking Horror -- a Special Report.; Japan Confronting Gruesome War Atrocity.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 17 Mar. 1995, https://www.nytimes.com/1995/03/17/world/unmasking-horror-a-special-report-japan-confronting-gruesome-war-atrocity.html.

Stockton, Richard. “6 Horrifying Human ‘Experiments’ That Wwii Japan Got Away With.” All That's Interesting, All That's Interesting, 5 Nov. 2018, https://allthatsinteresting.com/unit-731/3.

Medical marvels


Unit 731


Neville Chamberlain once said, “In war, whichever side may call itself the victor, there are no winners, but all are losers”. World War II was a time of global instability. Countries lost millions of soldiers to the war and it will be forever remembered as an event that showed the world how inhumane we could be in pursuit of victory. Unit 731 was a unit in the Japanese military that was composed of doctors, nurses, and scientists stationed in Pinfang, China during the World War II era. The Unit conducted a variety of highly unethical experiments on both Chinese citizens and prisoners of war to discover methods for treating different illnesses, and injuries, and to test methods of future biological warfare. These experiments were so unethical that they often violated the Geneva Conventions, treaties agreed upon by the world's nations to limit the inhumane acts that may occur during wartime. Let’s take a look at some types of experiments that were performed by unit 731:




Vivisection

Subjects were routinely cut open to see the effects of a disease or germ they were infected with. To make matters worse, some patients were not put under anesthesia. “I cut him open from face to stomach, and he screamed terribly…” recalled one anonymous doctor that was interviewed. Once cut open, scientists carefully studied their organs in order to observe the full effects of various diseases, such as the Bubonic Plague, Typhoid, Cholera, and Anthrax. When the researchers were done experimenting, the victim would be executed.



Frostbite

Another experiment conducted by the unit involved exposing victims to extremely cold and harsh conditions to the point of frostbite. The researchers would time how long it would take for a victim’s limb to fall off. They experimented with ways to re-warm frostbite-infected limbs. In the end, they discovered that immersing the limb in warm water was more effective than rubbing the limb repeatedly.


Ballistics

Prisoners were also regularly bound to poles and shot. This would allow doctors to practice treating different types of injuries that result from gunshots. Appendectomies, tracheostomies, and amputations were regularly performed. The lifeless bodies would also be used as dummies for bayonet practice done by soldiers.



Unit 731 was an example of how inhumane humans can be. The Japanese employed around 20,000 people to work for Unit 731. Ironically, about 2,000 researchers died from diseases related to the unit’s experiments. After World War 2 ended, the unit was disbanded and its buildings were destroyed. The Japanese government denied its very existence until the late 90s. The US made a deal that if the Unit gave them their data, then the US would not put anyone on trial. Russia however went on to put several people on trial and charge them for their crimes.

We must understand that it is our responsibility to put ethics above everything. We must be aware of the problems we create when we attempt to make solutions. We must look out for the future.








I need to cite these i promise ill do it soon

International, Hektoen. “Atrocities in Asia: The Story of Japan's Infamous Unit 731.” Hektoen International, 7 Jan. 2021, https://hekint.org/2021/01/07/atrocities-in-asia-japans-infamous-unit-731/.

Nicholas. “Unmasking Horror -- a Special Report.; Japan Confronting Gruesome War Atrocity.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 17 Mar. 1995, https://www.nytimes.com/1995/03/17/world/unmasking-horror-a-special-report-japan-confronting-gruesome-war-atrocity.html.

Stockton, Richard. “6 Horrifying Human ‘Experiments’ That Wwii Japan Got Away With.” All That's Interesting, All That's Interesting, 5 Nov. 2018, https://allthatsinteresting.com/unit-731/3.


Neville Chamberlain once said, “In war, whichever side may call itself the victor, there are no winners, but all are losers”. World War II was a time of global instability. Countries lost millions of soldiers to the war and it will be forever remembered as an event that showed the world how inhumane we could be in pursuit of victory. Unit 731 was a unit in the Japanese military that was composed of doctors, nurses, and scientists stationed in Pinfang, China during the World War II era. The Unit conducted a variety of highly unethical experiments on both Chinese citizens and prisoners of war to discover methods for treating different illnesses, and injuries, and to test methods of future biological warfare. These experiments were so unethical that they often violated the Geneva Conventions, treaties agreed upon by the world's nations to limit the inhumane acts that may occur during wartime. Let’s take a look at some types of experiments that were performed by unit 731:




Vivisection

Subjects were routinely cut open to see the effects of a disease or germ they were infected with. To make matters worse, some patients were not put under anesthesia. “I cut him open from face to stomach, and he screamed terribly…” recalled one anonymous doctor that was interviewed. Once cut open, scientists carefully studied their organs in order to observe the full effects of various diseases, such as the Bubonic Plague, Typhoid, Cholera, and Anthrax. When the researchers were done experimenting, the victim would be executed.



Frostbite

Another experiment conducted by the unit involved exposing victims to extremely cold and harsh conditions to the point of frostbite. The researchers would time how long it would take for a victim’s limb to fall off. They experimented with ways to re-warm frostbite-infected limbs. In the end, they discovered that immersing the limb in warm water was more effective than rubbing the limb repeatedly.


Ballistics

Prisoners were also regularly bound to poles and shot. This would allow doctors to practice treating different types of injuries that result from gunshots. Appendectomies, tracheostomies, and amputations were regularly performed. The lifeless bodies would also be used as dummies for bayonet practice done by soldiers.



Unit 731 was an example of how inhumane humans can be. The Japanese employed around 20,000 people to work for Unit 731. Ironically, about 2,000 researchers died from diseases related to the unit’s experiments. After World War 2 ended, the unit was disbanded and its buildings were destroyed. The Japanese government denied its very existence until the late 90s. The US made a deal that if the Unit gave them their data, then the US would not put anyone on trial. Russia however went on to put several people on trial and charge them for their crimes.

We must understand that it is our responsibility to put ethics above everything. We must be aware of the problems we create when we attempt to make solutions. We must look out for the future.








I need to cite these i promise ill do it soon

International, Hektoen. “Atrocities in Asia: The Story of Japan's Infamous Unit 731.” Hektoen International, 7 Jan. 2021, https://hekint.org/2021/01/07/atrocities-in-asia-japans-infamous-unit-731/.

Nicholas. “Unmasking Horror -- a Special Report.; Japan Confronting Gruesome War Atrocity.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 17 Mar. 1995, https://www.nytimes.com/1995/03/17/world/unmasking-horror-a-special-report-japan-confronting-gruesome-war-atrocity.html.

Stockton, Richard. “6 Horrifying Human ‘Experiments’ That Wwii Japan Got Away With.” All That's Interesting, All That's Interesting, 5 Nov. 2018, https://allthatsinteresting.com/unit-731/3.


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