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Posted: 12/3/2007 3:50:01 AM EDT
Three Came Home, Agnes Keith

Biography of a family that was captured by the Japanese during WWII and spent four years in various prison camps. Very well-written account of their struggles to survive. Things that leaped out at me:

Even starving people will trade food for cigarettes. (Not being a smoker, I have a hard time understanding an addiction that strong.)

Religious people tended to fare better than average, and it didn't matter which religion. She wondered if it was a "comforting delusion" and noted that for a certain order of nuns, concentration camps were "the perfect environment".

It was impossible for the Japanese to stamp out smuggling, even with executions and torture.

A very few people resisted the Japanese with their entire being. Far more licked their boots.

About those who refused to share, or who stole from others: "No meal is worth your self-respect."


Link Posted: 12/3/2007 4:40:53 AM EDT
Not much worse than a chow thief.
Link Posted: 12/3/2007 5:50:16 AM EDT

Small items like you stated "cigarettes" became a luxury and a comfort item back then. Cooking oil, salt, sugar, and such also. Black market did flourish. My mom and my dad both experience WWII during the occupation of the Philippines by the Japanese. My dad's brother paid for his life under a Japanese sword, beheaded after the Japanese found out that he had helped an American soldier escape. My dad joined a guerilla unit after hearing the news his brother has been killed. Lived a couple of years in the jungle fighting. My mom told me of the atrocities that the Japapnese soldiers engaged in while the occupation. Babies getting tossed up in the air and getting bayoneted on the way down, rape of women, public beheadings to show the towns people what happens when you help a American soldier, and so on. Unfortunately there were also Filipinos that sided with the Japanese but justice was soon served when the Philippines was liberated by the American soldiers. Those Japanese colaborators met their fate via the blade of a bolo, knife, bamboo spear, or a bullet.
Link Posted: 12/3/2007 6:17:54 AM EDT
There is similar book called "We Band of Angels" It's about the Army nurses captured on Battan and what the Japs did to them and thousands of our guys.

This book also makes good points of how to survive, recommend reading.
Link Posted: 12/3/2007 7:27:38 AM EDT
[Last Edit: 12/3/2007 7:28:44 AM EDT by TomJefferson]
Link Posted: 12/3/2007 8:32:35 AM EDT

Originally Posted By jvm:
There is similar book called "We Band of Angels" It's about the Army nurses captured on Battan and what the Japs did to them and thousands of our guys.

This book also makes good points of how to survive, recommend reading.



We Band of Angels: The Untold Story of American Nurses Trapped on Bataan by the Japanese, Elizabeth M. Norman


Just ordered it, thanks for the reference.
Link Posted: 12/3/2007 11:07:36 AM EDT

Originally Posted By Rodent:
Religious people tended to fare better than average, and it didn't matter which religion.


I read an account from a North Korean lady who had been in a North Korean prison camp that the Christians in these camps would often endure the most torture and never give in. After her escape from North Korea, she became Christian out of admiration for their true belief.

Although seeing "Touching the Void", a real life story, it’s clear that you don't have to be religious to endure and overcome impossible obstacles. Mindset is powerful, regardless of where it comes from.


Link Posted: 12/3/2007 1:37:30 PM EDT

Originally Posted By R_S:

Originally Posted By Rodent:
Religious people tended to fare better than average, and it didn't matter which religion.


I read an account from a North Korean lady who had been in a North Korean prison camp that the Christians in these camps would often endure the most torture and never give in. After her escape from North Korea, she became Christian out of admiration for their true belief.

Although seeing "Touching the Void", a real life story, it’s clear that you don't have to be religious to endure and overcome impossible obstacles. Mindset is powerful, regardless of where it comes from.


Agnes Keith's conclusion was that people do best in adversity if they are working for something "outside" themselves. For most of the women in her prison camp that meant husbands, but since their husbands were either dead or incarcerated elsewhere, they felt "incomplete". Those who believed in a god or gods still felt "complete" because their gods couldn't die or become separated from them. (She explained it better than I just did, but that's the gist of it.)
Link Posted: 12/3/2007 2:07:16 PM EDT
It has been stated here before and yet is still oft ignored, there is a spiritual side that will need to be fed as well for long term survival.

As a man you are composed of three parts, physical/mental/spiritual, we tend to focus on the physical as that is where we first feel the need, food/shelter/air. A while later it will be mental, then further down the road it will be spiritual.

But I digress, these books that have been recommended can say it better than I can in a couple of sentences.
Link Posted: 12/3/2007 4:22:58 PM EDT
Best read I could recommend would be "Aquariums of PyongYong" a story about a Japanese family fooled into moving back to North Korea (because they shared some heritage) and then slowly being transitioned to a torturous life in the NK Prison Camps (some of the worst in the world) best advice. . . learn how to breed rats, will keep you alive and provide family with everything you could want in a prison camp

Great read for anyone interested.
Link Posted: 12/3/2007 8:10:18 PM EDT

Originally Posted By glockluv:
learn how to breed rats, will keep you alive and provide family with everything you could want in a prison camp

How so? Breed rats for food - what do you feed them? Make yourself a pair of ratskin mocasins?

Don't mean to be a smartass, just wondering how breeding rats is possible, and then what the benefit is?
Link Posted: 12/3/2007 11:23:22 PM EDT

Originally Posted By Caliburn:

Originally Posted By glockluv:
learn how to breed rats, will keep you alive and provide family with everything you could want in a prison camp

How so? Breed rats for food - what do you feed them? Make yourself a pair of ratskin mocasins?

Don't mean to be a smartass, just wondering how breeding rats is possible, and then what the benefit is?


The rat meat you eat beats the rat meat you don't.
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