Neighborhood watch

What makes people turn on their neighbors? Economic hardship, starvation, limited resources. Perhaps it can all be summarized thusly by this quote about treatment of Allied POWs captured by the Japanese when they invaded the Philippines. Some POWs were forced into submarines to be shipped north to prison camps in Eastern Asia. As Ronald H. Spector quotes an eyewitness’ account:

When it was nearly full, guards came down and with whips began beating us farther back into the ship’s hold until it looked as if no more men could get in… Yet, more and more were coming. The ceilings were low, only about five feet high, but we were made to stand…we were crammed so tightly that if a man fainted he could not fall to the floor. He would be packed between them. . . . The men began screaming and fighting. They tore at each other, they fought and pushed. Their screams of terror and their laughter were terrible things. Suddenly, there was more room. The fainting and the dead were sliding down until men littered the floor underneath our feet. We had more room to move in. But under our feet were the bodies of dead men.

-Ronald H. Spector, Eagle Against the Sun: The American War With Japan


Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google+ photo

You are commenting using your Google+ account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )


Connecting to %s

%d bloggers like this: