Man’s capacity to be despicably inhumane to his fellow man is no doubt alien to the majority of us, but occasionally history provides us with examples of such abhorrent evil.
Instances such as the execution of György Dózsa in the 1400s who was caught rebelling against the leader of Hungary. He was executed by being forced to sit on a boiling hot iron throne with a heated iron crown forced onto his head and with a heated staff in his hand (mocking his ambition to be king).
To make matters worse, as Dózsa’s skin literally cooked on his living body, his fellow rebels – who had been starved beforehand – were led to his throne and forced to eat him alive by biting the cooking flesh from his body and using red hot pliers to tear further skin off.
Other examples of evil which immediately spring to mind are those of the Moors Murders and the Nazi concentration camps used during the Second World War.
However, one of history’s darkest examples of inhumanity is one that is relatively unknown to the general public despite being less than one hundred years old – and that is Unit 731.
Unit 731 was a prisoner camp used by the Japanese during the Sino-Japanese Wars and World War Two. In the camp the Imperial Japanese Army performed some of the most horrific human experiments in history.
According to numerous sources online, including a post made by Jeffrey Kearns, who had members of his own family die in the confines of Unit 731, at least 250,000 people died barbarically in Unit 731.
Almost 70 per cent of those who were tortured and died at Unit 731 were Chinese military and civilians. The other 30 per cent were Russians, allied POWs and Pacific Islanders.
Shockingly the Japanese government openly supported Unit 731 throughout World War Two and the Sino-Japanese Wars.
But just what happened inside Unit 731?
Well to put it bluntly – under the command of Surgeon General Shirō Ishii and Lt. General Masaji Kitano – the doctors, surgeons, and scientists at the camp carried out such barbaric experiments as vivisection, germ warfare testing, frostbite testing, syphilis testing, rape/forced pregnancy experiments, weapons testing, starvation experiments, and a whole host of other savagery.
Their main goal was to develop weapons of biological warfare, including plague, anthrax, cholera and countless numbers of other harmful pathogens.
Speaking to UNILAD, Jeffrey Kearns, one of the few people consistently raising awareness of the horrors that happened at Unit 731 explained that numerous prisoners at the camp were injected with a variety of different diseases before being left for a matter of weeks to allow the disease to worsen.
Then after a set period of time, the prisoner would be thrown onto an operating table and cut open without anaesthesia to inspect how the disease had progressed. Often this was done by removing organs.
One example of this can be found in an article from the New York Times in 1995 when a former surgeon at the camp spoke of his first ‘operation’.
The anonymous surgeon told the New York Times:
The fellow knew that it was over for him, and so he didn’t struggle when they led him into the room and tied him down. But when I picked up the scalpel, that’s when he began screaming.
I cut him open from the chest to the stomach, and he screamed terribly, and his face was all twisted in agony. He made this unimaginable sound, he was screaming so horribly. But then finally he stopped.
This was all in a day’s work for the surgeons, but it really left an impression on me because it was my first time.
The man who was operated on above had been infected with plague and the surgeons were cutting him open to see how the disease had spread. They didn’t use anaesthetic because they feared it might interfere.
And this wasn’t at all out of the ordinary at Unit 731.
Other prisoners at the camp had their limbs amputated and reattached, often to the other side of the body, so that the scientists could study blood loss. The scientists and doctors also occasionally removed the stomach from their patients and attached the esophagus to the small intestine as well as removing part of the brain, liver, lungs, and heart, before sewing the prisoner back up.
To make matters even worse, if you miraculously survived such sadistic experiments then you’d merely be experimented on further.
As Jeffrey explained to UNILAD, the Japanese scientists also infected prisoners with diseases to study how to make germ warfare effective.
For example the guards at Unit 731 would often drop plague fleas in bombs on prisoners outside of prison grounds. Thousands of people died because of this.
Speaking about the frostbite testing that occurred at the camp, Jeffrey revealed:
A barbarous physiologist at the camp, known as Hisato, performed experiments on prisoners by freezing various parts of their bodies solid with no anaesthetic.
He would then hit the frozen appendage with a large stick to hear the noise before re-thawing the limb.
As well as frostbite testing doctors often forced prisoners, including children, to have sex with other inmates infected with syphilis to study the transmission of the disease before being cut open at various stages of infection to study how the disease progressed.
Perhaps the most harrowing thing about Unit 731 is that the further you look into it the darker things get – and the list of demonic experiments that took place in the confines of that camp in the Pinfang District of China just keeps getting longer.
Female prisoners were often raped and forcibly impregnated for experiments so scientists could attempt to investigate the transmission of disease from mother to child.
Specific things tested were fetal survival outside the womb, and how much genital damage women could survive. The guards would call the women’s genitals ‘bean jam buns’ because of the damage.
Jeffrey went onto tell us about some of the more typical experiments carried out in the camp, saying:
Japanese soldiers at the camp often tested grenades, bayonets, flamethrowers, germ bombs, chemical weapons, bullets, and explosive bombs on live prisoners.
Also, prisoners were starved of food and water to determine how long it would take to die. They were also put in high pressure chambers, put in centrifuges, injected with animals blood, bombarded with X-rays, injected with sea water, burned, put in ovens alive, sprayed with various chemicals, and buried alive.
But the worst part of all is that Japan never had to pay for Unit 731. There was no punishment for any of the surgeons and scientists at Unit 731 including those in charge of everything.
Japan was offered complete absolution so long as they handed over all of their research to the U.S.
Of course they agreed – and everybody who had any involvement in the atrocities which were carried out at Unit 731 was given complete immunity. Surgeon General Shirō Ishii is even thought to have visited the U.S. to speak on bioweapons at military sites.
Joseph Loftus is a Gold Standard NCTJ journalist with four years experience working for international and regional press.
As well as working for UNILAD and LADbible, Joseph has worked as Liverpool Correspondent for Unsigned & Independent Magazine, as well as stints with the Liverpool Echo and Warrington Guardian.