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Thread: Spirit or ice?

  1. #1
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    Default Spirit or ice?

    WWII Japanese military internal doctrine, including medical services, emphasised the importance of 'spirit', which enabled the Japanese soldier to overcome insurperable obstacles by, to borrow from a still very impressive Nazi propaganda film title, a triumph of the will.

    Or was there a bit of chemical assitance?

    I've come across some brief references to methamphetamine use by Japanese soldiers during WWII.

    Apparently meth was unregulated in civil society and sold over the counter under brand names of Philipon and Sedrin, and issued (generously?) to soldiers and others in the armed forces http://books.google.com.au/books?id=...ilopon&f=false,
    http://www.tofugu.com/2012/04/10/jap...-crystal-meth/
    as indeed it or similar drugs were issued to German and Allied forces, notably aircrew on long flights to ward off sleepiness.

    Anyone who has had the misfortune to have close contact with a meth addict knows that, among other things, they are prone to unpredictable and unreasoning violence. Which fits in with the unpredictable and unreasoning violent treatment of Allied POWs by the Japanese.

    I can't find anything which specifies the issue for a unit and the entitlement / accessibility for Japanese soldiers / POW guards / Korean POW guards which might allow some or all of them to become meth addicts.

    Anybody got any ideas on sources to follow this up?
    ..
    A rational army would run away.
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  2. #2
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    Default Re: Spirit or ice?

    This one new to me, I came across this:

    http://www.spiegel.de/international/...-a-901755.html

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    Default Re: Spirit or ice?

    The reference to "liters of coffee" makes me wonder slightly about the quality of the "alertness" imparted by this drug. When I was studying for my professional legal qualification, I was working full-time, so exam time inevitably involved heavy cramming and little sleep. I "fuelled" this with strong coffee, and this generally seemed to work reasonably well. However, one night I overdid it - and went into the exam very "alert", but totally unable to remember most of what I needed to remember to pass the exam. Only one I had to repeat. I wonder whether all those soldiers and (Gods help us) pilots, high on meth, were really in a good state of mind to face the enemy ? Best regards, JR.

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    Default Re: Spirit or ice?

    Hardly unique to the Japanese though, which rather undermines the theory. The Germans were all on Pervitin (same stuff basically) when invading France, and unless you were a Black soldier that was a relatively clean campaign.
    I have neither the time nor the inclination to differentiate between the incompetent and the merely unfortunate - Curtis E LeMay

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    Default Re: Spirit or ice?

    Quote Originally Posted by pdf27 View Post
    Hardly unique to the Japanese though, which rather undermines the theory. The Germans were all on Pervitin (same stuff basically) when invading France, and unless you were a Black soldier that was a relatively clean campaign.
    There were some large scale massacres of British troops by the SS (at Le Paradis?) at the end and likely some that will never be known (the aforementioned one is only known because a couple survived and were treated by regular Heer after capture and repatriated prior to the end of the war. perhaps six weeks was not enough to push many over the edge?

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    Default Re: Spirit or ice?

    Some recon guys used some pharmaceuticals to stay awake On extended missions.
    Not a great idea and mixed results, but more good than bad.
    I think "Green Hornets" was one name.
    It was definately a grey area in terms of official sanction.
    I know it was not an all day every day thing and guys using it had time out periods to clean up.

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    Default Re: Spirit or ice?

    Quote Originally Posted by Nickdfresh View Post
    There were some large scale massacres of British troops by the SS (at Le Paradis?) at the end and likely some that will never be known (the aforementioned one is only known because a couple survived and were treated by regular Heer after capture and repatriated prior to the end of the war. perhaps six weeks was not enough to push many over the edge?
    Both SS and Heer carried out massacres of British troops, but the number of massacres and the number killed was pretty small. The murders of black troops were an order of magnitude larger, and certainly weren't confined to the SS.
    I have neither the time nor the inclination to differentiate between the incompetent and the merely unfortunate - Curtis E LeMay

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    Default Re: Spirit or ice?

    Quote Originally Posted by pdf27 View Post
    The murders of black troops were an order of magnitude larger, and certainly weren't confined to the SS.
    I don't know anything about this.

    Could you expand on it?
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    Default Re: Spirit or ice?

    There were, certainly, instances of black prisoners of war being killed by the Germans - both in relation to French colonial troops in 1940 and Americans in 1944-'45. It has been alleged that such killings were "racist", based on the belief in black "racial inferiority" inculcated in the German population by the Nazis, and this was probably true in some cases. One should be wary of generalisations, however. History (written primarily by, or under the influence of the winners) have emphasized war crimes committed by the Germans and the Japanese against prisoners of war. However, with the passage of time, it has become increasingly clear that everybody committed such crimes (at least in the field) to some extent against everyone else. Even where such crimes were committed against non-Caucasian prisoners, to say that the subset committed by the Germans were always "racist" would represent an excessive generalization unsupported by evidence. This area has, at least until recently, received little or no attention from researchers, and some of the few examples of research so far are subject to the suspicion of polemicism. I, too, would like to know more about this. Best regards, JR.

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    Default Re: Spirit or ice?

    Quote Originally Posted by JR* View Post
    There were, certainly, instances of black prisoners of war being killed by the Germans - both in relation to French colonial troops in 1940 and Americans in 1944-'45. It has been alleged that such killings were "racist", based on the belief in black "racial inferiority" inculcated in the German population by the Nazis, and this was probably true in some cases. One should be wary of generalisations, however. History (written primarily by, or under the influence of the winners) have emphasized war crimes committed by the Germans and the Japanese against prisoners of war. However, with the passage of time, it has become increasingly clear that everybody committed such crimes (at least in the field) to some extent against everyone else. Even where such crimes were committed against non-Caucasian prisoners, to say that the subset committed by the Germans were always "racist" would represent an excessive generalization unsupported by evidence. This area has, at least until recently, received little or no attention from researchers, and some of the few examples of research so far are subject to the suspicion of polemicism. I, too, would like to know more about this. Best regards, JR.
    I don't know about French colonial troops, but after D Day the black American soldiers were generally, perhaps exclusively, used as labourers, drivers and in other non-combat roles behind the lines. This usually put them well behind areas where they were likely to be captured by the Germans.

    What were the circumstances which allowed them to be captured and executed by the Germans?

    If black American troops were singled out for special murderous treatment by the Germans, at least they'd have been prepared for it by their treatment by their own side.

    When Black Soldiers Were Hanged: a War's Footnote
    By FRANCIS X. CLINES
    Published: February 07, 1993

    As the role of black soldiers is documented in the history of World War II, J. Robert Lilly is trying to fathom one more distinction of that American fighting man: the fact that almost four times as many black soldiers as whites were executed in Europe after military courts-martial, even though blacks made up less than 10 percent of the troops.

    "This needs to be sorted out and made right," Professor Lilly said in a recent interview at Northern Kentucky University, where he teaches sociology and criminology. The professor, who is white, stumbled on to what he suspects is a little-known chapter of American racism in doing research in England on prison punishment.

    First, he heard about Albert Pierrepoint, England's official hangman during the war, and some of the hangings he carried out for the American Army at Shepton Mallet prison near Somerset. American soldiers were executed at the prison for the murder and rape of English civilians.

    This set Professor Lilly looking for official records. Eventually, with the help of Frederick M. Kaiser, a senior research associate at the Congressional Research Service, he uncovered a 1946 summary of court-martial discipline dispensed in the war's European theater. In this he found enough racial data to bolster what he had picked up anecdotally in England: Black soldiers paid for capital crimes disproportionately at the gallows in the segregated military of that time. 55 Blacks Executed

    With black history month being celebrated around the nation, Professor Lilly is intent on getting all the details of the executions and spreading the information. The professor, rich with curiosity but short on money, is planning to write a book about these military executions.

    By his accounting, 70 soldiers were executed after courts-martial in Europe during the war, 55 of them black and 15 white. About 70 more executions were carried out elsewhere in the American military, but so far no breakdown on racial data has been obtained. "It was very clear that blacks were being punished in almost all instances a hell of a lot more for their behavior, proportionate to their presence, than the white soldiers were," Professor Lilly said.

    "There's no question that in most instances the crimes committed were horrendous," he said. "But we don't know whether whites got away with the same acts, particularly the rapes."

    The military data he has gathered in Europe show that blacks (or "colored," as the military referred to them then) made up 79 percent of the soldiers executed in Europe, as against 21 percent for whites. Death Sentences for Rape

    The rate of execution for black soldiers was even higher for the rape of civilians, for which 25 blacks (87 percent) and 4 whites (13 percent) were put to death. In 28 murder convictions, 22 blacks and 6 whites were executed. Of the 12 executed for murder and rape, 8 were black and 4 were white. The other execution was that of Eddie Slovik, a white, for desertion. The United States Army Center of Military History in Washington says very little information is available on the subject. But one historian there, Russell J. Parkinson, was able to confirm the basic data that Mr. Lilly is using. "There's clearly a black preponderance," Mr. Parkinson said, after reviewing the execution records and finding Mr. Lilly's quest a worthy avenue for scholarship.

    There were about 700,000 black soldiers in the United States forces in World War II out of a total of more than 10 million men and women who served. Mr. Lilly said about 160,000 black soldiers passed through England to the European theater, compared with several million whites.
    http://www.nytimes.com/1993/02/07/us...-footnote.html


    Abstract: Data came from the executed soldiers' trial transcript files in the National Archives. The research focused on the crimes, defendants, victims, and details of the executions and the burials that followed. Results revealed eight of the crimes were murders, six were rapes, and four were murder/rapes. Black soldiers represented 50 percent of the soldiers executed for murder, 83 percent for rape, and 25 percent for murder/rape. No white soldiers were executed for rape. Sixty-one percent of the victims were females; 94 percent were white. Seventy-eight percent of the victims were civilian; 22 percent were military.
    https://www.ncjrs.gov/App/publicatio...aspx?ID=164076

    It's also interesting that in Britain during WWII rape was not a capital crime under British law, yet the British allowed their prisons and executioners to be used to execute American servicemen convicted of rape under American law, which suggests an intentional degree of moral or legal blindness to appease the American forces which was necessary to support Britain's invasion of Europe to defeat the Germans in pursuit of Britain's drive to survive.

    Nothing unusual about that in realpolitik, but it doesn't leave Britain with clean hands compared with any Germans who might have executed black American soldiers in pursuit of their own racially motivated or determined political agenda.
    Last edited by Rising Sun*; 01-15-2014 at 07:52 AM.
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    Montesquieu

  11. #11
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    Default Re: Spirit or ice?

    While most of the Negro ground troops sent to Europe were involved in rear area duties (such as providing the labour for road and bridge building and driving lorries), there were certainly limited exceptions. Some Negro combat artillery and infantry units were operating in Italy from about August/September, 1944, and in the North Western theatre perhaps a little later. The conduct of these units sometimes might appear to have justified the long-held fears of the Caucasian military establishment in the US as to the suitability of men brought up in what was seen as US Negro "culture" for combat soldiering (let alone as officers). However, the units concerned generally put in satisfactory performance, and sometimes fought like heroes - much like White units, on the whole. This would clearly have put some American black troops in the way of being captured by the Germans. The latter, of course, would have been much more familiar with French African combat troops. In both World Wars, the French had no hesitation in calling on the services of large numbers of African soldiers in combat. In WW2, the higher quality, more professional French soldiers to fight the Germans in 1940 (in particular, in the course of the battle for Sedan and the subsequent breakout) were in no small number of instances "African" or "Spahi" formations. It has been alleged that some prisoners from these units were singled out for killing by particular German officers and units, and that these outrages were characterized by racism. I do not think that these allegations have been particularly well researched as yet. Best regards, JR.
    Last edited by JR*; 01-15-2014 at 11:57 AM.

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    Default Re: Spirit or ice?

    A further thought - the nature of the German penetration in the Battle of the Bulge would have resulted in their capturing significant numbers of African-American soldiers, both "rear area" and combat. German propaganda photographs from the Battle (the reference eludes me) demonstrate as much. Best regards, JR.

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    Default Re: Spirit or ice?

    During the Battle of the Bulge, some American infantry units in fact became fully "integrated" as the desperate need for manpower after shortfalls resulted in a call for 'Negro' volunteers. In addition, there certainly were some black combat units including an armored formation that served under Patton, IIRC...

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    Default Re: Spirit or ice?

    The 761st Tank Battalion (The Black Panthers) served under Patton...

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    Default Re: Spirit or ice?

    JR and Nick,

    Thanks for educating me.

    I wasn't aware that there was a significant black combat unit such as the 761st Tank Battalion. Found this http://www.761st.com/j25/.

    Any info on whether the black combat units, like the Tuskegee Airmen, performed well above equivalent white units?

    (I think my first encounter with the Tuskegee Airmen was an autobiography by a white American bomber pilot who was astonished that his Tuskegee escort flew with the bombers the whole way into and out of a heavily defended target, when white fighter escorts invariably, and quite reasonably, peeled off before that.)
    Last edited by Rising Sun*; 01-16-2014 at 06:18 AM.
    ..
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    Montesquieu

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