May 24, 2009

What happened at Alexandra Hospital is well documented, though there have been debates over whether and to what extent the Japanese were provoked.  It’s hard to imagine what could possibly have provoked such actions and yet slight differences in perspective do emerge from the three eyewitness accounts that my father had in his possession.

The general outline of events is undisputed and yet one account records that most of the Japanese soldiers appeared to be “decent fellows.”  True, these were more disciplined soldiers who arrived sometime after the initial party who ran rampage through the hospital.  Still, it is clear that by no means all Japanese soldiers behaved in the same way.  Similarly, a senior Japanese medical officer who arrived on February 16 is described as a “very kind person” who was clearly shocked by what he saw.  Such observations tend to get lost in accounts of wartime atrocity.  Perhaps that is when we need them most.

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