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Unit 731 Testimony Paperback – April 15, 2004

4.2 out of 5 stars 74 customer reviews

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Editorial Reviews

Review

"A fascinating but disturbing read. The author splits this book up into two sections, the first being the history of the unit and the second testimonies from those who served in it. Coming into this book with only a basic knowledge of what this unit represented I walked away with a good understanding of it. The author tackles what is a difficult subject matter in a engaging manner that brings the full horror of live human experimentation and all that it encompasses to the reader's attention. All in all a well balanced read." —Goodreads

About the Author

Hal Gold compiled the information in Unit 731 from information provided by the Central Organizing Committee for the Unit 731 Exhibitions in Tokyo, 1994—1995
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Product Details

  • Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Tuttle Publishing; 1 edition (April 15, 2004)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0804835659
  • ISBN-13: 978-0804835657
  • Product Dimensions: 5.2 x 0.8 x 8 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 9.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (74 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #218,494 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

By Robert Beveridge HALL OF FAMEVINE VOICE on February 15, 2001
Format: Paperback
Hal Gold, Unit 731: Testimony (Yenbooks, 1996)
Over the fifty years since World War II, we have been made aware of atrocities committed during those years. We are most aware of Nazi Germany; less in the consciousness, but still a part of the common knowledge, is Stalin's treatment of Russians during and after the war. But the actions of the Japanese army in China during the thirties and forties-- and their ultimate consequences-- have gone largely unreported in the Western press. Americans were first made aware of the scope and depth of Japan's war crimes in the late 1980s by two investigative journalists, Williams and Wallace, in their book Unit 731: Japan's Secret Biological Warfare in World War II. Soon after, Godfrey Ho released the first of four exploitation films based on the activities of Unit 731, called Men Behind the Sun (a film partially subsidized by the Chinese government). Gradually, Americans became more aware of what happened (especially in the case of the Rape of Nanjing), but the numbers-- conservative estimates put the death toll in China between 1930 and 1945 at thirty million-- and the specific case of Unit 731 are still largely unknown to Americans.
Hal Gold fires another shot in the battle to set things right with his book Unit 731: Testimony. During 1993 and 1994, an exhibition based on the activities of Unit 731 toured Japan, and a handful of ex-Unit 731 personnel testified about their actions and the actions of others. It was the first time the Japanese government had allowed evidence that Unit 731 even existed to be publicized. Gold's book starts with a history of Unit 731, and then provides transcriptions of many of the testimonies given during the exhibition.
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Format: Paperback
Unit 731 Testimonial is written as a sort of follow-up to a nationwide tour of the Unit 731 exhibition in Japan. This exhibition sought to educate Japanese citizens on what had been until recently an ignored part of their history.
What made these exhibits intereresting, and this book, is that it worked as a forum for veterans and victims alike to recount their stories. Privates, doctors, secret police all came out to speak (some anonimously) about their role in the horrific activities of Unit 731.
Unit 731 Testimonial does not describe the history of the Japanese Bilogical Warfare research. Rather it concentrates on the actual experiences of people involved in the human experiments. Some of those quoted were truly ignorant of what Unit 731 was really doing, others had suspicions, while a few knew in detail. Some of those quoted did not actually participate in Unit 731's activities, but had been personally involved in similar atrocities and compelled by the exhibit to recount.
Unit 731 is invaluable as a resource in understanding the mentality of the Japanese involved in BW related atrocities during World War II.
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Format: Paperback
Although the majority of literature on WWII atrocities focuses on Nazi Germany and it's "Final Solution," other horrible acts were being committed as well in Asia by the Russians and Japanese.
Among these were Stalin's Gulags, the Japanese comfort women, Bataan Death March and Rape of Nanking.
Gold's book, "Unit 731: Testimony," takes a look at another wartime atrocity the Japanese have refused to own up to for the past 50 years: a program set up by the military to experiment with biological weapons on humans and other heinous human tortures that were expounded as "scientific advancement."
Gold's book is divided into two sections, a Historical Overview in which he explains how the idea of a human experimentation lab began in the Russo-Japanese War and became a horrific reality due to one man, Ishii Shiro; and a second section in which testimonies are given on criminal acts by the participants, including researchers, Kenpeitai officers, nurses and professors.
The historical overview lays out factual groundwork of Unit 731 and gives explicit details on some of the experiments, including live autopsies, biological tests and frostbite trials; which is some of the most disturbing literature I have ever read. Even as the bilogical weapons scare makes the headlines today, Gold gives proof that this isn't a new event in the world as the Japanese unleashed fleas with the Cholera disease on the Chinese citizens. After the war is over in 1945, Gold continues to explain how Unit 731 was covered up (with American help), and how some of the war-time criminals became wealthy professors and businessmen in Japan and set up world-wide companies like Green Cross.
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Nazi experimentation on human beings is infamous. Japanese experimentation is relatively unknown, although arguably even more monstrous, and in addition the Japanese waged biological warfare during WWII and its run-up. Much of the Japanese experimentation and biological warfare were conducted under the auspices of something called Unit 731. Knowing next to nothing about Unit 731 I searched the Amazon website for a book to learn about it, and settled on Hal Gold's UNIT 731 TESTIMONY. It has its merits, but it also has its faults.

Half of the book is a historical summary. Unit 731 had its roots in commendable Japanese efforts, beginning in the 1890s, to reduce loss of life among its soldiers to infection and disease. As a consequence, by the early twentieth century "Japanese military medicine and wartime bacteriology were the best in the world." However, along with the development of aggressive and racist imperialism, the "original bacteriological aims of Japan * * * warped in the direction of causing, rather than preventing and curing, disease."

Most of the activities of Unit 731 were conducted with Chinese subjects in Manchuria. What follows are some of those immensely disturbing activities, as recounted by Gold: Some people were starved to see how long they could live on water alone. Blood was withdrawn from others at periodic intervals to see how little blood was necessary for life. Diseases - such as plague, cholera, typhus, syphilis, and epidemic hemorrhagic fever -- were intentionally introduced into people and the progression of their destruction of the human organism was carefully charted.
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