Food and Snacks Invention Related to Pacific Asia War: Part 1- MOMOFUKU ANDO AND THE REVOLUTIONARY INSUTANTO-RĀMEN [INSTANT RAMEN]
by Nickii Wantakan Arcado
"Peace will come to the world when the people have enough to eat."
Postwar Japan was exemplified by remnants of torn buildings, broken windows, caused by Allied aerial bombs. One of the destroyed office building was owned by Taiwanese-Japanese Momofuku Ando, and with the devastation of his workspace and eventually the bankruptcy of his company, Ando became unemployed. While walking across postwar Japan, Ando noticed a line of people gathering around a pop-up (or rather, makeshift) ramen stand. Ando was confused as to why people would wait hours for noodles, as the Japanese also had access to wheat bread supplied by the U.S. After much deliberation, Ando realized that the Japanese populace was pulled towards noodles because of its familiarity with the country’s culture. Its warmth and rich broth flavor were the reasons the cuisine remains a Japanese favorite.
“It took 48 years of my life for me to come up with the idea of instant noodles. Each and every event in the past is connected to the present by invisible threads.”
But developing instant ramen was not an easy process. The first challenge he faced was the production of the ramen noodles itself. Noodle companies in Japan at the time were too small and too few, overall being incapable of satisfying supply needs. As such, rather than pair up with a company, Ando decided to build his own company and produce the ramen himself in a small shack behind his house.
The second challenge was figuring out how to preserve the ramen and cook the ramen. Ando discovered that flash-frying ramen noodles in tempura oil would harden the noodles, Ando then created tiny holes in the noodles, causing the noodles to expand and cook when hot water was added. Finally, in 1958, he perfected his original flavor (and the original instant ramen), chicken ramen. He explained his choice in using chicken soup as a base:
“Hindus may not eat beef and Muslims may not eat pork, but there is not a single culture, religion or country that forbids the eating of chicken.”
His company, Nissin, was created the same year. And the rest is history.
On January 5, 2007, Ando passed away in a hospital in his hometown. He was 96 years old and was survived by his wife Masako, two sons and a daughter. He was honored with multiple medals by the Japanese government, most notably, The Order of the Rising Sun, Gold and Silver Star, Second Class, in 2002, the second most prestigious award in Japan.
Today, Nissin instant ramen offers over 16 different flavors, including beef, shrimp, soy sauce, and chili.
An interactive museum to commemorate Ando’s landmark achievement was created in Ikeda of the Osaka Prefecture, Ando’s hometown. Exhibitions and attractions include the chicken ramen factory, which allows the guest to make ramen fresh by hand. Guests go through the kneading, spreading, steaming, seasoning, and drying process of Nissin ramen and learn about the flash frying method that allows ramen to preserve itself for several years. Another exhibition includes the My CUPNOODLES Factory where guests can create their own CUPNOODLES package for 350 yen (approximately $3.17).
A CupNoodles Museum was also built, located in the city of Yokohama featuring 4 stories of history and exhibition of the Nissin company and its founder. Both museum offer free admission. More information on the museums can be accessed here.
On March 5, 2015 Google celebrated the inventor’s 105th birthday and an animation as well as a brief description of his life and business accomplishments were featured on the front page (here).
While instant ramen has garnered a reputation for being a staple college student dinner (or lunch for that matter), the product’s ability to help millions of displaced people during the time of economic or environmental disasters--including the Fukushima Daiichi Nuclear disaster— is highly remarkable.
In Frederick Errington, Deborah Gewertz and Tatsuro Fujikura’s book, The Noodle Narratives, as of 2012, 100 billion serving of instant ramen has been fed to people all over the world. The book not only argues that the product help low-income works in both rich and poor countries, but the product is capable of being tweaked to adapt to various cultural tastes. Flavors such as spicy hot beef have been popular with areas of Southeast Asia, while shrimp and chicken sells higher in Latin American countries
Reading through Ando’s story there is no debate that his initial goal to feed the hungry in Post-War Japan, working hours in his backyard shed alone, and producing a mechanism that has been replicated by other companies (Even competitors like Maruchan and Sapporo Ichiban, Indomie from Indonesia, MAMA from Thailand, Shin Ramyun and Samyang from Korea) has cemented Nissin instant ramen as one of the world’s most important inventions.
Inspiration leads to invention. Tenacity is the breeding ground for inspiration. There can be no invention in the absence of tenacity.
“Momofuku Ando's 105th Birthday.” Google Search, Google, 5 Mar. 2015, www.google.com/doodles/momofuku-andos-105th-birthday
“Chicken Ramen Factory.” CUPNOODLES MUSEUM OSAKA IKEDA, www.cupnoodles-museum.jp/en/osaka_ikeda/attractions/cr-factory/.
Leibowitz, Karen, and Karen Leibowitz. “The Humble Origins of Instant Ramen: From Ending World Hunger to Space Noodles.” Gizmodo, Gizmodo.com, 18 June 2013, www.gizmodo.com/the-humble-origins-of-instant-ramen-from-ending-world-5814099
Errington, Frederick Karl, Fuzikura Tatsuro, and Deborah B. Gewertz. The Noodle Narratives: The Global Rise of an Industrial Food into the Twenty-First Century. University of California Press, 2013.
Hevesi, Dennis. “Momofuku Ando, 96, Dies; Invented Instant Ramen.” The New York Times, The New York Times, 9 Jan. 2007, www.nytimes.com/2007/01/09/business/worldbusiness/09ando.html
by Nickii Wantakan Arcado
Compensation, apologies, and memorialization remain controversial when talking about corporate responsibilities post-World War II. To this day, former POWs and Holocaust survivors continue to fight for the private sector to acknowledge their role and complicity in utilizing slave labor to their monetary and economic advantage. Social reconciliation, in essence, is the recognition of past actions and taking future initiatives and as such, listed below are companies that were participated in slave labor during World War II.
BMW [Bayerische Motoren Werke]
BMW was significant in supplying arms, airplanes, engines, and motorcycle parts to the Nazi Regime. One example includes the engine for the Focke Wulf FW190 fighter plane, leading to BMW replacing Mercedes as the leading engine and industrial producer for the German military. By 1945, 90% of BMW’s Munich-Allach plant (by then the largest aircraft engine factory in German) was operated by foreign workers, concentration camp detainees, and POWs. Starting from only 1,000 in 1939, estimates have shown that over 17,000 individuals worked at the plant by the end of the war.
A documentary titled The Silence of the Quandts broadcasted in 2007 delves into the role of Herbert Quandt--an investor and industrialized who purchased a controlling interest in BMW--his family, and their role in introducing the use of slave laborers to the German Reich. After the film was shown, family members announced their plan to fund research and investigations to look into their family’s past actions. A 1,500-page document lists that in addition to their history of forced labor, the family also took over Jewish businesses. The family continues to be one of the wealthiest families in Germany.
Beginning in 1983, the company took steps in formal apologies and memorialization. It was the first industrial corporation to initiate and encourage public debates as well as publish a novel on the corporation's involvement with slave labor from concentration camps. In 1999, the company founded the “Remembrance, Responsibility and Future” foundation whose goal is to issue compensation to former POWs and forced laborers. During the company's 100th year anniversary (in 2016), representatives also apologized and admitted regrets, for the company’s past actions.
One significant automobile companies that used concentration camps to house POW detainees was Audi (f.k.a Auto Union). POWs were forced to produce tank and aircraft engine to assist the Nazi war effort. Over 18,000 workers were tasked with building an underground factory in order to house the tank engines, with 3,700 detainees being forcibly recruited from concentration camps. It is estimated that around 4,500 workers died during the process.
Like its predecessors BMW and Volkswagen, the company has taken noteworthy steps in ensuring that its tainted history has not been forgotten. Actions have included building memorials, establishing exhibitions, and bringing in outside historians to investigate crimes made by former bosses and executive members of Audi. Such investigations include the 500-page report by Martin Kukowski and Rudolf Boch, revealing the exact names and locations of the labors camps used by Audi.
While large, international German brands have made attempts at publishing their company’s history, historian Rudolf Boch noted that there are still various other smaller firms in Italy, Netherlands, and the Czech Republic that failed to follow the former’s footsteps. In Japan alone, over 12,000 POWs that include American, British, Chinese, Korean, and Filipino detainees are estimated to have been forced into both corporate slave labor during the 1940s. It is also estimated that 1,100 have died via corporate laboring. In addition, the history of larger firms in Japan (otherwise known as ‘zaibatsu’ [財閥] or ‘financial cliques’) have largely been unpublicized. Some examples include the following:
East Asia Development Board a.k.a Kōain (興亜院)
A cabinet-level government agency during the periods of 1938 - 1942, Kōain was initially created for the purpose of managing and coordinating Japan’s international relations and policies with China. These policies included industrial, economic, and commercial development in China in exchange for citizen and corporate support in Japanese occupied territories. When the company was taken over by the Imperial Japanese Army during the war, the corporation adopted forced labor practices, specifically in enslavement in mines and weaponry production. Furthermore, in 1942, the corporation was merged into the Ministry of Greater East Asia a.k.a Daitōashō [大東亜省]—another cabinet-level ministry that sought to oversee all territories obtained by the Imperial Army in the Pacific Theatre and coordinate efforts to lead to the development of the Greater East Asia Co-Prosperity Sphere.
Manchuria Industrial Company [満州重工業開発]
Formerly a joint venture with the Nissan conglomerate and located in the Empire of Manchuria (Manchukuo), the Manchuria Industrial Company (MIC) was created for the purpose of the economic development and industrialization of Manchukuo. Several Chinese and Korean slave laborers were forced into technical, logistical, and blue-collar work, resulting in the company’s quick growth during the war.
Despite this, some Japanese firms have taken initiative in issuing official apologies on behalf of impacted individuals and family members. One particular Japanese firm that has begun to apologize for wartime slave labor is Mitsubishi.
In 2015, the company, f.k.a Mitsubishi Mining formally apologized to U.S. POWs for their past history of forcing detainees to work its mining and mineral extraction operations. This marks the first major Japanese company to apologize for the use of corporate slave labor during the time of war. By the end of 1945, Mitsubishi Mining detained 876 American POWs. A recorded number of 27 Americans died in Mitsubishi’s labor camp. There continue to be demands for the company to apologize to other POWs, as it is estimated that over 2,000 POWs were held throughout the company’s various labor campsites. In particular, Chinese POWs and their descendants have filed a lawsuit against Mitsubishi in 2014, demanding corporate compensation. In 2016, a settlement was reached in which the company paid 100,000 yuan (roughly $15,000 dollars) to each Chinese victim and their families. While the company noted it would seek to locate all victims associated with the company’s past, there has also been pushbacks from other companies who use postwar peace treaties as reasoning on how wartime compensations have already concluded under the Japanese government. Other arguments include the 1972 treaty between Japan and China, which states that China has waived its right to pursue compensation.
Nonetheless, it is worth noting that some corporations are headed in the right direction. Seen in the picture below, Senior Mitsubishi Executive Hikaru Kimura (left) is apologizing and shaking hands with James Murph (right), a former POW. The ceremony was held at the Wiesenthal Center’s Museum of Tolerance in Los Angeles. Photo by Robyn Beck/AFP/Getty Images.)
You can read more about Japanese zaibatsus and their role in corporate slave labor in another one of our published articles here.
Ethier, Beth, and Beth Ethier. “Mitsubishi Apologizes for Using U.S. POWs as Slave Labor in World War II.” Slate Magazine, Slate, 20 July 2015, www.slate.com/news-and-politics/2015/07/mitsubishi-apology-slave-labor-company-admits-using-american-prisoners-of-war-in-world-war-ii-mines.html.
Brook, Timothy. Japanese Collaboration: Japanese Agents and Local Elites in Wartime China. Harvard University Press. 2001.
Li, David K., and David K. Li. “BMW Admits 'Regret' over Using Nazi Slave Labor during WWII.” New York Post, New York Post, 1 Nov. 2016, www.nypost.com/2016/03/07/bmw-admits-regret-over-using-nazi-slave-labor-during-wwii/.
Gumbel, Peter. “Some Companies Still Struggle with Their Dark WWII History.” The Japan Times, 10 June 2014, www.japantimes.co.jp/opinion/2014/06/10/commentary/world-commentary/companies-still-struggle-dark-wwii-history/#.XF-4BhNKhsM.
Staff, Toi. “German Car Maker Audi Reveals Nazi Past.” The Times of Israel, 27 May 2014, www.timesofisrael.com/german-car-maker-audi-reveals-nazi-past/.
“Nazi Goebbels' Descendants Are Hidden Billionaires.” The Jerusalem Post | JPost.com, 27 Aug. 2017, www.jpost.com/International/Nazi-Goebbels-descendants-are-hidden-billionaires-503531.
Researched by Jessica Leung
After WWII, Japan’s economy boomed: it rivaled the US in economic recovery in just 80 years up until the end of the Cold War era. Japan rose from the devastating destruction to recovery in the wake of Hiroshima and Nagasaki to becoming one of the top performing economy in the world. Looking at Japan’s economic growth, it is hard to imagine that it once suffered from being on the losing side of WW2 with most citizens of its nation barely had their basic needs met. Japan’s westernization, military growth, defeat, and economic growth were products of interaction with the United States since Matthew Perry showed up at its pier on the very day of July 8th, 1853 forcing isolated Japan to open up to trade with the United States.
The trading with the West led to Japan wanting to prove itself to the world. Hence, it quickly industrialized to catch up with the West and became the first country from the East to defeat a Western power in the Russo-Japanese War. However, the isolated island was running out of resources to grow its empire and started its invasion of neighboring countries such as the Korean Peninsula and China. During WW2, it even stretched its empire all across Southeast Asia occupying Singapore, Philippines, Dutch Indies, and Burma.
It wasn’t until after the second atomic bomb in Hiroshima did Hirohito decided to surrender during World War 2. Right after the surrender of the Empire of Japan, the United States occupying led by General MacArthur led the Allies in the occupation and rehabilitation of Japan with widespread military, political, economic, and social reform, and unlike Germany, the US occupation of Japan was indirect, meaning that the Japanese government still existed as a puppet government. Japan was determined to emerge as an economic success after its humiliating defeat reluctantly allying itself with the very nations that defeated them during the war.
During the war, the United States had sunk all of the Japanese military and commercial ships in a sea lane blockage, leading Japan to have lost the means to transporting energy and materials between the island to its colony and occupied areas. This was one of the most effective ways to lead Japan to the loss of its war. Also, the U.S. had also bombed most of the Japanese major cities. One of the largest air raids was conducted in Tokyo near the end of the war where 100,000 people were trapped in the fire and killed within a few hours. It costed almost as much damage as the two other atomic bombs. The atomic bombs did not affect the Japanese production capacity as much as it had impacted its national psychologically. The surviving factories and railroads were defunct from the aerial bombings, and with the lack of input as well, it was doomed for an economic shortage.
In 1946, a year after Japan surrendered, there was a food shortage. Food was rationed for everyone in families and there were black markets that popped up everywhere. There were reports that people who did not go to the black market died of starvation. Soldiers who returned home were not only starving from the lack of food, but there was a lack of jobs for them as well. Unemployment and inflation became a huge problem in Japan. Even the black market suffered from inflation as the government kept printing money.
The United States occupation of Japan’s goal shifted from demilitarizing to helping their economy as Japan was in such desperate needs economic stability. By 1948, a US banker, Joseph Dodge came up with an economic reform called the 1948 Dodge Line. The main points were to balance the national budget by reducing debt and lower inflation, come up with a more efficient tax collection plan, dissolve the Reconstruction Finance Bank due to its uneconomical loans, decrease the scope of government intervention, and to fix the exchange rate to 360 yen to 1 US dollar to keep Japanese export prices low. Note that he focused on privatizing industries and reduced the government’s involvement in the economy.
Similar to many other nations who tried to stop the inflation, the nation faced a recession due to the shock on the economic activity. The Bank tried to print more money against Dodge’s recommendation when the recession was felt really hard in Japan. However, another big event happened by 1950 which secured Japan’s economic activity as well as leveraged its position with the United States during the Cold War. This event was the Korean War.
The Korean War in 1950 allowed the Japanese to supply manufactured weapons using their vulnerability to its economic advantage that stabilized its factories.
By 1951, Japan became the lead in the world of shipbuilding supplies that boasted 1% control of the industry nationally that increased national wealth. Factories that previously manufactured wartime commodities started producing items of every-day use such as motorcycles and cars. Technological companies that are still influential today are the leading brands of electronics. Honda (1955), Toshiba (1939), and Sony (1946) among many others are the best- known companies that were born out of the post-war industrialization still influencing the way consumers purchase our electronics today.
Alexander, J. Arthur. “In the Shadow of the Miracle. The Japanese Economy Since the End of the High- Speed Growth” Lexington Books, (2002).
Chung, William K., and Denison, Edward F. “How Japan’s Economy Grew So Fast” Washington Press. (1976).
Time Magazine < http://factsanddetails.com/media/2/20091003-76650af76aa1d603_large-450x598.jpg> [Retrieved 1/31/2019].
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Masahiro, Takada. “Japan’s Economic Miracle: Underlying Factors and Strategies for the Growth” <https://www.lehigh.edu/~rfw1/courses/1999/spring/ir163/Papers/pdf/mat5.pdf>. March 1999.
Takatoshi, Itō. “ The Japanese Economy, Volume 10.” [Retrieved 1/31/2019].
Realizing their gradual defeat by U.S. forces during the closing months of World War II, General Tomoyuki Yamashita hid his war loot throughout multiple underground tunnels in the Philippines. Almost 70 years later, treasure hunters, conspiracy theorist and even government officials continue to search for its existence.
Tomoyuki Yamashita–a general in the Imperial Japanese Army–and his forces spent over 8 years pillaging through Southeast Asia riches, simultaneously committing war crimes of mass murder and gang rape. Items were stolen from banks, museums, temples, and depositories, with items ranging from gold, jewelry, to ancient religious figurines. Initially, the war loot was said to be have been held in Singapore, but when General Yamashita assumed command of Japanese forces in the Philippines in 1944, the treasures were later transported there for his supervision.
Yamashita’s goal was to ship the treasure from the Philippines to Japan using the Philippines Sea, a route which gave Japan access to the Dutch East Indies as well as other lines of supply and communication between the Japanese islands to conquered territories in Southeast Asia. The remaining loot would then be transported after the end of the war.
By 1945 U.S. forces were closing in on Japanese forces in the Pacific Theatre. Multiple navy submarines and airplanes sunk a large number of Japanese merchant ships, some which were alleged to have contained a majority of the loot. In response, Emperor Hirohito tasked his brother, Prince Yasuhito Chichibu, to head a secret organization called Kin No Yuri (translated to ‘The Golden Lily’). The organization’s name was later synonymous to the mission itself, a mission which involved building a system of complex tunnels beneath various Japanese-occupied islands in the Philippines. Over 175 tunnels were said to have been built during this rushed time frame by allied POWs and enslaved Filipinos (coined ‘Romusha’ by the Japanese).
While experts argue that the treasure was a mere myth, two authors Sterling Seagrave and Peggy Seagrave, have written books to support the treasure’s existence. The Seagraves, both American historians, write in their book The Yamato Dynasty: The Secret History of Japan's Imperial Family (2000) and Gold Warriors: America's Secret Recovery of Yamashita's Gold (2003), that many who know the treasure’s whereabouts either died during the war or executed for war crimes in Allied courts. Yamashita himself was convicted of war crimes by the U.S. Army and then executed in the Philippines on February 1946.
In addition, the Seagraves also claimed that American Military Intelligence were well aware of the war loot prior to Yamashita’s execution. Knowing that a public demand for the loot’s whereabouts during a wartime trial would seem unfavorable to an international audience, the Seagraves argued that American operatives, lead by Edward Lansdale, colluded with Hirohito and other Japanese authorities to conceal the treasure’s existence and instead, use it to finance U.S. covert efforts during the Cold War.
In March 1988, a major lawsuit in the state of Hawaii, U.S.A was filed by treasure hunter Rogelio Roxas against the president of the Philippines, Ferdinand Marcos and his wife Imelda Marcos. Roxas argued that he met the son of a former member of the Japanese army in Baguio City in 1961 that helped him map the location of the loot. Assisted by a man who was said to be Yamashita’s translator and interpreter, Roxas visited an underground chamber in Baguio City in 1971, where he claimed to have found Japanese remnants such as samurai swords, bayonets, and skeletal remains in Japanese uniforms. Digging deeper, he found a golden Buddha statue (estimated to have weighed 1,000 kilograms) along with stacked crates containing gold bars. Roxas claimed to have resealed the chamber until he was able to find out how to transport the crates and hid the statue at his home in Aurora Hill.
Shortly after this, Roxas noted, President Ferdinand Marcos learned of Roxas’ discovery and ordered him beaten and arrested by the National Bureau of Investigation and the Criminal Investigation Service. The statue was also seized. In tangent, Marcos later called for martial law in the Philippines in 1962, further solidifying his power. When Roxas was freed in 1974, he went into hiding and later resurfaced to file his lawsuit in the United States. Although Roxas died a day before his trial in 1993 under suspicious circumstances, his family along with his company, The Golden Budha Corporation (created for the purpose of asserting his rights to the treasure) won the lawsuit three years later winning them $22 billion in compensatory damages, later increasing to $40 billion dollars after interest, then-largest judicial judgment ever awarded in history.
However, in 1998, the Hawaii Supreme Court revoked its initial award, arguing that there was insufficient evidence of the overall treasure and instead, ordered a new hearing on the value of the Buddha statue itself and the 17 bars of gold hidden at Roxas’ home previously. Several years later, the final judgment was made against Imelda Marcos, (who, in 1992, claimed that the Yamashita treasure accounted for a majority of her husband’s wealth) and the family along with their estate was awarded $6 million dollars on account of human rights abuse.
Roxas’s story would be the closest event in history that historians have for the validation of the existence of Yamashita’s gold. Whether or not this story or anecdotes from anyone for that matter was the truth, the mystery behind a 74-year-old treasure has yet to be uncovered. For now, the story has adopted legendary status, putting it alongside the El Dorado the City of Gold and the Crown Jewels of England.
The Unredacted. “The Legend of Golden Lily: Yamashita's Gold.” Theunredacted.com, The Unredacted, 9 May 2018, theunredacted.com/the-legend-of-golden-lily-yamashitas-gold/.
Seagrave, Sterling, and Peggy Seagrave. Gold warriors: America's secret recovery of Yamashita's gold. Verso, 2003.
Seagrave, Sterling, and Peggy Seagrave. The Yamato dynasty: the secret history of Japan's imperial family. Random House Digital, Inc., 2001.
"Supreme Court of Hawaii, Roxas v. Marcos, November 17, 1998". Uniset.ca. Retrieved 2012-03-26
Cabreza, Vincent. “Yamashita Treasure' 70 Years After.” Inquirer News TRANSCRIPT Dutertes 2nd State of the Nation Address Comments, Inquirer News, September 8, 2015, newsinfo.inquirer.net/720070/yamashita-treasure-70-years-after.
Press, From Associated. “Firm Awarded $22 Billion From Marcos Estate Over Stolen Treasure.”, Los Angeles Times, 21 July 1996, articles.latimes.com/1996-07-21/news/mn-26520_1_treasure-hunter.
*Halmoni means “grandmother” in Korean. The victims are often addressed as “grandmothers” because the young girls and women who were once sex slaves had grown old by the time the inhumane crimes committed against them were made known to the world. Bok-Dong Kim Halmoni often identified herself as a butterfly freely flying, rising from the bondage of suffering.
This video is the last sit-down interview of Kim Bok-dong Halmoni.
The post below is translated from the Korean Council* http://womenandwar.net/kr/?ckattempt=2
Life of Kim Bok-dong Halmoni
1926: Born in Yangsan, South Gyeongsang Province
1940: At the age of 14, forcibly taken as the Japanese military ‘comfort woman’ by the Japanese military to China, Hong Kong, Malaysia, Indonesia, and Singapore, through the invasion route of the Japanese Military
1945: Disguised as a nurse and labored in the 10th Infantry Hospital in Singapore under the command of the 16th Headquarter of the Japanese Military, was abandoned and imprisoned in the U.S. military prison camp
1947: At the age of 22, returned home after 8 years since her mobilization as Japanese military ‘comfort women’
March, 1992: Spoke out as a former Japanese military ‘comfort women’ and began activism
August, 1992: Testified at the 1st Asian Solidarity Conference for the Resolution of the Issue of Military Sexual Slavery by Japan
June, 1993: Attended and testified at the International Human Rights Convention in Vienna, Austria
2000: Participated as one of the plaintiffs in the Women’s International War Crimes Tribunal on Japan’s Military Sexual Slavery and testified with written documents
March, 2011: Proposed and donated to the fundraising campaign for victims of Tohoku earthquakes and tsunami in Japan
March 8th, 2012: With the Korean Council, established the Butterfly Fund to support victims of sexual violence in conflict
July 30th, 2012: Received Women of Courage Award from the Glendale City Council, California, U.S.
2012~2016: Carried out international campaigns at the UNHRC and in the U.S., U.K., Germany, Norway, Japan to promote a world without war or victims of sexual violence in conflict
July 30th, 2013: Attended the opening ceremony of the Statue of Peace in Glendale City, California, which is the first Statue of Peace established abroad
March 7th, 2014: Stood in solidarity with the victims of sexual violence by the Korean military during the U.S. War in Vietnam through a video message
May 2015: Selected in the “100 Heros Pour la Liberte de la Presse” for the 30th anniversary of Reporters Without Borders and the 70th anniversary ofAFP
June 25th, 2015: Donated 50,000,000 won to the Butterfly Fund for scholarship for children in war and armed conflict regions
December 10th, 2015: Received Human Rights Award of Korea by the Korean National Human Rights Commission on the occasion of the 67th anniversary of UN’s Universal Declaration of Human Rights
July 6th, 2017: Delivered Kim Bok-dong Scholarship to two high school students of Chosen Gakko (school for Korean-Japanese students)
*Chosen gakko, school for Korean-Japanese students, were excluded from the tuition subsidy program since the Abe Shinzo Government
August 2017: Pledged to donate rest of her belongings after death
September 26, 2017: Was inducted to the Seoul Metropolitan Government’s Hall of Fame
November 23, 2017: Donated 10,000,000 won to help the victims of an earthquake in Pohang, South Korea
November 25, 2017: Received Women’s Human Rights Award from the Foundation for Justice and Remembrance for the Issue of Military Sexual Slavery by Japan
November 27, 2017: Donated the entirety of her award (50,000,000 won) to the Foundation for Justice and Remembrance for the Issue of Military Sexual Slavery by Japan in order to establish Kim Bok-dong Peace Prize - the first receipient was Acan Sylvia Obal of Uganda, who sought to raise awareness of sexual violence in conflict and support victims of sexual violence in conflict around the world
December 10, 2017: Along with the Korean Council, was indcuted to the Gender Justice Legacy Wall by the international human rights organization Women’s Initiatives for Gender Justice
June 9, 2018: Attended the Kibotane (Seed of Hope) Conference, spoke, and awarded scholarships to students from chosen gakko
December 10, 2018: Was appointed as the honorary president of Kim Bok-dong’s Hope
November 22, 2018: Donated 50,000,000 won to Kim Bok-dong’s Hope to support chosen gakko
January 2, 2019: Received the first Person of Righteousness Prize and donated the prize of 5,000,000 won to Kim Bok-dong’s Hope
Message of Kim Bok-dong Halmoni
Kim Bok-dong halmoni was one of many girls in Korea who were forcibly taken to battlefields as the Japanese military sex slave. She was taken at the age of 14 and came back after 8 years.As a survivor of the war, she represented numerous victims who could not survive or who lived in silence. Halmoni was a peace and human rights activist who demanded a formal and sincere apology and reparations from the Japanese Government. In addition to trying to resolve the issues surrounding the Japanese military sexual slavery, she also led the movement to combat the perpetuating sexual violence in conflict as the Peace Butterfly.
Kim Bok-dong halmoni attended the Wednesday Demonstration every week, meeting students and citizens and calling for a world in which everyone can live together peacefully. She warmly greeted and encouraged activists from Japan and urged international visitors to create a peaceful world without war that does not create any more victims of sexual violence. Kim Bok-dong halmoni's relentless efforts and activism are well-reflected in her statements below:
“I am a victim of Japanese military sexual slavery. I fight in front of the Japanese Embassy every Wednesday, demanding the restoration of our dignity and human rights.And I understand how much the women across the world who are victims of sexual violence in conflict like us still suffer. I want to help them. —Kim Bok-dong halmoni during a press conference regarding the establishment of the Butterfly Fund on International Women’s Day, March 8, 2012
“Although I suffered as a Japanese military sex slave, as a Korean citizen, I apologize to the women who suffered sexual violence by the Korean soldiers during the U.S. War in Vietnam. I will support your living through out your life with the Butterfly Fund. We should all work together to ensure a world without war for our future generations, so I also urge every country to join in their efforts.” —Kim Bok-dong halmoni in a message of apology and solidarity with the Vietnamese victims of sexual violence by the Korean soldiers, March 8, 2014
“Our country (South and North Korea) should collaborate and be unified so that our descendants won’t suffer what I suffered. It’s my wish that the future generation live without any worries in a peaceful world without war.” —Kim Bok-dong halmoni at the Wednesday Demonstration, October 5, 2016
As her life work indicates, Kim Bok-dong halmoni elevated the awareness on the issues of Japanese military sexual slavery and promoted dialogues on prevention of sexual violence in conflict internationally. The survivors of sexual violence in conflict from the Democratic Republic of the Congo and Uganda, address Kim Bok-dong halmoni as “our hero,” “our mama,” and “our hope.” The movement led by the survivors of Japanese military sexual slavery unites the victims of sexual violence in conflict and spreads the movement stronger, louder, and further. Transnational solidarity beyond borders is a new hope for preventing sexual violence in conflict and creating a peaceful world.
“Kumander Liwayway was truly beautiful and made us all wait while she put on makeup and polished her nails."
-Commander Simeona Punsalan
Wars are often stories of men in history. However, there were also unsung heroines in war, and this is especially true in the case of the Philippines Resistance. This is a snippet of the Filipino women (pinays) who fought in the Philippines Resistance during the Pacific Asia War.
Kumander Liwayway, a.k.a. Remedios Gomez
Otherwise known as “The Joan of Arc of the Philippines” as a beauty queen of the Philippines. She was the least likely person to be a commander in a war until the Japanese invaded the Philippines and murdered her father in 1942, who was a provincial mayor of the small town, she swore revenge.
She left town to join a guerrilla unit. She was given the code name Liwayway, and was assigned to be a nurse like many women before her. She then rise through the ranks and became a military commander. Not only did she lead her squadron to victory, but she also looked great on the battlefield with lipstick, manicured nails, and her hair done. Besides her look, she was very professional as a commander. Never was perfume and makeup her topic of choice. She often discussed organizational tasks and obstacles to overcome.
As a commander, she took care of her soldiers and was known as the Huk woman leader.
Kumander Dayang Dayang, Felipa Culala
Kumander Dayang Dayang translates to “Princess of the First Degree”. She was one of the four co-founders of the Huks and was the only woman elected to the Hukbalahap Military Committee. One of her claim to fame was in the Battle of Mandili where she staged an ambush to rescue her captured guerrilla soldiers from within the Japanese holding in Mandili. With less than 140 men on her side, she was able to eliminate 40 Japanese officers and 68 police officers, which proved that she was a strategic planner.
Although she was a stellar commander, there were different options about her among the people who worked with her. Some think that she was a strong leader who had a commanding presence while others thought that she was overbearing, haughty, and power-hungry. They thought she was breaching the Huk rules of conduct with her attitude. Eventually, she was put on trial for her behavior and her stealing of the barrio supply. This resulted in her execution by a firing squad.
Maria Rose Henson
Having to just moved to Pampanga to escape the Imperial Japanese Army during the war, Maria was recruited as a message courier for the Huks. Her tasks included gathering supplies from the local villages for the resistance. Maria was arrested by the Japanese soldiers at a checkpoint where she was sent to a “comfort station”. There, she became a comfort woman or a sex slave where she was raped and tortured every day by 10-30 Japanese soldiers. One day during her captivity, she saw an old man walking outside the comfort station behind the fence. She was then able to whisper a message to him. The old man was able to inform the Huks, who later staged a raid at the comfort station, which led to the release of Maria.
Kumander Guerrero, Simeona Punsalan-Tapang
Motivated by justice, Simeona Punsalan-Tapang joined the Huk guerrillas. After learning of the raping and kidnapping of Filipino women, Punsalan spoke with the Huk representatives in her village. She was soon promoted to a major and served as a political advisor and networking courier. She was able to keep villages save by informing them of Japanese encroachment.
Corporal Magdalena Leones
Magdalena resided in the mountains in Northern Luzon when the Imperial Japanese Army invaded in 1942. She was captured and placed into a prison camp. After she was released, she saw the brutal killings of her own people and her country occupied by the Imperial Japanese Army. She then became a guerrilla fighter for the freedom of her own country. She later joined USAFIP-NL (United States Army Forces in the Philippines of Northern Luzon) and her main task was to secure communications and networks between the mountain guerrilla resistance of Northern Luzon and the American command center housing MacArthur in Australia.
After the war, she received the US Silver Star for her service in World War 2. She then chose to immigrant to the United States, get married, and raise children instead of continuing on her service in the military.
Learn more about the topic with our publication!
by Jessica Leung
Rumors of hidden treasure from wartime loots locating in the islands of Mindanao, Philippines, have been around ever since Lieutenant General Yamashita surrendered to the Allied Forces after he lost the Battle of Manila in 1945 which marked the end of World War II in the Philippines. According to this rumor, there are billion dollars worth of gold waiting to be found in Southeast Asia. Lately, this gold treasure is even involved in a lawsuit involving the former president of the Philippines. It is no surprise that “Yamashita’s gold” has been the center of conspiracy and accusations since World War 2 given its enormous amount of value. Interestingly, many of the accused surrounding the gold include people from different roles in society from Yakuza members to the royal family of Japan.
Kin no yuri, other wise known as, Golden Lily Operation, allegedly was an operation during WW2 where the Imperial Japanese Army looted gems, golden Buddhas, coins, and precious metals from all over Southeast Asia. The loot then arrived in the Philippines where it was then transferred to Japan. However, toward the end of the war, the Allies started gaining control over the Pacific, and in order to protecting their loot, Prince Chichibu, the brother of Emperor Hirohito, hastily built 175 tunnels all over the Philippines to protect the crates of wartime loot. After the 2nd atomic war was dropped in Japan and the Cold War Era began in the world, there were agreements between US and Japan to establish Okinawa, Japan as a base for the United States military. There are also conspiracies that the US and Japan have written agreements for Japan to hand over the gold in order to protect Japan from wartime reparations after being responsible for the deaths of millions. Another conspiracy floating on the internet regarding the loot from resurfacing the world is to avoid inflation and scrutiny of its government. The gold could be partly the reason why Japan’s economy recovered so quickly during its reconstruction and post war devastation by the atomic bomb. The deposits of the gold have been archived but this could explain why Hirohito remained on the throne after the terror Japan has inflicted on Asia and victims of the war demanding reparations from the Japanese that did not receive any compensation for the crimes.
After the war, the rumors of the loot sent many treasure hunters around the Philippines. One of these treasure hunters is Rogelio Roxas who actually discovered a portion of the Yamashita’s gold. Rogelio was in the Philippines military before becoming a locksmith. He became a treasure hunter in the 1970s. He led a group to start digging for Yamashita’s gold. His group allegedly discovered a portion of the Yamashita’s gold, which was a hidden chamber full of gold bars and a giant golden Buddha statue with gems hidden inside its head located in a cave north of Manila. Unfortunately, after his discovery, he was arrested by President Ferdinand E. Marcos who confiscated all his gold and tortured him. After he was released from his arrest, he died mysteriously under suspicious circumstance.
Roxas’ estate formed a corporation called “The Golden Buddha Corporation” and in 1988, the family filed a lawsuit against President Marco regarding the stolen loot. In 1996, the court ruled to release $22 Billion in reparation to Roxas’s family.
Given the complicated situation of the gold as a universal plunder from all over the world; if it should be returned, it would be an international effort by the United Nations to redistribute whatever it is left over after all this time after WWII. However, many relics are no longer of its original work after being melted into gold bars.
AP NEWS. July 20 1996. https://www.apnews.com/f9d140b7106e715fb9f44f9317901442
Ferdinand Marcos and Imelda Marcos / Arelma Deposit Case. <https://star.worldbank.org/corruption-cases/printpdf/18500>
Legend of the Golden Lily < https://theunredacted.com/the-legend-of-golden-lily-yamashitas-gold/ >
Seagrave, Sterling. Seagrave, Peggy Gold Warriors: America's Secret Recovery of Yamashita's Gold. January 17, 2006.
We were informed by Education for Social Justice Foundation today. Below is the original email:
Dear Friends and colleagues,
It is with grave sadness that I inform you that Bok-Dong Kim, a peace advocate and human rights activist, passed away yesterday. She was 93. A few months ago, on September 3, 2018, despite having had surgery five days prior, she staged a solo protest in pouring rain, demanding the disbandment of the Reconciliation and Healing Foundation.
The Reconciliation and Healing Foundation was established on July 28, 2016 with the 1 billion yen from the Japanese government as part of the flawed 2015 “Comfort Women” agreement between South Korea and Japan. According to the deal, Japan would pay 1 billion JPY (around 8.3 million USD in 2015) in “charity” to South Korea to help victims of the “comfort women” system. In exchange, South Korea was to establish a foundation to help the survivors, provide no support for other efforts to install statues or monuments related to “comfort women” in other countries, stop referring the victims as sex slaves, and remove the “comfort women” statue across from the Japanese embassy in Seoul.
On November 21, 2018, the Ministry of Gender Equality and Family of South Korea made a formal announcement that the South Korean government will begin the process of closing the foundation, taking account of the victims’ demands.
When Congressman Mike Honda and I visited Bok-Dong “Grandma” Kim at the hospital on November 7 of last year, she asked visitors to keep fighting for her and her cause.
In one of her last videos, recorded at Peaceful Our House at the Korean Council, she said, “Although sometimes I question whether or not our situation is hopeful, I know we need to hold onto hope. I do. Please follow me. Let’s gather our strength and not forget about hope. Let’s hold onto hope together.”
ESJF hopes her message of resilient activism will assuage the deep sadness we feel. ESJF also expresses condolences to everyone at the Korean Council, who became a big loving family for Bok-Dong Kim, an unforgettable peace advocate and human rights activist.
With deepest condolences,
Sung Sohn, M.Ed.
Co-Founder & Executive Director
Education for Social Justice Foundation
by Nickii Wantakan Arcado
While independence movements were established well before the beginning of World War II, the conclusion of the war itself served as an important catalyst in forcing foreign powers to retreat and grant nation-states their independence. The following is a structured timeline on when Asian states gained their independence and a brief overview of what lead to their freedom.
World War II Ends with the unconditional surrender of the Axis Powers. After being notified of Hitler’s death, the Axis powers surrendered on May 7th with General Alfred Jodl representing Germany’s High Command. The day after on May 8th, Winston Churchill announced the end to the war in Europe, coining it VE (or Victory in Europe) day. VE day continues to be celebrated by many European countries. On September 2nd, Japan formally surrendered aboard the USS Missouri in the Tokyo Bay under the jurisdiction of General Douglas MacArthur.
The Indian Independence Act (also known as the Mountbatten Plan) was signed on June 15, 1947, dividing the region of India into two seperate states; India and Pakistan. The decree called for full independence by August 15.
When reflecting on Indian independence, one must first look 1857’s Sepoy Mutiny which planted the seeds of rebellion. At the time, India was ruled by the British East India Company, an English commercial, joint-stock imperial enterprise. Indian infantrymen (called Sepoys), broke loyalties with the company and formed a rebellion in the town of Meerut (40 miles from Old Delhi) on May 10, 1987. They argued that the company imposed onto the country social reforms that did not reflect their country’s cultural and historical essence and that harsh land taxes were benefiting princes and Western colonial powers. The rebellion spread throughout various regions, encouraging the emergence of other mutinies and protest against British rule. While British forces succeeded in suppressing the revolt, the rebellion ended the British East India Company’s rule, formally dissolving the corporation in 1848 and transferring ruling powers to the British Crown.
Another important proponent of Indian Independence was the civil disobedience movement led by activist Mahatma Gandhi. One particular act of civil disobedience was the Salt March. On May 12, 1930, Gandhi began his defiant march to the Arabian sea to protest the British Crown’s monopolization of salt. The British salt act banned Indians from harvesting salt, forcing them to purchase the mineral from Britain. This monopoly over salt also included heavy sales taxes, greatly affecting the purchasing power of poor communities. Gandhi’s nonviolent march to break the British law created the satyagraha--a mass civil disobedience campaign. Gandhi’s various acts of protest, as well as the policy work of other Indian government officials, lead to India’s independence in 1947. Unfortunately, less than six months later, Gandhi’s life was taken by a Hindu extremist.
Independence is granted to Burma. Burma’s colonization by the British was the result of a series of unfortunate events. During the 18th century, Burma expansionism mostly focused on areas occupied by Chinese forces. In 1824, however, Maha Bandula decided to organize Burmese forces to conquer Assam, a kingdom in the Brahmaputra Valley within India. This lead to the informal introduction of Burma to the British Empire. Between the years 1824 and 1826, Burmese and English forces fought in a series of three wars. The first Anglo-Burmese War was fought for control over Northeastern India. By the third Anglo-Burmese war 1885, Burmese forces lost exponentially to the British, leading to the total annexation of the country. Burma to the British now served as a market for rice exports and a trade medium between the Crown and China. By 1886, Burma became a province of British India. While there were hints of the uprising against British forces leading up to 1890, British forces launched anti-guerilla campaigns, destroyed towns containing rebellion groups, and employed divide-and-rule tactics to pit ethnic groups against one another.
World War II served as the perfect backdrop for the slow separation of Burma from India, and eventually the British. Radical activist Aung San (father of Aung San Suu Kyi) co-founded the Communist Party of Burma, drawing inspiration from Marxism and the Sinn Fein movement in Ireland. While his group sought support from the Chinese during the war, it was Japanese forces that extended their military assistance for a national uprising and Burmese independence. Unfortunately, in 1942, Japanese forces invaded Burma. Aung San quickly switched loyalties and negotiated with British forces to drive out Imperial Japan. By May 1945, Japanese forces were expelled.
While there were calls for Aung San’s imprisonment due to his initial collaboration with the Chinese and Japanese, the British recognized Aung San’s popularity and by 1947, Aung San was successful in negotiating Burma’s independence. Aung San’s party, the Anti-Fascist People’s Freedom League (AFPFL) won 248 out of 255 assembly seats in the elected interim government. This victory was short-lived, in July 1947, Aung San and members of his cabinet were gunned down by under the instructions of an opposition politician. Aung San’s prodigy, U Nu, took his place, becoming the first Prime Minister of Burma. By January 1948, Burma finally obtained its independence.
December 1949 also argued as August 1945
Although not recognized by the United Nations until December of 1949, the official Proclamation of Indonesian Independence was read on August 17, 1945 by Sukarno (Kusno Sosrodihardjo), one the the main leaders who fought in various battles for Indonesian independence from the Netherlands. This declaration marked the beginning of the Indonesian National Revolution, a series of diplomatic battle and physical resistance against the Netherlands and a response against 350 years of Dutch rule. The proclamation reads the following:
WE THE PEOPLE OF INDONESIA HEREBY DECLARE THE INDEPENDENCE OF
INDONESIA. MATTERS WHICH CONCERN THE TRANSFER OF POWER AND
OTHER THINGS WILL BE EXECUTED BY CAREFUL MEANS AND IN THE
SHORTEST POSSIBLE TIME.
DJAKARTA, 17 AUGUST 1945
IN THE NAME OF THE PEOPLE OF INDONESIA
*Proclamation published by the Ministry of Foreign Affairs in 1948
By November 1949, after five years of military hostilities between Indonesian and Dutch forces, an agreement was reached with mediation from the British and the United Nations Security Council. Complete and unconditional sovereignty was granted to the nation on December 27, 1949. While August 1945 is recognized by Indonesians as its date of independence, the United Nation and Netherlands recognizes 1949 as the official date as per the Dutch-Indonesian Round Table Conference held in The Hague, Netherlands under the observance of various parties including the United States, China, Belgium, and the U.N.
The Federation of Malaya obtained Independence from the British Empire on August 31, 1957. Known as Hari Merdeka (Independence Day) or Hari Kebangsaan (National Day), the national holiday is celebrated with fireworks, flag-waving, sporting events, and parades all throughout Malaysia.
Malaysian independence was spearheaded by Tunku Abdul Rahman, Malaysia’s first Prime Minister after the vents of the Malayan Emergency from 1948-1960. The Malayan emergency can be traced back to economic issues created under British colonialism. Prior to colonialism, the Malayan economy relied on tin and rubber exports. With the introduction of the British, taxes imposed on these goods greatly affected local industries, heightening the poverty levels in the country. Poverty levels in Malaya further increased with the Japanese occupation of Malaya in 1941, as trade became limited and Malayans were only allowed to export to Japanese forces. A severe famine broke out in 1942 and Japanese forces took over Singapore shortly after. In addition, the country was also experiencing a communist revolt lead by the Malayan National Liberation Army (MNLA) - the armed wing of the Malayan Communist Party (MCP).
In response, the British declared a state of emergency, imposed curfews, and created the Federation of Malaya in 1948. Fighting was ongoing until the 1950s, and by 1955, it was agreed that Malaya’s independence was the key to dissolving communist forces and Chinese influence. An election was held and the United Malay National Organization, Tunku Abdul’s party, won a majority of the seats, through tactics of running Malay candidates in Malay dominated areas, Chinese candidates and Chinese dominated areas and so forth. The official declaration of independence was read on August 31, 1957, in the Stadium Merdeka in Kuala Lumpur under the attendance of more than 20,000 people as well as the King and Queen of Thailand.
When the federation was granted independence in August 1957, the insurrection also dissolved and Tunku Abdul Rahman became Malaya’s Prime Minister. The federation was then renamed ‘Malaysia’ in 1963, and by 1965 Singapore sought its own independence from the federation under the leadership of Lee Kuan Yew.
Frederick, William H. Visions and heat: The making of the Indonesian revolution. Athens, OH: Ohio University Press, 1989.
“Malayan Emergency.” National Army Museum, www.nam.ac.uk/explore/malayan-emergency
Editors, History.com. “World War II.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 29 Oct. 2009, www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii/world-war-ii-history#section_7
Cavendish , Richard. “Malayan Independence.” History Today, Volume 57 Issue 8, 8 Aug. 2007, www.historytoday.com/richard-cavendish/malayan-independence
Ang, Ien, and Jon Stratton. "The Singapore way of multiculturalism: Western concepts/Asian cultures." Sojourn: Journal of Social Issues in Southeast Asia (1995): 65-89.
by Nickii Wantakan Arcado
By the time of WW2, war strategies were a lot more complicated than the end of World War 1. In World War 1, much of the war was fought using trench warfare. However, during World War 2, soldiers were engaged in different styles of war including land, air, naval, and mathematics.
The Land Battle: Blitzkrieg
Meaning ‘lightning war’ in German, Blitzkrieg was a military tactic used by the Nazis in World War II. Rooted in the concept of speed and surprise, Blitzkrieg is a coordinated, maneuver-focused military tactic in which the objective was to break enemy lines as quickly as possible through a dense concentration of armored vehicles, air strikes, and then eventually the infiltration of ground troops. The tactic can be broken down to a 3 step process; first armored and motorized vehicles break through the opponent’s line of defense via swift, short, yet powerful attacks. Second, relies on the element of surprise via air strike. Finally, ground forces are employed, confusing the enemy and making it more difficult for them to respond to the continuously changing battlefronts. The defeat then ends with the concept of Vernichtungsschlacht (total annihilation), resulting in a unilateral victory.
The doctrine of the Blitzkrieg tactic emerged between the dates of 1918 and 1939, in response to the attrition and trench warfare deadlock of World War I. Attrition warfare relied on the strategy of winning war through wearing down the enemy through personnel and material lost, while trench warfare, as the name implies, were fought in dugouts. Alongside attrition warfare was the technological progression of artillery power. Bolt action, breech loading rifles and machine guns were prominent in the war zone, firing 400 rounds per minute at over 2000 yards (compare this with rifles in 1914 that fired 15 rounds per minute). Fighting out in the open was therefore no longer an option, as attackers would be met with thousands of rounds of artillery fire. This scenario later came to be known as “No Man’s Land”. Seeking protection, troops moved underground in trenches, bunkers, and tunnels. Since battles were both fought on a defensive front, this eventually caused a stalemate on the Western Front (along Belgium and northern France). In addition, due to its enclosed nature, trenches became infested with pests including rats and lice causing illnesses within the militia. The trenches were also susceptible to flooding, causing drowning or supply damage. In the end, although the death count increased, no progress was made on either side. Poisonous gas and tanks were ultimately used to break the stalemate, ending the war.
Blitzkrieg was first used by the Germans against Poland in 1939. By 1940, Nazi Germany had successfully employed the tactics in various invasions, including those in France, the Netherlands, and Belgium. By 1941, Germany had defeated France, Denmark, Norway, Luxembourg as well as 380,000 soldiers in the BEF (British Expeditionary Force) that were stationed in France. At the time, Blitzkrieg seemed impossible to defeat.
This changed in 1942 when Germany sought to attack the Red Army on the Eastern front. While blitzkrieg was a brilliant military tactic, the Nazi’s lost to Russia in the war of economic attrition. Russian production in almost every war item, be it tanks, guns, or combat aircraft, far outweighed that of Germany. While Russian production centers continuously supplied their armies with resources needed on the front lines, German forces experienced supply shortages. The quick tactic of blitzkrieg eventually gave way to a supply and logistics system geared for prolonging the war.
The Sky Battle: Kamikaze
A name that translates to “divine wind”, Kamikaze were Japanese aviators who deliberately enacted suicide missions by flying their planes into enemy targets (most commonly, ships). The divine wind was in reference to the Mongol forces who were swept away by a typhoon, thwarting their efforts in invading Japan in 1281. The development of the Kamikaze tactic began with the attack of Pearl Harbor in 1941. Japanese First Lieutenant Fusata Iida’s plane had taken substantial damage and began leaking fuel. As a last resort, Iida decided to turn his aircraft and crash into the Naval Air Station in Kaneohe.
The actual deployment and intentional usage of aviators for the purpose of suicidal missions, however, began in 1944, during the Battle of the Leyte Gulf in the island of Leyte in the Philippines. In response to the failure to stop the U.S. offensive via naval engagements in the Pacific, Japanese Naval Captain Motoharu Okamura suggested the usage of crash-dive attacks to swing the war in Japan’s favor. Twenty-four pilots from Japan’s 201st Navy Air Group volunteered for the expedition, attacking the St. Lo a U.S. escort carrier, killing 100 Americans. The battle became one of the deadliest naval battles in history, with over 5,000 kamikaze pilot casualties and the destruction of 34 ships.
Soon Kamikaze planes were being loaded with extra gasoline tanks and bombs, increasing the deadliness of their crashes. The highest casualty count was in Okinawa, where about 5,000 U.S. Navy men were killed in a single battle. Throughout its course, Kamikaze attacks managed to sink 200 ships and caused over 15,000 casualties during the onslaught of the war.
The U.S. soon developed a strategy to combat Kamikazes: destroyers. These destroyers were stationed around capital ships (either an aircraft carrier or a battleship) and directed their anti-aircraft batteries against oncoming planes when they approached. Another tactic deployed by Allied forces was the usage of pickets. Picket (or radar picket) was a radar quipped-station, ship, or aircraft used in order to increase radar detection range, specifically those from the air. These helped U.S. forces detect Kamikaze planes and quickly shoot them down with destroyers before they were able to crash into U.S. ships.
The Sea Battle: U-Boats
German U-boats (submarines) dominated the seas, possessing the ability to patrol coastlines or attack via wolf pack hunting tactics. Focusing on the latter, Rudeltaktik (wolf pack tactics) was a tactic designed to strike convoy systems of transportation. Convoy systems were initially used by the British during World War I which called for groups of ships to sail side by side under the protection of escort warships. During the time, it prevented attacks from WWI German U-boats, as they could no longer corner isolated ships and would be met with the fire from the accompanying warships.
The wolf pack tactic was created to destroy this defense mechanism. Developed by Admiral Karl Dönitz, wolf packs consisted of 8-20 submarines. The attack against a convoy was delayed until all U-boats were present to perform an organized attack against the enemy. The ‘shadower’ was the leader of the pack, and their main responsibility was to remain out of visible range of the enemy through submerging during the night and re-emerging during the night. When there were enough U-boats to converge with the convoy, the ‘shadower’ would then signal an attack during the night. This tactic was difficult for the Allied forces to respond to, due to the sheer number of submarines, the spontaneous attacks coming from various directions, and the increased technological development of U-boats which made them undetectable and essentially invisible.
More than any time during World War II, British forces were closest to defeat when confronted with U-boats in the Atlantic. Over 2,700 ships were sunk by U-boats, equating to roughly 70% of all allied shipping losses in all theatres of war. The cracking of Enigma codes, eventually allowed British forces to pinpoint German U-Boat locations, leading to the defeat of German U-boats and victories within the Atlantic.
The Mathematical Battle: Cryptography
There is no doubt that cryptography (the art and study of solving and decrypting secret codes) was essential during the end of World War II. Decoding Japanese and German military and diplomatic communications were of vital importance to the Allied in stopping the territorial gains of the Axis powers and gaining an upper hand in the war.
One of the main cryptographic challenges for the Allied forces was the German Enigma. Similar in shape and form to a typewriter, the Enigma was capable of producing highly encrypted messages through the use of wheels that would scramble typed messages. In order to encrypt the code, the receiving operator would then need to set their Enigma with the same wheel in order to unscramble the message. ‘Codebooks’ were given to Nazi receiving operators, enabling them to enter the correct decryption key when they received a transmission.
As Germany troops were advancing across the Western front swiftly and relentlessly with their Blitzkrieg tactics, it was the mission of the Allied force to intercept and decrypt their intelligence. In 1932, the Cipher Bureau in Poland managed to obtain a German Enigma machine. The Bureau shared this info with both British and French forces in order to come up with code-breaking strategies. One of these strategies included setting up a Code and Cipher School in Bletchley Park, Buckinghamshire in the U.K. Various mathematicians and problem-solving experts were brought in to decrypt military codes used by the Germans. While Polish mathematicians had learned how to read Enigma messages, they soon realized that Nazi forces were beginning to change the cipher system daily. By 1942, German codes became unreadable.
One influential figure that managed to change this tide of war was mathematician Alan Turing. Turing had invented and developed various machines and tactics to intercept Axis intelligence. One of his inventions was the Bombe, an electromechanical device which significantly reduced the work required from code-breakers. Another example was the cryptanalytic process of Banburismus. The Banburismus process utilized sequential conditional probability in inferring the likely setting Nazis coded on their machines. Working in Hut 8, a section within the Code and Cipher School that focused on decrypting Kriegsmarine (Naval) messages, Turing managed to direct Allied naval forces away from U-boats, leading to allied victory in the Battle of the Atlantic in 1945. Cryptography tactics were also used in other areas of the war, including the Soviet Union and parts of Southeast Asia.
The story of Alan Turing is further explored in the movie The Imitation Game. The trailer and synopsis for the movie can be found on our article here.
History.com Editors. “Blitzkrieg.” History.com, A&E Television Networks, 14 Oct. 2009, www.history.com/topics/world-war-ii/blitzkrieg.
Frieser, Karl-Heinz (2005). The Blitzkrieg Legend: The 1940 Campaign in the West[Blitzkrieg-legende: der westfeldzug 1940]. trans. J. T. Greenwood. Annapolis: Naval Institute Press.
Simha, Rakesh Krishnan. “How Russia Blunted the German Blitzkrieg.” Russia Beyond, Russia Beyond, 12 May 2015, www.rbth.com/blogs/2015/05/12/how_russia_blunted_the_german_blitzkrieg_43057.
“How Alan Turing Cracked The Enigma Code.” Imperial War Museums, Imperial War Museums, 2019, www.iwm.org.uk/history/how-alan-turing-cracked-the-enigma-code.
Rössler, Eberhard. The U-boat: The evolution and technical history of German submarines. Naval Inst Press, 1981.