July 19 Activities
After Japan invaded Manchuria in NE China Chemical weapons were produced. Over 3000 Jre factory in Harbin Japanese workers worked in the chemical weapon factory. Harbin is North of Korea and South of the Russian border.
We visited this authentic site where experiments were done on Chinese people as well as POW’s from America, Britain, and China. Vivisection was done ( live surgery without anesthetics) Many experiments involving biological and chemical weapons were subjected on to the victims here. This is known as UNIT 431. The museum is the actual location of the offices of the Japanese doctors and officials who performed these horrific acts. Very reminiscent to the experiments of Dr Josef Mengele in Auschwitz-Birkeneau. Like the Nazi’s, The Imperial Army tried to destroy much of this area. Today the excavation is almost complete. I was a little concerned- and I still am- being on this site that biological experiments were conducted and breathing the air! Artifacts in the museum include medical equipment, vivisection tables, torture tables, medicine bottles, tools etc. that are all proof of the events that went on in this Unit 431. They also did experiments on animals with an area devoted to breeding and experiments on animals such as rabbits and squirrels. The use of anthrax and mustard gas was prolific. There was a display of documents that were copied by the curator and researcher of this facility. He obtained the documents at the National Archives of the USA. They show specific areas of the body, very detailed in description and drawn, They describe the effects of specific chemicals on specific parts of th human body. The USA got the original Japanese documents and translated them into English. They did not make them public. There was also a working crematory on this site that was used to dispose of Human beings. The museum again is reminiscent of the USHMM and Yad Vashem.
The longh term effects of this is on going. Two survivors of chemical contamination spoke to our group. They unwittingly were exposed to deadly chemicals during their work as construction workers in 2003. The soil was contaminated by the chemicals produced in the area. One witness said that his daughter, who was 12 yrs old, was also contaminated and now 10 years later is very depressed, and has few friends. Both these men have multiple health issues that inhibits their ability to work. They live with their elderly parents. I asked what the Chinese govt is doing. My assumption being that in a socialist government that they would be eligible for health benefits. Apparently they are not, However, there has been lobbying to have this changed. I felt very emotional talking at lunch with these men. Especially the one with the daughter who said tyo us he has no idea what will become of her. Their issues are, headaches, breathing, chronic diarrhea, kidney and liver problems, open sores and ulcers
There are few and virtually no survivors of the biological weapons used.. I must say I was a bit apprehensive standing in the open field where the evacuating is being done, and knowing what went on there. I thought what was I standing n and breathing in?
Interesting; that representatives from Germany have visited this site to begin joint research on the medical experimentation done to the Chinese and the Jews during this time. Much is known about Dr. Josef Mengle but we do not know much about Shiro Ishi, who orchestrated Unit 431.
Photos of the site, museum and the survivor who was contaminated along with his daughter