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The Three Human Bombs
September 30, 2009 5:19 AM   Subscribe

The scene was the siege of Shanghai, the year 1932. It was more than half a year since the Mukden Incident had provided a pretext for Japan to invade Manchuria and begin moving down through Northern China. Three Imperial Japanese soldiers from an engineering division died in a bomb blast that took out a section of the Chinese fortifications, allowing Japanese forces to surge through the breach and advance. The fallen soldiers became known as the "Three Human Bombs" (Bakudan Sanyushi / 爆弾三勇士). Memorials were built and murals were painted and the Three Human Bombs were remembered as gallant and selfless heroes who gave their lives for the greater good of Japan, lauded on stage, in film, and in song. A military medal was created to award heroism in honor of the three. Problem is, it was all a lie. The story of the Three Human Bombs was one of the most successful propaganda campaigns of the early twentieth century.
posted by XMLicious (14 comments total) 24 users marked this as a favorite

 
I love these sorts of posts. The backstory of previously unheard of (to me) tales/history.
posted by tellurian at 5:29 AM on September 30, 2009


Great post. From a few years later and in the civil rather than anti-Japanese war there's Dong Cunrui, another self-sacrificing demolitions engineer who became a propaganda icon; doubts have been cast on that story too.
posted by Abiezer at 6:13 AM on September 30, 2009


Great post. Thanks, XMLicious.
posted by flapjax at midnite at 6:28 AM on September 30, 2009


Excellent, informative post. Well done.
posted by languagehat at 7:03 AM on September 30, 2009


"meat bullet brave men"

In a way, it's more descriptive than suicide bomber.
posted by longdaysjourney at 7:12 AM on September 30, 2009


It seems most, or perhaps just 'many', inspirational stories propagated by governments and mass media about war turn out to be lies.

First casualty of war and all of that
posted by edgeways at 7:23 AM on September 30, 2009


Excellent post. I want to say more, but... just, thanks for being great. :)
posted by six-or-six-thirty at 8:55 AM on September 30, 2009


The memorial shots look a little old. Does the structure still exist? If so, where is it? If not, what happened to it?

Google fails me but curiosity is piqued. (Interesting stuff, many thanks)
posted by IndigoJones at 8:57 AM on September 30, 2009


Very nice post!
posted by Dee Xtrovert at 9:08 AM on September 30, 2009


I love these sorts of posts. The backstory of previously unheard of (to me) tales/history.

Me too; it’s my favorite thing about this place. More importantly, it’s history that continues to resonate today, with stories like that of Pat Tillman.
posted by LeLiLo at 9:12 AM on September 30, 2009


Yeah this is pretty much an awesomely ideal use of MeFi. The reason I joined!
posted by matthewstopheles at 10:02 AM on September 30, 2009


A++++ would read again. Awesome..
posted by the cuban at 11:02 AM on September 30, 2009


Good god. That would have been fucked up even if it hadn't been made up.
posted by ignignokt at 12:19 PM on September 30, 2009


Could they also be the inspiration for だんご3兄弟?
posted by sour cream at 12:59 PM on September 30, 2009


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