I cringe to tell you guys this—because I cringe to think that it's true—but some Japanese doctors in China really upstaged Mengele. Experiments included human vivisection, frequently without anesthesia, and victims who had "their stomach removed and their esophagus reattached to their intestines" just to see what would happen. And living teenage girls had their wombs cut out for Japanese soldiers to examine. "They knew very little about women," one of the doctors later confessed. "It was sex education."

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[SCREAM. whimper.]

This British report, published in 2007, is wretched stuff for those of you who (like me) are only just hearing about "Unit 731." In a flourish of bureaucratic-euphemistic-diabolical inspiration, it was officially called the "Anti-Epidemic Water Supply and Purification Bureau."

Those [experiments] which did have a genuine medical value, such as finding the best treatment for frostbite - a valuable discovery for troops in the bitter Manchurian winters - were achieved by gratuitously cruel means.

On the frozen fields at Pingfan, prisoners were led out with bare arms and drenched with cold water to accelerate the freezing process.

Their arms were then hit with a stick. If they gave off a hard, hollow ring, the freezing process was complete. Separately, naked men and women were subjected to freezing temperatures and then defrosted to study the effects of rotting and gangrene on the flesh.

People were locked into high-pressure chambers until their eyes popped out, or they were put into centrifuges and spun to death like a cat in a washing machine. To study the effects of untreated venereal disease, male and female "logs" were deliberately infected with syphilis.

Ishii demanded a constant intake of prisoners, like a modern-day Count Dracula scouring the countryside for blood. His victims were tied to stakes to find the best range for flame-throwers, or used to test grenades and explosives positioned at different angles and distances. They were used as targets to test chemical weapons; they were bombarded with anthrax.

All of these atrocities had been banned by the Geneva Convention, which Japan signed but did not ratify. By a bitter irony, the Japanese were the first nation to use radiation against a wartime enemy. Years before Hiroshima, Ishii had prisoners' livers exposed to X-rays.

And to think that I was shocked to learn that police officers were casually spraying clouds of chemicals banned by the International Chemical Weapons Convention (ratified by the United States in 1993) all over political protesters and journalists (myself included) at the 2004 Republican National Convention.

But hell—that was kids' stuff.

(Footnote: I only found this horror-show because I was rooting around for Mark Twain's moral treatises—including those against vivisection—and stumbled into the moral cesspool of Unit 731. Thanks a lot, internet.)

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