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SS Creed – Volume Eleven: Japan


translated from original SS publications. These articles deal with Japan and its contribution to the Axis war effort, the samurai spirit, paramilitary youth training, Japanese colonization in Manchuria and the popularity of Beethoven in Japan. There are even a few cartoons. The original illustrations are also included. 

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SC. 51pp.

Yamato is the name of a district in Japan. Since many magnificent Japanese soldiers have come from this district, the term Yamato has become a symbol for courage and fulfillment of duty. Nothing from a foreign folk can be applied to one’s own folk. But we can learn from the Japanese example how courage and valour are rooted in a basic religious feeling.

It happened in the year 1932 by the western calendar that a Japanese major, seriously wounded during the fighting for Shanghai, lost consciousness and thus had the misfortune to fall into enemy hands. He later freed by the advancing Japanese troops and taken to the rear. One day it could be read in the press that the major had taken his own life in the same area of fighting where he had been taken prisoner.

What does this event say to us? – Only because he was wounded and unconscious had the officer been taken prisoner; was that a disgrace for a warrior? When did he end his life instead of continuing his effort for the fatherland and serving it with his knowledge, his experience, his courage and his spirit? – Only on the basis of the Yamato spirit, that spirit of Japanese man, can his behaviour be explained.

In the sagas of western Japan, the tradition of the strong knight spirit has remained especially alive; the foundation for the spiritual education of the saga knight can be seen in the book “Hagekure”, a work about knight morality, in which it is written: “If you must choose between two paths – life or death -, then choose the latter.” The major, who carried this doctrine deep inside himself, took the path of death. But why should one seek death?

In the knight code of the Japanese warriors of today, “Senjinkun”, or the doctrine in the war camp, it says: “You should not bear the shame of being taken alive; after death you should not leave behind the bad reputation of guilt and misfortune.” Since ancient times, in Japan it has been viewed a great shame to survive in captivity; it is better to die.

In the present war – different than in old times – there may be certain situations where one cannot avoid being taken prisoner; one can certainly be of the opinion that one does not necessarily have to die, as long as one does his duty with the highly developed, modern weapons, yes, has done everything he can; he helps his land much more by remaining alive and fulfilling his calling, be it in war or in peace. Such a view has a certain justification; but the Japanese soldier thinks differently: If he lives on in the shame of captivity, that means he did not fight to the death, that he had still had the possibility to fight on, and he is filled with deep regret that he did not fight to the death for Tenno, fatherland and folk.