A Sad History of Progress

by K-Berens

Thousands of POWs and Asian laborers lost their lives during the construction of the Burma Railway.

The Burma Railway, also known as The Death Railway, is a 258 mile long stretch of track between Bangkok, Thailand and Yangon, Myanmar. It was built by Japan during World War II by prisoners of war and laborers under Japanese control.

The railway became known as the Death Railway because of the incredible amount of people who died while working on the project – 90,000 Asian workers and 16,000 POWs – mostly from the United Kingdom, Australia, Netherlands, the United States and Canada. The initial construction took roughly nine months to complete at a time when the majority of POWs were sent to Japan. Some of them were forced to stay to maintain and repair the railway while under allied fire. Most of the workers died of injuries due to beatings, blasting, starvation, exhaustion, cholera and dysentery.

Japan was convicted of war crimes perpetrated during the construction of the Burma railway. Memorials and cemeteries for the dead can be found in Myanmar, notably in the city of Kanchanaburi – roughly seven thousand POWs are buried there. Several museums along the track tell the stories of the construction and the men who worked on the line.

Read more:

Behind the Burma Railway

Burma Death Railway | HellfirePass.com

 

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