“Set up as a top-secret biological and chemical weapons facility during the Second Sino-Japanese War and World War Two, Unit 731 has been referred to as the Asian Auschwitz. Through the practice of lethal human experimentation, the unit is thought to have been responsible for the death of up to 200,000 civilians and military personnel – the vast majority Chinese and Korean nationals, but also South East Asians, Pacific Islanders and Allied POWs. In the sprawling six kilometer-square complex in the city of Harbin (now part of Northeast China) those behind the sickening ‘research’ developed some of the most cruel and sadistic experiments ever to be conducted on human victims. These included vivisection, amputations, germ warfare tests, explosive weapons testing, and much more. Sheldon H. Harris, one of the foremost historians on Unit 731, explained in a History Channel documentary how the people tortured and killed were treated as objects: “These scientists had a weird sense of humor,” Harris revealed. “They referred to their victims as “matures”, which, loosely translated, is logs, and that’s how they thought about them, as pieces of wood, not as humans. They could cut them up; they could burn them in a fireplace… If they ran short of candidates, the secret police would just literally sweep the streets of the city and pick up enough candidates for the lab.” Many horrific experiments were enacted on these pieces of living timber under the direction of Shiro Ishii, the unit’s commander. The experiments sound like they could easily have come from the mind Josef Mengele, the Nazi doctor also known as the Angel of Death, infamous for his sick and twisted human experiments on prisoners held in Auschwitz.
There was no shortage of test subjects – whether outside or inside the confines of the complex. Shoichi Matsumoto, a Unit 731 bomber pilot, said: "There were always 2,000 or 3,000 logs [people] prepared. There were two burning places and there were always burning...
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