Revenge killings in 1945 and their absence from the historical narrative in Singapore
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There is a brief period in the immediate aftermath of the Second World War in Singapore that has remained largely neglected in public memory. Between 15 August 1945, when the Emperor of Japan ordered all units of the Japanese military to surrender, and 4 September 1945, when the British military landed in Singapore, there was a distinct absence of law and order. Collaborators were hunted down, assaulted and, in some cases, tortured and murdered. Utilising oral history accounts housed at the National Archives of Singapore (NAS) and personal memoirs, this chapter examines these revenge killings in Singapore. It also explores the reasons why, in Singapore, narratives about collaboration and revenge killings are absent from the public recollection of the Japanese Occupation during the Second World War.
The same forgetfulness about collaboration is evident even in Nanjing in China, where residents suffered Japanese violence from the fall of the city in 1937 until the end of the war. In 1940, the Japanese installed a puppet government headed by Wang Jingwei in Nanjing and proclaimed his regime to be the official government of the Republic of China (ROC). Wang died in Nagoya in 1944 and, when the war was over, the ministers of his administration were tried as traitors. In the official memory of the war today, both the ROC (Taiwan) and the People's Republic of China summarily dismiss these ministers and public servants as traitors. Yet there is nothing in their official works to suggest that these 'traitors' could have done things differently.
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