In this episode of the Defence Connect Podcast, former journalist and bestselling author Frank Walker sheds light on the hidden side of war and reveals the treachery of governments who once went to horrifying lengths to betray their soldiers.
“Who are our real enemies?” Walker poses in his new book, Traitors. “We’ve got to remember what we’re fighting for [and] why we have a defence industry.”
Tune in as he explains how “justice” during the World Wars was purely selective, why a fear of communism twisted the hearts and minds of world leaders, and why he believes today’s looming military threats aren’t too dissimilar from the bloody wars of times past.
Enjoy the podcast,
The Defence Connect team.
Listen to previous episodes of the Defence Connect podcast:
Episode 277: PODCAST: The future of Australia’s space industry with Adam Gilmour, CEO of Gilmour Space
Episode 276: PODCAST SPECIAL EPISODE: Breaking the stigma surrounding mental health with David Coleman, Assistant Minister for Mental Health and Suicide Prevention
Episode 275: PODCAST: Discussing LAND 125 Phase 4 with Babcock’s Craig Schwartz
Episode 274: PODCAST: Securing Australia’s missile sovereignty with Jim McDowell, Group CEO of Nova Systems, and Dr Ben Greene, Group CEO of EOS
Episode 273: PODCAST: BrothersNBooks, bibliotherapy and the world’s coolest readathon – CAPT Dylan Conway
Episode 272: PODCAST: Building Australia’s future defence force – Brigadier Ian Langford
Episode 271: PODCAST: Preparing for instability in the Indo-Pacific – Senator Jim Molan
Episode 270: PODCAST: News wrap – TS 21 in full swing; SMEs secure new defence contracts
Episode 269: PODCAST: Backing veterans with new tech tools – REDSIX CEO Michael Handley
Episode 268: PODCAST: Cyber fortification — Major General (Ret’d) Dr Marcus Thompson AM
Phil Tarrant: Well, g’day everyone. It's Phil Tarrant here, I'm the host of the Defence Connect podcast, thanks for joining us today. Going to change gears a little bit and have a chat with an author who has only just yesterday released, so it's hot off the press, his latest book, called Traitors: How Australia and its Allies Betrayed our Anzacs and let Nazi and Japanese War Criminals Go Free. In the studio, I have Frank Walker. Frank, how're you going?
Frank Walker: G’day, how are you?
Phil Tarrant: Good, thanks for coming in, mate. And I was happy to see, when I received a review copy of your latest book a couple of weeks ago that there's a couple on the back that I've also read in the past. The Tiger Man in Vietnam and Commandos, so, Commandos was short stories about some of the daring do of our commandos since Timor, I believe, in World War II. So, the latest book, what's the rush now for putting it together?
Frank Walker: Well, I, being a former journalist and so on, I tend to like to lift up the carpet and see the cockroaches scurry away. So, I've, in all my books I've tended to look at the hidden side of war. The Vietnam War, the nuclear tests in the ... At Maralinga and other places, and this book, Traitors, looks at a rather side of the second World War, which I think a lot of our leaders, even today, would rather we didn't examine. And that is the fact that we, our government and those of the Allies, betrayed the Anzacs who volunteered to fight evil in the form of Nazism and militaristic Japan.
And yet, when the war was coming to an end, the governments betrayed them by allowing a lot of these war criminals to go free, to have their sentences reduced, and even hiring them, putting them on the payroll of intelligence agencies to act as spies for the Allies on Soviet Union. This was all done in the name of fighting communism. Don't forget, the Cold War was already quite hot even when the Second World War ended. Churchill envisaged a new war against the Soviet Union, and even tried to even draw up defence plans to ally with the defeated German Army to re-arm them and have them fight alongside British soldiers in trying to retake Eastern Europe from the Soviet Red Army. An incredible thing, if you can imagine turning on the one-time, war time ally, the ally who had taken the brunt of the Second World War
The Eastern Front took up two thirds of the German force, against the Western Front, which allowed D-Day to happen. So, if you can betray that sort of alliance and even think of sending our soldiers, which would've included Australia, back in to war to fight a former ally is, to me, the act of a traitor. To those Anzac and British and American soldiers who sacrificed so much to fight the Nazis and the Japanese.
Phil Tarrant: So, you could probably mix the term traitor and also betrayal, because I think a lot of people on the way have been betrayed because of this fear of communism and reading this book, the overall theme that I took from it was this fear of communism and how that just really manipulated everyone's view, which often probably wasn't the right thing to do. However, because of the need to protect the victorious Allies against the looming threat of communism, it really persuaded a lot of people to do things they probably shouldn't have done. And I'll just read the back flap of the book, just to give our listeners a bit of context.
It says "In October 1943, Winston Churchill, Franklin D. Roosevelt and Joseph Stalin signed a solemn pact that once their empires were defeated, the Allied Powers would pursue them with the utmost ends of the Earth and will deliver them to their accusers in order that justice may be done. Nowhere did they say that justice will be selective, but it proved it would be. Traitors outlines the treachery of the British, American and Australian governments who turned a blind eye to those experimented on Australian prisoner of war. Details how Nazis hid by ASIO, were encouraged to settle in Australia, and how the Catholic Church, the CIA and Mi6 helped the worst Nazi war criminals escaped justice. While our soldiers were asked to risk their lives for King and Country, Allied corporations traded with the enemy, Nazi and Japanese scientists were enticed to work here in Australia, the US and the UK and Australia's own Hollywood hero, Errol Flynn – which we'll touch on – was associated with Nazi spies." It's pretty big, right?
Frank Walker: Yeah, it covers a wide gamut. And I think, you know, I had to draw on a lot of sources and archives to pull all that together, but I wanted for the reader to be able to perceive that this was a much wider happening in history than just a few isolated cases. Some people might've heard that Josef Mengele, for instance, the notorious Auschwitz doctor -
Phil Tarrant: Angel of Death.
Frank Walker: Angel of Death. Was, ended up on the CIA payroll and worked in South America for the CIA. They knew exactly where he was, even though Nazi hunters like Simon Wiesenthal were trying to track them down. This happened time and again. The whole attitude was much wider than just this. You had giant corporations that traded – don't forget, America didn't join the war ... While Britain went to war in 1939, America didn't join until Pearl Harbour in the end of 1941. And you had, until that point, you had giant American companies who were trading with Germany. Standard Oil, IBM, all these big companies were trading with Germany.
Now, that's not illegal, because America wasn't at war. But what I delved into was the fact that a lot, once the war, America joined the war, a lot of these companies continued to operate in Germany with the head company in America knowledge and, of course, after the war, they wanted their profits. And these companies, IG Farben, of course, was the biggest concern and it was broken up after the war. But many other, like Krupp and Thyssen and so on, used slave labour to work the German armaments industry and people died in their thousands in the harsh labour factories of these places. And yet, some of the people, after the war, were tried – but none of the industrialists ended up being executed, and the prison sentences they received ended up being cut short and, quite frankly, they lived in clover in the prison camp where they were put.
Phil Tarrant: So, I thought having a chat with you would be ... It's a little bit of a detachment from where we would normally chat on the podcast, which we talk to CEOs of the large defence primes or people within the current services working on defence programmes and people within Parliament, who help influence the way in which our defence policy is shaped. But a lot of our listeners are ex-services, and or have a particular bent towards Australia's military history and it obviously is a fascinating history.
I keep coming back to, with this particular book, this focus on the fight against communism, how that's really shaped everyone's morals and ethics to determine what happened, life after World War II. Now, Australia and the rest of the victorious Allies were benefited from a lot of the capabilities of Nazi scientists, of Nazi industry and manufacturing capabilities and some of these businesses that you mentioned beforehand still exist today and they're still delivering defence programmes and defence resources in to, not only German and European defence budgets, but also in to Australia as well.
Is it okay, it's just that it's realpolitik really, is it just this is what we need and we'll let that shape and influence the way we go about persecuting Nazi war crimes or Japanese war crimes, for the betterment of Australia and the rest of the world?
Frank Walker: Well, they're all dead now, of course. But I think the moral of the story, that we can see today, is that we've got to remember what we're fighting for. Why we have a defence industry. Why we have a defence of Australia. Who are our real enemies? And the question of why these companies dealt with Germany to make, in the American companies in the lead-up to the war, why some of them even, once war was declared, continued to trade through back doors in to Germany, that was all for profit. It wasn't a great ideological war. The intelligence agencies after the war, who went out and sought and kidnapped and recruited German scientists and Japanese scientists was done in order to make sure that, first of all, these scientists couldn't go and work for the Russians.
Phil Tarrant: Yeah, point number one.
Frank Walker: Secondly that they would work for, if they worked for the allies, they would promote, they would help build a new ... The next generation of warfare, which started with the atomic bomb, that certainly, the allies had the lead in that, but that was mainly thanks to many Jewish scientists who had fled the Hitler regime and ended up working on the Manhattan project. But, I think the point, the main point to come out of this is that, "Was communism in the late 1940s and early 1950s, was it really the enemy that the capitalist countries like America, Britain, Australia – was it really the enemy that we imagined them to be, or saw them as?"
Don't forget, the Soviet Union, although a totalitarian regime, didn't really have the capacity to try and launch a war on capitalist, the world capitalist regime, a new world revolution. That was a fear of a lot of the major corporations and the governments in the west. Was that fear real? I certainly can imagine that the Russians felt that the threat from the west was real. They were surrounded by missiles, they had huge armies around their borders, they had been invaded before from the west by Napoleon, by Hitler, they learned Churchill planned to do it again. I mean, could they trust the West?
So, I think we need to evaluate, just as then, probably, we didn't evaluate enough who the real enemy was, we need to evaluate that same thing today. Is China really the threat that we see it as at the moment? China hasn't invaded anybody that I know of in the last 20 years. They certainly assisted the North Vietnamese, but was that a justified war in the first place?
We've seen, now, we do arms deals with Vietnam. It's supposedly a communist country, but they were nationalists. Ho Chi Minh was a nationalist, more than he was a communist. And I think that's the mistake that we made in that Cold War, and I think that we need to be mindful of that in who we assess as our enemies today.
Phil Tarrant: Well, fear is a big driver that helps shape people's – individuals and also governments' defence policy. One thing, I always knew it existed, but I didn't realise the depth of it was, Churchill's fear towards the back end of World War II about the rising threat of communism, of the Soviets. But you have a chapter in your book here, "Thinking the Unthinkable," which talks about Operation Unthinkable, which was the depth, a really detailed set of steps to join Germany towards the back end of World War II to actually buttress against the Soviet threat and actually invade. Tell us a little bit about that.
Frank Walker: Well, it was at least, it was late in 1944 that Churchill asked his joint chiefs of staff, the very small group of, the top general, admiral, air force guys. A top secret request, for them to draw up plans for the end of the war to see could we stop the Russians going further towards the Atlantic than they already had? In other words, because they had the agreement to let the Russians take Berlin ... General Patton didn't agree with that, he wanted to press on, and he probably would've got there first. But they had to do that at the time, and of course, then we had the great split of East Germany, West Germany, and Churchill feared that there was nothing to stop the Russians going all the way through Western Germany, right to the ocean and France and so on.
Don't forget. During the war, the Resistance in France and Holland and Italy were mainly communist partisans. They were the backbone of the Resistance forces in France and so on. And Churchill feared that these people might rise up and support a Red Army invasion of France and Italy and even the Scandinavian countries. And so, his team drew up plans, but they said the only way to do it would be if the Americans joined in. Now, the Americans, don't forget, were fighting the Pacific War as well, and they had a new president in Truman and Truman, first of all, Roosevelt was not interested, and Churchill was very frustrated by that.
He realised that if they were going to launch a new war in Europe against the Red Army to force them back from Poland, from, right back to the Russian border and maybe all the way to Moscow, they would need more forces than they had, because the Russians outnumbered Britain three, four to one. Or more. And very, very battle-hardened troops they were. The British public would've had to have been persuaded that they would have to turn their backs on all the propaganda and information they'd had during the war that the brave Russians were the ones holding up Germany. Don't forget, we had those convoys going to Archangel and right through and British fleets were supporting the Soviets, who were in really desperate straits at that time.
Don't forget, a third of the Russian army was killed. That's about seven million people. Thirty per cent of the war dead were Soviets and most of them civilians. It was an incredible loss that the Russians had in the war, and they were exhausted. They'd really had no intention of going further, but they did want a buffer. They wanted those buffer states of East Bloc states: Poland, Czechoslovakia, Yugoslavia, Bulgaria, because they feared yet another invasion from the west. It turns out, with Churchill, they were quite right.
Churchill's generals, they actually had a launch date, which was the first of July, 1945, when they would re-arm the German soldiers who had surrendered and get them to march side by side, British troops, all the way heading east. Now, the generals said, "Mr. Churchill, we think this is absolutel folly. We can't win it." So, Churchill ... Can't win it without the Americans. And they predicted it would become a new World War. They predicted that the Russians would ally with Japan, that they would quickly invade Turkey, seize the oil fields in Persia or Iran as it is today, and Iraq, and that they would, the west would struggle to win such a war.
So then Churchill had them saying "Well, okay, can we defend the island of Britain if the Russians do get all the way to the coast?" And they said "Yes, we could, because we have naval superiority, we have aerial superiority, but we couldn't ... That would last about four years before the Russians had recovered and built up enough capacity." But they would mostly be using the German rockets again. It all fell apart when the atomic bomb went off, and then Churchill knew that there was nothing the Russians could do in the face of these weapons that could destroy entire cities.
Phil Tarrant: So, that was the game changer?
Frank Walker: That was the absolute game changer.
Phil Tarrant: A huge deterrent, and also, it's a big stick.
Frank Walker: A huge stick, but then, don't forget that Churchill was also very keen on getting his own atomic bombs. He had them tested in Australia. Don't forget, we had 12 atom blasts going off at Maralinga and the Montebello Islands. And what ... When I examined this in my book, I realised that what Britain was keen on doing was not having the atomic bomb as a deterrent, they wanted to use it, and they thought as a battlefield weapon. And they tested the weapon so, in order to find out how quickly after an atom bomb goes off can you send in your troops. That's why they had them in trenches around the atom blasts, that's why they sent them in. Australians were sent in without any medical equipment for just that purpose.
Phil Tarrant: And how quickly could you do that? Once an atom blast happened, how quickly could you deploy troops on to that same battle space?
Frank Walker: Well, I'm no expert in that field, but -
Phil Tarrant: From your reading, then?
Frank Walker: They were sending people in within about eight, ten hours after the atom bomb went off, in to a red hot zone. The trouble was, they might not have died immediately, but they were certainly very sick and died quite ... A few years later.
Phil Tarrant: So, this underlying fear, and this goes back to the thrust of your book, it compromised everyone, essentially, you know. It's what dictated all the policy decisions and Australian government, and also British and American governments' attitude and aptitude toward prosecuting Nazi and Japanese war criminals.
Frank Walker: Yeah, that's right.
Phil Tarrant: They said, if we can get an advantage in to this new geopolitical geo-strategic climate, we were going to forget these past sins and embrace them, and actually use them to our advantage, and that's what's happened. Some of the stories in your book, when you look at some of the medical experiments that were undertaken and you've got some points here on Australian POWs who were captured in Crete, I believe, during that German invasion of ... They were just used as guinea pigs, to test...
Frank Walker: Yeah, this was happening on a much bigger scale. What happened to the Australians on Crete, I came across files in the Australian National Archives where five Australian diggers on Crete, which was rather another Churchill folly, the whole Battle of Greece and Crete. But these five Australians were sort of taken out of work details by a German doctor and given, over a period of about three weeks in a hospital on Crete, were given injections that made them extremely ill, injections that which, when they recovered, they would be given different injections.
They drew blood from sick German soldiers. We're not quite sure what the German soldiers were suffering from, but they were yellow, they had yellow pupils on their eyes, yellow eyes. So, they were very sick. To draw out blood from the German soldier and then inject it in to the Australian soldier, who was perfectly healthy, it's not a very reputable or ethical medical practise. It was a human experiment. The Australians, they went through about four or five bouts of these things, where they would slowly recover, and then they'd be injected again and they got sicker and sicker.
And it wasn't until there was a chap called Savage, Corporal Savage, who was one of these five, he was the senior bloke, he was a Lance Corporal, but he felt responsible for the others, and he whispered to them during the night, saying "Next time this doctor comes in, we're fighting back." And they did. And they got beaten up by the German troops who were guarding the place and ... But they were sent back to join the rest of the camp, and the commandant of the Prisoner of War camp where the Australians were being kept, and New Zealanders, was so furious when he learned about this from the Australians, he was so furious, he gave them his own rations for a week in order to help them recover, and he wouldn't ever let any POWs that he had under his control anywhere near that hospital. Because he said "This is wrong."
So, there were people who knew it was wrong, did something about it, but the doctor involved, I mention his name in the book, Doctor Matala, he was a leading bloke before the war in inoculations and so on, and after the war he went on to a very distinguished career, no repercussions for what he'd done. He was quite open about it.
Phil Tarrant: All is forgotten, he was just doing his duty. But I guess a post script to that story is that Lance Corporal Savage, like a good Australian soldier, managed to escape and got through the back channels and out.
Frank Walker: He managed, with the help of the Cretan partisans, he managed to escape and got back to his unit, but he was very ill, and he was sent back to Australia. But it wasn't until two or three years later that he finally told a doctor why he kept on falling ill and he said "Well, look, this is what happened to me." And the doctors were horrified. They sent him to military intelligence. Military intelligence took down his statement, which is what's in the National Archives, and sent it off to Britain saying "Well, look, this is what's been going on. Maybe other prisoners are being tested." And absolutely nothing happened. It gathered dust until it was found in the National Archives.
Phil Tarrant: It was buried for years. Did you, did it come out before you tracked down those files?
Frank Walker: Yes, one of ... A university bloke, whose name is in the book, did find the file and he was the one who found who the doctor was, because of papers published by the doctor and so on and he's saying, "Yes, I used a human, prisoners and so on." But the worst case, this probably happened on a much more massive scale elsewhere, but not all the soldiers survived the story. Many of them didn't tell their stories at all. They were too ashamed. That's one of the crazy things about what happens to you in terrible situations.
Phil Tarrant: Interesting, though, the, there's another chapter in the book where you talk about the, I think it's the British Free Corps, and it got me thinking about just the power of propaganda and going back to some of your earlier points in relation to the fear of the enemy, and today's enemy, who we are most conscious and cautious of. The looming threat of China, North Korea, some of these other rogue states, and how the propaganda around these threats can help shape perception and it was good to see, though, the depth of allied propaganda during the second World War, pretty much buttressed a flight to join the Nazi cause, where they were only able to really manage and muster a platoon, or not even a company of traitors, allied traitors out of POW camps to join the Nazis.
Frank Walker: Yeah, well, these are traitors in the true definition of the word. This was ... There were several ... Fascism in Britain was quite big before the war. You had Moseley and his group of black shirted British Union of fascists. Now, when the war broke out, a lot of those blokes joined the army, but they had the sympathies, and the main direction of this propaganda from the ... To recruit some of these Prisoners of War, kept in quite terrible conditions in these giant Prisoner of War camps – don't forget, our impression of Prisoner of War camps come from The Great Escape, Stalag 13, all this sort of thing, and of course, Hogan's Heroes.
Well, it was nothing like that, of course. Officers got better treatment than enlisted men. Sergeants got better treatment than privates. The privates were used in a lot of slave labour camps and it was terrible conditions, where you weren't just ... Your fear wasn't just from the guards, it was from the thugs and so on in the camp who, the blokes who managed to use gangland tactics to dominate and get what they wanted.
So, when some of the Germans and these former fascists came around with propaganda sheets saying "Look, the real, why are you fighting us? The real enemy are the communists, the Bolsheviks and the Jews and the Asians. You should join us in fighting those." And not many men fell for it. Some of the British did, but not many of our guys. There were about a dozen Australians who might've gone over for this thing, and they're documented in my book, but they mainly did it to get away from the prison camp for a couple of weeks. The Germans were offering a holiday camp, where they could recover -
Phil Tarrant: Summer camps, yeah.
Frank Walker: Summer camp, just outside Berlin. You can have women, you can have money, all you've got to do is put on a German uniform. Now, the Waffen-SS, which was sort of like the hard-line Nazi soldier, they were a separate unit from the normal Wermacht, the German Army. They did special operations. They weren't the black uniformed SS Death's Head unit, the extermination squads, they were very much a hard core Nazi extermination squads of Jews and so on. The Waffen-SS were fighting men. They were often at the forefront of the battles, mainly against, on the Eastern Front against the Soviet Red Army. But they had several groups of, battalions of non-German volunteers from Scandinavia, from the East Bloc especially, from France and so on.
And a couple of British defectors and traitors decided to try and set up a British Free Corps. They had special uniforms with the three Lions of Britain, they had a Union Jack on their sleeve and sort of Gothic writing. Very snappy uniforms. And they managed to recruit enough ... It wasn't nearly as successful as the other countries. They recruited about enough for, 30 to 40. Enough for a platoon. Certainly not a company, they never got that big, that's usually a couple of hundred people, but the Australians who joined up mainly refused to sign the Declaration of Loyalty to Hitler, and of course they wouldn't accept getting tattoos under their armpit like the SS did. And they were never used in combat. None of the Germans trusted them. The German tank commanders they were sent to just made them dig trenches and latrines and so on. Bit by bit, and they were there at the very end of the war, defending Berlin. Not with rifles, but with hand signals to direct traffic. "This way to the west."
And a lot of them just threw off their coats and ran away. Some of them were pursued after the war. One bloke got a 12 month prison sentence because he had actually signed the loyalty thing, but not real penalties. The head of the whole ... The British traitor, an aristocrat -
Phil Tarrant: A charlatan, wasn't here?
Frank Walker: Oh, well, there were total phonies and con men involved in this, of course, and one bloke claimed to be a Lord who turned up at the very last minute of the war in a black Panzer uniform, the tank commander's uniform, and said "I am now in charge, hop in the truck, we're all off to fight the Russians." And con men recognise another con man very quickly, and they said "Nonsense. We're not following you anywhere." So, he said "Right, okay men, well, I'm off by myself, then. Come on." And he grabbed one of them as a driver and he, instead of turning right to meet the Russians, he went left, and ... He eventually migrated to Australia, and wasn't exposed. He claimed to be a great spy and all this sort of thing, but he had quite honours heaped on him at schools and places where he'd taught, but he was exposed and lost all those things. But he's dead now, of course.
Phil Tarrant: Some really good stories in your book, Frank, and the one thing that, amongst this overall fear of communism, how that really shaped allied policy post-World War II, or towards the back end of World War II and beyond, was this sort of juxtaposition of how Germany was post-war, versus Japan. The Germans, obviously, heightened the emphasis on her, they wanted to educate the generations subsequent to those in World War II about what happened in Germany during the war and some of the actions of their fathers and grandfathers, versus the Japanese who just try to sweep it under the rug and not talk about it.
Do you think that's sort of transposed down in to some of these businesses that were profiting off the German war machine during World War II, which are still in existence today? All of them are very open or they're at least conscious and do talk about this past…
Frank Walker: Yeah, they've paid reparations. They have admitted their past, but for many years after the war, they flourished with the same people who had fought during the war. Many of them who had served, war criminals – one of them became the press officer for Porsche. He'd actually served time as a Nazi war criminal. I mean, okay, they have to have jobs, okay. Turn the page, we move on. But I think, what they've done in Germany, West Germany it started with, is that all the school children must go and visit the concentration camps to see what their forefathers did. As part of the research for this book, I went to Buchenwald concentration camp, which is just near the old capital of Weimar.
And Weimar is the cultural capital of Germany, in many ways. It was the home of Gerta and List and various other great giants of German culture, and yet, 30 kilometres outside the city, they built this concentration camp. They knocked down a forest and it became a main extermination ... It wasn't an extermination camp like Auschwitz, but it was a labour camp, and a lot of people were sent there just to be extracted and sent off to labour camps where they would build tunnels into the mountains, the Harz mountains, where they built the V2 rockets. They worked until they died. It was just horrendous.
But when I was there, I was quite struck by school groups who were walking through and, sorry, I get a bit emotional when I ... If you ever visit one of these places, it has an impact on you, because you know what happened there. But nobody meets each other's eyes, in these places. You walk, the gravel crunches under your feet as you walk, and you think "Who else walked these paths?"
You go in to the building which is still there is the crematorium, it's, they have giant furnaces. And on the furnaces, are still the brass plaque of Topf and Sons, the company which built the incinerators. And they were so proud of it, they stuck their corporate crest on it. And this wasn't just Buchenwald, Topf grew from Buchenwald to have their mark on Auschwitz everywhere, and they made a lot of money out of it.
And I was curious as to what happened to the Mr. Topf and his sons, well, elderly Mr. Topf died shortly after the war, but his two sons, one was caught up in East Germany, one was in West Germany, but they went on to very profitable careers. They didn't serve any time in gaol. They lived ... They even, the bloke in the West kept the family company name. It was extraordinary, to me, that nothing was done to this sort of ... A couple of the workers who were caught in East Germany by the Russians, the Russians were a lot harder on the machine men of the Nazi regime than the West were. The people who built the furnaces, built the war weapons. But they also grabbed the scientists, they grabbed the engineers that they could use to build up their war industry, just as the West did.
So, anybody who ... I could urge anybody who ... And like the school children who go there, I've talked with some of them afterwards and said "What do you think?" And they said "I can't imagine that my grandfather," as they say, "Grandfather was involved in this. He couldn't have been, could he?" And I said, "Well, yes. He could have. You wouldn't know." And so, it's quite a wonderful thing that the Germans, the West German state was to make this acknowledgement, pay reparations, admit what happened so it never happens again.
Japan has gone the complete opposite way. There are a few individuals who advocate acknowledgement of Japanese war crimes, but the vast ... It's not in Japanese school books, there's certainly no campaign to publicise Japanese war crimes, as the Germans did with theirs. And I think this largely goes, is part of the Japanese culture not to admit failure or guilt. But I think the, after the war, you had ... And one of the things I go in to in the book is Unit 731.
Now, I'm sure many of your listeners would have heard of this unit, which did terrible experiments with biological warfare. It was based in Manchuria and they used American POWs, they tested their experiments on them – not just trying to find the best way to spread disease. That was, essentially, what they were doing. Is it the best way to do it, to have, drop anthrax from a bomb? Is it the best way to do it, to drop plague-infested fleas or is it better to get the fleas in to clothing and then send prisoners back in to their village with the infected clothing? Worked on the American Indians, why can't it work in…
And they did all these experiments to work out the best way for mass extermination, and yet, the people involved in this programme didn't ... They were allowed to go free after the war. In fact, they were recruited, mainly by MacArthur, who governed Japan after the war, and Unit 731 leader was General Ishi, and he got all his paperwork back to Japan as the war was ending, and hid it in his garden. He had a big mansion. And he did a deal with the Americans, that there would be immunity from prosecution. In return, I will give you all my information. And they eventually struck that deal, it went right to the top in Washington, and Unit 731 scientists virtually took over the pharmaceutical industry in Japan, afterwards. They pretty well ran the whole thing.
Several of them, including, it's said to be Ishi, helped the Americans build up their bacteriological warfare to be used in the Korean war. In 1949, 50, 51, there were scientists who examined what happened in Korea, and they said "Yes, the Americans did use biological warfare." It's something the Americans have denied. I think that also goes a long way to explain North Korea's fear of the West, and particularly the Americans. What happened to them in the Korean war. Certainly, they shouldn't have invaded the South. Good. But what they, the war that went on, and it technically, of course, a peace treaty was never signed, is that you see, we need to understand why a country fears us, as well as why we fear them. And try and reduce that tension by not having weapons based on their border.
Phil Tarrant: Well, it's the power of deterrence, and it's as relevant today as where it has been in the years past. Australia, right now, is going through a substantial defence programme to equip us for an uncertain future. We have submarines about to be constructed, we have the-
Frank Walker: Does arming ourselves to such an extent create the tension? I mean, if you were sitting in China or North Korea and you see Australia doing these things, what's your response going to be? You're going to build up yourself to counter that. I'm not so sure that the best way to defend Australia is to build up more and more defence equipment in Southeast Asia. Certainly, we're ... They can't exactly send armies marching down to us, there's a bit of water in-between. As Churchill had in Britain. Quite frankly, if they want Australia, we seem to be quite happy to sell it to them.
Phil Tarrant: Well, then our policymakers decide what happens there, I think. It's a little bit outside my pay grade, that. But, it's good, Frank, look, I really enjoy the book. Thank you for producing it. I found it very readable and I can testament to our listeners, it's the sort of book that you can pick up and put down. It's very well structured in terms of the chapters there, and it's good story telling. So, go and grab it, it's in all the book stores, no doubt, Frank? Yep.
Called Traitors, by Frank Walker. How Australia and its Allies Betrayed Our Nazis and Let Nazi and Japanese War Criminals Go Free. Good read, probably one for holidays, when you're sitting on a beach somewhere drinking some cocktails.
Frank Walker: Oh, it's a bit heavy for holidays on the beach, I think. Yeah. I would, I think it's more of a plane. Plane read or a train.
Phil Tarrant: For train read. And remember, also, Frank's got some other good books there, which, I read this one quite some time ago, the Tiger Man of Vietnam. Commandos, which is short stories about our special forces, I guess you can call them, from the Second Independent Company, all the way through to current day. We have Ghost Platoon's another book of yours, and also some of the work you've done on the atomic bomb tests as well. Yeah. Appreciate you coming in for a chat, and keep it up.
Frank Walker: Thanks very much.
Phil Tarrant: Remember to check out DefenceConnect.com.au, as I mentioned beforehand, a little bit of a sidestep from some of the normal podcast topics we cover, but thought we'd try and mix it up a little bit. I'll get some other authors on, as well; I've got some review books sitting on my desk which I'll get around to reading at some point. Some of them around current defence operations underway with our Australian troops on the ground, in some of the far-flung corners of the world. But we're on all social channels, Facebook, Twitter, LinkedIn, you can follow me if you like, @PhillipTarrant. And remember to subscribe to our daily news, market intelligence and newsletter: DefenceConnect.com.au/subscribe. I'll be back again next week, until then, we'll see you then, bye.