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Ethics of World War II Military Personnel

The ethics of Japanese pilots willing to partake in suicide missions stemmed from the pride of the Japanese culture and its refusal to admit defeat. The training in pilot school also played a role in forming the ethics of country before life in these men. When the suicide attacks are outlined for the men, Inoguchi remarks that it was not unique and had been used before. Such a strategy was even urged by the pilots themselves. Inoguchi (1994) provides some justification for what appears to be a violation of the rights of the pilot’s. He argues that since they had very little chance of returning from this mission alive, the most effective strategy had to be adopted. As he suggests, “If one is bound to die, what is more natural than the desire to die effectively, at maximum cost to the enemy?” (Inoguchi 2003, 8).

In Johann Voss’ (2002) Black Edelweiss, the former soldier in the Waffen-SS in Germany during World War II provides us with the account of an average, middle-class German. Germans’ motivation during the war, both civilians and a majority of military personnel were for love of country. German values were instilled in Voss by the Nazi propaganda machine and his parents. His brother, father, and grandfather had served in the military and Voss, hoping to serve his country he loved, volunteered to belong to the elite division like many other Germans. Such ethics motivated the seventeen-year-old enlistee while he fought as a machine gunner in SS-Mountain Infantry Regiment 11, (Voss 2002). However, Voss’ capture and place in a prisoner of war camp under U.S. administration shocked him into disbelief.

During his time as a PW, Voss was given photographs from the concentration camps while serving as a clerk and translator. The horrific images and the horrible violation of human rights he saw were something that shook his values and ethics to his core. He knew many comrades who served with honor and dist...

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Ethics of World War II Military Personnel. (1969, December 31). In Retrieved 11:35, August 20, 2017, from
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