The Hellfire Pass is an interesting piece of history that I am grateful to have been exposed to. Like many, my education on WWII throughout childhood was primarily focused on events in Europe and the United States. There were so many tragic events that we should do a better job educating on that took place in Asia.
First, we stopped at the Death Railway Museum (Thailand Burma Railway Center) which showed how Japan used POWs and laborers to build a rail line to cut across Burma in order to supply troops with weapons and supplies, aiding in their invasion of India. I learned about new atrocities, viewed a statue of prisoners that hauntingly spoke of the heinous treatment they received, and left wishing that I was educated more broadly growing up on the effects of WWII. Too many people nowadays take for granted what our world went through and even deny the horrors.
Some of the things that really stood out to me were:
Statue of prisoners helping another who was too weak to walk
POW laborers country of origin: began mostly with Asians, quickly scaled to include Australians and Americans within a few years
Japanese treatment of their own officers: One Japanese officer was violently punished for giving a POW water when he arrived to the camp
The Hellfire Pass is situated higher up in the mountains. It’s hard to believe that a landscape with such beauty was home to brutal atrocities. The Hellfire Pass was a section of the mountain that laborers created an entry for the train tracks to run through.
Now there is only the pass, a small memorial, and a few wooden planks. Steel was ripped from the tracks during the Vietnam War.
On the brighter side… my dessert at lunch was impeccably delicious.