“The first time it was one prisoner, a middle aged man. He’d already given up - there was no struggle. He was tied to the bed and anaesthetised with ether, so that he was completely unconscious. The Lieutenant showed me what to do. He cut him open, and pointed out, ’Here’s the liver, here’s the kidneys, here’s the heart.’ The heart was still beating, then he cut the heart open and showed me the inside. That was when he died.” “I didn’t want to do it, but it was an order, you see. At that time, if a commander gave you an order it was understood that it was the order of the Emperor, and the Emperor was a god. I had no choice - if I had disobeyed, I would have been killed.”
The “operation” took about an hour; when it was over the body was sewn up and thrown into a hole in the earth. Eight more vivisections followed, Mr Makino said, up to three hours long. “Over the course of time, I got used to it,” he said. “We removed some of the organs, and amputated legs and arms. Two of the victims were women, young women, 18 or 19 years old. I hesitate to say it, but we opened up their wombs to show the younger soldiers. They knew very little about women - it was sex education.
So we have a real life example of Milgram's experiment: help murder other humans or lose your own life. The article also mentions Unit 731, a secret army medical-experimentation unit, which conducted a variety of heinous acts in the pursuit of scientific knowledge and retribution. From the Guardian:
Between 1939 and 1945, the unit is thought to have killed, maimed or poisoned more than a million mainly Chinese, Russian and Korean civilians by contaminating their water supply and showering towns and villages with pathogens such as the bubonic plague. Known officially as the epidemic prevention and water supply bureau, Unit 731 employed hundreds of doctors and scientists to conduct experiments on prisoners of war and civilians.
Described by their captors as "logs," the victims were deliberately infected with disease and then dissected while still alive so that doctors could check the infections' progress. Between 1936 and 1945, the unit killed an estimated 14,000 people, including several allied prisoners of war.
And this reminds me of Zimbardo's experiment, where the prison guards began to distance themselves from the prisoners and treat them in an increasingly sadistic way.
Those people that believe in a god, or a purpose to life seem to ignore cases like this. The men, women and children subjected to the horrific experiments of the Japanese, died for nothing - or at least were forced to give up their lives for somebody else's morbid curiosity. How can you argue that their lives were pointful; to die horribly and then to be remembered only as a data point hidden in a secret report? Another example of what can happen, when you let criminal lunatics take control.Go Top