Cade Marcus Beck

Graduation Year


Date of Thesis Acceptance

Spring 5-13-2015

Major Department or Program



David Schmitz


The Second World War is infamous for unprecedented crimes against humanity. Most infamous was the German systematic execution of 12,000,000 Jews, Roma, homosexuals, blacks, and other minorities during the Holocaust; these German actions received most of the attention both in the aftermath of World War II and by current scholars. Atrocities also took place in the East Asian and Pacific theatres, but were afforded less attention and scholarship. The human rights violations that did receive contemporary and scholarly attention were those committed by the Japanese. Atrocities committed by the Allies, specifically China and the United States, were all but ignored by scholars and entirely neglected during the war years. This thesis examines the attention—or lack thereof—that the Roosevelt administration paid to the war crimes in East Asia during World War II. In doing so, it seeks to understand the assumptions under which the Roosevelt administration operated, the priorities of the Roosevelt administration, the administration’s wartime response to atrocities, how it planned to address the atrocities in East Asia during the postwar period, and what conclusions can be made regarding the nature of the Roosevelt administration’s policies given its response to these atrocities. This thesis argues that in order to maintain the priorities of a Europe-first approach to the war and protection of American lives, operating under the assumptions expressed in American exceptionalism and the Just War theory and imbued with a sense of racial and cultural superiority, the Roosevelt administration turned a blind eye toward atrocities in East Asia and justified violence committed by the Allies.

Page Count


Subject Headings

Franklin Delano Roosevelt (1882-1945) --Military leadership--World War (1939-1945), World War (1939-1945) --Civil defense--China--Chongqing, War crimes--Japanese--1940-1950, World War (1939-1945) --Campaigns--East Asia, Crimes against humanity--United States--History, Harry S. Truman (1884-1972), International Military Tribunal for the Far East. --Tokyo war Crimes Tribunal --Tokyo Trials, World War II, Whitman College -- Dissertation collection 2015 -- History Department

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