In several accounts, it is claimed that conditions of men being recruited by the Chinese army were comparable to those in Nazi death camps. Are such accounts hyperbolic or largely accurate?
The week that the stories of Belsen and Buchenwald broke in Europe coincided with the height of the conscription drive in China; the doctors who dealt with the recruit camp about Chengtu refused to be excited about German horrors, for descriptions of the Nazi camps, they said, read almost exactly like the recruit centres in which they were working. Near Chengtu one camp had received some 40,000 men for induction. Many had already died on the way; only 8000 were still alive at the camp at the end of the drive. One batch of 1000 inductees was reported to have lost 800 recruits through the negligence of its officers.
Then there was the process of conscription. This was a deadly affair in which men were kidnapped for the army, rounded up indiscriminately by press-gangs or army units among those on the roads or in the towns and villages, or otherwise gathered together. Many men, some the very young and old, were killed resisting or trying to escape. Once collected, they would be roped or chained together and marched, with little food or water, long distances to camp. They often died or were killed along the way, sometimes less than 50 percent reaching camp alive. Then recruit camp was no better, with hospitals resembling Nazi concentration camps like Buchenwald. Probably 3,081,000 died during the Sino-Japanese War; likely another 1,131,000 during the Civil War--4,212,000 dead in total. Just during conscription.
Many recruits died before they reached training camp. Many of those who did manage to get to camp were sent to "hospitals," described in Wedemeyer's report as similar to German extermination camps at Buchenwald.