Hello DrStrangelove (if that really is your name...),
Thank you for asking a fascinating and provocative question. Ive
unearthed a good deal of information about the experiences of the
American occupation forces after the surrender of Germany and Japan in
1945, and have summarized it below, along with providing links to more
complete information should you wish to explore it in depth.
Im sure youll find this material quite illuminating. However, let
me say right up front that if anything here is not clear or if you
simply feel additional information is warranted please let me know
before rating this question. If you post a Request for Clarification
to explain what additional information you would like, I'll be happy
to continue working on your question.
Ill start with a comparison which while perhaps obvious is
nonetheless important to make explicit. World War II in the mid-20th
century and the War with Iraq in the early 21st century are two very
different creatures. For the purposes of your question, I would
categorize the key differences in four categories:
Length: WWII lasted years; the war in Iraq only weeks. The
possibility exists that the German and Japanese people were simply
weary of prolonged war to a degree and with a psychological impact
not experienced by populations involved in shorter military actions.
Troop commitment: When Germany surrendered in May of 1945, General
Eisenhower had command of 3 million US troops in Europe; about half of
these were in Germany. Add to that millions of additional Allied
troops, and the numbers of Allied soldiers in Germany approached the
size of a small nation. In Iraq, by comparison, there are about
150,000 US troops the equivalent of a smallish city.
Degree of destruction: Germany lay in ruins from years of intensive
bombing and on-the-ground heavy combat. In Japan, Hiroshima and
Nagasaki were wiped off the map by a weapon of unimaginable physical
and psychological impact, while Tokyo fared only a bit better as a
result of intensive firebombing. Modern precision warfare, by
comparison, is relatively antiseptic, able to take out specific
targets while minimizing damage to surrounding infrastructure and to
the civilian population.
Mission: WWII was a war in a traditional sense; Germany and Japan
were clear cut enemies of the US, and our mission was to achieve
military victory and take over control of the enemy countries. In
Iraq, we have drawn careful distinctions between goals regarding
Saddam Hussein and those regarding the Iraqi people. Saddam is the
enemy, not the Iraqis. Our military victory not withstanding, the
country belongs to the Iraqis, not to the conquering army of American
and British soldiers.
Lastly, of course, there are differences among the countries
themselves. Germany is not very like Japan, and neither of them bear
much resemblance to modern day Iraq.
None of this is to say that there are no lessons to learned from our
experience as an occupational force in WWII that can be applied to the
current situation in Iraq. Quite the contrary, as youll see in one
of the sources cited below. However, it is crucial to keep the
differences in the forefront even while drawing comparisons about the
aftermath of these American-led military victories almost six decades
The quickest answer to your question about post-surrender casualties
in WWII is: Hardly any. There appears to have been virtually no
hostile fire in Germany or Japan after the surrenders of those
The Germans and the Japanese rolled over and accepted defeat post-WWII
in a way that is almost difficult to conceive in the modern era.
There was virtually no organized resistance to US occupation forces,
and what little there was aimed its activities more at irksome trouble
(blocking roads, graffiti, work stoppages, pilferage) than at the type
of deadly actions to destabilize and induce terror that we have come
to expect in Iraq.
Oddly, some of the most serious concerns about security in postwar
Germany stemmed from the behavior of the American troops themselves,
whose tendencies towards rowdiness would sometimes turn violent.
Another huge concern throughout Europe were the enormous masses of
DPs displaced persons whose homelessness, hunger and despair made
for occasional flash points of potential and actual violence. The US
became increasingly concerned about the Communist influence in
occupied Germany as well. Security concerns about the general
populations in Germany as well as in Japan were minimal, by
The best source of detailed information about the US occupation of
Germany is a 344-page US Army report entitled:
History of US Constabulary, Germany, 1945-1947
which can be found at:
[warning: this is a large document which can take a full ten minutes
or more to download, even at broadband speeds...but by all means, go
ahead an download it]
Chapter 10 of the report is on Intelligence, Security and Law and
Order. Ive excerpted some of the most pertinent material below:
Beginning on page 210 of the report is a detailed section on
Subversive Activities and Sabotage.
Subversive activities and sabotage took many forms including the
possession of Nazi insignia and literature, efforts at keeping Nazi
organizations alive, threatening letters, painting swastikas on walls
or streets, assaults against Germans who fraternized with US troops,
placing obstacles in roads, impersonating US personnel, illegal
possession of.radio communications equipment, arson, membership in
the-Melweiss Piraten, wire cutting, circulation of rumors, and
assaults against US personnel. During the first
year of Constabulary operations, subversive incidents remained on a
relatively stable plane and did not fluctuate sufficiently to indicate
a trend, although the potential sources for such incidents was
regarded as having increased in view of the time and opportunities
which had been afforded for organization of such activities.
The following selected incidents are typical of the subversive
activities encountered and are presented as examples in order to
better illustrate the problem faced by the Constabulary.
[what follows in the report is a long list of incidents, a few of
which Ive extracted here]
"21 September 1946. Hundsbach, Small arms firing had been
heard intermittently in the vicinity of this town, thought to be
that of hunters. A search was made by Troopers and German Police.
Ten German civilians were arrested on the charge of "Suspicion of
possessing illegal weapons. All are being held...
"13 October 1946. Klein-Bardorf. Two telephone poles were
found across the, road at about 23 00 hours, 27th Constabulary
Squadron could not obtain any information at the time."
"1 February 1947, Nurnberg., The Spruchkammer on Karl Kruger Strasse.'
was bombed. Bomb was thrown into the shop on ground floor directly
beneath the office of. the president of the German Landesgericht which
is at present trying Von Papen. No one was injured, building partially
'5 March 1947. Hauzenberg. A Troop, 51st Constabulary Squadron
reported that 174 feet of telephone wire were removed between the
quarters and the Command Post by unknown person or persons."
The text beginning on page 221 discusses the native German population:
Disorders Among the Indigenous Population
Generally speaking, disorders among the indigenous population were
relatively few, Such disorders as did occur were usually motivated by
to obtain additional food and other necessities of life. This trend
was reflected in the fact that most offenses had to do with the black
with illegal attempts to cross frontiers. Resentment toward Displaced
Persons was evidenced by the numbers of incidents in which German and
were involved. Intelligence reports for the period 18 to 22, November
were indicative of the security situation with respect to the German
population and are quoted as follows:
"Office of Military Government, Bavaria reported a number of cases
of Fragebogen falsification by German officials. Generally these per-
sons attempt to conceal party membership or avoid classification as an
automatic arrestee in an attempt to retain their positions as Military
"An increase in trips to rural areas and towns in an effort to trade
for foodstuffs known to be hoarded by farmers was noted.
1st Constabulary Brigade reported a growing feeling of apprehension
among the civil populace. . General unsettled conditions exist;
scarcities of all kinds of goods, fear of losing living quarters due
to the growing influx of refugees, the approaching winter months, and
the lack of faith in their present currency, all contribute to this
Two minor disturbances occurred in the 2nd Constabulary Brigade area,
one, a near riot caused by a large crowd of civilians at the Yunieh
Dependents Coal Dump, and the other a general free for all involving
US troops, DPs, and German civilians in a Cafe.
As you can see, this is all a far cry from the types of security
reports that one must assume are emerging daily from Iraq.
Chapter 11 of the report discusses the attitudes of the population in
occupied Germany, and begins this way:
"Any attempt to discuss the occupation of the U.S. Zone in Germany by
U.S. Forces, or the operation of the Constabulary as a part of these
forces, must be projected against the economic, political,
sociological, geographical, and historical background of the people
inhabiting the zone. The following discussions are an attempt to
summarize the attitudes of the German population, and the Displaced
Persons toward the occupational authorities, the economic situation
and the various ideaologies with which they are confronted."
In the section discussing the German people themselves, the report
"Critical food shortages remained the most serious aspect of the
economic situation and the attitude of the population was one of
bitterness, hopelessness and despair. Although no immediate
alleviation of the food situation was seen by the Germans, no acts of
violence or serious disturbances were reported in the US Zone of
Occupation during the year beginning 1 July 1946."
Note the last sentence in that paragraph: there were no serious acts
of violence in US-occupied Germany during the period discussed.
I mentioned earlier that the behavior of the US troops themselves
seemed a more serious security concern than actual threats from the
citizenry. From page 217 of the report:
Disorders Among US Troops.
The conduct of US-Troops in the occupied zone was a matter of great
concern to occupation authorities during the year beginning 1 July
were certain recognizable trends in US troops disorders during the
were worthy of note. Due to control measures the number of serious
in which illegal firearms were used by troops steadily decreased until
use of such arms became rare by the end of the year...
Another comprehensive military report:
THE U.S. ARMY IN THE OCCUPATION OF GERMANY
can be found at this site:
This is an almost 500 page report on the occupation of Germany, and is
part of the Armys Historical Series of reports
Chapter 18 of the report describes the actual occupation in great
detail. Here is a brief excerpt from that chapter note the last
sentence here about the lack of any resistance:
On V-E Day, Eisenhower had sixty-one U.S. divisions, 1,622,000 men, in
Germany, and a total force in Europe numbering 3,077,000. When the
shooting ended, the divisions in the field became the occupation
troops, charged with maintaining law and order and establishing the
Allied military presence in the defeated nation. This was the
army-type occupation. A counterpart of the military government carpet,
its object was to control the population and stifle resistance by
putting troops into every nook and cranny. Divisions were spread out
across the countryside, sometimes over great stretches of territory.
The 78th Infantry Division, for instance, for a time after V-E day was
responsible for an area of 3,600 square miles, almost twice the size
of the state of Delaware, and the 70th Infantry Division for 2,500
square miles. Battalions were deployed separately, and the company was
widely viewed as the ideal unit for independent deployment because
billets were easy to find and the hauls from the billets to guard
posts and checkpoints would not be excessively long. Frequently single
platoons and squads were deployed at substantial distances from their
The occupation troops manned border control stations, maintained
checkpoints at road junctions and bridges, sent out roving patrols to
apprehend curfew and circulation violators, and kept stationary guards
at railroad bridges, Army installations, DP camps, jails, telephone
exchanges, factories, and banks. In the first months troops were
plentiful and almost everything of importance-and some not so
important-was guarded. In effect, the combat forces became military
government security troops.
The army-type occupation was comprehensive and showed the Germans that
they were defeated and their country occupied. This type of occupation
was presumably capable of squelching incipient resistance since none
The bottom line of all this is that there was little if any
post-surrender hostilities between US and Germans, and what there was
most often had the character of barroom brawls more than intentional
The situation was much the same in Japan. A number of comprehensive
documents on the post-war occupation of Japan are notable by their
complete silence on the topic of any active hostility towards the
For instance, in a report by the Department of State (available at
www.questia.com internet research library by subscription):
Occupation of Japan: Policy and Progress
The Department of State U. S. A. Publication 267 Far Eastern Series 17
they note the complete cooperation of the Japanese people:
10. Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers
The man who was named SCAP for the surrender ceremonies became Supreme
Commander for the Allied Powers for the occupation of Japan as well.
General MacArthur received this authority on September 6, 1945 in a
statement prepared by SWNCC and approved by the President...
SCAP and the forces of occupation found Japanese officials eagerly
cooperative, despite the fact that Japanese forces in the home islands
outnumbered the Allied form by twenty to one.
The Japanese people were completely responsive to the orders of SCAP,
despite the fact that they had, all about them, every reason to be
bitter. Their cities had been blasted and burned in the Super-Fortress
raids. Their homes had been destroyed and their relatives killed.
Their industries had suffered great bomb damage, leaving millions
jobless. They had lost the coal and iron which they had formerly
drained from Manchuria and Korea, the oil and rubber which they had
looted from the East Indies and Malaya, and all the other materials
they needed from abroad to support the highly geared production system
in Japan. They were cut off from the foreign territories on which
Japan depended for much of its food supply. Their own farms not only
could not take up the slack but could not even supply the quantities
produced in pre-war days. The extremely limited, intensively
cultivated, arable land had deteriorated due to lack of fertilizers;
labor had been drained off into the armed forces. Their fishing
fleets, an important means of feeding the people, had been decimated
by Allied submarines and aircraft. The vessels still afloat could not
go to sea without fuel, fishing nets, and other equipment-and SCAP's
permission. Inland and coastal transport also had shrunk under the
blows of air and naval forces; the remnants lacked the fuel to
distribute whatever stocks of food the Japanese armed forces and
Government had built up.
SCAP utilized both official cooperation and the docility of the
populace. These were assets during the immediate post-surrender period
when the United States was bringing in and establishing forces
adequate to cope with any opposition that might arise.
[also from the questia site]:
Political Reorientation of Japan, September 1945 to September 1948
Report by Supreme Commander for the Allied Powers.
Message of General of the Army Douglas H. MacArthur on the third
anniversary of the signing of the Instrument of Surrender.
During these 3 years the Japanese people have done their part, and, in
the existing circumstances, done it well. This, despite the austerity
of life in the wake of the tragedy of war and disaster and the
ideological clash which impinges upon all mankind. For they have here,
in a confused and bewildered world, a calm and well ordered society
dedicated to the sanctity of peace.
There need be no fear concerning the future pattern of Japanese life
for the Japanese people have fully demonstrated both their will and
their capacity to absorb into their own culture sound ideas, well
tested in the crucible of Western experience, in lieu of those
concepts responsive to the myths and legends which have so handicapped
their past. And today those practical weapons needed to repel the
totalitarian advance--liberty, dignity, and opportunity--now safely
rest in every Japanese hand, and the nation has thereby become an
asset upon which the free World may confidently count. It stands as an
oasis of relative calm in a troubled and turbulent universe.
In these reports and in a number of other comprehensive documents as
well (for instance, Japan, from Surrender to Peace by John Foster
Dulles and others, 1953) there is no indiciation at all that there was
ever open, active, hostile resistance to the American occupation of
To double-check, I conducted an internet and newspaper search for
stories of any soldiers or any combat-type operations that occurred
after the German and Japanese surrendered.
I found only one report of a soldiers death. According to the Dixon
Evening Telegraph (Dixon, Illinois) of March 4, 1946 an American
lieutenant was shot by a Russian sentry in Berlin, apparently when the
lieutenant failed to respond to a Halt order.
There were several additional reports of soldiers killed in accidents
training flights, jeep turnovers and the like. Most of these were
stateside, but they may well have been tallied as post-surrender
casualties in military records.
There was this odd mention at:
1946 -- Trieste. President Truman ordered the augmentation of U.S.
troops along the zonal occupation line and the reinforcement of air
forces in northern Italy after Yugoslav forces shot down an unarmed
U.S. Army transport plane flying over Venezia Giulia. Earlier U.S.
naval units had been dispatched to the scene.
So it does seem as if there was at least some hostile fire even after
peace was declared.
The official military tally for deaths during WWII, which can be found
on a table titled:
PRINCIPAL WARS IN WHICH THE UNITED STATES PARTICIPATED
U.S. MILITARY PERSONNEL SERVING AND CASUALTIES
contains the following footnote regarding combat deaths during WWII:
Data are for the period December 1, 1941, through December 31, 1946,
when hostilities were officially terminated by Presidential
Proclamation, but a few battle deaths or wounds not mortal were
incurred after the Japanese acceptance of the Allied peace terms on
August 14, 1945.
The circumstances of these deaths is not discussed in the text,
however it seems quite clear from all of the above that the number is
Another resource to be aware of can be found here:
US Occupation of Iraq: Lessons from Post-WWII Germany
May 5, 2003
In 1945, following the defeat of Nazi Germany, the United States, the
Soviet Union, Great Britain and France assumed control over the
territory of a defeated enemy. With the inability of the wartime
allies to devise a plan to govern Germany at the conclusion of the
war, the three western powers embarked upon a separate policy that
resulted in the transformation of their zones of occupation into the
Federal Republic of Germany. This was a great moment in the annals of
American foreign policy. Because the occupation led to the creation of
a successful democratic state, military victory produced substantial
long-term political gains. Not only was a great scourge defeated, but
the coordinated actions of the western powers gave birth to a new and
powerful ally. What lessons does this provide for how we should now
conduct ourselves in Iraq?
[Once again, there is no mention of violence or casualties in Germany]
Lastly, I must make mention of one other historical document. A
report titled, simply, Intelligence Review, dated February 14, 1946
and available at:
The report focuses on security interests and concerns of the United
States in the post-WWII world. Once again, German and Japanese
resistance is conspicuous by its absence. But the report is quite
amazing in its prescience regarding communism, indochina, and the
Moslem World as emerging concerns.
You may be particularly interested in the section on ISLAM: A THREAT
TO WORLD STABILITY. As the language struck me as somewhat
inflammatory, I will not reproduce any of it here. Nonetheless, it is
quite a fascinating document to read.
Again, I hope this is the information you were seeking, but if
anything here is not clear or needs elaboration, just let me know and
Ill be happy to assist you further.
Clarification of Answer by
15 Sep 2003 12:26 PDT
Funny you should mention that!
Like everyone, I suppose, I've heard these same stories, and have
wondered over the years if they were really true or mere myth. I was
specifically looking for that type of info during my search. While
there clearly were such soldiers, I did not come across anything even
remotely suggestive that any encounters resulted in the death of US
In fact, it seems as if anywhere can be called a hotspot in the
Pacific, it was China. The following site details the entire history
of engagements by the Navy and Marines:
You can see quite clearly that in the months and years immediately
following WWII, the action was in China:
NAVY MARINE CORPS
ACTION KIA WIA KIA WIA
1st Marines reconnaissance
patrol fired on by 40-50
Chinese communist guerillas
northwest of Tientsin, China,
6 Oct. 1945 0 0 0 3
7th Marines jeep patrol fired
on by Chinese communist snipers
near Tangshan, China
19 Oct 1945 0 0 0 2
Ambush of 5th Marines jeep patrol
by Chinese communist snipers
outside of Peiping, China
26 Oct 1945 0 0 0 1
Two marines hunting near 7th
Marines railroad outpost shot by
two Chinese west of Anshan, China,
4 Dec 1945 0 0 1 1
One marine attacked while on
liberty in Tientsin, China,
9 Dec 1945 0 0 0 1
Two 7th Marines supply trucks
ambushed by Chinese communist
guerillas near Tangshan, China,
15 Jan 1946 0 0 0 2
Marine hunting party attacked by
irregular forces in the vicinity
of Lutai, China, 7 Apr 1946 0 0 1 0
5th Marines bridge guards attacked
by Chinese communists firing
mortars, near Tangku, China,
5 May 1946 0 0 0 1
7th Marines sentry attacked by
guerillas in Lutai, China,
7 May 1946 0 0 0 1
1st Marines reconnaissance patrol
ambushed by 50-75 armed Chinese
in village 10 miles south of
Tientsin, China, 21 May 1946 0 0 1 1
Marine sentry attacked in Tangku,
China, 2 Jul 1946 0 0 0 1
Supply convoy, protected by 11th
Marines detachment, ambushed by
Chinese communist forces at Anping,
China, 29 July 1946 0 0 4 11
Chinese communist raid on 1st
Marine Division ammunition supply
point at Hsin Ho, northwest of
Tangku, China 3 Oct 1946 0 0 0 1
Two Chinese communist companies
about 350 men, attack 1st Marine
Division ammunition supply point
at Hsin Ho, northwest of Tangku,
China, 4-5 Apr 1947 0 0 5 17
Marine hunting party ambushed
by Chinese communists outside
of Tientsin, China,
25 Dec. 1947 0 0 1 0
Apparently, there's an expert on the topic of Japanese "straggler"
solidiers. You might want to contact her for more information, or at
least have a look at her book on the topic.
"Dr Beatrice Trefalt's research on the Japanese soldiers of World War
II, who didn't know that the war was over for up to 30 years, will be
published in a book later this year."
"The veterans that had the greatest impact on Japanese society were
the so-called stragglers. These were soldiers who had not known, or
had refused to believe, that the war had ended in August 1945."
"They hid on the edges of former battlefields in Southeast Asia and
the Pacific for years, and sometimes decades. During the 1950s, such
soldiers were discovered and repatriated at regular intervals from New
Guinea, Indonesia, the Philippines, and islands in the Pacific."
"In 1972, one straggler was found on Guam and another was shot dead on
Lubang Island in the Philippines. In March 1974, a straggler on Lubang
was convinced to surrender, and the last straggler was repatriated
from Morotai Island in Indonesia to his native Taiwan in January
Let me know what you find out.