The crew of an American B-29 bomber brought down in May 1945 by Japanese fighters were able to bail out, but the 11 men who survived met with only horror on the ground. Now their fate is being documented as part of a new exhibit at a museum on the grounds of Japan's Kyushu University, the Telegraph reports. In addition to displays about the history of the college, there's a panel that details the horrors of what those US POWs went through as human guinea pigs, including seawater injections, blood extraction, and organ removals, NBC News reports. "There were incidents which need to be deeply reflected," a university statement says, per NBC. "[We] believe that by facing that past objectively, this [will] lead us to the right path."
That past is hard to look at. Of the 11 survivors, two were reportedly stabbed to death by locals on the ground, the Telegraph notes. But the worst was yet to come: The captain was separated from his men and sent to Tokyo; the other eight were brought to what was then known as Kyushu Imperial University. There they endured unspeakable atrocities, per the Telegraph and NBC: Some were pumped full with the seawater (doctors wanted to see if it would suffice as a substitute for sterile saline liquid); others had parts of their livers or their lungs extracted, or portions of their brains taken out to see if epilepsy could be managed that way. All eight men died, and 23 military and med school workers were eventually found guilty of war crimes. Five were sentenced to death, though they were later pardoned, notes NBC. (The bodies of Japanese WWII soldiers have been found in sealed caves.)