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Name, Rank, and Serial NumberExploiting Korean War POWs at Home and Abroad$
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Charles S. Young

Print publication date: 2014

Print ISBN-13: 9780195183481

Published to Oxford Scholarship Online: April 2014

DOI: 10.1093/acprof:oso/9780195183481.001.0001

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The Failure of Chinese Indoctrination

The Failure of Chinese Indoctrination

(p.80) 6 The Failure of Chinese Indoctrination
Name, Rank, and Serial Number

Charles S. Young

Oxford University Press

American POWs initially acquiesced to the Chinese political education classes. However, since the Chinese sought genuine converts, they had to engage in give and take; there was no actual brainwashing. As POWs realized what they could get away with, they either tuned out or became increasingly resistant, arguing with their instructors or even mocking them. The prisoners especially resented how insufferably long and boring the politics classes were. The communist instructors adapted by toning down the Marxist theory and focusing instead on the ugliness of war and the brutality of the United Nations forces led by America. Nevertheless, they had little success in bridging the gaps between races, cultures, or between captive and captor. Mandatory study ended after one year. Some prisoners known as “Progressives” continued studying voluntarily, but they retained little of the indoctrination after returning to the United States. The postwar impression of unprecedented capitulation and assistance to the enemy was wrong. What collaboration occurred was comparable to what happened in other wars.

Keywords:   Mao Zedong, reeducation, brainwashing, self-criticism, Stephen Endicott, Edward Hagerman, Progressives, lenient policy, collaboration

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