Soldiers Who Desecrate the Dead See Themselves as Hunters

Medical Xpress, May 21, 2012

Modern day soldiers who mutilate enemy corpses or take body-parts as trophies are usually thought to be suffering from the extreme stresses of battle. But, research funded by the Economic and Social Research Council (ESRC) shows that this sort of misconduct has most often been carried out by fighters who viewed the enemy as racially different from themselves and used images of the hunt to describe their actions.

“The roots of this behaviour lie not in individual psychological disorders,” says Professor Simon Harrison who carried out the study, “but in a social history of racism and in military traditions that use hunting metaphors for war. Although this misconduct is very rare, it has persisted in predictable patterns since the European Enlightenment. This was the period when the first ideologies of race began to appear, classifying some human populations as closer to animals than others.”

European and North American soldiers who have mutilated enemy corpses appear to have drawn racial distinctions of this sort between close and distant enemies. They ‘fought’ their close enemies, and bodies remained untouched after death, but they ‘hunted’ their distant enemies and such bodies became the trophies that demonstrate masculine skill.

Almost always, only enemies viewed as belonging to other ‘races’ have been treated in this way. “This is a specifically racialised form of violence,” suggest Professor Harrison, “and could be considered a type of racially-motivated hate crime specific to military personnel in wartime.”


Professor Harrison gives the example of the Second World War and shows that trophy-taking was rare on the European battlefields but was relatively common in the war in the Pacific, where some Allied soldiers kept skulls of Japanese combatants as mementos or made gifts of their remains to friends back home.

The study also gives a more recent comparison: there have been incidents in Afghanistan in which NATO personnel have desecrated the dead bodies of Taliban combatants but there is no evidence of such misconduct occurring in the conflicts of the former Yugoslavia where NATO forces were much less likely to have considered their opponents racially ‘distant’.



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  • But mudslums treat our dead with respect, well the respect people that have sex with dead bodies and little girls show.

  • ed91

    if you’re going to condone sending them to war…….  then let them do what they have to do…………

  • Johnny Reb

    Sure . . . it’s always the European and North American doing the most horrible, racist things, huh p’fesser?

    Let’s ignore the noble American indians scalping people . . . very often when they were alive.  Let’s ignore the meso-American indians (Aztec, Mayans, and Inca) collecting body parts as trophies, piling up skulls and tearing the still-beating hearts from their victim to offer as sacrifice.  Let’s ignore the Mongols who piled up skulls as a sign of victory.   Let’s ignore the various Pacific islanders who eat their enemies as a way of ganing their “essence.”

    Someone needs to take this guy’s PhD and use it to line a cat box.

  • Brian Jones

    European Englightenment, eh? Funny how there’s paintings on Egyptian tombs showing the Pharoah’s victory at war as evidenced by the piles of severed hands or penises collected from the enemies his army killed.

    Must be because some evil Europeans have a time machine they’re not sharing and they used it to got back to teach this racist trophy hunting stuff to the Pharoah. Also to the Aztecs, all those Polynesian headhunters…

  • What kind of simpering, PC YKW academic drivel says trophy taking is
    “usually thought to be suffering from the extreme stresses of battle”

    THAT IS the kind of warrior I want guarding my home when the Minority Revolution comes!
    I want Ghengis Khan, Mongol warriors and Huns.

    Trophy taking
    bothered them…

  • One good thing about this article,  it is nice to see “racism” associated exclusively with the Enlightenment, as it should be.    Now we can have fun pointing out to liberals that Cortez, 16th-century slave traders, etc. could not have been “racists” because the Enlightenment had not happened yet.  

    It is a start.  And then maybe, if authors like this can be intellectually honest, they will see White Southerners who stood their ground as something other than “racists”, since they were not influenced by the Enlightenment at all.

  • Kurt Plummer

    Shaka and the Zulu did some pretty horrific things to the Xhosa and the Boer and the Brits.  Did their vision of life require them to ‘hunt’ them before they butchered them by inches?  Certainly they had no problems with mutilation.

    The Germans on the Oste Front were -astonished- to come upon signs of human cannibalism (of Wehrmacht soldiers) among the Asian steppe troops, _during the summer_ , when they knew their enemy was well fed.
    And speaking of WWII, is it not better to SEE your enemy as an animal that will “Bitte` Frau…” rape your women and slaughter your children, all things which nominally ‘only animals’ will do because only animals lash out at archetypal (looks, smells, sounds like) enemies?

    Does that not motivate you to be more ruthless and more interested in taking the -correct- kill to disrupt the enemy herd instinct that simply slaughtering everyone?

    Is not ‘one shot, one kill’ (of an important POI) not a _predatory_ approach to war?  Would such hunting not be the essence of the ‘unacknowledged’ (limited victory footprint = limited casualty count) approach to ANY special operations driven war?

    Sticking with the subject of your enemy as your best interests, there are the Japanese.  Who were treated as ‘honorary Aryans’ by Hitler’s Germany, despite the olive complexion and epicanthic fold as well as what they did to the _native_ Ainu of their own islands.


    Because they had a legend of gods who descended from the sky with blue eyes to form the first population of Japan.  And it was convenient to have them onboard the Tripartite Pact (tungsten, rubber, quinine).  Wouldn’t you think that if the enemy was defined purely by their racial character, the ultra race conscious Germans would -never- treat the Japanese as equals?

    The opposite is true too.  If, during an occupation, combatants without battle dress constantly ambush, snipe and blast you before running away, behind crowds of females and children, forcing you to ‘give chase’ into every hole they vanish into, do they not act like foxes or cougars ‘denning up’ ?

    Why -not- use terms of the stalk for such an enemy who refused to meet you in fair battle and finish the war, one way or the other?

    There are other elements of decision as well:  For whites are indeed excellent _warriors_ because we seek the heart of battle, as decision, without skirting it’s edges in a refusal to finish the fight we have lost or won.  This is why Americans in particular -excel- at war because we have not lost the hunter’s edge of a pursuit of victory which so many of the stalemated Europeans have.  But that is not -all- that we are known for.

    And a hunter beats a butcher every time.

    Because the hunter knows he cannot come home unless he survives.  And so looks into his enemy’s OODA loop with an understanding of how the animal within will force him to react to given stimuli.

    What must not be forgotten is that we are also superior as explorers, engineers, scientists, jurists, philosophers and artists.  And the pursuit of excellence in -all things- is what drives us to the more efficient Hunter’s Mindset.

    Don’t denigrate that which makes us really good at -everything- we do.