WW2: were post-surrender attacks on occupying US troops a problem?

In the aftermath of the US invasions of Iraq and Afghanistan, sporadic attacks on US troops are an ongoing problem. US vehicles are attacked with roadside bombs, and US soldiers sometimes are caught off-guard when the local civilians they had been trusting and working with suddenly turn on them and start shooting.

Were there similar incidents in Germany and Japan in the aftermath of WWII? My guess is they were far less common, given that each of those nations had issued a formal surrender. However, that wouldn’t have immediately ended the resentment of German/Japanese civilians at being defeated/occupied by a foreign military force. So was that resentment enough to inspire attacks similar to what we’ve seen in Iraq and Afghanistan in recent years?

The Japanese on the Japanese main islands surrendered completely. There was very little trouble and they wanted to rebuild. There were incidents on some of the Japanese captured islands with hold outs here and there.

Here is a useful starting point for Japanese holdouts: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Japanese_holdout

Firstly, did you seriously call Iraq & Afghanistan sporadic attacks? :eek:
On topic. There were a few cases, mostly isolated. There were protests on policy decisions, but most German and Japanese military aged men were either dead, crippled or incarcerated in 1945,
Here is an overview.

I think they were pretty sporadic in the past, although they seem to have gotten much worse just this year, at least in Kabul.

My take on the OP is that in the immediate aftermath of both invasions there was a relative peace. It wasn’t complete, hence the OPs question, but relatively quiet. After a year or so, the opposition became organized and focused and it became a war again-with a surge and all.
But immediately after the invasion, the victors were generally welcomed. Didn’t last long.

One of the first things the US command did in their sector of Germany was disarm the civilian populace. They put out an order for everyone to turn in weapons and the Germans largely complied. So anyone wanting to make trouble wouldn’t have had much in the way of weapons to do so.

In Germany, the Nazis tried to start up an underground fighter group called the Werwolves. regarding most of their claimed actions: 1. They almost all occurred before the end of the war. 2. Many claims were false, the person died for other reasons.

Of course once the war was completely over, there was no Nazi media to tout their activities.

Given the effort put into the operation, the result was remarkably weak.

There was also a group called the Edelweiss Pirates that stirred up trouble. The group pre-dated the war and were an anti-fascist youth group. The Allies had some issues with them and gang-like troubles erupted.

Less organized, individual, acts happened here and there. Attacks on surviving/returning Jews, women who consorted with occupation troops, etc.

Too many Germans were preoccupied with finding food and shelter, avoiding the more brutal occupying troops, etc. Mentally a lot just wanted to move forward.

My Dad fought in the US 69th Infantry division across Europe and into Germany. He said that as the war drew to a close (BEFORE the surrender) the American soldiers were plagued by diehard Nazis, fanatical Hitler Youths and various bitter-enders who made suicidal attacks against overwhelmingly strong allied formation…and were routinely annihilated.

So I agree with AK84 that most of the people inclined to attack Allied troops were dead before the surrender went into effect.

Plus, one of the issues was that many of the insurgents in Iraq were supplied by outside forces (Iran?) and a steady stream other outside fanatics from around the region. There was also the ongoing Sunni-Shia split, so the Americans were caught in the middle by supporting one side at the expense of the other. One of the more pacifying moves at one point was to buy off and incorporate some of the Sunni into the government - and of course, when the Shiites got factional, the problem started up again.

So neither Germany nor Japan had much of a factional civil war going nor an outside source trying to keep the chaos going.

My dad was in the occupying forces and had a few stories to tell. He didn’t see any fighting being barely old enough to be drafted very late in the war effort. He was an MP and spent most of his time guarding posts and trains, but did tell me of a time he was walking back to base after a night out (probably against better judgment and maybe even regulations) when he met a group of German men coming his way. They were in a band, but there were several of them and only one of him. He very loudly and conspicuously racked a round into his pistol and kept right on walking past them…no one saying a word or looking at each other.

So one anecdote, I take it that things were generally quiet, but tensions were there.

I’ve got a picture of him dating a couple of German girls, so there was some fraternization going on.

My WAG is that Germany and Japan were much more psychologically beaten and wearied after WWII and had no stomach left for a fight - plus, they knew that an insurgency would get them nowhere - it’s not like it would eject the Allied conquerors.

But Iraq was very different. The U.S.-led invasion in 2003 was very quick and successful and that part of the war was over in only a month or so. That left many Iraqi extremists still itching for a fight and feeling like, “Nope, this ain’t over yet. We still want some action.” And so they were able to fight on for years. In addition, there was a much greater likelihood of Iraqi insurgency achieving a useful purpose than a post-WWII Axis insurgency. With the media covering every single suicide bombing and insurgent attack, the insurgents knew they had a good chance of demoralizing Uncle Sam and getting America to cave in.

Also, in Iraq, it was a lot easier for foreign terrorists to come in and get their part of the action. That wasn’t the case with Germany or Japan. Who exactly was going to come into Germany or Japan to help fight the occupying Allied powers? No one.

Japan and Germany formally surrendered to the allies. The Emperor of Japan made a public broadcast announcing the end of the war.

I don’t recall the leadership of Iraq and Afghanistan ever formally surrendered and ordered their people to surrender

The Germans knew that they stood a lot better chance in Allied occupied sectors of Germany than the half occupied by the Soviets. The Russians punished the German population in what became East Germany severely because of the atrocities they suffered at the hands of the Nazis. Most of the women were raped. The men spend many years in harsh labour camps.

There were streams of refugees trying to move West. Living in West Germany was the lesser of two evils and the Allies rapidly averted a famine and started rebuilding the country and maintained a large occupation army to discourage Stalin from taking the rest of the country. A plan was developed for West Germany. After six years of war in a country defeated and devastated it was easy for the population to buy into the idea of rebuilding and avoiding a Soviet invasion.

Iraq in 2003 was very different situation. This was a very quick war and Saddams army was easily defeated.

But the US had no real plan for what to do with the country after the invasion of Iraq. It deployed too few troops for an occupation. It disbanded Saddams Sunni dominated army who went off the form ISIS. They handed political power to Shi’ites who were backed by Iran causing the conditions for a civil war. Lots of mistakes were made.

In Iraq the army had been defeated but there was still a country of 38million and all those that ran the country under Saddam were now out of job because of US policy and there were no shortage of hidden arms caches. The results were predictable.

When you have a big powerful military, winning a war is the simple part. Deciding what to do next is down to the political plan. Bush and his political friends did not have one. Their plan was more to do with using the Iraq war as an excuse to raid the US government cookie jar for the benefit of the companies they control than creating any sort of political settlement in Iraq that furthers US interests.

Post WW2 Germany and post Saddam Iraq are two very different scenarios.

DAESH did not form from the Iraqi army, it is many years later, the original resistance of the Iraqis was from the disbanded army and the secularist baath.

True, Daesh was outside(mostly) fanatics. The AlQeda/Daesh desire to fight America stemmed from the first Gulf War, when fanatics like bin Laden took offence to the idea of Christian troops being stationed on Saudi (holy) soil; plus, offence that the Saudi royalty would let this happen.

Another point is that after the very short war, apparently there were plenty of caches of unused military hardware and ordnance hidden around the country, to provide the Sunni resistance with ammunition against the occupiers. I have trouble imagining by mid-1945 there was much in the way of military stockpiles left, particularly in areas that the allies had fought hard for half a year to overrun.

Saddam hid his stockpiles to avoid concentrating them where they could be found or bombed. The Germans probably moved everything they had to where it could be used as soon as it was produced. The technology for booby traps was also much more sophisticated by 2003, with abundant supplies of wires, cell phone triggers, electric blasting caps, and other troop-unfriendly devices more easily acquired and deployed.

My grandfather was a U.S. artillery officer in WW2. His most memorable war story was when he was traveling alone in a Jeep near the end of the war. I think he said he was delivering a message or something? Apparently the front line had become rather fluid at this point as German units were overtaken or surrendered.

Anyway, he thought he was safely behind the front line as he drove along some back road when he encountered a German troop transport truck with 20 or so German soldiers coming the other way. Alone and only being armed with a pistol, he knew he was outnumbered and outgunned, so he immediately drove the Jeep off the road into a ditch, jumped out, and ran for his life into the woods. The Germans immediately stopped their truck as well and a number of the soldiers ran after him. :eek:

The caught up to him and surrounded him, and immediately threw their weapons to the ground and surrendered.

Apparently they had been driving around the countryside, looking for an American Army officer they could surrender to. They must have figured that was the best thing that could happen to them at that point. They were emphatic that they were trying to avoid the Soviets.

So that’s the story of how my grandfather “captured” 20 German soldiers.

My Dad was part of the Pacific front occupation forces, first Philippines then Okinawa. He told us that on the islands, some resistance continued, mostly booby traps, etc.

But in Okinawa, the Populace were remarkably accepting, no violence to speak of. In the Philippines, Dad always carried his carbine, even after, but after a short stint in Okinawa, few other than MPs carried even sidearms.

Father very much enjoyed the film,*The Teahouse of the August Moon *, calling it “more realistic than most war movies”.

Some people in Japan seem to regard Okinawa as part of Japan, occupied by the Okinawese. My aged parent always regarded Okinawa as an island occupied by Japan, liberated by the Americans.

The parent was most irritated when the Americans returned Okinawa to the Japanese.

Yes, that is mostly true except there were a lot of Japanese on Okinawa.

OTOH, a fellow I worked with captured an entire air crew with a shovel. He was a late draftee into the German army, and assigned to digging trenches a decent distance back from the front lines. As they were digging away, a bomber went over at about 500 feet with obvious mechanical difficulties. The crew bailed out right above them and the plane crashed over the next hill. He said he realized as they landed in front of his squad that they had landed between them and their pile of guns; so he started screaming at them and waving his shovel. They stuck their hands up and surrendered distracted by him, at which time one of his squad managed to make it to the pile of guns without being noticed. Of course, by then the war was almost over.