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Title page for ETD etd-08012014-171522

Type of Document Master's Thesis
Author Sun, Lu
URN etd-08012014-171522
Title Tattooing, terror, and the American search for a “moral victory”: voluntary repatriation and the Korean War armistice
Degree Master of Arts
Department History
Advisory Committee
Advisor Name Title
Professor Thomas Schwartz Committee Chair
Professor Ruth Rogaski Committee Member
  • POWs
  • Korean War Armistice
  • Early Cold War
  • American Foreign Policy
  • Taiwan
Date of Defense 2014-07-18
Availability unrestricted
This paper argues that the image of masses of Communist soldiers resisting the tyranny of Communism associated with “voluntary repatriation” was one of the most tenacious myths in the Cold War. The image that Truman and his advisers strenuously construed in the West stands in stark contrast with the harrowing brutality in the camps. Specifically, in the case of Chinese soldiers, the process of opting to go to Taiwan or to return to mainland China was horrendously violent. Tattooing was the pictorial evidence of the violence that individual POW suffered in the POW compounds. When one places Truman’s policy within the perspective of the historical background, it is easy to see that the voluntary repatriation policy was a logical outgrowth of America’s long-term policy of waging psychological warfare with the Communist world, as well as American partisan politics and Truman’s own preferences.

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