A POW Looks For His Torturer For 50 Years To Get Revenge ... And Befriends Him Instead
During World War II, British Army officer Eric Lomax became a prisoner of war in a place known as the "Death Railway," which sounds like the location for the next Mad Max movie, but was something even more insane: a railroad between Burma and Thailand that Japan built using the sweat and blood of thousands of POWs and civilians. The conditions were so shitty that approximately 83,000 people died building it. It was there that Lomax met a man who would eventually (very eventually) become a dear friend: Nagase Takashi, one of his torturers.
Sydney Morning Herald , Far East Fling
"I really wish we'd skipped the prolonged agony and started with hanging out, but whatever."
Just working in that hellhole already counted as a human rights violation, but Lomax was legit tortured, and for the dumbest of reasons. He pissed off Japanese authorities by MacGyvering a radio receiver out of scraps. Convinced that he was masterminding a POW uprising (or possibly starting a jazz club), officials spent a year trying to finesse a confession out of him. In the process, they broke Lomax's arms and hip, and forced water down his throat. There to help facilitate these enhanced interrogations was Nagase, an interpreter, who quickly rose to the top of Lomax's shit list due to his cruel psychological taunts.
After the war, a traumatized Lomax helped hunt down his torturers, but Nagase was the one that got away. Lomax spent the next five decades dreaming of revenge and looking through war records to locate his old nemesis, but to no avail. Then, in 1993, he finally found Nagase, arranged a meeting (according to Lomax's wife, with every intention to kill him), and then ... they got along rather well, actually. It turned out they had a lot in common.
"I'm gonna murd-- hey, we're shirt twins!"
When he reunited with Lomax on the same bridge they'd both helped to build (one more than the other), a deeply shaken Nagase unleashed a torrent of tears and apologies. And he meant it. After the war, Nagase was plagued by guilt and helped the allies find mass graves along the railroad. From then on, he devoted his life to charity. Lomax and Nagase found that they were both haunted by the horrors of the past in similar ways. They even had the same pastimes, like writing, collecting documentation, and having horrible PTSD-induced nightmares. Fun stuff.