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The Bridge Over the River Kwai. Mu sic : Malcolm Arnold.

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Presentation Transcript
The Bridge

Over the

River Kwai

Music :

Malcolm Arnold

Kwai (Khwae Noi) - a river in western Thailand near the border with Burma, flows into the Gulf of Thailand. During the Second World War two bridges were built across the river. During the building many Allied prisoners of war were killed. The river and the events of the war was made famous by the film The Bridge on the River Kwai. The David Lean film was based on the novel by Pierre Boulle of the same title.

When the Japanese entered the Second World War, they immediately began to wonder how to avoid the blocking the Bay of Bengal by the Allies. The search for a different way between the gained lands, stretched from Singapore to the northern border of Burma. Theydecided that the best solution would be to build a railway - linking stations inBurmaand Thailand. They marked trail through the valley of the River Kwai, although the area was almost inaccessible to man.

Work on both ends of the railway line began in June 1942. It's hard to believe that up to 60 thousandslaves were forced to work. Allied prisoners of war, later expanded the number to 200 thousand. Allied prisoners andAsian forced laborers, with the help of primitive tools, cut through three million cubic meters of rock and built nearly fifteen kilometers of bridges. When, after fifteen months the line was completed, it fully deserved to be called the "Railway of Death." The cost of lives rose to 16 thousand prisoners and 100 thousand. Asian workers.


The need to build a crossing over the River Kwai Yai, in the north of the place called Kanchanaburi Makkham, was one of the biggest obstacles in the construction of the railway. The steel bridge components were imported from Java, and assembled only by means of blocks and ropes. Right next to the steel bridge a temporary wooden bridge was built, and the first train crossed in 1943. Steel construction was completed three months later. Both bridges were severely damaged by Allied bombers in 1944 and 1945. Only pilons of the wooden bridge remained, while the steel bridge was repaired after the war and is used today.

In what conditions the Allied prisoners of warlived and worked, you can see at the the War Museumlocated near the bridge. The museum is a copy of the barracks of death. Crudely cobbled together bunks, dozens of photographs showing prisoners of the allied zombies standing in a line next to the arrogant Japanese officers. The interesting exhibition also consists of newspaper articles and photos. When the conditions in the camp deteriorated, the Japanese banned drawings depicting camp life and these had to be done in secret on stolen scraps of toilet paper. On the basis of a few of them, made by a British prisoner of war, Jack Chalker, paintings were later done. The most shocking parts of the exhibition are drawings and pictures showing the torture.


Why did this incredibly cruel treatment of prisoners by the Japanese begin? Well, their brutality was a consequence of samurai bushido code, according to which the soldier should not surrender, ratherchoosing ritual suicide. As people devoid of honor, allied prisoners were denied any rights. Rations were very small, the work lasted for eighteen hours, after which often followed the march to the next camp. Many prisoners died of beri-beri, while others fell victim to exhaustion caused by dysentery. The coming of the monsoon seasonstarted the spread of cholera and malaria. It is said that each sleeper on the Thai - Burmese railway cost the death of one man.

Kanchanaburi cemetery, where most of the dead Allied POWs are buried is a depressing sight. The immaculately manicured lawns and gardens can be found here. The graves of 6,982 prisoners of war are arranged in even rows, For many of the unknown soldiers the stone tablets read only, "the man who gave his life for his country." The others bear the names, dates and names of their units. You can see that most of the people buried here died at the age of 25 years.

The history of construction of the "death railway" inspired a former prisoner, Frenchman Pierre Boulle, to write the novel "The Bridge on the River Kwai." Based on this novel, David Lean in 1957, made a film that really made the bridge in Kanchanaburi so frequently visited by tourists.