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  • June 6, 1944 During the D Day landings, the Allies  

  • stormed the beaches of Normandy, France in the  largest seaborne invasion in history. Many tales  

  • of sacrifice, courage and brotherhood came out of  these battles. But perhaps one of the most curious  

  • stories of World War II came to light when members  of the 506th Parachute Infantry Regiment captured  

  • some soldiers from the 709th Infantry Division  of the Wehrmacht during the Utah Beach landing

  • US paratrooper Lieutenant Robert Brewer reported  that there were four Asian men in German uniforms  

  • and no one could communicate with them. Initially  it was thought that the men were Japanese  

  • soldiers, however one of them, Yang Kyoungjong  was Korean. As it turns out, he had fought in  

  • 3 different sides of the war, fighting in the  Imperial Japanese Army, the Soviet Red Army and  

  • then the Wehrmacht. The long journey in which he  came to fight for Germany, highlights how war can  

  • force ordinary people into fighting to uphold  a system, no matter their personal ideology

  • Yang was born on March 6, 1920 in Sinuijuin what is now North Korea. During this time  

  • Korea was under Japanese rule. In 1938, at  age 18, Yang was in Manchuria where he was  

  • conscripted against his will into the Kwantung  Army, the largest and most prestigious fighting  

  • force of the Imperial Japanese Army. After training, Yang was sent to the  

  • Khalkha River region, which was a disputed  border territory between Mongolia and Japan.  

  • Several clashes were fought between the Kwantung  Army and a combined force of Mongolian and Soviet  

  • troops in what came to be known as the Nomonhan  Incident according to the Japanese or the Battles  

  • of Khalkha Gol according to the Soviets. This  undeclared war severely impacted Soviet-Japanese  

  • relations and was ultimately a major factor  in Japan becoming an ally of Nazi Germany

  • In 1939 during a heated battle, Yang was taken  prisoner by the Soviet Red Army and sent to a  

  • gulag. As World War II ramped up, the Soviets  experienced heavy losses fighting Nazi Germany  

  • on the Eastern front. In 1942, due to the shortage  in manpower, Soviet military officials made the  

  • decision to resupply their troops by pressing  thousands of POWs into service. Once again,  

  • against his will, Yang found himself as part  of an army. He served under the Soviet flag  

  • for about a year, during which he fought in  numerous engagements along the Eastern front

  • In 1943, Yang was captured by Wehrmacht  soldiers while fighting in eastern Ukraine  

  • during the intense Third Battle of KharkovSometimes the Germans would give prisoners a  

  • choice. They could be executed or 'volunteerto serve in the German army. While it's not  

  • known if Yang had to make such a choicehe ended up being conscripted and sent to  

  • France to fight in the 709th Infantry Division  of the Wehrmacht. Yang's bataillon was composed  

  • of non German prisoners. They served as shock  troops and backed up more experienced Wehrmacht  

  • battalions in Normandy, close to Utah Beach. During the D-Day landings Yang was among a handful  

  • of soldiers captured by US paratroops. As it  turns out none of the 4 'Japanese' soldiers were  

  • actually Japanese. Yang was Korean and the other  three hailed from central Asia. No one was able  

  • to communicate with Yang since he wasn't fluent  in German, French or English. He was shipped off  

  • to another POW camp, this time in BritainHe remained there until the end of the war

  • After World War II ended, Yang immigrated to  the US and became a citizen. He quietly lived  

  • out the rest of his life in IllinoisYang passed away at age 72, on April 7,  

  • 1992. He rarely spoke of his army experienceschoosing to leave the past in the past

  • There are some who doubt Yang's amazing  war experience. In the early 2000s,  

  • Korean filmmakers attempted to research  Yang's story for a documentary. Ultimately,  

  • in their program they confirmed the existence of  Asian soldiers who served in the German Army and  

  • were captured by Allied forces. However they  were not able to gather clear evidence that  

  • would support the existence of Yang's story. Meanwhile, a striking photograph of a dismayed  

  • young Asian man wearing a Nazi uniform inroundup of German POWS has gone around the  

  • internet. Per the caption, the unnamed young man  is thought to be Japanese and is giving his name  

  • and number to an American Army captain. This  picture taken in 1944 has been linked to Yang,  

  • although there is no proof that it's him. On the other hand, many historians and media  

  • outlets find Yang's story very  possible and plausible. Sadly,  

  • the truth may have been lost to history. During World War I, young teenagers  

  • took up arms to fight for their  countries. Learn about them here:

  • Nepalese Gurkhas are some of the toughesmost hardcore fighting forces in the world.  

  • Check out an epic video about them here:

June 6, 1944 During the D Day landings, the Allies  

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The Man Who Fought on 3 Different Sides During World War 2

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    Summer posted on 2021/07/31
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