Testimony of Felicidad Austria on Japanese Atrocities Committed in Santo Tomas, Batangas in 1945 - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore Testimony of Felicidad Austria on Japanese Atrocities Committed in Santo Tomas, Batangas in 1945 - Batangas History, Culture and Folklore

Testimony of Felicidad Austria on Japanese Atrocities Committed in Santo Tomas, Batangas in 1945

This page contains the testimony of Felicidad Austria of Santo Tomas, Batangas on atrocities committed by the Japanese in the town in 1945. The pages contained herein are now declassified and were part of compiled documentation1 of war crimes trials conducted by the United States Military Commission after the conclusion of World War II. This transcription has been corrected for grammar where necessary by Batangas History, Culture and Folklore. The pagination is as it was contained in the original document for citation purposes.

War Crimes Trial in Manila
Photo taken during the war crimes trials in Manila.  Image credit:  U.S. National Archives.

[p. 1828]


called as witness on behalf of the Prosecution, being first duly sworn, was examined and testified as follows:


Q (By Major Opinion) In the morning of February 11, 1945, were you assembled in the house of Anselma Malacaman?
A Yes, sir.
Q How many were you?
A We were 50 persons.
Q How many men were there?
A I saw three men.

GENERAL REYNOLDS: Will the Prosecution please identify the witness?

MAJOR OPINION: I beg your pardon, sir.

Q (By Major Opinion) Please state your name.
A Felicidad Austria.
Q Age?
A Twenty-six years old.
Q Nationality?
A Filipina.

[p. 1829]

Q Address?
A Santo Tomas, Batangas.
Q You say that there were three men; how about the other 47?
A The rest were women and children.
Q What happened in the house of Anselma Malacaman while you were assembled there?
A The Japanese soldiers inspected our bodies if we had any firearms in possession. When they found that there were none, and officer came and talked with the soldier. Then, after they had conversed, which we didn’t understand, the soldier approached us and began to tie us in our hands, in groups, each group consisting of five persons. Then, the first group was led to the open field, which was about 100 meters northwest of the house of Anselma Malacaman. We did not know what they were doing with the group.
Q Were you taken to the open field?
A I was in the fourth group — I was about in the fifth group, and when I was already near to that place, I saw my sister being stabbed.
Q And did you see dead bodies?
A Yes, I saw dead bodies lying on the field.
Q How many dead bodies, more or less?
A About 20 persons. Then, our group was commanded by the soldier to stand in line, and each one of us had a soldier at our backs, and through the sign of the officer, all the soldiers that were back stabbed us all at the same time.

[p. 1830]

Q How many of you were stabbed all at the same time?
A We were five.
Q How many Japanese stabbed you?
A Five also, each one of us, by the soldier at the back.
Q Where did the Japanese stab you?
A Behind us.
Q Please proceed.
A Then, when we fell to the ground, another group — many groups still came after me, and I felt heavy bodies were falling on my body. Then, my poor body became right at the middle of the pile of dead bodies. Then, I felt that gasoline was being poured and we were set afire. After several minutes, I could feel the heat, and I could no longer endure. When I tried, myself, to leap from the pile, and I stood — I found out there were no Japanese soldiers. But looking at the left side, I saw my sister, who was already in a serious condition.
Q Now, before you left the place, did you see how many dead bodies there were?
A There were about 20 when I arrived there, our group arrived; there were already about 20 persons lying there.
Q Now, when you left, how many dead bodies were there, more or less?
A More or less 50. All the groups that were there when I left. But after I saw my sister, and I called her by name, and —
Q How many of your group were able to survive?

[p. 1831]

A Two.
Q Who were they?
A Gliceria Malvecino and myself.
Q You said you were wounded, bayoneted at the back.
A Yes, sir.
Q What part of your back did you receive the bayonet?
A Yet on the left part of my back (indicating), yet in right here (indicating), right also there (indicating), and back here near the bone (indicating).
Q How many bayonet wounds in all did you receive?
A I received 12 bayonet wounds.
Q Were all these wounds centered in your back, or —
A No, only three — one wound penetrated through my body.
Q Who bayoneted you?
A The Japanese soldiers, because —
Q When you say each of the five Japanese bayoneted each of the five persons that composed your group, how about these other wounds? Who bayoneted you? The same Japanese that bayoneted you in the back?
A No, sir, because when I got wounded yet on the left side of my body, as I could not endure the heat, I tried to escape. But as I was escaping, I saw my sister, whom I was recognizing, and I told her to get up, to go with me, as there were no Japanese soldiers. But she could not; she had no strength any more to stand, and I lost also my strength to carry her up, so I saw other girls who were also escaping, and I followed them. But as we were only about five meters

[p. 1832]

away from the group where the persons were being killed, we met three Japanese soldiers who came from other fields where they had killed other persons. We laid on the ground and pretended to be dead. They approached us all and stabbed us in every direction of our bodies. That is where I got bayonet wounds. When they left, and one of them returned with a spade and shovel and made a hole. We were buried there. But I was the last one. After half an hour, I had not lost my consciousness, and I could hardly breathe, and I tried to move. I tried to move my head continuously so that the ground covering me fell, so I could breathe easily. And then, when I had not yet still lost my strength, I decided again to escape. I stood up, and through several stumbling in the field, I managed to cross the river and get to the barrio where the doctor was.
Q Now, you say that gasoline was poured on you?
A Yes, sir.
Q Was there any furniture?
A Yes, sir, there were several furniture.
Q Whose furniture was that?
A That was our house; our house was burning near to that place.
Q Was that furniture burned?
A Yes, sir.
Q How about the dead bodies?
A Some of them — parts of the dead bodies were burned. Before I left, I looked at the place to see if my sister was still living, and I found her already to be in the

[p. 1833]

pile of burned bodies.
Q Now, will you please tell the Commission whether there was any burning taking place on the night of February 9, 1945, around the town or poblacion of Santo Tomas?
A Yes, sir. The house of Bibiano Meer was being burned at eight o’clock that night. There was no other burning that —
Q How about the following morning?
A On the following morning, there was no other burning in the town, but —
Q In the barrios?
A In the barrios, there was one house being burned; the house of the brother of Governor Malvar.
Q How about the succeeding dates?
A On the next day, Sunday, several houses in the town were being burned, where those civilians were being killed; all the houses were burned.
Q More or less, how many houses were burned in the poblacion or town, as well as in the barrios of Santo Tomas?
A Almost all houses in the barrios were burned, about less than 100 houses.
Q By whom were these houses burned?
A By the Japanese.
Q How do you know that?
A In our town, there were only Japanese who went there. I had not seen any Filipinos.
Q Do you know how many platoons of Japanese soldiers.

[p. 1834]

were there that morning?
A I don’t know.

MAJOR OPINION: That is all, sir.

CAPTAIN REEL: No questions.

(Witness excused.)

Notes and references:
1 “Excerpts from the Testimony of Felicidad Austria in U.S.A. v Tomoyuki Yamashita,” part of the U.S. Military Commission compilation of war crimes documentation, online at the Internet Archive.
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