In terms of human lives, the laying of the Death Railway was among the most tragic events of World War II.
An estimated 16,000 POWs and more than 49,000 forced labourers lost their lives during its construction, and about 12,000 people are buried around Kanchanaburi in various cemeteries. A total of 61,000 Allied prisoners were transferred to Kanchanaburi from various camps in the region. All of these prisoners have been accounted for, but many visitors do not realise that tens of thousands of Malay, Chinese, Tamil and Burmese also died.
The recently added Death Railway Museum tells this sad history in greater detail than any other. The ground floor contains detailed models of the railway complete with a topographic map built precisely to scale, a striking statue of two POWs carrying another stricken with malaria, and several well-put-together information boards explaining the exact history of the railway. The exhibits include personal anecdotes from actual prisoners and provide insights into the struggles they endured.
The upstairs rooms house displays of personal effects from the prisoners, including journals, wallets and chains with holy crosses still dangling. The museum then ends in a coffee shop with excellent views of the War Cemetery. The museum isn't huge, but plan on spending a good hour or two here if wanting to read everything and watch a video on the building of the railway.
Last updated on 13th May, 2013.