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A new openness to discussing Allied war crimes in WWII: "We didn't take prisoners"

Discussion in 'Western Europe 1943 - 1945' started by PzJgr, May 6, 2010.

  1. ULITHI

    ULITHI Ace

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    Context is an incredible word that people too often forget.

    I have a wonderful friend who served in Korea and Vietnam, and he always asks people who act like "Clauswitz" , "Have you ever been shot at?" And, if they answer no, he'll say "then shut the ____ up!!!".

    As hot headed as I am, I cannot imagine the kind of restraint it would take sometimes.

    Like the Navy Seals that slapped one of those Iraqi fighters that killed and stung up those american contractors. I don't blame them.
     
  2. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member Patron  

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    I think here is a key point. We can usually enumerate times when the allied soldiers engaged in such activities. If I'm not mistaken, they were handled administratively and resulted in some kind of punishment for those involved. To compare these few actions with the genocidal policies of Japan and Nazi Germany is disingenuous at best. Allied soldiers accused of wrongdoing were brought before justice, while in Axis countries, it was state policy to round up and murder innocent civilians. There is no comparison to be made.
     
  3. Hilts

    Hilts Member

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    My Uncle was Merchant Navy, torpeoded in Oct 39 and then a prisoner. He was treated as well as could be done. Look at the mass not the minority.
     
  4. John Dudek

    John Dudek Member

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    When I was in ROTC, we were taught that a live prisoner, no matter what the rank, could be the source of priceless military information, while a KIA was just so much worm food.
     
  5. OpanaPointer

    OpanaPointer I Point at Opana Staff Member Patron   WW2|ORG Editor

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    Information is useful if you're alive to use it.
     
  6. surfersami

    surfersami Member

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    It is asking a lot to train a group of men together for many months, and put them under the stress of combat and then to have them restrain themselves after their friends have been killed and wounded. I think it is a wonder we don't see more of this sort of thing. It speaks to the training and professionalism of most soldiers that there is any restraint.
     
    LJAd likes this.
  7. Curzon Dax

    Curzon Dax recruit

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    Hi guys, new here. In NW Europe that is a complex answer because it also depends to whom Fritz was surrendering to. I have read of several instances where German soldiers would rather wait and let a Polish or French unit go by and surrender to the Americans or the British because they know that there was a chance that Polish and especially French soldiers would execute them. (and I have forgotten the source) of US commanders bitterly complaining about French units shooting their prisoners. So again is this a crime or not. To American yes, but to French...?

    :{)
     
  8. marc780

    marc780 Member

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    Maybe you're right, and perhaps Stalin was a much more sensible guy and not the exact same animal as Hitler.
     
  9. surfersami

    surfersami Member

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    The world has chosen to ignor what happened in Russia (USSR) after the war. Stalin was as bad as Hitler when dealing with people who didn't agree with him.

    I read about German soldiers who would blast a US tank with an anti-tank device and then surrender, only to have their surrender denied by an American bullet. That kind of action ranks up there with me robbing a liquor store shooting the clerk then handing the money and gun to the first policeman I see and expecting leniency because after all I turned myself in!
    We will never know for sure how many crimes against prisoners were committed against opposing forces in WWII. What would be really criminal is that those actions that were known were never prosecuted. Oh wait that happened in Japan didn't it?
     
  10. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    I can relate a story told to me by a vet named Mr. Bucko I used to work for. He served in a recon unit of a US Infantry Division, which he did not say, serving in europe. During a brief firefight a well like member of his squad was killed in the fighting. A german soldier was taken after the fight. One of Mr. Bucko's squad mate proceeded to beat the german to death with his rifle. They did not stop him, he said, because the soldier doing the beating, had to that point, been on of the most inoffensive members of the squad. He had done what was required of him, but until that moment, had not gone out of his way to kill germans even during a battle. They were so shocked by his act that the german was dead before they could stop him. The incident was not reported, and according to Mr. Bucko, he never did anything similar thru out his tour in the ETO.
     
  11. JRR

    JRR Member

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    A thought: (1) Killing while under fire and/or moving too quickly. (2) Cold blooded execution. (3) Acting in accordance with formal or informal policy/orders (German/Axis). As for the Allies: First, certainly. Second, under certain circumstances, though not characteristic. Third, the work of the Germans and their allies/collaborators.
     
  12. gman41

    gman41 Member

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    There were how many allied soldiers with loaded weapons and in a mob mentality operating in the theater??

    Lets not be niave to think or believe they all acted or behaved by the rules of war and humanity. How many of these soldiers were criminals before they served or had mental issues. How many witnessed brutal things that drove them over the edge?

    There is a book called Visions From A Foxhole which gets into this area at different points. It happened more than a couple of times, maybe not in the scale of Malmedy but it happened.
     
  13. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    I don't think anyone suggest that it didn't happen. However it was for the most part the acts of isolated individuals or small units and often prosecuted, certainly not on the orders from the top. This was not the case for the Germans and Japanese.
     
  14. Nordwind511

    Nordwind511 Member

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    I guess the "story" is more complex. There were not only acts of isolated individuals or small units (look here: Seitentitel ) - porsecuted or not (some weren´t prosecuted) - there were acts against humanity on both sides.
    Often when I read about acts against humanity of the Allies I also read relating sentences which describes the stress of a combat.
    For me it also makes no difference if a wounded POW was killed by a machine-gun or a pistol ... it´s an act against humanity.
     
  15. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    The site you list is incorrect as to the camps being contrary to international law. Furthermore it ignores the situation at the time. Sounds a lot like like that journalist pretending to be a historian who wrote the throughly discredited Other Losses. Certainly not all were prosecuted. But they were never ordered by the high command that I've seen. So unless you can produce some real documentation on it....
    "Acts against humanity"? Why would it matter whether it's a pistol or an mg? However I'm not clear exactly what you are talking about. What wounded POW's in particular are being discussed?
     
  16. Nordwind511

    Nordwind511 Member

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    Lwd - that´s what I am talking about. Killing wounded POW´s - it makes no difference if they were killed by a pistol or machine-gun , it plays no role if these POW were german, american, russian or french POW´s - or would you say it makes a difference? And again - you said: "it ignores the situation at the time" -- that´s what I mentioned before: sometimes it seemed that the situation, the circumstances and the context plays a role - sometimes not! WHY? Does it depends on which side acts of war-crime or against humanity happened? It seemed that George Orwell is sending greetings ...
     
  17. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    Ok. I'm not at all sure why the pistol vs mg thing came up. I don't think anyone would state that the weapon used would make a difference. As for who the POW's are making a difference. Legally it might. Clearly the western allies and Germany were parties to the conventions. The Soviets are a bit more problematic as there are arguments both ways and many of the pre 1949 conventions only applied if both sides were party to the convention.
    Whether or not it's a war crime may indeed depend on the situation. For instance in reagards to the treatment of "former enemy combatants". The war was over so can it be a "war crime"? Furthermore there was a general shortage of food in Europe and inparticular in Germany and the regions she conquered. The allies had to figure out some equitable way of distributing what food was available. One of the rules they decided on was that "former enemy combatants" wouldn't recieve any more food than civilians in the area. This means that they would get less that the conventions stated that POWs should get. Now "crimes against humanity" are usually invoked actions other than "war crimes".

    One of the problems here is you continue to talk in terms of nebulous cases and generalities. Are there any specific incidents that you have to illustrate your point(s)?

    As for cases of the western allies lining up and shooting POWs there were three cases that I know of. Two were in Italy and the perpetrators were prosecuted, convicted, and sentanced for those activities by the US army. The other was in the liberation of one of the death camps. In this case I believe administrative sanctions were applied and the case was throughly investigated. Patton decided not to prosecute via court martial.
     
  18. efestos

    efestos Member

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    I guess It was at Dachau.

    Execution of SS soldiers at Dachau

    What jury would have convicted these guys? Perhaps a professional jury.
    Insanity defense (Is this right in legal english lenguage?) might have been the way to absolve the boys.
     
  19. Mark4

    Mark4 Ace

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    History is written by the victor and because of that your not going not find a lot of books detailing a lot of allied war crimes. But your going to find plenty on events like the holocaust and German war crimes or maybe some books on soviet war crimes ether.

    Besides think about their known as the "Greatest Generation" the good guys the liberators why would any one want to read about a brook that details all of the war crimes they committed?Its called propaganda they don't want you to know what happened well the bad stuff any way their could be a whole file on this stuff in the pentagon or something for all i know.

    during or towards the end of the war i don't know if it was common but a lot of Waffen SS soldiers were shot on the spot because of the Holocaust or something in that category even if they surrendered wasn't their fault because they were conscripted and was the gaurds that ran them.
     
  20. efestos

    efestos Member

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    I posted a case over there, Dachau, there were killed men that served INTHE CAMP. I think we need specific cases like that to discuss rationally about them.
     

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