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Sir Arthur Harris-Chief of Bomber Command-War Criminal?

Discussion in 'Sacred Cows and Dead Horses' started by pauledward, Feb 22, 2010.

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  1. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

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    The year was 1939 to 1945. To place the relevance of that war into today's thiking is not something anyone can do how can anyone have a different opinion on that matter?

    As to who did what first..it does matter..you may not want it to but it does as the second world war proved. That much is history...If you are going to start a war for whatever reason, no matter who you are even today..you better damn well be in a position to win it. If not don't complain of the consequences of your actions.

    Oh lord, I have work to do today...If I forget thee..do not forget me.
     
  2. Karjala

    Karjala Don Quijote

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    The hole idea of "war crimes" did not exist during the WW2. It was invented AFTER the war to judge (only) the losing side. If we have to stick with the thinking of the time then nobody was a war criminal.

    Of course I understand that it is easier to do criminal acts if somebody has done it to you first. However it does not make illegal acts legal - ask any professional lawyer or judge.
     
  3. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

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    In which case the first sentence of your second post relieves Bomber Harris of any faults.

    And as for war crimes...I don't believe in any war crimes...Full stop.. Their are of course crimes such as murder and the like which is not suspended because of a war.

    War is not a good thing...If you start it win it because if you lose it...as you rightly point out in your second post you have no right to complain.

    As for judges and the like...I refer you to my signature...
     
  4. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    That's not quite correct. There were conventions of war which defined what was "legal" and what wasn't. The signatory powers were suppose to embed those rules in their own laws and take care of violators. All sides did to some extent. The axis were particuarly bad about it though and in some cases published orders from their high command that were in violation of those rules. The Soviets seemed to have been the worst offenders on the allied side but they were careful either not to publish such orders or not to let coppies get out. Once the war was over there was no civil authority to punish such infractions in either Germany or Japan. I'm not sure what happened in Italy.
    That's not necessarily true in International Law especially the conventions on warfare. Indeed statements allowing retaliation in kind are specifically included in some of the laws.
     
  5. Tamino

    Tamino Doc - The Deplorable

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    How to deal with a mass murder who might get away with it if you don't take care of him? Kiss him goodbye?

    PS: Let me re-iterate myself: Sir Arthur Harris wasn't a war criminal: he has just defended his Country from aggression. All he did was just self-defense.
     
  6. Karjala

    Karjala Don Quijote

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    If there were war criminals then Harris was one. If not - then he wasn't.

    I DO believe in war crimes. That seems to be the difference in our thinking.

    Don't understand what you are referring to when you quote me "pointing out something". I don't think ever saying that one doesn't have a right to complain if one loses a war.
     
  7. Karjala

    Karjala Don Quijote

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    Of course you are right. What I actually meant is that after the WW2 the concept of war crimes was widened and interpreted differently than before the war. For example German leaders were sentenced but none of the allied ones, although some of them did similar kind of acts - especially the soviets.

    I'm not a lawyer. Still it would surprise me enormously if one could get away from deliberately killing civilians by saying, that the other side has done it too.
     
  8. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    I dissagree. There are clearly war criminals. I have yet to see a well reasoned argument that he was one though.
     
  9. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    You have to be careful here though. Some of the German leaders and indeed most of the higher level ones were convicted of "Crimes Against Humanity" not "War Crimes". Furthermore the fact that the allies were the government of Germany post war meant that prosecuting violations of the conventions by the Germans was by default their responsibility. Prosecuting "war crimes" of the allies fell to the perview of the allied nations. The fact that the Soviets failed to do so in many cases didn't give the western allies the ability to call them to account on it. Even if it "legally" did the strength of the Soviet military rather offset that.
    If they are killed due to an attack on a legitmate target then it's not a crime. Note that no Germans were tried for that attack on Coventry either.
     
  10. Karjala

    Karjala Don Quijote

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    Bombing civilians and becoming a mass murderer too is not the way to deal with one. Destroying his army and capability to continue the war is the right and effective solution.

    Harris didn't defend his country. The results of his aggressive and misguided decisions were unnecessary deaths of hundreds of thousands of civilians and British airmen as well as German cities.

    Yes - Germany bombed British cities first. That should have made it clear to Harris that bombing civilians does not work. Carpet bombing German cities was only revenge - and a war crime too.
     
  11. Karjala

    Karjala Don Quijote

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    Harris's strategy was to deliberately carpet bomb German cities to break the moral of the Germans. Half a million civilians died.

    I personally do not need any other argument than that.
     
  12. Karjala

    Karjala Don Quijote

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    True. I'm now talking about the war crimes, not crimes against humanity. The topic of this thread is whether Harris was a war criminal or not. My opinion is clear and the reasons for it too. Why war criminals were not prosecuted in allied countries is another question.

    Logically attack on Coventry was a war crime too. I understand though why nobody was prosecuted for that. The persons in charge were already prosecuted of other crimes. To prosecute for Conventry would have raised lots of questions about bombings of Germany - totally similar kind of actions.

    Just for a reminder: German bombing losses 450.000-600.000, British ones 62.000. Losses of bomber crews not included.
     
  13. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    It's not at all clear that Harris deserves that sobricay. Indeed it's my feeling that he does not.
    And attacking his industry is one way of aiding in that goal. Indeed it was one of the few methods Britain had early in the war.
    In taking the war to Germany Harris was indeed defending his country. Agression is hardly a fault in war time. If his decisions were misguided that doesn't make him a crminal nor is it clear that the death rates would have been any lower if he had decided differently.
    But it does indeed work although not as well as some predicted. If it was a warcrime then lets see you state just what convention it violated.
     
  14. lwd

    lwd Ace

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    The definition of criminal implies that he broke a law. The conventions allowed the bombardment of cities under certain circumstances for some reasons. For instance if the city was defended and contained war related industries. I believe those conditions were satisfied the logical conclusion then is that he was not a war criminal. If you can't find a applicable law your personal fealings on the matter however sincere carry little weight.


    No it wasn't. For the reasons stated above. It wasn't a good idea but it wasn't a crime either.
    I understand though why nobody was prosecuted for that. The persons in charge were already prosecuted of other crimes. To prosecute for Conventry would have raised lots of questions about bombings of Germany - totally similar kind of actions. [/quote]
    Possibly but possibly not as well. At least some of the conventions allow retaliation in kind. The use of poisions gasses for instance is one that does. Thus the first users is guilty of a crime but those who retaliate in kind are not. Whether or not this would apply to bombing of cities is less than clear but irrelevant for the reasons listed above.
    Until you show that a law was broken the scale of the losses is irrelevant.
     
  15. Martin Bull

    Martin Bull Acting Wg. Cdr

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    How many times must it be pointed out that the strategy was set by the War Cabinet before Harris was appointed to head RAF Bomber Command ?
     
  16. urqh

    urqh Tea drinking surrender monkey

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    Facts though Martin....they always ruin a good rant.
     
  17. Carronade

    Carronade Ace

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    Just for a reminder: German bombing losses 450.000-600.000, British ones 62.000.

    All right, what do you think that reminds us of? Other than that the Germans were less capable. You think Hitler wouldn't have dumped ten or twenty times as much explosive on British cities if he could have?
     
  18. redcoat

    redcoat Ace

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    The laws of war in place at the time allowed the bombing of defended cities, so no war crime.
     
  19. Tamino

    Tamino Doc - The Deplorable

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    Even exact sciences allow differences in observations of the same object from different angles. The subject of this conversation may depend on persuasion or personal involvement. Therefore, diametrically different opinions are possible. I respect the heterogeneity of ideas shared at this forum.

    However, it should be emphasized that British army has never adopted a doctrine which would allow deliberate attacks on civilians and civil targets. Consequently it is unnecessary to defend Sir Arthur Harris with typical Nazi excuse: “he was just doing his duty”

    The correct response is: British Army, British government and the British nation have never allowed or accepted practices of attacking civilian targets.
    Pilots of the RAF weren’t Einsatzgruppen.
     
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  20. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WWII Veteran

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    Some of you may remember me as that white-bearded old chap who occasionally drops by to make comment on matters about which he feels strongly and today is one of those days.

    I am British ex-serviceman who was one of five serving brothers and one of us, Jack, was an Air Gunner in the RAF and was lost in a bombing raid over Nuremberg in March 1945.

    More than 55,000 were lost in Bomber Command, their sacrifice is finally to be acknowledged in London later this year and I hope to be present.

    "Bomber" Harris will be forever linked with the controversy over the bombing of Dresden, one of the raids in which my brother took part and I recently posted the following article on ww2talk.com which I would remind you all is your "sister" forum.


    Did the Japanese deserve the Atomic Bomb? - Page 13 - World War 2 Talk Comment # 611

    I had been following this thread with much interest when out of the blue it took a sudden swerve and once again the thorny subject of Dresden was being discussed.

    As one who has had his knuckles rapped for posting new threads when it was patently obvious that other threads already existed, I debated with myself as to whether or not I should pick up this new tack. I then spotted that the big man himself had also responded to the change of subject and so was encouraged to make this comment about Dresden.

    Dresden was just another raid over Germany.

    I repeat.......

    Dresden was just another raid by Bomber Command in their efforts to destroy Hitler's Third Reich and bring the war to a speedy end and as part of the evidence to substantiate my assertion I offer, once again, an article that I have previously posted.
    Quote:
    Dresden ? We have all been here before and in general, views are so entrenched on the rights and wrongs of bombing the city that I fear whatever is said today will do nothing to alter fixed viewpoints.I would offer just one new item for you to consider.My dear late brother Jack who was killed in the skies over Nuremberg on the 16th March '45 had as a crew-mate a lovely man by the name of Ted Hull.In 1997, when I was belatedly researching Jack's death, I was in constant communication with Ted who had been the Flight Engineer on Jack's Lancaster.Ted let me have a copy of his Log Book which, he assured me, would have been identical to Jack's log, regrettably no longer available.Note the 5th op in which the crew took part. The date was the 13th of February, it was just another raid on just another German City and one from which they were lucky to return.On the 16th of March, just over a month later, their luck finally ran out.
    http://www.bbc.co.uk/history/ww2peopleswar/stories/90/a8452190.shtml

    Dare I hope that when I am no longer around to state my case that others will bump this thread ?

    Many thanks !

    Ron
     

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