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Rhein wiesen lager

Discussion in 'Post War 1945-1955' started by aquist, Aug 6, 2010.

  1. LRusso216

    LRusso216 Graybeard Staff Member Patron  

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    I can't say whether or not there was a "culture" among GIs to shoot prisoners out of hand, although if there was, I don't think it was as widespread as you seem to imply.

    As far as treatment of POWs, you might also want to look into the POW camps in the US that held German and Italian POWs. IIRC, they were treated quite well, and many stayed on after the war. Here's a link to an article on one of the camps.
    German POWs
     
  2. Rhineman

    Rhineman Member

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    I agree with you. The German prisoners in the USA were well treated, the conditions were so good that Allied propaganda about how good they were failed because the Germans refused to believe it. They called it Ham and Eggs propaganda. As for the culture of frontier justice we can debate this some time. Examples of this justice include:

    Webling Attrocity


    http://members.iinet.net.au/~gduncan/massacres_axis.html


    American Massacre of 17th SS Panzer Grenadiers

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/17th_SS_Panzergrenadier_Division_G%C3%B6tz_von_Berlichingen#American_Massacre_of_17th_SS_Panzer_Grenadiers


    Are there only a few examples of such justice are or we talking about it being fairly extensive and widespread- not official but neither frowned upon? How many US soldiers were called to account for what happened?
    What's the opinion on this?
     
  3. Rhineman

    Rhineman Member

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    I lived for some considerable time near Wick and it is one very desolate and lonely place. The Midges were company.
     
  4. GRW

    GRW Pillboxologist WW2|ORG Editor

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    There's a lot of supposition in that link ie "Their bodies were found lying in a straight line with their weapons and ammunition belts neatly laid on the ground. This would suggest that the men were shot after they surrendered".
    Not necessarily.

    And right at the top of the article it says-
    "This article includes a list of references, related reading or external links, but its sources remain unclear because it lacks inline citations."
     
  5. Rhineman

    Rhineman Member

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    I'd be interested in your explanation of why,' not necessarilly,' and what the alternative might be. It would be interesting as well to understand your position regarding the claims by De Zayas of numerous attrocities against Germans.
     
  6. Spartanroller

    Spartanroller Ace

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    Bodies can be rearranged any number of ways before a photo is taken or before men see them, as has often happened. You can't assume anything from that.
     
  7. Rhineman

    Rhineman Member

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    The strange part of this episode is that if photographs were taken why were they never produced. The 222nd Infantry Regiment of the 42nd Rainbow Division never reported their encounter with the SS unit. Why? We know that one of their number was a casualty. If the SS were killed in conflict why wasn't this mentioned in Divisional records. If the SS were laid out as a trophy photo opportunity where is the photo? That's 42 SS soldiers to lay out- that's a big effort and why the weapons and ammunition belts laid out this way?

    The Rainbow Division were also accused of later summary executions of the SS:

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/42nd_Infantry_Division_(United_States)
     
  8. Spartanroller

    Spartanroller Ace

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    My point was not so much that the bodies were laid out for a photo op, but that assuming the testimony describing how they were laid out is true, there is no way to correctly discern a reason why they were and who did it. Perhaps a proper forensic examination might have shed some light, but probably not.

    The men could have been laid out like that by troops from either side or by the French civilians, the fact that it was almost certainly done after death suggests it has nothing to do with the men being executed, although it can't rule out that they may have been.

    The motive for laying them out as described could be for propaganda reasons, 'trophy' photo as you say, preparation for burial or removal, or simply a matter of searching the bodies for intelligence or loot in a systematic way.

    The fact that the bodies were laid out, and the way they were laid out, IMO has no bearing on how the men died or didn't die. There is no custody of evidence established for the bodies by any of the testimony I have seen, so these bodies could have come from the site or anywhere else, been collected together or separately.

    The fact that the bodies had their weapons with them makes me think they didn't surrender, as removal of the weapons would have been the first act of any captor. You don't tell a prisoner you are about to execute to kneel down next to his weapon and wait for the bullet.
     
  9. GRW

    GRW Pillboxologist WW2|ORG Editor

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    Got to agree with Spartan; you can't always assume anything from the way bodies are laid out. People don't fall in straight lines when shot dead. I can only assume they were laid out that way for the burial detail later, I don't know.
    The only place that massacre of SS men seems to be mentioned is in one book, which seems strange. How did they know for definite it was allegedly carried out by troops of that division?
    No-one denies that individual cases of SS men being shot out of hand occurred, or of German prisoners generally. I personally don't believe it was as widespread as some believe, nor that it was officially sanctioned.
     
  10. Rhineman

    Rhineman Member

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    It looks like we're heading for an agree-disagree-agree on this one. You have a very good point, Spartan, about the SS not dying in a neat line. That's taking military discipline to an extreme. The crime scene, as they say has been contaminated and where they died is not where they were eventually found.
    What we do have is 41 veteran SS dead (who you would expect to put up stiff resistance) and only one US soldier killed, we have a US Division, later to be accused of massacring another group of SS, in the area where the dead were found, and we have detailed witness testimonies of what had happened- although I have to admit not being able to find a link for the forum, and the US Division concerned has not detailed what happened in the area as they passed through. Is this evidence through no evidence?
    Can we agree that the evidence is such that guilt cannot be firmly proved but that there is very strong circumstantial evidence of something amiss in the deaths of the SS? What does the forum think on this?
     
  11. Spartanroller

    Spartanroller Ace

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    I stick by the fact that executed POWs are not likely to be given the honours implied by being lined up with their weapons for burial.

    A more likely scenario is piled up in a barn and torched, etc.

    that doesn't mean it isn't an incident that is missing a story, I just don't think it's mass murder.

    As you say you would expect these SS to put up a stiff resistance, not surrender.
     
  12. GRW

    GRW Pillboxologist WW2|ORG Editor

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    Wait a minute; that link alleges the Americans shot 25 SS men, then at the end says "altogether one SS officer and 41 men lay dead as the infantry regiment proceeded on its way towards Dachau". Where did the other 16 come from?
    Which city did the massacre take place near? Both links cite the exact same source, but it seems to be the only one mentioned. It also says there was no reliable witnesses to be found.
     
  13. sniper1946

    sniper1946 Expert

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  14. GRW

    GRW Pillboxologist WW2|ORG Editor

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    Does that thread cover the same incident, Ray?
    Having trouble with the peepers this morning...:eek:
     
  15. Spartanroller

    Spartanroller Ace

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    there is a big difference between what is alleged to have happened at Webling and at Dachau.
     
  16. sniper1946

    sniper1946 Expert

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    probably not? gordon, I was thinking the incident in the camp, or possibly related?
     
  17. GRW

    GRW Pillboxologist WW2|ORG Editor

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    Ah, just trying to confuse me?:D
     
  18. sniper1946

    sniper1946 Expert

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    moi! not meaning to alter course, gordon, but thought it was possibly all tied in to the debate of SS killings..:)
     
  19. belasar

    belasar Court Jester Staff Member

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    Are we not jumping the gun here a bit. When you come across dead soldiers upon a battlefield do we automaticly assume that the site is a crime scene? Perhaps 15,000.000 soldiers or more were killed in combat between 1939 and 1945. It would be strange not to find dead people lying about.

    We should also be carefull how we label these troops. I am currently reading Forgotten Legions on obscure SS units and at the point I am at it is discussing operations during the last 6 weeks of the war. In it are discriptions of ad hoc SS comands made up of smalll groups of veterans augmented by larger numbers of school, training, and rear support personel. To imply that this SS detachment was filled with combat veterans might be streching it a bit. It may have been a group of rookies who do what a lot of FNG's do, get themselves killed stupidly.

    Much is made of a photograph that shows dead SS men in a line with arms at their sides or feet. If the jury (us) can not see this photo then it is irelevent to this matter. Further we know nothing on how these men were killed, did they get caught in a artillery barrage? or strafed by fighters? were they part of a larger formation or an isolated unit?

    As for how they are alleged to have been found there are other explanations for it. They might have been layed out by German troops for Indentifacation and internment and were forced away by US troops. US troops may have done the same thing for intel reasons but were ordered away before completing the task.

    The only real evidence of a atrocity in this incident is that members of the same division are alleged to have committed other acts elsewhere.
     
  20. Rhineman

    Rhineman Member

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    Belasar, we could get very philosophical on war as a crime. My mention of ,'crime scene,' is in the unproven context. If there was a crime of mass murder then any suggested crime scene was not where the bodies were found. If there was a crime at all. If there was it is now difficult to prove.


    It seems strange that 41 SS, of whatever experience could be killed at the loss of only one US soldier, the odds of such a one sided fatality suggests that there wasn't a fire-fight. It fits in with the accounts of surrendering and being killed- if they'd been killed by artillery or from the air we'd be looking at descriptions of body parts. I've dug around for the forum and come up with two other links to the incident.


    http://www.modelgeeks.com/Uwe/Forum.aspx/model/29289/Dachau-diorama

    old hoodoo - 09 Apr 2006 18:22 GMT


    I have been thinking about the Webling incident
    where a company in my Dad's regiment lined up about 50 of captured SS
    and shot them down in retaliation for the shooting of
    an American soldier.

    Just a friendly reminder that war isn't always just about spiffy paint
    and markings.


    http://www.ibiblio.org/pub/academic/history/marshall/military/mil_hist_inst/l/law5a.asc


    Link to:


    "The Webling Incident." After the Battle (No. 27, 1980): pp. 30-33. Per. Then-and-now photographs, plus conjecture, on incident of 29 Apr 1945 in which SS troops who surrendered were apparently executed by U.S. troops of 222d Inf Rgt, 42d Div. Official Signal Corps photos used and cited.
    So we have evidence of the photographs existing and mention within US military archives of a responsibility, but no means of accessing them- and the son of a former member of the US Division accused of the crimes, acknowledging the crime.


    I know it's little enough but the lack of evidence into the incident at Webling is confusing. There is evidence of something but of what? I can't prove it but can we come to an agreement as before:


    'Can we agree that the evidence is such that guilt cannot be firmly proved but that there is very strong circumstantial evidence of something amiss in the deaths of the SS?'


    What does the forum think on this? Is this asking too much? Is the evidence so thin that we can say categorically that nothing happened at Webling that raises questions?​
     

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