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RE: Totenkopf SS Division

 
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RE: Totenkopf SS Division - 12/30/2010 1:03:05 AM   
usersatch

 

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I am by no means a pacifist (I was a combat infantryman), but I find the distinction between "war crimes" and the "casulaties of war" interesting.

The intentional firebombing of militarily insignifcant cities resulting in hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths. The execution of Japanese and German prisoners. The a-bombing of two non-military cities. All of these acts had their legitimate rationales at the time and even today. I for one, support the use of the atom bombs because it avoided a much deadlier Downfall scenario. On the other hand, firebombing was identified as a waste of time fairly early on and was used as a demoralizer and for reprisal. I am not defending the Waffen SS, especially the Totenkopf Division, but I think some (not all) of their atrocities were committed with what seemed to them as a legitimate military purpose. So it's ok for the good guys to do it, but not for the bad guys?

Do we classify it as a "crime" based on the number of dead? Do civilians = military prisoners? The purpose? The result? It seems different when you are the winner vs being the loser.

Plain fact is that war crimes/atrocities are committed in all wars by all sides.

What do you think?


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RE: Totenkopf SS Division - 12/30/2010 1:29:19 AM   
Whyalterhistory?


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Totenkopf surrendered to my father's unit (3rd army) and he said they gave them to the russians.


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RE: Totenkopf SS Division - 12/30/2010 2:11:46 AM   
Mynok


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quote:

What do you think?


War is an atrocity in and of itself. The best rationale possible is containment/elimination of an evil worse than war, and that should be of no comfort to anyone.



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RE: Totenkopf SS Division - 12/30/2010 3:45:23 AM   
usersatch

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Whyalterhistory?

Totenkopf surrendered to my father's unit (3rd army) and he said they gave them to the russians.



My impression is that Toten "surrendered" by attacking the Americans, whereas LAH, Das Reich, etc. surrendered with a white flag. Is that true? If so, that might be another reason why the Americans didnt shed a tear handing them over to the Russians.

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RE: Totenkopf SS Division - 12/30/2010 12:26:44 PM   
Whyalterhistory?


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My father is no longer alive, but he was a guard in one of the trucks. He just kept repeating that they were a beaten army and just pitiful. He said the rest of the guards felt bad because when they met the russians they knew the russians would probably kill them.

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RE: Totenkopf SS Division - 12/30/2010 2:28:08 PM   
amatteucci

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: usersatch
Do we classify it as a "crime" based on the number of dead? Do civilians = military prisoners? The purpose? The result? It seems different when you are the winner vs being the loser.

Plain fact is that war crimes/atrocities are committed in all wars by all sides.

What do you think?

Crime is a word reserved for something that goes against law. So, there's no subjectivity involved in deciding whether an action is a crime or not.

Germany signed (inter alia) the conventions of the Hague, the convention of Geneva etc. etc. so the Third Reich was bound to observe the letter (if not the spirit) of those international treaties as the other signers were.

BTW according to the aforementioned international laws, at that time (i.e. during WW2, in the '70s something was changed), the bombardment of a defended city was not a crime while execution of PoWs was.

< Message edited by amatteucci -- 12/30/2010 2:29:09 PM >

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RE: Totenkopf SS Division - 12/30/2010 3:00:22 PM   
ool


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There was the case just after D-Day that the 12thSS executed captured Canadian soldiers in a church yard near the front.

Check it out http://americanmilitaryhistorymsw.devhub.com/blog/529763-canadians-versus-waffen-ss/


< Message edited by ool -- 12/30/2010 3:06:01 PM >

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RE: Totenkopf SS Division - 12/30/2010 3:21:54 PM   
demjansk

 

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All correct for the most part, read Syndor's account of the Totenkopf, Eiche was ruthless and of course this filtered down to the rank and file.  Therefore, war on the eastern front was ideological and brutal.  Resistance was met with no holds barred destruction and this was indoctrinated to the troops who fought in the 3rd SS division.  The start of the unit cadre was from the dachau Units and eventually they were bled off in the amount of casualties.  Mostly known for their brutal behavior.  The entire eastern front and this war had war crimes on both sides and God forbid the nazis won then many would have been shot out of hand, forget any trials for the allies.  All units have some good in them but overall - the SS had a indoctrination component that was criminal and once they entered a town or village - honest behavior went out the door.

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RE: Totenkopf SS Division - 12/30/2010 6:05:37 PM   
Rasputitsa


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quote:

ORIGINAL: usersatch
I am by no means a pacifist (I was a combat infantryman), but I find the distinction between "war crimes" and the "casulaties of war" interesting.

The intentional firebombing of militarily insignifcant cities resulting in hundreds of thousands of civilian deaths. The execution of Japanese and German prisoners. The a-bombing of two non-military cities. All of these acts had their legitimate rationales at the time and even today. I for one, support the use of the atom bombs because it avoided a much deadlier Downfall scenario. On the other hand, firebombing was identified as a waste of time fairly early on and was used as a demoralizer and for reprisal. I am not defending the Waffen SS, especially the Totenkopf Division, but I think some (not all) of their atrocities were committed with what seemed to them as a legitimate military purpose. So it's ok for the good guys to do it, but not for the bad guys?

Do we classify it as a "crime" based on the number of dead? Do civilians = military prisoners? The purpose? The result? It seems different when you are the winner vs being the loser.

Plain fact is that war crimes/atrocities are committed in all wars by all sides.

What do you think?


The citizens of German cities had the opportunity to leave those cities, their Government had the opportunity to see reason and surrender, it all could have been stopped within a day.

Victims of atrocities perpetrated by the Axis powers had in most cases already surrendered and had no opportunity to leave the 'killing fields', most were held against their will by their killers.

Most actions carried out by the Allies were intended to end the war, however misguided some of them may have been (it is an age before smart weapons and antiseptic warfare), the motives of Axis actions seemed to be to create as much mayhem as possible, on the grounds that they should be allowed to do what they want, or your will all suffer.

It is often said that the Allied air campaign against Germany was waste of time, German production figures continued to rise and workers continued to go to the factories. How much higher would the production figures have gone, how many more workers would have been at work, without that campaign. How many 10,000s of guns and 100,000s of men would have been available for frontline service, instead of in AAA batteries, if it were not for the bombing campaign.

I am no lawyer, but the definition of crime is based on intent, the Allies were intent on ending the war. On the Axis side many of their actions actually hindered their war effort. Nothing stiffened resistance in the 'Bulge' like Malmedy, Russians died in their millions for a corrupt regime, because of German treatment. Axis intent is without legitimate reason and is, therefore, criminal.




< Message edited by Rasputitsa -- 12/30/2010 6:17:00 PM >

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RE: Totenkopf SS Division - 12/30/2010 7:34:54 PM   
warspite1


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quote:

ORIGINAL: Rasputitsa



It is often said that the Allied air campaign against Germany was waste of time, German production figures continued to rise and workers continued to go to the factories. How much higher would the production figures have gone, how many more workers would have been at work, without that campaign. How many 10,000s of guns and 100,000s of men would have been available for frontline service, instead of in AAA batteries, if it were not for the bombing campaign.

Warspite1

+1 - well said.

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RE: Totenkopf SS Division - 12/30/2010 7:55:17 PM   
amatteucci

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Rasputitsa

The citizens of German cities had the opportunity to leave those cities, their Government had the opportunity to see reason and surrender, it all could have been stopped within a day.

Exactly.
It wasn't even necessary to surrender. It would have sufficed to declare the city an "open city" and evacuate military units to force the Allied to spare the city. In fact, according to the Hague convention of 1907, the bombing of a defended city was allowed. The Allied always respected this article of war (i.e. they never bombed open cities). BTW the Nazis didn't (e.g. Belgrade).

There were internationally recognized treaties and conventions that were, for all practical purposes, the base of the laws of war.

If we want to talk about "war crimes" it's not a subjective question of subjective intent but of what was legally acceptable in war and what wasn't. Nobody had to guess, rules were written and signed by the major powers.

The Allied powers (with the partial exception of the Soviet Union) generally respected those conventions and, when soldiers or officials of their governments violated those laws, they were prosecuted.
On the other hand, Germany not only never prosecuted soldiers and government officials that violated those laws, but officially encouraged the infringiments!

So, the Allies, mostly, played according to the rules (however harsh those rules might be). Germany didn't.

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RE: Totenkopf SS Division - 12/31/2010 6:51:14 AM   
usersatch

 

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The city was "defended" by AAA (a chicken and the egg argument) and warned, therefore it is a free fire zone? I am, actually, a lawyer (in Kentucky) and this argument wouldn't stand a chance in court. Intent is important, but NOT the only factor. In fact, intent is irrelevant if there is a likelihood that whatever you do is going to seriosuly injure someone (and you know it will probably happen)--it's called reckless and wanton--and usually gets an equivalent sentence when compared to premeditation.

Unit 731 never broke an international treaty or committed an international crime (never ratified the bioweapons treaty) against a large portion of its victims. Excusing MacArthur's reprehensible conduct in not prosecuting them, does that mean that they are free of guilt? Especially since they dissected living people to further their military knowledge about bio-warfare (a legitimate military interest)? Or Nanking...Chinese civilians knew what was in store for them and troops defended the city...so the murderers of 250k+ civilians should be let off?

Like I said, I'm not a touchy-feely pacifist, but let's call a spade a spade. Innocent people were murdered by American troops and marines in WW2, Korea, and Vietnam. I personally saw it in Somalia and Gulf War 2. The whole point of my post was to point out that it wasn't just the Waffen SS that did very bad things.

History (and judgment) is truly written by the victor.


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RE: Totenkopf SS Division - 12/31/2010 7:48:06 AM   
Forwarn45

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: usersatch
History (and judgment) is truly written by the victor.


I just think this point gets a little too close to saying that since everyone committed some crimes, all parties are equally guilty. This is not true. The scope of the German war crimes for which some SS troops were involved, including the concentration camps, is very significant in my view. The intent is also significant, including ultimately some complicity in the genocide of various ethnic, religious, etc. groups of civilians. I would not equate the bombing of cities (which certainly inflicted a lot of casualties on civilians) with the deliberate rounding up of various groups and killings of the concentration camps.


< Message edited by Forwarn45 -- 12/31/2010 8:03:07 AM >

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RE: Totenkopf SS Division - 12/31/2010 10:35:06 AM   
amatteucci

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: usersatch

The city was "defended" by AAA (a chicken and the egg argument) and warned, therefore it is a free fire zone?

It's not a free fire zone. I'm simply pointing out that the international convention prohibited only the bombardment of a city that was not defended.

quote:


I am, actually, a lawyer (in Kentucky) and this argument wouldn't stand a chance in court. Intent is important, but NOT the only factor.

It wasn't me that introduced the "intent" factor. By the way, this argument did stand a chance in a court. Since no German soldier was convicted after the war for bombing Warsaw, London, etc. etc. (where many civilians also died) exactly because those were defended cities. The only sentences were for Belgrade that was declared a "free city" and was, nonetheless, bombed by the Luftwaffe.

quote:


In fact, intent is irrelevant if there is a likelihood that whatever you do is going to seriosuly injure someone (and you know it will probably happen)--it's called reckless and wanton--and usually gets an equivalent sentence when compared to premeditation.

We are speaking about war laws. That you're going to kill someone is a given. Moreover, you know, not all that will be accepted in a civil court is valid also for international law. For example, hollow point bullets are allowed in most of the USA prohibited by the Hague convention of 1899. Therefore US soldiers are not issued such kind of ammo even if many policemen in the US are.

quote:


Unit 731 never broke an international treaty or committed an international crime (never ratified the bioweapons treaty) against a large portion of its victims. Excusing MacArthur's reprehensible conduct in not prosecuting them, does that mean that they are free of guilt?

Actually Unit 731 (and many other Japanese Army units) violated international laws, since the Empire of Japan signed both the Hague conventions of 1899 and 1907. I won't quote all the relevant articles since the list would be too long.
That the US decided not to prosecute all Japanese war criminals is, really, a shame and a clear application of a double standard.

quote:


Or Nanking...Chinese civilians knew what was in store for them and troops defended the city...so the murderers of 250k+ civilians should be let off?

What does let you think that the fact that laws allows the bombardment of a defended city implies that slaughering civilians in cold blood after the defence ceased is also allowed? The safety of civilians is responsability of the occupying power, also in this case Japanese Army violated almost all the articles to be found in section III of the aforementioned Fourth Convention of the Hague.

quote:


Like I said, I'm not a touchy-feely pacifist, but let's call a spade a spade. Innocent people were murdered by American troops and marines in WW2, Korea, and Vietnam. I personally saw it in Somalia and Gulf War 2. The whole point of my post was to point out that it wasn't just the Waffen SS that did very bad things.

Point taken. But quantity and systematicity also cannot be overlooked, as Forwarn45 underlined.
Let's say that in an exam a pupil scores a B and another an F. If one says that both pupils made errors in the exam, that's true. But this does not imply that they ought to score the same grade, since the gravity, sistematicity and numerosity of the errors also count.

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RE: Totenkopf SS Division - 12/31/2010 11:30:13 AM   
Rasputitsa


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quote:

ORIGINAL: usersatch
Intent is important, but NOT the only factor. In fact, intent is irrelevant if there is a likelihood that whatever you do is going to seriosuly injure someone (and you know it will probably happen)--it's called reckless and wanton--and usually gets an equivalent sentence when compared to premeditation.


I bought in the aspect of intent not as a legal argument, but as a moral issue, the inmates of death camps were taken against their will and confined with the deliberate intent to kill them, for no possible benefit to that nation's war effort. It must, therefore, be a war crime at the national level, at the personal level there is always the 'I was only obeying orders' issue.

The people of Oradour were not killed as 'collateral damage' during a military operation, they were deliberately selected (and it might have been the wrong town) for a planned extermination. Clear intent to murder.

POWs and citizens of occupied countries were treated similarly, even though it greatly hindered the German war effort, by increased resistance from troops (e.g the Bulge) and Soviet minorities (who might have welcomed the Germans). Therefore, these actions cannot be justified as a necessary act of war.

The victims of these events had little chance to avoid what occurred.

To shoot a soldier after he has surrendered is a war crime, your war aim has been achieved, there is no excuse for murder. Things happen in the heat of battle, but these events were often planned and prepared after the fighting had stopped, with clear intent.

To move it to the larger scale, Germany was in a position of its own choosing and could have ended the war at any time. The greatest casualties happened in the later stages of the war, when it was clear by any reasonable assessment that the war was lost. To attack a nation, at war, which has not surrendered can be seen as a legitimate act of war, it would only be a war crime if that nation (like the soldier) had already surrendered.

We now know that there was little chance that the Germans could have produced a nuclear weapon, but the Allied leaders knew of the possibility of such weapons (they were in the process of building them) and could not know for sure how far the Axis had advanced. How could you risk the possibility of the Axis getting there first, how would anyone want to be in a position to decide war strategy under that imperative.



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RE: Totenkopf SS Division - 12/31/2010 4:02:10 PM   
Xian

 

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Since this thread is going way off track on what is a war crime... here is my "favorite" article from Nuremberg where people were convicted of war crimes that were not defined before they committed them. I agree that one could and should have prosecute many if not all defendants for the crimes that they have committed, but this one?

Article VI of the Nuremburg Charter defines "Crimes Against Peace" as "planning, preparation, initiation or waging of war of aggression, or a war in violation of international treaties . . . or participation in a common plan or conspiracy . . . to wage an aggressive war.

Nobody since them has been prosecuted for these crimes, even thought they have certainly been committed.

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RE: Totenkopf SS Division - 1/2/2011 12:45:01 PM   
amatteucci

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: Xian

Since this thread is going way off track on what is a war crime... here is my "favorite" article from Nuremberg where people were convicted of war crimes that were not defined before they committed them. I agree that one could and should have prosecute many if not all defendants for the crimes that they have committed, but this one?

Article VI of the Nuremburg Charter defines "Crimes Against Peace" as "planning, preparation, initiation or waging of war of aggression, or a war in violation of international treaties . . . or participation in a common plan or conspiracy . . . to wage an aggressive war.

As you wrote: ...in violation of international treaties. While the term "crimes against peace" might have been "new", the laws that the prosecuted violated, weren't. The Briand-Kellog Pact, the Conventions of the Hague, the Convention of Geneva etc. were all pre-esisting treaties and were all signed by Germany.

quote:


Nobody since them has been prosecuted for these crimes, even thought they have certainly been committed.

Well, sadly, this problem is, indeed, real.
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Crime_of_aggression


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RE: Totenkopf SS Division - 1/2/2011 2:22:05 PM   
squatter

 

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The argument that anything goes when the Allies got to Germany because the Germans didnt give up is basically an argument in favour of collective punishment: killing innocent people because their 'leaders' have made a decision. Same with firebombing their population centres.

If you extend this logic, then you probably believe that the people of Gaza should suffer for the actions of Hamas.

You would then also presumably believe that 9/11 was a justifiable attack on US citizens held collectively responsible for their leaders' actions?

Personally, I think all three scenarios above are repellant.

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RE: Totenkopf SS Division - 1/2/2011 3:18:54 PM   
amatteucci

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: squatter

The argument that anything goes when the Allies got to Germany because the Germans didnt give up is basically an argument in favour of collective punishment: killing innocent people because their 'leaders' have made a decision. Same with firebombing their population centres.

I presume you noticed that nobody here supported such an argument (i.e. anything goes). Well, at least I didn't.
Nor did the Allied themselves acted according to such a proposition. They followed almost always the rules of war, while the Axis powers, almost always, disregarded international treaties. You may argue that carpet-bombing a defended city is a morally censurable action, even if it's legal. And I would be inclined to agree with you. But this doesn't mean that it was against international law at the time (I say at the time because some laws changed since then).

quote:


If you extend this logic, then you probably believe that the people of Gaza should suffer for the actions of Hamas.

You would then also presumably believe that 9/11 was a justifiable attack on US citizens held collectively responsible for their leaders' actions?

Yes, but since no one is advocating applying such a logic in the first instance I think it's kinda pointless to extend this logic to other cases.

quote:


Personally, I think all three scenarios above are repellant.

I do think so, too.


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RE: Totenkopf SS Division - 1/2/2011 10:58:16 PM   
Rasputitsa


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quote:

ORIGINAL: squatter
The argument that anything goes when the Allies got to Germany because the Germans didnt give up is basically an argument in favour of collective punishment: killing innocent people because their 'leaders' have made a decision. Same with firebombing their population centres.

If you extend this logic, then you probably believe that the people of Gaza should suffer for the actions of Hamas.

You would then also presumably believe that 9/11 was a justifiable attack on US citizens held collectively responsible for their leaders' actions?

Personally, I think all three scenarios above are repellant.


I did not say anything goes, my argument was based on intent, by drawing comparisons between the actions of the Allier powers and German forces. War is a matter of fighting your enemy (killing if necessary) to achieve your war aims and end the war.

Germany chose to commence hostilities, the Allies had shown a willingness to negotiate, until it was obvious that this policy had failed.

In a total war between nations, the bombing of industrial targets (civilians) was used by both sides to the maximaum capability they each possessed. There was no 'measured responses' here by anyone.

However, the incidence of murder perpetrated by the Nazi regime and its principle components (e.g. the SS) was a specific attack against its victims such as POWs and citizens of occupied countries, with clear intent to kill.

The Allies targeted cities and it was obvious that, although there was not a specific intent to kill civilians, there would be large civilian casualties. Equally, when attacks were made on targets in France, it was also recognised that there would be civilian casualties, it was unavoidable with the technology of the time.

If the populations of the cities had moved out, the Allies would not have re-targeted the surrounding countryside in an effort to kill civilians, they would have continued to hit their declared targets, the cities, infrastructure, factories, rail, etc., it was not the intent to merely kill people. Misguided, or not, the allies were attempting to achieve their war aims and it can be seen as an act of war.

German atrocities were carried out specifically to murder their victims, it had nothing to do with war aims, in many cases it worked against the German war effort. Therefore, such actions cannot be justified as an act of war.

Nations were involved in a declared Total War in 1939-45, with all the populations collectively engaged, this was not a police action against a few renegade leaders. The other scenarios you quote have absolutely no relevance in this regard.



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RE: Totenkopf SS Division - 1/3/2011 12:55:48 AM   
squatter

 

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"The Allies targeted cities and it was obvious that, although there was not a specific intent to kill civilians, there would be large civilian casualties. Equally, when attacks were made on targets in France, it was also recognised that there would be civilian casualties, it was unavoidable with the technology of the time.

it was not the intent to merely kill people. Misguided, or not, the allies were attempting to achieve their war aims and it can be seen as an act of war."

I beg to differ. This was often far from the case. The Allies deliberately targetted civilians in Germany and Japan.  

UK Bomber Command realised that with night bombing they could not be accurate enough to hit the industrial targets. So they deliberately bombed the vast residential districts housing the workers to directly target the workforce. US firebombing of Japanese cities largely the same desired result. And interestingly, as with the a-bomb, military leadership argued against, in favour of using resources against direct military targets. So it was not done through pressing military need. The Allied civilian command had committed to a long-term strategic campaign to use what was the ultimate terror weapon of its time - aerial bombardment - to break the will of the people of the nations it was at war with. Russians excepted.  

If the Japanese had firebombed Los Angeles residential districts, it would be remembered rather differently I suspect. 


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RE: Totenkopf SS Division - 1/3/2011 1:16:34 AM   
Mynok


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Breaking the will of an enemy nation is a war aim.

I laugh when people talk about 'war crimes'. Bah. It's war. If you aren't willing to do whatever it takes to win you shouldn't be in it to start with.



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RE: Totenkopf SS Division - 1/3/2011 2:26:35 AM   
paullus99


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It is "war crimes" if you lose - tactics if you win.

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RE: Totenkopf SS Division - 1/3/2011 3:10:19 AM   
squatter

 

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"It is "war crimes" if you lose - tactics if you win."

Exactly.

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RE: Totenkopf SS Division - 1/3/2011 3:29:15 AM   
Forwarn45

 

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quote:

ORIGINAL: squatter

"It is "war crimes" if you lose - tactics if you win."

Exactly.


This is, quite simply, not true. I would still emphasize that the death camps are in a different category from the bombing of cities and many other actions. It took a long time for the US to take responsibility for the internment of Japanese-American civilians during WWII, but eventually it did. I just point this out because I think the "everyone is to blame" philosophy tends to minimize the tremendous scope of the Nazi war crimes.

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RE: the deaths etc of Berlin - 1/3/2011 4:22:34 AM   
mariandavid

 

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The number of women who 'died' after the Russian occupation of what was East Germany is highly politised. Any figure needs to be questioned because there were no statistics made at the time and much of the data was determined from 'witness' statements taken long after the event. I was in Germany in the 50's (my father was an officer in the British occupation forces) and was told that with the 'rejuvanation of Germany' (to fight communism) that all sorts of data was being 'brought together' to justify the changes coming into effect. Such as the new army, the recruitment of officers and men (including those from the Waffen SS, but carefully sanitised!) etc etc. The one fact that is clearly documented is that the rapes/murders/robberies were NOT carried out by the Russian fighting troops - the dates and reports make it clear that support troops, including the NKVD 'combat' units were very largely responsible. How anyone could calculate the number of suicides baffles me, since the statistics in this regard were retained by the pro-communist East German government.


(in reply to Forwarn45)
Post #: 86
RE: Totenkopf SS Division - 1/3/2011 10:04:44 AM   
Rasputitsa


Posts: 1692
Joined: 6/30/2001
From: Bedfordshire UK
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quote:

ORIGINAL: squatter
UK Bomber Command realised that with night bombing they could not be accurate enough to hit the industrial targets. So they deliberately bombed the vast residential districts housing the workers to directly target the workforce. US firebombing of Japanese cities largely the same desired result. And interestingly, as with the a-bomb, military leadership argued against, in favour of using resources against direct military targets. So it was not done through pressing military need. The Allied civilian command had committed to a long-term strategic campaign to use what was the ultimate terror weapon of its time - aerial bombardment - to break the will of the people of the nations it was at war with. Russians excepted.  

If the Japanese had firebombed Los Angeles residential districts, it would be remembered rather differently I suspect.


We can argue round these points forever, I am fully aware of what area bombing means, as were the people at the time. I am aware of how area bombing developed into the primary tactic. I have explained that the acceptance of civilian casualties, even to our own allies, was a known and accepted part of the technology of the time.

In the 2194 days of WW2, 1939-45, an estimated 50,000,000 people died, do the maths, that's an average of 22,789 people (mums, dads, kids, - human beings) every single day the war continued (I know that some of these were bombing casualties, but we are looking at the bigger picture of a Total War).

The Allies prime objective was to end the War by any means possible. If the Axis powers had surrendered, the bombing would have ended instantly, as the bombing campaign was motivated by the Allied war aim to end the fighting (killing civilians was not the primary objective, destroying the enemies' will and ability to fight was.).

If the Allies had surrendered would the killing have stopped. No, because it wasn't motivated by Axis war aims, it was something much, much, more sinister.

Today's conflicts are of a totally different order, in a totally different context, and bear not relation to WW2.

If the Japanese had possessed the power to fire bomb the residential districts of Los Angeles, they would have done it and their population would have cheered the success. This is Nations at war, extermination policies, genocide, not the current 'proportional response', 24hr TV ratings, 'conflict'.

I am surprised that you don't think that ending the war quickly in 1945 was not a pressing military need, what about the pressing humanitarian need to end the war. Europe was staving in 1945, even the Germans recognised that and allowed Allied aircraft to airdrop food supplies to Holland, before the war ended (the best use of a Lancaster bomber I can think of).

Are you able to imagine what would have happened if after selectively bombing military targets with nuclear weapons, if the Japanese had not surrendered. Remember, the project had only delivered two bombs and they were still effectively experimental (there was not a stock for a bombing campaign, a one shot weapon). So then what, invasion ? see Okinawa hugely magnified, enormous casualties, mass suicides and behind it all, with, or without, invasion of the Japanese mainland, the collapse of the economy and starvation on an enormous scale.

The other factor is the Russians, pushing West with hundreds of divisions, with a proven record of taking over other people's countries, against which the pitiful Allied ground forces would have been overwhelmed. The only advantage the Allies had was in air power and Stalin needed to know that. It is no accident that Dresden was visible from the Russian frontline in 1945. I suspect the targets for the nuclear weapons had a similar motive.

Was it a price worth paying, we will never know, but the political situation at that time was unbelievably difficult, with very high stakes. I don't think we have the right to play judge from our hard won privileged position.

So for me the issue is one of motive and intent, I am not attempting to paint the Allies as pure and guiltless in what was an unbelievably horrific and protracted situation, however, their motives and intent cannot be compared to those of the Axis powers. I believe that the Allies where attempting to minimise casualties in a situation where a large number of deaths was inevitable, which ever policy they chose.




< Message edited by Rasputitsa -- 1/3/2011 11:41:33 AM >

(in reply to squatter)
Post #: 87
RE: Totenkopf SS Division - 1/3/2011 10:39:29 AM   
amatteucci

 

Posts: 318
Joined: 5/14/2000
From: ITALY
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quote:

ORIGINAL: paullus99

It is "war crimes" if you lose - tactics if you win.

If this were true, why bother with a process? Why bother with existing international laws? Why even acquit some of the defendants?
If 'anything goes' for the victor, why didn't the Allies just line up all the nazis and shoot them, in pure Einsatzgruppe-style?

I think that it's a war crime if... it's a war crime!

1. crime-noun-A specific act committed in violation of the law.
2. Thus a war crime is an act in violation of war laws.
3. War laws were to be found in various conventions and international treaties.

To quote the chief US prosecutor at the Nurenberg trials: "Of one thing we may be sure. The future will never have to ask, with misgiving, what could the Nazis have said in their favor. History will know that whatever could be said, they were allowed to say. They have been given the kind of a trial which they, in the days of their pomp and power, never gave to any man."


(in reply to paullus99)
Post #: 88
RE: Totenkopf SS Division - 1/3/2011 11:40:41 AM   
paullus99


Posts: 1621
Joined: 1/23/2002
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I certainly was not defending anything that was done on the Axis side during WWII - their crimes were especially heinous and beyond the pale of any past conflict, both in scope and depth of depravity.

I only point out that if the Axis had won, most of what did occur would have been swept under the carpet - and people like Winston Churchill and "Bomber" Harris would have been put on trial for "crimes against humanity" just like the Nazi leaders (and to a much lesser extent, Japanese leaders) were after the war.

History is written by the victors, and many of the instances where Allied forces acted in a somewhat similar fashion (though not anywhere close to what the Nazis did - though the Russians definitely had their fair share) were looked at as more of "heat of the moment" or necessary evils - shooting of prisoners, fire-bombing of cities (particularly Dresden). Of course, on our side, we have examined these incidents, and in some cases, held those responsible - but we didn't hang anyone for it (our guys).

B

_____________________________

Never Underestimate the Power of a Small Tactical Nuclear Weapon...

(in reply to amatteucci)
Post #: 89
RE: Totenkopf SS Division - 1/3/2011 1:07:52 PM   
squatter

 

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Joined: 6/24/2006
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Only a monster would try to diminish the scale of Nazi war crimes.

But only the naive cant conceive that their own side was guilty of crimes, even if of different scale.

"If this were true, why bother with a process? Why bother with existing international laws? Why even acquit some of the defendants?
If 'anything goes' for the victor, why didn't the Allies just line up all the nazis and shoot them, in pure Einsatzgruppe-style?

I think that it's a war crime if... it's a war crime!

1. crime-noun-A specific act committed in violation of the law.
2. Thus a war crime is an act in violation of war laws.
3. War laws were to be found in various conventions and international treaties."

A couple of points to follow this:

1 The post war trials were product of victor's justice, rather than immutable law: What crime was Yamahita guilty of, exactly?  

2 Why bother with international laws? Well, who does these days? Why did the US unilaterally leave the jurisdiction of the international criminal court following condemnation for its actions against Nicaragua in the mid 80s? Out of respect for the rule of international law? International law is, and always has been, something analagous to whatever justifies the actions of the most powerful, and condemns the actions of their opponents.

(in reply to paullus99)
Post #: 90
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