This is an apolitical forum for discussions on the Axis nations, as well as the First and Second World Wars in general hosted by Marcus Wendel's Axis History Factbook in cooperation with Michael Miller's Axis Biographical Research and Christoph Awender's WW2 day by day.
The main difference is that the German armed forces openly proclaimed a policy of reprisals for partisan attacks, whereas other armies have tended to keep their reprisals secret, leaving them to the initiative of individual units, with the command of the armed forces simply closing its eyes. (my emphasis -- DT)
c.g. wrote:IMT Exhibit document UK-066 summarizes the results of the war crimes investigations conducted in Italy by US Army and British commissions in 1944-1945. Following the Moscow Declaration of 30. October 1943 (war criminals to be brought to trial in the countries where the crimes had been committed) the Allied Command in Italy appointed War Crimes Commission (WCC) in summer of 1944 which investigated several cases of mass executions, reprisals and massacres of civilians in southern, central and northern Italy.
A few of those investigation files eventually led to the opening of war crimes trials in front of British military courts in Italy in 1946-1947:
crimes to be committed), Venice, Febr.-May 1947;...ect
SS Gen. Simon (Bardine, Marzabotto etc.), Padua, May to June 1947.....ect ect
I applaud C.G. for his research on the Italian atrocities he documents; I didn't realize the extent of the HG Division's involvement in mass reprisals, wanton murder and anti-partisan sweeps.
However, this shows the somewhat disproportionment
amount of publicity which Waffen SS units have received for their involvement in identical crimes during anti-partisan operations.
No histories of the HG division seem to mention
It seems that all German responses (by first line combat formations of the Heer and WSS) under Kesselring's direction were "of a piece" and perhaps not primarily ideologically motivated, but were extreme manifestations of traditional brutal and ham-fisted
German approaches to partisans and irregulars.
My point: while perhaps more inclined to ruthless behavior (usually a combination of ideological fervor and conditioned response based on combat "hardening"), the WSS response to partisan activity did not vary significantly from that of similar Heer units.
Another case in point: Poland 1939. The LSSAH has been rightly criticized for its burning of Polish villages and indiscriminate reprisals in response to Polish insurgent activities during the opening days of the campaign. However, numerous Heer units also committed identical, and in some cases, worse excesses in the same vicinity under the same circumstances.
If WSS war crimes are put in the context of all similar German armed forces and Police war crimes, it muddies the analytical waters somewhat. All German combat formations seemed inclined to identical responses to partisan activity.
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