Confronting the bitter legacy of war

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Marcus
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Confronting the bitter legacy of war

Post by Marcus » 19 Dec 2002 18:23

Dr Curt-Jurgen Heinemann-Gruder, a former soldier who fought for Hitler during the war, moved to Huchenfeld, near Pforzheim, in the 1980s.
He soon discovered that a mob had murdered five British RAF prisoners of war (POWs) in the village churchyard shortly before the end of the war.
The RAF men had been forced to bale out of their badly-damaged plane near Pforzheim just weeks after an British bombing raid on the town.
They were murdered in retaliation for the air raid in which 17,000 people - more than a quarter of the town's population - perished.
Yet, Dr Heinemann-Gruder was determined that the village should overcome its bitterness towards the British and publicly atone for the murders.
He told Radio 4's A Rocking Horse called Hope: "It was an act of decency for me as a former German officer. These British officers and their sergeant were killed as prisoners against the law of war.
"I had to honour the Allied soldiers as the liberators of Germany from our own tyranny. We did not have the strength to get rid of Hitler ourselves.
But not everyone in Huchenfeld agreed with Dr Heinemann-Gruder then, and some still do not.
...
Dr Heinemann-Gruder asked that the village put up a commemorative plaque for the RAF victims.
Resistance was so strong that his request prompted demonstrations and was refused by the local authorities.
...
After continued lobbying, the plaque was eventually placed on the wall of Huchenfeld church.
A special church service was held to mark the unveiling of the plaque in 1992.
...
Not only did the ceremony openly acknowledge the RAF men were murdered, it led to an extraordinary reconciliation between the relatives of both British and German victims.
The pilot of the damaged plane, who survived by flying the burning plane back to England, was traced by the villagers.
Initially angry at the fate of his crew, John Wynne later established a school exchange between his Welsh village and Huchenfeld and gave a rocking horse, called Hope, to the local kindergarten.
The inscription on John Wynne's rocking horse reads: "To the children of Huchenfeld from the mothers of 214 Royal Air Force Squadron".
http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/uk_news/2585063.stm

/Marcus

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Angelo
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Post by Angelo » 20 Dec 2002 05:48

My sincere congratulations, Marcus.

That is not only, at least in its ending, a nice example of reconciliation,
but a clear confirmation of those principles of humanity I've been usually
expressing in my latest posts.

There's a serious point too though. Those RAF prisoners had the right
to be tried by the local military authorities and not just be murdered in retaliation by a local mob.
If, given the period when it happened, i.e. "shortly before the end of
the war" no authorities were available and the local villagers had motivated reasons to presume such a trial would have never taken
place, then, of course their illegitimate action could be somehow understood considering the extremely high disproportion between
the number of RAF prisoners that were murdered and the 17.000
people who had been murdered too as a consequence of their strafing
operation.

Of course, this is to me quite an exceptional case which does not and
cannot undermine my point that 2 wrongs don't make 1 right.

I'm feeling glad that it ended that way and I see in that a sign that
we can move to better regulations concerning the tremendous reality
of war for the benefit of all those who incidentally will have to undergo
such a bad experience.

Angelo

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wildboar
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Good

Post by wildboar » 29 Dec 2002 17:16

there are mature people both in UK and Germany
My sincere congratulations, Marcus for bringing a good fact onboard

Dan
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Post by Dan » 29 Dec 2002 17:42

Yes, in the case of Germany and England, that stupid war was, to some extent a civil war.

But did the English express remorse for murdering 17,000 non-combatants? It frankly seems to me that in this case, the Germans hold the moral high ground.

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Maple 01
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Post by Maple 01 » 29 Dec 2002 18:18

But did the English express remorse for murdering 17,000 non-combatants?
Always dificult, non-combatants? Any work for the govenment? Nazi party officals, do war work?

Did all the war-workers live apart from the 'innocent civilians' or did they live amongst them? If you can show me a modern weapon system that can discriminate between 'legitimate' and 'illegitamate' targets I'd buy a few myself.

Moral of the story, don't start a war if youdon't want to get hurt.

-Nick

Dan
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Post by Dan » 29 Dec 2002 18:23

Moral of the story, don't start a war if youdon't want to get hurt
I agree, especially vis a vis England's relative position in today's economy.

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Scott Smith
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Post by Scott Smith » 29 Dec 2002 18:30

Maple 01 wrote:Moral of the story, don't start a war if you don't want to get hurt.
And don't whine about how the enemy fought the war if you also fight without the gloves.
:)

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Maple 01
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Post by Maple 01 » 29 Dec 2002 18:35

Ah, Mr Smith, goodevening, I've been expecting you....
And don't whine about how the enemy fought the war if you also fight without the gloves.
Just show me where air bombing is a warcrime, unlike the actions of some you seem keen to defend.

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Maple 01
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Post by Maple 01 » 29 Dec 2002 18:41

I agree, especially vis a vis England's relative position in today's economy.
I'm not an economist but Britian was in decline before 1900, true two world wars kicked the hell out of the country, but last time I looked we're the 4th largest economy in the world, and there's only 60 million of us.

Appoglagies for speling defuncts - no 'word' today

-Nick

Dan
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Post by Dan » 29 Dec 2002 19:19

Maple 01 wrote:
I agree, especially vis a vis England's relative position in today's economy.
I'm not an economist but Britian was in decline before 1900, true two world wars kicked the hell out of the country, but last time I looked we're the 4th largest economy in the world, and there's only 60 million of us.

Appoglagies for speling defuncts - no 'word' today

-Nick
Yes, number 4 behind the US, Japan and Germany :lol:

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Scott Smith
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Post by Scott Smith » 29 Dec 2002 19:37

Maple 01 wrote:Ah, Mr Smith, goodevening, I've been expecting you....
And don't whine about how the enemy fought the war if you also fight without the gloves.
Just show me where air bombing is a warcrime, unlike the actions of some you seem keen to defend.
And Good Morning to you, Maple.

I don't say that bombing is a war-crime; these are defined either by international agreements among sovereign nations or by victors unilaterally--but it is an atrocity like any other and not only when the defeated enemy does it.

It is more than hypocritical to say that killing the enemy by hitting his cities to "crush his will to resist" is any different than gunning down his citizens in some other way. It is also somewhat less than honest (as the Americans did and still do) to say that these casualties are only collateral damage.
:)

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Angelo
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Post by Angelo » 29 Dec 2002 20:27

Scott Smith wrote:
Maple 01 wrote:Ah, Mr Smith, goodevening, I've been expecting you....
And don't whine about how the enemy fought the war if you also fight without the gloves.
Just show me where air bombing is a warcrime, unlike the actions of some you seem keen to defend.
And Good Morning to you, Maple.

I don't say that bombing is a war-crime; these are defined either by international agreements among sovereign nations or by victors unilaterally--but it is an atrocity like any other and not only when the defeated enemy does it.

It is more than hypocritical to say that killing the enemy by hitting his cities to "crush his will to resist" is any different than gunning down his citizens in some other way. It is also somewhat less than honest (as the Americans did and still do) to say that these casualties are only collateral damage.
:)
Hi Scott,

Once in a while, I must say I do agree with you.

Even though, as I pointed out many times my starting point is linked
to ethical considerations rather than laws or customary procedures, the
fact remains that I'll never admit to "the end justifies the means" when
innocent lives are concerned, whichever color, sex and eventually party
membership card, they may belong to.

Regards.

Angelo

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Violations of the Geneva Convention does not apply to airwar

Post by ChristopherPerrien » 29 Dec 2002 21:30

An obvious contradiction, those British pilots bombed civilians (a violation)
and were killed as POW's another violation.

I brought this up during a Geneva convention briefing while in the US army. Got ignored because the question can't be answered.

What's the difference between me running over babies in a tank and blowing them to bits with bombs from a plane ?

Bombing civilians, gassing civilians, killing POW's are not atrocities, they are inherent in real war, War itself is the real atrocity?

Adm. Fisher said something about the Conventions, " Humanize WAR?, you might as well talk about humanizing HELL !!!

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Maple 01
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Post by Maple 01 » 29 Dec 2002 21:46

Gents,
Due to the miracle of modern communications that is Windows I've just lost 30 mins work on a reply to your posts on this subject, because I'm so hacked off with this lap-top I will re-draft my few comments later when I'm in a better frame of mind. I apologise for the delay

-Nick

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Maple 01
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Post by Maple 01 » 29 Dec 2002 22:44

Ok, that’s better, got a real keyboard connected.

I said
Moral of the story, don't start a war if you don't want to get hurt
Dan said
I agree, especially vis a vis England's relative position in today's economy.
Now if Dan means the British economy was destroyed as a result of WW2 he’s partially right, the economy, as I said, had been in decline since 1900, the two world wars speeded things up. But even allowing for that we’re doing OK for a small country 8) . If on the other hand he believes that the UK would have been better keeping out of the war for economic reasons he is correct, but sometimes you have to go beyond the economic – strange, but true, Britain and France had nothing to gain from war with Germany it was all about principles – anyone old enough to remember principled politicos?

ONLY READ THIS BIT IF YOU CAN’T SLEEP

Just as an aside plese find enclosed modern relative economic strengths vis-à-vis the UK. The UK has the fourth largest economy in the world, US, Germany and Japan are ahead. Info from the CIA World Factbook

US
Population 280,562,489 (July 2002 est.)
GDP per capita- $36,300 (2001 est.)
A major short-term problem in first half 2002 was a sharp decline in the stock market, fueled in part by the exposure of dubious accounting practices in some major corporations. Long-term problems include inadequate investment in economic infrastructure, rapidly rising medical and pension costs of an aging population, sizable trade deficits, and stagnation of family income in the lower economic groups.

Japan
Population 126,974,628 (July 2002 est.)
GDP per capita $27,200 (2001 est.)
Growth slowed markedly in the 1990s largely because of the after-effects of over investment during the late 1980s and contractionary domestic policies intended to wring speculative excesses from the stock and real estate markets. Government efforts to revive economic growth have met with little success and were further hampered in 2000-01 by the slowing of the US and Asian economies.

Germany
Population 83,251,851 (July 2002 est.)
GDP per capita $26,200 (2001 est.)
Germany's ageing population, combined with high unemployment, has pushed social security outlays to a level exceeding contributions from workers. Structural rigidities in the labor market - including strict regulations on laying off workers and the setting of wages on a national basis - have made unemployment a chronic problem. Business and income tax cuts introduced in 2001 did not spare Germany from the impact of the downturn in international trade, and domestic demand faltered as unemployment began to rise.

UK
Population 59,778,002 (July 2002 est.)
GDP per capita - $24,700 (2001 est.)
GDP growth slipped in 2001 as the global downturn, the high value of the pound, and the bursting of the "new economy" bubble hurt manufacturing and exports. Still, the economy is one of the strongest in Europe; inflation, interest rates, and unemployment remain low, and the government expects growth of 2% to 2.5% in 2002.

Regards

-Nick

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