Canadian Orders "Take No Prisoners"

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BillHermann
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Re: Canadian Orders "Take No Prisoners"

Post by BillHermann » 30 Oct 2013 06:41

Annelie wrote:Seaburn, thankyou for posting.

Such orders I wouldn't think be in records or print somewhere? But, this does open up that
it did take place even if it was an a very small scale.

I do believe the Canadian Veteran that used to post here probably now deceased
wasn't making up stories when he said he had orders not to take prisoners.
He more than some had personal reasons for having no problems with the order.
Of course it took place war is hell.

You obviously have little experience with war and the military. Your thoughts are appreciated but like all armies on all sides things are not black and white. Having an uncle in a Canadian armoured regiment, meeting german veterans in the 1980s and having served in the Canadian army in the 1990s I can say that there are many incidents like this.

There is a big difference of a knee jerk angry action of a Canadian Captain, Major, Colonel or General ordering take no prisoners after a massacre of comrades due to anger or knowledge of awful actions. This is not the same as an organization like the Waffen-SS and its culture of killing prisoners, especially what had been fostered in the 12th SS and its youth. I do no condone an killing of prisoners however the days after the Normandy ladings its was brutal and one has to ask why Canadian citizen solders had such hate towards the Waffen-SS.

This would be a similar argument of the hate towards bomber crews and pilots.

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Re: Canadian Orders "Take No Prisoners"

Post by seaburn » 30 Oct 2013 15:37

BillHermann wrote:[
There is a big difference of a knee jerk angry action of a Canadian Captain, Major, Colonel or General ordering take no prisoners after a massacre of comrades due to anger or knowledge of awful actions.
I completely disagree with this statement. To justify one side for their 'human' reaction while pointing an accusing finger at the other side is a completely partisan and blinkered viewpoint. If the rules of war/Geneva convention prohibit such behaviour, it can never be justified no matter what the circumstances. To do such a thing is probably all too human in these situations but by doing so you taint yourself and lose your moral high ground. Two wrongs do not make a right.

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Re: Canadian Orders "Take No Prisoners"

Post by BillHermann » 30 Oct 2013 19:31

No it's not partisan, and your thoughts are ignorant and twisted at best, going in into Normandy and expecting Canadians, British or any other Ally to take the higher road and be holy is ridiculous.

It would be the same as scolding the German people for lynching bomber crews.

You are simply finding ways to justify nazi atrocities by saying the allies were bad too.

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Re: Canadian Orders "Take No Prisoners"

Post by seaburn » 30 Oct 2013 19:53

Please point out where I have justified Nazi atrocities, I think my stance on that subject is well recorded on this forum. I resent being called ignorant. I do not need to justify my opinions to you, but I will defend myself to others who will have read your 'ignorant' comments.

In my opinion, your biased slant on the subject negates your views on this subject, I will keep this in mind when viewing your future posts. Your views are as irrelevant to me as any WSS 'fanboys'. I have no interest in getting into conversation with anyone who is so biased.

'our side' is justified but not the other...! Incredible logic. Murder begets Murder and a cycle of retaliation is perpetuated until no one remembers who 'started' it. I stand by my opinion. The killing of captured POWs from any side can never be justified and to claim 'your side' can do this is repugnant to me.

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Re: Canadian Orders "Take No Prisoners"

Post by Marcus » 30 Oct 2013 19:59

Drop the personal remarks and get back on topic. Our readers come here to read facts, not opinions.

This thread is recommended for those interested in some very good research from seaburn about a German war crime: http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 1#p1794131

/Marcus

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Re: Canadian Orders "Take No Prisoners"

Post by LWD » 30 Oct 2013 21:20

seaburn wrote:
BillHermann wrote:[
There is a big difference of a knee jerk angry action of a Canadian Captain, Major, Colonel or General ordering take no prisoners after a massacre of comrades due to anger or knowledge of awful actions.
I completely disagree with this statement. To justify one side for their 'human' reaction while pointing an accusing finger at the other side is a completely partisan and blinkered viewpoint. If the rules of war/Geneva convention prohibit such behaviour, it can never be justified no matter what the circumstances. To do such a thing is probably all too human in these situations but by doing so you taint yourself and lose your moral high ground. Two wrongs do not make a right.
It seems to me to some extent anyway you are talking past each other.

The difference isn't that one side did it and the other didn't the difference is that it was institutionalized on one side and not on the other. There is also a difference between not taking prisoners and killing POWs. Both likely happened on both sides but one side condoned it at the highest levels and the other at worst ignored it at those levels and in some cases took action against the perpetrators. I would also suggest that a decision made in anger on the spur of the moment is different than one made in cold blood well before the act. The Canadian crimes seem to fit in the former at least for the most part.

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Re: Canadian Orders "Take No Prisoners"

Post by seaburn » 30 Oct 2013 23:25

I take your point 'LWD' to a certain extent. But I don't understand what the difference between 'not taking prisoners' and the 'killing of POWs' would be? How does 'not taking prisoners' work ? If such an order existed, what would happen if a combatant from the other side surrendered, putting his hands up etc.....I presume he would be shot, which is the same thing in my belief.


Regarding your point that the killing by the WSS HJ was institutionalized and any Allied/Canadian side resorting to the same behaviour being a natural reaction to these unlawful killings, the document I posted previously points to the 'narrators' belief that the story of the Canadian having a 'take no prisoner' policy was real. While the existence of this order has never been proven to my knowledge, the fact that it was believed to exist must have perpetuated a cycle of avenging the unlawful killing of their comrades by both sides. Having read the evidence against the HJ in file TS26/856 ( British National Archives), I can tell you that it makes grim reading. You have insinuated that action may have been taken against Allied perpetrators by their superiors, do you know where I could read these details ?

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Re: Canadian Orders "Take No Prisoners"

Post by Rob - wssob2 » 31 Oct 2013 02:36

I think to get to the bottom of this we need to delve deeper into the few facts that we have on this topic:
Kurt Meyer reported what happened in the handling of the German prisoners of war by the Canadian troops:

"On the 7th of June I was given a notebook taken from the body of a dead Canadian captain. In addition to handwritten orders, the notes stated that 'no prisoners were to be taken'. Some Canadian prisoners were asked to verify these instructions...they confirmed orders that if prisoners impeded the advance, they were not to be taken"[13]
The quote above seems to be scrubbed from http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Battle_for_Caen

The immediate question springs to mind: when did Kurt Meyer report this bit of intelligence - to his superiors in June 1944? In his postwar memoirs? As Moderator David Thompson mentions, it didn't come up during Meyer's war crimes trial.

Update Forum member stukazoo found the source for the reference - former 12th SS chief of staff Herbert Meyer's postwar divisional history. Page #2 of this thread has more info on this.
The Canadian company commander Major Jacques D. Dextraze
Dextraze is one of the most respected French-Canadian career military men of the 20th Cent. He wasn't a company commander but the Deputy Commanding Officer (DCO) of the Fusiliers Mont-Royal. For more biographical info, see p.268 of Loyal Service: Perspectives on French-Canadian Military Leaders. For more information on his unit, see http://www.army-armee.forces.gc.ca/en/f ... index.page

The "company commander" description to me seems an example of poor research on the part of whoever wrote that particular section of the wikipedia article.
Last edited by Rob - wssob2 on 31 Oct 2013 03:30, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Canadian Orders "Take No Prisoners"

Post by Rob - wssob2 » 31 Oct 2013 03:03

I think this post of a member was a Canadian Soldier whom fought the Germans in WWII shows that some indeed took no prisoners at least he was given this order.
This is a reference to the "Lady From Hell" allegation - Lady From Hell (LFH) is AHF member who joined in 2002 (last post in 2005) who claimed to be a Canadian Army veteran of the 1944-45.

In a thread titled "German Tactics" he posted a comment which stated in part claimed to "...In Fact when they looked down the Barrel of my weapon they just cried so i just helped them along by taking them out of there misery . And Getting on with my Job. As we took no prisoners at the time . ( Followed Orders )" (see http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 94#p180394)

We don't know much about Lady From Hell - in scanning his posts, I couldn't find any specific reference to which unit he served in, where exactly he served, etc. In his particular comment about taking no prisoners, he does not specify a date or time, nor does he specifically refer to the Normandy 1944 campaign.

Meaning no disrespect to Lady From Hell or his wartime service, but unfortunately as things stand now, without additional information his posts are hearsay.

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Re: Canadian Orders "Take No Prisoners"

Post by Rob - wssob2 » 31 Oct 2013 04:24

Here's my transcription of the document seaburn provided - my apologies for the
transcription errors - perhaps seaburn can amend:


Transcript report from July 21, 1944 (received July 26, 1944?) of a conversation b between Untersturmfuhrer (sic) Pflughaupt (captured near Esquay on July 16, 1944) and Oberstrumfuhrer Reinhardt (?) (captured St.? July 7, 1944)

In which Untersturmfuhrer Pflughaupt comments:

"...The accusation was also made to us that the "Hitler Jugend Division" does not take any prisoners but shoots everyone. It was known that the Canadians opposing the "Hitler Jugend Division" - we received a report that they were not taking any prisoners, and that we had therefore adopted the same procedure towards them."
Seaburn correctly points out that by July 1944 there were rumors in both Waffen-SS and Canadian Army units that "tit-for-tat" summary executions of POWs were being committed. Nothing new here - Margolian in his book Conduct Unbecoming mentions on p.124
"...Despite the fact that its objectives were pursued with equal fanaticism, the 12th SS's covert war against POWs proved to be no more successful than its military campaign against the Allied invasion force. As far as can be determined, the prisoner massacres had no appreciable effect on the outcome, except, perhaps, that they strengthened the fighting spirit of Canadian troops by infusing them with the desire for revenge. Sometimes, regrettably, this vengeance was paid out in kind. (33) On 8 July 1944 for example, the war diary of the 7th Canadian Infantry Brigade laconically recorded that 'a few old scores' had been settled with prisoners from the 12th SS. (34) In keeping with all that was good and decent in the Canadian military tradition, such incidents of retaliation were few and far between. Indeed, as the bodies of its murdered soldiers began to turn up in the summer of 1944, the Canadian army discouraged private acts of revenge in favor of a more meaningful and lasting reckoning.
What's interesting about the document Seaburn provided is it seems Untersturmfuhrer Pflughaupt is perhaps implying that the 12th SS didn't take prisoners as a matter of standard operating procedure, and that the Canadians were responding in kind, prompting his unit to respond in kind in an escalating cycle of retribution.

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Re: Canadian Orders "Take No Prisoners"

Post by seaburn » 31 Oct 2013 10:56

Thanks Rob for all that comprehensive and well sourced information. I have decided to reread some of the files I have in relation to Normandy. I had previously given all pages a cursory glance but I had been mostly scanning for Information on Kurt Meyer's Eastern Front activities and so a second more in depth look is called for in relation to this issue. I will post any findings of interest, so far I have found in TS26/856 that Meyer denied that he had heard there was a Canadian 'Take no prisoners' order, he does state he had heard a rumour In Falaise that Canadians were shooting German prisoners, he stated that that would have been the end of June but it was argued by his interrogators that the fighting around Falaise would have been in August.

He does mention the notebook taken from a Canadian on 7th June as per your post in his autobiography, but there is no indication in that passage that he had personal knowledge of it at the time. There is a trail of questioning of him and other HJ POWs that make me think the Allies believed that the HJ were told that they would be shot on capture to make them more determined to fight to the last.

It will take some time to go through these files properly as they are quite large and include the above mentioned TS26/856, (305 pages of testimony by German POWs and Allied witness statements as well as Kurt Meyer's interrogation) Georg Isecke's, Max Wunsche's, Jacob Hanreich's and other various 'cage' and listening files. Unfortunately I have an essay deadline for next week on another period of History that is vying for my attention at the moment. :roll:

So in the meantime, If you or anyone else has a keen interest in this subject and would like to see any relevant pages, please send me a PM. It is also noteworthy but not relevant to this particular thread that the same names come up again and again in relation to commanders of the units that were particularly accused of the killing of the Canadians, however, none of these men were ever put on trial and some even lived into ripe old age.

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Re: Canadian Orders "Take No Prisoners"

Post by Annelie » 31 Oct 2013 13:35

Rob,

I had some exchanges with Lady From Hell. Perhaps you would like to read one or two?

Hi Annelie:
Yes it is very true what you say above . Well as for the PTSD..That problem remains & seems to get worse. I have just been true hell at the Military Hospital Answering all sorts of ? I think you can imagine what about.

Well i have surprised the Military people very much with my Memory That they have asked me tp Write . So what i did was write some items down (6) pages for them so they can continue there rescearche in Conjuction with the USA & other countrys . As it seems i have experienced more then they average share of Human endurance & Live to tell about it.

There people here would like more but. But.

Pheraps it would be better if you ask ? re some of the items that are being discussed to help others. So you can Go the Personal way for more sprcific info. As Publicely may draw some Flack.

Insofar as the Medal Concerned yes it is here but with all the RED.tape i am still waiting for it to be Presented to me at home as i dont get around as much as i would like so i have to wait for them to get here at home to Present it to me. But realy Medals dont buy Bread or pay the Bills & i have enough of them.(Medals) In Fact my wife has some as well as she & i were in the army at the same time She in the British Army I in the Canadian Army . That was over 60 yrs ago & still counting Its Been Great. <s>


Well Thats it from Here. " Lady From Hell"
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ps. the spelling mistakes are his which I haven't corrected. As he was pretty elderly I can quite understand them.
Hi Annelie:

Well yes it would of been good But dead people dont eat & consume etc.
it is not my way but as A Soldier in WW2 the idea of taking prisoners was a problem etc . So it was the same as to wether thess Guys Who had not been imprisoned was a blessing as prisoners under the Geneva convention it would of meant we would have had to look after them so now we in many ways ignored them . Except S.S .& War criminals as such.

Yes They just went back tpo there familys as best they Could Now as for the Russians they had there own way in dealing with this problem.

Cheers : Lady From Hell. ( L.F.H.) 8)
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I have more saved.
Used to have email contact but eventually lost contact.
This was an Canadian Veteran and he shared what he felt he wanted.

He was going to receive a medal from the Dutch and he after a while explained
that he did receive it.

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Re: Canadian Orders "Take No Prisoners"

Post by LWD » 31 Oct 2013 13:57

seaburn wrote:I take your point 'LWD' to a certain extent. But I don't understand what the difference between 'not taking prisoners' and the 'killing of POWs' would be? How does 'not taking prisoners' work ? If such an order existed, what would happen if a combatant from the other side surrendered, putting his hands up etc.....I presume he would be shot, which is the same thing in my belief. ...
Once you have accepted someones surrender you have acknowledge that you are responsible for thier life and safety. There is a whole chapter section devoted to POW issues in coonventions of land warfare (section I chapter 2, see: http://avalon.law.yale.edu/20th_century/hague04.asp )
Now in Section II chapter 1 it goes into rules about accepting surrender. In particular it states:
Art. 23.
In addition to the prohibitions provided by special Conventions, it is especially forbidden -
...
To kill or wound an enemy who, having laid down his arms, or having no longer means of defence, has surrendered at discretion;

To declare that no quarter will be given;
...
The latter does make a general declaration of "take no prisoners" illegal but in individual cases especially if there have been instances of false surrenders one can argue that the individual has not made it clear that they are in fact surrendering in good faith. In essence some judgement is called for in the latter case but the convention allows for none as far as actions against POWs.

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Re: Canadian Orders "Take No Prisoners"

Post by seaburn » 31 Oct 2013 14:34

Thanks 'LWD' that's really interesting info and much appreciated. It seems there is a little 'grey area' that comes when accepting a surrender. This would seem to provide leeway for an individual to interpret and react to a 'surrender of an enemy' situation as they see fit. These situations would no doubt be very stressful for both sides of a conflict.

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Re: Canadian Orders "Take No Prisoners"

Post by Andy H » 31 Oct 2013 15:45

Hi

Within all the legality & morality of the various arguments, the facet of practicality & feasibility within some contexts has been
overlooked or lost completely.
In addition 'heat of battle' though not excusing such actions, does in part explain some of them. Men giving orders (of any rank) often use basic almost animalistic language to fire up their men, too do things most sane people would run the other way too avoid.

We all hold & have the basic human traits of decency & civility towards others but unless your in that specific scenario, no-one can be 100% sure how they would react.

Regards

Andy H

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