Strategic Bombing as a War Crime

Discussions on the Holocaust and 20th Century War Crimes. Note that Holocaust denial is not allowed. Hosted by David Thompson.
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Scott Smith
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Post by Scott Smith » 04 Mar 2003 04:36

Maple 01 wrote:
Scott wrote:But I guess because the CIA assassinated VC (or got the ARVN to do it)........etc.

I don't see the relevance, we're not talking about Vietnam, nor, unless life is getting too weird has anyone said US Vietnam vets = SS? Do you think they are one and the same? I wouldn't want to be you on veterans day.

The relevance was dishonored veterans of unpopular wars. Vietnam veterans are no longer regarded as "dope-smoking Babykillers," however.

No they are not the same. I never said they were. And I never made an argument of "moral equivalence" but one of context, historical comparison and contrast, which is absolutely part of the historical method. Even the Third Reich cannot be considered in a historical vacuum--apart from quasi-theological considerations, that is.

"When the British liberated the Belsen concentration camp on 17th April 1945 they found it staffed largely with wounded and recuperating officers and men who had been transferred in on a tempory basis from various battlefield Waffen SS formations, and who continued to sport their unit insignia"

Robin Lumsden, SS Regalia

So what? Somebody has to guard prisoners, even Sheriff Joe's prisoners, like I said. And contrary to popular belief, not all criminals and political prisoners in KLs were nice people like Anne Frank. The Allies discovered that they were often too hasty in letting some of these guys go, and they should have kept them quarantined much longer anyway to keep epidemics from spreading.

"The SS became the most powerful state organisation. They saw themselves as an elite. In the war the SS was an organisation which carried out the extermination of European Jews."

Fragen an die Deutsche Geschichte

Would survivors of the Waffen SS be so keen to try and distance themselves from the general SS if they'd won - no

The SS became the "Alibi of a Nation." I would say that the Party was more powerful than the SS but that is a matter of opinion. Anyway, recent scholarship, especially from Leftist Germans, has tended to implicate the Wehrmacht just as much. Thus the emphasis is shifting away from concentration camps and Rube Goldberg factories of death and more toward massacres, security measures, occupation policies, labor conscription, etc.

The SS was a proscribed organisation, instant arrest after the war – can’t see why that isn’t still the case

The Nuremberg charade declared the SS a criminal organization. That would be like declaring the Democratic Party a criminal organization because of Johnson's conduct of the Vietnam War. Lots of babies killed in that campaign destroying those villages to save 'em and such.

Maple 01 wrote:
Scott wrote:I thought democracy eschewed the condemnation of whole-groups for the faults of the few

FEW!? and yes, in this case I'm prepared to make an exception, I quite happily condemn the whole group, there probably were a few good SS men, mainly the ones drafted in as replacements 1944-45 but they are all tarred with the same brush IMO

There I guess we'll have to sharply disagree because most of them AFAIC were the good guys or at least no worse than the Russians. Democracy-Capitalist regimes exercise brutal policies too; they're just more dissembling about it. One might as well call the RAF a "criminal organization." Even General LeMay honestly admitted that he would be a War Criminal if the USA had lost the war. Their leaders knew exactly what they were doing with strategic bombing, and naval blockades are no better because the very young and vulnerable suffer the most. UN sources give over a half-million dead Iraqi children as a result of economic sanctions against Saddam. Secretary of State Albright said it was "worth it."

But it never ceases to amaze me that some people who profess democratic values believe that they only apply thus and so. They believe in free-speech and association as long as they agree with the other fellow's views. And they believe in majority-rules as long as they are in the majority.
:)

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Post by Maple 01 » 04 Mar 2003 07:46

not all criminals and political prisoners in KLs were nice people like Anne Frank


Do you mean the 'Politicals' the 'Asocials' 'the Homosexuals' or the 'good criminals'?

So I mustn’t judge the whole SS on the basis that the majority happily took part in war-crimes and because not all camp inmates were 'nice' they all deserved what they got? No, sorry, no-one deserved the death camps

The Nuremberg charade


What Mr Smith means of course is a legally constituted war crimes tribunal

One might as well call the RAF a "criminal organization.


One might try, but legally they weren’t - that 's why big Herman wasn't tried for his bomber offensive - this kind of 'compare and contrast' is pointless,

a SS murder team shooting women and children doesn’t = USAF or RAF bomber crews - remember elsewhere we spoke to the Geneva convention and 'personal verses impersonal?' Running a civilian over with a tank on purpose is a war crime, bombing an area that contains civilians isn't - you might not like it but it's the way the law is......now you might like to get yourself elected and then you can change things, but until then actually shooting unarmed civilians face to face is a war crime - and the SS did a lot of that.

But it never ceases to amaze me that some people who profess democratic values believe that they only apply thus and so. They believe in free-speech and association as long as they agree with the other fellow's views. And they believe in majority-rules as long as they are in the majority.


I think you've confused me with a sandal wearing liberal. I'm quite happy to slant the rules against a bunch of murders in uniform

AFAIC were the good guys or at least no worse than the Russians.


we know where your sympathies lie. That's a matter for your conscience and I'm enough of a 'pinko' to think it's your privilege, however what I'm not so keen on is the dual track approach of 'they never did anything wrong' from one quarter and when that fails another pipes up 'everyone else was just as guilty' For example the Russians get a mention. Now I’m happy to discuss the activities of the NKVD or the 'frontavics' rapes lootings etc. but elsewhere. This tread is how Austria has never fully come to terms with its Nazi past, Curt Waldhiem for example. (haven’t got time to check the spelling this morning)

At least your response is well thought out, rather than the rant I got from Dan

Regards


Nick

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Scott Smith
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Post by Scott Smith » 04 Mar 2003 09:11

Maple 01 wrote:
Scott wrote:The Nuremberg charade

What Mr Smith means of course is a legally constituted war crimes tribunal

No, it was illegal because it was a circus held by the Victors instead of by neutral courts, and it used ex post facto law.

One might as well call the RAF a "criminal organization.

One might try, but legally they weren’t - that 's why big Herman wasn't tried for his bomber offensive - this kind of 'compare and contrast' is pointless,

Big Herman didn't try to kill Brits for the sake of killing like Bomber Command did. There was no Luftwaffe equivalent of the Cherwell Plan. Göring did have some escaping POWs shot, which violated previous international agreements--and there was no previous international agreement outlawing strategic bombing, whether the targets were nominally military, the people's homes, or the people themselves. I will grant that the purpose of the V-weapons fired at London was Payback and that meant killing for the sake of killing in some small comparative way. However, the reason this deterrence didn't work is because it could not compete with the tonnage being dropped by the RAF and the USAAF.

a SS murder team shooting women and children doesn’t = USAF or RAF bomber crews - remember elsewhere we spoke to the Geneva convention and 'personal verses impersonal?' Running a civilian over with a tank on purpose is a war crime, bombing an area that contains civilians isn't - you might not like it but it's the way the law is......now you might like to get yourself elected and then you can change things, but until then actually shooting unarmed civilians face to face is a war crime - and the SS did a lot of that.

I've had this discussion many times before and basically sovereign nations ARE the law. They might have agreements with other sovereigns but these are not really laws but treaties. So if Hitler said that killing the enemy with bullets in front of a ditch was what was needed to fight the war to win--or if Churchill said that dropping phosporous (or mustard gas and strontium 90 as proposed) on German cities to increase the number of hideous victims was the way to fight the war to win--then we cannot really say it is illegal. It may be immoral. It may be militarily useless. It may violate treaty agreements. But in the end whomever wins will decide what was criminal and what was fair-play.

But it never ceases to amaze me that some people who profess democratic values believe that they only apply thus and so. They believe in free-speech and association as long as they agree with the other fellow's views. And they believe in majority-rules as long as they are in the majority.

I think you've confused me with a sandal wearing liberal. I'm quite happy to slant the rules against a bunch of murders in uniform

Actually totalitarian-liberals are quick to slant the rules of democracy to further their interests, which tells me that they don't understand democratic values and are unworthy of the concept. I doubt you are a sandal-wearing liberal; some of those are wont for eco-terrorism or blowing up zoos to "liberate" the animals and whatnot. You seem far more reasonable to me.
:wink:

AFAIC were the good guys or at least no worse than the Russians.

we know where your sympathies lie. That's a matter for your conscience and I'm enough of a 'pinko' to think it's your privilege, however what I'm not so keen on is the dual track approach of 'they never did anything wrong' from one quarter and when that fails another pipes up 'everyone else was just as guilty' For example the Russians get a mention. Now I’m happy to discuss the activities of the NKVD or the 'frontavics' rapes lootings etc. but elsewhere.

I don't see the problem. I wasn't graphically depicting "Russian bestiality" (kind of flows off the tongue, doesn't it) because I don't believe in focusing on Victimology in any case. My point is not that the Russians were so naughty but that the Germans were fighting a vicious enemy and they believed in meeting terror with terror. This is why the war in the West was not so brutal and mostly followed international agreements due to reciprocity.

This tread is how Austria has never fully come to terms with its Nazi past, Curt Waldhiem for example. (haven’t got time to check the spelling this morning)

I'll fix it for you. Thread (not tread) and Kurt Waldheim (not Waldhiem), but I've mispelled much worse.
:D

At least your response is well thought out, rather than the rant I got from Dan

Dan is my atheist's conscience. We all have our bad days. Anyway, what did Kurt Waldheim do again? He was a Wehrmacht lieutenant, IIRC. I guess he must have known about the Gas-Ovens then... And why would they bother to round-up undesirables and enemy-aliens but to kill them... Of course, this explains everything--NOT.
:roll:

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Post by Maple 01 » 04 Mar 2003 11:34

Anyway, what did Kurt Waldheim do again?


Arrrrrrgggg,

Alzheimer’s sets in! I'll have to get back to you on that when I'm not at work.

Maple obviously can't distinguish between camp guards and soldiers.


I'm sorry if this is getting dull, but -

"When the British liberated the Belsen concentration camp on 17th April 1945 they found it staffed largely with wounded and recuperating officers and men who had been transferred in on a tempory basis from various battlefield Waffen SS formations, and who continued to sport their unit insignia"


Robin Lumsden, SS Regalia

This was next to a photo of guards unloading dead, emaciated inmates into a mass grave, several formation badges and cuff ties are visible - so much for the myth of some separation between the 'Deathshead' boys and their fighting brothers.

So what?


While I disagree with Scott Smith visa vie the whole Nazi legitimacy thing, he is at least honest enough to admit that this sort of thing happened, unlike others give a thousand and one reasons why the SS were shining anti-Bolshevik knights who couldn't possibility have committed any war crimes - I was thinking on the way to work this morning about panzermaan - no, not like that, he started a thread about acts of bravery and charity amongst the SS and regular army - he missed the point that acts of charity by the SS were so unusual that they could be singled out.

Big Herman didn't try to kill Brits for the sake of killing like Bomber Command did.


He did invent 'Coventryisation' (his phrase) what was the point of that except to hit the civilians?

There was no Luftwaffe equivalent of the Cherwell Plan.


Adolf's speech about destroying London - as seen (unaltered) in the Film 'Battle of Britain' - not that I'm recommending entertainment film sources as historical documents but I’m 10 miles away from my books.... and the incident was portrayed as reported) Not that AH was much of a committee man..

I will grant that the purpose of the V-weapons fired at London was Payback and that meant killing for the sake of killing in some small comparative way. However, the reason this deterrence didn't work is because it could not compete with the tonnage being dropped by the RAF and the USAAF.


We're back to the death of Germany's strategic bombing exponent Walter Weaver (still not sure on the spelling) I'm not convinced that a Government that was happy to kill millions would had reframed from targeting enemy civilians with 'main-force 1944' style raids if they had the capability

On Nuremberg

No, it was illegal because it was a circus held by the Victors instead of by neutral courts, and it used ex post facto law.


It was the best the world could do, and it was better that they deserved - and yes, I know the evidence was very selective and the Allies didn't have any defendants - but what did you expect? Some kind of justice is better than none at all IMO, and of course the UN didn't come along until later.

I don't claim to be a utopian - we have to follow the politics of the possible - was Koniev going to be brought before the court because of the actions of his men in Berlin? Unlikely. But Adolf's mob going down was surely worth a bit of tarnish on the old shield of justice.

Finally I get back on topic!

IMO Austria got off pretty much scott free from the guilt assigned for Nazi crimes even though so many big Nazi leaders and so many SS members were Austrian.


Fair point

The Austrians lay the guilt all on the Germans even though over 80% were for the Anschluss.


Maybe the story of the 'martyrdom' of Austria post war was convenient for the west - like I say, we did a lot of discreditable things during the Cold War.

Maybe I'm judging the Austrians harshly but I'd rather an unrepentant Nazi than a fair weather fellow traveler who changes with the political wind - mind you a lot of East Germans made the transition from Brown to Red fairly smoothly - not that they had a lot of choice I suppose.


Regards

-Nick

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Post by tonyh » 04 Mar 2003 12:10

I'm sorry if this is getting dull, but -

Quote:
"When the British liberated the Belsen concentration camp on 17th April 1945 they found it staffed largely with wounded and recuperating officers and men who had been transferred in on a tempory basis from various battlefield Waffen SS formations, and who continued to sport their unit insignia"
Robin Lumsden, SS Regalia

This was next to a photo of guards unloading dead, emaciated inmates into a mass grave, several formation badges and cuff ties are visible - so much for the myth of some separation between the 'Deathshead' boys and their fighting brothers.


But so what Nick? Just because the British found some W-SS soldiers at Belsen when they got there dosen't mean that the were "running" the show. The same type of event happened at Dachau in 45. Although the troops at that concentration camp had nothing whatsoever to do with the camp until they found themselves there. But there were transfers between the camps and the men in the Waffen SS, but I don't think it happened with any particular regularity of with any glee from the soldiers of the Waffen-SS. It would have been seen as a time for recouperation and a chance to get away from the battlefield. When they got to see the condition of some of the camps, I'm sure those soldiers figured they might have made a mistake, if they were indeed allowed to make the choice in the first place. I'd say it was more a case of "You are being temporarilly transfered to..." rather than "You have the choice to be transfered to...".

Adolf's speech about destroying London - as seen (unaltered) in the Film 'Battle of Britain' - not that I'm recommending entertainment film sources as historical documents but I’m 10 miles away from my books.... and the incident was portrayed as reported) Not that AH was much of a committee man.


Actually the speech had more to do with getting Churchill to STOP bombing German cities than Adolf's "desire" to destroy London. Hitler forbade the bombing of British cities until the RAF bombed Berlin on several occasions between August 26th and September 7th. Even though Goring was alledgedly for it, though I have yet to see any quote from him suggesting such an action.

Tony

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Post by Maple 01 » 04 Mar 2003 12:37

So, say, hypothetically, Belsen's staff ran off leaving chaos


er.....why should I?

I don't think you understand the theory behind TDY

Say they were only there a short time.


Or not

there are Wiking veterans who are honoured citizens of our country.


Do you mean the US or SA?

some Wiking soldiers because of the emergency tried to restore order.


I don't know what you base that on, they were posted in to the place. This happened at all camps, two reasons, to give the Waffen SS a rest (and a chance to murder some innocents for R&R) and so they were complicit in the atrocities committed in their name. The division between Waffen and Allgemeine-SS is a post-war construct. It was possible to transfer between branches.

I didn't mention Viking by name, do you know something I don't? (more than likely after all, I’ve already bowed to Dan’s superiority in all matters related to WW2 history - any chance of the Cold War forum back soon?) I'll have a closer look at the photo later, but Lumsden (who was working off the original negative) speaks of 'various battlefield Waffen SS formations' so the idea that 'Viking' just happened to be passing is a bit of a non-starter

Even Tonyh says:
there were transfers between the camps and the men in the Waffen SS


Meanwhile......

Hitler forbade the bombing of British cities until the RAF bombed Berlin


Nope, the Luftwaffe bombed Central London, probably in error, check the dates. retaliatory raids were ordered by Churchill, a bloody waste of effort strategically but they pissed Adolf off enough to change the whole Luftwaffe plan of attack – thanks Adolf!

But that's beside the point, the question is 'Did Austria ever confront it's Nazi past? I don't think she did.


Regards


-Nick

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Post by tonyh » 04 Mar 2003 13:16

Nope, the Luftwaffe bombed Central London, probably in error, check the dates. retaliatory raids were ordered by Churchill, a bloody waste of effort strategically but they pissed Adolf off enough to change the whole Luftwaffe plan of attack – thanks Adolf!


One Heinkel or a Staffel of Heinkels depending on which source one reads got lost over the Thames on the 25th of August 1940 when the navigation went foul and they missed their target which was a factory. Bombs were dropped on the outskirts of London. If I remember correctly the pilot of the Heinkel was placed under house arrest, he said he thought it was open country and he dropped the load to lighten the plane. The next night, August 26th Churchill ordered that Berlin be bombed and it was on several consequtive nights up until September 7th, prompting Hitlers speech in the SportsPalast and the subsequent bombing of London on September 7th. Hitler's speech on September 4th was more an effort to avoid the escalation of city bombing rather than endorse it which he did not.

Tony

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Post by Ebusitanus » 04 Mar 2003 13:59

The whole Coventry bombing thing I read was due to direct retribution of British going out of their way to make a point by bombing Munich on Novembre 9th. The Nazi holy day for their Beer Hall putch march.

Any reality behind this story?

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Post by tonyh » 04 Mar 2003 15:31

There are quite a few writers who agree with this. The story has something to do with the Ultra intercepts that the British recieved about the raids on Coventry, Birmingham and Wolverhampton, which was code named "Einheitopreis" (I think this is the correct spelling). Alledgedly the German's failed to use a code word for Coventry and just used the City's name on the transcript and mentioned the RAF's bombing of Munich in the same transcript.

Tony

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Post by Maple 01 » 04 Mar 2003 18:03

Thanks for reminding me, Coventry was part of the 'Baedeker' raid series - named after the pre-war guide books - targets hit for (apparently) no other reason than the Germans thought they looked pretty

Yes, Austria did confront it's Nazi past.
In his speech from 8. July the former Bundeskanzler Fran Vranitzky said that Austria is also guilty for the crimes, that happend in the 3.Reich.
Regards
Christoph


I stand corrected on that, however, I'm not sure that really covers it - now I don't want to go down the path of slagging off the Austrians but Joerg Haider has a big following – I’m not convinced the right-wing agenda accepts the evils of the Nazi system, nor Austria’s part in it.

Regards


-Nick

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Post by David Thompson » 04 Mar 2003 19:24

The subject of bombing raids is an interesting subject, but off-topic for this thread. If anyone wants to open a separate thread on the subject of bombing raids, step right up, but stay on-topic here.

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A Baedeker tour with the Luftwaffe...

Post by Scott Smith » 05 Mar 2003 05:08

Maple 01 wrote:Thanks for reminding me, Coventry was part of the 'Baedeker' raid series - named after the pre-war guide books - targets hit for (apparently) no other reason than the Germans thought they looked pretty

No, Coventry was in 1940 and the target was nominally industrial, specifically aeronautical, IIRC. But without adequate long-range fighters the Luftwaffe was forced to bomb at night and it was of course an "area attack." Furthermore, most of the damage in such attacks is done from setting fires. The reason this particular attack was so devastating was because the German night navigation system worked perfectly and firepower was concentrated. Still, the English were not interested in peace on any terms. Strategic bombing does not make the best peace-feeler.

But the Baedeker Raids were in 1942 after the RAF had incinerated the beautiful Medieval cities of Rostock and Lübeck. Harris had finally learned his craft and declared that the accounts were settled from the Luftwaffe's bombing. But there was a war to win and so many Germans yet to kill.

So yes, the "Baedeker" (tourist guide) targets were chosen by the Luftwaffe (or the Goebbels Ministry) for their cultural significance in Payback--but being involved in Russia and the Mediterranean, the Luftwaffe was unable to muster sufficient stuff to make it hurt enough to even come close to deterrence. The best effects were hit-and-run attacks on RAF airfields when they were coming home from German bombing raids.
:)

Image

Sorry about the off-topic. I guess I'll have to quit this thread because I don't know much about Austrian politics.
:)

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Post by Maple 01 » 05 Mar 2003 08:00

But the Baedeker Raids were in 1942


You're absolutely correct, you'd have thought I'd have got that right, but I didn't - perhaps I should try sleeping!

Doesn’t change the facts for those who complain about Allied area bombing that the Germans would and did do the same when they had the chance –

having complained about attempts of equivalence from the supporters of the SS I would be operating double standards if I complained about Luftwaffe raids on Allied towns and Cites - everyone bombed, most of it was a bit haphazard- you can't complain that Germany got the worst of it - 'all's fair in love and bombing' - or 'bomb not lest ye be bombed' but it's no alibi for the SS

And just to wander even further off topic the ‘Baedeker's Berlin’ used to be utter rubbish!

Regards

-Nick

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Post by Scott Smith » 05 Mar 2003 08:59

Maple 01 wrote:Doesn’t change the facts for those who complain about Allied area bombing that the Germans would and did do the same when they had the chance –

I agree, but Luftwaffe doctrine was always primarily for close air-support for the Army, whereas the RAF had been forged for strategic bombing from its creation in 1918. There was a difference in outlook and doctrine, which is a bit too complicated to treat here.

Briefly, Kesselring was a brilliant Field Marshal who is a better pattern for Luftwaffe doctrine than Wever. Too much stock is given to Chief-of-Staff Wever, who was killed in a plane crash and his germinal idea for a Ural Bomber was (wisely) nixed by Göring because it would mean less fighters and medium bombers. The reason that the Western Allies made good with a strategic bombing doctrine was because they had enormous resources to blow on it--and expendable Russian troops to fight the war with. The Germans did not, although, they tried to some extent to have a Luftwaffe that could be all things to all interests. Where the Germans were especially deficient was naval air-support. This and the U-boats would have been a one-two punch in the Atlantic-war, at least until the Americans entered the conflict with an endless supply of Liberty ships.

Anyway, if a sovereign state, Great Britain, chose to fight the war with the RAF, and another sovereign state, Germany, chose to fight the war with the SS, meeting terror with terror, who are we to second-guess their methods? They were fighting to win.

Hopefully we can learn from their mistakes.
:)

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Post by Roberto » 05 Mar 2003 16:23

Scott Smith wrote:Anyway, if a sovereign state, Great Britain, chose to fight the war with the RAF, and another sovereign state, Germany, chose to fight the war with the SS, meeting terror with terror, who are we to second-guess their methods? They were fighting to win.


SS mass murder a reaction to British terror raids ?

SS mass murder part of a fight "to win" ?

Let's have another look at what Goebbels wrote into his diary on 27 March 1942. The translation transcribed under

http://www.nizkor.org/hweb/people/g/goe ... ts-02.html

reads as follows:

Beginning with Lublin, the Jews in the General Government are now being evacuated eastward. The procedure is a pretty barbaric one and not to be described here more definitely. Not much will remain of the Jews. On the whole it can be said that about 60 per cent of them will have to be liquidated whereas only about 40 per cent can be used for forced labor.
The former Gauleiter of Vienna, who is to carry this measure through, is doing it with considerable circumspection and according to a method that does not attract too much attention. A judgment is being visited upon the Jews that, while barbaric, is fully deserved by them. The prophesy which the Fuehrer made about them for having brought on a new world war is beginning to come true in a most terrible manner. One must not be sentimental in these matters. If we did not fight the Jews, they would destroy us. It's a life-and-death struggle between the Aryan race and the Jewish bacillus. No other government and no other regime would have the strength for such a global solution of this question. Here, too, the Fuehrer is the undismayed champion of a radical solution necessitated by conditions and therefore inexorable. Fortunately a whole series of possibilities presents itself for us in wartime that would be denied us in peacetime. We shall have to profit by this.[my emphasis]
The ghettoes that will be emptied in the cities of the General Government now will be refilled with Jews thrown out of the Reich. This process is to be repeated from time to time. There is nothing funny in it for the Jews, and the fact that Jewry's representatives in England and America are today organizing and sponsoring the war against Germany must be paid for dearly by its representatives in Europe - and that's only right.

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