Disarmed Enemy Forces

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Hurtig
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Disarmed Enemy Forces

Post by Hurtig » 10 Jan 2012 11:23

[These post were split off from the "Status of German POWs" thread at http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 7&t=154488 and recaptioned by the moderator - DT.]

I thought I would add some insight into this discussion as it is important to understand the differences between German prisoners of war before the end of the war and how they were treated after Germany's surrender. It seems that people believe that German prisoners were treated well after the surrender of Germany. The interesting thing is that they were all reclassified to Diarmed Enemy Forces, to ensure that they had no protection from the Geneva convention. It is one of the great tragedies of post war europe.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disarmed_Enemy_Forces

Below are 2 extracts from Wikipedia, which makes for some interesting reading. It is important that we get the full picture of what happened. I would also suggest you read up about the Morgenthau Plan, proposed by United States Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau, Jr., advocated that the Allied occupation of Germany following World War II include measures to eliminate Germany's ability to wage war.

Disarmed Enemy Forces (DEF), and—less commonly[1]—Surrendered Enemy Forces, was a U.S. designation, both for soldiers who surrendered to an adversary after hostilities ended, and for those previously surrendered POWs who were held in camps in occupied German territory at that time.[2] It is mainly referenced to Dwight D. Eisenhower's designation of German prisoners in post World War II occupied Germany.[3] Because of the logistical impossibility of feeding millions of surrendered German soldiers at the levels required by the Geneva Convention during the food crisis of 1945, the purpose of the designation—along with the British designation of Surrendered Enemy Personnel (SEP)—was to prevent categorization of the prisoners as Prisoners of War (POW) under the 1929 Geneva Convention.

After the DEF designations were made in the early summer of 1945, the International Red Cross was not permitted to fully involve itself in the situation in camps containing German prisoners (POWs, DEFs or SEPs), some of which initially were Rheinwiesenlager transit camps, and even though conditions in them gradually improved, "even the most conservative estimates put the death toll in French camps alone at over 16,500 in 1945".[38]
The Geneva Convention was amended. Articles 6 and 7 of the Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War, Geneva July 27, 1929, had covered what may and may not be done to a prisoner on capture. The wording of the 1949 Fourth Geneva Convention was intentionally altered from that of the 1929 convention so that soldiers who "fall into the power" following surrender or mass capitulation of an enemy are now protected as well as those captured in the course of fighting.[39][40]
Most captives of the Americans and the British were released by the end of 1948, and most of those in French and Soviet captivity were released by the end of 1949, although the last big release occurred in 1956. According to the section of the German Red Cross dealing with tracing the captives, the ultimate fate of 1,300,000 German POW's in Allied custody is still unknown; they are still officially listed as missing.[41]

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Re: Status of German POWs

Post by Marcus » 10 Jan 2012 11:49

The claims by James Bacque and others are also being discussed in the thread at http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?f=6&t=27723

/Marcus

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Re: Status of German POWs

Post by LWD » 10 Jan 2012 15:21

Hurtig wrote:I thought I would add some insight into this discussion as it is important to understand the differences between German prisoners of war before the end of the war and how they were treated after Germany's surrender. It seems that people believe that German prisoners were treated well after the surrender of Germany. The interesting thing is that they were all reclassified to Diarmed Enemy Forces, to ensure that they had no protection from the Geneva convention. It is one of the great tragedies of post war europe.
Actually I think you will find that most people here are familiar with the situation in the camps in germany. Your statment of the situation by the way is misleading if not incorrect. Only Germans who surrendered after the German surrender or who were still in Germany at the time of the surrender were classified as disarmed enemy forces. The reason that they were so classified by the way was to prevent the allies from being forced to choose which of the Conventions to break. There simply wasn't the food to supply POW's the amount the conventions required and to prevent the civilian populace from starving.

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Re: Disarmed Enemy Forces

Post by David Thompson » 11 Jan 2012 16:44

LWD wrote:
The reason that they were so classified by the way was to prevent the allies from being forced to choose which of the Conventions to break. There simply wasn't the food to supply POW's the amount the conventions required and to prevent the civilian populace from starving.
Also, very large numbers of surrendered soldiers were released back into the population after screening. There's not much point in according prisoner of war status to folks who aren't even prisoners.

See Documents on the US Occupation of Germany 1945
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=69515

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Re: Disarmed Enemy Forces

Post by Hurtig » 12 Jan 2012 19:48

LWD wrote:
Actually I think you will find that most people here are familiar with the situation in the camps in germany. Your statment of the situation by the way is misleading if not incorrect. Only Germans who surrendered after the German surrender or who were still in Germany at the time of the surrender were classified as disarmed enemy forces. The reason that they were so classified by the way was to prevent the allies from being forced to choose which of the Conventions to break. There simply wasn't the food to supply POW's the amount the conventions required and to prevent the civilian populace from starving.
Thanks for your comments, I think you need to check your statement though, as all germans captured before or after the cessation of hostilities, still on German soil were classified as Disarmed Enemy Forces. This may seem trivial, but it is actually key to the breach of the Geneva convention. How can we choose which parts of the convention we are actually going to adhere to and then persecute the vanquished on those that they have broken?

I do not think that the food was used to feed the civilian population either, I have included an extract from wikipedia for your info. Please note the points on the Red Cross.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disarmed_Enemy_Forces

These problems combined to create severe shortages across Germany. One summary report estimated that just prior to Victory in Europe (V-E) Day, German consumer daily caloric intake was only 1,050, and that after V-E Day it dropped to 860 calories per day, though actual estimates are confusing because of the wide variation by location and because unofficial estimates were usually higher.[14] It was clear by any measure that, by the spring of 1945, the German population was existing on rations that would not sustain life in the long term.[14] A July 1945 CCAC report stated that "the food situation in western Germany is perhaps the most serious problem of the occupation. Average consumption is now about one third below the general accepted subsistence level of 2000 calories per day."[15]

By way of contrast, the nutritional situation in many of Germany's neighbour states was close to pre-war levels and large quantities of food was offered to Germany.[16] However, due to allied restrictions on German trade all the offers were rejected and in one case, this resulted in Holland being forced to destroy a large proportion of their vegetable crop and as late as 1948 Swedish fishermen were still destroying their catch or working only two days a week due to a lack of markets.[17] In August, 1945 the Red Cross shipped 30,000 tons of high protein food parcels by rail to feed displaced persons in Germany but was forced to return them to storage where they eventually spoiled. A further 13.5 million Red Cross rations stockpiled in Europe were confiscated by the military and were never distributed. Senator Kenneth S. Wherry later complained about the thousands upon thousands of tons of rations rotting amid a starving population. Max Huber, head of the International Red Cross, wrote a letter to the U.S. State Department regarding the situation and received a letter in response, signed by Eisenhower, stating that giving Red Cross food to enemy personnel was forbidden. The refusal to distribute the aid has been explained by some modern historians such as Stephen Ambrose, as due to a need to stockpile food in expectation of a famine.[17]

In the spring of 1946 the International Red Cross was finally allowed to provide limited amounts of food aid to prisoners of war in the U.S. occupation zone.[18] By June 1948, DEF rations had been increased to 1990 calories and in December 1949 rationing was effectively discontinued and the food crisis was over.[17]

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Re: Disarmed Enemy Forces

Post by Hurtig » 12 Jan 2012 19:51

Thanks for the link David, being new it is difficult finding all the great info held on this site. I also find it interesting that sites like wiki are stating incorrect or misleading facts ......

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Re: Disarmed Enemy Forces

Post by David Thompson » 12 Jan 2012 21:51

Hurtig -- for various figures on the comparative caloric value of diets at different times, see "Counting Calories" at http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic. ... 4#p1212334 and "Calories per day" at http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?f=34&t=39928

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Re: Disarmed Enemy Forces

Post by LWD » 12 Jan 2012 22:12

Hurtig wrote:
LWD wrote:
Actually I think you will find that most people here are familiar with the situation in the camps in germany. Your statment of the situation by the way is misleading if not incorrect. Only Germans who surrendered after the German surrender or who were still in Germany at the time of the surrender were classified as disarmed enemy forces. The reason that they were so classified by the way was to prevent the allies from being forced to choose which of the Conventions to break. There simply wasn't the food to supply POW's the amount the conventions required and to prevent the civilian populace from starving.
Thanks for your comments, I think you need to check your statement though, as all germans captured before or after the cessation of hostilities, still on German soil were classified as Disarmed Enemy Forces.
Well that's more or less what I said although as David pointed out some were released back into the civilian populace pretty quickly. I'm also not at all ceratin that all were so classified. It seems quite likely that a fair number merited other classiffications, one extreme would be Wernher Von Braun and his ilk.
This may seem trivial, but it is actually key to the breach of the Geneva convention. How can we choose which parts of the convention we are actually going to adhere to and then persecute the vanquished on those that they have broken?
Actually the question is whether or not the conventions were breached. Certainly there is a serious question as to whether those who were captured after Germany surrendered were entitlted to the term POW. Those captured before the surrender would certainly have been POW's but was the hand over to the new military governement of Germany grounds for reclassification? The Western Allies seemed to think so. I've yet to see a convincing case either way though.
I do not think that the food was used to feed the civilian population either, I have included an extract from wikipedia for your info. Please note the points on the Red Cross.
Well Wiki is hardly the most trustworthy of sources. Take for example:
http://www.nizkor.org/hweb/people/b/bac ... e-001.html
Another was that German prisoners would not be fed at a higher level than German civilians, than the civilians of the liberated nations, or than the displaced persons (DPs).

An assertion that is central to Mr. Bacque's accusation is his contention that there was no European food shortage in 1945. He points to warehouses in Germany full of food. He says that the Red Cross had food available. One of his most daming pieces of evidence is that a train from Geneva loaded with food parcels sent by the Red Cross to feed German prisoners was forced to turn back.

This is shocking - food was available, men were hungry and American officers ordered the train to return to Geneva. But there was a reason: the Allied Governments had decided that Red Cross food parcels would be used to feed displaced persons, of whom there were more than two million in Germany, and the orders to Eisenhower on this policy were explicit. So DPs got those food parcels. It is painful beyond description to have to set food priorities in a hungry world, but it had to be done, and who could argue with the decision?

In his conference report on the food situation in Germany, James Tent of the University of Alabama - Brimingham says there was no question that there were severe shortages. Still, as Mr. Tent points out, there was food stocked in warehouses that was not distributed to prisoners living on a near-starvation diet. Again, this is shocking, until the reason is noted. The Allied Governments were fearful of famine in the winter of 1945-46, and they were stockpiling food. Even with the reserves, they barely got through the winter, and it was three years before the European foot shortage was overcome.

Mr. Bacque's myth was Eisenhower's nightmare. No food shortage? Eisenhower wrote the Chief of Staff, Gen. George C. Marshall, in February 1945: "I am very much concerned about the food situation... We now have no reserves on the Continent of supplies for the civil population."

And here is Eisenhower writing to the Combined Chiefs of Staff on April 25, 1945: "Unless immediate steps are taken to develop to the fullest extent possible the food resources in order to provide the minimum wants of the German population, widespread chaos, starvation and disease are inevitable during the coming winter."

These - and many, many similar messages - went out before the surrender. After the first week of May, all of Eisenhower's calculations as to how many people he would be required to feed in occupied Germany became woefully inadequate. He had badly underestimated, for two reasons. First, the number of German soldiers surrendering to the Western Allies far exceeded what was expected (more than five million, instead of the anticipated three million) because of the onrush of German soldiers across the Elbe River to escape the Russians. So too with German civilians - there were millions fleeing from east to west, about 13 million altogether, and they became Eisenhower's responsibility. Eisenhower faced shortages even before he learned that there were 17 million more people to feed in Germany than he had expected.

No food shortage? This is the report of the Military Governor for Germany in July 1945: "The food situation throughout Western Germany is perhaps the most serious problem of the occupation. The average food consumption in the Western Zones is now about one-third below the generally accepted subsistence level." The September report declares, "Food from indigenous sources was not available to meet the present authorized ration level for the normal consumer, of 1,550 calories per day."

Mr. Bacque says that the prisoners were receiving 1,550 calories a day, and he contends that such a ration means slow starvation. He apparently never looked at what civilians were getting, in Germany or in the liberated countries. In Paris in 1945, the calorie level was 1,550 for civilians. It was only slightly higher in Britain, where rationing continued. It was much lower in Russia, where rationing also continued. As noted, the official ration for German civilians was 1,550, but often not met. In Vienna in the summer of 1945 the official ration sometimes fell to 500.

There is such a thing as common sense. Anyone who was in Europe in the summer of 1945 would be flabbergasted to hear that there was no food shortage.
...
What happened is simple enough: the Allies could not afford to feed the millions of German prisoners at the same level at which they were able to feed German civilians, not to mention the civilians of the liberated countries of Western Europe, and not to mention as well the displaced persons. But the United States and other Allied nations had signed the Geneva Convention, which had the force of a treaty. They did not wish to violate it, so they used the new designation of "Disarmed Enemy Forces." The orders to the field commanders were straighforward: do not feed the DEF's at a higher scale than German civilians.
While the statements are specific counters to Bacque the illustrate the situation rather clearly.

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Re: Disarmed Enemy Forces

Post by Hurtig » 12 Jan 2012 23:14

Thought this may add to our discussion, found this on the ICRC and red cross sites, it opens up some interesting questions.

http://www.icrc.org/eng/resources/docum ... 57jnwx.htm

The surrender of Germany on 8 May 1945 led to the capture of millions of German soldiers who could no longer count on the assistance of their government nor on th at of their families, themselves in a situation of dire poverty. On the victorious side, public opinion held that the Germans were only getting what they deserved, and the ICRC found itself virtually alone in interceding on their behalf.

The ICRC made approaches to the authorities of the four occupation zones and, in the autumn of 1945, it received authorization to send both relief and delegates into the French and British zones. On 4 February 1946, the ICRC was allowed to send relief into the American zone, and on 13 April 1946 it obtained permission to extend this activity to the Soviet zone.

The quantities received by the ICRC for these captives remained very small, however. During their visits, the delegates observed that German prisoners of war were often detained in appalling conditions. They drew the attention of the authorities to this fact, and gradually succeeded in getting some improvements made.

It actually supports what Bacque was saying. I think the evidence of mistreatment of German POWs or DEFs is clear. I think the fact remains that we breached the convention.

http://www.redcross.lv/en/conventions.htm

The First Geneva Convention, signed in 1864, was the first treaty of international humanitarian law. In 1899 in the Hague it was signed the next convention, applying the Geneva convention to war action at sea.

And in 1907 The Hague Convention determined combatants' categories. In 1929 these conventions were developed further and expanded one more time. In 1949 during the international conference it was adopted Geneva convention "Civil persons' protection during the war-time" as well transcribed three previous adapted conventions and submitted their texts. The Geneva convention from 1949 and additional Protocols in toto nearly 600 paragraphs is law achievement with a historical importance.

Geneva Conventions

The basic principles of Geneva conventions are reposing on the respect of the human being and are respecting its dignity.

Individuals, who do not take direct part in hostilities as well as individuals, can not take part in these actions due illness, wound, captivity or other reasons, are entitled to be respected and protected against conflicting sides' military operations' consequences without any unfavorable distinction whatever.

Additional protocols are extending action field, concerning it to any individual, involved in a military conflict. Moreover, these protocols oblige warring sides and combatants not to attack civilians and civil objects as well oblige to guarantee the providing of military operations in compliance with the generally accepted humanitarian law

Geneva conventions, accepted on August the 12th, 1949

The protection provided by the Conventions applies to the following categories of persons:

The First Convention - wounded and sick members of the armed forces in the field;
The Second Convention - wounded, sick, and shipwrecked members of the armed forces at sea as well as shipwreck victims;
The Third Convention - prisoners of the war;
The Fourth Convention - civilians in times of war.

Therefore the third convention was in force in 1945.

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Re: Disarmed Enemy Forces

Post by Hurtig » 12 Jan 2012 23:31

Here is a link to the full text of the convention Convention relative to the Treatment of Prisoners of War. Geneva, 27 July 1929.

http://www.icrc.org/ihl.nsf/FULL/305?OpenDocument

Please look at Section I, II, III, IV, V ..... Looks like I am going to list all the sections.

I think if you read through the chapters you will see that all the rules were broken.

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Re: Disarmed Enemy Forces

Post by Hurtig » 12 Jan 2012 23:44

Actually the question is whether or not the conventions were breached. Certainly there is a serious question as to whether those who were captured after Germany surrendered were entitlted to the term POW. Those captured before the surrender would certainly have been POW's but was the hand over to the new military governement of Germany grounds for reclassification? The Western Allies seemed to think so. I've yet to see a convincing case either way though.
I agree that this is the key question, but I cannot find this option in the Geneva convention. Does that mean that we can change any clause of the agreement if we feel that it no longer applies to us? The camps created on the Rhine before the German capitulation did not adhere to any of the conventions either. It raises some troubling questions.

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Re: Disarmed Enemy Forces

Post by David Thompson » 13 Jan 2012 00:31

Let's take the alleged breaches of the 1929 Geneva POW Convention one at a time. That will avoid confusing cross-arguments in the discussion. It would help if the event under discussion was clearly defined, too, so that we can see who and what is involved.

A good example is the ICRC quote:
The surrender of Germany on 8 May 1945 led to the capture of millions of German soldiers who could no longer count on the assistance of their government nor on th at of their families, themselves in a situation of dire poverty. On the victorious side, public opinion held that the Germans were only getting what they deserved, and the ICRC found itself virtually alone in interceding on their behalf.

The ICRC made approaches to the authorities of the four occupation zones and, in the autumn of 1945, it received authorization to send both relief and delegates into the French and British zones. On 4 February 1946, the ICRC was allowed to send relief into the American zone, and on 13 April 1946 it obtained permission to extend this activity to the Soviet zone.

The quantities received by the ICRC for these captives remained very small, however. During their visits, the delegates observed that German prisoners of war were often detained in appalling conditions. They drew the attention of the authorities to this fact, and gradually succeeded in getting some improvements made.
This quote isn't clear who's doing what to whom, nor does it allege a breach or breaches of the 1929 Geneva POW convention. You can't tell whether the "appalling conditions" claim applies to all of the allies, some of the allies, or one of the allies. There's no references for readers who want to learn more specifics, either. Finally, one of the allies mentioned -- the USSR -- did not ratify the 1929 Geneva POW convention.

As for Mr. Bacque's contentions, we already have a number of open threads where they can be discussed, such as:

Eisenhower's guilt?
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=10112
50,000 Germans died in US captivity in one small area??
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=12779
James Bacque's work on the deliberate starvation
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=49317
Guess who’s Bacque
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=43792
One million German POWs killed by US/UK?
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=27723
Chock Full of Death; German POWs by James Baque
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=17360
American and Franch (post) war crimes
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=8288
German POW treatment by Americans
http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=8614

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Re: Disarmed Enemy Forces

Post by LWD » 13 Jan 2012 14:59

Hurtig wrote: ...
Geneva conventions, accepted on August the 12th, 1949

The protection provided by the Conventions applies to the following categories of persons:

The First Convention - wounded and sick members of the armed forces in the field;
The Second Convention - wounded, sick, and shipwrecked members of the armed forces at sea as well as shipwreck victims;
The Third Convention - prisoners of the war;
The Fourth Convention - civilians in times of war.

Therefore the third convention was in force in 1945.
I don't follow you logic. If the conventions were accepted in 1949 how could they be in force in 1945. Let's see one at a time just what actions violate what conventions in place at the time.

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Re: Disarmed Enemy Forces

Post by Hurtig » 13 Jan 2012 15:29

LWD, I see you have not taken the time to read the links I provided. The fourth convention was added in 1949, the third was in place in 1929. I don't edit information quoted from external sources, and therefore pasted it as it appeared on the site. Selective quotations is problematic. Therefore please read the conventions of 1929 and the added fourth convention of 1949 and you will see the logic is sound.

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Re: Disarmed Enemy Forces

Post by David Thompson » 13 Jan 2012 15:38

Hurtig -- I was confused by your reference as well, because there is a 1949 Geneva III convention which deals with the treatment of POWs, which was meant to replace the 1929 Geneva POW convention and is apparently referred to in the quote you gave. See http://www.icrc.org/ihl.nsf/FULL/375?OpenDocument for the text of the 1949 Geneva III POW convention. The 1929 Geneva POW convention was a stand-alone treaty, and I've never seen it cited to as "Geneva III."

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