Hostage trial 1948

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Hostage trial 1948

Post by SloveneLiberal » 04 Sep 2018 15:17

First some information from Wikipedia and original judgement.

The Hostages Trial was held from 8 July 1947 until 19 February 1948 and was the seventh of the twelve trials for war crimes the U.S. authorities held in their occupation zone in Germany in Nuremberg after the end of World War II. These twelve trials were all held before U.S. military courts, not before the International Military Tribunal, but took place in the same rooms at the Palace of Justice. The twelve U.S. trials are collectively known as the "Subsequent Nuremberg Trials" or, more formally, as the "Trials of War Criminals before the Nuremberg Military Tribunals"

This case is also known as the "Southeast Case" because the defendants were all German generals leading the troops in south-eastern Europe during the Balkans Campaign, i.e. in Greece, Albania and Yugoslavia, and they were charged as those responsible for the hostage-taking of civilians and wanton shootings of these hostages and of "partisans" that the German troops committed there in the years from 1941 on.

Indictment

1. Mass murder of hundreds of thousands of civilians in Greece, Albania, and Yugoslavia by having ordered hostage taking and reprisal killings.
2. Plundering and wanton destruction of villages and towns in Greece, Albania, Yugoslavia.
3. Murder and ill-treatment of prisoners of war, and arbitrarily designating combatants as "partisans", denying them the status of prisoners of war, as well as their killing.
4. Murder, torture, deportation, and sending to concentration camps of Greek, Albanian, and Yugoslav civilians.

The tribunal had to deal with two pressing questions:

Were partisans "lawful belligerents" and thus entitled the status of prisoners of war?
Was taking hostages and reprisals against civilians as a "defense" against guerrilla attacks lawful?

Judgement

On the question of partisans, the tribunal concluded that under the then current laws of war (the Hague Convention No. IV from 1907), the partisan fighters in southeast Europe could not be considered lawful belligerents under Article 1 of said convention. On List, the tribunal stated:

We are obliged to hold that such guerrillas were francs tireurs who, upon capture, could be subjected to the death penalty. Consequently, no criminal responsibility attaches to the defendant List because of the execution of captured partisans...

Regarding hostage taking, the tribunal came to the conclusion that under certain circumstances, hostage taking and even reprisal killings might constitute an allowed line of action against guerilla attacks. In the tribunal's opinion, taking hostages (and killing them in retaliation for guerilla attacks) was subject to several conditions. The tribunal also remarked that both the British Manual of Military Law and the U.S. Basic Field Manual (Rules of Land Warfare) permitted the taking of reprisals against a civilian population. (The British manual did not mention killing, but the US manual included killing as a possible reprisal.) Nevertheless, the tribunal still found most of the accused guilty on count 1 of the indictment because it considered the acts committed by the German troops to be in excess of the rules under which the tribunal considered hostage taking and reprisal killings lawful.

One common line of defense of the accused was the Plea of Superior Orders: they stated that they were only following orders from higher up, in particular from Hitler and Field Marshal Keitel. The tribunal recognized this defense only for some of the lower-ranked defendants, but concluded that in particular the highest-ranking officers, List and Kuntze, should have been well aware of the fact that these orders violated international law and thus should have opposed the execution of these orders, even more so as they were in a position that would have allowed them to do so.

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Hostages_Trial

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Re: Hostage trial 1948

Post by SloveneLiberal » 04 Sep 2018 15:41

From judgement

About so called Croatian NDH - NDH was established contrary to the international law. Germans could only establish provisional governament for the purpose of occupation in the line with international law, but establishing a new state with arbitrary borders in the time of war was illegal. So the mobilization in NDH was illegal too yet it is true it benefited Germans.

The reprisal practice as carried out in this corps area and the
alleged deportation of inhabitants for slave labour is so interwoven
with the powers of the alleged independent state of Croatia that its
status and relationship to the German Armed Forces must be examined.
Prior to the invasion of Yugoslavia by Germany on 6th April, 1941,
Croatia was a part of the sovereign state of Yugoslavia and recognised
as such by the nations of the world. Immediately after the occupation
and on 10th April, 1941, Croatia was proclaimed an independent state
and formally recognised as such by Germany on 15th April, 1941.
In setting up the Croatian government, the Germans, instead of
employing the services of the Farmers' Party, which was predominant
in the country, established an administration with Dr. Ante Pavelitch
at its head. Dr. Pavelitch was brought in from Italy along with others
of his group and established as the governmental head of the state of
Croatia even though his group represented only an estimated five per
cent of the population of the country. This government, on 15th
June, 1941, joined the Three Power Pact and, on 25th November, 1941,
joined the Anti-Comintern Pact. On 2nd July, 1941, Croatia entered
the war actively against the Soviet Union and on 14th December, 194],
against the Allies. The Military Attache became the German Plenipotentiary
General in Croatia and was subordinated as such to the
Chief of the High Command of the Armed Forces. The territorial
boundaries of the new Croatia were arbitrarily established and included
areas that were occupied by Serbians who were confirmed enemies of
the Croats.

The Croatian government, thus established, proceeded to organise
a national army, the troops of which are referred to in the record as
Domobrans. Certain Ustasha units were also trained and used. The
Ustasha in Croatia was a political party similar to the Nazi party of
Germany. Similar to the Waffen SS Divisions of the general Ustasha
were trained and used. In addition, by an alleged agreement between
Germany and Croatia, the Croatian government conscripted men from
its population for compulsory labour and military service. Many of
these men were used in German organised Croat Divisions and became
a part of the Wehrmacht under the command of German officers.
" It is further shown by the evidence that all matters of liaison were
handled through the German Plenipotentiary General. It is evident
that requests of the Germans were invariably acceded to by the Croatian
government. It is quite evident that the answers to such requests were
dictated by·the Geqnan Plenipotentiary General. Whatever the form
or the name given, the Croatian government "during the German wartime
occupation was a satellite under the control of the occupying
power. It dissolved as quickly after the withdrawal of the Germans
as it had arisen upon their occupation. Under such circumstances, the
acts of the Croatian government were the acts of the occupation power.
Logic and reason dictate that the occupant could not lawfully do
indirectly that which it could not- do directly. The true facts must
control ir,respective of the form with which they may have been camouflaged.
Even International Law will cut through form to find the facts
to which its rules will be applied. The conclusion reached is in accord
with previous pronouncements of International Law that an occupying
power is not the sovereign power although it is entitled to perform
some acts of sovereignty. The Croatian government could exist only
at the sufferance of the occupant. During the occupation, the German
Military qovernment was supreme or its status as a military occupant
of a belligerent enemy nation did not exist. Other than the rights of
occupation conferred by International Law, no lawful authority could
be exercised by the Germans. Hence, they had no legal right to create
an independent sovereign state during the progress of the war. They
could set up such a provisional government as was necessary to accomplish
the purposes of the occupation but further than that they could
not legally go. We are of the view that Croatia was at all times here
involved an occupied country and that an the acts performed by it were
those for which the occupying power was responsible.

http://www.worldcourts.com/imt/eng/deci ... _List2.pdf

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Re: Hostage trial 1948

Post by SloveneLiberal » 04 Sep 2018 16:04

The wars of Germany against kingdom of Yugoslavia and Greece were illegal agressive wars yet every act of German army was not a crime. Also every act of people under occupation against German army was not justified.

From judgement:

The Prosecution advances the contention that since Germany's
wars against Yugoslavia and Greece were aggressive wars, the German
occupation troops were there unlawfully and gained no rights whatever
as an occupant. It is further asserted as a corollary, that the duties
owed by the populace to an occupying power which are normally
imposed under the rules of International Law, never became effective
in the present case because of the criminal character of the invasion
and occupation.

" For the purposes of this discussion, we accept the statement as
true that the wars against Yugoslavia and Greece were in direct violation
of the Kellogg-Briand Pact and were therefore criminal in character.
But it does not follow that every act by the German occupation forces
against person or property is a crime or that any and every act undertaken
by the population of the occupied country against the German
occupation forces thereby became legitimate defence. The Prosecution
attempts to simplify the issue by posing it in the following words: 'The
sole issue here is whether German forces can with impunity violate law
by initiating and waging wars of aggression and at the same time
demand meticulous observance by the victims of these crimes of duties
and obligations owed only to a lawful occupant.''

http://www.worldcourts.com/imt/eng/deci ... _List2.pdf

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Re: Hostage trial 1948

Post by SloveneLiberal » 04 Sep 2018 16:25

The majority of partisan forces in Yugoslavia and Greece did not meet the requirements of International law, yet some did judgement is saying. They did not have in many cases uniforms, just soviet star on hats or caps, they were attacking German forces and then mixed with civilian population. They did often just kill captured German soldiers.

The evidence shows that the population remained peaceful during
the spring of 1941. In the early summer following, a resistance movement
began to manifest. itself. It increased progressively in intensity
until it assumed the appearance of a military campaign. Partisan
bands, composed of members of the population, roamed the territory,
doing much damage to transportation and communication lines. German
soldiers were the victims of surprise attacks by an enemy which they
could not engage in open combat. After a surprise attack, the bands
would hastily retreat or conceal their arms and mingle with the
population with the appearance of being harmless members thereof.
Ambushing of German troops was a common practice. Captured
German soldiers were often tortured and killed. The terrain was
favourable to this type of warfare and the inhabitants most adept in
carrying it on.

It is the contention of the defendants that after the respective
capitulations a lawful belligerency never did exist in Yugoslavia or
Greece during the period here involved. The Prosecution contends
just as emphatically that it did. The evidence on the subject is fragmentary
and consists primarily of admissions contained in the reports,
orders, and diaries of the German Army units involved. There is
convincing evidence in the record that certain band units in both Yugo­-
slavia and Greece complied with the requirements of International Law
entitling them to the status of a lawful belligerent. But the greater
portion of the partisan bands failed to comply with the rules of war
entitling them to be accorded the rights of a lawful belligerent. The
evidence fails to establish beyond a reasonable doubt that the incidents
involved in the present case concern partisan troops having the status
of lawful belligerents.

" The evidence shows that the bands were sometimes designated
as units common to military organization. They, however, had no
common uniform. They generally wore civilian clothes although
parts of German, Italian and Serbian uniforms were used to the extent
they could be obtained. The Soviet Star was generally worn as insignia.
The evidence will not sustain a finding that it was such that it could be
seen at a distance. Neither did they carry their arms openly except
when it was to their advantage to do so. There is some evidence that
various groups of the resistance forces were commanded by a centralised
command, such as the partisans of Marshal Tito, the Chetniks of Draja
Mihailovitch and the Edes of General Zervas. It is evidence also
that a few partisan bands met the requirements of lawful belligerency.
The bands, however, with which we are dealing in this case were not
shown by satisfactory evidence to have met the requirements. This
means, of course, that captured members of these unlawful groups
were not entitled to be treated as prisoners of war. No crime can be
properly charged against the defendants for the killing of such captured
members of the resistance forces, they being franc-tireurs.

http://www.worldcourts.com/imt/eng/deci ... _List2.pdf

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Re: Hostage trial 1948

Post by SloveneLiberal » 04 Sep 2018 16:39

So any comments? :)

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Re: Hostage trial 1948

Post by SloveneLiberal » 04 Sep 2018 16:50

As i saw the judgement is talking about Serbia and Croatia under occupation but not about Slovenia. I think the situation in Slovenia was different because it was divided between Germany, Italy, Hungary and so called NDH or ustasha Croatian state. Parts of its territory were illegally annexed. Under German occupation a plan of forced Germanization was going on, with expulsions of unfavourable elements, plus men were forcibly mobilized in German army. This means that a process of ethnocide was going on.
Last edited by SloveneLiberal on 04 Sep 2018 20:06, edited 2 times in total.

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Re: Hostage trial 1948

Post by SloveneLiberal » 04 Sep 2018 17:00

Judgement is saying also that there is no evidence for the claim that German army was involved in a plan of decimating or extermination of the people of Yugoslavia and Greece. Rather their goal was to suppress the rebellion with harsh measures.

Much has been said about the participation of these defendants
in a preconceived plan to decimate and destroy the populations of
Yugoslavia and Greece. The evidence will not sustain such a charge
and we so find. The only plan demonstrated by the evidence is one
to suppress the bands by the use of severe and harsh measures. While
these measures progressively increased as the situation became more
chaotic, and appeared to have taken a more or less common course,
we cannot say that there is any convincing evidence that these defendants
participated in such measures for the preconceived purpose of exterminating
the population generally.

http://www.worldcourts.com/imt/eng/deci ... _List2.pdf

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Re: Hostage trial 1948

Post by SloveneLiberal » 05 Sep 2018 12:08

I think the topic is dealing with quite some questions and opening quite some issues.

First was the occupation of Yugoslavia really just normal occupation in the line with International law after the end of agressive war in April 1941 as the judgement is claiming?

Second if NDH was established illegally and the Germans were responsible for what was going on in those areas are then German generals also responsible for not stopping massive ustasha killings witch was based in many times solely on religious or ethnic grounds?

What about the situation in Slovenia which was not under normal military occupation but was divided and parts of it illegally annexed? Ethnocide which was going on in Slovenia was more similar to the situation in west Poland then of that in Serbia. Nazi governor for Slovenia Friederich Rainer was in 1947 extradited by the Biritish in Slovenia ( at that time part of Yugoslavia ) and was shot after judgement in 1947. SS commander in Slovenia Rosener was hanged after judgement in 1946. He was extradited by the British from occupied Austria. Rosener was commander of SS, police, so called Home guard ( domobranstvo ) and also German army units in occupied Slovenia were under his tactical command.

Was that judgement the reason that Yugoslavia was not able to judge many high ranking German officers after the WW2? Maybe it seems that under Yugoslavia there was also not enough will to recognize different occupation status of different parts of country with all its consequences?

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Re: Hostage trial 1948

Post by wm » 15 Aug 2019 18:56

According to Hague IV, the occupying state is only an administrator of the occupied territory and is responsible for the well-being of its inhabitants.

If the German commanders did nothing to stop preventable killings they committed a war crime.
Only people regarded (jointly or individually) responsible (for partisans' attacks) could be punished so decimating/exterminating wasn't cool and in fact another (serious) war crime.

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Re: Hostage trial 1948

Post by wm » 15 Aug 2019 19:13

The Laws of War had no problems with "harsh measures" but didn't define how much harshness was allowed.
They didn't say how many people you were allowed to execute in reprisals, it was rather hazy regulated by earlier recognized "customs and usages of war."
I suppose you could execute a few, maybe a dozen or so, but not more.

The Germans (I think the US supported it too) strongly pushed the idea of "harsh" (and quick) wars during the Peace Conference in Hague in 1907, and the Laws of War were influenced by it.
The idea was that overregulation of war would lead to prolonging conflicts, stalemates, and in effect more suffering.
So brutal but quick wars were better than "nice" and long.

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Re: Hostage trial 1948

Post by SloveneLiberal » 15 Aug 2019 19:35

Ok wm thank you for your contribution to this disccussion. :)

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Re: Hostage trial 1948

Post by SloveneLiberal » 15 Aug 2019 19:40

The question here is also if the judgement applies to most partisans in the Balkans what to say than about the partisans in Italy or France, or Norway? Were they organized and acting in accordance with the international law of the time?

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Re: Hostage trial 1948

Post by wm » 15 Aug 2019 20:38

The judgment applied only to the defendants - just because the others weren't charged with anything (and the circumstances were different anyway).

It was victor's justice by design - only the victor and God were able to prosecute offenders.
The International Criminal Court didn't exist at that time and some say it doesn't exist even today. There was no international justice.

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Re: Hostage trial 1948

Post by SloveneLiberal » 16 Aug 2019 21:54

I would like to point out another thing here. Judgement is also confirming that Yugoslav governament capitulated in April 1941. This is important because chetnik supporters were claiming and even today claim that Yugoslavia did not capitulate ( in fact that procedure of capitulation was illegal because of German behaviour and so the act of capitulation was illegal itself ) so its royal army still existed in the remains of troops under command of Draža Mihajlovič and from this that it was than illegal to organize other partisan groups outside Mihajlovic control.

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