Cretans atrocities against German Fallschirmjaegers 1941

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Paddy Keating
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Post by Paddy Keating » 13 Dec 2003 12:58

Bruno Brauer, commander of Fallschirmjäger-Regiment 1 during the invasion, was tried and hanged by the Greeks in 1947 for alleged war crimes on Crete in May 1941. The fact that an Allied inquest into the execution of Cretan cilivians by Fallschirmjäger had ruled that the Germans were justified in their actions cut no ice with the vengeful Greeks who strung Brauer up. To be fair to the Greeks, the German occupation of Greece was particularly brutal. But objectively-speaking, their hanging of Brauer amounted to judicial murder.

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Peter H
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Post by Peter H » 13 Dec 2003 23:42

Brauer was not convicted for any excesses in 1941.Under seige at Heraklion his regiment fought in a conventional setting.He was convicted of 'war crimes' in his role of Fortress Commander Crete,February 1943-May 1944.The wiping out of the village of Vianos,with 500 villagers killed,is one incident mentioned by the Greeks.

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Post by Paddy Keating » 14 Dec 2003 00:20

You're right. I ought to have said that Brauer was accused of responsibility for alleged war crimes on Crete in May 1941. As far as war crimes committed during Brauer's tenure later on are concerned, his attitude to the Cretans was bound to have been coloured by their bestial cruelty to captured and wounded paratroopers in 1941. This is not to excuse German atrocities or the principal of collective punishment, which is not only inexcusable but shown time and again to be totally ineffective in subjugating the populations of occupied countries. But Brauer probably saw Cretans as barbarians. I believe, but will have to check the files, that Brauer was the subject of Allied appeals to the Greeks for clemency, which suggests that he may not have been as guilty as the Greeks claimed.

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Post by David Thompson » 14 Dec 2003 02:19

For readers who may not be familiar with this fellow:

Braeuer (Bräuer), Bruno (1893-20.5.1947) [General der Fallschirmtruppe] -- WWI service as NCO with field promotion to officer; discharged from military service 1920; entered police service 1920; rejoined military service with rank of Major 15 Oct 1935; commander, Fortress Crete (Festung Kreta) 1942-Mar 1944; commander, 9th Paratroop Division (9th Fallschirmjaeger-Division) Dec 1944-May 1945 [Knights Cross 1940] {arrested and put on trial by a Greek court for reprisal shootings of 3,000 hostages on Crete, for other murders and massacres, systematic terrorism, deportations, pillage, wanton destruction and torture and ill-treatment of civilians; convicted and sentenced to death 9 Dec 1946 (NYT 10 Dec 1946:9:6; LT 10 Dec 1946:4e); executed by firing squad at Haidari camp, Athens on 20 May 1947 (NYT 21 May 1947:13:2; LT 21 May 1947:4a; German Airborne Troops 1939-1945 p. 21; History of the United Nations War Crimes Commission and the Development of the Laws of War p. 525, United Nations War Crimes Commission, London: HMSO, 1948; ABR-L).}

Some similar cases:

Andrae, Alexander (1888-3.4.1979) [General der Flieger/General der Artillerie] -- WWI service as Army officer; discharged from military service 1 Feb 1920; service with the Prussian State Security Police (Preußischen Sicherheitspolizei) 1 Feb 1920-31 Jul 1935; re-entered military service 1 Aug 1935; transferred to Luftwaffe 1 Aug 1936; Luftwaffe Inspector for Educational and Training Matters (Inspekteur des Erziehungs- und Bildungswesens) 1937; commander of a Air Region staff in Poland (Kdr. eines Luftgaustabes) 1939; military governor of Crete (Kdt., Festung Kreta) 10 1 Jun 1942; commandant, Fortress Crete (Festung Kreta); special assignments officer (b. d. Offz. z. Vfg.d.RdL [Sonst.Offz.]) 29 Aug 1942-31 May 1943; released from military service 31 May 1943; recalled to active duty as an Army General der Artillerie in charge of People's Storm (Volkssturm) militia units Apr 1945 {taken prisoner by British forces 8 May 1945 (ABR-Croisier-L); extradition for war crimes sought by Greece 20 May 1945 (NYT 21 May 1945:10:4); put on trial by a special Greek tribunal at Athens; convicted and sentenced to life imprisonment for war crimes 22 Dec 1947 (NYT 23 Dec 1947:15:2); sentence commuted by King Paul of Greece to 4 years imprisonment 23 Dec 1951 (NYT 24 Dec 1951:3:6); released from Greek custody 10 Jan 1952 (ABR-Croisier-L; ABR-H); died 3 Apr 1979 at Wiesbaden (ABR-L).}

Mueller (Müller), Friedrich-Wilhelm (1897-20.5.1947) [General der Infanterie] -- WWI veteran; military commander, Heraklion 1941; commander, 22nd Air Landing Infantry Division (22.Luftlande Infanterie-Division) 1 Aug 1942-15 Feb 1944; commander, V Army Corps 4 May-2 June 1944; commander, XXXIV Army Corps 21 Aug-8 Dec 1944; commander, LXVIII Army Corps 8 Dec 1944-29 Jan 1945; commander 4th Army 29 Jan- 27 Apr 1945 [Knights Cross; Oakleaves 1942; Swords] (Nazi Conspiracy & Aggression VI, pps. 624-634 [Document 3739-PS] {arrested and put on trial by a Greek court for unlawful reprisal shootings on Crete; convicted and sentenced to death 9 Dec 1946 (NYT 10 Dec 1946:9:6; LT 10 Dec 1946:4e); executed by firing squad at Haidari camp, Athens 20 May 1947 (NYT 21 May 1947:13:2; LT 21 May 1947:4a; ABR-Croisier-H; History of the United Nations War Crimes Commission and the Development of the Laws of War p. 527, United Nations War Crimes Commission, London: HMSO, 1948; ABR-H; Third Reich Factbook).}

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Peter H
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Post by Peter H » 14 Dec 2003 03:34

Julius Ringel has also been accused of pilfering Minoan antiquities on Crete by certain Greek experts in the field.

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Post by Paddy Keating » 14 Dec 2003 13:37

Look, er, no offence intended to Greek people but Greece is a country which puts foreign plane-spotters on trial for espionage as the ongoing case, or ordeal-by-court, against some elderly British tourists shows. The German occupation of Greece was, as I said, brutal and German conduct on Crete during Bräuer's tenure was very bad indeed.

But the attitude of people like Bräuer and Müller towards Cretans was informed by their experiences of Cretan treatment of captured and wounded German soldiers in May 1941. It was also informed by the manner in which Cretan partisans tortured and killed captured members of the German armed forces during the occupation. As a direct result of Cretan torture and murder of German soldiers, over 1,135 civilians were executed between June and September 1941 and numerous villages were destroyed.

I don't expect anyone here who has never had to face a hate-filled civil population as a soldier to understand how quickly one mentally dehumanises even the most peaceful of demonstrators and how easy it can be to entertain thoughts of killing them all - fortunately we were well-disciplined and would have been charged with murder had we sucumbed to the temptation - but I do expect people to try to understand why these things happen, instead of just seeking refuge in a 'Them-Evil-Us-Good' perception of events.

Had you seen what Bräuer saw, or what any of the German Fallschirmjäger saw, when they went out to recover bodies after the battle, you might understand why their trigger fingers, so to speak, tended to itch afterwards when they saw Cretans. For me, it's the same thing with Serbs. Now, I know that not all Serbs supported what was done at Vukovar and in Kosova, to give two examples from personal experience, but what I saw has left me with a deep-rooted problem when it comes to Serbs in general. I am coming to terms with it but there was a time when I would cheerfully have killed any Serb who looked at me the wrong way. Men like Bräuer and Müller, to cite the two Crete-related records Dave posted, never had time to come to terms with their searing hatred of Cretans. So I don't think that they can be viewed in the same way, for instance, as SS commanders who set out to commit genocide based on racist beliefs. There were, like it or not (and I know I'll be condemned by some here as a pro-Nazi apologist...I already have been!), mitigating circumstances. In any event, the case against Bräuer seems to have been flawed and the trial itself seems essentially to have been a show trial.

Here is a link to a webpage containing a short biography of Bruno Bräuer along with a short essay on his conviction and execution for alleged war crimes.

http://www.eagle19.freeserve.co.uk/brauer.htm

Prosper Keating

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Peter H
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Post by Peter H » 15 Dec 2003 09:33

One source says Brauer died by firing squad,the other by the gallows.As he was executed at a military base I would bet on the former.

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Post by Panzermahn » 13 Jun 2005 10:20

Ramcke wrote scathingly, not only of the use by the New Zealand Army of Maori troops, whom he considered savages, but also brutalities and mutilations practised upon his wounded men by the Cretan population. He admitted that he cariied out reprisals against those villages in which mutilated bodies of paratroops had been found. He had the offending villages razed to the ground but justified his actions by saying that against the brutalities carried out by the civilians there had to be ruthlessness.

James Lucas, Hitler's Enforcers: Leaders of the German War Machine 1939-1945, Brockhampton Press 1999
page 122-123

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Post by David Thompson » 13 Jun 2005 13:50

For more information on General Ramcke, who was himself convicted by a French court of war crimes, see the links posted at: viewtopic.php?p=671632#671632

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spiro
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Post by spiro » 25 Jul 2005 17:19

Hey Panzermahn
Have you ever seen a Cretan?
Image

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Post by KalaVelka » 25 Jul 2005 22:39

alf wrote:My father fought on Crete, yes the Cretans fought back ferciously, isnt that what your supposed to do when your country is invaded?

Are you supposed to cut off enemys testicles?

alf wrote:Did my dad judge the locals? No, When your villages are bombed and strafed, then the rules of war don't mean anything.

So for example there were nothing wrong with the Malmedy accident? USAAF had bombed german cities for years and therefore those young SS troopers didnt do nothing wrong when they shooted US pows?


/Kasper

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Post by spiro » 26 Jul 2005 05:46

The Cretan's didn't attack anyone.
They were defending their homeland against invaders.
Also consider the fact that the atrocities on Greece's mainland were well known in the island.

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Post by Panzermahn » 26 Jul 2005 07:04

spiro wrote:The Cretan's didn't attack anyone.
They were defending their homeland against invaders.
Also consider the fact that the atrocities on Greece's mainland were well known in the island.


Ah, you mean the British invaders? After all, it was British troops who set foot at Greece first

I have no objection regarding the resistance against occupying force. But mutilation and other cowardly forms of attack specifically prohibited by the Hague Convention and Geneva Convention of 1929 should be abhorred

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Post by spiro » 26 Jul 2005 07:36

The British were allies (at that time).
As for the Hague Convention and Geneva Convention, i think they are reffering to each country's armed forces -not civilian defenders.

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Post by KalaVelka » 26 Jul 2005 08:49

spiro wrote:The British were allies (at that time).
As for the Hague Convention and Geneva Convention, i think they are reffering to each country's armed forces -not civilian defenders.

So those conventions dont include civilians? Then the germans didnt break any of those two conventions when they massacred civilians as the civilians didnt include in the conventions?

Also consider the fact that the atrocities on Greece's mainland were well known in the island.
So that allows cretans to cut of testicles of the paras? Hey doesnt that mean that Bräuer and Müller had full rights to do what ever they wished against the Cretan population as they had heard what cretans did to german pows?

/Kasper

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