Cretans atrocities against German Fallschirmjaegers 1941

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DXTR
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Post by DXTR » 26 Jul 2005 09:28

Spiro wrote:
As for the Hague Convention and Geneva Convention, i think they are reffering to each country's armed forces -not civilian defenders


Well first of all the Annex to the Hague 1907 Convention - REGULATIONS RESPECTING THE LAWS AND CUSTOMS OF WAR ON LAND
SECTION I ON BELLIGERENTS CHAPTER I The Qualifications of Belligerents says:

Art. 2.
The inhabitants of a territory which has not been occupied, who, on the approach of the enemy, spontaneously take up arms to resist the invading troops without having had time to organize themselves in accordance with Article 1, shall be regarded as belligerents if they carry arms openly and if they respect the laws and customs of war.

(source: http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/lawofwar/hague04.htm


So civilians are allowed to take-up arms against the invading force. But only if they respect the laws of war: And in the case of crete that is:

THE GENEVA CONVENTION OF JULY 27, 1929, RELATIVE TO THE TREATMENT OF PRISONERS OF WAR.

Title 1. General provisions:

ARTICLE 2.
Prisoners of war are in the power of the hostile Power, but not of the individuals or corps who have captured them.

They must at all times be humanely treated and protected, particularly against acts of violence, insults and public curiosity.

Measures of reprisal against them are prohibited.

(source:http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/lawofwar/geneva02.htm)

If the laws of war only applied to 'soldiers' one could then neglect to put them in uniform, claim they were civilians and then go on a rampage.... and the laws of war wouldn't be worth the paper they were written on....

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.


The fact that german armed forces was responsible for attrocities committed on mainland greece does not change the fact that the laws of war is to be honoured. As stated in the article of the geneva convention cited above, reprisals are forbidden. While we may understand the feelings of the cretans, vigilante or revenge can not be allowed. If a girl is raped and killed and the father shoots the perpetrator in court we may understand his emotions. But he is still a killer, and would be prosecuted as such. While national laws tend to take issues such as manslaughter into account, and evenen to some extent excuse the actions of the vengefull father, the laws of war at the time of world war two did no such thing. Reprisals were forbidden.

kind regards

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Mr Holmes
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Post by Mr Holmes » 26 Jul 2005 10:19

Panzermahn wrote:
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

Regards
Panzermahn


re British invaders: Note that Italian forces attacked Greece. British troops were not in place at that particular time (ie 28th October 1940). Greece was a party to various Balkan pacts (signatories include Turkey, Yugoslavia, Romania and Bularia as well as Greece), whereby Greek terrirtorial integrity was meant to be guaranteed by both England and France. Only England was in a position to assist Greece when Italy and subsequently Germany invaded. Greece had also stated its intention to remain neutral in the war especially in the military sense. Un/fortunately (no typo) Germany did not respect this neutrality.

re Atrocities: Yes, you are right, mutilations and other forms of atrocity should be abhorred NOT because of any law but out of respect for fellow humanity. However, consider this: Greece proclaims military neutrality, none of the Axis powers respected this (Italy, Germany and Bulagria). Cretans had lost their sons on the front in northern Greece so therefore there are vendettas to be settled (simply stating the fact). As regards actual mutilation, Antony Beevor (not sure how biased he is, although he does have a pro-British slant) states in his Crete that there were some atrocities committed, however, those German were already dead. Not that this makes it right in any way, but you must consider the fact that the civilian population was war-hardened (WW1, the various Balkan Wars, the 1922 episodes etc etc) and mutilations were a "common practise" both in war and sometimes in peace in the Balkans.

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Mr Holmes
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Post by Mr Holmes » 26 Jul 2005 10:31

I understand what you write in the rest of your post, but I disagree here:

The fact that german armed forces was responsible for attrocities committed on mainland greece does not change the fact that the laws of war is to be honoured. As stated in the article of the geneva convention cited above, reprisals are forbidden. While we may understand the feelings of the cretans, vigilante or revenge can not be allowed.... Reprisals were forbidden.



My main point of contention is that Greece had declared neutrality, especially after Italy's occupation and subsequent set-up of a puppet Albanian state in which King Zog was exiled and sent to Greece, but was promptly asked to move on as it would upset not only Italy but the whole Balkan arena. So you see there was no respect directed towards the Greek position, so although I see that "reprisals were forbidden", what I do not understand (and will not agree to) is this fact of the total disrespect shown towards the Greek position by Fascist Italy: a wholly belligerent attitude which then descended into an unnecessary attack upon Greek territory and the Greek nation (both constitutionally and socially).

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Post by spiro » 26 Jul 2005 10:51

DXTR wrote:

So civilians are allowed to take-up arms against the invading force. But only if they respect the laws of war: And in the case of crete that is:


Otherwise what?
They should stay still and conquered?
Sorry but that doesn't make sence.
Where i come from you do whatever you can to protect your country by all means.


Rgrds
Spiros

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Post by Panzermahn » 26 Jul 2005 13:24

what I do not understand (and will not agree to) is this fact of the total disrespect shown towards the Greek position by Fascist Italy: a wholly belligerent attitude which then descended into an unnecessary attack upon Greek territory and the Greek nation (both constitutionally and socially).


I agreed. But don't forget that the Fuehrer himself ordered all Greek POWs captured during the Greece campaign to be released (just like Hitler ordered the same for Norwegian POWs) and sent home as a mark of respect, admiration and chivalry of the Germans towards Greek soldiers.

Mind you, Germany had no designs or plans to conquer Greece before the Italians invaded and they interfered to help their Italian allies to avoid a disaster for their allies.

It was the horrendous mutilation of German soldiers by Cretan villagers provoked reprisals from the Germans.

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Post by KalaVelka » 26 Jul 2005 13:25

spiro wrote:
DXTR wrote:

So civilians are allowed to take-up arms against the invading force. But only if they respect the laws of war: And in the case of crete that is:


Otherwise what?
They should stay still and conquered?
Sorry but that doesn't make sence.
Where i come from you do whatever you can to protect your country by all means.


Rgrds
Spiros

What is the problem with this? Do you have only two options which to choose from? Keep your head inside your cottage or go outside and cut of some testicles? You just cant respect the laws of war?

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DXTR
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Post by DXTR » 26 Jul 2005 13:39

Sepp Dietrich wrote:

So you see there was no respect directed towards the Greek position, so although I see that "reprisals were forbidden", what I do not understand (and will not agree to) is this fact of the total disrespect shown towards the Greek position by Fascist Italy: a wholly belligerent attitude which then descended into an unnecessary attack upon Greek territory and the Greek nation (both constitutionally and socially).


That a war might be illegal from the position of the Kellogg-Briand agreement (otherwise known as The paris agreement) of 1929 (see: http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/kbpact/kbpact.htm) does not however pacify the rules of conduct during war. In other words we might agree that greece was wrongly assaulted first by italy and then germany but this does not excuse any violation in regards to the convention on POW's.

Spiro wrote:

Otherwise what?
They should stay still and conquered?
Sorry but that doesn't make sence.
Where i come from you do whatever you can to protect your country by all means


Whether you believe in the laws of war and feel that all necessary means for winning a war waged upon your territory should be employed, or not is up to you. But during a situation of war as I stated above, the rules of war does apply. And no one can claim that treating POW inhumanely is within the rule of proportion. In other words your enemy might be wrong in his war, but when signing a convention, as the greek government did, you are to abide by it and therefore POW's are supposed to be treated humanly.

The only international case that I can come up with where a convention is to be abandoned when the enemy violates it, is the 1925 Geneva Protocol on prohibiting gas warfare. Here some nations - including UK, France and USSR, had it amended that they would abandon the protocol if another nation deployed first use. But as far as I know, nothing similar can be found in regards to the treatment of POW. That a POW forfeits his rights if he belongs to a nation that violates the laws of war.

Another example would be the US. order 100 by Francis lieber deployed at the time of the civil war and only applicable in the US. In art. 62:

All troops of the enemy known or discovered to give no quarter in general, or to any portion of the army, receive none

(source: http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/lieber.htm)

Arguing in contrary to the laws of war has no merit if they are only based on emotions and national sentiment. I fully understand the frustration and hatred towards an invading force, but the law does not take those sentiments into account. Otherwise it would as fast as a blink of an eye pacify the laws of war. And then suddenly the serb claim that Srebrenica was just a reaction to earlier muslim attrocities would legally excuse a genocide (not that I want to start a new debate on srebrenica).

Kind regards

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Post by Mr Holmes » 26 Jul 2005 13:44

Panzermahn wrote:
I agreed. But don't forget that the Fuehrer himself ordered all Greek POWs captured during the Greece campaign to be released (just like Hitler ordered the same for Norwegian POWs) and sent home as a mark of respect, admiration and chivalry of the Germans towards Greek soldiers.

Mind you, Germany had no designs or plans to conquer Greece before the Italians invaded and they interfered to help their Italian allies to avoid a disaster for their allies.

It was the horrendous mutilation of German soldiers by Cretan villagers provoked reprisals from the Germans.


I never knew of that (the mass return of POWs), although my grandfather who fought in the Cretan campaign with one of the Greek Regiments, had been shot through the leg with the bullet remaining in his thigh for the rest of his life (pus running and all that), yet he was still able to go home and live life in Corinth, so there is something afoot there. Same with my other grandfather who fought on the Albanian front which was ended prematurely when Germany invaded: he too got to go home. Not sure if they were ever POWs, but they may have indeed been granted permission to return home.

I know of Germany's disinterest in a Greek invasion and my qualm rests not with the German forces as much, which is why in my previous posts I refer to Italy's total disrespect of Greece's neutrality. You see, when one of the Axis attacks then the other joins in, to the attacked, they are the one and the same thing (and at this point, I would ask that you re-read both of my previous posts as regards, my interpretation/opinion of the mutilations).

Also, please note, my main point of contention rests not with the German reprisals. People know that if civilians attack troops of the occupying forces, then a backlash is to be expected and by the same token, an occupying force cannot expect the native population to teemly submit.

No such thing as a clean and lawful war.

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Post by Mr Holmes » 26 Jul 2005 13:51

DXTR wrote:Sepp Dietrich wrote:

So you see there was no respect directed towards the Greek position, so although I see that "reprisals were forbidden", what I do not understand (and will not agree to) is this fact of the total disrespect shown towards the Greek position by Fascist Italy: a wholly belligerent attitude which then descended into an unnecessary attack upon Greek territory and the Greek nation (both constitutionally and socially).


That a war might be illegal from the position of the Kellogg-Briand agreement (otherwise known as The paris agreement) of 1929 (see: http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/kbpact/kbpact.htm) does not however pacify the rules of conduct during war. In other words we might agree that greece was wrongly assaulted first by italy and then germany but this does not excuse any violation in regards to the convention on POW's.



I have no arguement with you as regards the giving of quarter to those who are captured or are in the process of surrendering. However, when dealing with a local populace who has experienced a different sort of war (I won't get into that here), life comes to mean nothing. I am not justifying anyone here. But like I wrote to Panzermahn before, such actions are more often than not to be expected as are the reprisals. Two wrongs don't make a right, but that's how things go as we see daily.

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Peter H
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Post by Peter H » 26 Jul 2005 14:25

Previous discussions on Crete in the H&WC section can be found here:

viewtopic.php?t=30297

viewtopic.php?t=68703

German photos of the Crete fighting,including graphic photos of their dead can be found here:

http://home.online.no/~vestil/crete/invasjon/index.htm

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Post by spiro » 26 Jul 2005 17:05

Panzermahn wrote:
It was the horrendous mutilation of German soldiers by Cretan villagers provoked reprisals from the Germans.



Reprisals are applied all over Greece's mainland in extreme ruthlesness and barbarity (for relatively smaller acts of resistance).
They usually killed 50 people for every dead soldier.
I can make you a BIG list if you want.

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Post by Musashi » 26 Jul 2005 17:41

spiro wrote:
Panzermahn wrote:
It was the horrendous mutilation of German soldiers by Cretan villagers provoked reprisals from the Germans.



Reprisals are applied all over Greece's mainland in extreme ruthlesness and barbarity (for relatively smaller acts of resistance).
They usually killed 50 people for every dead soldier.
I can make you a BIG list if you want.

The same in Poland.

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Post by DXTR » 27 Jul 2005 16:59

panzermahn wrote:

It was the horrendous mutilation of German soldiers by Cretan villagers provoked reprisals from the Germans.


Soldiers should not be provoked, it is the obligation of their commander as well as their own obligation to abstain from reprisals. However hunting down legal and illegal combatants, disarming them and even to some extent cause civilian causalties in this anti-partisan warfare can be tolerated. But only if the civilian casualties are unavoidable, such as initiating a fight with a partisan unit inside a village. But dragging civilians outside and shooting them en masse either as a reprisal for soldiers lost or as a collective punishment for crimes committed in a an occupied town is not allowed within the laws of war.

see the 1907 Hague convention IV art. 50

No general penalty, pecuniary or otherwise, shall be inflicted upon the population on account of the acts of individuals for which they cannot be regarded as jointly and severally responsible.


(source: http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/lawofwar/hague04.htm#art50)

So it has no relevance that the soldiers was provoked either on crete or in Greece. In regards to mainland greece and the anti-partisan warfare. The Germans use of retaliatory killings of civilians for every dead or wounded german soldier is not in any way justified on the basis of international law. It seem however that part of the justification for German retaliatory attacks on civilians on mainland greece lay not in any real experience with greek attrocities or mutilations of captured german soldiers, but was part of the propaganda handed down either through formal or informal channels of the german occupying force in greece.

It no doubt helped the soldiers to shed the moral and legal inhibitions before the comming reprisal actions. According to Mark Mazower, 'Hermann Franz, head of the german paramilitary police troops in greece confirms that those of his men who were captured by ElAS (greek resistance movement) were not iltreated, apart from being stripped of their boots. Of course the resistance movement did kill captured Germans but there is no evidence that they delighted in this any more than their opponents did: shortage of food was usually their motive, not sadism'. (source Mark Mazower - Inside Hitlers Greece - experience of occupation 1941-44 Yale U. Press 1993, p. 159-60)

kind regards

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Post by Mr Holmes » 27 Jul 2005 22:17

Thank you DXTR for the reference, I'll try to track down a copy of that book. It would be excellent to get a German's view on the topic.

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Post by Koko » 30 Jul 2005 23:21

KalaVelka wrote:
spiro wrote:
DXTR wrote:

So civilians are allowed to take-up arms against the invading force. But only if they respect the laws of war: And in the case of crete that is:


Otherwise what?
They should stay still and conquered?
Sorry but that doesn't make sence.
Where i come from you do whatever you can to protect your country by all means.


Rgrds
Spiros

What is the problem with this? Do you have only two options which to choose from? Keep your head inside your cottage or go outside and cut of some testicles? You just cant respect the laws of war?


So what do you want exactly? Since apologising seems to be the trendy thing to do lately, maybe you want the Cretans to apologise for fighting back against the nazi invaders or mutilating their bodies? Maybe the wounded Greek troops in the mainland should apologise for cluttering the hospitals and thus making the nazis waste their time throwing them into the street?
You seem to be an advocate of hiding from war. Hiding from it can lead to a process called Finlandization...you should know.

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