Cretans atrocities against German Fallschirmjaegers 1941

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Panzermahn
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Post by Panzermahn » 31 Jul 2005 11:41

Koko wrote:
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.


You're generalizing the whole German Armed forces as Nazis. Something that are quite popular in the 50s, 60s and 70s due to Allied propaganda.

Resistance to occupying force is permissible. What is not permissible and abhorrable is that Cretans used mutilations against wounded German troops that were captured and deserved the protection of Geneva Convention.

During the Greece campaign, war crimes are committed by both sides, but I had never heard the German forces mutilating wounded Cretan resistance or other Allied soldiers...

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Post by Mr Holmes » 31 Jul 2005 13:56

@panzermahn

That's not to say that the Germans did not do the same, just because such a case has not been documented, does not mean it did not happen. Also, cite me a source whereby it is explicitly stated that the Germans mutilated were alive. I will not deny its existence but you seem to be pushing this issue and it's becoming a little too personal.

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Post by David Thompson » 31 Jul 2005 17:37

A post from KalaVelka, containing an insulting personal remark, was deleted by the moderator pursuant to forum and section rules.

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DXTR
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Post by DXTR » 31 Jul 2005 20:02

During the Greece campaign, war crimes are committed by both sides, but I had never heard the German forces mutilating wounded Cretan resistance or other Allied soldiers...


Ok lets try to set the beginning for the german counter resistance tactics. Panzermahn claimed that the germans only shot cretans as a response to the treatment of captured german paratroopers.

In april 1941 Field Marshal von Weichs issued orders which set the tone for anti-guerilla policy in the Balkans. He instructed German troops in Yugoslavia that they were to shoot male civilians in any area of armed resistance, even in the absence of specific evidence against them. Guilt was to be assumed unless innocense could be proved. A month later the german paras were dropped on Crete.

When the german forces were outraged by the resistance in may on crete General Kurt Student, commander of the XI air corps issued the order to combat resistance (and please notice that anti-partisan warfare had already been initiated a month earlier in the Balkan campaign). The order was to include shootings, forced levies, burning down villages as well as extermination (ausrottung) of members of the male population of the entire region commenting that 'all operations are to be carried out with great speed, leaving aside all formalities and certainly dispensing with special courts [...] these are not meant for beasts and murderers' Under such an order I fail to see how they could treat any captured (perhaps wounded) resistance fighters with any kindness. All the inhabitants on crete (2000 according to greek sources, probably exegerated) that were executed was not treated with any such kindness. (Mark Mazower, Inside Hitlers Greece p. 173).

As I have mentioned before it has no value whether cretans shot and mutilated a number of german paras, since the german response was outside the rules of war. Since the germans had already initiated harsh counterinsurgency orders a month earlier in Yugoslavia, it could point to that the german response against for example the village of Kondomari on june 2. 1941( immortalised by Franz-Peter Weixler in his photos.) was not just motivated by a emotional response to the fate of fallen comrades, but was a part of a wider german policy against partisan warfare in the balkans.

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Post by Panzermahn » 01 Aug 2005 07:38

That's not to say that the Germans did not do the same, just because such a case has not been documented, does not mean it did not happen. Also, cite me a source whereby it is explicitly stated that the Germans mutilated were alive. I will not deny its existence but you seem to be pushing this issue and it's becoming a little too personal.


If you may look at the below link, you will find that a graphic picture of two paratroopers hideously mutilated with a caption (i invite you to read it)

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


Ok lets try to set the beginning for the german counter resistance tactics. Panzermahn claimed that the germans only shot cretans as a response to the treatment of captured german paratroopers.

In april 1941 Field Marshal von Weichs issued orders which set the tone for anti-guerilla policy in the Balkans. He instructed German troops in Yugoslavia that they were to shoot male civilians in any area of armed resistance, even in the absence of specific evidence against them. Guilt was to be assumed unless innocense could be proved. A month later the german paras were dropped on Crete.


I am talking about Crete (in the Aegean) and certainly not at the Balkans. You are diverting the issue of German reprisals in from Crete to the entire Balkans.

When the german forces were outraged by the resistance in may on crete General Kurt Student, commander of the XI air corps issued the order to combat resistance (and please notice that anti-partisan warfare had already been initiated a month earlier in the Balkan campaign). The order was to include shootings, forced levies, burning down villages as well as extermination (ausrottung) of members of the male population of the entire region commenting that 'all operations are to be carried out with great speed, leaving aside all formalities and certainly dispensing with special courts [...] these are not meant for beasts and murderers' Under such an order I fail to see how they could treat any captured (perhaps wounded) resistance fighters with any kindness. All the inhabitants on crete (2000 according to greek sources, probably exegerated) that were executed was not treated with any such kindness. (Mark Mazower, Inside Hitlers Greece p. 173).


Refer to this interesting postulation from David Thompson

viewtopic.php?t=45841&postdays=0&postorder=asc&highlight=western+allies+hostagetakings&start=15

Think about this, Panzermahn. How can a threat by an occupying military force to carry out reprisal shootings against the civilian population be effective unless the civilian population hears about it? Isn't the whole point to convince the civilian population not to resist and not to help would-be resisters?


DXTR wrote:

As I have mentioned before it has no value whether cretans shot and mutilated a number of german paras, since the german response was outside the rules of war. Since the germans had already initiated harsh counterinsurgency orders a month earlier in Yugoslavia, it could point to that the german response against for example the village of Kondomari on june 2. 1941( immortalised by Franz-Peter Weixler in his photos.) was not just motivated by a emotional response to the fate of fallen comrades, but was a part of a wider german policy against partisan warfare in the balkans.


Quite clever diversion from the real issue of this topic where Cretan mutilated captured German paratroopers at Crete

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Post by Mr Holmes » 01 Aug 2005 09:52

I have seen that website before, and yes, I too am horrified at the violence inflicted on German soldiers (or on any soldier for that matter when it comes to torture and mutilation). However, I believe you are referring to this particular caption:

This extremely rare photo shows german paratroopers brutally murdered
by english soldiers as the originale text says behind this private photo.
They were abused, then beaten to death. The photos also shows bulletholes
on the corpses. Also note the bulletholes on the walls behind the corpses.
The flesh on the upper part of the right leg of the corpse to the left has
been totally removed or burnt. A block of wood has also been pushed
into his anus. The photo is probably taken nearby Heraklion in May 1941.
The dead soldiers belonged to the FJR.1.


Forgive me if I am wrong here, but I seem to read
german paratroopers brutally murdered
by english soldiers as the originale text says
... please direct me where it states that Cretan civilians did this horrendous act?

Don't argue for argument's sake, I want you to direct me to a PUBLISHED SOURCE and not one off the internet, otherwise I'll humbly have to ask you to drop this.

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Peter H
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Post by Peter H » 01 Aug 2005 11:07

One German account.German intelligence directives pre invasion expected no resistance from the population.

Adolf Müller,FJR1,Heraklion:

"Under withering fire,I touched down heavily,spraining one foot and bumping my head against a rock in the process.But we had to carry on regardless.Over the coast,the second squad of the 2nd Company was dropped over barbered wire entanglements.Most of them were killed.Besides,Cretan civilians mercilessly slaughtered our wounded comrades.


Green Devils,First-Person Accounts,Jean-Yves Nasse,page 50.

While understanding the Cretan propensity of conducting irregular warfare,a trait developed over the years from rebellion to Ottoman rule(Crete became part of Greece only in 1913) I think they pushed their luck in their armed resistance with no quarter.As far as I can ascertain no German prisoner that fell into to Cretan hands survived:bodies were found with throats slit,eyes gouged,chests cut open,genitals cut off.

The German reaction in using lightly armed,and unmotorised,Fallshirmjäger in punitive retailation also indicates an expedient type action based on the OKW directive of the 30th May 1941 to punish the offenders by shooting "combat-effective men"('the beasts and murderers' in Student's view).

The initial German claim that 'English' troops were involved in atrocities as well was discounted as an unfounded rumour by later German investigations.

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Post by Mr Holmes » 01 Aug 2005 12:01

Tell me, how is a band of irregulars meant to take Prisoners (since they are not meant to be regular soldiers, right?) of War in mid-invasion? Were they meant to salute the Germans in parades on the side of the road throwing petals at the invasion force? Goebbels had called for "Total War" (admittedly a little later, I think in 1942 IIRC), but what was called for, was given. Do I think some of the more garish acts are acceptable? No (and I have often repeated this in this thread).

As for the English troops, I only pointed that out because panzermahn asked me to read the caption as "indicative" of Cretan atrocities, although it was not to be found there. In Beevor's Crete he states that the most of those who were mutilated were already dead. How true this statement is, probably comes down to subjective reasoning.

(As a sidenote, your statement about Crete is a little misleading. Yes, in the modern state definition, Crete was joined to Greece in 1913, but ethnically and nationally (also culturally and socially) it is Greek. It's not as if it was some sort of alien entity and was conjoined for political expediency. Byzantium had always held Crete except towards the end of that Empire.)

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Post by DXTR » 01 Aug 2005 13:11

Panzermahn wrote:
Ok lets try to set the beginning for the german counter resistance tactics. Panzermahn claimed that the germans only shot cretans as a response to the treatment of captured german paratroopers.

In april 1941 Field Marshal von Weichs issued orders which set the tone for anti-guerilla policy in the Balkans. He instructed German troops in Yugoslavia that they were to shoot male civilians in any area of armed resistance, even in the absence of specific evidence against them. Guilt was to be assumed unless innocense could be proved. A month later the german paras were dropped on Crete.



I am talking about Crete (in the Aegean) and certainly not at the Balkans. You are diverting the issue of German reprisals in from Crete to the entire Balkans.


I totally fail to see how you can divert Crete from the Balkans, Greece is a balkan country and Crete is an island under greek control. If you are not to see the connection between german counterinsurgency actions in the Balkans/ Greece with Crete you have either failed to realise that Crete is a greek island or that the assault on Crete was part of the Greek campaign. I would argue that orders issued for anti-partisan warfare in the balkans set the tone for Grece as well (incl. Crete). So who is diverting attention away from what?



As I have mentioned before it has no value whether cretans shot and mutilated a number of german paras, since the german response was outside the rules of war. Since the germans had already initiated harsh counterinsurgency orders a month earlier in Yugoslavia, it could point to that the german response against for example the village of Kondomari on june 2. 1941( immortalised by Franz-Peter Weixler in his photos.) was not just motivated by a emotional response to the fate of fallen comrades, but was a part of a wider german policy against partisan warfare in the balkans.



Quite clever diversion from the real issue of this topic where Cretan mutilated captured German paratroopers at Crete



If orders for counterinsurgency warfare was issued a month earlier, I would argue that the para's response was not just immotionally based but part of a greater overall german plan for responding to irregular warfare. So therefore before we start shedding tears for all those poor paras who got mutilated by cretans and by that indirectly accept the paras reactions against civilians on crete, we need to realise that the paras did not just react spontaneously, but found their reaction 'justified' by a german anti-partisan ideology issued in the balkans a month earlier. So it is not a clever diversion, but the fundamental obligation for a historian - would be, or trained to not just look at an issue in its isolation but to broaden the view to see if any external events, in our case counterinsurgency orders issued in the balkans, could have any reasonable influence on the initial 'isolated' event.

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Post by Peter H » 01 Aug 2005 13:26

Sepp Dietrich wrote:Tell me, how is a band of irregulars meant to take Prisoners (since they are not meant to be regular soldiers, right?) of War in mid-invasion? Were they meant to salute the Germans in parades on the side of the road throwing petals at the invasion force? Goebbels had called for "Total War" (admittedly a little later, I think in 1942 IIRC), but what was called for, was given. Do I think some of the more garish acts are acceptable? No (and I have often repeated this in this thread).


I assume the minimum German requirement was that the populace stay out of the way.You would also assume that the historical German phobia regarding franc-tireurs(1870,1914) would have been known by some of the potential irregulars as well.Combine this German stance on irregulars with multiations committed on their troops and the Cretan irregular response appears foolhardy at best.

Irregulars are entitled to take prisoners as any other combatants---they could have been then passed onto regular Greek or Allied formations as well.The Australians at Heraklion seized 10 German Pows from some irregulars as a good intelligence bonanza.

As for the English troops, I only pointed that out because panzermahn asked me to read the caption as "indicative" of Cretan atrocities, although it was not to be found there. In Beevor's Crete he states that the most of those who were mutilated were already dead. How true this statement is, probably comes down to subjective reasoning.


Agree, but my uncle who was there also remembers out in the olive groves the German wounded hanging in their harnesses crying all night.Next morning a the dozen or so were found with their throat cuts....and this wasn't done by Australian hands.

(As a sidenote, your statement about Crete is a little misleading. Yes, in the modern state definition, Crete was joined to Greece in 1913, but ethnically and nationally (also culturally and socially) it is Greek. It's not as if it was some sort of alien entity and was conjoined for political expediency. Byzantium had always held Crete except towards the end of that Empire.)


The Cretan tradition of rebellion against their Ottoman masters('the warrior chief of the hills') meant you had an irregular warfare approach praised in folklore.See below also for the violence,uprisings common to the island in the later half of the 19th Century(website of one of our moderators here,Glenn) :

http://www.austro-hungarian-army.co.uk/troopscreta.htm

A backward,cloistered,tribal like society with an honoured tradition of resisting the invader proved good fighters but not good soldiers.The latter would have at least known something about the Rules of War.

My uncle was on Crete and thought things got out of hand through the chaotic,brutual response of some irregulars---the Germans snapped and took out their frustrations among the Allied Pows as well---more than one was kicked,beaten and clubbed if he stepped out of line.

Not a respectable campaign and demonstrating that all parties fell short on upholding some degree of mercy.

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Post by Mr Holmes » 01 Aug 2005 14:15

My issue is not with the reprisals per se. My issue is with the claim that the Cretans (how generically some have used this in this thread is questionable... as though hordes of savages came running down he mountainside, but anyway) were the only perpretators of criminal action, that the Germans had only acted out of self-defence and had not initial an operation after repeated attempts by Greece to reassure the Italians that they were to remain neutral. I know I have been told not to talk of this issue as such in this thread, but I find it inextricably linked with the issue at hand.

You would also assume that the historical German phobia regarding franc-tireurs(1870,1914) would have been known by some of the potential irregulars as well.


Sorry, but at the sight of an invading force, I (obviously assuming I was not a regular soldier) would not be pulling out my copy of "The Hague Convention: A Beginner's Guide" and see if I have complied with the various precepts contained therein.

Combine this German stance on irregulars with multiations committed on their troops and the Cretan irregular response appears foolhardy at best.


And yet, the British utilised the Cretan resistance network on various missions...

Irregulars are entitled to take prisoners as any other combatants---they could have been then passed onto regular Greek or Allied formations as well.The Australians at Heraklion seized 10 German Pows from some irregulars as a good intelligence bonanza.


I'm sorry, perhaps I should have clarified my statement regarding the following:
Irregulars are entitled to take prisoners as any other combatants---they could have been then passed onto regular Greek or Allied formations as well.The Australians at Heraklion seized 10 German Pows from some irregulars as a good intelligence bonanza.


How is this to be achieved en masse as it were? I do not believe in any case, that the numbers of post-combat killings would have been any higher than in say the Soviet Union (in proportion obviously), Yugoslavia, or in France even... were they not Allied nations as well?

Agree, but my uncle who was there also remembers out in the olive groves the German wounded hanging in their harnesses crying all night.Next morning a the dozen or so were found with their throat cuts....and this wasn't done by Australian hands.


They would have been thrown back in circulation had they been saved (not intended to sound as heartless as it reads).

A backward,cloistered,tribal like society with an honoured tradition of resisting the invader proved good fighters but not good soldiers.The latter would have at least known something about the Rules of War.


Again, that is a little misleading: one of the great iconographic schools was the Cretan school, which helped to prolong the Byzantine tradition not only on Mount Athos but also throughout the Greek nation (at least to Asia Minor and Pontus). Pressure from the Ottomans and subsequent foreign invaders did cause a rupture in the Cretan psyche... but when defending your family unprovoked, would you (or I or that matter) care for the RoE? I think we may have become somewhat complacent in Oz... thank God the US and Australians had not employed Montagnards during the Vietnam War...

My uncle was on Crete and thought things got out of hand through the chaotic,brutual response of some irregulars---the Germans snapped and took out their frustrations among the Allied Pows as well---more than one was kicked,beaten and clubbed if he stepped out of line.


Why should the Germans snap? Were they not well versed in the Rules of War? Was Germany not an educated nation? Were the FJ not an elite unit? Surely they would have received enough training not to have cracked under the pressure...

Not a respectable campaign and demonstrating that all parties fell short on upholding some degree of mercy.


I see your point, but I disagree in one way: the conflict showed in a documented manner what war is in its reality and that these so-called Rules that everyone seems to be bashing about, are just some words on a piece of paper... and if they are not, then Germany should have respected Greece's right to neutrality as also guaranteed by the defunct League of nations.

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Post by DXTR » 01 Aug 2005 21:34

Peter H. wrote:
I assume the minimum German requirement was that the populace stay out of the way.You would also assume that the historical German phobia regarding franc-tireurs(1870,1914) would have been known by some of the potential irregulars as well.Combine this German stance on irregulars with multiations committed on their troops and the Cretan irregular response appears foolhardy at best.


I doubt whether Cretans had any knowledge on German views on resistance.


Sepp Dietrich wrote:
I see your point, but I disagree in one way: the conflict showed in a documented manner what war is in its reality and that these so-called Rules that everyone seems to be bashing about, are just some words on a piece of paper... and if they are not, then Germany should have respected Greece's right to neutrality as also guaranteed by the defunct League of nations.


As you know a number of german leaders were indicted, tried and convicted for crimes against peace. I don't believe that the laws of war or any treaty would prevent any fanatic or dictatorian regime hellbent on earning its own place in history as a superior conquering nation from going to war.

BUT... for those democratic nations who believe that war is a far lesser productive way of securing ones nation one would notice that since 1945 there has been a decline in interstate war (see Kalevi J. Holsti - The state, war and the state of war Cambridge University Press 1996 ) So the paris agreement as well as the Un treaty is apparantly worth the paper it was written upon. And for those who fail to abide by it - a courtroom awaits. (unless of course they are either victorious, have good connections, have cut a deal with a powerfull ally or just have nukes).

The rules of war is a standard that all nations must seek to fullfill when at war - as someone wrote on law -The law is a blanket not enough for two to share, no matter how you try to cover one side of the bed, the other will be cold. So are the laws of war, it doens't cover everything but if we press continously for it to be respected, maybe we will change the way that states interact with each other, and how armies behave in the field.

You can say the same with human rights - they are constantly violated throughout the world, but does it make it 'just words on a piece of paper'? They too are to be respected, and I would guess few in here would disagree on that.

Kind regards.

a shame about panzermahn... he never did get around to respond... maybe I should stay on his tracks at feldgrau where anarchy seem to prevail.

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Post by Mr Holmes » 01 Aug 2005 22:16

@DXTR

I agree, I am not a savage, nor do I applaud mutilation. Those pictures in that link are horrific. My point about the paper they are written on is not aimed against the Rules of War as such but against the way some have marketed the Germans as angelic (and no I do not by any means mean here my last dialogue with PeterH [nothing to do with him being a mod]) and the Cretans as mere blood thirsty peasant criminals with a joy in mutilating the German soldiery. I wish I could spend more time writing a proper reply, but I have to go to work.

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Post by Mr Holmes » 01 Aug 2005 22:18

-edit-

re Panzermahn: Ouch, what happened there? (Not a question demanding an answer, I just meant in relation to this thread)


-edit2-

Bah! Pressed quote instead of edit, sorry. :cry: (Please amalgamate this post with the previous one)
Last edited by Mr Holmes on 01 Aug 2005 22:24, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by spiro » 01 Aug 2005 22:20

DXTR wrote:
So the paris agreement as well as the Un treaty is apparantly worth the paper it was written upon. And for those who fail to abide by it - a courtroom awaits. (unless of course they are either victorious, have good connections, have cut a deal with a powerfull ally or just have nukes).



Again very well putted.

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