"History is written by the victors"

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"History is written by the victors"

Post by David Thompson » 21 Nov 2004 02:57

"History is written by the victors"
There are 151 hits on the local search engine for posts with "history AND victors" in this section of the forum. What, if anything, is true about this often-chanted platitude?

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Phil V
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Post by Phil V » 21 Nov 2004 04:00

Not true in my opinion.

However:

History is somewhat relative and some incidents can be interpreted different ways by different people (including historians).

It could be said that a victors account is more likely to be accepted as true and correct.

P

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ritterkreuz1945
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Post by ritterkreuz1945 » 21 Nov 2004 05:06

Of course it is written by the victors, how else would you have had Nurnberg, with out talking about Katyan, or Dresden?
To think otherwise, is just being a little naive, or possible silly.

Sgt. Michael Gray

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Post by David Thompson » 21 Nov 2004 05:17

Sgt. -- You said:
Of course it is written by the victors, how else would you have had Nurnberg, with out talking about Katyan, or Dresden?
To think otherwise, is just being a little naive, or possible silly.

How sure are you that Katyn wasn't discussed by the IMT at Nuernberg?

Katyn - 1944 Soviet special commission report
viewtopic.php?t=57175
Katyn -- the IMT spat
viewtopic.php?t=57145
The Katyn testimony of Eugen Oberhauser
viewtopic.php?t=56995
The Katyn testimony of Boris Bazilevskiy
viewtopic.php?t=56997
The Katyn testimony of Victor Il’ich Prosorovski
viewtopic.php?t=57002
The Katyn testimony of Marko Antonov Markov
viewtopic.php?t=57000
The Katyn testimony of Reinhard von Eichborn
viewtopic.php?t=56993
The Katyn testimony of Friedrich Ahrens
viewtopic.php?t=56992
Katyn, Injustice and the IMT
viewtopic.php?t=44639

The IMT heard six witness on Katyn, then did not find any of the Nazi individual defendants or organizational guilty of the crime. How does that prove your point:
Of course it is written by the victors, how else would you have had Nurnberg, with out talking about Katyan, . . .


Readers interested in hearing accounts which "victors" haven't written are urged to read

Katyn -- the 1943 O'Malley report
viewtopic.php?t=57147
Katyn – 1952 US Congressional findings
viewtopic.php?t=57050
Katyn -- Maps
viewtopic.php?t=57045
Katyn mass murder question
viewtopic.php?t=45481
The Soviet war crimes against Poland: Katyn 1940
viewtopic.php?t=18124
Document related to the Polish POWs in USSR 1940
viewtopic.php?t=28090
US report about Katyn delivered to Poland?
viewtopic.php?t=19866
KATYN - an un-punished war crime !
viewtopic.php?t=15072
Soviet Responsibility at Katyn: pro and con
viewtopic.php?t=56940

As for Dresden and the Anglo-American bombing attacks on the city in February 1945, non-victors have discussed it to death in several lurid popular books. The "victor's history," discussed by several NMT judgments in context with the arguments raised by some defendants, are all but unavailable (though some are posted in this section of the forum), so that particular example hardly proves, and in fact refutes, your point.
Last edited by David Thompson on 21 Nov 2004 05:37, edited 3 times in total.

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ritterkreuz1945
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Post by ritterkreuz1945 » 21 Nov 2004 05:26

Hello,
You know that is a good question. I don't supose that I know that answer right off the top of my head. I know that I don't recall there ever being a Soviet officier put on trail there, or being charged with any crimes there. That would also hold true for "Bomber" Harris. I can't recall seeing any Englishman on trail there either. Come to think of it, neither do I remember seeing members of the United States Navy there, or any where else up on charges for "conducting unrestricted submarine warfare" against the Japanse. But by there own omiision, that is JUST what they did. They even tried to protest Grand Admiral Donitz sentece of 20 years, but I heard that was not done formally. I really could go on, if memory serves me, even General Patton thought that trying people for "crimes" that were not on the "books" when you did them was not really ...well to use a English term..."cricket".
Of course I think I only speak for my own opion,but this is why we have refused to join the world court as it applies to American Forces for "war crimes" Because some one other than the United states would get to determine what or what was not a US soldiers job,verses what was a "crime" in a war.

Sgt. Michael Gray

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Post by Jon G. » 21 Nov 2004 05:27

Nürnberg was a series of legal processes, not history writing. And while the court was undeniably staged and held by the victors of WWII, the laws that the accused were charged with breaking were not made for the occasion.

History writing is not a special privilege of 'victors' (a meaningless term for non-contemporary history anway). Anybody can write it.

I might actually agree that the interpretation of contemporary history prevalent is often that of the winning side - but that's of course all relative. Just as history itself.

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ritterkreuz1945
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Post by ritterkreuz1945 » 21 Nov 2004 05:30

On a less serious note, David ,you did pick a "unique" day to join the form, as far as world war history goes....didn't you?
Nice to have the chance to "cross swords" with some one that can think a problem thru, even when I disagree with them. Nice to meet you.

Sgt. Michael Gray

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Post by David Thompson » 21 Nov 2004 05:42

My pleasure as well, Sgt. -- I'd rather call you Michael (or Michael [Gray], if it is necessary to avoid confusion with Michael Mills), if you don't mind. If you do mind, I'll stick to "Sgt."

As for my membership, you wrote:
you did pick a "unique" day to join the form, as far as world war history goes....didn't you?

Actually, I signed up when I got so exasperated at a poster I felt like writing something in response, though I have subsequently noticed the 20 July date and got a smile (on one side of my face only) about the ironic coincidence.

You said:
I know that I don't recall there ever being a Soviet officier put on trail there, or being charged with any crimes there. That would also hold true for "Bomber" Harris. I can't recall seeing any Englishman on trail there either. Come to think of it, neither do I remember seeing members of the United States Navy there, or any where else up on charges for "conducting unrestricted submarine warfare" against the Japanse. But by there own omiision, that is JUST what they did.

The Charter of the IMT was pretty specific about the court's jurisdiction. But so what? The fact that not every murderer gets caught is no defense for the one who is caught and put on trial. And we've seen the evidence against the Nazis. We haven't seen the evidence against Sir Arthur Harris, or "any Englishman." Nor was there any reason to put any USN member on trial for unrestricted submarine warfare, since no Nazi was convicted, and Grand Admiral Doenitz was acquitted on the grounds that "unrestricted submarine warfare" was not regarded as a crime.

I also read your conclusion:
Of course I think I only speak for my own opion,but this is why we have refused to join the world court as it applies to American Forces for "war crimes" Because some one other than the United states would get to determine what or what was not a US soldiers job,verses what was a "crime" in a war.

The US is just as obliged to obey international law as anyone else. If we have people in our ranks serving under the star-spangled banner, who are alleged to be war criminals, they should have the fullest opportunity to clear their reputations or be punished for their crimes. It is the deed that makes the criminal. Uniforms are only the clothes the criminal happened to be wearing at the time he committed the crime.
Last edited by David Thompson on 21 Nov 2004 06:06, edited 1 time in total.

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ritterkreuz1945
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Post by ritterkreuz1945 » 21 Nov 2004 06:02

David,
Please fell free to call me Michael, or Mike, or anything else you would like other than Sergeant, just don;t call me late for supper....I didn't get this big from not eating... :D :P Where in the world did you pull all of those quotes from so fast... and how did you "modifiy" your first post. I don't know how to do that? I normally don't come over to this part of the forum, because my interestes lay elsewhere. But when I saw the question of the tread I couldn't help myself. Thanks for making me feel at home.
Maybe if I EVER get to 150 posts, I'll buy you a drink in the lounge, and we can have another "go" at it. But the way, Congradulations on the new Democratic Leader of the Senate from your state. Any chance you live near Art Bell? 8O lol Thanks again.

Michael

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Post by David Thompson » 21 Nov 2004 06:10

Mike -- I'm just fast. Once you're signed in, you can see an "edit" button on each of your posts, immediately to the right of the "quote" button. If you click the edit button, you go into "edit" mode and you can change the post as you please.

If you do it after someone else has posted though, it says
"Last edited by David Thompson on Sun Nov 21, 2004 6:06 am; edited 1 time in total"
on a message line at the bottom of your post.

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ritterkreuz1945
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Post by ritterkreuz1945 » 21 Nov 2004 06:16

The IMT heard six witness on Katyn, then did not find any of the Nazi individual defendants or organizational guilty of the crime. How does that prove your point: [quote]

Well, Did they EVER bring the Soviets officiers in and try them in the court at Nurnberg? Because IF they didn't...I think I have made a vailid point. That Soviet Russia was a "ally" of National Socialist Germany, when both of them invaded Poland, both committed grimes against the people of Poland, and I think it meets the definition of "aggressive" war. That was used in Nurnberg to prosecute and in some case kill German officiers.
If that is not "victors" justice, what is it? I mean your said they did not find any Germans guilty for the act of murdering Polish cadets and officiers who had surrendered, So what did the court, specically the Nurmberg court do to ANY body else about the killings? NOTHING is what I think happend, and so...I think the victors get to maybe if not write the history....then certainly they get to " not bring up what is not in their interest" Like the great Sgt. Muldune said..." well that's newspapers for you Ma'm...You can fill VOLUMES with what you don't read in them! "
( God I love that line David...do you remeber what movie it was said in?)
Looking forward to your response.

Michael

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Post by David Thompson » 21 Nov 2004 06:16

On Doenitz, who was found not guilty of the war crimes charge of unrestricted submarine warfare, see:

IMT judgment against Karl Doenitz
viewtopic.php?t=25074
IMT testimony of Karl Doenitz
viewtopic.php?t=23948

You also said:
Well, Did they EVER bring the Soviets officiers in and try them in the court at Nurnberg? Because IF they didn't...I think I have made a vailid point. That Soviet Russia was a "ally" of National Socialist Germany, when both of them invaded Poland, both committed grimes against the people of Poland, and I think it meets the definition of "aggressive" war. That was used in Nurnberg to prosecute and in some case kill German officiers.

(1) I don't know that there was enough evidence in 1946 to convict anyone of committing the Katyn murders.

(2) The real question here is whether there was sufficient evidence to support the convictions of the Nazis the IMT was chartered to try. I think there was. The fact that B wasn't prosecuted does not diminish A's guilt.

The validity of a criminal conviction is judged by the evidence against the criminal, not by whether every criminal was also prosecuted and convicted. No one, not anywhere nor at any time, has ever used the latter standard, for an obvious reason. The only corollary to the maxim is that punishment of one crime is unjust if anyone goes unpunished. The result is to fail to punish crime even when it is within one's power to do so -- a result that is consistently found undesirable, since crime, when unchecked at all, spreads until it become the rule.

But this reasoning is just a diversion from the question at issue. We are wandering afield from the autosuggestive chant "The victor writes the history." What about this formulation, if anything, is true?
Last edited by David Thompson on 21 Nov 2004 06:33, edited 1 time in total.

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Peter H
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Post by Peter H » 21 Nov 2004 06:21

Democracies seem to be better able to handle the truth and their shortfallings,at least in the long term.

Criticisms and doubts about the validity of Dresden,Hiroshima,Bomber Harris etc can at least be subject to open debate nowadays.Historical interpretations do change with the times.

Now whether an imagined victorious German totalitarian regime(if the Axis had won WW2) would have delved into its own shortcomings between 1939-45 is a moot point.Granted a non-democratic soul searching example like the anti-Stalinism of the Kruschev era did occur but behind this was a power struggle of the old versus the new.

Robert McNamara in the documentary 'The Fog of War' implies his own guilt in the planning of fire-bomb missions over Japan in 1945("We would have been tried as War Criminals if we had lost").Perhaps fitting that someone from the victor's side can express such doubts without expecting some form of retribution from his peers.

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Post by ritterkreuz1945 » 21 Nov 2004 06:31

Peter H wrote:Democracies seem to be better able to handle the truth and their shortfallings,at least in the long term.

Criticisms and doubts about the validity of Dresden,Hiroshima,Bomber Harris etc can at least be subject to open debate nowadays.Historical interpretations do change with the times.

Now whether an imagined victorious German totalitarian regime(if the Axis had won WW2) would have delved into its own shortcomings between 1939-45 is a moot point.Granted a non-democratic soul searching example like the anti-Stalinism of the Kruschev era did occur but behind this was a power struggle of the old versus the new.

Robert McNamara in the documentary 'The Fog of War' implies his own guilt in the planning of fire-bomb missions over Japan in 1945("We would have been tried as War Criminals if we had lost").Perhaps fitting that someone from the victor's side can express such doubts without expecting some form of retribution from his peers.


Peter,
I could not agree with you more if I had wriiten the statment. Thank you for joining in on this subject. Sometimes I think we need to remeber that we ( and by that I mean Americans, and second western Allies ) really really sometimes have to KILL people that are trying to KILL us. And that you do that in a war, at the time to WIN, and can only hope to almighty God that the things we do to win, don;t chance the very things about us that we are trying to save. Because the only thing that is certain in war..is that once released...it Will take on it's own chararter, and be fed by those that released it... for good or bad. But normally bad. It's just that sometimes...you really have no choice at all. If you try to do it as a Gentleman...you will lose. And if you fight to win....your a war criminal, to some extent at lest. But WIN you must...because in this day and age...you only want to lose...if you are fighting a Westen Democracrie. But even better the United States. We will spend millions to rebuild you better than you were. .......Just to have you hate us more than when we started. :cry:

Michael

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Post by David Thompson » 21 Nov 2004 06:50

Mike -- You said:
Sometimes I think we need to remeber that we ( and by that I mean Americans, and second western Allies ) really really sometimes have to KILL people that are trying to KILL us. And that you do that in a war, at the time to WIN, and can only hope to almighty God that the things we do to win, don;t chance the very things about us that we are trying to save. Because the only thing that is certain in war..is that once released...it Will take on it's own chararter, and be fed by those that released it... for good or bad. But normally bad. It's just that sometimes...you really have no choice at all. If you try to do it as a Gentleman...you will lose. And if you fight to win....your a war criminal, to some extent at lest. But WIN you must...because in this day and age...you only want to lose...if you are fighting a Westen Democracrie. But even better the United States. We will spend millions to rebuild you better than you were. .......Just to have you hate us more than when we started.

I, like many other contributors to this forum, served in the US armed forces. I managed to be honorably discharged without committing any war crimes. One always has a choice whether or not to commit a crime. One who chooses to commit a war crime is liable to be punished for it.

The issue of US aid to ravaged countries has nothing to do with individual liability for war crimes. If the aid payments were supposed to be some sort of "accord and satisfaction" of war crimes offenses, why isn't that part of the aid agreement? The two have nothing to do with each other.

Nor does the US aid issue have anything to do with the Nazi regime, which drained its occupied countries like a vampire bat. See

German assessment against occupied countries 1940-1944
viewtopic.php?p=565553#565553

But this is a considerable digression from the topic: "The victor writes the history" -- what part of this chant, if any, is true?
Last edited by David Thompson on 23 Nov 2004 17:23, edited 1 time in total.

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