WWII Strategic Bombing: Was it genocide?

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Andy H
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Post by Andy H » 25 Jun 2005 18:46

Target of allied bombing in Germany and in Japan was to destroy the cities, dehouse the population or kill them or otherwise make life unbearable to them so to break their "fighting spirit", and this according the standing treaty constitutes Genocide


So the UBoat campaign to deny Britain the ability to fight and feed its population is also Genocidal by that logic as was the Blitz of Britain. Fine

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Uninen
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Post by Uninen » 25 Jun 2005 19:13

Well, had the Germans succeeded in closing the maritime links of UK for good and had not UK then surrendered or sued for peace then yes, but then again we have the naval blockade of Germany after ww1 which also was on effect genocidal. And the aim of U-Boat actions was btw to block the flown of weapons and war materials and that is what they targeted, transport vessels bringing those to UK.

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Post by David Thompson » 25 Jun 2005 19:24

Uninen -- You said:
Target of allied bombing in Germany and in Japan was to destroy the cities, dehouse the population or kill them or otherwise make life unbearable to them so to break their "fighting spirit", and this according the standing treaty constitutes Genocide.

Also the number of unarmed victims of these bombings more than 1 million in both Germany and Japan tells a tale of Genocide.

This pretty much repeats your conclusion without proving it. The unproven element is the Allied intent to kill Germans or Japanese as such, whether or not there was a war. The fact that people were killed in the bombings doesn't show a genocidal intent, and the fact that large numbers of people weren't deliberately killed after the war just for being German or Japanese negates the claim of genocidal intent.

If your argument accurately describes the UN Convention on Genocide's definition of the crime, all bombing of cities during WWII was genocide, whether carried out by Axis or Allied forces. See, for example, other discussions in the H&WC section on the bombings of Warsaw, Rotterdam, London, Belgrade and Stalingrad. The same is true of the German U-Boat war against Great Britain, as remarked by fellow moderator Peter H. Other posters have also picked up on this point.

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Uninen
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Post by Uninen » 26 Jun 2005 01:54

David Thompson wrote:If your argument accurately describes the UN Convention on Genocide's definition of the crime, all bombing of cities during WWII was genocide, whether carried out by Axis or Allied forces.

It does, and i dont care and it dont matter to me that did or did not German (Axis) armed forces commit some additional acts of genocide. How ever to you and many others it seems to be matter of utmost importancty that nobody sees trough the smokes screens to realize that the Allied, yes the western allies did infact themselfs commit such acts. ACTS OF GENOCIDE. Nor you still can compare anything lets say RAF/USAAF did to something Luftwaffe pulled off, the volume of bombs and victims by allies so much out weights those of the Germans.

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Andy H
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Post by Andy H » 26 Jun 2005 02:59

Nor you still can compare anything lets say RAF/USAAF did to something Luftwaffe pulled off, the volume of bombs and victims by allies so much out weights those of the Germans.


Your having a laugh with that statement.
The scale has no bearing, its purely down to intent.
So if the Allied bombing was Genocidal so was the Luftwaffe during the Blitz. All the combatants airforces were tasked with roughly the same set of target parameters. Its just that the Allies were better at it than the Luftwaffe

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Post by Andy H » 26 Jun 2005 03:05

And the aim of U-Boat actions was btw to block the flown of weapons and war materials and that is what they targeted, transport vessels bringing those to UK.


You don't say. So the UBoat commanders knew what each merchantship was carrying, thus they were able to turn away from refrigerator ships and grain ships etc and just target those carrying war materials. Obviously if a Grain ship was sunk it was an tragic accident much akin to say the RAF/USAAF aiming for a factory but hitting a hospital full of children, a tragic accident without intent.

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Post by David Thompson » 26 Jun 2005 03:16

Uninen -- Well, I think that your definition of genocide is rather more broad than what the UN Convention contemplated, but if we're not going to move past the repeat-the-conclusion stage of discussion, the readers can look at the definition of the crime, read the discussion, and make up their own minds about whether your characterization is apt.

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Post by DXTR » 26 Jun 2005 14:45

OK we can go on debating whether the UN declaration of genocide is valid or whether genocide should be enlarged. But in reality we return to the age-old discussion whether some killings are legal or some are not. If we use our morale - killing, according to western society is wrong when committed by citizens. But the state has the authority under certain circumstances to kill individuals either belonging to its own nation or another.

According to the saint Petersburg declaration 1868

That the only legitimate object which States should endeavour to accomplish during war is to weaken the military forces of the enemy;


We can then ask ourselves how do we 'weaken the military forces if the enemy'? According to the Hague declaration of 1907 CONVENTION RESPECTING THE LAWS AND CUSTOMS OF WAR ON LAND

According to the views of the High Contracting Parties, these provisions, the wording of which has been inspired by the desire to diminish the evils of war, as far as military requirements permit


So although the Saint Petersburg declaration limits states use of military power only to weaken the military forces of the enemy the Hague Convention leaves a loophole where states are still able to exceed the evils of war, if the military requirements permit.
The issue then is what constitutes a situation where the military requirements permit it? According to the Hague it is forbidden:

To destroy or seize the enemy's property, unless such destruction or seizure be imperatively demanded by the necessities of war;


But what of the inhabitants? According to the Hague

The attack or bombardment, by whatever means, of towns, villages, dwellings, or buildings which are undefended is prohibited


But what is undefended? and what if a town is home to war production? is this allowed? The St. Petersburg declaration declares that we are only allowed to weaken the military forces of the enemy. But what about his production? In traditional terms of war. A protected city was a city with a garrison that would close the gates and defend themselves upon the arrival of an enemy besieging force. In such circumstances the besieging force would be allowed to bomb that city. But the high contracting powers of the Hague Declaration did probably not foresee that within 40 years armies would no longer have to siege a city in order to bomb it. They would now have long range bombers, and if a city is producing war materials but is without a garrison is it unprotected or not?. There can be little doubt that in such circumstances a city that produces war materials is a protected city and therefore is subject to bombardments. If our technology or the enemies defences prevent us from bombing accurately then what? Well according to the Hague declaration we are still allowed to bomb as long as the military requirements permit it. Unfortunately you will find no rule of thumb in the laws of war so that you can find the ratio between necessities of war and civilian casualties. That one is up for the courts (of which there were none for the allied conduct of war, but since the allied did not put Goring on trial for air bombardments we must assume that they found that the use of air bombardments was legal). The other issue is bombing the civilian population. A civilian who works in the armament industry and is subsequently killed during an air raid on those facilities is he a civilian? Some would argue that if he went into the armaments facilities he looses his civilian status. Others would argue that since he is a working capacity of the opposing government in their war effort he is a legitimate target no matter if he is at the facility or not. Therefore even if he is off duty and sound a sleep in his home he is still a capacity for the enemy's war production and thereby a part of the military forces of the enemy. If the bomb kills his family while destroying him, those loses can therefore be claimed acceptable if one finds that the military requirements permit it. If we accept that claim it would be quite easy to accept the notion that civilians can be bombed, not since they are just working in the armaments industry but since they support the regime. This on the other hand would open up to and legalise everything that we normally consider as terrorism. But what about Genocide? is that part of the war effort? That would be quite hard to justify, since it normally takes place in occupied territories and therefore it has little to do with weakening the military forces on any level. We can discuss whether allied bombings exceeded the loopholes that the laws of war permit, and therefore we can discuss whether it is a war crime, but to equate it with genocide only has one purpose. If we say that allied bombings were the same as genocide then the allied powers (excluding USSR) were just as bad as the Germans and through that reasoning we can not condemn German war crimes... I can only speculate of the political intentions of such a claim.

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