American & French (post) War Crimes

Discussions on the Holocaust and 20th Century War Crimes. Note that Holocaust denial is not allowed. Hosted by David Thompson.
tonyh
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Post by tonyh » 01 Oct 2002 15:25

A question that should be asked is what does Baque have to gain if he did inflate the figures.

And what does Steven Ambrose and the "Eisenhower Center" et al have to lose if they're true?

And for record anything that Ambrose says in retort to James Baque is simply not good enough for me.

Tony

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Roberto
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Post by Roberto » 01 Oct 2002 15:50

tonyh wrote:A question that should be asked is what does Baque have to gain if he did inflate the figures.
Publicity.

Selling lots of books to suckers eager for sensational "revelations" and new conspiracy theories.

Helping the "Revisionist" cause by making out that the Allies were "just as bad" as the Nazis.
tonyh wrote:And what does Steven Ambrose and the "Eisenhower Center" et al have to lose if they're true?
Maybe quite a lot, who knows.

But it would additionally take Ambrose to be the kind of fellow who distorts the historical record for the sake of his own agenda - i.e. a liar and a charlatan rather than a historian.

Assuming this without any supporting indications is an accusation as grievous as it is unsubstantiated, and it also goes in the direction of the conspiratorial "long night of lies" - nonsense professed by Bacque.
tonyh wrote:And for record anything that Ambrose says in retort to James Baque is simply not good enough for me.
Well, it's not just "Ambrose says".

Bacque's book was taken apart by an international conference of historians, including German historians like Maschke and Overmans, which just happened to have been organized and presided over by Ambrose.

Add to this

i) Bacque's obvious dishonest tricks, like the SHAEF figures he invoked to make out that the number of POWs in American hands was much higher than assumed by historians;

ii) the fact that Bacque's figures don't fit into those established by historians, including but not limited to those I quoted; and

iii) the unanswered question why a catastrophe of the magnitude alleged by Bacque left so little evidence (no evidence at all in support of the order of magnitude alleged by Bacque, as a matter of fact) and no traces in German oral or written history (including the work of right-wing nationalists like Paul Carell),

and very little is left of Mr. Bacque.

Charles Bunch
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Post by Charles Bunch » 01 Oct 2002 16:08

tonyh wrote:A question that should be asked is what does Baque have to gain if he did inflate the figures.
The question is irrelevant and doesn't need to be addressed at all. The evidence is all that is pertinent.
And what does Steven Ambrose and the "Eisenhower Center" et al have to lose if they're true?
Another irrelevant question. The evidence rules, evidence which is not just associated with Ambrose and the "Eisenhower Center.
And for record anything that Ambrose says in retort to James Baque is simply not good enough for me.
The only thing good enough for you is denying anything that disagrees with your preconceived notions.

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Roberto
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Post by Roberto » 01 Oct 2002 16:36

Charles Bunch wrote:
tonyh wrote:A question that should be asked is what does Baque have to gain if he did inflate the figures.
The question is irrelevant and doesn't need to be addressed at all. The evidence is all that is pertinent.
And what does Steven Ambrose and the "Eisenhower Center" et al have to lose if they're true?
Another irrelevant question. The evidence rules, evidence which is not just associated with Ambrose and the "Eisenhower Center.
And for record anything that Ambrose says in retort to James Baque is simply not good enough for me.
The only thing good enough for you is denying anything that disagrees with your preconceived notions.
Charles,

With all due respect, I don't think there's a reason to be so tough on Tony.

From what I've read of him, he's a trusting soul somewhat impressed by "Revisionist" rubbish, but not an apologist of the Nazi regime or denier of any of its crimes.

Roberto

tonyh
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Post by tonyh » 01 Oct 2002 16:37

Charles Bunch. You are just about the most useless member of this board.

Tony

Charles Bunch
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Post by Charles Bunch » 01 Oct 2002 16:39

TonyH wrote:
Charles Bunch. You are just about the most useless member of this board.
You know, anyone who ignores historical evidence in favor of a specious and subjective assessment of motive should be a little shy about making such a statement.

On the other hand you could have made an attempt to defend your essentially "what I feel" approach to this issue, but I doubt whether you had much to say for it.
Last edited by Charles Bunch on 01 Oct 2002 16:44, edited 1 time in total.

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Marcus
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Post by Marcus » 01 Oct 2002 16:41

Tony & Charles,

There is no need for insults, so stop it!

/Marcus

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Roberto
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Post by Roberto » 01 Oct 2002 16:43

The worst possible reaction, by both.

Cool it, folks.

I know it's not easy, but give it a try.

tonyh
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Post by tonyh » 01 Oct 2002 16:51

>>Publicity.
Selling lots of books to suckers eager for sensational "revelations" and new conspiracy theories.
Helping the "Revisionist" cause by making out that the Allies were "just as bad" as the Nazis.<<

Publicity, yes. But I don't think his agenda is "revisionist". And I certainly don't think he is a "Revisionist". A term, Roberto, you know I think is bunkum anyway. Also the doesn't explain why he would even want in the first place to "make out that the Allies were "just as bad" as the Nazis." In general theres little money to be made from these 'iconoclastic' books. Also I find it disturbing why Baque's character, as well as his books must also be tarnished be the people who don't agree with him.

>>and no traces in German oral or written history<<

But theres little traces of a lot of things in German written and oral history, I'm sure. Why should this be different. Most German's wish to forget the war and not to it bounced off their head every day. A lot of German's today know absolutely NOTHING of the POW deaths in allied prison camps after the war, whether its 100 or 1.000.000. Another thing, theres about a million and a half German service men still unaccounted for. IIRC. Where are they?

Tony

tonyh
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Post by tonyh » 01 Oct 2002 16:52

Charles, I am not interested.

Tony

Charles Bunch
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Post by Charles Bunch » 01 Oct 2002 17:06

tonyh wrote:Charles, I am not interested.
Not surprising.

Pointless discussions about whether truth can be divined from what one feels about motives does nothing but obscure the facts of the matter.

http://www.ghi-dc.org/bulletinF98/bulletin_f98#Fact

"Fact or Fiction? The Historical Profession and James Bacque"

Roundtable discussion at the Annual Meeting of the German Studies Association, Salt Lake City, October 8-11, 1998. Sponsored by the GHI. Participants: Günter Bischof (University of New Orleans), Dewey A. Browder (Austin Peay State University), Wilfried Mausbach (GHI), Hans-Jürgen Schröder (University of Giessen), Christof Strauß (University of Heidelberg), Richard D. Wiggers (Georgetown University).


The topic of discussion for this panel centered around James Bacque's allegation, made in his recent, controversial book Crimes and Mercies, that American authorities deliberately starved to death as many as nine million German civilians after World War II.

Wilfried Mausbach (GHI) challenged Bacque's contention that the infamous Morgenthau Plan informed American actions. He demonstrated first that the notion of turning Germany into a huge "farm" was never part of American postwar planning; second, that the United States's occupation directive (JCS 1067) was not cast in Morgenthau's mold; and third, that the negative elements of JCS 1067 were deliberately postponed, and thereby in effect dismissed, by Military Government officers in the field. Instead of evaluating the available evidence, James Bacque's dramaturgy pits villains against heroes and surrenders scholarly differentiation to populism.

Günter Bischof (University of New Orleans) viewed Bacque's thesis as part of the trend toward a "paranoid style" in writing recent history. This style is characterized by five elements: the image of a huge conspiracy, a self-bestowed duty to save civilization from apocalypse, a manichean worldview of absolute good versus absolute evil, the conviction that traitors make history, and the amassing of evidence to prove a preconceived thesis. Bischof found traces of all these elements in Bacque's writing, and he bemoaned the publishing industry's zest for "conspiracy history."

Christof Strauß (University of Heidelberg) examined Bacque's thesis that approximately one million German POWs perished in American and French camps by taking a close look at two Prisoner of War Temporary Enclosures (PWTEs) in Heilbronn. Strauß found that conditions in these camps indeed did not meet the requirements of the Geneva Convention of 1929. However, to interpret this as evidence of a centrally planned and implemented policy of starvation neglects overall conditions in Germany and Europe in the wake of the war and overestimates to a considerable extent the occupation authorities' scope of action. Strauß proved that, contrary to Bacque's assertion, the Americans did allow aid to be delivered to the inmates by representatives of the German churches, and the International Red Cross also was allowed to visit the camps. Moreover, between May and December 1945 some 300,000 POWs passed through the Heilbronn PWTEs, and death lists show that only 283 of them died. This seems to indicate not only that Bacque's research was poor but also that his overall estimates of deaths are way too high.

Dewey A. Browder (Austin Peay State University) corroborated this information. He showed that Bacque manipulated statistics by adding expellees and repatriated POWs to an early 1946 census that actually already included more than 1.5 million expellees and repatriates in addition to the unrepatriated POWs. In counting these people twice, Bacque finds that there should have been nearly 74 million people in Germany in 1950 and cries mass murder when that year's census falls short by 6 million. Professor Browder explained that he personally pointed out this mistake to Bacque while the Canadian author was revising his manuscript for publication in English. Bacque, however, failed to correct his information.

Finally, Richard D. Wiggers (Georgetown University) provided an analysis of eyewitness accounts by authors who were neither Germans nor U.S. Military Government employees. He found that these third-party observers reported and often criticized a stern allied policy toward the German people. Thus, if there was, as Bacque alleges, a conspiracy to hide the truth, it must have failed miserably. Moreover, a close, comprehensive, and unbiased reading of independent eyewitness accounts suggests that a mass death of millions of Germans by starvation did not occur in postwar Germany.

The lively discussion, moderated by Hans-Jürgen Schröder (University of Giessen), addressed James Bacque's motivation for writing fiction disguised as fact. It was pointed out that Bacque obviously really believes he has discovered something real and is encouraged by people in Germany who suffered after 1945 and who feel that their experience of victimization has gotten short shrift in the history of this period. However, his neglect of evidence suggests either that he is unable to acknowledge criticism or that he willfully ignores information in an effort to cash in on a sensationalist thesis. The latter supposition led participants to discuss the quixotic nature of efforts by professional historians to challenge populist histories promoted by a sensation-driven publishing industry. Some also wondered whether even the most ludicrous claims merit consideration. There seemed to be an overall agreement, however, that historians have a duty to correct gross distortions and refute wild allegations.

Wilfried Mausbach

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Roberto
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Post by Roberto » 01 Oct 2002 17:39

tonyh wrote:>>Publicity.
Selling lots of books to suckers eager for sensational "revelations" and new conspiracy theories.
Helping the "Revisionist" cause by making out that the Allies were "just as bad" as the Nazis.<<

Publicity, yes. But I don't think his agenda is "revisionist". And I certainly don't think he is a "Revisionist". A term, Roberto, you know I think is bunkum anyway.
It's a nonsensical term indeed, if applied not to a legitimate historical method but inappropriately to ideologically motivated propaganda trying to make the Nazi regime look better and its opponents worse, which is what "Revisionism" is all about.
tonyh wrote:Also the doesn't explain why he would even want in the first place to "make out that the Allies were "just as bad" as the Nazis."
That should be rather obvious. He's accusing them of having committed a crime of mass murder similar to certain crimes committed by the Nazis, isn't he?
tonyh wrote:In general theres little money to be made from these 'iconoclastic' books.
Hardly so, as there's a huge public eager for such "iconoclasm". Bacque's first book was a bestseller, for all I know. Even here in Portugal.
tonyh wrote:Also I find it disturbing why Baque's character, as well as his books must also be tarnished be the people who don't agree with him.
The old "don't agree with him" - stuff sounds rather hollow, as it's obviously not the reason why historians have taken issue with Bacque's nonsense.

The reason is that he tried to rewrite history and raise grievous accusations on the basis of little more than hollow speculation.
tonyh wrote:>>and no traces in German oral or written history<<

But theres little traces of a lot of things in German written and oral history, I'm sure.
I'm not.

I know from German relatives and friends of mine and from German historiography I have read that the events of the wartime and postwar period affecting Germans have been widely explored and written about and are a part of the oral tradition of the older generation, be it the bombing attacks on German cities, the fate of prisoners of war (especially in Soviet captivity), the flight from the vengeful Red Army in the winter of 1944/45 or the postwar expulsions from Eastern Europe.

All of this was thoroughly examined and documented by historians and commissions working for the West German government between the mid-1950s and the late 1970. Further research on it has been going ever since, and the events mentioned above are still a topic of conversation among elder Germans, at least those I know.

Yet there's nothing about a large-scale mortality in American POW camps other than the mentioned Rheinwiesenlager, which were obviously the exception rather than the rule.
tonyh wrote:Why should this be different. Most German's wish to forget the war and not to it bounced off their head every day.
Who exactly are "most Germans" supposed to be? Those I know who lived through those years like to talk about their experiences and are glad to tell you their stories.
tonyh wrote:A lot of German's today know absolutely NOTHING of the POW deaths in allied prison camps after the war, whether its 100 or 1.000.000.
That may be so, but the keepers of oral tradition are those who lived through the war and postwar periods and followed the intensive efforts of the German government and various semi-official and clerical German institutions to trace the fate of missing German soldiers, refugees etc.

If there had been a catastrophe as alleged by Bacque in US prison camps, it would be at least as widely known among the older generation as the plight of POWs in Soviet captivity or the horrors of flight and expulsion from the eastern territories and East European countries.

Yet it is not, which I consider a strong indication - one of several - that it never happened.
tonyh wrote:Another thing, theres about a million and a half German service men still unaccounted for. IIRC. Where are they?
Read my above translation from Overmans' Deutsche Militärische Verluste im Zweiten Weltkrieg.

Most of those missing disappeared on the Eastern Front, and Overmans plausibly contends that they were either killed in combat during the disastrous final battles of the war or perished in Soviet captivity.

More about their exact fate will be known as further information becomes available from the countries of the former Soviet Union.

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Roberto
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Post by Roberto » 01 Oct 2002 17:52

Günter Bischof (University of New Orleans) viewed Bacque's thesis as part of the trend toward a "paranoid style" in writing recent history. This style is characterized by five elements: the image of a huge conspiracy, a self-bestowed duty to save civilization from apocalypse, a manichean worldview of absolute good versus absolute evil, the conviction that traitors make history, and the amassing of evidence to prove a preconceived thesis. Bischof found traces of all these elements in Bacque's writing, and he bemoaned the publishing industry's zest for "conspiracy history."
Just like I said.

Conspiracy theories, sensational "revelations" and a large market of suckers eager to swallow such "iconoclasm" uncritically.

The ingredients of good business.

tonyh
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Post by tonyh » 02 Oct 2002 10:11

>>From what I've read of him, he's a trusting soul somewhat impressed by "Revisionist" rubbish, but not an apologist of the Nazi regime or denier of any of its crimes.<<

Well actually Roberto, I am an extremely distrusting of most things. And it takes a lot to impress me at this stage. I just don't buy the argument from both ways, 'revisionist' or 'believer" or whatever the stupid terms are today. I take what I read from Codoh and Nizkor with an equal pinch of salt. Your correct, I have certainly nothing to apologise about regarding the nazi's.

Tony

tonyh
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Post by tonyh » 02 Oct 2002 10:20

Another thing I find doubious. There was no committee gathered to sift through Ambrose's books when he was caught lifting large amounts of text from other peoples books this year.

I'll still reserve my judgement on Baque.

Tony

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