Churchill´s warcrimes

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Gerry
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Churchill´s warcrimes

Post by Gerry » 20 Jun 2003 11:52

HE WAS the inspirational wartime leader who once said: "History will be kind to me, for I intend to write it."
A new book by the historian Jorg Friedrich has provoked claims in Germany that Churchill should be named in the court of history as a war criminal for deliberately ordering the massacre of civilians in their homes.
Friedrich’s study of the Allied bombing offensive between 1940 and 1945 suggests that Churchill had decided deliberately to target civilians even before Adolf Hitler sent the Luftwaffe into the skies over Europe.
The book also claims that as many as 635,000 civilians died in German cities such as Dresden, Hamburg and Cologne during the strategy of "area-bombing" carried out by RAF Bomber Command under Churchill’s orders.
Rather than accepting the strategy as a necessary evil for the Allies as they attempted to force out the Nazi regime, Friedrich’s argument is that the German civilians who suffered have not been given the recognition they deserve.
It is the first time such views have been so publicly debated in Germany since the defeat of Hitler and they were stridently espoused this week in the country’s mass-circulation tabloid Bild, which is serialising the book. It has awakened a feeling among Germans that they can now discuss being victims in the conflict, even though it was a war started by their own country. According to Friedrich it is time for Britain to face up to the truth about its wartime history.
Friedrich accused British historians of closing their minds to what took place after the RAF bombs left the aircraft flying over Germany during the war. "You have to look at what happened on the ground. This is a new contribution to the discussion, the depth of the suffering which happened on the ground," he added.
The RAF bombing of German cities began in retaliation for Hitler’s 1940 attacks on London but was expanded because of the failure of Bomber Command to pinpoint Nazi airfields and installations during raids. It was estimated that only one in five bombs was landing within five miles of its intended target.
For Churchill’s military chiefs, "area bombing" - aiming for a target like a city which was so large it could not be missed - was the only method available to inflict damage on Hitler’s regime.
Dr Paul Addison, a Churchill historian based at the University of Edinburgh, said it was not the case that British historians had ignored the moral dimension of the strategic bombing campaign.
He pointed out that many academics - such as John Keegan, who said Britain had "descended to the enemy’s level" - had been sharply critical of the policy and refused to brush over its impact.
Even during the war, there was public opposition to the policy from the Bishop of Chichester and there have been numerous iconoclastic historians who have used the bombing strategy to rubbish Churchill’s reputation.
"There are those who say it is simply wrong to kill civilians during war but others say there is a more complex moral dilemma," Dr Addison said. "Of course, the killing of civilians is evil but if that prevents a greater evil, then it could be justified.
"The question is, how far did bombing contribute to victory, and military historians generally agree that it was a very important part of the defeat of Nazi Germany."
Dr Addison said Churchill was acutely aware of the moral questions raised by the bombing of Germany. He is said to have thrown his hands up in horror and asked aloud, "Are we beasts?" after seeing footage of the destruction of Dresden.
In the final weeks of the war, Churchill wrote in a memo to his Chiefs of Staff: "It seems to me that the moment has come when the question of bombing of German cities simply for the sake of increasing the terror, though under other pretexts, should be reviewed ... the destruction of Dresden remains a serious query against the conduct of Allied bombing."
Friedrich’s book, The Fire: Germany Under Bombardment 1940-45 claims to be the most authoritative account of the impact of the bombing campaign. The historian said that it was the Allies, as much as Hitler, who were responsible for "abolishing the principles and traditions which protected civilians from war since the Christian knights".
The 1939-45 war leaders should all be judged using the same standards, he added. As victors, the Allies had largely not been forced to ask whether their actions were justified because they had won.
"Germany, with the horrors of the Holocaust and the Russian campaign, cannot in any way be self-righteous about this, but we should engage in a common fight for the truth," Friedrich added.
It is estimated that at least 500,000 German civilians were killed during the Allied bombing raids of the Second World War. Jorg Friedrich puts the figure at 635,000 dead.
In comparison, there were 1,236 people killed during the 41 bombing raids on Coventry, the city which suffered the most in Britain under Nazi attacks between 1940-42. About 60,000 civilians were killed in Britain by German air raids.
No figures were given on the bombing-raids on french cities like Rouen
and Caen during the invasion. Thousands of french civilians were not lierated, but killed.
During the war, more bombs by weight were dropped on the city of Berlin than were released on the whole of Great Britain in the blitz.
Indiscriminate bombing of civilians was explicitly outlawed under the 1922 Washington Treaty and the targeting of non-combatants was also prohibited under the Geneva Convention.
But after Hitler’s Luftwaffe bombed Rotterdam and Warsaw in the early stages of the war and his aircraft conducted the first bombing raid over London in August 1940, it was felt justified in Britain that the Nazis should "reap the whirlwind" they had sown.
Industrial cities such as Cologne and Hamburg endured the greatest bombardment, but by the summer of 1944, bombing raids on cities were scaled down as Allied ground forces fought with the German army to regain invaded territories in Europe.
In the final months of the war there was an escalation of the bombing as the Allied generals decided it was better to continue rather than risk soldiers’ lives while wiping out the remnants of the Nazi resistance.
RAF aircraft had already destroyed nearly all industrial centres and so it switched to towns with little military importance, such as the medieval towns of Wurzburg and Pforzheim.
In Dresden and Leipzig, the bombers were told to "cause confusion in the evacuation from the east", which resulted in tens of thousands of civilian refugees being targeted.
Not counted separately were the civilian victims of the strafing fighters.
Since the fighter-cover for the bombers had no more adversaries in 44 and 45 they attacked women and children on the roads and farmers on their fields with the machineguns.

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Gerry
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Liberating Caen

Post by Gerry » 20 Jun 2003 13:30

The story of the "liberation" of Caen you will find here
http://www.valourandhorror.com/DB/ISSUE ... g_Caen.htm
The bombing of the French city of Caen was considered a necessary means to rid the town of enemy troops, and to make its streets impassible, thus destroying its utility as a German centre of communication. But, it is arguable that the only real effect of the tremendous air strike on Caen was the death of thousands of French civilians."

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Gerry
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Terrorbombing on Dresden

Post by Gerry » 20 Jun 2003 13:34

The city had no military targets to speak of, and it was known that it was packed with civilian refugees from the east.
http://timewitnesses.org/english/~lothar.html
more info at
http://www.spartacus.schoolnet.co.uk/2WWdresden.htm
In 1945, Arthur Harris decided to create a firestorm in the medieval city of Dresden. He considered it a good target as it had not been attacked during the war and was virtually undefended by anti-aircraft guns. The population of the city was now far greater than the normal 650,000 due to the large numbers of refugees fleeing from the advancing Red Army.

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Post by ChristopherPerrien » 20 Jun 2003 15:44

Fine by me, but bombing civilians is not a war crime, only shooting and gassing them is.

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Gerry
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Post by Gerry » 20 Jun 2003 15:56

ChristopherPerrien wrote:Fine by me, but bombing civilians is not a war crime, only shooting and gassing them is.
I was interested in a serious discussion.
The people in Dresden for example were neither shooting nor gassing
anybody. The civillians in Caen were not even german but french.
Or did you think Caen is in Germany.

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Post by ChristopherPerrien » 20 Jun 2003 16:29

Do you think it has to be some complicated stuff to be serious?

Bombing civilians is not a warcrime, by Geneva Convention Articles. That is why it can be done even today. But if you go into the same city you just bombed and shoot civilians that is a war crime.

Now, you ask a German in Dresden or a Jew in Auswitz I am sure that both will tell you pretty clearly what "OUGHT" to be war crime!


I was making a SIMPLE Comment on the "real" hippocracy and double standard of what constitutes a war crime.

Another way to say it is, "The victors besides writing the history, do not commit war crimes."

Really I got a burnt hand right now so I cannot type too well or fast.

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Gerry
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Post by Gerry » 20 Jun 2003 17:20

Bombing civilians is not a warcrime, by Geneva Convention Articles. That is why it can be done even today. But if you go into the same city you just bombed and shoot civilians that is a war crime.
Indiscriminate bombing of civilians was explicitly outlawed under the 1922 Washington Treaty and the targeting of non-combatants was also prohibited under the Geneva Convention.
For a serious discussion you should not have mentioned the holocaust on the
jewish people. Nobody will deny, that this was the "worst of warcrimes"
and many on the people responsable for it were punished.
The killig of the jewish people however has nothing to to with the deliberate
bombing of german (and french) civilians by the allies.

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Post by Caldric » 20 Jun 2003 17:45

If you want a serious discussion then just search it, there has been about 30 or so Dresden debates. It is used often to try and reduced Western Allies to the same level as the murder the Germans committed.

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Post by Caldric » 20 Jun 2003 17:49

Gerry wrote:
Bombing civilians is not a warcrime, by Geneva Convention Articles. That is why it can be done even today. But if you go into the same city you just bombed and shoot civilians that is a war crime.
Indiscriminate bombing of civilians was explicitly outlawed under the 1922 Washington Treaty and the targeting of non-combatants was also prohibited under the Geneva Convention.
For a serious discussion you should not have mentioned the holocaust on the
jewish people. Nobody will deny, that this was the "worst of warcrimes"
and many on the people responsable for it were punished.
The killig of the jewish people however has nothing to to with the deliberate
bombing of german (and french) civilians by the allies.

Nope it was not outlawed, it is only not allowed if the City is not defended and perhaps if it has been made an "open city". Germany started City busting in Spain years before WWII started. They also bombed Warsaw into rubble in 1939 with no concern for civil population and other cities throughout the war. Morally wrong yes, war crime no. The precedent was set before the war even started.

It just climaxed in cities such as Tokyo, Dreden, Stalingrad, Hamburg, Berlin etc. Not to mention Nagasaki and Hiroshima.

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Post by ChristopherPerrien » 20 Jun 2003 18:04

Sorry I "personally" consider the killing of any civilians a "warcrime".

But since dropping bombs on them is not "legally" a warcrime. Then Churchill did not commit a warcrime in these cases.

Now if you want to talk about warcrimes Churchill did commit I suggest you research maritime law and see what loading civilians onto ships transporting munitions is , and these actions of Churchill are far more worse, since it resulted in the deaths of his own civilians and Allies.
Of course you probably won't consider this "on topic" either.

If you didn't not notice Gerry I am actually on your side. 8O

"With friends like that who needs enemies!" :lol:
Last edited by ChristopherPerrien on 20 Jun 2003 18:21, edited 2 times in total.

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Post by Maple 01 » 20 Jun 2003 18:05

Caldric,

With you there man! I was going to give the usual full rebuttal to Gerry's fantasy world of warcrimes - strangely enough Churchill's name was mentioned in the title, but what about Adolf? Didn’t he authorise attacks on Warsaw, Rotterdam, London etc? Or is this another new member that believes warcrimes were committed by the Allies - after all didn't the Allies commit the ultimate 'warcrime' - defeating the much loved Nazis?? But having given it so many times I'm beginning to lose the will to live on this subject.

Gerry, just saying something is a warcrime in your opinion doesn’t make it so in reality, it would be advisable to do as Caldric says and check out a few threads


-Nick

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Post by British Free Corps » 20 Jun 2003 18:16

Churchill was responsible for the implication of "Operation Keelhaul" - the return of Cossack soldiers (who had fought for the Wehrmacht against the Red Army) into the hands of the Soviets. The Cossacks had surrendered to the British in Austria, as the Red Army was advancing on all fronts within the borders of the Reich by 1945. Civilians, including women and children, retreated with the Cossacks soldiers.
The British Army were reluctant to carry out the task, as the fate of the Cossacks was decided as soon as the train started for the borders of "Mother Russia".

As stated in Goldeneye, it was "not exactly our finest hour"...
after all didn't the Allies commit the ultimate 'warcrime' - defeating the much loved Nazis?? But having given it so many times I'm beginning to lose the will to live on this subject.
Oh, come on! Why the cynicism insulting tone? Simply because one happens to offer up a different opinion? We've been through this already in the Waffen SS & Warcrimes thread...

...but don't listen to me, I'm just a "closet fascist!"

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Post by Maple 01 » 20 Jun 2003 18:26

...but don't listen to me, I'm just a "closet fascist!"
Not so much in the closet after a recent discussion on 'white pride'. And the BFC badge is a bit of a give-away :wink:
Oh, come on! Why the cynicism insulting tone? Simply because one happens to offer up a different opinion?
So why didn't Adolf feature in the topic line? Because every one of these attempts to 'discuss' 'Allied warcrimes' always deal with Area bombing and conveniently forget to mention who perfected the idea in Spain. Don't you think it's odd that the very people who don't see the SS as warcrimanals - even though they were found to be under international law accuse the Allies of warcrimes when there is no case to answer?
Last edited by Maple 01 on 20 Jun 2003 18:59, edited 1 time in total.

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Post by David Thompson » 20 Jun 2003 18:38

Gerry -- You wrote: "Indiscriminate bombing of civilians was explicitly outlawed under the 1922 Washington Treaty and the targeting of non-combatants was also prohibited under the Geneva Convention."

I couldn't find any treaties outlawing "indiscriminate bombing of civilians." Of the two 1922 Washington treaties, one deals with naval disarmament and the other with the use of noxious gases and submarine warfare. The texts are available on-line at:

(1) Noxious Gases and Submarine Warfare
http://www.icrc.org/ihl.nsf/9cfe510c4d4 ... enDocument

(2) Naval Disarmament
http://www.ibiblio.org/pha/pre-war/1922/nav_lim.html

The Geneva Conventions in effect during WWII cover the treatment of prisoners of war, the use of poison gas and bacteriological warfare and do not deal with restrictions on aerial bombardment of cities. The texts are available on-line at:

(1) Amelioration of the Condition of the Wounded on the Field of Battle (Red Cross Convention); August 22, 1864
http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/lawofwar/geneva04.htm

(2) Protocol for the Prohibition of the Use in War of Asphyxiating Gas, and of Bacteriological Methods of Warfare 8 February 1928
http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/lawofwar/geneva01.htm

(3) Convention Between the United States of America and Other Powers, Relating to Prisoners of War; July 27, 1929
http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/lawofwar/geneva02.htm

There is a provision of the Hague Conventions of 1899 and 1907 (Article 25) which forbids the bombardment of undefended cities, which can be found on-line at:

1899 Hague Convention
http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/lawofwar/hague02.htm

1907 Hague Convention
http://www.yale.edu/lawweb/avalon/lawofwar/hague04.htm

However, from your references it doesn't appear that you were talking about Article 25 of the Hague Conventions. Could you give a more detailed reference to the provisions of the treaties in which "Indiscriminate bombing of civilians was explicitly outlawed"?

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Post by David Thompson » 20 Jun 2003 18:41

British Free Corps -- You wrote: "Churchill was responsible for the implication of "Operation Keelhaul" - the return of Cossack soldiers (who had fought for the Wehrmacht against the Red Army) into the hands of the Soviets."

What is your source on Churchill's personal accountability for "Operation Keelhaul"?

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