Is revenge shooting allowed?

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Panzermahn
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Is revenge shooting allowed?

Post by Panzermahn » 03 Aug 2003 12:40

I read somewhere from yahoo that during the 2002 trial of Friedrich Engel, former ss commander in Italy, he said that revenge shooting is allowed by geneva convention with regards to terrorist attacks from bandits, partisans, gunmen, gunwomen and saboteur whom did not obey the rules of land warfare..is this true?

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Beppo Schmidt
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Post by Beppo Schmidt » 03 Aug 2003 15:10

The rules regarding the correct treatment of POWs do not apply to guerillas who fight in civilian clothing or soldiers who fight in the enemy's uniform. Therefore it would be permissable to execute captured plainclothes partisans/guerillas, and the American Army was entirely within the rules of war when it executed SS Commandos captured in American uniforms during the Battle of the Bulge.

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Post by David Thompson » 03 Aug 2003 17:18

panzermahn -- There are at least two different issues raised by your question: (1) treatment of captured partisans; and (2) the propriety of taking reprisals against the civilian population for the acts of partisans. Are you interested in both aspects, or did you want to discuss just one?

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Post by Panzermahn » 03 Aug 2003 18:06

yes david,

i was trying to know..in the case of engel, he said in his defense that because the italian partisans bombed a cinema full of german marines, the german marines carried out reprisal actions on civillians..but somehow, the massacre was attributed to the waffen ss unit (somewhere in genoa if i'm not mistaken, i try to get you the link in yahoo) which engel was the commander..so is this revenge shooting is attributed to reprisals againt captured partisans or civillians?

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Post by Beppo Schmidt » 03 Aug 2003 18:13

Well it is never legally justifiable to deliberately kill innocent civilians. killing plainclothed partisans/guerillas would, but I imagine you would have to prove that the civilians you killed were in fact partisans.

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Re: Is revenge shooting allowed?

Post by Penn44 » 04 Aug 2003 20:35

panzermahn wrote:I read somewhere from yahoo that during the 2002 trial of Friedrich Engel, former ss commander in Italy, he said that revenge shooting is allowed by geneva convention with regards to terrorist attacks from bandits, partisans, gunmen, gunwomen and saboteur whom did not obey the rules of land warfare..is this true?


My understand is that reprisal shootings are allowed. In late 1944, the [Free] French Army executed about 150 German soldiers in reprisal for the German execution of properly marked French Resistance fighters.

In July 1944, a BN Cdr [if I remember correctly] in the 17.SS-PGD reportedly ordered the reprisal of two, recently captured American soldiers after two SS men were found dead, having been reportedly strangled to death with a "scarf." The said SS commander thought the use of a "scarf" to kill the two SS soldiers was use of an inappropriate weapon. Reportedly, the reprisal killings were carried out.

.

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Post by David Thompson » 04 Aug 2003 20:44

During WWII reprisal shootings were permitted under international law, but I as understand the subject, could not be "disproportionate" to the act giving rise to the reprisal. As an example, military commanders are not permitted to execute, say, 100 hostages for the murder of a single soldier. A number of German general officers were put on trial, convicted and imprisoned in the 1947-48 "Hostage case" by an American military tribunal for disproportionate reprisal executions in the Balkans.

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Re: Is revenge shooting allowed?

Post by alsaco » 05 Aug 2003 22:53

Penn44 wrote:My understand is that reprisal shootings are allowed. In late 1944, the [Free] French Army executed about 150 German soldiers in reprisal for the German execution of properly marked French Resistance fighters.

.


I would be very interested in having more details on this affair.

Place of happening, circumstances, if available, and source of the information.

So far, except in a particular case in the region of Beaume les Dames, where a village having been used to keep german POW was burned and its inhabitants killed by a counter-offensive on the local maquis, I do not find any occurence of german execution of local FFI. In fact, usually, prisonners were sent to KZ, if caught in action or supposed ennemy.

Thank you in advance.

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Post by David Thompson » 05 Aug 2003 23:12

alsaco -- You said
So far, except in a particular case in the region of Beaume les Dames, where a village having been used to keep german POW was burned and its inhabitants killed by a counter-offensive on the local maquis, I do not find any occurence of german execution of local FFI. In fact, usually, prisonners were sent to KZ, if caught in action or supposed ennemy.


I've read of a number of war crimes trials conducted by French and British authorities of German officers charged with executing FFI (French Forces of the Interior) combatants and British SAS commandos in and around the Vosges region. Are you interested in more information on the subject?

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Re: Is revenge shooting allowed?

Post by Penn44 » 05 Aug 2003 23:14

alsaco wrote:
Penn44 wrote:My understand is that reprisal shootings are allowed. In late 1944, the [Free] French Army executed about 150 German soldiers in reprisal for the German execution of properly marked French Resistance fighters.

.


I would be very interested in having more details on this affair.

Place of happening, circumstances, if available, and source of the information.

Thank you in advance.


Hello Alasco:

If I am not mistaken, I think this case is mentioned in the three volume official history of the activities of International Committee of the Red Cross (ICRC) in World War II.

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Post by alsaco » 06 Aug 2003 16:42

To David Thomson

Yes, I would be very pleased if you could provide me with some references on this subject.
We have informations on what happened in central and south France, but there is not much litterature known on the SAS and FFI resistance in the eastern regions.
Thank you.

To Penn 44

Thank you for the source. I will try to confront the source you mention with other documents I may found.
Naturally, I suppose people having made such "représailles" were not very proud of such an action, and their story will probably not easy to find in french documents.
Thank you.

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Post by Panzermahn » 07 Aug 2003 07:31

During WWII reprisal shootings were permitted under international law, but I as understand the subject, could not be "disproportionate" to the act giving rise to the reprisal. As an example, military commanders are not permitted to execute, say, 100 hostages for the murder of a single soldier. A number of German general officers were put on trial, convicted and imprisoned in the 1947-48 "Hostage case" by an American military tribunal for disproportionate reprisal executions in the Balkans.


David,

what you mean is, reprisal shooting is allowed accoridng to the equivalent number of the victims, isn't it? Lets say for example, a german officer found 50 german troops killed by lets say french partisans. So is the particular german officer allowed to shoot back 50 captured french partisans as a reprisal shooting or revenge shooting

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Post by David Thompson » 07 Aug 2003 08:55

panzermahn -- That's the way I understand it works. To be legal, the reprisal must be public and must be specifically announced as done as an act in reprisal. With regular uniformed troops, it is the custom for the offended commander to contact the enemy commander (or his superior) under flag of truce, complain about the illegal acts in writing and give the enemy commander a chance to investigate and punish the criminals, before the offended commander acts in reprisal.

Decisions concerning reprisal usually originate with the army, army group and/or theater of operations commanders, because the subject is "touchy" and could increase the number of war crimes on both sides. Junior and field grade officers are typically not empowered to undertake acts of reprisal on their own authority.

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Post by Panzermahn » 07 Aug 2003 09:13

panzermahn -- That's the way I understand it works. To be legal, the reprisal must be public and must be specifically announced as done as an act in reprisal. With regular uniformed troops, it is the custom for the offended commander to contact the enemy commander (or his superior) under flag of truce, complain about the illegal acts in writing and give the enemy commander a chance to investigate and punish the criminals, before the offended commander acts in reprisal.

Decisions concerning reprisal usually originate with the army, army group and/or theater of operations commanders, because the subject is "touchy" and could increase the number of war crimes on both sides. Junior and field grade officers are typically not empowered to undertake acts of reprisal on their own authority


But how do those commanders complain about the illegal acts in writting and gave the enemy commander a chance to investigate especially to those partisan commanders which are fighting without following the rules of land warfare?

Don't tell me Field Marshal List sent in an complain to Marshal Tito regarding the atrocities committed by the partisans and demanded punishment for the perpetrators before announcing reprisal actions

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Post by David Thompson » 07 Aug 2003 16:04

Panzermahn -- You asked: "But how do those commanders complain about the illegal acts in writting and gave the enemy commander a chance to investigate especially to those partisan commanders which are fighting without following the rules of land warfare?"

Look again at what I wrote: "With regular uniformed troops, it is the custom for the offended commander to contact the enemy commander (or his superior) under flag of truce, complain about the illegal acts in writing and give the enemy commander a chance to investigate and punish the criminals, before the offended commander acts in reprisal."

The problem may also be announced by printed fliers or posters, newspapers, radio, etc. if the enemy cannot be found. The announcement can propose a method of meeting, and a time limit for the enemy commander's reply.

You also said: "Don't tell me Field Marshal List sent in an complain to Marshal Tito regarding the atrocities committed by the partisans and demanded punishment for the perpetrators before announcing reprisal actions."

I don't know whether Field Marshal List did that or not, but then an American military tribunal found that List's reprisal executions in the Balkans were disproportionate and illegal, convicted him of war crimes and sentenced him to life imprisonment on 19 Feb 1948. (He was released from American captivity for reasons of health in 1951 and died at Garmisch-Partenkirchen twenty years later).

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