Can the bombing of cities be considered as "Warcrimes..

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NewXieland
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Can the bombing of cities be considered as "Warcrimes..

Post by NewXieland » 07 Oct 2002 06:53

By definition its ok to kill (purely in a technical sense... i don't believe its ok to kill 8O ) in battles as the opposition is armed and is upon a similar playing field as you are. But what happens when armies and commanders target civilians indirectly...?

There's always been the infamous Dresden but what about the saturated bombings of Japan...? In late 1944 Allied commanders changed the tactics of Allied bombing, basing it upon highly concentrated incendiary night raides and literally incinerated entire city blocks. Although the targets were military installations and munition factories over 200,000 civilians in Tokyo alone died as a result of the ensuring firestorms :cry: ... more than the combined number of casualities in Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Similarly the bombing of London for no purpose at all other than to cause damage...

Can the death of these civilians be considered as acts of warcrimes or do they fall under the Collateral Damage category... which then makes it acceptable in a war. Hmmmmm...?

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Post by tonyh » 07 Oct 2002 10:56

Well, it depends on who is being targeted in those cities. If an army garrisons itself within a city and that garrison is then bombed, al la Warsaw in 39. Then I would say it is not a warcrime. If however the target is purely the civilian population within a city like London or Hamburg or indeed Tokyo, that means if the civilians are the primary target, not just "colateral damage" then that is a warcrime, IMO.

Tony

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Post by David Thompson » 07 Oct 2002 15:22

Here's how one American judge (Michael Musmanno) handled the issue:

The Death of Non-Combatants by Bombing

It was submitted that the defendants must be exonerated from the charge of killing civilian populations since every Allied nation brought about the death of non-combatants through the instrumentality of bombing. Any person, who, without cause, strikes another may not later complain if the other in repelling the attack uses sufficient force to overcome the original adversary. That is fundamental law between individuals in every civilized nation and it is fundamental law between nations as well.

It has already been adjudicated by a competent tribunal that Germany under its Nazi rulers started an aggressive war. The bombing of Berlin, Dresden, Hamburg, Cologne and other German cities followed the bombing of London, Coventry, Rotterdam, Warsaw and other Allied cities; the bombing of German cities succeeded, in point of time, the acts discussed here. But even if it were assumed for the purpose of illustration that the Allies bombed German cities without Germans having bombed Allied cities, there still is no parallelism between an act of legitimate warfare, namely the bombing of a city, with a concomitant loss of civilian life, and the premeditated killing of all members of certain categories of the civilian population in occupied territory.

A city is bombed for tactical purposes: communications are to be destroyed, railroads wrecked, ammunition plants demolished, factories razed, all for the purposes of impeding the military. In those operations it inevitably happens that non-military persons are killed. This is an incident, a grave incident to be sure, but an unavoidable corollary of battle action. The civilians are not individualized. The bomb falls, it is aimed at the railroad yards, houses along the tracks are hit and many of their occupants killed. But that is entirely different, both in fact and in law, from an armed force marching up to those same railway tracks, entering those houses abutting thereon, dragging out the men, women and children and shooting them.

It was argued in behalf of the defendants that there was no moral distinction between shooting civilians with rifles and killing them by means of atomic bombs. There is no doubt that the invention of the atomic bomb has added a preoccupation and worry to the human race, but the atomic bomb, when used, was not aimed at non-combatants. Like any other aerial bomb employed during the war, it was dropped to overcome military resistance.

Thus, as grave a military action as is an air bombardment, whether with the usual bombs or by atomic bomb, the one and only purpose of the bombing is to effect the surrender of the bombed nation. The people of that nation, through their representatives, may surrender and, with the surrender, the bombing ceases, the killing is ended. Furthermore, a city is assured of not being bombed by the law-abiding belligerent if it is declared an open city. With the Jews it was entirely different. Even if the nation surrendered they still were killed as individuals.

It has not been shown throughout this entire trial that the killing of the Jews as Jews in any way subdued or abated the military force of the enemy, it was not demonstrated how mass killings and indiscriminate slaughter helped or was designed to help in shortening or winning the war for Germany. The annihilation of defenceless persons considered as "inferior" in Russia would have had no effect on the military issue of the war.

From the judgment against the defendants in the "Einsatzgruppe case"
http://www.einsatzgruppenarchives.com/t ... mbing.html

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Post by Caldric » 07 Oct 2002 17:26

tonyh wrote:Well, it depends on who is being targeted in those cities. If an army garrisons itself within a city and that garrison is then bombed, al la Warsaw in 39. Then I would say it is not a warcrime. If however the target is purely the civilian population within a city like London or Hamburg or indeed Tokyo, that means if the civilians are the primary target, not just "colateral damage" then that is a warcrime, IMO.

Tony


In other words if Germany did it was an act of War if the Allies then they were area bombing. Which is completely contrary to US bombing doctrine. All of Germany could be considered an armed and fortified camp. According to your theory of Garrison, Tokyo was much more a Garrison then Warsaw, Prague to mind.

As far as my opinion goes I think not bombing the cities into dust would have been a crime.

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Scott Smith
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Thou-Also...

Post by Scott Smith » 07 Oct 2002 17:53

Caldric wrote:
tonyh wrote:Well, it depends on who is being targeted in those cities. If an army garrisons itself within a city and that garrison is then bombed, al la Warsaw in 39. Then I would say it is not a warcrime. If however the target is purely the civilian population within a city like London or Hamburg or indeed Tokyo, that means if the civilians are the primary target, not just "colateral damage" then that is a warcrime, IMO.

In other words if Germany did it was an act of War if the Allies then they were area bombing. Which is completely contrary to US bombing doctrine. All of Germany could be considered an armed and fortified camp. According to your theory of Garrison, Tokyo was much more a Garrison then Warsaw, Prague to mind.

As far as my opinion goes I think not bombing the cities into dust would have been a crime.

I think the argument that there might be a Flak battery or an Army garrison or (as General Lemay put it) lots of cottage industries and mothers with drill-presses in their homes, in an enemy city somewhat strained. All economic activities, even domestic, effort the warmaking ability of the enemy. Thus, to say it is really a military target and not what it really is, which is a terror-target, is simply a LIE. And so is the argument that the civilian dead are only "collateral damage" when the stated goal is pinpoint-bombing. Yes, we had to flatten Dresden to attack their train-station which could have been used to ship troops to the Russian Front.
:roll:

The difference between the German bombings and the Allied is that Warsaw, Rotterdam, Leningrad, and Stalingrad, and even Belgrade, were cities under siege and their surrenders would have ended that siege. they could have been declared Open Cities. Thus, they were tactical bombings, not really intended to end the general war or the warmaking potential of the enemy.

In the case of the area-bombing of London or Berlin, these cities were not directly under siege by ground forces and thus the bombing can only end via a general surrender. Berlin and London cannot be declared Open Cities because there are no ground-forces to surrender them to without a general surrender.

Hitler hoped he could force Churchill out and Great Britain back to the bargaining table but he was wrong. Bomber Harris believed that if he could have a thousand thousand-bomber raids, or could replicate Cologne, Hamburg, Dresden enough times, that Nazi Germany would be overthrown or quit. It was a variation of siege-warfare taken to absurd levels. Similarly, would Moscow or Washington quit because London got nuked? I think not.

Nuremberg did not raise the bombing issue because the Allies did not have clean hands themselves, a rare example of the tu quoque argument. But, assuming that the Germans did not engage in bombing either, they started the war according to the Allies, so by Nuremberg logic, they are just as guilty of the strategic bombing. Indeed, by Nuremberg logic, all 60 million victims of the war are the responsibility of the Germans.
:)

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Post by Caldric » 07 Oct 2002 18:14

Come on Scott stop defending the damn Germans. Berlin was just as much under siege as Stalingrad, so was every German City. To say otherwise is nonsense, the Germans defended these cities and more importantly their economic value with every thing they had. There is no such thing as fair in total war, I would have given the order to grind them to dust period. Just like the Germans would do to their enemy, they had no problem terror bombing Stalingrad, which would make their battle their much worse anyway. 40,000 dead in Stalingrad in one day, there are no innocents when it came to using air power to destroy your enemy. Everyone did it that had an airforce, to do otherwise would have been stupid.

This same old argument is nothing more then to try and bring the allies to the same level as the Germans and their despicable crimes they committed in the war.

Where is your skeptism now? Or is it only for German crimes.

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Roberto
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Re: Thou-Also...

Post by Roberto » 07 Oct 2002 18:20

Scott Smith wrote:The difference between the German bombings and the Allied is that Warsaw, Rotterdam, Leningrad, and Stalingrad, and even Belgrade, were cities under siege and their surrenders would have ended that siege.


Yeah, sure. Especially Leningrad:

The Führer’s Decision on Leningrad (Entschluß der Führers über Leningrad), transmitted by the Naval Warfare Command (Seekriegsleitung) to Army Group North on 29.09.1941 (Tagebuch der Seekriegsleitung, quoted in Max Domarus, Hitler Reden und Proklamationen 1932-1945, Volume 4, Page 1755)

Betrifft: Zukunft der Stadt Petersburg
II. Der Führer ist entschlossen, die Stadt Petersburg vom Erdboden verschwinden zu lassen. Es besteht nach der Niederwerfung Sowjetrußlands keinerlei Interesse an dem Fortbestand dieser Großsiedlung. Auch Finnland hat gleicherweise kein Interesse an dem Weiterbestehen der Stadt unmittelbar an seiner neuen Grenze bekundet.
III. Es ist beabsichtigt, die Stadt eng einzuschließen und durch Beschuß mit Artillerie aller Kaliber und laufendem Laufeinsatz dem Erdboden gleichzumachen.
IV. Sich aus der Lage der Stadt ergebende Bitten um Übergabe werden abgeschlagen werden, da das Problem des Verbleibens und der Ernährung der Bevölkerung von uns nicht gelöst werden kann und soll. Ein Interesse an der Erhaltung auch nur eines Teils dieser großstädtischen Bevölkerung besteht in diesem Existenzkrieg unsererseits nicht. Notfalls soll gewaltsame Abschiebung in den östlichen russischen Raum erfolgen.


My translation:

Subject: Future of the City of Petersburg
II. The Führer is determined to remove the city of Petersburg from the face of the earth. After the defeat of Soviet Russia there can be no interest in the continued existence of this large urban area. Finland has likewise manifested no interest in the maintenance of the city immediately at its new border.
III. It is intended to encircle the city and level it to the ground by means of artillery bombardment using every caliber of weapon, and continual air bombardment.
IV. Requests for surrender resulting from the city’s encirclement will be denied, since the problem of relocating and feeding the population cannot and should not be solved by us. In this war for our very existence, there can be no interest on our part in maintaining even a part of this large urban population. If necessary forcible removal to the eastern Russian area is to be carried out.


Emphasis is mine.

We have been through this before, haven't we, Mr. Smith?

Scott Smith wrote:they could have been declared Open Cities.


An argument as valid - or invalid - as "the Nazi government could have thrown the towel", in my opinion.

Scott Smith wrote:Thus, they were tactical bombings, not really intended to end the general war or the warmaking potential of the enemy.


What exactly is the difference between "tactical" indiscriminate area bombing killing 40,000 civilians (like at Stalingrad in the week after 23 August 1942) and "strategical" indiscriminate area bombing killing an equal number of civilians (like at Hamburg during Operation Gomorrha in July 1943), Mr. Smith?

And in which of both categories do you place the attack on defenseless Belgrade in April 1941, which had neither a "tactical" nor a "strategical" purpose but a merely punitive function and killed about 12,000 civilians?

Was Belgrade not an undefended city, making its bombing a violation of the Hague Rules of Land Warfare?

Was it not an open city?

6 April

German troops, supported by the air force from Bulgaria, commenced operations along the directions Kriva Palanka-Kumanovo, Djumaja- Carevo Selo and Petric-Novo Selo-Strumica.

The Luftwaffe commenced bombing of Belgrade which had been proclaimed an open city already on 3 April 1941. By 8 April about 12000 people had been killed in the air raids; 672 buildings were demolished, 1601 heavily damaged while 6829 buildings were partially damaged.

German and Italian planes from the territories of all neighboring countries, except Greece, began extensive air raids on airfields, railway junctions and other military and public establishments and military units in the entire territory of Yugoslavia.


Source of quote:

http://www.wargamer.com/sp/ww2/chronolo ... efault.asp

Emphasis is mine.

Scott Smith wrote:Indeed, by Nuremberg logic, all 60 million victims of the war are the responsibility of the Germans.


Well, I'd say it's defensible to blame at least the over 30 million victims of war and mass murder in the nations attacked by Germany on Smith's beloved Führer.

To what extent the fellow is also responsible for the deaths of ca. 8 million German soldiers and civilians during World War II is another question.

By the logic of those who would blame the obliteration of a city and the resulting enormous civilian casualties on those who failed to declare it an "open city" (which obviously didn't help Belgrade very much) and/or to evacuate its civilian population before it was within range of enemy bombers and artillery, he would, for instance, be primarily responsible for the overwhelming majority of German civilian deaths, in my opinion.

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Those Damn Germans...

Post by Scott Smith » 07 Oct 2002 18:52

Caldric wrote:Come on Scott stop defending the damn Germans. Berlin was just as much under siege as Stalingrad, so was every German City. To say otherwise is nonsense, the Germans defended these cities and more importantly their economic value with every thing they had. There is no such thing as fair in total war, I would have given the order to grind them to dust period. Just like the Germans would do to their enemy, they had no problem terror bombing Stalingrad, which would make their battle their much worse anyway. 40,000 dead in Stalingrad in one day, there are no innocents when it came to using air power to destroy your enemy. Everyone did it that had an airforce, to do otherwise would have been stupid.

This same old argument is nothing more then to try and bring the allies to the same level as the Germans and their despicable crimes they committed in the war.

Where is your skeptism now? Or is it only for German crimes.

NO, Berlin and London were not under-siege by ground forces, and therefore they could not have surrendered or declared themselves Open Cities, which means that they were surrendering to invading TROOPS.

Besides, I never said that strategic bombing was a "War Crime" because warring nations have always had the right to make war in order to WIN it, and there is a chance that Bomber Harris could have been right.
:idea:

Oh course, there is also a "chance" that Himmler could have been right and that there was only one way to beat the Reds and that was to punish the Jews. But that's another story. Germans at Hamburg and Dresden and Berlin and Japanese at Tokyo and Hiroshima and Nagasaki were killed because they were Germans and Japanese. They were the enemy.
8O

Yeah, those damn Germans. They are something else, aren't they?

Best Regards,
Scott

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Post by Caldric » 07 Oct 2002 19:01

Yeah, those damn Germans. They are something else, aren't they?


Yes they are, just consider the list of German aggression leading up to the war. And their allies also, Japan and Italy.

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We Won!

Post by Scott Smith » 07 Oct 2002 19:17

Caldric wrote:
Scott wrote:Yeah, those damn Germans. They are something else, aren't they?

Yes they are, just consider the list of German aggression leading up to the war. And their allies also, Japan and Italy.

The Italians using mustard gas on the Ethiopians and invading Greece, and the Japs and their Reign of Terror in China and the Phillipines--ah, but those damn Germans... They were hard to keep down from 1871-1945. But we done it!
:mrgreen:
Last edited by Scott Smith on 07 Oct 2002 19:48, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: We Won!

Post by Caldric » 07 Oct 2002 19:25

Scott Smith wrote:
Caldric wrote:
Scott wrote:Yeah, those damn Germans. They are something else, aren't they?

Yes they are, just consider the list of German aggression leading up to the war. And their allies also, Japan and Italy.

The Italians using mustard gas on the Ethiopians and invading Greece, and the Japs and their Reign of Terror in China and the Phillipines--ah, but those damn Germans. They were hard to keep down from 1871-1945. But we done it!
:mrgreen:


Sorry but I find the idea of the United States trying to keep the Germans down from 1871-1945 a bit far fetched. Actually Germany was a major economic partner to the US, and trade was becoming more and more important. Which is one of the reasons there was a separate peace with Germany in 1920. Why economically destroy a nation that is important to your trade economy, also it was the United States that poured huge amounts of money into Germany during the 20's to try and stabilize the economy. The only people at fault for Germany in 1945 are the Nazi and those ignorant Germans who gave them power.

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Re: Those Damn Germans...

Post by Roberto » 07 Oct 2002 19:36

Scott Smith wrote:Oh course, there is also a "chance" that Himmler could have been right and that there was only one way to beat the Reds and that was to punish the Jews.


What however remote chance was there that slaughtering millions of perfectly harmless men, women and children in German-occupied territories would have contributed anything at all to beating the "Reds", Mr. Smith?

And what evidence is there that even the twisted mind of Himmler or of Smith's beloved Führer saw the genocide of the Jews as some sort of military action directed against "the Reds"?

How Smith's heroes saw the annihilation of the Jews within the context of war invoked by Smith is shown most clearly in Goebbels' diary entry of 27.03.1942:

Beginning with Lublin, the Jews in the General Government are now being evacuated eastward. The procedure is a pretty barbaric one and not to be described here more definitely. Not much will remain of the Jews. On the whole it can be said that about 60 per cent of them will have to be liquidated whereas only about 40 per cent can be used for forced labor.

The former Gauleiter of Vienna, who is to carry this measure through, is doing it with considerable circumspection and according to a method that does not attract too much attention. A judgment is being visited upon the Jews that, while barbaric, is fully deserved by them. The prophesy which the Fuehrer made about them for having brought on a new world war is beginning to come true in a most terrible manner. One must not be sentimental in these matters. If we did not fight the Jews, they would destroy us. It's a life-and-death struggle between the Aryan race and the Jewish bacillus. No other government and no other regime would have the strength for such a global solution of this question. Here, too, the Fuehrer is the undismayed champion of a radical solution necessitated by conditions and therefore inexorable. Fortunately a whole series of possibilities presents itself for us in wartime that would be denied us in peacetime. We shall have to profit by this.

The ghettoes that will be emptied in the cities of the General Government now will be refilled with Jews thrown out of the Reich. This process is to be repeated from time to time. There is nothing funny in it for the Jews, and the fact that Jewry's representatives in England and America are today organizing and sponsoring the war against Germany must be paid for dearly by its representatives in Europe - and that's only right.


Source of quote:

http://www.nizkor.org/hweb/people/g/goe ... ts-02.html

Emphasis is mine.

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Post by Caldric » 07 Oct 2002 19:41

Oh and one thing that has always bothered me, if there was some Conspiracy by the Jews to bring the United States into the conflict, could you even for one moment blame them?

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Re: Those Damn Germans...

Post by Roberto » 07 Oct 2002 19:41

Scott Smith wrote:Germans at Hamburg and Dresden and Berlin and Japanese at Tokyo and Hiroshima and Nagasaki were killed because they were Germans and Japanese. They were the enemy.


Is that so, Mr. Smith?

Because they were Germans and Japanese?

Not because they were citizens of an enemy nation that was to be forced to surrender and it was thought that the bombing might lead them to revolt against their own government and thus hasten its defeat?

Any evidence in support of your contentions that you can offer, Mr. Smith?

If the civilian inhabitants of Hamburg, Dresden, Hiroshima and Nagasaki were targeted as Germans or Japanese, then why did the air raids stop as soon as the German and Japanese governments had surrendered?

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Post by Caldric » 07 Oct 2002 19:51

If the civilian inhabitants of Hamburg, Dresden, Hiroshima and Nagasaki were targeted as Germans or Japanese, then why did the air raids stop as soon as the German and Japanese governments had surrendered?


Ouch that is a good question, I suppose that puts an end to much of the idea of "destroying thy enemy to the man" which appears as to what Scott is implying. I think it was the Germans in the East that were doing that not the Western Allies, hell not even the USSR went as far.

Also I think it shows a moral that the Leaders of the Third Reich did not have, "mercy".

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