Scott Smith wrote:No, I don't think you can prove that the neglect of the Soviet POWs was anything other than that.
What Smith thinks has ceased to matter to me long ago.
Scott Smith wrote:Yes, you have some bellicose rhetoric and carefully-culled hyperbole, perhaps.
Whatever doesn't fit into Smith's ideological bubble he will call "bellicose rhetoric and carefully-culled hyperbole", so that objection is also irrelevant.
Scott Smith wrote:The German General Staff neglected intelligence and logistics and other mundane matters in order to concentrated on operational excellence.
The German General Staff neglected its obligations to make at least minimum preparations for ensuring that the Soviet prisoners of war, whose numbers did not come as a surprise to it but were foreseen in military planning before the outbreak of the war, did not starve to death.
This behavior stands in stark contrast with the careful and extensive preparations made the year before to handle an also enormous number of French, Belgian and British prisoners of war.
Scott Smith wrote:Barbarossa planning suffered from that greatly, with Halder as the chief culprit.
Who suffered most were the Soviet prisoners of war.
But then, they were "no comrades before and after", representatives of a mortal enemy who did not deserve being treated as human beings.
Scott Smith wrote:The Germans simply had no reason to reciprocate because they considered the Bolsheviks to be an "outlaw" regime, but if there had been agreements in place on the treatment of Soviet POWs due to the signing of the Geneva convention, the Germans could hardly have ignored this.
Just how often do you intend to repeat this junk, Mr. Smith?
In a memorandum of 15 September 1941, the Foreign/Defense Department (Amt Ausland/Abwehr
) of the OKW under Admiral Canaris pointed out that the basic international principles of war concerning the treatment of prisoners also applied in a war without written conventions, because the provisions contained in the Hague Rules of Land Warfare had been accepted as customary law in the meantime. In this regard the memorandum referred to an enclosed Soviet directive on the treatment of POWs dated 1 July 1941, which largely corresponded with the fundamental principles of international law.
The ideas expressed by the Amt Ausland/Abwehr
in its memorandum on the validity of customary law in the field of the law of war were nothing new; this was the opinion prevailing at the time. The source of jus in bello
, the law of warfare, is not just limited to positivist rulings. The source can be extended to unwritten customary law, as was emphasized after the war at the Nuremberg War Crimes Trials.
The Amt Ausland/Abwehr
’s memorandum had no effect. Keitel, rejected it, noting that these reservations corresponded to the soldierly views of chivalrous warfare, whereas this war was about the annihilation of a Weltanschauung
. Keitel had been swayed by Hitler’s opinion concerning the nature of war with the Soviet Union, and had thus squashed the plans of the AWA, his department responsible for prisoners of war, to treat captured Russians according to customary law analogous to the Geneva Convention.
According to Hitler, the war with the USSR was the collision of two fundamental world-views, in which the doctrine of the law of war was based solely upon Nazi ideology, with the aim of totally wiping out the ‘Judeo-Bolshevist system’. This ideological definition of war meant that nothing was unlawful that served the execution, security, and consolidation of National Socialism, the preservation of the Nazi state and its people. Hitler considered international law to be old-fashioned, still based upon the ideal of ‘chivalrous war’, as Keitel put it in his statement on the Amt Ausland/Abwehr
memorandum. It was an obstacle in the Nazi world-view’s path. Since for Hitler, as in the Third Reich as a whole, the law was merely a part of his world-view, law of war had no place in the total ideological struggle.
It goes without saying that this view is totally contrary to the rule of law. It fails to recognize what the law of war is and what its aims are, and is outside the system of law as we know it. If it was left up to one side in a conflict to decide whether the international law of war is to be applied or not, then that would be the end of the rules of warfare.
Scott Smith wrote:The idea that international agreements are binding upon non-signatories is absurd,
It was prevailing legal opinion even at the time, Mr. Smith. See above.
Scott Smith wrote:and they are not going to be followed, most likely, which is the bottom line—
What has become customary international law is compulsory whether or not it is actually complied with. Non-compliance is a violation of international law.
Scott Smith wrote:whether or not Victors can hold the Vanquished to whatever standards of conduct after the fact.
Not “whatever standards”, Mr. Warlord. The standards in force and acknowledged at the time the crime was committed.
Scott Smith wrote:I'm sure the Germans did have contempt for the Bolsheviks; they were going to fight them in a bitter Crusade, an ideological war. That alone increases the potential for unnecessary violence.
“Umpteen million” starvation deaths, among other things – Smith calls it “unnecessary violence”.
Scott Smith wrote:But the stilted notion of some kind of racial or other ideological axe reflects your own prejudices, IMHO.
Smith’s opinion seems humble indeed in the face of Keitel’s above mentioned statements and of his beloved Führer’s own words, as recorded by Halder at Hitler’s briefing of his generals on 30 March 1941:
The preparedness of the military leadership to take part in the ideologically motivated war of annihilation was scanned by Hitler on March 30, 1941, in a speech of two and a half hours he held before about 250 high officers – the commanders and chiefs of staff of the army groups, armies, army corps and divisions that were to carry out the war in the East – in the Reichskanzlei. Hitler had already attempted to convey the attitude desired by him to high troop commanders before previous campaigns, but never in front of so large an audience. Prior to the Polish campaign he had already announced that the war would be “conducted until the total destruction of Poland with the greatest brutality and without considerations”. At that time, however, the commanders had remained uncertain about the tasks attributed to the SS Einsatzgruppen. On this 30th of March 1941 however, he made clear to the assembled generals with an unprecedented openness what methods he wanted to be employed in the war against the Soviet Union. Chief of the General Staff Halder took the following notes:
Two world-views fighting each other. Demolishing verdict about Bolshevism, which is equal to asocial criminality. Communism is an enormous danger for the future. We must depart from the standpoint of soldierly comradeship. The Communist is no comrade before and no comrade afterwards. This is a fight to annihilation. If we don’t see it as this, we will defeat the enemy, but in 30 years we will again be faced with the communist enemy. We don’t make war to conserve the enemy.
Fight against Russia:
Annihilation of the Bolshevik commissars and the communist intelligence. The new states must be Socialist states, but without an intelligence of their own. It must be prevented that a new intelligence comes into being. A primitive Socialist intelligence is sufficient.
The fight must be conduced against the poison of disintegration. This is not a matter for military tribunals. The leader of the troops must know what this is about. The must lead in the fight. The troops must defend themselves with the means by which they are attacked. Commissars and GPU-people are criminals and must be treated as such.
For this the troops need not come out of the hands of their leaders. The leader must issue his directives in consonance with the feelings of the troops. [Marginal note by Halder: This fight is very much differentiated from the fight in the West. In the East harshness means mildness in the future.]
The leader must require themselves to do the sacrifice of overcoming their considerations.
[Marginal note: Order of the Commander in Chief of the Army]”
I translated the above from Christian Streit’s book Keine Kameraden: Die Wehrmacht und die sowjetischen Kriegsgefangenen 1941 –1945
Emphases are mine.
Scott Smith wrote:I have said many times that the treatment of the Soviet POWs was reprehensible.
“Reprehensible” is a nice euphemism for mass murder.
Scott Smith wrote:But lets not wax too indignant when the treatment of German POWs was not any better, and the Soviets didn't even care about their own prisoners.
So what, Mr. Smith?
Did that make murdering the Soviet prisoners of war legitimate?
Did that make murdering them less of a crime?
Does any murder look better on account of another murder?
Scott Smith wrote:Furthermore, conditions eventually improved as the Germans got a handle on the overwhelming situation of 1941-42 with enormous prisoner bags and found work for the Russians.
The “overwhelming situation” was not much more overwhelming than the situation in the summer of 1940, when the Wehrmacht managed to handle and feed two million French prisoners of war without a single one of them having died of starvation.
The contention that in 1941/42 they were “overwhelmed” is, to use one of Smith’s favorite terms, nothing but hogwash.
Scott Smith wrote:German captivity was not a guaranteed death-sentence
But it came close. Mortality remained high even after the spring of 1942, and by the end of the war 57 % of all Soviet prisoners in German hands had perished. Not a guaranteed death-sentence, but extremely low odds for survival. Even those of German prisoners in the Soviet Union or Allied POWs taken by the Japanese were somewhat better.
Scott Smith wrote:nor motivated by race, as you imply--some Genocidal bugaboo.
Where exactly did I “imply” that the mass killing was motivated by racial considerations alone, Mr. Smith?
As Streit pointed out, anti-Bolshevism is likely to have been a far stronger determining factor than racial prejudices, especially among the armed forces.
Scott Smith wrote:The fact of the matter is that in historical context, enemy POWs are at the bottom of the priority hierarchy;
That used to be so in the days of medieval warlords that Smith obviously yearns for. It started changing after the Thirty Years War, and by the beginning of the last century there were very clear-cut rules as to the treatment that prisoners of war were entitled to.
Scott Smith wrote:only through reciprocation and agreements does this treatment improve,
The Hague Rules of Land Warfare and the 1929 Geneva Convention had become customary international law by the end of the 1930’s, entitling prisoners of war to treatment according to the principles of these conventions even if their governments had not ratified them.
Scott Smith wrote:especially when resources are tight.
The problem was not one of resources being “tight”, but an unwillingness to make resources available due to overriding policy considerations:
[…]Obtaining foodstuffs from the East was one of the principal objectives of the German Reich in the war against Soviet Russia. The breakdown of Germany in 1918 had been a traumatic experience for the German leaders, and it was still remembered by Hitler and his generals. The merciless exploitation of food resources in the East was designed to make it possible for the German people to enjoy food consumption as in peacetime and, thus, to stabilise wartime morale.
The bureaucrats involved in planning this exploitation were perfectly aware of the fact that this implied “without doubt the starvation of umpteen million people.” From the very beginning, the rations handed out to the Soviet prisoners of war were far below the minimum required for subsistence.[…]
Source of quote:
Christian Streit, ”The Fate of Soviet Prisoners of War”, published in: A Mosaic of Victims. Non-Jews Persecuted and Murdered by the Nazis.
Edited by Michael Berenbaum. New York University Press, 1990.
Emphasis is mine.
Scott Smith wrote: Hard to care about reciprocation when the enemy doesn't care about their OWN prisoners let alone yours.
Reciprocation and the home state’s attitude towards the prisoners are completely irrelevant to their right to be treated in accordance with rules and principles that have become international customary law, as explained above.
Scott Smith wrote: Sorry, I think you are being naïve, and that is meant with kindness.
Cut out the crap, Smith.
I’m not naïve, I’m pragmatic.
Unlike you, I draw the conclusions warranted by legal rules and evidence, not those dictated by pre-conceived ideological notions.