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> The Soviet Union under German occupation, Genocide policy
mabadesc
Posted: March 11, 2008 07:13 pm
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Scale of evil...  the "evil" is a subjective element, what is evil for one can be a bless for other.


You obviously didn't notice that "scale of evil" was just a figure of speech - not to be taken literally.

No, "evil" is not a subjective element simply because you can rationalize it. That would be just moral relativism, in my opinion.

I stand by my previously stated point of view - Nazi Germany and Stalinist USSR were equally evil and committed equally atrocious acts.

To Sid and to Jeff:

Please keep in mind that, just as you argue that the West was not exposed to German-committed atrocities in the East, it can also be noted that it was equally not exposed to Soviet-committed atrocities (pre-, during, and immediately post-war).


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The absence of detailed information on Soviet civilian losses is one of the major lacks in the English language bibliography of WWII. This allows the record of the German Army and Waffen-SS on the Eastern Front to escape the close scrutiny they get on the Western Front.


The same can be said about the record of the Soviet Army and the subsequent puppet regimes they enforced.
After the end of the war, the countries which underwent Soviet "liberation" (Germany, the Baltics, Romania, Hungary, etc.) were in no position to write about the atrocities committed by the Soviet Army, while the West was too removed from the subject.

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Jeff_S
Posted: March 11, 2008 09:54 pm
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QUOTE (mabadesc @ March 11, 2008 02:13 pm)
To Sid and to Jeff:

Please keep in mind that, just as you argue that the West was not exposed to German-committed atrocities in the East, it can also be noted that it was equally not exposed to Soviet-committed atrocities (pre-, during, and immediately post-war).


QUOTE
The absence of detailed information on Soviet civilian losses is one of the major lacks in the English language bibliography of WWII. This allows the record of the German Army and Waffen-SS on the Eastern Front to escape the close scrutiny they get on the Western Front.


The same can be said about the record of the Soviet Army and the subsequent puppet regimes they enforced.
After the end of the war, the countries which underwent Soviet "liberation" (Germany, the Baltics, Romania, Hungary, etc.) were in no position to write about the atrocities committed by the Soviet Army, while the West was too removed from the subject.

That's very true.

I would say the West was even less exposed to Soviet atrocities. With Nazi atrocities, at least there was a sense that if the Nazis were committing them in the West, they were committing them in the East too, even if the details were not known. The high-profile admirers of the Nazis (Lindbergh, Henry Ford) had been totally discredited in public opinion, but admirers of Stalin and the Soviet Union had not. This was all pre-Khruschev's de-Stalinization, pre-"Gulag Archipelago", pre-dissident movement, and so on. Atrocities such as Katyn were known to people who were interested in that sort of thing, but I don't think they figured in the public concept of the Soviets the way that the Nazi's racist and genocidal policies were central to their public image. (I would say that's still true today).

I remember my father talking about a great-uncle of mine who lived in an apartment above his family's barn, who would have communist meetings and received all sorts of communist visitors. While they thought it was a little weird, nobody thought it was dangerous or threatening. Nobody would have been OK with the idea of a Nazi living in their barn.

While there were some in the West who expected (or advocated) war with the Soviets (Patton for example), I really have the sense that it was because they expected it would happen anyway, so we may as well fight them now while we had the nuclear advantage. Churchill's "Iron Curtain" speech and George Kennan's "X" article in Foreign Affairs magazine hadn't been written yet, and there really wasn't any support for the idea that eastern Europe needed rescuing, or that the West had any responsibility (or maybe even right) to do that even if they did.

This post has been edited by Jeff_S on March 11, 2008 09:56 pm
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guina
Posted: March 12, 2008 09:04 am
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Re:British and American responsabilities see
Operation Keelhaul
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Keelhaul
and the fate of XV th SS Cossack Cavalry Corps
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/XVth_Cossack_Cavalry_Corps
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Jeff_S
Posted: March 12, 2008 04:37 pm
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QUOTE (guina @ March 12, 2008 04:04 am)
Re:British and American responsabilities  see
Operation Keelhaul
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Keelhaul
and the fate of XV th SS Cossack Cavalry Corps
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/XVth_Cossack_Cavalry_Corps

I don't want to get into a flame war about this, and it's hardly a specialty of mine. But I not consider these the most shameful examples of British and American behavior at the end of World War 2 -- not even close. I would probably reserve that for the Poles who fought in British service and were denied a place in the victory parade and sent back to Poland.

Like it or not, the Soviet Union was an ally of the US and Britain, a strange one for sure, but one that was absolutely critical in defeating Germany. The people they were asking to be repatriated were in many cases their citizens, or at least citizens of areas under their occupation. When the US and and Britain made those agreements at Yalta, they were still at war with both Germany and Japan, and did not know how long either of those would last. Expecting them to use what influence they had to try to protect other country's citizens (at best) or active Nazi collaborators (in many cases) seems very optimistic, to put it mildly.

The Cossacks of the 15th SS Cavalry Corps made a choice to volunteer for the Germans, and they chose the losing side. I know the foreign volunteers fought for many different reasons not necessarily related to Naziism and loyalty to Germany. But the SS had a well-deserved reputation for brutality and fanaticism that the Wehrmacht did not share (sometimes at least). Why would the Soviets not consider them traitors? They were traitors by any normal definition -- Soviet citizens who took up arms in the service of an invading army.

Yes, they were in a difficult position: stay and be loyal to a regime that terrorized and oppressed them, or throw in their lot with Nazis who might give them a better deal. But expecting them to be released and resettled in Western Europe or the USA at a time when there were already many refugees seems totally absurd.

International law and custom about refugees and migration rights has developed since World War 2. We also have the benefit of hindsight in looking at 40+ years of the Cold War, and much greater exposure of Stalin's crimes. My personal opinion is that it's wrong to judge historical actions by modern standards and with modern knowledge not available to the decision makers at the time, but that's just me.

And those Wikipedia articles hardly seem "NPOV" as Wikipedia strives to be.

This post has been edited by Jeff_S on March 12, 2008 04:38 pm
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guina
Posted: March 12, 2008 06:09 pm
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Hi Jeff,
I'M sorry,but i dont think that the cossacks could be considered traitors,tehnicaly maybe but only technicaly.As you know,since the comunists took power,they rised again and again and were put down in a sea of blod.Tens of thousands of men ,women and children were killed and whole vilages were wiped out.Moreever,a lot of esauls and other oficers of the Corps left Russia after the revolution so they were NOT Soviet citizens.Some of the wifes and all the children also were not soviet citizens.They betrayed whom?
What bothers me more,is that the British tricked them into surendering and that hapened in the summer of 45 ,when the war was over and they knew what will happen to the cossacks.
BBC made an interesting documentary about the whole affair.
Take care,
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Jeff_S
Posted: March 12, 2008 07:30 pm
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I didn't mean to be an apologist for Stalin, not at all. And I'm sure as you say that the British either knew what would happen to them or were just trying to stay ignorant. I don't know what I would have done in their situation -- it's one of those ethics class dilemmas. As for the trickery, I don't know the details -- but what should the British have done? Killed them themselves if they refused to return?

I'm just saying when you have so many victims around Europe who are truly completely innocent, to say that former SS members should be given something that looks very much like political asylum at the cost of damaging relations with the Soviets is not realistic. This is especialy true when the war in Europe is barely over, and the war in the Pacific still being fought. Why not do the same thing to support Baltic nationalists (the US never recognized their annexation, they kept their embassies in Washington), Ukrainian nationalists (who fought a guerilla war into the 1950s), the Poles and so on? There was no realistic way to do these things, regardless of how morally good they might have been.

The Soviets already had Berlin. They had troops on the border of Greece and could have supported the communist faction there in the civil war more than they did. They had US and British POWs they had liberated. They were not at war with Japan. All these were areas where the US and British had an interest, and the Soviets basically did what the West wanted. They did not have to do any of these things, and the British and US had no way of forcing them.

As for the Cossacks not being traitors, this gets into the whole question of who has a right to independence. Yes, I know many Cossacks hated Soviet power and paid a high price for this. But if they weren't Soviets, what were they? As for those who emigrated after the Revolution and joined the Germans later, they may not be Soviets, but foreign volunteers in the SS are not going to inspire much love from the Russians or anyone else on the winning side. If they were already in the West, they should have stayed there and kept their heads down. The time to intervene more decisively for an independent Cossack state was during the Russian Civil War, in my opinion. Those interventions ended the way the ended -- not exactly a big success.

This post has been edited by Jeff_S on March 12, 2008 07:40 pm
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guina
Posted: March 12, 2008 07:59 pm
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IAs far as i know,the cossacks never wanted an independent state,they just wanted to keep their traditional vay of life.
As foe the rest I dont think there is an argument betwen us,maybe just a bit diferent perspective.
All the best,
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Jeff_S
Posted: March 12, 2008 09:25 pm
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QUOTE (guina @ March 12, 2008 02:59 pm)
IAs far as i know,the cossacks never wanted an independent state,they just wanted to keep their traditional vay of life.
All the best,

A noble goal, but a difficult one. As Stalin said, "You may not have an interest in politics. But politics has an interest in you."

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As foe the rest I dont think there is an argument betwen us,maybe just a bit diferent perspective.


I agree. There's no shortage of injustice in the settlement of World War 2.


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sid guttridge
Posted: March 13, 2008 12:28 pm
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Hi Guys,

Regarding the Cossacks in German service.

They fell into two categories:

1) A small number who had fled Russia ahead of the Red Army after WWI. They were never Soviet citizens.

2) The overwhelming majority who were Soviet citizens and had mostly been captured in Red Army uniform.

Technically speaking, many of the former (1) were not traitors to the USSR as they had never been citizens of it. However, most of them were residents of other eastern European countries, notably Bulgaria, that were at war with Germany by 1945. Most were thus still eligible for repatriation to areas under Soviet control.

The latter (2) were undoubtedly technically traitors and the UK was entirely justified under law to return them to the USSR. Indeed, under the Hague and Geneva Conventions they could not even send POWs to a third country.

Cheers,

Sid.

This post has been edited by sid guttridge on March 13, 2008 12:29 pm
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guina
Posted: March 13, 2008 12:54 pm
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Hi Sid,
Of course you are right, but extrapolating how about the Free French Forces ?
Where they also traitors to the French state.Or being on the winer's side makes them diferent?
Cheers,
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Jeff_S
Posted: March 13, 2008 04:10 pm
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QUOTE (guina @ March 13, 2008 07:54 am)
Hi Sid,
Of course you are right, but extrapolating how about the Free French Forces ?
Where they also traitors to the French state.Or being on the winer's side makes them diferent?
Cheers,

It's not a question of being on the winning side. The circumstances are very different.

France and Britain were at war with Germany from 1939. France made a separate peace in 1940. Some of its soldiers -- already belligerents -- elected to continue fighting with the support of the British rather than lay down their arms and accept the separate peace treaty that set up the Vichy state. They never changed sides, and they represented a government-in-exile. There's no question about them being legitimate combatants -- not traitors or rebels.

That's not the Cossack situation. They were not at war with the Soviet Union to start with. They were either civilians who volunteered for the German military after Germany captured the area they lived in, or were in the Soviet army and changed sides. As Sid pointed out, most were traitors by any normal definition. Also, they did not represent a state -- not even a puppet state (Slovakia for example) or a government-in-exile.
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guina
Posted: March 13, 2008 05:14 pm
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Sid,
When i was conscripted into Ro. army i made a pledge to my country.Not to the allies of my country.So did the french troops to France, and the legitimate french gouvernament,headed by Petain signed an armistice with Germany.So technicaly,the free french were traitors,a fact confirmed by the behavior of the rest of the army and its commanding officers.And I do not doubt,for a second,that they ( the bulk of the army that remained true to their oath ) were not true french patriots.
What I'm trayng to say is that we must not hurry and brand people traitors without considering all the circumstances and the facts that brought them to act one way or another,no matter what a particular law (even international )says.Otherwise we'll come to the conclusion that the majority of detainees in KZ's and Gulag were also traitors,and so where the romanian officers and peasant that fought the comunists until late 50 ies
All the best,
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sid guttridge
Posted: March 14, 2008 12:49 pm
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Hi Quina,

Undoubtedly the Free French were technically traitors, especially initially. However, it should be remembered that in November 1942 Germany occupied Vichy France, thereby breaking the Armistice Conditions. Thereafter the Vichy Government was effectively the hostage of an enemy government and virtually the entire Vichy armed forces therefore went over to the Free French.

It is thus very difficult to make a case that after November 1942 the Vichy Government still represented an independent French state or that virtually the entire French armed forces (of both Free and Vichy origin) were traitors.

One more thing. Even if their legitimacy was in doubt, the war aims of the Free French were the same as those of Vichy. Both wanted the return of Alsace and Lorraine and both intended to fight for them.

Cheers,

Sid.

This post has been edited by sid guttridge on March 14, 2008 12:50 pm
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guina
Posted: March 14, 2008 05:14 pm
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Hi,Sid
Of course I agree with you,I just took the argument to the absurd,to try and point out that we have to think twice before branding someone traitor.
Anyway we got to far from the original subject.
dan
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Dénes
Posted: March 14, 2008 10:20 pm
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RE: members of various French armed forces fighting in WW 2. I've read once an anecdote (which I am not sure was true, but does sound like it could). Namely, when a survivor of a French-manned SS unit, fighting in Berlin in 1945 (Charlemagne?) was brought in front of a high ranking officer of the Free French Army, the latter asked the first: "why are you wearing a foreign uniform?" The SS guy replied: "and why are YOU, Sir, wearing one (pointing to his US style uniform)?" Reportedly, the SS guy was then summarily executed on spot.

Dan is perfectly right regarding who's labelled a 'traitor' and who's not (and vice versa). Same applies to 'liberation', 'occupation', and other controversial notions.

Gen. Dénes

This post has been edited by Dénes on March 14, 2008 10:34 pm
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