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> The Soviet Union under German occupation, Genocide policy
mabadesc
Posted: March 15, 2008 02:48 am
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Getting back to the topic of Waffen-SS soldiers, I do not think it is fair to generalize.
While the SS was definitely an ideologically evil organization, and while it is responsible for reprehensible and atrocious acts, this does not necessarily apply to all Waffen-SS soldiers.

Many Waffen-SS soldiers drew their motivation from fighting against bolshevism.
Also, many Waffen-SS soldiers fought honorably both in the East, and especially in the West.

Now, when talking about the Western campaigns of 1944-1945 in France and Belgium, it could even be argued that, on the battlefield, the combined Wehrmacht/Waffen-SS forces committed fewer violations of the rules of warfare than the combined British/American/Canadian forces did.

I know this may sound surprising - I was surprised to discover this myself.
The main difference was that American and British abuses were hushed by SHAEF and by the Western Press, while German potential combat incidents such as the "Malmedy Massacre" were broadcast and publicized to the extreme, although the circumstances under which it took place were far from clear-cut.

Please note that I am in no way attempting to excuse the abuses and atrocities committed by German (Army or SS) occupation forces. I am referring only to battlefield combat operations, and I would like to caution against the unfairness in making blanket statements about all Waffen-SS soldiers.



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sid guttridge
Posted: March 15, 2008 12:00 pm
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Hi mabadesc,

Can you point me to a single in-print blanket condemnation of all Waffen-SS men as war criminals? This is often claimed but I have never seen it substantiated.

It is unlikely that most W-SS men personally killed anyone in combat, let alone in a war crime. The Nuremberg war crimes trial recognised this by declaring that while the whole SS (including the Waffen-SS) was classified as a criminal organisation, membership of the SS was not of itself criminal. Like anyone else, SS men had to be convicted of a specific crime. As a result, only a small minority of war crimes charges were ever prosecuted.

There are two problems with your assertion that the Westen Allies may have commited more violations of the rules of war on the Western Front than the Wehrmacht/Waffen-SS.

The first is that virtually all the warcrimes alleged against the Germans on the Western Front were attributed to the small Waffen-SS and not the much larger Army and other services. Your formulation "Wehrmacht/Waffen-SS" therefore casts an unnecessary and undeserved shadow over the other German armed services. The Waffen-SS is most obviously condemned by the much better record of the German Army under identical operational conditions.

The second is that you offer no evidence of Western Allied war crimes. There were undoubtedly some. However, what is the evidence that SHAEF coverd them up?

Cheers,

Sid.
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mabadesc
Posted: March 15, 2008 11:39 pm
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Hi Sid,

For instance, in September 1942, in Tobruk, units of the British Long Range Desert Group, commanded by Colonel Stirling, Major Crewe, and Lt. Katz-Grunfeld (British officers) wore German uniforms and engaged in combat, attacking defensive works, blowing up installations, and attempting to kidnap Rommel.

They were captured and treated as prisoners of war. Not one single member was executed.

In October 1944, American Rangers detachments dressed as German soldiers, with false german papers, and armed with german weapons, engaged in combat in Aachen and succeeded in occupying the supply corridor still held by the germans (Aachen was almost completely surrounded except for the corridor).

To my knowledge, the 1907 rules of warfare state that it is legal for soldiers to wear the enemy's uniform as long as they do not engage in combat. They must remove the enemy's uniform (worn on top of their own) and reveal their true uniform once they engage in combat.

By comparison, German soldiers caught wearing American uniforms during the Ardennes Offensive were shot as spies, although they did not engage in combat.

With respect to other atrocities or violations of the rules of warfare:

1. When the media reported the alleged "Malmedy Massacre", there were calls for revenge. For instance, on December 21, the US 328th Infantry Division headquarters issued orders not to take german paratroopers or Waffen-SS members prisoner, but rather to shoot them on the spot.
Consequently, in Chegnogne, for instance, 21 German soldiers attempted to surrender under a Red Cross flag. They were all shot as they exited a house with their hands raised.

2. In Sicily, British war correspondent Alexander Clifford reported that soldiers from the 45th Infantry Division used a machine gun to kill a truckload of wounded German prisoners as they climbed out from the truck. He further reported the same type of killing of some 60 Italian prisoners.

3. American war correspondent Clark Lee, on July 14th near Gela, witnessed Seargeant Barry West (C Company) of machine-gunning 36 prisoners who he was ordered to escort to the rear. They were lined up in ranks at the time.

4. US Army Captain Jerry Compton lined up against a barn 43 german snipers (prisoners), wearing regulation german uniforms, and executed them.

To give General Bradley credit, he ordered an investigation. However, the captain stated that Patton had given verbal orders to the 45th Division "not to take any prisoners" shortly before the invasion of Sicily.

Returning to France:

1. November 5, 1944. Kay Summbersby (Eisenhower's driver and confidante) wrote: "General Betts reports that disciplinary conditions in the army are becoming bad. Many cases of rape, murder, and pillage are causing complaints by the French, Dutch, etc.".
2. Gen. Bedell Smith writes: "It is bad, numerous cases of rape, looting. Strong measures will have to be taken.".
3. Major General LeRoy Lutes wrote: "The French now grumble...that the Americans are a more drunken and disorderly lot than the Germans and hope to see the day when they are liberated from the Americans".
4. General Betts reports: "At one stage there were over five hundred instances of rape per month.
5. General Hodges writes on June 25 about Clarence Huebner of the 1st Division: "Clarence said, with his mouth curling into a smile, that his men refused to take prisoners. Could have taken 4 yesterday easily, but preferred to kill them , said Huebner".
6. Liddell Hart, visiting Caen, writes: "Most Frenchmen speak of the correctness of the German Army behavior. They seem particularly impressed that German soldiers were shot for incivility to women and compare this with the American troops' bad behaviour towards women".

To the American and British Commanders' credit, they tried to take action in stopping these incidents. However, they also tried to cover them up.

All in all, from June 6, 1944 through the end of the war, 454 GI's were sentenced to death. However, most got off the hook. Only 70 were executed. (low number, keeping in mind that at one stage there were over 500 instances of rape PER MONTH).

Just some examples of the abuses of our side. Undoubtedly there are countless more examples, both on the Allied and on the German side. Some are known, some have been covered up.

My conclusion: Abuses by both sides.

Take care.

Info extracted from various books, including:
"Nuts" by Michel Georis
"My Commando Operations", by Otto Skorzeny
"The War between the Generals" by David Irving

Note: Quotes were extracted from the books listed above but are the actual words from reports or diairy entries of American/British Officers (Betts, Bedell Smith, Hodges, Leroy, etc...).

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dragos
Posted: March 16, 2008 12:09 am
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QUOTE (mabadesc @ March 16, 2008 02:39 am)
To my knowledge, the 1907 rules of warfare state that it is legal for soldiers to wear the enemy's uniform as long as they do not engage in combat. They must remove the enemy's uniform (worn on top of their own) and reveal their true uniform once they engage in combat.

I am not aware of the 1907 regulations, but from your examples it is clear that the circumstances under which the soldiers wearing the foreign uniform are caught, being involved in combat or not, are judged by the side that captures them. A moderate commander who captures them might not apply their execution while an overzealous or doctrinal commander would order their execution. Who would be their witness in case their execution would be disputed?
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Dénes
Posted: March 16, 2008 08:35 am
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Talking of the quoted international law on warfare of 1907, it reportedly included provisions that civilian persons caught armed and fighting against a regular armed force can be executed without trial. Moreover, AFAIK in certain cases taking hostages from civilian population was also allowed by this law.
Can anyone confirm if these seldom referred to provisions are indeed included in the mentioned law?

Gen. Dénes

This post has been edited by Dénes on March 16, 2008 08:37 am
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mabadesc
Posted: March 16, 2008 08:48 pm
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QUOTE
I am not aware of the 1907 regulations...



Hi Dragos, Hi Denes.

The regulations I was referring to are from the Hague Convention of November 18, 1907.

Article 23 (f) states:

"The misuse of flags of truce, the national flag or the military insignia or uniform of the enemy is forbidden..."

Otto Skorzeny was cleared of this charge by the post-war Allied military tribunal.

In addition, the Allied post-war military tribunal issued the following clarification to the Hague regulations:

"It may not be the mission of commando units to conduct offensive operations in the uniform of the enemyh; they may only have the task of seizing important objects behind the lines like bridges, passes, oil refineries, and so on, without fighting, defending these against enemy attack and preventing their destruction.
The commandos may only wear the enemy uniform in non-combat operations, and in order to approach their objectives behind enemy lines. As soon as they are forced to join combat they must identify themselves to the enemy force before they open fire. As long as the commandos act according to these principles, they are not breaking international law. Every member of such a commando unit who is captured in an enemy uniform, will be considered a spy if he tried to obtain information in this uniform, or if he succeeded in doing so. If he engaged in combat the enemy uniform or even opened fire, he is guilty of a war crime and may be sentenced accordingly".

QUOTE
....but from your examples it is clear that the circumstances under which the soldiers wearing the foreign uniform are caught, being involved in combat or not, are judged by the side that captures them.


Dragos, that's certainly true. But please keep in mind that the examples I gave of US/British executing German prisoners do not refer to German soldiers caught in foreign uniforms. They were simply German soldiers, wearing German uniforms, who were caught in combat operations and executed contrary to all regulations.

The only examples I gave which referred to soldiers wearing foreign uniforms were:

1. American Rangers wearing German uniforms and engaging in combat in Aachen.
2. British commandos wearing German uniforms and engaging in combat in Tobruk. The latter were caught and treated as prisoners of war, although according to international law, the Germans could have legally executed them.
3. By contrast, German soldiers wearing US uniforms in Skorzeny's Operation Griffin (during the Ardennes offensive) did not engage in combat. Yet, the ones who were caught were executed - illegally according to the Hague Convention.

As proof, Skorzeny himself and other members of his commando who were not caught during the operation were tried after the war and found innocent by a post-war military tribunal.

All other abuses which I mentioned refer to US/British soldiers executing German prisoners of war caught in normal combat operations, wearing regulation German uniforms.

As a disclaimer, I should once again note that this was neither approved nor encouraged by SHAEF. However, in spite of this, abuses did happen on larger than publicly known scale on the side of the Allies.
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saudadesdefrancesinhas
Posted: March 19, 2008 09:27 pm
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QUOTE (mabadesc @ March 15, 2008 02:48 am)
Getting back to the topic of Waffen-SS soldiers, I do not think it is fair to generalize.
While the SS was definitely an ideologically evil organization, and while it is responsible for reprehensible and atrocious acts, this does not necessarily apply to all Waffen-SS soldiers.

Many Waffen-SS soldiers drew their motivation from fighting against bolshevism.
Also, many Waffen-SS soldiers fought honorably both in the East, and especially in the West.

Now, when talking about the Western campaigns of 1944-1945 in France and Belgium, it could even be argued that, on the battlefield, the combined Wehrmacht/Waffen-SS forces committed fewer violations of the rules of warfare than the combined British/American/Canadian forces did.

I know this may sound surprising - I was surprised to discover this myself.
The main difference was that American and British abuses were hushed by SHAEF and by the Western Press, while German potential combat incidents such as the "Malmedy Massacre" were broadcast and publicized to the extreme, although the circumstances under which it took place were far from clear-cut.

Please note that I am in no way attempting to excuse the abuses and atrocities committed by German (Army or SS) occupation forces. I am referring only to battlefield combat operations, and I would like to caution against the unfairness in making blanket statements about all Waffen-SS soldiers.

QUOTE
Now, when talking about the Western campaigns of 1944-1945 in France and Belgium, it could even be argued that, on the battlefield, the combined Wehrmacht/Waffen-SS forces committed fewer violations of the rules of warfare than the combined British/American/Canadian forces did.


This theme would probably benefit from closer study and comparaison, to try and uncover the frequency and scale of these acts on both sides. I have heard from members of my family that Canadians and Scottish units were more likely than others to shoot German prisonners, for example. I don't know how far this anecdotal assertion is borne out by the reality.

The other night I was reading a book about the Milice and their German allies 'fighting' the resistance, and many extreme and brutal crimes are recorded in this book (e.g. beheading of a French 'suspect' by a group of Milice and German allies with a shovel, while keeping him alive as long as possible, gang rape of one French woman by 50 indian soldiers, on the orders of a German officer, etc.)

Many people were apparently killed on spurious pretexts, so that the Milice members could steal their possessions also.

Can anyone indicate, how typical was this of the way the Germans and their allies behaved towards the population of Western Europe (the book I have been reading looks mainly at the crimes of the Milice and I don't know much about the other German forces), and did the allied forces in the West commit similar atrocities against civilian populations?

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mabadesc
Posted: March 20, 2008 03:15 am
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The other night I was reading a book about the Milice and their German allies...


Saudades,

I know next to nothing about the Milice in France, but I would definitely like to learn more about them.

QUOTE
...(..atrocities on both the Allied and the German side in France) would probably benefit from closer study and comparaison, to try and uncover the frequency and scale of these acts on both sides.


I completely agree. I gave some examples - I hope Sid and Jeff will return and post more of their thoughts on this thread.

QUOTE
I have heard from members of my family that Canadians and Scottish units were more likely than others to shoot German prisonners, for example.


That's very interesting indeed. The examples I read about (and posted earlier on this thread) referred mostly to US soldiers, but it's entirely possible Canadians and Scots were responsible for some unfortunate incidents.

QUOTE
Can anyone indicate, how typical was this of the way the Germans and their allies behaved towards the population of Western Europe (the book I have been reading looks mainly at the crimes of the Milice and I don't know much about the other German forces), and did the allied forces in the West commit similar atrocities against civilian populations?


As I said, I'm not familiar with the Milice, but I have read accounts according to which the population in Northern France considered the German Armed Forces as more disciplined and more "civilized" in dealing with the population than the subsequent Allied forces.

Apparently, rape and looting in small towns and villages in Northern France occurred on a much larger scale during the period of Allied occupation (June '44 - end of war).

Upon visiting Normandy on June 26, 1944, Sir Alan Brooke wrote in his diary: "I was astonished to see how little affected the country had been by the German occupation and five years of war. (...) The French population did not seem in any way pleased to see us arrive as a victorious army to liberate France. They had been quite content as they were, and we were bringing war and desolation to their country".

General de Guingand (Montgomery's Chief of Staff) writes in reaction to French snipers, including women, shooting at Allied convoys: "SHAEF are very keen on putting out a denial that the French have been sniping our troops, as they consider it very desirable from the political point of view to do this".

Personally, I think that the French were overall happy to be liberated by the Allied Forces, but at the same time they were just sick of war, and a bit hostile due to massive Allied bombing raids which, in an attempt to destroy German military supply lines and railways, inadvertendly destroyed entire towns and killed many French civilians.

Thanks.

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sid guttridge
Posted: March 20, 2008 01:42 pm
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Hi Mabadesc,

Good work.

With regard to the wearing of German uniform by commandos. It should be noted that under Hitler's so-called Commando Order, all commandos were to be executed even if wearing British uniform. Many were. This was also against the Hague Conventions and made it pretty immaterial what uniform British special forces wore!

The fact that the Western Allies dealt with indiscipline internally makes their action qualitatively different from the reactions of the Waffen-SS command to war crimes by their own troops. In late 1939 the embryonic Waffen-SS was removed from the jurisdiction of the German Army disciplinary system to avoid prosecutions being brought by army officers such as General Blaskowitz, military governor of the General Gouvernment, for a series of massacres and other crimes in Poland since the outbreak of war in September. Thereafter, the Waffen-SS was a law unto itself, which is probably why three of the four major massacres raised by the French at Nuremburg were by W-SS units, even though less than one in twenty of the German servicemen who served in France were SS men.

Must go prematurely.

I will finish for now by asking if there was any Western Allied equivalent of the execution of some 5,000 Italian POWs by 1st Mountain Division on Corfu in September 1943? This was a German Army action and alone seems to outweigh all the accusations against Anglo-American armies throughout the war!

Let's not give the Germans too much credit!

Cheers,

Sid.






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sid guttridge
Posted: March 20, 2008 04:50 pm
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Hi Mabadesc,

Could you dig out the original sources from the notes or bibliographies of the books you quote these stories from?

I will be visiting the British Library soon and should be able to check them personally.

Cheers,

Sid.
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saudadesdefrancesinhas
Posted: March 20, 2008 05:45 pm
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QUOTE
As I said, I'm not familiar with the Milice, but I have read accounts according to which the population in Northern France considered the German Armed Forces as more disciplined and more "civilized" in dealing with the population than the subsequent Allied forces.


Many of the Milice activities, and those of other German and foreign units with them, seem to relate to events outside the main theatre of warfare in the North, and to events related to 'fighting' against the resistance, who became increasingly active at this time in the war.

I put fighting in inverted commas, because some of it was genuine fighting against resistance fighters, and some of the things done appear to have had little to do with real fighting of this kind.

I will have a look around for more French sources on the period, which might look at what happened throughout other areas, where there were no Milice units. French historians (especially academic ones) often produce detailed and comprehensive studies, there might even be something looking at allied civil-military relations in 1944-45.

Another thing I was told, was that it was difficult to take the members of the 10th SS division (the Hitler Youth one) prisonner, because they were reluctant to surrender. Again, I don't know to what extent this anecdotal evidence is true.
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Jeff_S
Posted: March 20, 2008 10:43 pm
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QUOTE (mabadesc @ March 19, 2008 10:15 pm)
QUOTE
...(..atrocities on both the Allied and the German side in France) would probably benefit from closer study and comparaison, to try and uncover the frequency and scale of these acts on both sides.


I completely agree. I gave some examples - I hope Sid and Jeff will return and post more of their thoughts on this thread.


Wow. It's not often I get invited by name to comment. Sorry for my silence -- occasionally I need to take a break from worldwar2.ro to do my job. BTW, I find it very interesting that one of NGOA's threads has turned in to such an interesting discussion.

Everything I have seen on this topic (World War 2 atrocities) has been anecdotal -- individual incidents described. Usually this is out of context, or as part of supporting the authors agenda about the barbarity or nobility of one side or the other. I'm inclined to be very suspicious of this, for obvious reasons. I particularly don't like the Stephen Ambrose "ask old men 40 years later why they did what they did" school of history, that has been popular recently in the US, concurrent with the passing of the WW2 generation. Sure, everybody was fighting for the most noble motives -- motherhood, apple pie, the flag, and making the world safe for democracy. All of them were like Boy Scouts, handing out candy to children and helping old ladies across the street. If that was always true, why didn't those motives appear in their comments at the time?

That said, I'm very, very far from the view that says all sides committed atrocities, so they are basically the same, or differed only at the highest political levels, or that the Germans were better behaved. My impression is that occupation by Nazi Germany was more harsh, even in the West, and that the SS was particularly bad. There was simply nothing comparable on the Allied side to the Nazi's racial rhetoric and policies (in Europe that is -- the US was certainly racist toward the Japanese, and was racially segregated at home toward Africans, the British were plenty racist in their colonies too). This is only natural -- German-Americans were one of the largest immigrant blocs in the USA (including many of my own ancestors on both sides, BTW). I firmly believe the Western allies really were fighting to defeat the Nazis, not to establish themselves as the "Master Race", or for lebensraum or to correct historical injustices. If they wanted to do any of these things, they had many opportunities, starting in 1918 at Versailles, and continuing through the remilitarization of the Rhineland, German re-armament, the Czech crisis, the anschluss with Austria and others. Any of these after Versailles would have been casus belli for states with aggressive intentions. If they wanted to dismember Germany, Versailles was the perfect opportunity to do it.

There's almost too many examples to list, starting with the German's treatment of Poland, declaring it to no longer exist, that captured Poles had no status as prisoners, and invading Poland with lists of leading citizens of each town to arrest and execute. That should have signalled to everyone that this was something very different than World War I. Sid's example on Corfu is very clear too, and on large scale.

I would like to see more study of this topic too, but with rigorous methodology and transparency about the sources. It may be too difficult to accomplish with any degree of accuracy.

I've gone on too long, but I think it's important to make some distinctions when looking at crimes and atrocities committed during war (note that I did not say "war crimes" -- not all of them are.)

1. Acts by individuals or small groups, usually acting outside of their military responsibilities or orders -- breakdowns of discipline. These can, and often are, dealt with through normal military law. I would put a rape commited by a US soldier in France in this category -- unless someone can show me it was US policy to mistreat the civilians of a historic ally, to whom the USA owed its existence as an independent state, and whose independence the US fought to preserve in 2 wars.

2. Actions directed by leaders at the tactical or operational level, but not as part of state policy. These may be breakdowns of discipline by the officers involved, but not by the troops. It's to prevent actions such as this that some armies instituted the "it is legal to disobey an illegal order" provision after the war, to prevent the "I was just following orders" defense. Shooting prisoners often seems to fall in to this category -- troops don't usually just start doing this on their own.

3. Actions taken as part of state policy or strategy. An example would be the German treatment of conquered Poland.

Some topics such as treatment of partisans cut across all three topics, of course.
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Jeff_S
Posted: March 20, 2008 11:38 pm
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QUOTE (Dénes @ March 14, 2008 05:20 pm)
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.


Gen. Dénes

That's an interesting anecdote. I read it in the Wikipedia article on the "Charlemagne" division too, but there is no reference. I wonder if it's apocryphal or not.

While both are wearing foreign uniforms, that's where the similiarity ends, in my opinion.

How the Vichy state came into existence is important, IMHO. It's not as if the Premier and National Assembly of France woke up one morning and said "Oh my God! We've been fighting on the wrong side! Let's make peace with the Germans and set up a small client state. Let's send our men to work as forced laborers in Germany, or in a German foreign legion against the Soviets." France had been militarily defeated. The Vichy state was an alternative to total occupation by the Germans, and the end of any ghost of a sovereign French state in mainland France. Some saw an opportunity for continued resistance and refused to accept the armistice.

The Free French officer was continuing the belligerent course adopted by the last freely-elected French government. By disobeying the order to surrender he was guilty of insubordination. But treason? He wasn't waging war against France, but against France's conqueror, on the same side as France's two WW1 allies.

Was the Charlemagne officer guilty of treason? Not in my eyes. But he was certainly guilty of naivete. I can understand wanting to fight Bolshevism rather than do slave labor in Germany. But to believe any Nazi promises that what he was doing was helping France was very foolish. The Nazis had sought to undermine French power and influence -- and ultimately independence -- since the moment they took power. If they loved France so much, and hated Bolshevism, why didn't they seek an alliance with Poland -- France's ally -- against the Soviet Union, rather than an alliance with the Soviet Union against Poland? Simple -- because they wanted to fight a one-front war against France, not a two-front war against France + Poland, or France + the Soviet Union.

QUOTE
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.


Agree with this completely. "Traitor" is tossed around far too liberally.
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saudadesdefrancesinhas
Posted: March 20, 2008 11:40 pm
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QUOTE
There was simply nothing comparable on the Allied side to the Nazi's racial rhetoric and policies (in Europe that is -- the US was certainly racist toward the Japanese, and was racially segregated at home toward Africans, the British were plenty racist in their colonies too).


Thinking about this, I wonder to what extent racist colonial ideas current in the 19th and early 20th century in most European countries with overseas empires, influenced Nazi attitudes to the countries they conquered, whose inhabitants were seen, in Nazi ideology, as racially 'inferior'.

From what I know about colonisation in Africa, (which is not a vast amount about anywhere not belonging to Portugal) the numbers directly killed by the colonial forces and their native allies was not as great in numerical terms, but many Africans were killed by famine and made destitute by the colonial authorities and their policies.

India is a slightly different example, because, while the British sometimes acted with great brutality (such as during the repression of the Indian mutiny), they did not attempt to destroy Indian culture, or even the local Indian ruling classes, and to some extent, British policies led to a strengthening and renaissance of Hindu culture.

There are probably some other important differences (if only in theory as opposed to actual practice), but it is probably still worth considering to what extent colonial and racial ideologies in the decades before the advent of the 3rd Reich contributed to the ideas of Hitler and the other Nazi leaders. :(
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saudadesdefrancesinhas
Posted: March 21, 2008 12:09 am
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QUOTE
The Free French officer was continuing the belligerent course adopted by the last freely-elected French government. By disobeying the order to surrender he was guilty of insubordination. But treason? He wasn't waging war against France, but against France's conqueror, on the same side as France's two WW1 allies.


I'm not sure of the constitutional technicalities, or exactly what laws were used to prosecute the members of the French SS and the LVF etc. after the war, but, I think that they were actually committing treason.

The Germans violated the conditions of the armistice in 1942 and invaded the Vichy zone, and at this time, most of the officers of the Vichy army who were able joined the 'Free' French because the constitutional basis of the Vichy regime had disappeared. I think also, that just prior to the German invasion of the free zone, the Vichy prime minister had been negotiating with the allies to change sides, or had actually decided to do so.

Additionally, to become a member of the SS, you had to swear loyalty to Adolf Hitler, as head of the German State, and when French soldiers did this they were apparently committing treason.

So the SS man in question was incorrect:

QUOTE
...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.


The French general was wearing a uniform that happened to have been made in the USA, with French rank badges, because he was an officer in what was then the French Army, and the French had no access to new uniforms made in France. The Germans expressly forbade French volunteers from wearing French Army uniform, whereas, as far as posible and while stocks were available, the French troops on the allied side in Italy continued to wear their French uniforms.

Hopefully I am correct in saying that the SS man was not just wearing a foreign uniform, but had a rank and position in a foreign army that was at war with his own country, which would seem like treason.



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