About How innocent are civilians in wartime? Page 5
|July 8th, 2012||#41|
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|July 9th, 2012||#42|
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Allow me to provoke you.
"Are we beasts?" asked Winston Churchill one night in 1943 after watching a film of the bomb damage done to Germany. The question was probably rhetorical: Churchill had authorised the bombing campaign from its puny beginnings in 1940 to the massive Combined Offensive launched with the American air forces in the last two years of war. His language was always intemperate and flowery - "extermination", "annihilation" and so on. Did he mean it? Did the British set out deliberately in the Second World War on a path to the genocide of the German people?
"When I look around to see how we can win the war I see that there is only one sure path. We have no Continental army which can defeat the German military power.. Should (Hitler).. not try invasion (of Britain).. there is one thing that will bring him back and bring him down, and that is an absolutely devastating, exterminating attack by very heavy bombers from this country upon the Nazi homeland. We must be able to overwhelm them by this means, without which I do not see a way through. We cannot accept any aim lower than air mastery. When can it be obtained?" (Extract from Winston S Churchill The Second World War, Volume 2 Their Finest Hour Appendix A), Memo from Prime Minister to Minister of Aircraft Production, 8.July 1940).
The British will be familiar with Dresden, which has come to symbolise the awful horror of a ruthless total war. What they will not know is the fate of a host of other small cities - Kassel, Paderborn, Aachen, Swinemünde, and many more - which were all but obliterated by the bombing, or of the many large cities such as Cologne or Essen which experienced more than 250 raids each, so many that at the end the bombers were simply turning ruins into ruins.
This is a point of view that will probably not go down well with the British public. Britain's ineffectual war effort could do little else for three years after expulsion from France in 1940; the radicalisation of bombing policy reflected the limitations of the air weapon; the necessity of showing Stalin that Britain meant business compelled a raising of the stakes of horror for the political effect it might have. But killing as many German civilians as possible in ways that became progressively more grotesque was Britain's strategy from 1940 to the last attacks in April 1945.
Is this theory complete nonsense or is there any sense in it?
|July 9th, 2012||#44|
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In the first months of the war, Bomber Command was anxious to avoid the risk of killing civilians, and constrained itself to leaflet dropping and attacks on naval targets. But after Dunkirk, the heavy bombers remained the only means by which Britain could fight the Nazis in continental Europe.
This was the time when Churchill began to think about the need for an "absolutely devastating exterminating attack by very heavy bombers from this country upon the Nazi homeland." When on the night of 24 August 1940 the German air force - the Luftwaffe - accidentally and against Hitler's orders - dropped some bombs over London, the British prime minister requested a retaliatory raid on Berlin. Hitler responded by going ahead with the Blitz, and the following months and years saw tit-for-tat raids on each country's cities.
At the same time, Britain's air force began to realise that its bombers were not able to find and hit specific war targets such as airfields or armament factories. An investigation revealed that just one in five aircraft was succeeding in dropping its bombs within five miles of its target. Under such circumstances, the bombing offensive could only be effective if it was directed at targets as big as cities.
The aiming points thereafter, for bombing raids, were no longer military or industrial installations, but a church or other significant spot in the centre of industrial towns. And since fire was found to be the most effective means of destroying a town, the bombers now carried mainly incendiary bombs.
Thus, the exigencies of war had rendered the traditional distinction between combatants and non-combatants meaningless. Nearly everybody living in an "industrial town" was considered to contribute directly or indirectly to the German war effort, and had therefore become a supposedly legitimate target.
Hostilities had reached a point where the mere possibility of saving Allied lives was felt to justify the death of tens of thousands of civilians in German towns. In war, morality is a luxury - and some rules of engagement can prove impractical.
|July 9th, 2012||#45|
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But if the primary target of these raids were in the end civilians why did they go through the charade of the Nuremberg trials, there is no doubt that the holocaust was something they wanted to punish and rightly so but in 1945 War Crimes laws did not include crimes against your own people.
It was because of this they drafted Article 6 Crimes Against Humanity which were defined as "Murder, extermination, enslavement, deportation, and other inhumane acts committed against any civilian population, before or during the war, or persecutions on political, racial or religious grounds in execution of or in connection with any crime within the jurisdiction of the Tribunal, whether or not in violation of the domestic law of the country where perpetrated".
Based on that definition and what has been said by Allied leadership are they not guilty of the same crime or are said crimes only committed by the losing side?
Oh and for interests sake here is a copy of Churchill's memo...
We are more often treacherous through weakness than through calculation. ~Francois De La Rochefoucauld
Last edited by MontyB; July 10th, 2012 at 04:51..
|July 10th, 2012||#46|
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Like all politicians Churchill had an eye on the future and although he agreed with the bombing policy until the war was almost won. The people that seemed to carry the can for all of this was bomber crews and they were the ones that died implementing the politicians policies. The bomber crews like the German U Boat crews should have their memorial as they earned it doing their duty.
LeEnfield Rides again
|July 10th, 2012||#47|
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When one side wins, they get to dictate who or what event was so tragic. There still might have been a Nuremberg trail. If Germany had won, there is no question how the trials would had looked like. The Germans didn't have a holocaust to punish which could deflect anger away from the bombing. I can only imagine the parade of survivors we would bring into the court room to describe how children and relatives and homes and lives were burned out from under them in a firestorm etc etc. Would make for quite a dramatic seen, I'm sure Goebbels would have appreciated the propaganda effect.
|July 10th, 2012||#48|
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So far I have yet to see anyone in any thread on any forum claim that bomber crews should carry the can for area bombing, nor should they (and the same applies to Luftwaffe and U Boat crews) and there is no doubt that they should have had their memorials a long time ago but that does not change the fact that Harris and co were no less ruthless that their counterparts in Germany and Japan who were put on trial for their actions.
|July 10th, 2012||#49|
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Dresden was authorised by IKE and approved by all parties involved. Being authorised by IKE then the Americans joined in as well so they got the full force of the bombing campaign that went on with Americans bombing by day and the RAF bombing by night. Churchill did not object to it but it was not his idea.
|July 10th, 2012||#50|
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If we look at history with the eyes of today then most, if not all, great generals would be labeled war criminals.
One must make a difference between looking at history from your safe couch or expierenced it. Only the ones who experienced it know what it's like and I think that most if not all americans, brits, french etc have supported the destruction of Germany and Japan, no matter what. It was all out war, them or us. They didn't know the war would be over soon. For them the war would be over with the surrender of Germany and Japan, not sooner.
I have a question for LeEnfield : did you blame the Germans (including civilians) for bringing Hitler to power?
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