I previously blogged about the killing of German soldiers by Lt. Bill Walsh, shown in the photo above, at https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2013/04/29/ss-soldiers-were-shot-by-lt-bill-walsh-on-the-day-that-dachau-was-liberated/
Today’s news is filled with stories about Johann Breyer, an 89-year-old former German soldier, who has been accused of being an accessory to murder in 158 cases, involving the gassing of Jews at Auchwitz-Birkenau in 1944. Breyer was a guard at the Auschwitz main camp, and had no involvement with the 158 trains that brought 216,000 Jews to the Auschwitz-Birkenau camp in May 1944. There is no evidence that any of these 216,000 Jews were killed in a gas chamber. There is no evidence that gas chambers existed at Auschwitz-Birkenau.
If Johann Breyer can be brought to trial in Germany for alleged crimes committed in 1944, can old American soldiers be tried for the well-known killing of German soldiers, who had surrendered with their hands in the air, in April 1945 at Dachau?
General Patton’s Army was accused of several incidents in which German prisoners of war were shot, which he admitted in his autobiography.
Patton wrote the following entry in his diary on 4 January 1945:
“The Eleventh Armored is very green and took unnecessary losses to no effect. There were also some unfortunate incidents in the shooting of prisoners. I hope we can conceal this.”
In another incident involving the shooting of German and Italian Prisoners of War, an American captain was acquitted on the grounds that he had been following the orders of General Patton, who had discouraged American troops from taking prisoners during the landing of the US Seventh Army in Sicily.
A third execution of German soldiers who had surrendered on April 29th, known as the Webling Incident happened in the village of Webling on the outskirts of of the town of Dachau. American soldiers of the 222nd Regiment of the 42nd Rainbow Division executed soldiers of the German Home Guard after they had surrendered. The Home Guard consisted of young boys and old men who were forced into service in the last desperate days of the war to defend their cities and towns.
After an investigation by the US Army resulted in the court martial of the soldiers involved in these killings, General George S. Patton tore up the papers and tossed them in the wastebasket.
Col. Howard A. Buechner, the American medical officer who was there when Waffen-SS soldiers were executed during the liberation of Dachau, wrote in his book The Hour of the Avenger, regarding the court martial of soldiers in the 45th Thunderbird Division:
“Public outrage would certainly have opposed the prosecution of American heroes for eliminating a group of sadists who so richly deserved to die.”
I previously blogged about another incident in the killing of innocent German soldiers at Dachau at https://furtherglory.wordpress.com/2011/04/30/the-us-7th-army-ig-report-on-the-killing-of-guards-in-tower-b-at-dachau/
In early July 1945, the U.S. Counter Intelligence Corp (CIC) set up War Crimes Enclosure No. 1 in the former concentration camp at Dachau for suspected German war criminals who had been rounded up by the U.S. Third Army War Crimes Detachment.
In the photo above, accused German war criminals are shown entering the prison compound of the former Dachau concentration camp.
The authority for charging the defeated Germans with war crimes came from the London Agreement, signed after the war on August 8, 1945 by the four winning countries: Great Britain, France, the Soviet Union and the USA. The basis for the charges against the accused German war criminals was Law Order No. 10, issued by the Allied Control Council, the governing body for Germany before the country was divided into East and West Germany.
Law Order No. 10 defined Crimes against Peace, War Crimes, and Crimes against Humanity. A fourth crime category was membership in any organization, such as the Nazi party or the SS, that was declared to be criminal by the Allies. The war crimes contained in Law Order No. 10 were new crimes, created specifically for the defeated Germans, not crimes against existing international laws. Any acts committed by the winning Allies which were covered under Law Order No. 10 were not considered war crimes.
Every member of the elite SS volunteer Army was automatically a war criminal because the SS was designated by the Allies as a criminal organization even before anyone was put on trial. Any member of the Nazi political party, who had any official job within the party, was likewise automatically a war criminal regardless of what they had personally done.
Under the Allied concept of participating in a “common plan” to commit war crimes, it was not necessary for a Nazi or a member of the SS to have committed an atrocity themselves; all were automatically guilty under the concept of co-responsibility for any atrocity that might have occurred.
The basis for the “common plan” theory of guilt was Article II, paragraph 2 of Law Order No. 10 which stated as follows:
2. Any person without regard to nationality or the capacity in which he acted, is deemed to have committed a crime as defined in paragraph 1 of this Article, if he was (a) a principal or (b) was an accessory to the commission of any such crime or ordered or abetted the same or (c) took a consenting part therein or (d) was connected with plans or enterprises involving its commission or (e) was a member of any organization or group connected with the commission of any such crime or (f) with reference to paragraph 1 (a), if he held a high political, civil or military (including General Staff) position in Germany or in one of its Allies, co-belligerents or satellites or held high position in the financial, industrial or economic life of any such country.
Thirty thousand German soldiers were held, without trial, as prisoners for years after the war. Note that the name of the camp indicated that all German soldiers were war criminals.
As far as I know, there were no American soldiers put on trial for killing German soldiers who had surrendered with their hands in the air.
What is sauce for the goose is sauce for the gander. Shouldn’t old soldiers in American be treated the same as old soldiers in the German army?
Unfortunately, the policy in America is to cover up crimes committed by US soldiers. Remember Bradley Manning?
This quote is from an article, which you can read at http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2012/2/10/America-war-crime/
[US] Soldiers who have blown the whistle on atrocities committed by others in uniform, meanwhile, have been subjected to the full force of the government’s wrath. Since 2008, six soldiers have been charged with espionage for revealing information to journalists about atrocities committed by U.S. soldiers. When Private Bradley E. Manning sent Wikileaks a video of U.S. soldiers gunning down civilians in Iraq, he was arrested, and he has been detained in inhumane conditions in solitary confinement since. As Mazahir M. Hussain noted, “Bradley Manning should’ve really considered committing some war crimes instead of exposing them, [it] worked well for Frank Wuterich.”