Scrapbookpages Blog

March 15, 2014

General Patton’s policy regarding the treatment of German POWs

Filed under: World War II — Tags: , , , — furtherglory @ 10:00 am

A reader of my blog recently made a comment in which he stated that General Patton told his men: “Any man who brings me an SS prisoner will be court Marshalled!”?

I interpret this to mean that General Patton wanted his men to take no prisoners when fighting in battle against Waffen-SS soldiers. Even more explicit, General Patton ordered his men to kill all Waffen-SS soldiers who surrendered.

I have been searching for some verification of this order, but have found nothing.  What I did find in my searching was an article about General Eisenhower and his treatment of German POWs at http://www.rense.com/general46/germ.htm

This quote is from the website cited above:

One month before the end of World War 11, General Eisenhower issued special orders concerning the treatment of German Prisoners and specific in the language of those orders was this statement,

“Prison enclosures are to provide no shelter or other comforts.”

Eisenhower biographer Stephen Ambrose, who was given access to the Eisenhower personal letters, states that he proposed to exterminate the entire German General Staff, thousands of people, after the war.

Eisenhower, in his personal letters, did not merely hate the Nazi Regime, and the few who imposed its will down from the top, but that HE HATED THE GERMAN PEOPLE AS A RACE. It was his personal intent to destroy as many of them as he could, and one way was to wipe out as many prisoners of war as possible.

Of course, that was illegal under International law, so he issued an order on March 10, 1945 and verified by his initials on a cable of that date, that German Prisoners of War be predesignated as “Disarmed Enemy Forces” called in these reports as DEF. He ordered that these Germans did not fall under the Geneva Rules, and were not to be fed or given any water or medical attention. The Swiss Red Cross was not to inspect the camps, for under the DEF classification, they had no such authority or jurisdiction.

This quote from the website cited above is the most important:

Months after the war was officially over, Eisenhower’s special German DEF camps were still in operation forcing the men into confinement, but denying that they were prisoners. As soon as the war was over, General George Patton simply turned his prisoners loose to fend for themselves and find their way home as best they could. Eisenhower was furious, and issued a specific order to Patton, to turn these men over to the DEF camps. Knowing Patton as we do from history, we know that these orders were largely ignored, and it may well be that Patton’s untimely and curious death may have been a result of what he knew about these wretched Eisenhower DEF camps.  […]

General Patton’s Third Army was the only command in the European Theater to release significant numbers of Germans.

Others, such as Omar Bradley and General J.C.H. Lee, Commander of Com Z, tried, and ordered the release of prisoners within a week of the war’s end. However, a SHAEF Order, signed by Eisenhower, countermanded them on May 15th.

I wrote about Eisenhower’s DEF camps on my website at http://www.scrapbookpages.com/EasternGermany/Gotha/

April 13, 2011

the Allies secretly recorded German Wehrmacht soldiers bragging about their war crimes

Filed under: Germany, World War II — Tags: , — furtherglory @ 9:56 am

According to the website of the German newspaper, Der Spiegel, a new book entitled Soldaten (Soldiers) has been published by S. Fischer Verlag and the book “has the potential to change our view of the war.” You can read the newspaper article here.

During Word War II, the Allies secretly listened in on conversations between German POWs in their cells and recorded them. According to Der Speigel, the recordings of these conversations destroy once and for all the myth of a “clean” Wehrmacht.

The book is subtitled Transcripts of Fighting, Killing and Dying. According to the German newspaper, the book includes the transcripts of the secret recordings in which the POWs discussed their views of the enemy and their own leaders, as well as the details of combat missions, and gave detailed accounts of the atrocities they both witnessed and committed.

This quote is from the article on Der Spiegel’s website:

It is March 6, 1943, and two German soldiers are talking about the war. Fighter pilot Budde and Corporal Bartels were captured by the British a few weeks earlier. The war is over for them, and it’s time to share memories.

Budde: “I flew two spoiling attacks. In other words, we shelled buildings.”

Bartels: “But not destructive attacks with a specific target, like what we did?”

Budde: “No, just spoiling attacks. We encountered some of the nicest targets, like mansions on a mountain. When you flew at them from below and fired into them, you could see the windows rattling and then the roof going up in the air. There was the time we hit Ashford. There was an event on the market square, crowds of people, speeches being given. We really sprayed them! That was fun!”

Two other pilots, Bäumer and Greim, also had their share of amusing experiences, which they described in a conversation with other soldiers.

Bäumer: “We had a 2-centimeter gun installed on the front (of the aircraft). Then we flew down low over the streets, and when we saw cars coming from the other direction, we put on our headlights so that they would think another car was approaching them. Then we shot them with the gun. We had a lot of successes that way. It was great, and it was a lot of fun. We attacked trains and other stuff the same way.”

Greim: “We once flew a low-altitude attack near Eastbourne . When we got there we saw a big castle where there was apparently a ball or something like that being held. In any case, there were lots of women in nice clothes and a band. We flew past the first time, but then we attacked and really stuck it to them. Now that, my dear friend, was a lot of fun.”

To me, this recorded conversation between two German pilots is an example of German humor.  I think that these pilots had figured out that their cells were bugged, and they decided to tell some tall tales as a joke.

I grew up in a German-American family in a German-American community where this kind of joking around was done all the time.  As a small child, I didn’t understand that people were joking when they said things that they didn’t really mean.

I think that these pilots were just playing with the British; it was the British that bombed German mansions just for the fun of it.  I learned about the British bombing of German manor houses and old mansions when I visited the Rhineland in Germany in 1995.