Scrapbookpages Blog

June 25, 2014

Should old American soldiers be brought into court on a stretcher and tried for World War II war crimes?

German soldiers, killed by Lt. Bill Walsh, after they had surrendered

German soldiers, killed by American Lt. Bill Walsh, after they had surrendered

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.”

German soldiers, who so richly deserved to die, had nothing to do with the Dachau concentration camp

German soldiers, who so richly deserved to die, had nothing to do with the concentration camp

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/

German soldiers were imprisoned at Dachau

German soldiers were imprisoned 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.”
http://www.thecrimson.com/article/2012/2/10/America-war-crime/

 

April 29, 2013

SS soldiers were shot by Lt. Bill Walsh on the day that Dachau was liberated

Filed under: Dachau, Germany, World War II — Tags: , , — furtherglory @ 4:03 pm
American soldiers pose beside the bodies of SS soldiers killed during the liberation of Dachau

American soldiers pose beside the bodies of SS soldiers killed during the liberation of Dachau

The photo above shows the bodies of SS soldiers who were shot by American soldiers during the liberation of Dachau on April 29, 1945.

I previously blogged here about a new book about the liberation of Dachau, written by Alex Kershaw.  This morning, I read an excerpt from the book on this website.

Kershaw wrote at length about “I Company commander Lieutenant Bill Walsh”  describing him with these words: “twenty-five-year-old Walsh, a tall and imposing figure with a chowder-thick accent from Newton, Massachusetts, arrived at the junction with I Company, which had earned the presidential unit citation for its actions at Anzio.”

U.S. soldiers view the bodies of SS men who were taken to the "death train" and shot

U.S. soldiers view the bodies of SS men who were taken to the “death train” and shot

You can read about the Dachau “death train” on my website here.

This quote is from the excerpt from Kershaw’s book which you can read in full here:

Walsh had no idea what [Lt. Col. Felix] Sparks meant by “concentration camp.” He had once seen a POW camp in upstate New York that had housed fit, well-fed, and happy German prisoners. Perhaps Dachau would be the same kind of place.

[ …]

There were thirty-nine boxcars in all, containing some two thousand corpses. The train had left Buchenwald with around forty-eight hundred prisoners some three weeks earlier. It had first stopped so that hundreds could be shot. The SS that cruelest of springs had been over- whelmed, confused, and exasperated by the sheer numbers of their victims and, under orders not to let any prisoners fall into the hands of the Allies, had killed with clinical efficiency. On April 21, when the train halted for the second time, thirty-one hundred severely malnourished and dehydrated people on board were still alive. Six days later, when the train pulled into Dachau at night, there were just eight hundred. The dead were left to rot on the train.

I Company commander Bill Walsh arrived at the boxcars. At first, he thought the skeletal people were sleeping.

What the hell is this?

Sparks was next on the scene, having left his jeep in a nearby side street, along with his shotgun and radio. His only weapon now was his Colt .45, holstered at his hip. At first, as were many of his men, he was paralyzed by what he saw. The sights and smells robbed the mind of reason.

[…]

Sparks ordered his men to check to see if any people were alive. None were. Then he told them to keep going toward the camp, a hundred yards in the distance.

Bill Walsh still looked stunned. “Okay, move!” Sparks ordered Walsh.

Walsh and I Company began to move past more railroad cars, down the tracks that led into the Dachau complex.

Sparks followed behind, passing more open boxcars filled with bodies, boxcars like the ones he had ridden in across America ten years before. Ahead of him, some of his men were boiling with rage, eager to avenge the SS crimes. I Company scout Private John Lee had never seen his fellow Thunderbirds so unhinged.

Sparks heard men screaming and cursing. “Let’s get these Nazi dogs.”

It was all too much. His men were losing their minds. Lieutenant Walsh set the tone, ranting and raving about SS sons of bitches. He and others had been pushed past the breaking point. The army had trained them to fight. It had not prepared them for this kind of psychological shock. Nothing could. They had come across a tragedy beyond comprehension. “Every man in the outfit who saw those boxcars,” recalled one of Sparks’s men, “felt [like] meting out death as punishment to the Germans who were responsible.”

Sparks snapped commands and tried to regain control of his men. It took several minutes.

“Okay,” he finally said when I Company had calmed down enough for him to make himself clearly understood. “We’re going in the camp.” Sparks led the way over a perimeter wall with one group of men while Lieutenant Walsh advanced with another group from I Company. On the other side of the wall, Sparks found himself in the neat garden of a pleasant home, one of several used by families of the SS officers within the Dachau complex.

[…]

Meanwhile, Walsh and  his party came across four SS men who had their hands on their heads. Walsh took them into one of the box- cars and called for a machine gun. Then he changed his mind and fired his pistol at them. But he did not kill them all. Other I Company men could hear the survivors’ cries of pain. A private called Pruitt entered the boxcar and lifted his M1 rifle and fired, killing the wounded men with eight or nine clinical shots. “They were suffering and taking on and I figured there was no use letting them suffer, so I finished them off,” Pruitt later testified. “I never like to see anybody suffer.”

Walsh’s  men carried  on, moving  beyond  the rail tracks into the Dachau complex itself.

[…]

Then [Sparks] saw Lieutenant Bill Walsh emerge from between a couple of buildings. He was chasing a German.

“You sons of bitches,” Walsh was screaming repeatedly.

Walsh began to beat the German over the head with the barrel of his carbine.

“Bastards. Bastards. Bastards.”

Sparks ordered Walsh to stop, but Walsh ignored him. So Sparks pulled out his .45 and clubbed Walsh on the head with its butt, stunning him and knocking him to the ground.

Walsh lay there, crying hysterically.

“I’m taking over command of the company,” yelled Sparks.

One of Walsh’s men, Sidney C. Horn, recalled that seven men were needed to take a hysterical Walsh into a room and “get him quieted down. He really lost it there.” Walsh had gone “crazy,” as Sparks would later put it, overwhelmed like many of his men by the scenes of atrocity. Walsh later confessed: “I’ll be honest with you. I broke down. I started crying. The whole thing was getting to me. This was the culmination of something that I had never been trained for.”

The boxcar where SS men at Dachau were shot

The boxcar where SS men at Dachau were shot

The “Dachau massacre” was kept secret for over 40 years.  The explanation given for the bodies of the men whose legs were hanging out of the boxcar is that these were prisoners who were shot by the SS men when they tried to escape.