German POWs who admitted to atrocities ["Soldaten" book]

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Re: German POWs who admitted to atrocities ["Soldaten" book]

Post by Statistical Mechanic » Fri Dec 20, 2013 9:45 pm

In this thread, been-there and Balsamo have located in individual psychology – it seems under the impact of the war of attrition and its brutalizing effects – the cause of German atrocities in the East, which they’ve also universalized. Been-there has added a partisan component to the causation. Both these arguments have been dealt with upthread.

I’ve argued against these ahistorical claims about German atrocities – these atrocities comprising war crimes and crimes against humanity (including genocide and ethnic cleansing, collective reprisals and illegal executions, forced labor, starvation and denial of medical care to captives, wastage of POWS, etc) – that the various criminal activities under discussion were planned in advance by German war, demographic, economic, and security planners. The reason, therefore, that German atrocities in the East were “abnormal” had to do with war and policy aims of the Germans, basic orders, implementation actions to carry out orders, and the like.

The key points of this view, historicizing and making specific the German actions, include the following:

- Slaughters, destruction of villages, reprisals, killings of captives, and so on were not a matter of individual psychology, random misbehavior of individual troops, and progressive brutalization but part of a official policy and planned for before Barbarossa.

- Early atrocities were not driven by actual partisan threat or encounters but by pre-war policies; in fact, no meaningful partisan threat emerged in the first months of the war when the brutal German campaigns began. Even before the war, Nazi ideology and German security thinking merged to create a specific, prefiguration of the enemy to be encountered: a paranoid concoction of civilian-Jew-Bolshevik-partisan as a predefined enemy, with individuals in this class to be treated as a military target and subjected to violence.

- Thus, the German plans to commit war crimes and crimes against preceded the combat in the East and, in fact, included self-justifications for the harsh violence intended.

- The Germans prosecuted war in East prosecuted differently, and more brutally, than they fought in the West – and explicitly and purposefully so.

- This was because of Nazi views about the East and the enemy the Germans would fight there: in the view of German war planners, war in the East was to be fought against a criminal enemy and against racial enemies. Further, the war in the East involved conquest of Lebensraum for German racial and economic development, which would involve demographic reordering, ethnic cleansing, and brutalization of the remaining population.

- Thus, the war in the East was conceived as a war of annihilation bringing together the following: racial war against Slavic people, Jews, and Roma; political and ideological war against criminal Bolshevism and its leading figures (commissars, Jews, the intelligentsia); colonial conquest and racial reordering; war for loot and economic gain, particularly foodstuffs needed for Germany and the prosecution of the war but also for long-term gain for Germany.

I. Hitler’s View of the War against the Soviet Union Was Transmitted to Military Leaders in Advance of Barbarossa

We will take a brief look at just two examples of the thinking which Hitler transmitted to his senior military leaders prior to Barbarossa.

A. In discussion with Jodl, chief of staff of the OKW, Hitler described the coming war with the Soviet Union in this way: “The imminent campaign is more than just a battle of weapons: it also entails a conflict between two worldviews. . . . The Jewish-Bolshevik intelligentsia, the ‘suppressor’ of these peoples until now, must be removed. . . . These tasks are so difficult that one can not burden the army with them.” (quoted in Browning, The Origins of the Final Solution, pp 215-216)

Here Hitler

- identified Jews and Communists as one in the same

- targeted the Soviet intelligentsia

- termed the war in the East as of a different character than “normal” war, in this case a clash of worldviews

- exempted the army from responsibility for the sorts of actions he felt required to “remove” the Jewish-Communist leadership.

B. On 30 March 1941, nearly 3 months before launching the invasion of the Soviet Union, Hitler spoke to 200 senior military officers. Halder, chief of OKH, took notes, which read in part: “Clash of two ideologies. Crushing denunciation of Bolshevism, identified with asocial criminality. . . . This is a war of destruction. . . . War against Russia. Extermination of the Bolshevist Commissars and the communist intelligentsia. . . . This is no job for the military courts. The individual troop commanders must know the issues at stake. They must be leaders in this fight. The troops must fight back with the methods with which they are attacked [before the war!]. Commissars and GPU men are criminals and must be dealt with as such. . . . This will be very different from the war in the west. In the east, harshness today means lenience in the future. Commanders must make the sacrifice of overcoming their personal scruples.” (Browning, p 217) Hitler also exhorted his listeners that their work in the East would include “colonial tasks.” (Kay, Exploitation, Resettlement, Mass Murder: Political and Economic Planning for the German Occupation Policy in the Soviet Union, 1940-1941, p 72)

Here, Hitler continued to expound on the themes he’d developed earlier with Jodl and added some elements:

- an explicit call for extermination of commissars and intelligentsia

- foundations for a policy removing military conduct from legal review and norms

- justification for German illegality based on assumed Soviet behavior

- explicit differentiation of the character of the war in the East from the character of the war waged in the West

- continued incitement of military leaders to harsh measures

This Fuhrer speech stands in sharp contrast to explanation for German military behavior in the East on the basis of individual psychology; in fact, we see here that in Hitler’s view individuals tended to be soft – and it was through a combination of ideology, commitment, sacrifice, and will that his men would gain the necessary brutal attitude and be able to carry out the murderous acts he was ordering.

II. Pre-Barbarossa Orders Directed the Military and Police Units to Cooperate in Criminal Actions

Historians describe two basic pre-Barbarossa decrees, and their subsequent implementation orders, as “the criminal orders.” (Felix Romer in Kay/Rutherford/Stahel, Nazi Policy on the Eastern Front, 1941, p 74).

A. Barbarossa Jurisdiction Order (13 May 1941) - see http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=62192

This Fuhrer decree made German soldiers immune from legal consequences for mistreatment of civilians: ““Punishable offenses committed against enemy civilians do not, until further notice, come any more under the jurisdiction of the courts-martial and the summary courts-martial.”

The decree was sent on 31 May 19941 to units that would carry out invasion of USSR. (Romer, in Kay/Rutherford/Stahel p 78)

Some key components of this order were:

Imposition of different rules for the East based on Nazi political-ideological preconceptions and a predetermined view of the enemy as deserving especially harsh measures: “The further extension of the eastern theater of operations, the battle strategy conditioned thereby, and the peculiar qualities of the enemy, confront the courts of the armed forces with problems,” which required, in the Nazis’ view, removing legal consequences for important aspects of troops’ behavior in the East.

A view of civilians that they constituted the enemy, an ironic position in that many of the nationalities in the occupied territories chafed under Soviet rule and under other circumstances might have welcomed a chance at liberation: “the troops defend themselves relentlessly against any threat from the enemy population.”

Permission for officers to take actions against civilians, including the death penalty, based on suspicion alone and without even pretense of a trial or investigation of any sort; granting of power of life and death for civilians to front-line officers: “persons suspected of an offense will be brought immediately before an officer. This officer will decide whether they are to be shot.” And: “Extreme caution is indicated in assessing the credibility of statements made by enemy civilians.”

Authorization of punitive measures against villagers for attacks with which they were not involved and because those carrying out attacks were not known: “Against localities from which troops have been attacked in or treacherous manner, collective coercive measures be applied immediately upon the order of an officer of the rank of at least battalion etc., commander, if the circumstances do not permit a quick identification of individual perpetrators.”

The actual prohibition of the use of law or courts in most cases of the apprehension of civilians: “It is expressly forbidden to detain suspects in order to transfer them to the courts after the reinstatement of jurisdiction over indigenous population.”

Exemption for troops from obeying law with regard to civilians, who were to be regarded as the enemy: “1. With regard to offenses committed against enemy civilians by members of the armed forces and its employees, prosecution is not obligatory even if the deed is simultaneously a military violation or crime.”

Justification for illegal measures in the East based on a Nazified revision of German history; the making of Bolshevism to be a mortal enemy of the Germans, reinforcing the presumed need for a war of annihilation against the Soviets on the basis of ideology: “2. When judging such deeds, it must be borne in mind, whatever the circumstances, that the collapse in 1918, the subsequent suffering of the German people and the fight against national socialism which cost the blood of innumerable supporters of the movement, were caused primarily by Bolshevist influence and that no German has forgotten this.”

Allowance for troops to commit atrocities against civilians – and reservation of courts-martials only for actions that threatened German military discipline or actions that involved sexual activity or other affronts to German ideas of morality: “In the case of offenses against indigenous inhabitants, the judicial authority will order a court martial only if maintenance of discipline or security of the troops call for such a measure. This applies for instance to serious offenses based on lack of sexual restraint, or resulting from a criminal tendency, or indicating that the troops are threatening to become out of hand. As a rule offenses resulting in the senseless destruction of billets, stores or other captured material to the disadvantage of our forces will not be judged more leniently.” A supplemental order reinforced this point (Letter From Defendant Lehmann to Defendant Warlimont's Office, 4/28/1941, Transmitting Lehmann's Draft of Barbarossa Jurisdiction Order, in Trials of War Criminals Before the Nuernberg Military Tribunals Under Control Council Law No. 10. Vol. 10: United States of America v. Wilhelm von Leeb, et al. (Case 12: 'The High Command Case'). US Government Printing Office, District of Columbia: 1951. pp. 1121-1123.): “II: 1. Military law and its enforcement agencies serve primarily the enforcement of discipline.”

According to Felix Romer, “The most consequential innovation of the Jurisdiction Decree remained, however, the introduction of executions without legal proceedings.” (in Kay/Rutherford/Stahel, pp 75-76)

According to Kevin Jon Heller, the Barbarossa Jurisdiction Order was held by the court in the NMT Hostage Tribunal to be prima facie illegal because “the order categorized ‘partisans’ in such an overbroad manner. . . . For example, the order authorized the summary execution of ‘[e]very civilian who impedes or incites others to impede the German Wehrmacht,’ a criterion that ‘clearly opens the way for arbitrary and bloody implementation.’” (Heller, The Nuremberg Military Tribunal and the Origins of International Law, pp 209-210) Romer concurs: “The break with international law [regarding anti-partisan actions] consisted above all in German reprisals from the outset being directed not only against irregulars but also too often toward uninvolved villagers, civilians who had been picked up or dispersed Red Army soldiers, who were declared in arbitrary acts of substitution to be ‘partisan suspects,’ ‘partisan helpers,’ or other ‘suspicious elements’ and called to account for ‘the increasing precariousness’ of the occupied territories.” (Romer, in Kay/Rutherford/Stahel, p 84)

B. The Kommissarbefehl (Commissar Order)

Another pre-Barbarossa order focused on political commissars attached to the red Army and how German units were to treat them. The order “instructed the troops that the uniformed political commissars who accompanied the Red Army were to be shot out of hand by frontline troops, and if encountered in the rear areas were to be turned over directly to the Einsatzgruppen for similar treatment.” Thus, the order “in one stroke explicitly authorized an abandonment of the laws of war and encouraged close cooperation [of Army with] the SD . . . The Commissar Order stated that ‘political representatives and commissars are to be eliminated’ and that ‘the decision rests with an officer of disciplinary power whether that person is to be eliminated. Identification as political functionary is sufficient proof.’ . . . Through its vague language, it also left the door open for a dangerously broad interpretation of ‘enemies.’” (Waitman Wade Beorn, Marching into Darkness: The Wehrmacth and the Holocaust in Belarus, p 53)

According to Romer, the order was “directed at those Soviet political officers who were integrated into the Red Army to supervise the units. The central provision stated that all political commissars . . . falling into German captivity were to be segregated ‘already on the battlefield’ from the remaining prisoners of war and subsequently to be executed promptly: ‘These commissars are not to be recognized as soldiers; the protection due prisoners of war under international war does not apply to them. Once they have been separated out, they are to be finished off.’” (in Kay/Rutherford/Stahel pp 76-77)

The Commissar Order called for troops to engage in a murder program in accord with Nazi ideology, racial assumptions about the East and its people, and Hitler’s announced goal of the annihilation of Bolshevism. It had features in common with Operation Tannenberg, which we’ve discussed upthread and which similarly targeted the Polish intellectual and ruling groups during the early Polish occupation. As Hitler told Halder and Wagner, “The intelligentsia put in by Stalin must be exterminated.” (from Halder’s diary, quoted in Browning, p 217)

The Commissar Order was circulated on 8 June with further dissemination to division commanders during 12-19 June; these divisional commanders generally informed NCO’s only on eve of attacks (Romer, in Kay/Rutherford/Stahel, pp 76-77)

In the words of the order, which echoed themes explained above,“In the struggle against Bolshevism, we must not assume that the enemy’s conduct will be based on principles of humanity or international law. In particular, hate-inspired, cruel, and inhuman treatment of prisoners of war can be expected on the part of all grades of political commissars, who are the real leaders of the resistance. . . . 1. To show consideration of these elements during this struggle or to act in accordance with international rules of war is wrong and endangers both are own security and the rapid pacification of conquered territory. 2. Political commissars have initiated barbaric, Asiatic methods of warfare. Consequently, they have to be dealt with immediately and with maximum severity. As a matter of principle they will be shot at once whether captured during operations or otherwise showing resistance.” (quoted in Browning, pp 220-221)

With these provisions, the order justified contravention of international law and the ”principles of humanity”(!) by decreeing illegal executions on the basis of anticipated behavior by all political commissars – a determination reached on the basis of ideology even before the fighting that would involve the Red Army commenced.

C. Clearly, the pre-planning of atrocities by German leaders meant commitment to an illegal course of action before hostilities – undermining the argument made by been-there and Balsamo regarding the psychological effect of combat on individual troops. The criminal orders were issued at high levels in the military – and on the Fuhrer’s decision. To ensure that policy and plans were implemented, a series of lesser orders from lower officials.

For example, on 19 May 1941, Guidelines for the Conduct of the Troops in Russia called for the “ruthless and energetic clampdown on Bolshevik agitators, guerillas, saboteurs, Jews and complete removal of all active and passive resistance,” again calling out Jews as a special target and making an ill-defined passive resistance subject to “ruthless” “clampdown” entailing “complete removal.” (Romer in Kay/Rutherford/Stahel, p 75)

Further, in Guidelines for the Behavior of the Troops (21 June 1941), issued to companies engaged in Barbarossa, we read that “Bolshevism is the mortal enemy of the German people” and that “this war demands ruthless and aggressive action against the Bolshevik agitators, snipers, saboteurs, and Jews and tireless elimination of any active or passive resistance. Note that Jews were called out as a separate category. As Waitman Beorn notes, being a Jew is not a behavior parallel to sniping, for example; here “Jews were thus explicitly targeted as racial enemies to be eliminated by the military regardless of their behavior.” (Beorn, p 52)

On 4 June, guidelines issued to divisional leaders reinforced previous orders, instructing that “Bolshevism is the deadly enemy of the national socialist German people. This disintegrative worldview and its carriers must be combated by Germany. This struggle demand ruthless and energetic measures against bolshevist agitators, guerillas, saboteurs, Jews, and complex elimination of any active or passive resistance.” (quoted in Browning, pp 222-223, where it is noted that these categories of the enemy were to be shot on sight by EGs or the army)

Coordination of military operations with the Einsatzgruppen in occupied territory, was another important implementation provision. Keitel informed military officers on 13 May 1941 of the following: “In the army operation zone, in order to prepare the political administration, the Reichsfuhrer-SS receives by order of the Fuhrer special tasks that result from the final battle to be settled between two opposing political systems. Within the scope of these tasks the Reichsfuhrer-SS operates independently and under his own authority.” (quoted in Browning, p 216) the final understanding worked out by the military and Himmler was disseminated to the Army on 28 April 1941 and signed by Brauchitsch, commander of Army.

These Regulations on the Deployment of the Security Police and the SD in Army Formations http://forum.axishistory.com/viewtopic.php?t=61804 held that “In the army group rear area” “The special detachments of the Security Police (Security Service) carry out their missions upon their own authority. They are subordinate to the armies as far as marching orders, rations, and quarters are concerned. . . . .” and charged with “Discovering and combating endeavors inimical to the state and Reich. . . .” Further, “Within the scope of their mission and upon their own responsibility the Sonderkommandos are empowered to take executive measures concerning the civilian population” on orders “from the Chief of the Security Police and Security Service.” This agreement, as Romer says, committed the military to the criminal course plotted for Himmler’s units: this agreement “sealed the Wehrmacht’s cooperation with the Einsatzgruppen of the Reich Security Main Office . . . and cleared the way for the annihilation of Soviet Jewry,” given the nature of Himmler’s special tasks. (Romer, in Kay/Rutherford/Stahel, p 75)

Instructions to the commanders of the Einsatzgruppen were in the same vein, instructing leaders to engage in criminal actions. On 29 June, just after Barbarossa was launched, Heydrich sent EG commanders a reminder of verbal instructions give he’d given in Berlin on 17 June, in this case encouraging his men not to oppose but to instigate locals, among them anti-Jewish activists, in “self-cleansing efforts”; in fact, he said, “self-defense circles” should be encouraged and supported “without leaving a trace.” (Browning, p 228)

A few days later, on 2 July, Heydrich issued further instructions to EG leaders, this time listing targets for their action and again specifying certain Jews, those in party or state roles, as intended victims http://www.hdot.org/en/trial/judgement/06-6.html:

“To be executed are all
functionaries of the Comintern (as well as all professional Communists)
the higher middle and radical lower functionaries of the Party, the Central Committee, the district and regional committees
people's commissars
Jews in party and state functions
other radical elements (saboteurs, propagandists, snipers, assassins and agitators etc"

Heydrich explained his instructions as aimed at a “short-term goal,” which was political-security pacification of the region in order to prepare for long-term economic exploitation. Again, it was said that the actions against the targeted groups should be carried out with quote “ruthless severity” and that the EGs should instigate and support “self-cleansing efforts” in region. (Browning, p 228)

Another example of an implementation order, meant to ensure that officers and troops carry out policy, can be found in Keitel’s reprisal decree of 16 September 1941: “In order to nip agitation in the bud the harshest methods must be employed immediately on the first occasion, so as to make the authority of the occupying power prevail . . . The death penalty for fifty to one hundred Communists must be considered appropriate atonement for the life of a German soldier. . . .” (Leonid Rein in Kay/Rutherford/Stahel, p 299) Again, civilians were targeted for murder as a deterrent.

Finally, as we’ve seen, Jews were often singled out as targets for violence against civilians. The troops presumably did not always see things as expected by their leaders or in line with policy, so guidance was issued to “correct” their soft attitude. Here’s one example, from the 403d Intelligence Division: “not all soldiers have the proper attitude toward the Jews. They do not approach the Jewish laborers with the desirable ruthlessness. . . .” Far from the war brutalizing soldiers in this instance, officers saw the need to encourage ruthlessness amongst troops who did not “get” the aims and policies of the Nazis. Another document, this one a memorandum from Keitel dated 12 September 1941, entitled “Jews in the newly Occupied Soviet Territories, ” identified Jews and Communists as Germany’s mortal enemy and urged officers and troops that “the fight against Bolshevism necessitates indiscriminate and energetic accomplishment of this task especially also against the Jews, the main carriers of Bolshevism.” (quoted in Beorn, p 60)

Against the notion that German atrocities in the East were typical of war, brought about by brutalization of combat, were caused by individual psychological reactions or aberrations, and/or were responsive to partisan threats/attacks, I am arguing that Barbarossa

- was intended to have a different character from that of "normal" war and of the conduct of the German war in the West in particular

- included widespread parts of the civilian population as the enemy and as subject to violent measures including reprisals, execution for mere suspicion of resistance, execution for passive stance vis-a-vis German invaders

- included exemption of German troops from customary and legal restraints with regard to their actions against civilian populations

- included atrocities as part of this different character and as a means of achieving German war aims

- was planned to be conducted outside international law and conventions of warfare

- targeted Jews specially from the outset, reserving for them brutal, violent measures because they were Jews and were defined thus by the German planners as part of a Jewish-Bolshevik-partisan enemy

These elements of the campaign in the East were inspired and driven by high level planners and set forth in official orders, guidelines, and memoranda.

End first post. Next post will take up the Hunger Plan as an example of a planned, systematic atrocity action directed against civilians.
"the Germans had ample justifiable cause to oppose a minority within their society who worked AGAINST their county's interests" -- been-there, 24 April 2014


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Re: German POWs who admitted to atrocities ["Soldaten" book]

Post by Statistical Mechanic » Sat Dec 21, 2013 4:01 am

III. Other Criminal Plans, Developed Before Barbarossa, Envisaged Massive Starvation and Millions of Resultant Deaths in the Occupied East

German plans for the occupied East included use of the territory during the war to provide needed resources, including food and oil, and, over the long term, as for colonial exploitation. In this planning, parts of the occupied territory were to be incorporated into an autarkic economic framework, functionally part of the German economy.

Almost two months before Barbarossa, according to a memorandum found in General Thomas’s files after the war, a meeting of Staatssekretare held 2 May 1941 dealt with issues of the occupation, the economy, and food provisioning.

The meeting participants based their thinking on a 6-12 Blitzkrieg-like campaign to defeat the Soviet Union. They concluded that “1.) The war can only continue to be waged if the entire Wehrmacht is fed from Russia during the third war year.” The impact of provisioning of the army from the conquered territory was projected: “2.) As a result, x million people will undoubtedly starve, if that which is necessary for us is extracted from the land.” In addition, Soviet industry was to be laid waste except where needed to supply Germany (according to Alex Kay, this meant exemption of “vehicle works, plants supplying iron, textiles from factories and . . . armaments concerns. Thus, only industrial sites which were of immediate use to Germany’s war effort were to be maintained.”) (Kay, pp 123-126)

Thomas was to make a note after this meeting that included the following: “Ukraine – as agricultural surplus territory – be exploited as much as possible for industrial production . . . Moscow. The Moscow area, as agricultural deficit territory, is to be industrially exploited only in so far as the overall situation requires it. . . .” In broad outline, Thomas and other planners were conceiving of the conquered Soviet Union as including two great zones. One area, the black-soil zone, was the Soviet Union’s grain and crop producing region, centered in the Ukraine; here agricultural surpluses would be produced. The other area, the wooded zone comprising Moscow and Leningrad, was considered a deficit area, which needed to import food from surplus regions. In the planners’ thinking, oil production was to be maintained in the Caucasus, the deficit area around Moscow and Leningrad was to be underfed, with manufacturing there shut down. That “x millions” in the deficit zone would die as a result was taken for granted. (Kay, p 127)

By 23 May 1941 the economic thinking about occupied USSR was summarized in what historians call the Hunger Plan. According to this document, the per capita consumption, on average, of grain and potatoes in the Soviet Union was to be reduced by 12% to free up 8.7 million tons of grain for use by the Germans. This meant the food surpluses from the black-earth, surplus zone would not be delivered to the wooded, deficit zone around Moscow and Leningrad (food would continue to go to the oil-producing areas).

Even Goebbels made a diary entry on the logic of the economic plan for the East: “If only this year’s harvest is good. And then we want to line our pockets in the East.”
According to Kay, “These tactics could have only one outcome: the starvation of large sections of the Soviet population.” The 23 May document explained that “Many tens of millions of people in this territory will become superfluous and will die or must emigrate to Siberia. Attempts to rescue the population there from death through starvation by obtaining surpluses from the black earth zone can only be at the expense of provisioning Europe. They prevent the possibility of Germany holding out till the end of the war, they prevent Germany and Europe from resisting the blockade. With regard to this, absolute clarity must reign.” (quoted in Kay, p 134)

Under this plan, food surpluses extracted from Soviet territory would provide for about two-thirds of the Wehrmacht’s need – that is, 3 million men – without having to disrupt the German economy. Surpluses left after feeding the troops would be diverted mostly to Germany with leftovers going to areas in the occupied USSR where industry was maintained.

This plan, according to Kay, “received the explicit ‘approval of the highest authorities’.” (Kay, pp 133-139)

Subsequent to this, a more widely distributed plan, dubbed the Grune Mappe (Green File, after the folder in which it was kept), was issued on 16 June 1941, about a week before the invasion of the Soviet Union. About 1,000 copies of this document were disseminated.

“According to the orders issued by the Fuhrer,” said the Green File, issued in Goring’s name, “all measures are to be taken which are necessary to bring about the immediate and most extensive exploitation of the occupied territories for the benefit of Germany.” Kay explains that the Green File held that “winning ‘for Germany’ of as much as possible in the way of foodstuffs and mineral oil was the ‘main economic aim of the campaign’”; doing so would ensure that troops were fed from the occupied territory, which would relieve transport issues and ease the overall food situation. However, “the cities of Leningrad and Moscow and the territory eastwards of the latter constituted a ‘difficult problem’ . . . particularly as the two cities required substantial food surpluses” about which further instructions were to be issued as the war evolved. The guidelines also foresaw the “breakdown in industrial production” in north and central Russia and the quick demise of the region’s industrial capability. (Kay, pp 164-165)

The racist underpinnings of these policies – which focused on diversion of food and industrial output to Germany and reduction of the Slavic population – were explained in a further note from Herbert Backe of Reich Ministry for Food and Agriculture, this note issued 1 June and known as the 12 Commandments. The 11th Commandment, justifying the policy of starvation of Slavs, stated that “The Russian has already endured poverty, hunger, and frugality for centuries. His stomach is elastic, hence no false sympathy. Do not attempt to apply the German standard of living as your yardstick . . .” (quoted in Kay/Rutherford/Stahel, pp 111-113)

In late June, the War and Armaments Office issued another report, which explained, “The main reason for the operation against Russia lies without doubt in the pressure on German’s supreme leadership to broaden at all costs the economic basis of Germany’s prosecution of the war.” (quoted in Kay, p 165)

The economic and food planning thus committed the Germans, and the Wehrmacht, to exploitation of the conquered territory at the cost of what were anticipated to be the deaths of many millions of Russians (after the war, Bach-Zelewski gave the figure 30 million), mostly by starvation, as provisioning was reduced or cut off and the economic base was destroyed. As Beorn explains, “Together, these documents outlined the planned systematic starvation, deportation, expropriation, and depopulation of the occupied East in preparation for the Germanic settlers that Himmler imagined would occupy the region.” (Beorn, p 51)

(The German food plans, envisaging mass starvation throughout the East, extended to POW policy discussed earlier: In the short Blitzkrieg campaign large numbers of Soviet prisoners would be taken quickly; food was not to be diverted for these POWs who would thus also be starved and would constitute part of the x millions expected to die under German occupation.)

Again, these starvation policies did not come from the brutalization of troops in combat but were

- developed at the highest levels of the German government

- created prior to Barbarossa

- designed to address immediate economic needs of the German war effort and desires for long-term German control over the region to be conquered

- based on Nazi racial ideology

- fit in with Nazi demographic schemes for Germanization of the East and exploitation of its “native” population and resources

- put into effect by officers who were oriented in the policy by their superiors before and during the war

- directed against millions of mostly Slavic civilians and other non-combatants
"the Germans had ample justifiable cause to oppose a minority within their society who worked AGAINST their county's interests" -- been-there, 24 April 2014

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Re: German POWs who admitted to atrocities ["Soldaten" book]

Post by Statistical Mechanic » Sat Dec 21, 2013 4:31 am

been-there wrote:Here are six pieces of evidence that point to the conclusion that Jews and others were murdered in steam chambers at the site: . . . . Dr. Michael Shermer is the Holocaust historian that formulated this “convergence of evidence” method for “proving” the traditional view of the Holocaust. . . .
First things first, I am not a big Shermer fan, or even a little one. But let's be fair to the man: he is not a "Holocaust historian" but was trained, I believe, as a historian of science. He is a popularizer and enterprising skeptic, first and foremost, and in this capacity he's dealt with a variety of "controversial" subjects, the Holocaust among them. But not as a specialist in the history of the Holocaust.

Second, I was trained as a history graduate student to look at the full range of evidence available and, utilizing a variety of types of sources (documents, physical evidence, testimonies, etc - and relevant disciplines, economics, sociology, psychology, the law, and so on), to construct the interpretation best explaining the available evidence. I was also taught, of course, to look for new evidence and thus widen what is available, as it were. I wasn't trained in the convergence of evidence. Again, to be fair to Shermer, his concept convergence is close to what I was trained in as a history graduate student; his concept is distinctly not, however, to assemble a handful of "pieces of evidence" and draw hasty conclusions.

Here, if you don't believe me, is how Shermer explains convergence of evidence in a different context to ours:
Many historical and inferential sciences require nuanced analyses of data and a convergence of evidence from multiple lines of inquiry that point to an unmistakable conclusion. Just as detectives employ the convergence of evidence technique to deduce who most likely committed a crime, scientists employ the method to determine the likeliest explanation for a particular phenomenon. Cosmologists reconstruct the history of the universe by integrating data from cosmology, astronomy, astrophysics, spectroscopy, general relativity and quantum mechanics. Geologists reconstruct the history of Earth through a convergence of evidence from geology, geophysics and geochemistry. Archaeologists piece together the history of a civilization from pollen grains, kitchen middens, potshards, tools, works of art, written sources and other site-specific artifacts. Climate scientists prove anthropogenic global warming from the environmental sciences, planetary geology, geophysics, glaciology, meteorology, chemistry, biology, ecology, among other disciplines. Evolutionary biologists uncover the history of life on Earth from geology, paleontology, botany, zoology, biogeography, comparative anatomy and physiology, genetics, and so on.
http://www.michaelshermer.com/2009/07/i ... o-believe/

Shermer's explanation is close to what I wrote in the thread on the Frankfurt Auschwitz trial, where different kinds of evidence are cross-correlated and seen to point to a robust and similar conclusion. It has nothing to do with taking a few witnesses, some books, etc. and declaring an end to inquiry.

Third, the historical method s not about "proving," or disproving, one view of a dispute or point of interest. It is a method used to reach sound conclusions about any historical question and is entirely "interpretation" neutral - except that it requires that interpretations have the rigor that comes with the method.

Now, can we get back to been-there's struggle with the "partisans" of Radom?
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Re: German POWs who admitted to atrocities ["Soldaten" book]

Post by been-there » Sat Dec 21, 2013 9:26 am

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Re: German POWs who admitted to atrocities ["Soldaten" book]

Post by been-there » Sat Dec 21, 2013 9:36 am

St.Meck wrote:“Many tens of millions of people in this territory will become superfluous and will die or must emigrate to Siberia
And what has any of this got to with the Soldaten book and the claim that it confirms Wehrmacht soldiers knew of a policy to kill ALL Jews?
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Re: German POWs who admitted to atrocities ["Soldaten" book]

Post by been-there » Sat Dec 21, 2013 9:39 am

Statistical Mechanic wrote:
been-there wrote:Here are six pieces of evidence that point to the conclusion that Jews and others were murdered in steam chambers at the site: . . . . Dr. Michael Shermer is the Holocaust historian that formulated this “convergence of evidence” method for “proving” the traditional view of the Holocaust. . . .
First things first, I am not a big Shermer fan, or even a little one. But let's be fair to the man: he is not a "Holocaust historian" but was trained, I believe, as a historian of science. He is a popularizer and enterprising skeptic, first and foremost, and in this capacity he's dealt with a variety of "controversial" subjects, the Holocaust among them. But not as a specialist in the history of the Holocaust.

Second, I was trained as a history graduate student to look at the full range of evidence available and, utilizing a variety of types of sources (documents, physical evidence, testimonies, etc - and relevant disciplines, economics, sociology, psychology, the law, and so on), to construct the interpretation best explaining the available evidence. I was also taught, of course, to look for new evidence and thus widen what is available, as it were. I wasn't trained in the convergence of evidence.
NOW, can we get back to been-there's struggle with the "partisans" of Radom?
NO, can we get back to the dodged and as yet unanswered question: why was the six point convergence of evidence for Treblinka steam chambers rejected? What was wrong with that convergence of evidence?
Last edited by been-there on Sat Dec 21, 2013 10:17 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Re: German POWs who admitted to atrocities ["Soldaten" book]

Post by Cerdic » Sat Dec 21, 2013 9:43 am

Stat Mech, just reading through your collection of quoted documents I find it very interesting that while many claim Bolshevism as the mortal enemy of the German people and identify this as the reason why the war against the USSR is necessary, these sources [and for that matter, not in any other sources or propaganda pieces I have read] do not mention what we would expect them to if Surovov is correct: That the USSR was planning an invasion of Germany within the near future. I take this as yet more evidence against Surorov's point of view, as surely an imminent Soviet invasion would have been mentioned as a justification.

Here are two further references on a) the Hunger plan and b) the siege of Leningrad

Just an observation I had, anyway I have to thank you for your excellent research for this thread! :)
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Re: German POWs who admitted to atrocities ["Soldaten" book]

Post by Statistical Mechanic » Sat Dec 21, 2013 10:22 am

been-there wrote:
Statistical Mechanic wrote:
been-there wrote:Here are six pieces of evidence that point to the conclusion that Jews and others were murdered in steam chambers at the site: . . . . Dr. Michael Shermer is the Holocaust historian that formulated this “convergence of evidence” method for “proving” the traditional view of the Holocaust. . . .
First things first, I am not a big Shermer fan, or even a little one. But let's be fair to the man: he is not a "Holocaust historian" but was trained, I believe, as a historian of science. He is a popularizer and enterprising skeptic, first and foremost, and in this capacity he's dealt with a variety of "controversial" subjects, the Holocaust among them. But not as a specialist in the history of the Holocaust.

Second, I was trained as a history graduate student to look at the full range of evidence available and, utilizing a variety of types of sources (documents, physical evidence, testimonies, etc - and relevant disciplines, economics, sociology, psychology, the law, and so on), to construct the interpretation best explaining the available evidence. I was also taught, of course, to look for new evidence and thus widen what is available, as it were. I wasn't trained in the convergence of evidence.
NOW, can we get back to been-there's struggle with the "partisans" of Radom?
NO, can we get back to the dodged and as yet unanswered question: why was the six point convergence of evidence for Treblinka steam chambers rejected? What was wrong with that convergence of evidence?
What was wrong? You're kidding?

Your six examples were not, by definition, convergence of evidence. That was the point of my post - not to address the steam claims and how they've come to be rejectd but to reflect on Shermer's concept and your misapprehension and misuse of it. Your questions have been answered, because you didn't present what Shermer means by his concept. If you want to get into evidence regarding Treblinka testimonies and why "steam" testimonies are rejected by historians, open a thread on the topic; we are far afield here (apologies to Cerdic). What is called for in this thread is a reply to the post I made rubbishing your suggestion about anti-partisan warfare.
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Re: German POWs who admitted to atrocities ["Soldaten" book]

Post by been-there » Sat Dec 21, 2013 10:33 am

Cerdic wrote: two further references on a) the Hunger plan and b) the siege of Leningrad
What has this got to do with your now denied initial claim that the book Soldaten provides evidence that Wehrmacht soldiers knew of and participated in the alleged policy to kill ALL Jews? Its quite a simple question. Why won't you satisfactorily address it.
b) There is no German interest in maintaining the productive capacity of these regions, also in what concerns the supplies of the troops stationed there. […] The population of these regions, especially the population of the cities, will have to anticipate a famine of the greatest dimensions. The issue will be to redirect the population to the Siberian areas. As railway transportation is out of the question, this problem will also be an extremely difficult one. […]
From all this there follows that the German administration in these regions may well attempt to milder the consequences of the famine that will doubtlessly occur and accelerate the naturalization process. It can be attempted to cultivate these areas more extensively in the sense of an extension of the area for cultivating potatoes and other high yield fruits important for consuming. This will not stop the famine, however. Many tens of millions of people will become superfluous in this area and will die or have to emigrate to Siberia. Attempts to save the population from starvation death by using excesses from the black earth zone can only be made at the expense of the supply of Europe. They hinder Germany’s capacity to hold out in the war, they hinder the blockade resistance of Germany and Europe. This must be absolutely clear.
So what we have here is a war situation where both Churchill and Hitler deemed the starvation of uninvolved civilian populations as of minor importance to their war aims.
How does this further 'holocaust' rhetoric? I don't see it.
And if we want to discuss the escalation of atrocity, it was Churchill who started the blockade policy which resulted in civilian starvation.
It was Churchill who started the targeted bombing of unstrategic civilian cities in a self-admitted "terror campaign". How can you seriously use out of context to the war crimes and democidal policies of Churchill, Hitler's response to Churchill's war-crime escalation, after Hitler had consistently sought a peace with the Allies prior to 1942?
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