Deserters shot after the wars end

General WWII era German military discussion that doesn't fit someplace more specific.
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Andy H
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Deserters shot after the wars end

Post by Andy H » Thu Nov 23, 2006 10:28 am

Hopefully of some interest
Full details at
http://info.wlu.ca/~wwwmsds/cmh/back%20 ... tents.html
The Execution of German Deserters by
Surrendered German Troops Under Canadian
Control in Amsterdam, May 1945

Introduction

On the morning of 13 May 1945, five days
after the formal capitulation of Hitler's
Wehrmacht, a German military court delivered
death sentences on two German naval
deserters, Bruno Dorfer and Rainer Beck. The
trial occurred in an abandoned Ford assembly
plant on the outskirts of Amsterdam, a site
used by the Canadian army for the
concentration of German naval personnel. Later
that same day, a German firing squad, supplied
with captured German rifles and a three-ton
truck from the Seaforth Highlanders of Canada
and escorted by Canadian Captain Robert K.
Swinton, executed the two German prisoners
of war a short distance outside the enclosure.1
Dorfer and Beck were among the last victims of
a military legal system distorted by the Nazi
state. At the time no one, Canadian or German,
questioned the justice of the event.

Conclusion

The execution of Bruno Dorfer and Rainer
Beck by surrendered German troops in
Canadian custody was a product of many
factors. Under a dubious interpretation of
international law, Canadian military authorities
permitted a continuation of the German military
structure after the demise of the Third Reich.
German assistance was indispensable in the
disarmament, concentration, and evacuation
of the German armed forces within Holland.
Unfortunately, disinterested Canadian military
authorities also left the German military in
control of order and discipline. German
commanders and military judges applied a
military law warped by National Socialism.
The Canadian military, distracted by larger
political and strategic concerns, tardily
instituted restrictions on these proceedings.
Dorfer and Beck, seeking safety and friends,
instead found indifference and enemies. Were
the deaths of Dorfer and Beck avoidable? Yes!
Indeed, it is hard to understand why Canadian
military authorities did not follow, from their
first arrival in Amsterdam, the graduated policy
eventually adopted towards German deserters.
In the case of Dorfer and Beck, only one strong
voice along the Canadian or German military
hierarchies was needed to question the irony of
the situation. Disappointingly, none was
present.
You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life.

And so as I patrol in the valley of the shadow of the tricolour I must fear evil, For I am but mortal and mortals can only die

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Dragunov
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Post by Dragunov » Thu Nov 23, 2006 9:12 pm

blame Canada?

man, that's weird.
When Stalin says "Dance" a wise man dances.- Nikita Kruschev

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Andy H
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Post by Andy H » Thu Nov 23, 2006 11:59 pm

asked how the Germans could kill these
two men on a beautiful day after the end of the
war, Hoslinger replied: "These boys have been
deserters, and if they were allowed to go home
and have children the minds of the children
would be dirty, too
Hoslinger was an ex-SBoot captain and a camp translator it seems

Druganov wrote:
blame Canada?
Well it seems they were, in part
Canadian newspapers, after interviews with
former Canadian officers and other witnesses,
presented strong evidence of active Canadian
participation in the execution. Consequently,
Brigadier William J. Lawson, then Judge
Advocate General, appointed Group Captain

J.H. Hollies to undertake a full departmental
investigation.98 This military legal officer
searched relevant Canadian documents, and
made a three-day whirlwind trip to West
Germany. Based on Hollies' findings, an
embarrassed Hellyer confirmed, in the House
of Commons on 21 December 1966, Canadian
involvement in the execution, but suggested
"that in view of the fact it is now over 20 years
since the war ended, nothing is to be gained by
carrying this matter further."99 With this final
statement, Canadian officials closed the public
file on Dorfer and Beck. Legal recommendations
that the Canadian government accept at least
partial responsibility for the execution and
furnish all possible aid to West German
prosecution efforts remained unfulfilled.
quotes are from the same source

Regards
You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life.

And so as I patrol in the valley of the shadow of the tricolour I must fear evil, For I am but mortal and mortals can only die

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Post by phylo_roadking » Sat Nov 25, 2006 9:13 am

This was actually quite well known in England in the 1970's, enough to be written into the plotlines of a couple of TV series. Apparently the German argument was there were set rules laid out under the Geneva Convention (!!!) for the treatment of prisoners, and allowing them the rights as soldiers to maintain their own chain of command and internal discipline was one. The Germans demanded the arms or they would complain to the Red Cross monitors and accuse the CANADIANS of a war crime by breaking those rules!!!
"Well, my days of not taking you seriously are certainly coming to a middle." - Malcolm Reynolds

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Post by phylo_roadking » Sat Nov 25, 2006 9:20 am

It should be noticed that what were often referred to as "kangaroo courts" were very often held as courts martial in German POW camps by all Allied nations. Doesn't Pat Reid mention a French or Polish one occuring in Colditz? They may not have had access to arms, but a bit of rope or knotted blanket and a chair .....
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Post by Michael N. Ryan » Sun Nov 26, 2006 11:54 am

I heard somewhere that the British and the Australians followed this logic in the Pacific in regards to Japanese POWs as well.

They even ordered their own men to salute japanese officers. Even former POWs who had been abused by these same officers.

Not only did they allow Japanese officers to arrest and prosecute men under their code, they provided rifles to the firing squads.

Quite a few of these Japanese officers were later indicted for war crimes but had charges dismissed on grounds of insufficient evidence. Prosecuting witnesses had been among the executed.

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Post by phylo_roadking » Sun Nov 26, 2006 12:09 pm

Michael - this might be getting confused with those areas like Malaya, the Dutch East Indies, Vietnam etc., where for a considerable period - up to several months, the Japanese forces were used on parole for constabulary duties.Therefore the due military deference being shown was indeed correct. Someone may be able to correct me on this - but aren't POWs technically under military parole too under the Geneva Convention? I.E. it COULD be argued that the Canadians WERE fulfilling their part of the parole obligations.

The situation was quite ambiguous - in that therefore Japanese POWS in British camps would have been on parole and under the Convention as Britain was a signatory - but DURING the war, British POWS may have been on parole by their own rules...but Japan WASN'T a signatory! Its a fine difference I know, given all the emotions about this - but it means that technically although Japanese soldiers may have committed war crimes, they DIDN'T break the Geneva Convention!!!
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Post by Michael N. Ryan » Sun Nov 26, 2006 12:16 pm

Allied tribunals declared otherwise. Quite a few of their officers and men were executed by the allies for violating it. Tojo at the top.

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Post by phylo_roadking » Sun Nov 26, 2006 12:46 pm

Yes, exactly - ALLIED tribunals. What about the Red Cross, the Convention monitors? This is a clear case of the victors applying rheir standards to a situation. I'm not making any judgement on whther to do that was right or wrong, but consider this....
You go to a country where there's no crime of murder., not just that it doesn't exist but that there's no state or civil law against it. You murder your best friend, whos on holiday with you. You come home. Have you commited murder? No.
The Japanese hadn't signed the Geneva Convention. Nowadays, this would be a clear-cut legal issue, then it wasn't. Today a plaintiff in the position of those various Japanese officers would be in a position to appeal to the Hague, and would win their case. Its a disturbing thought - because the way the law works, such an acquital could set precedents that would let the truly guilty go free.

Not to make little of the situation, but Ive been searching for an equivalent analogy and I think I have one - the ISO accreditation process. many companies today, particularly in Europe, sign up for and earn ISO 900* accreditation; this is a business practice code that ensures that two companies, no matter how differently run or different their product, conduct their business to certain rigid standards of transparency, and good business practice. Several governments in Europe will only give contracts to ISO-accredited companies. Now, does this mean that company A with it is a "better" company than company B without it?
Company A would say of course it does. But company B's accounts may be a LOT blacker and healthier! But does that mean their crooked and underhand at what they do??? ISO accreditation says YES!!! Real Life would say NO.
"Well, my days of not taking you seriously are certainly coming to a middle." - Malcolm Reynolds

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Post by Reb » Sun Nov 26, 2006 12:55 pm

Phylo

ISO 9000 eh? I feel your pain. Like a CMM 5 rating - an entirely mixed blessing.

cheers
Reb

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Post by Michael N. Ryan » Sun Nov 26, 2006 6:15 pm

Actually, the US has its own set of precedents.

During the Civil War, Sioux warriors went on the rampage in Minnosota. They were not signatory to anything like the Geneva Convention either which they did not abide either.

The US army hanged 38 in a single drop of the gallows at Mankato Minnesota, day after Christmas 1862.

I suppose if some court went and told McArther that since Japan didn't sign the geneva convention, he and the other allied countries couldn't prosecute any Japanese for violating it, he would simply order a tribunal to identify said officers. Then come to the conclusion that since Japan had not signed said convention, its civil population and military could not claim its protections. Then order a mass hanging of said identified persons. Or he might order the occupied Japanese government to do the dirty job and give him the right to try and punish said persons like European countries and the US forced China to do with the Boxers.

There is precedent in this with fighting along the American frontier since before America was established. During French and Indian wars, both France and Britain agreed to guarantee each other certain protections, native warriors were deliberately excluded from those protections though some colonies did add that protection to members of allied tribes.

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Post by Michael N. Ryan » Sun Nov 26, 2006 6:47 pm

A number of countries have laws giving them power to prosecute their own citizens for crimes overseas. Comitt murder in a country where murder is not a crime and you might be prosecuted once you get home to your country where murder is a crime.

The US has enacted laws giving itself jurisdiction to prosecute people who murder US citizens outside US bounderies just as we can prosecute American child molesters who go overseas to prey upon children. I believe Australia enacted similar laws after WWII to prosecute people who comitted attrocities upon its citizens as well.

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Post by phylo_roadking » Sun Nov 26, 2006 8:20 pm

Michael, note all your examples - are examples under military law. the question would be of course at Nuremberg and in the Far east after the war - were the Tribunals "courts martial" If so then yes only continuing the precedent. But doesn't necessarily make it "right". And nowadays to pass capital sentences while under military authority for crimes that would NOT be capital crimes under civil authority - which in BOTH hemispheres the United Nations were fighting to restore...leaves them on a sticky moral wicket.

And I have to note...
The US has enacted laws giving itself jurisdiction to prosecute people who murder US citizens outside US bounderies
Which DOES about say it all! Trials in absentia make a bit of a mockery of Habeas Corpus, and the whole thing is dependent on extradition treatie....or else the said people walk on a kidnapping plea! You can give yourself any authority if you're strong enough but does that make it right???
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Post by Andy H » Sun Nov 26, 2006 11:11 pm

So the fact that these murders took place after the end of hostilities has no bearing on there 'legality' or nod & wink attitude displayed by there captors?

Regards
You have enemies? Good. That means you've stood up for something, sometime in your life.

And so as I patrol in the valley of the shadow of the tricolour I must fear evil, For I am but mortal and mortals can only die

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Post by phylo_roadking » Mon Nov 27, 2006 4:36 am

No, it actually had "firm" founding in military law - BUT on a more stricter interpretation of the laws and rules and the Geneva Convention than the Germans EVER allowed any POWs in THEIR hands! So not a nod and a wink - but in their naivety the Canadians gave the Germans FAR more leeway than I'm sure any Canadian POWs were ever afforded after Dieppe etc.
"Well, my days of not taking you seriously are certainly coming to a middle." - Malcolm Reynolds

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