Bomber Harris tried for war crimes

Discussion in 'Alternate History Discussion: After 1900' started by Melvin Loh, Apr 11, 2005.

  1. Melvin Loh Member

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    Many historians of int'l law and war crimes re the Nuremberg trials have speculated that, in the context of victor's justice which was executed at Nuremberg during 1945-48, had the Nazis won, Allied leaders responsible for acts which could've been classified as war crimes, such as Air Marshal Arthur Harris of RAF Bomber Command, would've been in the dock instead. Anybody care to speculate on such Nazi war crimes trials ? Would they essentially have been just show trials as was the case with the trials of the July 1944 bomb plot conspirators ?
     
  2. Karlos Member

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    What do you mean by "won"? If UK was invaded in 1940, there would have been no Harris the bomber; if they signed a peace accord, there are no trials. Does the US enter the war? If so, USA would be out of reach and its military too for nazi's trials, also here there must be some kind of negociated peace.
    If the germans won, let's say defeating the URSS, they will kill hundreds of thousands of slaves without necessity of a trial, as they did in OTL.
    That said, I think Nuremberg trials were the justice of the victors, and very hipocrital. From a neutral point of view, the deliberate killing of thousands of civilians in Hamburg, Tokio or Hiroshima is a crime as big as any other commited by the Axis.
     
  3. Prunesquallor Member

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    To claim that a bombing raid was as bad as a death camp is either morally obtuse , downright stupid, or indicates a political agenda. To equate the attempted destruction of the German will to continue the war with shoving children into gas chambers for the crime of being born into a certain group is idiotic. What has always given the show away for me is the way that people attack the Nuremberg Trials as "victors' justice" when in fact they were remarkably fair under the circumstances while ignoring the Tokyo Trials which were a travesty.
     
  4. Mr.Bluenote Member

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    I dont' think that is what Karlos is saying - though it might seem that way, the last sentence taken into consideration. It seem to me, Karlos merely states that some of the charges against the Germans at Nuremberg were perhaps a bit iffy. Dönitz and Speer fx served a prison sentence.

    That said, I think that many of the actions of WW2 would today be considered war crimes, yes, and that include the air raids on Hamburg and Dresden. Back then, it was, however, mostly seen as a way to fight, and win, the war.

    Whether the German would have demanded Harris etc etc be put before a judge is an open question. I for one don't think so, since the Germans themselves had a no holds barred approach to warfare, so to say.

    Regards!

    - Mr.Bluenote.
     
  5. Karlos Member

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    Prunesque:
    Since the very moment that you decide that deliberately killing civilians as in Hiroshima is a legitimate military action, you open the gate of hell. You can always find a military pretext.The nazis also could say that killing children in a french village is military wise, you avoid future guerrilla fighters, or depopulating the Ucranian countryside is a way to secure your supply lines?
    Don't misunderstand me, I got no simpaty for the nazis. I think western democracy was and is a better sistem than nazism, my family suffered a lot in Spain fighting against Franco. But it doesn't mean that the allies armys were free of evil. I firmly think that in WWII both sides did what they thought was necessary to achieve their goals, withouth much moral thinking, and that you can't judge from one side.
     
  6. Forum Lurker Member

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    Some of the Nazi military actions can be justified in the same fashion as the nuclear bombings, which is to say shakily. Not one Nazi even bothered to pretend that the Holocaust had a military purpose: it was deliberate genocide for the sake of genocide.
     
  7. Brilliantlight Banned

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    True, personally I think the Western Allied air campaign did more harm then good even on a military level but it was not just to kill civilians outside of Dresden.
     
  8. Prunesquallor Member

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    Karlos- it's not just a case of military necessity. That's no argument. To say that X must be done to win the war, is (in my opinion) damnable. But what we're talking here is moral choice. Let's say area bombing would have shortened the war (in my opinion it hindered the Allied war effort, but never mind). You have the choice of (say) bombing Germany and killing X civilians or doing nothing with the result that 2X die. To take the second option is not morality, it's squeamishness. It's the Pharisee passing by on the other side of the road.

    Bluenote- I quite agree that some of the sentences at Nuremberg were "iffy". Speer should have swung.
     
  9. zoomar Curmudgeon

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    First, it's hard to equate the Nurnburg Trials with anything the Germans would have instituted had they won the war (meaning if they had the authority and ability to bring allied leaders to trial). Nurnburg was indeed "victors' justice", but it was a victors' justice tempered with a serious attempt to provide the defendants with a legitimate defense - even if the outcome for some people was a forgone conclusion. Clearly, it was essential to the allies that all of the Nazi Big Wigs be found guilty, but the court showed surprising leniency when meeting out sentences. It is a good thing for the Germans that the Russians were forced by the allied agreements to work with the US and Britain.

    Had the Nazis been in such a position, Bomber Harris would almost certainly been in the dock, as would Hap Arnold, FDR, Churchill,Dwight Eisenhower, and virtually all middle and upper level civilian and military leader in the USA and UK. But I'm not sure being in a Nazi courtroom would signify much other than they were enemies of the 3rd Reich.
     
  10. Hyperion Banned

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    Bombing of factory complexes was more effective then bombing population centers. Britain suffered bombings of London, and they stayed in the war. On the other hand, back then the only way to get the bomb to hit the target factory or military base directly and avoid other targets was to either literally hand deliver it, or fly literally hugging the ground, which would have been very dangerous, especially since the Brits did their work at night. When you have literally hundreds of bombers, each carrying several tons worth of bombs which could fall anywhere within a couple miles of where they are released from and had no real guideance system, trying to avoid civilian casualties, even when hitting a legitimate industrial or military target, would be extremely difficult.
     
  11. Steffen Kursed as a Klever Kraut

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    I just have a vision of Freisler´s tirades against an Air Force General.
     
  12. Karlos Member

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    It's hard to swallow that Hamburg, Dresden Tokio or, of course Hiroshima, were bombed for their military value. In those cases, the deliberate target was civilian population, id est women and children. That's what terror bombing means, and the goal was to demoralize the population by fear. What always shocked me is that rounding up and shoting let's say, 50 civilians in a village is considered by all a war crime -and of course it is- but throwing 500 tons of phosporous over their heads is discutible as a legitimate war action, when in both cases the goal is killing those people. Anyway, I don't think anyone would judge the other side terror bombing, as they all did it. The nazis, as has been said, had enough motive with the acussation of enemy of the Tirdh Reich to kill anyone, and a trial would have been only an act of propaganda.
     
  13. Derek Jackson Member

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    Can ANYONE without ASBs imagine impartial trials of Nazi, Soviet and Western military people responsible for crimes in WW2?
     
  14. Prunesquallor Member

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    Karlos- to be brutal, in one case it's a tiny advantage (and even here it would be doubtful), in the other case the bomber marshals thought (deludedly in my opinion) that they could end the war with a considerably smaller amount of casualties. As I've already remarked, from their point of view, you can grit your teeth and fry X German civilians or you can adopt a righteous air and let the war continue and have 2X (or whatever) civilians die.

    As it happens I think that the Bomber Offensive was a huge waste of resources that earned moral opprobrium while not delivering the victory promised. This is an opinion I hold despite the large nos of books defending it. "Qui s'excuse, s'accuse" and all that. I see someone, for that matter, has brought out a book claiming that the Charge of the Light Brigade was a victory. I also think there's a lot of dishonesty on both sides of the debate. One question that opponents never really come to grips with is, what would their attitude be if the bombing campaign had been a quick war winner? IIRC, Vera Brittain went as far as to claim that the reason people were dying in concentration camps was that bombing raids had disrupted their food supplies. Or look at that old Fascist (literally) Major General Fuller who condemned the bombing offensive but found nothing wrong with German behaviour in occupied Russia.
     
  15. DMA I am not the Final Cylon!

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    About the only way Harris was ever to be tried, was if he was in a Lancaster over Germany & had the misfortune to be shot down. Then the Germans capture him & put him on trial in a Nazi court.

    Other than that happening, you can forget it.
     
  16. Karlos Member

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    Prunesque. I can't honestly think that the allied bombing campaing argument was to avoid more deaths. In any case, to avoid more allied soldier's deaths, by making the war shorter, by killing an unsupportable -it was hoped- number of germans. I agree that any general's main concern is to avoid their own casualties, but it is discutible if it can be done by killing the other side civil population. I am well aware that my morality, that of a civilian in the peacefull Europe of 2005, can't be compared with that of a world at war in 1944, but it's the only one I've got.
     
  17. MrP Enemy of the people Banned

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    Well, I'm not sure, Karlos, what you think the goal of the bombing campaign was, if not to end the war swiftly with fewer military casualties. Perhaps you phrased it oddly, or I read it in a peculiar frame of mind, but it appears to me that you're saying that the bombing campaign was conducted for spite or to wipe out the German cities. That seems a bit much . . .
     
  18. Raymann Banned

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    Ya'll are also looking at this 60 years afterward with the benifit of hindsight. Logically, a person has every reason to believe that destroying a nations population will hurt their war effort. This was a total war, us or them. The fact remains that the average German and Japanese was GUILTY. They supported the war, supported their leaders, they built the factories that made weapons to kill US. No they wern't democracies but they had the same goals as their leaders.

    Even if you don't see it that way, take this example: someone is trying to shoot you but you get the jump on them first. They grab a innocent bystander and use them as a shield while they shoot at you. Do you have the right to shoot back even though its likely you'll hit the bystander? Absolutly, you have the absolute right to defend yourself and it is the criminals fault if innocents are harmed.

    Now I don't take this fact as a primary justification but at least in Japan, most factories were located in the cities as opposed to outside of them. They were also made of wood, at least partially. Attacking the factories is legitimate along with the people who build and work them.
     
  19. Karlos Member

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    No, I agree with you that the intention was to end the war swiftly with fewer military casualties... but the way of doing it, or the price if you want, was to kill german civilians. Of course, they were the enemy, so most people back then had no moral issue with killling them -as the germans had done the same to them- but I think that if now we do agree that deliberately killing unarmed civilians is a war crime, then it was, no matter the goal. Of course that means that all armies of the world had comitted those war crimes, the degree only a matter of numbers, so I recognize I may sound a bit naive, but we were talking about war crime trials.
     
  20. Mr.Bluenote Member

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    I think this is a very important point! Quite simply, one has to try at least to see why people did the things they did in a context not too coloured by one's own time and etics.

    Basically, the bombing campaign was a way to fight the war, and the nukes just bloody big bombs. However, and even in that context, I find Dresden very, very hard to accept, and to a lesser degree - mostly because I'm not really sure why exactly those two cities were picked - the nuking of Hiroshima and Nagasaki. Do anyone known the rationale for bombing Nagasaki and Hiroshima instead of, say, levelling a small mountain or sinking a little island?

    Anyway, I still find it hard to believe the Germans will be putting Allied officers and leaders in the dock, so to say. Is their any actual historical precedence from Germany at that time or any time before Nuremberg?! They might force defeated countries to deal with percieved war criminals and mongers, though!

    Good debate, people!

    Best regards!

    - Bluenote.