German war crimes

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Women and children removed from a bunker by SS men during the Warsaw Ghetto uprising for deportation to a death camp Stroop Report - Warsaw Ghetto Uprising BW.jpg
Women and children removed from a bunker by SS men during the Warsaw Ghetto uprising for deportation to a death camp

The governments of the German Empire and Nazi Germany ordered, organized and condoned a substantial number of war crimes in World War I and World War II respectively. The most notable of these is the Holocaust in which millions of Jews, Poles, and Romani were systematically murdered or died from abuse and mistreatment. Millions also died as a result of other German actions in those two conflicts. The true number of victims may never be known, since much of the evidence was deliberately destroyed by the perpetrators in an attempt to conceal the crimes.

German Empire empire in Central Europe between 1871–1918

The German Empire, also known as Imperial Germany, was the German nation state that existed from the unification of Germany in 1871 until the abdication of Kaiser Wilhelm II in 1918.

Nazi Germany The German state from 1933 to 1945, under the dictatorship of Adolf Hitler

Nazi Germany is the common English name for Germany between 1933 and 1945, when Adolf Hitler and his Nazi Party (NSDAP) controlled the country through a dictatorship. Under Hitler's rule, Germany was transformed into a totalitarian state where nearly all aspects of life were controlled by the government. The official name of the state was Deutsches Reich until 1943 and Großdeutsches Reich from 1943 to 1945. Nazi Germany is also known as the Third Reich, meaning "Third Realm" or "Third Empire", the first two being the Holy Roman Empire (800–1806) and the German Empire (1871–1918). The Nazi regime ended after the Allies defeated Germany in May 1945, ending World War II in Europe.

World War I 1914–1918 global war starting in Europe

World War I, also known as the First World War or the Great War, was a global war originating in Europe that lasted from 28 July 1914 to 11 November 1918. Contemporaneously described as "the war to end all wars", it led to the mobilisation of more than 70 million military personnel, including 60 million Europeans, making it one of the largest wars in history. It is also one of the deadliest conflicts in history, with an estimated nine million combatants and seven million civilian deaths as a direct result of the war, while resulting genocides and the resulting 1918 influenza pandemic caused another 50 to 100 million deaths worldwide.

Contents

Pre-World War I

Considered to have been the first genocide of the 20th century, the Herero and Namaqua Genocide was perpetrated by the German Empire between 1904 and 1907 in German South West Africa (modern day Namibia), during the scramble for Africa. [1] [2] [3] [4] [5] On January 12, 1904, the Herero people, led by Samuel Maharero, rebelled against German colonialism. In August, General Lothar von Trotha of the Imperial German Army defeated the Herero in the Battle of Waterberg and drove them into the desert of Omaheke, where most of them died of thirst. In October, the Nama people also rebelled against the Germans only to suffer a similar fate.

Genocide is intentional action to destroy a people in whole or in part. The hybrid word "genocide" is a combination of the Greek word γένος and the Latin suffix -caedo. The term genocide was coined by Raphael Lemkin in his 1944 book Axis Rule in Occupied Europe;

German South West Africa former colony of the German Empire

German South West Africa was a colony of the German Empire from 1884 until 1919. With an area of 835,100 km², it was one and a half times the size of the mainland German Empire in Europe at the time. The colony had a population of around 2,600 Germans.

Namibia republic in southern Africa

Namibia, officially the Republic of Namibia, is a country in southern Africa. Its western border is the Atlantic Ocean; it shares land borders with Zambia and Angola to the north, Botswana to the east and South Africa to the south and east. Although it does not border Zimbabwe, less than 200 metres of the Zambezi River separates the two countries. Namibia gained independence from South Africa on 21 March 1990, following the Namibian War of Independence. Its capital and largest city is Windhoek, and it is a member state of the United Nations (UN), the Southern African Development Community (SADC), the African Union (AU), and the Commonwealth of Nations.

In total, from 24,000 up to 100,000 Herero and 10,000 Nama died. [6] [7] [8] [9] [10] The genocide was characterized by widespread death by starvation and thirst because the Herero who fled the violence were prevented from returning from the Namib Desert. Some sources also claim that the German colonial army systematically poisoned desert wells. [11] [12]

Well-poisoning is the act of malicious manipulation of potable water resources in order to cause illness or death, or to deny an opponent access to fresh water resources.

World War I

Aerial photograph of a German gas attack on the Eastern Front of World War I. Lethal poison gas was first introduced by Germany and subsequently utilized by the other major belligerents in violation of the Hague Convention IV of 1907 Bundesarchiv Bild 183-F0313-0208-007, Gaskrieg (Luftbild).jpg
Aerial photograph of a German gas attack on the Eastern Front of World War I. Lethal poison gas was first introduced by Germany and subsequently utilized by the other major belligerents in violation of the Hague Convention IV of 1907

Documentation regarding German war crimes in World War I was seized and destroyed by Nazi Germany during World War II, after occupying France, along with monuments commemorating their victims. [13]

Chemical weapons in warfare

Poison gas was first introduced as a weapon by Imperial Germany, and subsequently used by all major belligerents, in violation of the 1899 Hague Declaration Concerning Asphyxiating Gases and the 1907 Hague Convention on Land Warfare, which explicitly forbade the use of "poison or poisoned weapons" in warfare. [14] [15]

Belgium

Depiction of the execution of civilians in Blegny by Evariste Carpentier L'execution des notables de Blegny, 1914 (par Evariste Carpentier).jpg
Depiction of the execution of civilians in Blégny by Évariste Carpentier

In August 1914, as part of the Schlieffen Plan, the German Army invaded and occupied the neutral nation of Belgium without explicit warning, which violated a treaty of 1839 that the German chancellor dismissed as a "scrap of paper" and the 1907 Hague Convention on Opening of Hostilities. [16] Within the first two months of the war, the German occupiers terrorized the Belgians, killing thousands of civilians and looting and burning scores of towns, including Leuven, which housed the country's preeminent university, mainly in retaliation for Belgian guerrilla warfare, (see francs-tireurs ). This action was in violation of the 1907 Hague Convention on Land Warfare provisions that prohibited collective punishment of civilians and looting and destruction of civilian property in occupied territories. [17]

Schlieffen Plan German General Staffs early-20th-century overall strategic plan

The Schlieffen Plan was a name given, after the First World War, to German war plans, the influence of Field Marshal Alfred von Schlieffen and his thinking on an invasion of France and Belgium which began on 4 August 1914. Schlieffen was Chief of the General Staff of the German Army from 1891 to 1906. In 1905 and 1906, Schlieffen devised an army deployment plan for a war-winning offensive against the French Third Republic. After losing the First World War, German official historians of the Reichsarchiv and other writers described the plan as a blueprint for victory. Generaloberst (Colonel-General) Helmuth von Moltke the Younger, succeeded Schlieffen as Chief of the German General Staff in 1906 and was dismissed after the First Battle of the Marne. German historians claimed that Moltke had ruined the plan by meddling with it out of timidity.

German invasion of Belgium military campaign of World War I

The German invasion of Belgium was a military campaign which began on 4 August 1914. Earlier, on 24 July, the Belgian government had announced that if war came it would uphold its historic neutrality. The Belgian government mobilised its armed forces on 31 July and a state of heightened alert was proclaimed in Germany. On 2 August, the German government sent an ultimatum to Belgium, demanding passage through the country, and German forces invaded Luxembourg. Two days later, the Belgian government refused the demands and the British government guaranteed military support to Belgium. The German government declared war on Belgium on 4 August, troops crossed the border and began the Battle of Liège.

Treaty of London (1839) treaty signed on 19 April 1839

The Treaty of London of 1839, also called the First Treaty of London, the Convention of 1839, the Treaty of Separation, the Quintuple Treaty of 1839, or the Treaty of the XXIV articles, was a treaty signed on 19 April 1839 between the Concert of Europe, the United Kingdom of the Netherlands and the Kingdom of Belgium. It was a direct follow-up to the 1831 Treaty of the XVIII Articles which the Netherlands had refused to sign, and the result of negotiations at the London Conference of 1838–1839.

Bombardment of English coastal towns

The raid on Scarborough, Hartlepool and Whitby, which took place on December 16, 1914, was an attack by the Imperial German Navy on the British seaport towns of Scarborough, Hartlepool, West Hartlepool, and Whitby. The attack resulted in 137 fatalities and 592 casualties. The raid was in violation of the ninth section of the 1907 Hague Convention which prohibited naval bombardments of undefended towns without warning, [18] because only Hartlepool was protected by shore batteries. [19] Germany was a signatory of the 1907 Hague Convention. [20] Another attack followed on 26 April 1916 on the coastal towns of Yarmouth and Lowestoft but both were important naval bases and defended by shore batteries. [ citation needed ]

Unrestricted submarine warfare

Unrestricted submarine warfare was instituted in 1915 in response to the British blockade of Germany in the North Sea. Prize rules, which were codified under the 1907 Hague Convention—such as those that required commerce raiders to warn their targets and allow time for the crew to board lifeboats—were disregarded and commercial vessels were sunk regardless of nationality, cargo, or destination. Following the sinking of the RMS Lusitania on 7 May 1915 and subsequent public outcry in various neutral countries, including the United States, the practice was withdrawn. However, Germany resumed the practice on 1 February 1917 and declared that all merchant ships regardless of nationalities would be sunk without warning. This outraged the U.S. public, prompting the U.S. to break diplomatic relations with Germany two days later, and, along with the Zimmermann Telegram, led the U.S. entry into the war two months later on the side of the Allied Powers.

World War II

Chronologically, the first German World War II crime, and also the very first act of the war, was the bombing of Wieluń, a town where no targets of military value were present. [21] [22]

More significantly, The Holocaust of the Jews and Poles, the Action T4 killing of the disabled and the Porajmos of the Gypsies are the most notable war crimes committed by Nazi Germany during World War II. Not all of the crimes committed during the Holocaust and similar mass atrocities were war crimes. Telford Taylor (The U.S. prosecutor in the German High Command case at the Nuremberg Trials and Chief Counsel for the twelve trials before the U.S. Nuremberg Military Tribunals) explained in 1982:

WW2-Holocaust-Europe.png
The Holocaust: ghettos, concentration and extermination camps during World War II across Europe
Polish hostages preparing by Nazi Germans for mass execution 1940.jpg
Polish hostages preparing for mass execution 1940
Fall of Mickiewicz Monument (1940).jpg
Destruction of Adam Mickiewicz Monument in Cracow, Poland by German forces on August 17, 1940
Jew Killings in Ivangorod (1942).jpg
Ivanhorod Einsatzgruppen photograph. Executions of Kiev Jews by German army mobile killing units (Einsatzgruppen) near Ivangorod, Ukraine, 1942. The photo was mailed from the Eastern Front to Germany and intercepted at a Warsaw post office by Polish resistance member, Jerzy Tomaszewski who collected documentation on Nazi war crimes. The original German inscription on the back of the photograph reads, "Ukraine 1942, Jewish Action [operation], Ivangorod." 1942
Polish farmers killed by German forces, German-occupied Poland, 1943.jpg
Polish farmers killed by German forces, German-occupied Poland, 1943
Dolina smierci Bydgoszcz.jpg
Polish teachers from Bydgoszcz guarded by members of Volksdeutscher Selbstschutz before execution

as far as wartime actions against enemy nationals are concerned, the [1948] Genocide Convention added virtually nothing to what was already covered (and had been since the Hague Convention of 1899) by the internationally accepted laws of land warfare, which require an occupying power to respect "family honors and rights, individual lives and private property, as well as religious convictions and liberty" of the enemy nationals. But the laws of war do not cover, in time of either war or peace, a government's actions against its own nationals (such as Nazi Germany's persecution of German Jews). And at the Nuremberg war crimes trials, the tribunals rebuffed several efforts by the prosecution to bring such "domestic" atrocities within the scope of international law as "crimes against humanity."

Telford Taylor [23]

War criminals

Massacres and war crimes of World War II by location

Austria

Belarus

1941
1942
1943
Mass murder of Soviet civilians near Minsk, 1943 Bundesarchiv Bild 146-1970-043-52, Russland, bei Minsk, tote Zivilisten.jpg
Mass murder of Soviet civilians near Minsk, 1943
1944

Czechoslovakia

The relatives and helpers of Czech resistance fighters Jan Kubis and Josef Valcik executed en masse on October 24, 1942 Koncentracni tabor Mauthausen Praha 2012 7934.JPG
The relatives and helpers of Czech resistance fighters Jan Kubiš and Josef Valčík executed en masse on October 24, 1942

Estonia

1941
1942

France

Burned out cars and buildings still litter the remains of the original village in Oradour-sur-Glane, as left by Das Reich SS division Car in Oradour-sur-Glane4.jpg
Burned out cars and buildings still litter the remains of the original village in Oradour-sur-Glane, as left by Das Reich SS division

Germany

Hartheim Euthanasia Centre, where over 18,000 people were killed in Action T4 Alkoven Schloss Hartheim 2005-08-18 3589.jpg
Hartheim Euthanasia Centre, where over 18,000 people were killed in Action T4
1945

Greece

Massacre of Kondomari in Greece, June 1941 Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-166-0527-02A, Kreta, Kondomari, Erschiessung von Zivilisten.jpg
Massacre of Kondomari in Greece, June 1941

In addition, more than 90 villages and towns are recorded from the Hellenic network of martyr cities. [25] During the triple German, Italian and Bulgarian, occupation about 800,000 people lost their lives in Greece (see World War II casualties).

Italy

A body lies in the via Rasella, Rome, during the round up of civilians by Italian collaborationist soldiers and German troops after the partisan bombing on 13 March 1944. Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-312-0983-10, Rom, Soldaten vor Gebaude.jpg
A body lies in the via Rasella, Rome, during the round up of civilians by Italian collaborationist soldiers and German troops after the partisan bombing on 13 March 1944.

Latvia

Latvian-Jewish women and children photographed before being murdered at Liepaja in December 1941. Liepaja December 1941 massacres 01.jpeg
Latvian-Jewish women and children photographed before being murdered at Liepaja in December 1941.
1941

Lithuania

The anti-Jewish pogrom in Kaunas, in which thousands of Jews were killed in the last few days of June 1941 Massacre Kovno Garage 27 JUNE 1942.jpg
The anti-Jewish pogrom in Kaunas, in which thousands of Jews were killed in the last few days of June 1941
1941

Netherlands

1940
1944

Norway

Poland

Man showing corpse of a starved infant in the Warsaw ghetto, 1941 Warsaw ghetto - infant corpse.jpg
Man showing corpse of a starved infant in the Warsaw ghetto, 1941
A column of Polish civilians being led by German troops through Wolska Street in early August 1944. Bundesarchiv Bild 101I-695-0423-14, Warschauer Aufstand, fluchtende Zivilisten.jpg
A column of Polish civilians being led by German troops through Wolska Street in early August 1944.
German police shooting women and children from the Mizocz Ghetto, 14 October 1942 Einsatzgruppe shooting.jpg
German police shooting women and children from the Mizocz Ghetto, 14 October 1942
1942
1943
1944
Film footage taken by the Polish Underground showing the bodies of women and children murdered by SS troops in Warsaw, August 1944. Polish civilians murdered by German-SS-troops in Warsaw Uprising Warsaw August 1944.jpg
Film footage taken by the Polish Underground showing the bodies of women and children murdered by SS troops in Warsaw, August 1944.

Russia

A victim of starvation in besieged Leningrad in 1941 Distrofiia alimentarnaia.jpg
A victim of starvation in besieged Leningrad in 1941

Serbia

1941

Ukraine

1941
1943
1944

See also

Notes

  1. Olusoga, David and Erichsen, Casper W (2010). The Kaiser's Holocaust. Germany's Forgotten Genocide and the Colonial Roots of Nazism. Faber and Faber. ISBN   978-0-571-23141-6
  2. Levi, Neil; Rothberg, Michael (2003). The Holocaust: Theoretical Readings. Rutgers University Press. p. 465. ISBN   0-8135-3353-8.
  3. Mahmood Mamdani, When Victims Become Killers: Colonialism, Nativism, and the Genocide in Rwanda, Princeton University Press, Princeton, 2001, p. 12
  4. Allan D. Cooper (2006-08-31). "Reparations for the Herero Genocide: Defining the limits of international litigation". Oxford Journals African Affairs.
  5. "Remembering the Herero Rebellion". Deutsche Welle. 2004-11-01.
  6. Colonial Genocide and Reparations Claims in the 21st Century: The Socio-Legal Context of Claims under International Law by the Herero against Germany for Genocide in Namibia, 1904–1908 (PSI Reports) by Jeremy Sarkin-Hughes
  7. Empire, Colony, Genocide: Conquest, Occupation and Subaltern Resistance in World History (War and Genocide) (War and Genocide) (War and Genocide) A. Dirk Moses -page 296(From Conquest to Genocide: Colonial Rule in German Southwest Africa and German East Africa. 296, (29). Dominik J. Schaller)
  8. The Imperialist Imagination: German Colonialism and Its Legacy (Social History, Popular Culture, and Politics in Germany) by Sara L. Friedrichsmeyer, Sara Lennox, and Susanne M. Zantop page 87 University of Michigan Press 1999
  9. Walter Nuhn: Sturm über Südwest. Der Hereroaufstand von 1904. Bernard & Graefe-Verlag, Koblenz 1989. ISBN   3-7637-5852-6.
  10. Marie-Aude Baronian, Stephan Besser, Yolande Jansen, "Diaspora and memory: figures of displacement in contemporary literature, arts and politics", pg. 33 Rodopi, 2007,
  11. Samuel Totten, William S. Parsons, Israel W. Charny, "Century of genocide: critical essays and eyewitness accounts" pg. 51, Routledge, 2004,
  12. Dan Kroll, "Securing our water supply: protecting a vulnerable resource", PennWell Corp/University of Michigan Press, pg. 22
  13. France: the dark years, 1940–1944 page 273 Julian Jackson Oxford University Press 2003
  14. Telford Taylor (November 1, 1993). The Anatomy of the Nuremberg Trials: A Personal Memoir. Little, Brown and Company. ISBN   0-3168-3400-9 . Retrieved 20 June 2013.
  15. Thomas Graham, Damien J. Lavera (May 2003). Cornerstones of Security: Arms Control Treaties in the Nuclear Era. University of Washington Press. pp. 7–9. ISBN   0-2959-8296-9 . Retrieved 5 July 2013.
  16. Robinson, James J., ABA Journal46(9), p. 978.
  17. Spencer C. Tucker, Priscilla Mary Roberts (October 25, 2005). World War I: A Student Encyclopedia. Santa Barbara, California: ABC-CLIO. p. 1074. ISBN   1-8510-9879-8.CS1 maint: Uses authors parameter (link)
  18. Logan Marshall (1915). Horrors and atrocities of the great war: Including the tragic destruction of the Lusitania: A new kind of warfare: Comprising the desolation of Belgium: The sacking of Louvain: The shelling of defenseless cities: The wanton destruction of cathedrals and works of art: The horrors of bomb dropping: Vividly portraying the grim awfulness of this greatest of all wars fought on land and sea: In the air and under the waves: Leaving in its wake a dreadful trail of famine and pestilence . Retrieved 5 July 2013.
  19. Chuter, David (2003). War Crimes: Confronting Atrocity in the Modern World. London: Lynne Rienner Pub. p. 300. ISBN   1-58826-209-X.
  20. Willmore, John (1918). The great crime and its moral. New York: Doran. p. 340.
  21. Kulesza, Witold (2004). ""Wieluń polska Guernica", Tadeusz Olejnik, Wieluń 2004 : [recenzja]" ["Wieluń Polish Guernica", Tadeusz Olejnik, Wieluń 2004 : [review]](PDF). Rocznik Wieluński (in Polish). 4: 253–254.
  22. David Gilbertson (14 August 2017). The Nightmare Dance: Guilt, Shame, Heroism and the Holocaust. Troubador Publishing Limited. p. 27. ISBN   978-1-78306-609-4.
  23. Telford Taylor "When people kill a people" in The New York Times, March 28, 1982
  24. "Home - Veterans Affairs Canada". Vac-acc.gc.ca. 2012-03-29. Retrieved 9 July 2012.
  25. Δήμος Λαμιέων: Δίκτυο μαρτυρικών πόλεων & χωριών της Ελλάδος | Δήμος Λαμιέων, accessdate: 19. Oktober 2015
  26. "www.anpi.it/storia/212/strage-di-boves". anpi.it. Retrieved 14 February 2017.
  27. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 8 9 10 11 Buzzelli, S.; De Paolis, M.; Speranzoni, A. (2012). La ricostruzione giudiziale dei crimini nazifascisti in Italia: questioni preliminari. G. Giappichelli. p. 119. ISBN   9788834826195 . Retrieved 14 February 2017.
  28. 1 2 3 4 5 6 7 "Crimini di guerra". criminidiguerra.it. Retrieved 14 February 2017.
  29. 1 2 3 4 5 Biacchessi, D. (2015). I carnefici. SPERLING & KUPFER. ISBN   9788820092719 . Retrieved 14 February 2017.
  30. "L`eccidio di Pietransieri - Rai Storia". raistoria.rai.it. Retrieved 14 February 2017.
  31. "Complete tabulation of executions carried out in the Einsatzkommando 3 zone up to 1 December 1941". Holocaust-history.org. Retrieved 4 May 2012.
  32. "Gesamtaufstellung der im Bereich des EK. 3 bis zum 1. Dez. 1941 durchgeführten Exekutionen". Holocaust-history.org. 2002-09-28. Retrieved 4 May 2012.
  33. Muzeum Powstania otwarte, BBC Polish edition, 2 October 2004, Children accessed on 13 April 2007
  34. O Powstaniu Warszawskim opowiada prof. Jerzy Kłoczowski, Gazeta Wyborcza – local Warsaw edition, 1998-08-01. Children accessed on 13 April 2007
  35. "24 Октября 1943 г." www.army.lv (in Russian). Retrieved 2018-04-20.
  36. "19 Октября 1943 г." www.army.lv (in Russian). Retrieved 2018-04-20.

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The Holocaust in Italy

The Holocaust in Italy was the persecution, deportation, and murder of Jews between 1943 and 1945 in the Italian Social Republic, the part of the Kingdom of Italy occupied by Nazi Germany after the Italian surrender on September 8, 1943, during World War II.

The Holocaust in Chachersk was the ghettoization and genocide of the Jews and Romani people mainly in the Belarusian shtetl of Chachersk, as well as in the greater Chachersk District located inside the Gomel Oblast during the Holocaust. Invading Soviet-controlled Belarus as a part of Operation Barbarossa, Nazi Germany subjected Chachersk and neighboring shtetls to systematic extermination. Entire Jewish and Romani populations in the region were rounded up in Nazi-organized ghettos and later executed, in one of the earliest phases of the Final Solution.

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