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Thread: War Crimes, Morality and Justice

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    War Crimes, Morality and Justice

    Were the Allies more moral than the Axis for example? What do you think? Is it really the place of a country with an army who raped every living woman from Berlin to judge another country whose soldiers also raped women from the opposing force? In my opinion, the war crimes should be tried by a neutral force, not by the winners of a war.

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    Hmm, I don't think the Allies were more moral than the Axis. In a war, each side kills and civilians die in the process. That's the cruel reality of war. Although one side can be more blamed if it starts the war and gives the other no other choice but to defend itself. I agree that there should be a neutral party to judge the warcrimes. There would be more objectivity that way.

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    The question here should really not be limited to the historical question of whether Allied or Axis crimes were more or less moral. The central question should instead be whether War Crimes can ever be morally justified, and if so, who should decide whether they are moral or not - the neutral mind, or the victor?

    I might offer my own, lengthy opinion on this subject should I find the time, in a wee while, but for the meantime, I will point out several threads which could be of interest to those who would answer on this thread

    WWII Germanic Allied Victims
    Germany's Forgotten Victims (Bear in mind that several threads have been merged here, and the actual The Althing thread you all know starts about halfway down page 9, most of the first 5 pages are "historically useless" posts which are some 4 years old)
    -In kalte Schatten versunken... /Germaniens Volk erstarrt / Gefroren von Lügen / In denen die Welt verharrt-
    -Die alte Seele trauernd und verlassen / Verblassend in einer erklärbaren Welt / Schwebend in einem Dunst der Wehmut / Ein Schrei der nur unmerklich gellt-
    -Auch ich verspüre Demut / Vor dem alten Geiste der Ahnen / Wird es mir vergönnt sein / Gen Walhalla aufzufahren?-

    (Heimdalls Wacht, In kalte Schatten versunken, stanzas 4-6)

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    I don't believe in "war morality". It is all relativism. It wasn't simply war crimes that were majorly on trial, rather Axis war crimes, and that was unless the perpetrators proved to be useful to the Allied powers in some way. Such is the case of Shiro Ishii, microbiologist commander of Unit 731, who decided to collaborate when he was caught, and thus received immunity from prosecution. Not that he did anything "ethical" to earn his pardon or that his crimes suddenly vanished into thin air, as he provided germ warfare data based on human experimentation.

    Yes, a neutral war crimes tribunal would be more objective IMO, however it's not a strategical move to point out the crimes of both sides. Being judged and reprimanded by the winner is part of the humiliation, the tarring and feathering of the loser and the march of shame before the whole town, so to say.

    In the GDR, the "rape of Berlin" was a very much avoided topic, swept under the carpet basically, because it would have tainted the USSR's image of glorious liberators and bringers of peace. It was not consistent with the posters praising "Soviet-German friendship". Soviet soldiers were viewed as anti-fascist heroes. Thus, they couldn't possibly have been rapists.

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    Since war is organized violence between nations, the notion of a 'war crime' presupposes that laws exist outside of a society that enacts them in its political sphere, enforced by an authority above folk and nation. I consider this notion to be incompatible with our exclusive duties to our people and as a result, immoral.

    There are, of course, mutual agreements between peoples, but those must be void when a people decides that they are no longer in its interests and they shouldn't be called laws, because this is highly misleading. An example would be the disparate conduct of war on the Eastern and Western fronts of World War II, which was largely based on mutual standards in both cases, with some deterioration over time.

    The only way a people can realistically 'judge' over another is through military means. Kangaroo courts are simply tacked on for propaganda reasons, as stated before, intended to conceal this simple fact.

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    Why the Past is Always Present when Victor’s Justice is on Trial

    This is the review of a book (which I haven't read), but I post it here because there is some good questioning about war trials and justice:

    THE past is the present – that’s the ominous conclusion of author and journalist John Laughland as he passionately outlines in tremendous detail some of the world’s most important political trials. His new book is an in-depth analysis of 18 of the most hotly debated trials from Charles I after the English Civil War to Saddam Hussein after the collapse of his regime in Iraq.

    As an objective account of these events, this work is a resounding success. But what it also reveals is our failure to prevent atrocities happening again.

    Because if man had learned any lessons from history then Laughland’s book would have been concluded after chapter three on War Guilt after World War I. But then we have the Holocaust and the Nuremberg war crimes trials; ethnic cleansing in post-war Czechoslovakia; Nicolae Ceausescu; Erich Honecker; Slobodan Milosevic and, ultimately, Saddam Hussein.

    However, Laughland poses some uncomfortable questions with each new chapter – asking, particularly, if political trials are merely the continuation of war by another means? Victor’s justice? And are political trials actually just show trials, nothing more than a gross exercise in hypocrisy?

    The modern use of international tribunals to try former heads of state for genocide and crimes against humanity is conventionally viewed as a positive development – poetic justice – but the author’s detailed analysis of these trials, coupled with his historical perspective, forces the reader to re-examine this response.

    Laughland points up a different – and more sinister – interpretation; that modern trials of heads of state have exceedingly ugly historical precedents. Readers are constantly challenged to ask themselves: is this real justice? Has the suffering of the innocent been properly addressed? And what, in the end, is the validity of victor’s justice?

    After all the genocides and the massacres of the innocent which took place in the 20th century, it is only natural, of course, that people should want to put those they held responsible on trial. But in all the trials that Laughland describes, two recurring themes are glaringly obvious – the arbitrariness and the injustice of the event.

    Much has been already written about many of the 18 trials he examines. But Laughland’s valuable contribution is that he challenges the conventional wisdom that trials of former heads of state on charges of war crimes or genocide are fair and just.

    And he adds considerable credibility to his case by tracing the history of atrocities and subsequent trials back to the Cromwellian era of the 17th century and the French Revolution of the 18th century.

    Despite all the facts, figures and historical evidence, the author’s easy style means his book does not become bogged down in the dry-as-dust style favoured by some academics.

    Laughland is very readable and, if you read this book, you may find yourself asking how many of these political trials or show trials were really mis-trials? And you will be left to ponder on the problem that, if mistakes were made in most if not all of the trials examined here, what hope is there for political trials in the future?

    The source:
    http://www.tribunemagazine.co.uk/2008/09/17/why-the-past-is-always-present-when-victor%E2%80%99s-justice-is-on-trial/

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    War Crimes happened before WW2 and after. As for who was "more moral", the Axis or the Allies...I'd say neither, although that has "addendums" to it. More times than not it depends on the unit, situation at hand and the environment one finds where ever there is a battle within rules of engagement. Soviet orders/propaganda to break the pride of German women (through rape) was *exceptionally* immoral and fully criminal. The bombing of Dresden, Hamburg, civilian sectors in Berlin, etc or most, if not all, of the actions of the Einsatzgruppen and other units (ie: Police Battalion 101, etc) all figure in on that side. The list could obviously go on and on.

    Ideally the military should punish their own, which it does but not at the level it should or should have...even less so when those individuals are following within the constraints of ideologically approved actions. A neutral side would be best, though I don't think that civilians should be included on that type of tribunal/trial...except perhaps as observers and/or advisors. As Raven mentioned, it's kind of a pipe dream...it wouldn't serve the interests of the victors (or the defeated for that matter) to have war crimes on both sides pointed out.

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    War and crime don't go together.

    A judge will always be biased, there is no way to be fair.

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    I think non of the sides in WW2 were moral same as in almost every war, both sides do things that are bad for the other side.

    Probably the only side that is moral in wars are the civilians...... well maybe not always.
    If christ is the answer then what is the question?

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    Quote Originally Posted by Teuton View Post
    War and crime don't go together.

    A judge will always be biased, there is no way to be fair.
    When talking about war crimes and "laws of war", which yes do exist, the Hague and Geneva Conventions are what is fallen back on. Some of it is a bit dated, but still relevent to the conversation. I had to take classes in both, with caveats from the instructors. Still, your rules of engagement and the situation will always take precedence.

    Laws of War :
    Laws and Customs of War on Land (Hague IV); October 18, 1907
    - Avalon Project at Yale Law School

    Hague Conventions 1899 and 1907 (not complete)

    Hague Convention for the Protection of Cultural Property in the Event of Armed Conflict - signed 1954

    Geneva Conventions - Includes mention of amendments

    The Geneva Conventions: the core of international humanitarian law - from the International Red Cross, includes all documents and amendments

    Perhaps an interesting read for people here...
    Last edited by Kriegersohn; Friday, September 26th, 2008 at 03:24 AM. Reason: spelling error :)

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