“But the most interesting — although horrible — sight that I encountered during the trip was a visit to a German internment camp near Gotha. The things I saw beggar description. While I was touring the camp I encountered three men who had been inmates and by one ruse or another had made their escape. I interviewed them through an interpreter. The visual evidence and the verbal testimony of starvation, cruelty and bestiality were so overpowering as to leave me a bit sick. In one room, where they [there] were piled up twenty or thirty naked men, killed by starvation, George Patton would not even enter. He said he would get sick if he did so. I made the visit deliberately, in order to be in position to give first-hand evidence of these things if ever, in the future, there develops a tendency to charge these allegations merely to ‘propaganda’.”
General Eisenhower letter to General George Marshall 4/15/45
The Nuremberg Trials got under way seventy years ago today. One may cavil at some of the procedures used during the trials and the presence of Soviet judges and prosecutors at the trial, but no decent human being can ever claim that the crimes committed by the leaders of the Third Reich, in Eisenhower’s phrase, beggar description. The video at the beginning of this post consists of film shot by the Army Signal Corps, at Eisenhower’s order, of the Nazi death camps and was admitted into evidence at the Nuremberg trial. It makes for grim viewing, but the reality it reflected must never be forgotten.
”I want to make sure with my own eyes about this cruelty, so I can someday tell others about it as a witness.”
John Rabe, German Nazi businessman credited with organizing the efforts to save the lives of some 200,000 Chinese during the rape of Nanking that saw the murder of 300,000 Chinese civilians by the Imperial Japanese Army.
One of the problems of the analysis of Hiroshima and Nagasaki is that the events are often treated as if they occurred in a moral vacuum. They did not. Here are a few of the crimes of the Empire of Japan:
1. Launching a sneak attack against a country you are not at war with.
2. Murdering approximately 20 million civilians in a war of aggression.
3. Using live enemy POWs and civilians for bayonet practice.
4. Forcing enemy civilian women to serve as “comfort women” for your troops.
5. Starving POWs and interned enemy civilians.
6. Beheading enemy POWs and civilians for such serious crimes as stealing a bowl of rice or failing to bow low enough to a camp guard. Continue reading
As the New York Times remembers Hiroshima, Richard Fernandez asks us to name the two greatest losses of civilian life in the Pacific war. (“Hint. In both cases the civilian casualties were greater than Hiroshima’s. In one case the event took place on American soil.”)
Meanwhile, Donald Sensing (Sense of Events) thinks it’s past time for Western churches to stop treating Japan as victim every Aug. 6 and 9:
I refuse on principle to pollute God’s ears with prayers dedicated only to Hiroshima Day and the dead of those cities while ignoring the tens of millions of Japanese-murdered souls who cry for remembrance, but do not get it, certainly not from the World Council of Churches and its allies who have no loathing but for their own civilization. If the prayers of the WCC’s service are to be offered, let them be uttered on Aug. 14, the day Japan announced its surrender, or on Sept. 2, the day the surrender instruments were signed aboard USS Missouri. Let our churches no longer be accessories to Japan’s blood-soaked silence but instead be voices for the millions of murdered victims of its bloodlust, imperialist militarism.
(HT: Bill Cork).
In the comments on a post on another blog, I was challenged with the following question, which while fringy in origin strikes me as being the sort of thing which requires a post-length answer if it’s going to be answered at all. (I’ve put together the content of a couple comments in the following summation.)
Given the statement by president-elect Obama’s incoming Attorney General that waterboarding is torture, shouldn’t one want to see “everyone in the Bush administration who authorized torture” sent to the Hague to stand trail for war crimes?
My short answer is, “No.” And I think there are a number of interesting reasons for saying this.