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What is the most overlooked, undervalued, underestimated aspect of WWII?

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  • Originally posted by Michele View Post



    It also claims that the Kriegsmarine's (and, in particular, the U-Boot arm's) attitude changed significantly after the incident, because of the Laconia order. Actually, Doenitz had already issued, in October or November 1939 (!) a very similar order that was in overt violation of the prize rules concerning the safety of merchant marine crews.

    .
    I suspect that you are referring to the period 16 -17th October 1939. German admiralty archives show that on 16 -10-1939 after a meeting with Raeder Hitler approved the sinking without warning of any British or French merchantman. Raeder remarked that they were in effect already doing this. On the 17th October Operational Division Naval Staff issued an order for U boats to cease attacks on merchant shipping citing the prize rules. On the same day another order was issued to attack all enemy merchant ships by whatever means
    Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
    Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

    Comment


    • Thanks to all who responded. I was indeed looking for other POV's on Laconia, I had only read Blair's version
      Will no one tell me what she sings?--
      Perhaps the plaintive numbers flow
      For old, unhappy, far-off things,
      And battles long ago:
      -William Wordsworth, "The Solitary Reaper"

      Comment


      • Originally posted by Michele View Post

        The wikipedia article is, as most accounts of the event, absurdly pro-Axis. It tries to imply, without risking stating it openly, that the attack by bombers was a war crime. Of course it was not, under the international laws then in force. If anything, the use of the ICRC emblem by the submarine was a violation of those laws.
        Oh? What flag should they have flown, the Union Jack?

        No, it wasn't a war crime, it was just dumb, the kind of thing that gung-ho Green crews are apt to do unless they are told not to.

        Originally posted by Michele View Post
        It also claims that the Kriegsmarine's (and, in particular, the U-Boot arm's) attitude changed significantly after the incident, because of the Laconia order. Actually, Doenitz had already issued, in October or November 1939 (!) a very similar order that was in overt violation of the prize rules concerning the safety of merchant marine crews.
        Well then, a whole lot of German skippers were violating his orders, weren't they?

        Originally posted by Michele View Post
        Note the emphasis above. The merchant marine crews had been deemed, at the beginning of the war, as deserving special protection because they were considered civilians. But with all the sound and fury about the attack on the submarine by US bombers, what is conveniently overlooked is that the vast majority of the personnel involved were Axis military personnel. They were no longer POWs. They were no longer shipwreck victims swimming in the sea. What do you do in war when you see a convoy transporting enemy personnel and you have a gun capable of engaging that target? You fire the gun.
        Sure, why not?
        Oh yeah, there were a lot of British civilians there, as well.
        It was an Ocean Liner, and thousands of people came spilling out. Maybe we should call Hartenstien's humanitarian gesture an example of early-onset PTSD, and all our troops in this century should remember that in case they want to do anything similar ... for anyone, under any circumstances.

        Just fire away, right?

        Originally posted by Michele View Post
        What if the convoy is made up by military vehicles and it is trying to protect itself by illegally sporting a Red Cross flag? You ignore the flag.
        Which is as relevant as Batman riding an Elephant.

        Sure, the Italian POWs were no longer POWs.... but what next? Was that U-Boat taking everyone from Africa to Germany?
        I don't think so, they were headed to Vichy French territory, weren't they? And they would have been interned there, as any student of the laws of war should know.


        Originally posted by Michele View Post
        The Laconia event isn't an overlooked fact of WWII. Students of the laws of war know it well, and are able to debunk the pro-Axis apologists' take of it.
        So pointing out when the Allies screwed up is pro-Axis?
        Yeah, great way to get your own house in order. Is there anything else we can't talk about... or does the fact that the war ended in 1945 hold no water around here?


        Meh, screw it, your right. Just kill 'em all and let God sort 'em out, right?
        "Why is the Rum gone?"

        -Captain Jack

        Comment


        • Originally posted by MarkV View Post

          I suspect that you are referring to the period 16 -17th October 1939. German admiralty archives show that on 16 -10-1939 after a meeting with Raeder Hitler approved the sinking without warning of any British or French merchantman. Raeder remarked that they were in effect already doing this. On the 17th October Operational Division Naval Staff issued an order for U boats to cease attacks on merchant shipping citing the prize rules. On the same day another order was issued to attack all enemy merchant ships by whatever means
          No, I was referring to the period of November-December 1939, actually (not October-November, wrong recollection on my part). And that's from the direct acknowledgement of Doenitz:


          FLOTTENRICHTER KRANZBUEHLER: I want to call to your attention one of the orders submitted by the Prosecution. It is your permanent War Order Number 154; Exhibit Number GB-196 and in my document book on Pages 13 to 15. I will have this order given to you, and I am asking you to turn to the last paragraph, which was read by the Prosecution. There it says, I read it again:

          "Do not rescue any men; do not take them along; and do not take care of any boats of the ship. Weather conditions and proximity of land are of no consequence. Concern yourself only with the safety of your own boat and with efforts to achieve additional successes as soon as possible. We must be hard in this war. The enemy started the war in order to destroy us, and thus nothing else matters."

          The Prosecution has stated that this order went out, according to their records, before May 1940. Can you from your knowledge fix the date a little more exactly?

          DOENITZ: According to my recollection, I issued this order at the end of November or the beginning of December 1939 [...]

          Note also that sinking, as you say, enemy merchant ships without warning and without taking care of shipwrecked survivors would have been, ex post facto, justified by several British measures that de facto turned merchant ships into combatants. But nothing can justify the same measures (sinking without warning, ignoring the plight of shipwreck victims) which the U-Boote were ordered to implement against neutral merchant shipping. US, Soviet, Italian and Japanese merchant ships were exempted from this in late 1939 and early 1940; but other neutrals heading for the British Isles were to be sunk out of hand, in utter disregard both of the prize rules and of the rights of the neutrals during a war at sea.

          This all came before the Laconia sinking.
          Last edited by Michele; 13 Jul 18, 04:04.
          Michele

          Comment


          • Originally posted by The Exorcist View Post

            Oh? What flag should they have flown, the Union Jack?
            If they wanted to fly a flag, a German one.
            Read up about the allowed use of the distinctive emblem. Article 22 Geneva II 1929.

            No, it wasn't a war crime, it was just dumb, the kind of thing that gung-ho Green crews are apt to do unless they are told not to.
            At least we agree it wasn't a war crime. As to being a dumb thing, you seem to forget that amidst those boats there was a legitimate military target the crews were airborne with the specific task to hunt and destroy.

            Well then, a whole lot of German skippers were violating his orders, weren't they?
            Some did. Note that the standing order 154 issued by Doenitz very early in the war, forbidding U-Boot commanders from doing that, was issued exactly because many U-Boot commanders until then had complied with international law.
            If we want to go in the actual behavior of German U-Boot commanders, then we might mention the sinking of the Peleus and the subsequent machine-gunning of shipwreck victims among the flotsam.


            Sure, why not?
            Oh yeah, there were a lot of British civilians there, as well.
            It was an Ocean Liner, and thousands of people came spilling out. Maybe we should call Hartenstien's humanitarian gesture an example of early-onset PTSD, and all our troops in this century should remember that in case they want to do anything similar ... for anyone, under any circumstances.

            Just fire away, right?
            Exactly. You seem to be expecting that during WWII, the presently applicable rules concerning the avoidance of collateral damage already applied. They didn't. "In this century" has nothing whatsoever to do with the rules as they were in that other century. The one we're talking about.

            Which is as relevant as Batman riding an Elephant.
            I see you don't understand. The U-Boote had no right to fly a Red Cross flag, so the attackers had every right to ignore it.
            Think about the Bismarck. I'm pretty sure there were a sick or wounded man or two in its infirmary when it went to the fish. Do you think that the presence of those unlucky guys would have entitled the warship to fly a Red Cross, which in turn would have forced the British not to fire? They were wonded or sick, right?
            The distinctive emblem could only be used by vehicles that were exclusively intended to transport and evacuate sick and wounded personnel. That's the end of it. Any other use is an abuse.


            Sure, the Italian POWs were no longer POWs.... but what next? Was that U-Boat taking everyone from Africa to Germany?
            I don't think so, they were headed to Vichy French territory, weren't they? And they would have been interned there, as any student of the laws of war should know.
            Well, this is an example of irrelevance. The fact that the enemy personnel aboard might end up in internment doesn't change the fact that the U-Boot, instead, would keep harming Allied shipping if allowed to get away.


            So pointing out when the Allies screwed up is pro-Axis?
            Yeah, great way to get your own house in order. Is there anything else we can't talk about... or does the fact that the war ended in 1945 hold no water around here?
            You can talk about anything you want. It would just be more useful if you actually knew what you try to talk abouth, though.
            Michele

            Comment


            • Originally posted by Michele View Post

              No, I was referring to the period of November-December 1939, actually (not October-November, wrong recollection on my part). And that's from the direct acknowledgement of Doenitz:


              FLOTTENRICHTER KRANZBUEHLER: I want to call to your attention one of the orders submitted by the Prosecution. It is your permanent War Order Number 154; Exhibit Number GB-196 and in my document book on Pages 13 to 15. I will have this order given to you, and I am asking you to turn to the last paragraph, which was read by the Prosecution. There it says, I read it again:

              "Do not rescue any men; do not take them along; and do not take care of any boats of the ship. Weather conditions and proximity of land are of no consequence. Concern yourself only with the safety of your own boat and with efforts to achieve additional successes as soon as possible. We must be hard in this war. The enemy started the war in order to destroy us, and thus nothing else matters."

              The Prosecution has stated that this order went out, according to their records, before May 1940. Can you from your knowledge fix the date a little more exactly?

              DOENITZ: According to my recollection, I issued this order at the end of November or the beginning of December 1939 [...]

              Note also that sinking, as you say, enemy merchant ships without warning and without taking care of shipwrecked survivors would have been, ex post facto, justified by several British measures that de facto turned merchant ships into combatants. But nothing can justify the same measures (sinking without warning, ignoring the plight of shipwreck victims) which the U-Boote were ordered to implement against neutral merchant shipping. US, Soviet, Italian and Japanese merchant ships were exempted from this in late 1939 and early 1940; but other neutrals heading for the British Isles were to be sunk out of hand, in utter disregard both of the prize rules and of the rights of the neutrals during a war at sea.

              This all came before the Laconia sinking.
              The text quoted is in fact para 5 of a much longer document unfortunately Order 154 appears to have been lost so it isn't possible to see the context of para 5 or the exact date of issue.It would appear that it was generally ignored by most U boat commanders

              Following that German crews often gave assistance to men facing a struggle to survive. This might involve helping them to right lifeboats, helping transfer men from the water to rafts, giving provisions and medical supplies etc.. In some cases the U-boat crew indicated a course to steer towards safety, or indeed used their wireless to transmit a distress call. The custom of the sea took precedence over the demands of war.
              This was in accordance with the London Submarine Protocol 1936 to which Germany was a signatory.

              This continued after the Laconia Order became part of a U-boat's standing orders. In October 1942 U-125 supplied the Glendine's lifeboat with water, in November U-172 took 19 survivors on board whilst their lifeboat was checked over and bailed out. This behaviour continued through 1943.. However not all U-boat crew followed this pattern and in March 1944 U-852 under Heinz-Wilhelm Eck sank the Peleus in the South Atlantic. There were 15 survivors clinging to life rafts. Two were taken aboard the U-boat for interrogation and then returned to their raft. U-852 then spent four hours cruising through the wreckage machine gunning and grenading the rafts. 12 men were killed.

              Ecks was later tried by a British tribunal in October 1945. His defence was that he had been trying to prevent the wreckage giving his position away and wasn't credible. However it would seem that the prosecution was more interested in gaining evidence against Doenitz and wanted to prove that the Laconia Order was an implicit instruction to ensure that there were no survivors. Although Ecks admitted that he had a copy on board he stuck to the story that the decision to machine gun had been his alone. He and two other crew men were sentenced to death and shot the following month.

              Korvettenkapitan Karl Heinz Moehle was the commander of U-boat flotilla 5 and there was significant evidence that he had told the men under his command to eliminate survivors. At first he said that this was his own decision but after Ecks had been shot he changed his story and agreed to stand witness against Doenitz and got a sentence of 5 years.


              Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
              Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

              Comment


              • As far as I remember the U-852/Peleus case is the only instance of shooting survivors by uboat crew that is known for sure. I remember me and Michele had already discussed the possibility of other instances. This discussion took place in this forum many years ago, and if my memory serves right, there were a couple of cases (from German sources) that vaguely hinted of survivors elimination by uboat seamen - without any proofs, and our joint conclusion was that most probably there were more such incidents but confirmations are still to be found.
                "Keep Calm. Use Less X's"

                Comment


                • Originally posted by Michele View Post
                  ....

                  You can talk about anything you want. It would just be more useful if you actually knew what you try to talk abouth, though.
                  Oh, its coming through loud and clear what this is all about. The generation that grew up on Grand Theft Auto has all sorts of ways to justify the disregard for human life so prevalent today.
                  I mean, this isn't just mockery, it is an outright demand that any enemy engaged in life-saving operations simply be regarded as an easy target.... even if many of the lives involved are your own side's civilians.

                  That does help explain a lot of what is happening in Syria and Africa these days.

                  No, I can't accept any or your justifications here. A U-boat in the equatorial Atlantic can't possibly make it to France towing lifeboats and with it's decks covered with people. French colonies in Africa were the only reasonable destination. Flying over the Submarine several times shows that the Bomber crew could see what was going on, hesitated, and then came back later.
                  Who knows, maybe the fat-assed alcoholic commander back at base didn't want the Germans to get any good press, seems as logical as anything else.

                  So, taking this to its logical conclusion, I guess that carpet-bombing every POW camp would be justified, if that meant preventing prisoners from doing menial labor for the enemy... right?
                  "Why is the Rum gone?"

                  -Captain Jack

                  Comment


                  • Originally posted by The Exorcist View Post

                    Oh, its coming through loud and clear what this is all about. The generation that grew up on Grand Theft Auto has all sorts of ways to justify the disregard for human life so prevalent today.
                    I mean, this isn't just mockery, it is an outright demand that any enemy engaged in life-saving operations simply be regarded as an easy target.... even if many of the lives involved are your own side's civilians.

                    That does help explain a lot of what is happening in Syria and Africa these days.

                    No, I can't accept any or your justifications here. A U-boat in the equatorial Atlantic can't possibly make it to France towing lifeboats and with it's decks covered with people. French colonies in Africa were the only reasonable destination. Flying over the Submarine several times shows that the Bomber crew could see what was going on, hesitated, and then came back later.
                    Who knows, maybe the fat-assed alcoholic commander back at base didn't want the Germans to get any good press, seems as logical as anything else.

                    So, taking this to its logical conclusion, I guess that carpet-bombing every POW camp would be justified, if that meant preventing prisoners from doing menial labor for the enemy... right?
                    This is the World War Two forum.
                    Take discussions of modern issues like Syria and Africa to the current event forums where they belong.
                    If you wish to partake in a reasonable, source based discussion of World War Two, you're more than welcome to.
                    Further off topic posts of this type will be deleted,
                    Thank you
                    ACG Staff

                    Comment


                    • Originally posted by dmf01 View Post
                      As far as I remember the U-852/Peleus case is the only instance of shooting survivors by uboat crew that is known for sure. I remember me and Michele had already discussed the possibility of other instances. This discussion took place in this forum many years ago, and if my memory serves right, there were a couple of cases (from German sources) that vaguely hinted of survivors elimination by uboat seamen - without any proofs, and our joint conclusion was that most probably there were more such incidents but confirmations are still to be found.
                      On 23rd August 1940 U-37 torpedoed the Severn Leigh off Iceland. The crew preceded to abandon ship whilst the gunners covered the lowering of the lifeboats and the radio operator sent out distress calls. In 1939 Hitler had approved with Raeder firing on ships sending out radio signals. U-37 opened fire with its gun. Two of the lifeboats were still being lowered and 33 of the 43 man crew were killed.The London Submarine Protocol signed by Germany allowed distress calls.
                      Last edited by MarkV; 14 Jul 18, 15:50.
                      Human history becomes more and more a race between education and catastrophe (H G Wells)
                      Mit der Dummheit kaempfen Goetter selbst vergebens (Friedrich von Schiller)

                      Comment


                      • Originally posted by MarkV View Post

                        On 23rd August 1940 U-37 torpedoed the Severn Leigh off Iceland. The crew preceded to abandon ship whilst the gunners covered the lowering of the lifeboats and the radio operator sent out distress calls. In 1939 Hitler had approved with Raeder firing on ships sending out radio signals. U-37 opened fire with its gun. Two of the lifeboats were still being lowered and 33 of the 43 man crew were killed.The London Submarine Protocol signed by Germany allowed distress calls.
                        Thanks for answer, MarkV. As almost all belligerents had switched to the unrestricted submarine warfare London Protocol had been inevitably neglected. When I was writing my post I was thinking about instances that were popular in old black & white films, when uboat crewmen were machinegunning helpless survivors in floating lifeboats. Quite a tenacious cliché that isn't adequately supported by facts. Sorry, I had to be more explicit in my previous post.
                        "Keep Calm. Use Less X's"

                        Comment


                        • Originally posted by CarpeDiem View Post

                          This is the World War Two forum.
                          Take discussions of modern issues like Syria and Africa to the current event forums where they belong.
                          If you wish to partake in a reasonable, source based discussion of World War Two, you're more than welcome to.
                          Further off topic posts of this type will be deleted,
                          Thank you
                          ACG Staff
                          Thank you.
                          Michele

                          Comment


                          • Just not to let other readers go sifting through old threads in this forum, for the record here I'll quote that the cases in which the evidence of German submarines gunning down shipwreck survivors in the water and lifeboats is not as rock solid as in the Peleus case, are those of the Antonico and Noreen Mary. Both mentioned during the IMT proceedings.

                            Note that while firing on lifeboats had to be an extreme event, the fact in itself of not doing anything to help the survivors of sinkings of merchant ships - which is what Doenitz ordered, he never ever ordered to fire on survivors - is already in itself a violation of the laws of war as they stood then.
                            Michele

                            Comment


                            • Originally posted by Michele View Post
                              Just not to let other readers go sifting through old threads in this forum, for the record here I'll quote that the cases in which the evidence of German submarines gunning down shipwreck survivors in the water and lifeboats is not as rock solid as in the Peleus case, are those of the Antonico and Noreen Mary. Both mentioned during the IMT proceedings.

                              Note that while firing on lifeboats had to be an extreme event, the fact in itself of not doing anything to help the survivors of sinkings of merchant ships - which is what Doenitz ordered, he never ever ordered to fire on survivors - is already in itself a violation of the laws of war as they stood then.
                              'By Horse by Tram'.


                              I was in when they needed 'em,not feeded 'em.
                              " Youuu 'Orrible Lot!"

                              Comment


                              • May I say that the brutality of the German U boat crews was popular meat for the British wartime Media so it was lapped up by the black and white movie makers and Dirt sticks! lcm1
                                'By Horse by Tram'.


                                I was in when they needed 'em,not feeded 'em.
                                " Youuu 'Orrible Lot!"

                                Comment

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