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Quote of the Week: "A great civilization is not conquered from without until it has destroyed itself from within." - Will Durant, American historian (1885-1981)


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 Post subject: Re: How Many of The German WWII Generals Were War Criminals PostPosted: 2011-06-23 02:50am
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Immediately after the Allied landings in Algeria and Morocco, the Germans occupied Tunisia. On November 23, 1942, the Germans arrested Moises Burgel, the president of the Tunis Jewish community, and several other prominent Jews. Resistance to the German persecution of Tunisian Jews came from the sympathetic Vichy resident-general Admiral Estéva, the mayor of Tunis, Sheikh al-Madina 'Aziz Jallouli, and the Italians, who requested that any measures against Tunisian Jews exclude those Jews who were Italian citizens.

In early December, the Germans demanded that Burgel and Chief Rabbi Haïm Bellaïche dissolve Jewish community institutions and ordered the Chief Rabbi to provide Jewish workers for the Axis forces. By this time, the Germans had notified Vichy and Tunisian authorities that they could no longer interfere with German dealings with the Jews. Two days later, the Jewish leaders supplied a list of 2,500 Jews; only 128 Jews showed up for work. The Germans conducted a sweep of the Jewish neighborhood of Tunis and sent those Jews they captured to a camp at Cheylus, near the city. At the same time, the SS arrested one hundred Jewish notables in the Tunis community headquarters in order to compel them to provide Jewish workers for forced labor.

Approximately 5,000 Tunisian Jewish men were conscripted for almost forty detention camps and forced labor areas near the front lines. These camps were run by both the Germans and the Italians; the most important one was the military port at Bizerte, under German control. The Jewish notables set up committees to improve the lives of the internees by classifying workers as sick and helping them escape. This became progressively easier because discipline in the camps broke down as the Axis hold on Tunisia weakened.

Despite being worn down by the Allied land and air strikes in spring 1943, German authorities continued to persecute the Tunisian Jews. For example, the Germans imposed fines on Tunisian Jewish communities, ostensibly to compensate civilian victims of Allied bombings. In March 1943, rightwing antisemitic French colonists robbed Jewish homes and stores and denounced twenty members of the anti-Vichy resistance, some of them Jews, to the German authorities. The Germans transferred those arrested to concentration camps in Europe.

http://www.ushmm.org/wlc/en/article.php ... d=10007312
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SS Unit Created to Kill Jews in North Africa

Behind the front line of Rommel's Afrikakorps, a special unit was created in July 1942 to to plan the murder of Jews in the region. It was led by SS Obersturmbannführer, or Lieutenant Colonel, Walther Rauff, an experienced mass murderer who helped develop the mobile gassing vehicles the Germans used to murder Jewish people in their campaign in eastern Europe and the Soviet Union.

Rauff and his men were empowered to "take executive measures against the civilian population", Nazi jargon for robbery, murder and enslavement.

The Jews of Palestine were spared that fate. In October 1942 the Allies halted the German advance at the Egyptian town of El Alamein and thereby destroyed the myth of Rommel's invincibility. The Desert Fox had to evacuate his beaten army to Tunisia, back where his African campaign began.

The SS had established a network of labor camps in Tunisia. More than 2,500 Tunisian Jews died in six months of German rule, and the regular army was also involved in executions.

Rauff's men seized silver, jewellery and sacred objects. On the Tunisian island of Djerba alone, 43 kilograms of gold was taken from the local Jewish population. The SS later deposited the treasure in the sea off the island of Corsica. Ever since, the undiscovered "Rommel's Treasure" has attracted generations of treasure hunters.

Rommel's reputation was spared only because his strategy failed.

http://www.spiegel.de/international/ger ... 10,00.html

In short, Rommel wasn't a hardcore Nazi, but he didn't object to hardcore Nazis killing Jews in territories the Afrika Korps would control.



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 Post subject: Re: How Many of The German WWII Generals Were War Criminals PostPosted: 2011-06-23 11:42am
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That's strange - it doesn't gel very well with Rommel and his conduct in France. It may very well be that this was due to the command structure - given that Rommel regularly had to deal with Kesselring and even some of his own reticent generals it seems likely that he just did not know or care enough to involve himself in yet another bureaucratic fight.



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 Post subject: Re: How Many of The German WWII Generals Were War Criminals PostPosted: 2011-06-23 07:12pm
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Rommel has always come across as a man who was most comfortable with a division, and never adapted well to commanding larger units or larger responsibilities. Certainly his lack of understanding of the logistics that supported his desert war highlights that factor, and it’s not an unusual one in generals. People would never think so highly of Rommel in the first place if he hadn't gotten the luxury of fighting an enemy with completely flawed doctrine and inadequate weapons which had nothing to do with anything he had accomplished. As soon as those issues changed, Rommel never won another major battle.



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 Post subject: Re: How Many of The German WWII Generals Were War Criminals PostPosted: 2011-06-23 07:18pm
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Sea Skimmer wrote:
Rommel has always come across as a man who was most comfortable with a division, and never adapted well to commanding larger units or larger responsibilities. Certainly his lack of understanding of the logistics that supported his desert war highlights that factor, and it’s not an unusual one in generals. People would never think so highly of Rommel in the first place if he hadn't gotten the luxury of fighting an enemy with completely flawed doctrine and inadequate weapons which had nothing to do with anything he had accomplished. As soon as those issues changed, Rommel never won another major battle.


That's true of nearly all "great generals" in history, though. They always had "help" from their enemies.



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A decision must be made in the life of every nation at the very moment when the grasp of the enemy is at its throat. Then, it seems that the only way to survive is to use the means of the enemy, to rest survival upon what is expedient, to look the other way. Well, the answer to that is 'survival as what'? A country isn't a rock. It's not an extension of one's self. It's what it stands for. It's what it stands for when standing for something is the most difficult! - Chief Judge Haywood

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 Post subject: Re: How Many of The German WWII Generals Were War Criminals PostPosted: 2011-06-23 07:41pm
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Rarely to such a mind-boggling and persistent degree in the industrial age. Anyway a great general doesn’t launch an attack in the middle of the desert when he doesn’t have enough supplies to execute even the first phase of his own plan even if everything works out perfectly. Some of the other top German Panzer generals like Guderian showed a lot more thought in the total system of waging war, while Rommel was purely a fighting man. I’d personally suspect he just didn’t really give a damn about jews or slaves or anything else one way or another. He just wanted to win in battle, from the front.



"This cult of special forces is as sensible as to form a Royal Corps of Tree Climbers and say that no soldier who does not wear its green hat with a bunch of oak leaves stuck in it should be expected to climb a tree"
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 Post subject: Re: How Many of The German WWII Generals Were War Criminals PostPosted: 2011-06-24 03:33am
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Sea Skimmer wrote:
Rarely to such a mind-boggling and persistent degree in the industrial age.


Really? Just checking the modern age:
- Lee
- Moltke the elder (in all his wars except the danish war)
- Garibaldi
- Kitchener (committed several tactical errors yet won aainst savages)
- Hindenburg (Russian generals hating each other and refusing to come to their aid)

I'd argue that the idiocy was of equal value in these situations.

Sea Skimmer wrote:
Anyway a great general doesn’t launch an attack in the middle of the desert when he doesn’t have enough supplies to execute even the first phase of his own plan even if everything works out perfectly.


On that I agree. However, to an extent the whole Nazi war was a system of "attack and lets worry about the other stuff later). Not helped by Hitlers insistence on attacks even when the generals were against it (like the whole offensive into the Ukraine).



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A decision must be made in the life of every nation at the very moment when the grasp of the enemy is at its throat. Then, it seems that the only way to survive is to use the means of the enemy, to rest survival upon what is expedient, to look the other way. Well, the answer to that is 'survival as what'? A country isn't a rock. It's not an extension of one's self. It's what it stands for. It's what it stands for when standing for something is the most difficult! - Chief Judge Haywood

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 Post subject: Re: How Many of The German WWII Generals Were War Criminals PostPosted: 2011-06-24 10:41am
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With the possible exception of Lee , I wouldn't think any of them has anywhere near the reputation for being such an incredible military genius that Rommel has.

Kitchener went down in history as a firm and competent organizer of troops, not as a genius conqueror. Hindenburg and Moltke had extremely high reputations at the time which have since lost some of their luster... or are they still so highly regarded in Germany, in which case I'm wrong?

Even Garibaldi, from what I remember of him, isn't as famous for military skill as for courage and leadership- which are related but not quite the same thing. George Washington wasn't a great general, for instance, but he was great at holding an army together through long, arduous campaigns and military reverses. Even when that army was made up largely of volunteer militia who joined the Continental Army for limited terms of service, had relatively poor training (for the first years of the war), was up against a better-drilled if not better led opponent, suffered from equipment shortages, and so on.


Now, all those men you list have high reputations, but "legendary tactical genius" isn't part of the way people perceive their legacy, the way it is of people like Napoleon, Marlborough, or (going back a long way) people like Hannibal and Belisarius. Lee and Rommel have people playing them up as exceptional geniuses in this regard, which means their reputation should merit more scrutiny.

Lee may be an example of a general aided by the stupidity of his opponents too; I'm not qualified to say. But he may be all the better an analogy for Rommel in that case.

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 Post subject: Re: How Many of The German WWII Generals Were War Criminals PostPosted: 2011-06-24 12:03pm
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Simon_Jester wrote:
With the possible exception of Lee , I wouldn't think any of them has anywhere near the reputation for being such an incredible military genius that Rommel has.

Kitchener went down in history as a firm and competent organizer of troops, not as a genius conqueror. Hindenburg and Moltke had extremely high reputations at the time which have since lost some of their luster... or are they still so highly regarded in Germany, in which case I'm wrong?


Kitchener was a massive popularity symbol. His value as a well-regarded hero was enormous for the Propaganda effort. Remember the famous "I want you" poster?

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Now, all those men you list have high reputations, but "legendary tactical genius" isn't part of the way people perceive their legacy, the way it is of people like Napoleon, Marlborough, or (going back a long way) people like Hannibal and Belisarius. Lee and Rommel have people playing them up as exceptional geniuses in this regard, which means their reputation should merit more scrutiny.

Lee may be an example of a general aided by the stupidity of his opponents too; I'm not qualified to say. But he may be all the better an analogy for Rommel in that case.


Even Belisarius was aided by the stupidity of his enemies enormously. If the Vandals had had competent commanders, Belisarius head would have met a spike on a wall.

It really is a matter of time, I guess. In the 1910s Kitchener was hailed as the new Wellington, Moltke's reputation was enormous as well etc.



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A decision must be made in the life of every nation at the very moment when the grasp of the enemy is at its throat. Then, it seems that the only way to survive is to use the means of the enemy, to rest survival upon what is expedient, to look the other way. Well, the answer to that is 'survival as what'? A country isn't a rock. It's not an extension of one's self. It's what it stands for. It's what it stands for when standing for something is the most difficult! - Chief Judge Haywood

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 Post subject: Re: How Many of The German WWII Generals Were War Criminals PostPosted: 2011-06-24 12:15pm
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Well, let’s look at Lee’s opponents:

McClellan: Little Mac was a superb trainer and organizer of troops. The Army of the Potomac, though horrendously lead during the first half of the war, kept bouncing back. This is a great testament to McClellan. He forged a great weapon, he just didn’t have the character to wield it. The fiasco at Yorktown was a portent of things to come.

Pope: Do we really need to re-hash Second Bull Run?

Burnside: Fredericksburg (enough said).

Hooker: He came up with an intelligent plan but he just could not bring himself to carry it out. He was promoted beyond his capabilities.

Meade: The first real competent opponent that Lee faced. Despite having been selected to command the AoP the prior week and with a staff not of his choosing, he was able to beat Lee at Gettysburg despite the bumbling of Dan Sickles. In fact, Meade, when the AoP was under his sole command, never lost a fight to Lee. Gettysburg, Bristoe Station, Kelly’s Ford, Rappahannock Station and even Mine Run (were he declined to be suckered into making a foolish frontal attack) were Union victories.

Grant: Lee may have had some tactical successes against Grant, the Wilderness and Cold Harbor being the most notable, but these were defensive victories. The Army of Northern Virginia never had a major offensive victory post Gettysburg.

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 Post subject: Re: How Many of The German WWII Generals Were War Criminals PostPosted: 2011-06-24 03:10pm
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Thanas wrote:
Simon_Jester wrote:
With the possible exception of Lee , I wouldn't think any of them has anywhere near the reputation for being such an incredible military genius that Rommel has.

Kitchener went down in history as a firm and competent organizer of troops, not as a genius conqueror. Hindenburg and Moltke had extremely high reputations at the time which have since lost some of their luster... or are they still so highly regarded in Germany, in which case I'm wrong?
Kitchener was a massive popularity symbol. His value as a well-regarded hero was enormous for the Propaganda effort. Remember the famous "I want you" poster?
Quite well; a mustache like that is hard to forget.

But being well-regarded in one's own time as a war hero is not the same as a reputation for military genius, and certainly not the same as a lasting reputation. Kitchener was respected for his role in organizing armies, and for using those armies to conquer provinces. That won him laurels in his day- but never became known for any particularly brilliant victories that carved his place into history the way Cannae did for Hannibal.

A century later, his role as a general is largely forgotten- he did it, did it fairly competently, and was respected for it at the time, but there's a qualitative difference between Kitchener's reputation and Rommel's reputation.

Not everyone who fights and wins a war gets a reputation for being a military mastermind- Eisenhower didn't, for instance. And Eisenhower's achievements were in some respects like Kitchener's: strategic more than tactical. Eisenhower's leadership had relatively less to do with making his troops successful on the field, but a lot to do with organizing and deploying his forces so that he could wear down and defeat his enemies efficiently over the long run.

Compare this to Rommel, whose reputation as a great tactician was forged well before the war was over, to the point where he was being singled out as a great general by Churchill in parliament.

A reputation like that merits a certain amount of scrutiny- how much of his success was due to his good luck, and how much to his skill? Where were his strengths, what were his weaknesses, and how important did those weaknesses turn out to be?

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Even Belisarius was aided by the stupidity of his enemies enormously. If the Vandals had had competent commanders, Belisarius head would have met a spike on a wall.
Very possibly- I don't deny it. But then, the Vandals had a lot of advantages; Belisarius was mounting a campaign with smaller forces and invading an overseas opponent.

Analyzing Belisarius by the same standard- what were his strengths, what were his weaknesses- I'm not sure what conclusions to draw; it's not a history I'm that familiar with. What did he demonstrate himself to be bad at?

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It really is a matter of time, I guess. In the 1910s Kitchener was hailed as the new Wellington, Moltke's reputation was enormous as well etc.
Yes, but Kitchener's reputation as an outstanding commander didn't last more than a few decades, nor did Moltke's. Rommel (or Patton, to take his closest Allied counterpart) still have their reputations largely intact seventy years after their death. Wellington and Marlborough likewise, two and three centuries later... and Hannibal's reputation as a tactician will probably live as long as civilization on Earth.

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 Post subject: Re: How Many of The German WWII Generals Were War Criminals PostPosted: 2011-06-25 12:38am
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Moltke's reputation certainly does extend to the modern days, at least here in Germany.


As for the rest, that would take too much time than I currently have, so I'll give the cliff notes answer for Belisarius - the man constantly took risks that were pretty much insane. He tried to invade the Vandal Empire with a few thousand troops, when earlier invasions having hundreds of ships and tens of thousands of troops failed. Surprisingly and thanks to internal squablles, he won. (Now, was he a genius exploiting the squabbles or just lucky?) In italy, he likewise invaded with a bit of a token force (mostly just his own household troops), gained the support of the Roman nobility, then was lucky in which that the Ostrogothic king opposing him committed several tactical errors (like deciding to not contest the conquest of sicily, which supplied Italy with grain). So either Belisarius is a Thrawn-level genius exploiting every avenue of success or he was merely lucky in several endeavors.



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A decision must be made in the life of every nation at the very moment when the grasp of the enemy is at its throat. Then, it seems that the only way to survive is to use the means of the enemy, to rest survival upon what is expedient, to look the other way. Well, the answer to that is 'survival as what'? A country isn't a rock. It's not an extension of one's self. It's what it stands for. It's what it stands for when standing for something is the most difficult! - Chief Judge Haywood

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 Post subject: Re: How Many of The German WWII Generals Were War Criminals PostPosted: 2011-06-25 05:42am
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From what I know, Belisarius was the textbook case of "You go to war with the army you have, not the army you wish you had." He was ordered to conquer by Justinian, but Justinian didn't give him powerful reinforcements to do the job easily, for political reasons. So as you say- either lucky or very good. Either he was lucky that the things he was assigned to do never proved to be beyond his (ordinary) skill and (modest) resources, or he was scrambling to find, open up, and exploit avenues of success that would make his (inevitably weak) military position less important.

And since he's over fourteen hundred years dead, it's going to be hard to tell the difference. Go figure.

Were there any campaigns where he conspicuously failed? The argument that he was simply lucky is more persuasive if he gambled unnecessarily, and lost, on important occasions.

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 Post subject: Re: How Many of The German WWII Generals Were War Criminals PostPosted: 2011-06-25 03:47pm
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Well, he did not manage to do that much against the Sassanids, but whether that is a question of the Sassanids having a professional, competent army or whether Belisarius performed brilliantly with inadequate troops is impossible to answer IMO.



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A decision must be made in the life of every nation at the very moment when the grasp of the enemy is at its throat. Then, it seems that the only way to survive is to use the means of the enemy, to rest survival upon what is expedient, to look the other way. Well, the answer to that is 'survival as what'? A country isn't a rock. It's not an extension of one's self. It's what it stands for. It's what it stands for when standing for something is the most difficult! - Chief Judge Haywood

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 Post subject: Re: How Many of The German WWII Generals Were War Criminals PostPosted: 2011-06-25 04:03pm
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Sea Skimmer wrote:
Rarely to such a mind-boggling and persistent degree in the industrial age.


It's better to be lucky than good.



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 Post subject: Re: How Many of The German WWII Generals Were War Criminals PostPosted: 2011-06-28 11:42am
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Here is the thing thou. Is intelligence, and by relation brilliancy not a relative measure. Like, if all the generals in a war or era are stupid and just one is moderately capable than does that not make him brilliant in said era? And once a person gets such a reputation it's hard to lose it.

It's the old "in the land of the blind the one eyed man is king" story. You don't have to be the next napoleon to be called a brilliant strategist. All you have to do is consistently be better than your piers.



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 Post subject: Re: How Many of The German WWII Generals Were War Criminals PostPosted: 2011-06-28 12:35pm
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It is not hard to be better than your piers, seeing as how they are particularly thick.



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A decision must be made in the life of every nation at the very moment when the grasp of the enemy is at its throat. Then, it seems that the only way to survive is to use the means of the enemy, to rest survival upon what is expedient, to look the other way. Well, the answer to that is 'survival as what'? A country isn't a rock. It's not an extension of one's self. It's what it stands for. It's what it stands for when standing for something is the most difficult! - Chief Judge Haywood

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 Post subject: Re: How Many of The German WWII Generals Were War Criminals PostPosted: 2011-06-28 04:02pm
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When every general of an era is "stupid," can we really call it stupidity? Is the problem that inexplicably, somehow, only incompetent fools wound up in command of armies during the period? That seems unlikely.

If all a given general's peers are 'thick,' it may be because of institutional factors that require exceptional genius to break past. Thus, this one general excels where others fail, but not because they are "mediocre" where others are "stupid."

It's very easy for us to diagnose strategic and tactical blunders after the fact. Since these blunders are made over and over throughout the history of warfare, I think we should be careful not to have too high a standard for what a general actually commanding troops in battle can accomplish.

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 Post subject: Re: How Many of The German WWII Generals Were War Criminals PostPosted: 2011-06-28 04:07pm
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Simon_Jester wrote:
If all a given general's peers are 'thick,' it may be because of institutional factors that require exceptional genius to break past. Thus, this one general excels where others fail, but not because they are "mediocre" where others are "stupid."


In this thread Simon fails to get the joke of me making fun of the spelling mistake.



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A decision must be made in the life of every nation at the very moment when the grasp of the enemy is at its throat. Then, it seems that the only way to survive is to use the means of the enemy, to rest survival upon what is expedient, to look the other way. Well, the answer to that is 'survival as what'? A country isn't a rock. It's not an extension of one's self. It's what it stands for. It's what it stands for when standing for something is the most difficult! - Chief Judge Haywood

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 Post subject: Re: How Many of The German WWII Generals Were War Criminals PostPosted: 2011-06-28 05:02pm
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I'm sorry, Thanas. Your humor escaped me; I was perhaps a bit too wooden to fully grasp it. ;)

Though I still take exception to the way Purple puts it- if everyone in a given era is seemingly "blind," perhaps the real issue is that we in our armchairs can easily spot their mistakes, and so assume they must have been fools to make those mistakes in the first place.

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 Post subject: Re: How Many of The German WWII Generals Were War Criminals PostPosted: 2011-06-28 05:19pm
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:lol:

Yeah, I disagree with that as well. Hindsight is truly a benefit and I have no doubt Purple would have performed even worse than 99.99% of all generals in history.



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A decision must be made in the life of every nation at the very moment when the grasp of the enemy is at its throat. Then, it seems that the only way to survive is to use the means of the enemy, to rest survival upon what is expedient, to look the other way. Well, the answer to that is 'survival as what'? A country isn't a rock. It's not an extension of one's self. It's what it stands for. It's what it stands for when standing for something is the most difficult! - Chief Judge Haywood

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 Post subject: Re: How Many of The German WWII Generals Were War Criminals PostPosted: 2011-08-25 01:20pm
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I think any general on the losing side in the modern era would be tried for war crimes.



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 Post subject: Re: How Many of The German WWII Generals Were War Criminals PostPosted: 2011-08-25 06:41pm
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Thank you for that thread necro.

And thank you for that pointless drivel.



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A decision must be made in the life of every nation at the very moment when the grasp of the enemy is at its throat. Then, it seems that the only way to survive is to use the means of the enemy, to rest survival upon what is expedient, to look the other way. Well, the answer to that is 'survival as what'? A country isn't a rock. It's not an extension of one's self. It's what it stands for. It's what it stands for when standing for something is the most difficult! - Chief Judge Haywood

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