General Marshall, General Eisenhower, and General Clay killed German POWs at the End of WWII
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Refugee took to the roads as soon as they knew they were liberated by the Allies. On bicycles, on wagons, and on foot, displaced persons streamed away from the rural districts at the same time others were leaving towns and cities-many, the Russians and Poles especially, heading no place in particular other than away from where they had been. Western Europeans could be kept moving toward home, but on March 12, 1945, Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF) closed the border to the Poles, Russians, and other eastern Europeans for fear of wrecking the already weak French economy. The eastern Europeans, who made up more than half of all the Displaced Persons (DPs), hereafter became an unanticipated long-term responsibility.
German refugees were unable to provide for themselves and became the charges of the first US unit they met. In a fairly typical instance, the 5th Infantry Division, on one day, March, 27, 1945, found 190 displaced persons in three towns in its sector, 400 more on the roads behind the front, and another 300 in the area uncovered in the day's advance-together, enough to fill a good-size camp. Assembly centers run by the armies quickly reached populations of 10,000 or more. On March, 31, 1945 the army groups reported 145,000 on hand in centers and 45,000 shipped out to France, Belgium, the Netherlands, and Luxembourg, the latter mostly repatriated citizens of these countries but also including eastern Europeans.
In 1945, food shortages were a world-wide problem, not just for the Germans. The most serious case was in the Netherlands where millions were on the verge of death from starvation. Shortages had a special impact throughout Western Europe and 10 to13 million of refugees fled to western Germany from the East.
Even displaced persons, victims of Nazi deportations and slave-labor schemes (7 million in Germany, 1.6 million in Austria) were on short rations. Also due to the continuing war with Japan, there was a global shortage of shipping. All Germans were short of shelter at the end of the war. About 40 percent of dwellings had been rendered uninhabitable by bombing or fighting. The western commanders set limits to such suffering; they always pressed for enough food to "prevent disease and unrest." Nevertheless, hunger did not completely disappear until the establishment of a sound currency and capitalist economy in 1948.
Under the Geneva Conventions the International Red Cross must be allowed to regularly inspect all POW camps and POWs are to be sent home within months of the end of the war. The Allied powers had decided at the highest level (Roosevelt, Churchill, and Stalin) to repudiate the Geneva Conventions. The US dismantled the German welfare agencies, including the German Red Cross, and then dismissed the Swiss Government from its role as Protecting Power. No agencies were allowed to visit the camps or provide any assistance to the prisoners, including delegates from International Committee of the Red Cross. This was a violation of the Geneva Convention. The only notable protest against this was from William Lyon Mackenzie King, Prime Minister of Canada.
About 250,000 Germans (including most of the Afrika Korps) and Italians surrendered in Tunis in May 1943. These prisoners of war (POWs) where sweltered in large pens in the desert heat. Many survivors were later sent to Egypt and camps in the US and elsewhere.
From May 8, 1945 when Germany unconditionally surrendered, the International Red Cross was informed by the US that, with no Protecting Power to report to, there was no need for them to send delegates to inspect the camps, etc. The press was also prevented from visiting the camps, and therefore was unable to report on the state of the camps and the condition of the prisoners (aka information warfare).
US Secretary of the Treasury Henry Morgenthau, Jr., under Pres. Roosevelt, advocated The Morgenthau Plan following World War Two. This plan stated during the Allied occupation of Germany that it would include measures to eliminate Germany's ability to wage war and converting Germany into a country primarily agricultural and pastoral in its character. All heavy industry was to be dismantled or otherwise destroyed. In the New York Post for Nov. 24, 1947, it was reported that, "The Morgenthau Plan for Germany... became part of the Potsdam Agreement, a solemn declaration of policy and undertaking for action.... signed by the United States of America, Great Britain and the Union of Soviet Socialist Republics."
President Roosevelt rejected The Morgenthau Plan and in its place, he approved a Joint Chiefs of Staff directive 1067 (JCS 1067) wherein he ordered, "…take no steps looking toward the economic rehabilitation of Germany, designed to maintain or strengthen the German economy" and it was also ordered that starvation, disease and civil unrest were to be kept below such levels where they would pose a danger to the troops of occupation. On March 20, 1945, President Roosevelt was warned that the JCS 1067 was not workable and the German people needed some help. Roosevelt's response was "Let them have soup kitchens! Let their economy sink!" Asked if he wanted the German people to starve, he replied, "Why not?”
General Lucius D. Clay, deputy to general Dwight D. Eisenhower replaced Eisenhower as governor and as commander in chief, US Forces in Europe and in 1945 was military governor of the US Occupation Zone in Germany. Eisenhower and Clay thought the Germans deserved an experience of the hunger they had imposed on everyone else:
"I feel that the Germans should suffer from hunger and from cold as I believe such suffering is necessary to make them realize the consequences of a war which they caused." -- Lucius D. Clay to John J. McCloy, June 29, 1945.
Under the Geneva Conventions, German POWs should have gotten the same ration as their Allied captors. Instead, they got no more rations than German civilians. Especially in April through July 1945, this meant starvation rations, though generally enough food came through to prevent mass deaths from starvation. Food relief shipments to Germany had been prohibited by the US until December 1945, since "they might tend to negate (cancel out) the policy of restricting the German standard of living to the average of the surrounding European nations." Restrictions were also enacted on food relief imports, partly for the sake of policy. After the end of the war in Europe, there was a worldwide food shortage. A staggering 10 to 13 million Germans were displaced from the east and south into Germany that had to be fed and housed.
The worst off of the Germans were the refugees who had no homes to return to and the most pitiable were the children who had been evacuated from the bombed cities. The refugees were consigned indefinitely to living on the charity of communities in which they were, to say the least, unwelcome. The children, who had been kept in camps in isolated spots, were sometimes found abandoned and hungry. Although military government did not provide relief for German refugees, at this stage not even for starving children, it did compel the frequently reluctant local German governments to assume responsibility for them. The US military government detachment southeast of Munich acquired 200 babies, all less than three months old, in SS Lebensborn establishment barracks. In the barracks were a hundred women and some pregnant.
The Rhineland, like all western Germany, was a food deficit area. Normally, the half of the Rhineland south of the Mosel imported a half million tons of food every day, equivalent to one fifty-car trainload ; but no trains were running, nor was there enough transportation to ensure the movement of local produce.
In the countryside, fields were unplowed and practically no one was at work on the farms. The young men were gone; the registrations showed that 90 percent of the males were over fifty years old. The foreign workers and prisoners of war who had made up the bulk of the agricultural labor force quit and took to the roads as soon as the front passed. There were too few horses. They, like the men, had been drafted into the Wehrmacht. Finally, thousands of acres of land were mined and too dangerous to work.
Famine lurked in the unplowed fields. Military government told the Germans that what they expected to eat during the next winter they would have to raise themselves.
In May 1945, the International Red Cross had 100,000 tons of food in storage warehouses in Switzerland. When they tried to send train loads of this food into the US Zone, the US Army sent the trains back, saying their own warehouses were full. This prompted Max Huber, head of the International Red Cross, to send a strong letter of protest to the State Department, in which he described the difficulties placed by Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force (SHAEF) in the way of their efforts to provide aid. He said "Our responsibility for the proper use of relief supplies placed in our care is incompatible with a restriction to the fulfillment of orders which render us powerless to furnish relief which we ourselves judge necessary." Red Cross food parcels were confiscated by SHAEF, and the War Department banned them from being given to the men in the camps.
Competing with the food shortage for the status of number-one crisis was the state of German coal production.
A Supreme Headquarters Allied Expeditionary Force’s solid fuels conference in April had estimated 12th Army Group's coal requirements alone at 200,000 tons a month. Not much was going to be left for the Germans, who were dependent on coal for heating, electricity, railroads, food processing, and even running water. By the end of April, practically the whole power grid south of the Main River was not operating due to the lack of coal. The railroad freight service was not restored in order to bring in the coal. If the coal famine was going to result in acute unrest somewhere, the Potter-Hyndley Mission preferred to see it in Germany and said so in its report: "Should it become necessary to preserve order by shooting, it would surely be better for this to occur in Germany than elsewhere."
In July 1947, JCS 1067 was scrapped and replaced by JCS 1779 which noted that "an orderly, prosperous Europe requires the economic contributions of a stable and productive Germany.” The Marshall Plan followed from 1948 to1952.
By August 1945 General Clay was becoming increasingly concerned about the humanitarian and political situation in the area under his responsibility. He would later remark in his memoirs regarding the occupation directive guiding General Eisenhower's and his actions in occupied Germany: "there was no doubt that JCS 1067 contemplated the Carthaginian peace which dominated our operations in Germany during the early months of occupation." This meant the peace imposed on Carthage by Rome in 146 BC, whereby the Romans systematically burned Carthage to the ground.
US Army policy was to slaughter the prisoners where they stood even if smaller groups of prisoners were captured, especially if they were SS. The largest massacres at the hands of the Americans (currently acknowledged) were the murder of 700 troops of the surrendered 8th SS Mountain Division. Of the SS Westphalia Brigade who surrendered, they where were shot through the back of the head, and the three hundred German guards who surrendered at Dachau were shot by machine gun.
Overcrowded, poorly-managed railroad transports were a sporadic, temporary problem. At Mailly le Camp on March 16, 1945, 104 German POWs were dead on arrival. A further 27 were found dead at Attichy. Eisenhower apologized publicly, though expressing intense irritation privately about having to apologize to the Germans about anything.
Due to economic decline in the last months of the war and especially the last weeks of Nazi Germany, many POWs were malnourished even before the Allies captured them. During the spring and summer hundreds of thousands of POWs were kept for many weeks out in the open, with no shelter apart from what they might dig in the ground. The worst US temporary enclosures were the 16 "Rhine meadow camps” where 557,000 POWs were held from April to July 1945.
They had nothing to sit or lie on above the mud and puddles apart from their own helmets and greatcoats, though the US Army had plenty of surplus tents which could have been issued. As the wetter climate of Germany grew cooler, German POWs were still kept in these open barbed-wire cages. No supplies such as blankets were supplied to the prisoners, even though these were in good supply at various locations such as the depot at Naples, Italy. In a letter General Everett Hughes stated that there were "more stocks than we can ever use; stretch as far as eye can see."
US Army warehouses had 13.5 million Red Cross food parcels taken from the International Red Cross which were never distributed. German civilians were prevented from bringing food to the POW camps.
The Maschke Commission would later tabulate 5,311 parish church-registered deaths in these camps and they suspected the actual death toll might be twice this. Approximately 15 percent of the deaths in the US camps were from starvation or dehydration and that most deaths were caused by dysentery, pneumonia, or septicaemia, as a result of the unsanitary conditions and lack of medicine. Nearly all the records of the Rhineland death camps were destroyed.
Against the orders of his superiors, Gen. Eisenhower took 2 million additional prisoners that fell under the “disarmed enemy force” designation after Germany's surrender. The Allies conveniently re-designated POWs, as disarmed enemy forces and these POWs were held as slave laborers providing "labor reparations" to rebuild the damage inflicted by Nazi aggression vs. being sent home. His orders stipulated that the Germans would be solely responsible for feeding and maintaining the disarmed enemy forces, however he then prevented any aid from reaching them. The Allied captors did whatever they wanted with their German disarmed enemy forces and even bartering them away to others for use as slaves. There was indifference, even hostility, of some US guards and camp officers. Revelation of starved cadavers and mass murder in liberated concentration camps provoked hatred towards Germans in general. This was particularly notable among some (but by no means all) soldiers of Jewish background, and among some new soldiers, lacking combat experience, who wanted to show toughness.
In order to carry out his scheme, Gen. Eisenhower kept these prisoners in camps far longer than it was necessary. Only 40 percent of prisoners had been released by the end of 1945.
In fact, in a "Re-education" bulletin distributed by the Special Service Division, Army Service Forces of the US Army in 1945 gave tacit approval for the intentional transfer of German POWs from Allied hands to the genocidal Red Army.
In the spring of 1945, the US held 3.4 million German POWs and the British held 2,150,000. Many were shipped as slave laborers to Britain, where 400,000 still remained at the end of 1946. As a general rule, the ones in Britain were treated decently. About 1,000,000 German POWs remained in US camps in Germany at the beginning of 1946, but only 38,000 were still left at the beginning of 1947. The Western nations sent their last German POWs home in 1948 (often under US pressure). At the end of September, 1945 all the initial camps were dissolved. The Soviets kept their German POWs as late as 1956.
It was not until February 4, 1946, that the Red Cross was allowed to send even token relief to others in the US run occupation zone. The death rate for prisoners in these US POW camps was at that point 30 percent per year, according to a US medical survey.
From 1945 to 1948, it is estimated that 700,000 to a million men may have died incarcerated in American and French camps. There are much higher estimates, however, and attempts to uncover the truth regarding these camps in modern times and searching the reported mass grave sites, has been vigilantly thwarted by the German government and others. It is unknown how many perished in British captivity, but recently declassified documents indicate widespread torture and abuse.
At one point, 80,000 prisoners of war a month were supposed to have to been returned from US captivity and discharged into the Allied zones of Germany. After screening the POWs, releasing the old men and boys and detaining Nazis for prosecution, the USA transferred 740,000 of the remainder (including some of those shipped back to Europe from the USA) to France. Some 1.3 million former POWs were allotted to go to France for "rehabilitation work" (slave labor). It wasn’t until the autumn of 1945 after most POWs camps had closed or were in the process of closing, was the Red Cross granted permission to send delegations to visit camps in the French and UK occupation zones and to finally provide minuscule amounts of relief. And the Red Cross reported that 200,000 of the prisoners already in French hands were so undernourished they were unfit for labor and chances were they would most likely to die over the winter. So the US stopped all transfers of prisoners to French custody until the French would maintain them in accordance with the Geneva Convention.
By the winter of 1947, it was estimated that 4,160,000 German POWs were still being held in work camps outside Germany: 750,000 in France, 30,000 in Italy, 460,000 in Britain, 14,000 in Belgium (at one point, 48,000), 4,000 in Luxembourg and 1,300 in Holland. The Soviet Union started with 4,000,000-5,000,000, Yugoslavia had 80,000 and Czechoslovakia 45,000). The US held 140,000 in the US Occupation Zone. Later more than 100,000 were also held in France.
All of the German prisoners were used to do dangerous work such as working with hazardous materials and mine sweeping in complete disregard of the law.
After the German capitulation in Norway on May 8, 1945 over 5,000 German prisoners of war were forced by the British, under the command of General Sir Andrew Thorn, to undertake clearance of land mines in clear violation of the Geneva Convention of 1928. The POWs had to walk arm in arm through mine fields already cleared of mines in hopes of triggering off land mines that were not found previously. This act of cruelty led to the deaths of 184 German Soldiers and the injuring of another 252 POWs. Neither Gen.Thorn nor anyone else was ever held accountable for war crimes.
About 250 German POWs were also killed when forced to clear land mines in Denmark. On the morning of July 22, 1945, seven Germans were blown into the air as 450 land mines detonated. The other German POWs had to then collect the body parts of their friends without using gloves or other protection.
Gen. Eisenhower's staff was complicit in all the deaths and later cover up, as were all the doctors and personnel running the camps, and scores of officers and millions of soldiers who served under Eisenhower. The press failed to uncover the monstrous crime. Not a single Briton stood up to voice the truth and a whole generation of knowing Germans kept silent. Gen. George C. Marshall, who gave SHAEF much of his attention to detail, is similarly guilty.
It is a virtual impossibility that Gen. Eisenhower could have executed an extermination policy on his own and a near absolute impossibility that Gen. Marshall would not have noticed it.
Under the provisions of the Yalta Agreement, the US and UK had agreed to the use of German POWs in the Soviet Gulag as "reparations-in-kind.” Most of these German POWs were shot and many were mutilated alive.” Out of the 90,000 Germans who marched into Soviet captivity at Stalingrad only 40,000 lived on this march to the Beketovka camp. There another 42,000 perished of hunger and disease. Those POWs that made it alive to separate camps in Siberia and elsewhere in the western Soviet Union were forced into slave labor and endured frequent beatings, brutal torture, poisoning and execution.
"Many German prisoners will remain in Russia after the end of war, not voluntarily, but because the Russians need them as workers. The fates of thousands upon thousands of German soldiers, many just kids, surrendered to both the Allies and especially the Soviets have never been accounted for. Long columns of German prisoners were marched on foot hundreds of tortuous miles toward their doom in Stalingrad, Kiev, Kharkov, Moscow and Minsk where most were starved and worked to death. Very few ever saw home again.
Between 1941 and 1952, millions of German POWs died in the Gulag. The last surviving 10,000 of them were not released from the Soviet Union until 1955, after a decade of forced labor. About 1.5 million German soldiers are still listed as missing in action and join the ranks of those who vanished while under Soviet captivity.
The Soviets blocked the normal peacetime delivery of agricultural surpluses from eastern Germany to the west.
Author James Bacque claims that there was a “method of genocide" in the banning of Red Cross inspectors, the returning of food aid, the policy regarding shelter building, and soldier ration policy. Through the KGB's archives in the 1990s, Bacque's continuing research confirmed the death total of the POWs in western camps.
Twelve historians, including the former senior historian of the United States Army Center of Military History Colonel Ernest F. Fisher, who was involved in the 1945 investigations into the allegations of misconduct by US troops in Germany and he argues that the claims are accurate.
In territory that was liberated or occupied, the NKVD carried out mass arrests, deportations, and executions. The targets included both collaborators with Germany and the members of non-Communist resistance movements in Ukraine, "Forest Brethren" in Lithuania, and Poland.
This mass execution of Polish nationals carried out by the People's Commissariat for Internal Affairs (NKVD), the Soviet secret police, in April and May 1940. The massacre was prompted by Lavrentiy Beria's proposal to execute all members of the Polish Officer Corps, dated 5 March 1940. Beria was chief of the Soviet security and secret police apparatus (NKVD) under Joseph Stalin.
This official document was approved and signed by the Soviet Politburo, including its leader, Joseph Stalin. The number of victims is estimated at about 22,000. Of the total killed, about 8,000 were officers taken prisoner during the 1939 Soviet invasion of Poland, another 6,000 were police officers, with the rest being Polish intelligentsia.
While a German POW in Europe, US Army Lieutenant Colonel John H. Van Vliet, Jr. visited the site of the Katyn Massacre. Immediately upon his arrival in Washington, D.C., on May 22, 1945, he filed a personal report to Richard M. Bissell Jr. indicating that the evidence indicated Soviet, not German, responsibility for the atrocity.
Bissell classified the report Top Secret in order to minimize its circulation and sometime later the report disappeared from archives. Although Bissel claimed he had sent the report to the State Department, State said it never received it and the Army had no receipt to show that it did. When called to account for his actions before a Congressional Committee investigating Katyn in February 1952, Bissell contended that he was merely carrying out the spirit of the Yalta Conference.
Richard M. Bissell Jr. worked closely with the Office of Strategic Services (OSS). He served as economic adviser to the director of War Mobilization and Reconversion, 1945-46, Deputy Director, 1946; and Executive Secretary of the President's Committee on Foreign Aid (Harriman Committee).
In July, 1947 Bissell was recruited by Averell Harriman to run a committee to lobby for an economic recovery plan for Europe. From 1947 to 1948, he was Assistant Administrator for program, Economic Cooperation Administration. In 1948 he was appointed as an administrator of the Marshall Plan in Germany and eventually became head of the Economic Cooperation Administration (1948- Dec. 1951).
An investigation conducted by the Prosecutor General's Office of the Soviet Union (1990–1991) and the Russian Federation (1991–2004), has confirmed Soviet responsibility for the massacres. It was able to confirm the deaths of 1,803 Polish citizens.
Fleeing before the advancing Red Army, large numbers of the inhabitants of the German provinces of East Prussia, Silesia, and Pomerania died during the evacuations, some from cold and starvation, and some when they were killed during combat operations. A significant percentage of this death toll, however, occurred when evacuation columns encountered units of the Red Army. Civilians were run over by tanks, shot, or otherwise murdered. Women and young girls were raped and left to die (as is explored firsthand in Alexander Solzhenitsyn's Prussian Nights). In addition, fighter bombers of the Soviet air force penetrated far behind the front lines and often attacked columns of evacuees.
A study published by the German government estimated the death toll of German civilians in eastern Europe at 635,000. With 270,000 dying as the result of Soviet war crimes, 160,000 deaths occurring at the hands of various nationalities during the expulsion of Germans after World War II, and 205,000 deaths in the Forced labor of Germans in the Soviet Union These figures do not include at least 125,000 civilian deaths in the Battle of Berlin.
Following the Red Army's capture of Berlin in 1945, one of the largest incidents of mass rape took place. Soviet troops raped German women and girls as young as 8 years old. Estimates of the total number of victims range from tens of thousands to two million. One in 10 of the women raped died.
During the Siege of Budapest, Hungary, some 40,000 civilians were killed, with an unknown number dying from starvation and diseases. During the siege, an estimated 50,000 women and girls were raped though estimates vary from 5,000 to 200,000. Hungarian girls were kidnapped and taken to Red Army quarters, where they were imprisoned, repeatedly raped, and sometimes murdered. Even embassy staff from neutral countries were captured and raped, as documented when Soviet soldiers attacked the Swedish legation in Germany.
On many occasions, Soviet soldiers set fire to buildings, villages, or parts of cities, shooting anybody trying to extinguish the flames. For example, on May 1, 1945, Soviet soldiers set fire to the city centre of Demmin and prevented the inhabitants from extinguishing the blaze.
After the summer of 1945, Soviet soldiers caught raping civilians were usually punished to some degree, ranging from arrest to execution. The rapes continued, however, until the winter of 1947 to 1948, when Soviet occupation authorities finally confined Soviet troops to strictly guarded posts and camps,“ completely separating them from t
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