Saturday, 24 January 2009
The Holocaust, Nuremberg Trials and Abu Ghraib
As we come once again to the Holocaust Remembrance Day it behoves us to once again take a long hard look at history, and especially at the background of events which came to form the ‘historical basis’ of the Holocaust itself.
Prime amongst these events is The Nuremberg Trials.
The sad fact is that if the Nuremberg Trials were held again today then virtually all the evidence given to the trails would be thrown out of court as it was obtained by torture, hearsay evidence or not given under oath - and virtually all the interrogators who obtained the evidence based on torture would today be tried and thrown into prison.
The prisons that held the Nazi prisoners who gave evidence to the Nuremberg Trials were the Abu Ghraibs of their time.
The acts of torture that went on in the prisons that held German POW’s were not acts of torture being used to prevent a crime, they were acts torture designed to get German POW’s to admit to crimes both real and manufactured.
These acts of torture were also crimes themselves.
The issue then is simply this - under sustained torture a man will confess to anything.
Therefore the act of torture itself makes such ‘evidence’ inherently unreliable.
According to the legal standards of today none of the evidence obtained by the torture of Nazi POW’s and used in the Nuremberg Trials would be allowed in court.
In the trial of the Dachau guards alone there were recorded 139 cases of crushed testicles amongst the German prisoners being held by the allies.
There were false promises of leniency for those prisoners who ‘co-operated’ with the trial and gave ‘evidence’ in the trials against fellow prisoners.
Other German prisoners were told that unless they gave evidence against their fellow prisoners the food ration books of their families would be withdrawn and their families would be left to starve to death in the post-war famines that ravaged Germany.
Other prisoners were the subjects of mock executions, were told that they would be hung immediately if they did not give evidence against their fellow prisoners or that their families would be arrested and handed over to the Russians to be killed.
The article ‘Did 6 Million Really Die’ by Richard E. Harwood on the Radio Islam site here ;
As far as I am concerned the Holocaust is an objective historical fact so the issue of the numbers of dead Jewish victims of the Holocaust is an issue solely for historians to debate, but what this article has to say about the torture of German POW’s at the Nuremberg Trials is extremely important ;
The American Senator, Joseph McCarthy, in a statement given to the American Press on May 20th, 1949, drew attention to the following cases of torture to secure such confessions. In the prison of the Swabisch Hall, he stated, officers of the S.S. Leibstandarte Adolf Hitler were flogged until they were soaked in blood, after which their sexual organs were trampled on as they lay prostrate on the ground. As in the notorious Malmedy Trials of private soldiers, the prisoners were hoisted in the air and beaten until they signed the confessions demanded of them.
On the basis of such "confessions" extorted from S.S. Generals Sepp Dietrich and Joachim Paiper, the Leibstandarte was convicted as a "guilty organisation". S.S. General Oswald Pohl, the economic administrator of the concentration camp system, had his face smeared with faeces and was subsequently beaten until he supplied his confession.
In dealing with these cases, Senator McCarthy told the Press: "I have heard evidence and read documentary proofs to the effect that the accused persons were beaten up, maltreated and physically tortured by methods which could only be conceived in sick brains. They were subjected to mock trials and pretended executions, they were told their families would be deprived of their ration cards. All these things were carried out with the approval of the Public Prosecutor in order to secure the psychological atmosphere necessary for the extortion of the required confessions. If the United States lets such acts committed by a few people go unpunished, then the whole world can rightly criticise us severely and forever doubt the correctness of our motives and our moral integrity."
The methods of intimidation described were repeated during trials at Frankfurt-am-Mein and at Dachau, and large numbers of Germans were convicted for atrocities on the basis of their admissions. The American Judge Edward L. van Roden, one of the three members of the Simpson Army Commission which was subsequently appointed to investigate the methods of justice at the Dachau trials, revealed the methods by which these admissions were secured in the Washington Daily News, January 9th, 1949. His account also appeared in the British newspaper, the Sunday Pictorial, January 23rd, 1949.
The methods he described were: "Posturing as priests to hear confessions and give absolution; torture with burning matches driven under the prisoners finger-nails; knocking out of teeth and breaking jaws; solitary confinement and near starvation rations." Van Roden explained: "The statements which were admitted as evidence were obtained from men who had first been kept in solitary confinement for three, four and five months . . . The investigators would put a black hood over the accused's head and then punch him in the face with brass knuckles, kick him and beat him with rubber hoses . . . All but two of the Germans, in the 139 cases we investigated, had been kicked in the testicles beyond repair. This was standard operating procedure with our American investigators."
What happened to the German POW’s after World War Two and in the lead up to the Nuremberg Trials were the precursors of what happened in Abu Ghraib.
The US government has never investigated the horrific abuse of German POW’s after World War Two, and this sent a signal out to the US military that has led to atrocities being committed by American troops throughout the late 20th Century, from the My Lai massacre in Vietnam to the torture of Iraqi’s in Abu Ghraib.
The Nuremberg Trials are a stain upon history. They are not proof of the greater morality of the Western Powers, for the Nuremberg Trials were themselves simply the heirs of the Nazi show trials and the Soviet show trials. The findings of the Nuremberg Trials do not act as evidence of any historical events - simply because the trials were themselves based on acts and evidence that can only be classified as crimes against humanity.
What we require today is for the Nuremberg Trials, and all those involved in it, to be investigated and the facts revealed.
If any evidence that was included in the Nuremberg Trials is found to have been based on torture, the that evidence should be thrown out.
The present political regimes of the West are the heirs of those that authorised the torture of German POW’s.
The Nuremberg Trails were nothing more than propaganda events designed to make the Germans look ‘evil’ and the allies look ‘good’, they were not records of historical events.
Any historical narrative whose roots can be found in torture have no legal, historical or moral validity.
This is a recognised principle of both modern law and politics.
For the West to use the Nuremberg Trails as an example of the superior morality of the Allies, and also to use the findings as evidence of any historical events, is both perverse and unlawful.
The rules on torture are today regarded as universal and applying to all people in all countries - and that principle must also be applied to the past as well.
Just as the so called ’confessions’ of people in the Third Reich and the Soviet Union are now regarded as historically unreliable, then logical consistency demands that the Nuremberg Trials be measured with the same yardstick.
The West has for too long embraced a collective cult of self imposed amnesia over its crimes during the Second World War.
It is this collective amnesia, and the sense of superiority it engenders even today amongst the US armed forces, and also the Israeli armed forces, which allows them to continue to commit atrocities generation after generation.
All those who were criminals either during the Second World War, or after the war, must be punished if they are still alive today.
The hunting of Nazis is regarded as ’justice for the dead’ yet the hunting, arrest and trials of Communist, Israeli and allied criminals who committed the same crimes as Nazis is never even contemplated.
Justice for the innocent dead is a universal concept, and unless we begin to hunt and prosecute all those who committed crimes against humanity during the 20th Century then we have no grounds on which to call ourselves a civilised nation.
The German POW's were human beings with rights under the Geneva Convention.
They should also have been regarded as innocent before being proved guilty which is the only basis of a civilised legal system.
Just as we rightly condemned the torture and ill treatment of British pilots captured by Saddam Hussein during the first Gulf War, we should extend that principle to all other human beings including German POW's in the Nuremberg Trials.
Just as we condemned the torture of British soldiers by the IRA, we should extend that principle to all combatants in all conflicts including the torture and murder of British soldiers by Jewish terrorists in Palestine and during the terrorist campaigns by Irgun and the Stern Gang and others that created Israel - as the Geneva Convention requires us by international law to do.
Those tortured were regarded as guilty the moment the first fist or boot smashed into their face. Therefore the confessions they made are meaningless.
The issues of the Holocaust and the Nurmeberg Trials must be regarded as separate.
For the Holocaust to rely on evidence obtained by torture demeans its standing in history.
Torture a man long enough and he will confess to anything.
Democracies built on tyranny, blood and lies require perpetual tyranny, blood and lies to keep them alive.
I am sure that each family whose members fought in the Second World War have a story to tell.
My grandfather, who was in the Royal Navy, told my family of an event he witnessed during the war. His ship was sent to take on board German prisoners of war and my grandfather was sent to escort the German POW's on board the ship for transportation back to Britain.
As a German POW, a former member of the SS, came on board the boat he spat at my grandfather and swore at him in German.
An MP who stood at the top of the ramp took his pistol out of his holster then shot the unarmed German POW in the back of the head, then kicked his body over the edge of the boat into the water.
He smiled at my grandfather and said ' The bastard wont do that again ' and walked away laughing.
How doing that helped the war, or made us morally better than the Nazis, escapes me.
The time has come for the lies that shame history to be investigate and the truth finally told.