The "London Cage", a MI19 prisoner of war facility in the UK during and immediately after the war, was subject to allegations of torture.
* The Dachau massacre: killing of German prisoners of war and surrendering SS soldiers at the Dachau concentration camp.
* In the Biscari massacre, which consist of two instances of mass murders, U.S. troops of the 45th Infantry Division killed roughly 75 prisoners of war, mostly Italian.
* Operation Teardrop: Eight of the surviving, captured crewmen from the sunk German submarine U-546 are tortured by US military personnel. Historian Philip K. Lundeberg has written that the beating and torture of U-546's survivors was a singular atrocity motivated by the interrogators' need to quickly get information on what the US believed were potential missile attacks on the continental US by German submarines.
In the aftermath of the Malmedy massacre a written order from the HQ of the 328th US Army Infantry Regiment, dated December 21, 1944, stated: No SS troops or paratroopers will be taken prisoner but will be shot on sight. Major-General Raymond Hufft (U.S. Army) gave instructions to his troops not to take prisoners when they crossed the Rhine in 1945. "After the war, when he reflected on the war crimes he authorized, he admitted, 'if the Germans had won, I would have been on trial at Nuremberg instead of them.'" Stephen Ambrose related: "I've interviewed well over 1000 combat veterans. Only one of them said he shot a prisoner... Perhaps as many as one-third of the veterans...however, related incidents in which they saw other GIs shooting unarmed German prisoners who had their hands up."
AN INQUIRY INTO A MASSACRE (From Dachau: The Hour of the Avenger : An Eyewitness Account by HOWARD A. BUECHNER)
Near the French village of Audouville-la-Hubert 30 German Wehrmacht prisoners were massacred by U.S. paratroopers.
According to an article in Der Spiegel by Klaus Wiegrefe, many personal memoirs of Allied soldiers have been willfully ignored by historians until now because they were at odds with the "Greatest Generation" mythology surrounding WWII, but this has recently started to change with books such as "The Day of Battle" by Rick Atkinson where he describes Allied war crimes in Italy, and "D-Day: The Battle for Normandy," by Anthony Beevor. Beevor's latest work is currently discussed by scholars, and should some of them be proven right that means that Allied war crimes in Normandy were much more extensive "than was previously realized".
The following article about Hans Linberger was written by T. Pauli for Berkenkruis in October 1988.
Berkenkruis is the magazine of the veterans of the Flemish SS volunteers in World War II; T. Pauli was the chairman of the group in 1988 when this article was published. Pauli quoted from the testimony given to the German Red Cross by Hans Linberger.
Begin quote from article in Berkenkruis, October 1988, by T. Pauli:
Hans LINBERGER was wounded east of Kiev when an AT-gun blew away his left arm and covered his body with shrapnel. It was his fourth wound. After a long stay in the hospital he was posted to the Reserve-Kompanie at Dachau, on the 9th of March 1945.
On the 9th of April, 1945, the heavily wounded laid down their weapons; they were no longer suited to be put into action. They reported themselves to the head of the hospital, Dr. SCHRÖDER, who sent them to the barracks. Evacuated women and children were present in barrack right next to it. Preparations to be evacuated were made, doctors, staff and caretaking personnel all wore white coats and the German Red Cross-armband.
Occasional battle noise was heard from SCHLEISSHEIM that day (April 29, 1945), but around 4:30 PM things got quiet again. When suddenly single gunshots were to be heard, LINBERGER went, holding a small Red Cross-flag, to the entrance (of the hospital). (This occurred around noon.) As could be seen from his empty left sleeve, he was badly injured. To the Americans, who were pushing forward in battle-like style, he declared that this was an unarmed hospital.
One Ami (sic) placed his MP against his chest and hit him in the face. Another one said "You fight Ruski, you no good". The Ami (sic) who placed the MP (Machine Pistol) against his chest went into the hospital and immediately shot a wounded man, who fell down to the ground motionless. When SCHRÖDER wanted to surrender, he was beaten so hard that he received a skull fracture. (Ami was German slang for an American.)
The Americans drove everyone out to the main place and sorted out anyone who looked like SS. All of the SS men were then taken to the back of the central heating building and placed against the wall. A MG (Machine gun) was posted and war correspondents came to film and photograph the lined up men.
Here begins SS-Oberscharführer Hans Linberger's testimony, under oath to the DRK (German Red Cross), about the following events:
The comrade who was standing right beside me fell on top of me with a last cry - "Aww, the pigs are shooting at my stomach" - as I let myself fall immediately. To me it didn't matter if they would hit me standing or lying down. As such I only got the blood of the dead one, who was bleeding badly from the stomach, across my head and face, so I looked badly wounded. During the pause in the shooting, which can only be explained by the arrival of drunken KZ-prisoners, who, armed with spades, came looking for a man named WEISS. Several of them (the wounded soldiers) crawled forward to the Americans and tried to tell them that they were foreigners, others tried to say that they never had anything to do with the camps. Yet this man WEISS said: "Stay calm, we die for Germany". Oscha. (Oberscharführer) JÄGER asked me, while lying down, if I had been hit, which I had to deny. He was shot through the lower right arm. I quickly gave him a piece of chocolate, as we were awaiting a shot in the neck. A man wearing a Red Cross armband came to us, threw us some razor blades and said "There, finish it yourself". JÄGER cut the wrist of his shot arm, I cut the left one, and when he wanted to use the blade on me, an American officer arrived with Dr. SCHRÖDER, who could barely keep himself standing, and the shooting was stopped. This allowed us to drag away the wounded. I remember a comrade with a shot in the stomach, who came to us at Dachau, in a room of café Hörhammer, where all possible troops were mixed together. On the road, we were spit upon and cursed at by looters from the troop barracks who wished we would all be hung. During this action (sic) 12 dead were left nameless. As I later found out, documents and name tags had been removed on American orders, and a commando (work party) of German soldiers were supposed to have buried these dead in an unknown location. During the shooting, the wife of a Dr. MÜLLER, with whom I had been in correspondencer years before, had poisoned herself and her two children. I was able to find the grave of these persons. In this grave supposedly are buried 8 more SS-members, including an Oscha. MAIER. MAIER had an amputated leg and was shot in another area of the hospital terrain adjacent to the hospital wall. He lay there with a shot in his stomach and asked Miss STEINMANN to kill him, since he could not bear the pain any longer. His dying relieved Miss STEINMANN from completing the last wish of this comrade. In the proximity of the hospital/mortuary were probably other comrades executed at the walls, as I later found traces of gunfire there.
Later, as a prisoner of war, I was pointed to a grave in the same hospital terrain, by the wife of a former KZ-prisoner, who on All Saints Day in 1946 (November 1st) came near the fence and, while crying, remembered some children buried in the grave. The children must have died after the collapse (Zusammenbruch) when the Americans took over the camp. Further, comrades from the Waffen-SS are buried in the same grave, as could be concluded from a message of the Suchdienst (the German MIA tracing service).
American soldiers in the Pacific often deliberately killed Japanese soldiers who had surrendered. According to Richard Aldrich, who has published a study of the diaries kept by United States and Australian soldiers, they sometimes massacred prisoners of war. Dower states that in "many instances ... Japanese who did become prisoners were killed on the spot or en route to prison compounds." According to Aldrich it was common practice for U.S. troops not to take prisoners. This analysis is supported by British historian Niall Ferguson, who also says that, in 1943, "a secret [U. S.] intelligence report noted that only the promise of ice cream and three days leave would ... induce American troops not to kill surrendering Japanese."
Ferguson states such practices played a role in the ratio of Japanese prisoners to dead being 1:100 in late 1944. That same year, efforts were taken by Allied high commanders to suppress "take no prisoners" attitudes, among their own personnel (as these were affecting intelligence gathering) and to encourage Japanese soldiers to surrender. Ferguson adds that measures by Allied commanders to improve the ratio of Japanese prisoners to Japanese dead, resulted in it reaching 1:7, by mid-1945. Nevertheless, taking no prisoners was still standard practice among U. S. troops at the Battle of Okinawa, in April–June 1945.
Ulrich Straus, a U.S. Japanologist, suggests that frontline troops intensely hated Japanese military personnel and were "not easily persuaded" to take or protect prisoners, as they believed that Allied personnel who surrendered, got "no mercy" from the Japanese. Allied soldiers believed that Japanese soldiers were inclined to feign surrender, in order to make surprise attacks. Therefore, according to Straus, "[s]enior officers opposed the taking of prisoners[,] on the grounds that it needlessly exposed American troops to risks..." When prisoners nevertheless were taken at Gualdacanal, interrogator Army Captain Burden noted that many times these were shot during transport because "it was too much bother to take him in".
Ferguson suggests that "it was not only the fear of disciplinary action or of dishonor that deterred German and Japanese soldiers from surrendering. More important for most soldiers was the perception that prisoners would be killed by the enemy anyway, and so one might as well fight on."
U. S. historian James J. Weingartner attributes the very low number of Japanese in U.S. POW compounds to two important factors, a Japanese reluctance to surrender and a widespread American "conviction that the Japanese were "animals" or "subhuman'" and unworthy of the normal treatment accorded to POWs. The latter reason is supported by Ferguson, who says that "Allied troops often saw the Japanese in the same way that Germans regarded Russians—as Untermenschen."
The collection of Japanese body parts began quite early in the war, prompting a September 1942 order for disciplinary action against such souvenir taking. Harrison concludes that, since this was the first real opportunity to take such items (the Battle of Guadalcanal), "[c]learly, the collection of body parts on a scale large enough to concern the military authorities had started as soon as the first living or dead Japanese bodies were encountered."
When Japanese remains were repatriated from the Mariana Islands after the war, roughly 60 percent were missing their skulls.
In a memorandum dated June 13, 1944, the U.S. Army Judge Advocate General (JAG) asserted that "such atrocious and brutal policies," in addition to being repugnant, were violations of the laws of war, and recommended the distribution to all commanders of a directive pointing out that "the maltreatment of enemy war dead was a blatant violation of the 1929 Geneva Convention on the sick and wounded, which provided that: After every engagement, the belligerent who remains in possession of the field shall take measures to search for wounded and the dead and to protect them from robbery and ill treatment."
These practises were in addition also in violation of the unwritten customary rules of land warfare and could lead to the death penalty. The U.S. Navy JAG mirrored that opinion one week later, and also added that "the atrocious conduct of which some US personnel were guilty could lead to retaliation by the Japanese which would be justified under international law".
This city of culture is situated on both sides of the Elbe river. Of no tactical or strategic value to the German war effort it was considered 'safe' from destruction by air attacks. By 1945 it became a shelter for some 350,000 refugees fleeing from the approaching Red Army. At the Yalta conference Stalin requested more action against cities such as Berlin, Leipzig and Chemnitz. No mention was made of Dresden. The fact that Dresden was chosen was because the Russians at that time were only fifty kilometres away from the city, much nearer to Dresden than than they were to Berlin, Leipzig or Chemnitz. No doubt Churchill was eager to impress the Soviet leader, Stalin. RAF and USAAF bombers devastated the city in the most concentrated incendiary attack of the war in Europe (Operation Thunderclap) In all, 733 British bombers dropped 1,478 tons of high explosive bombs and 1,182 tons of incendiary bombs and 311 US Flying Fortresses dropped 771 tons of bombs on the city. Around 35,000 persons were reported as 'missing' after the fire-storm which engulfed the city and destroyed eleven square miles of its center including 14,000 houses, 22 hospitals, 72 schools and 31 department stores. By the 10th of March, 18,375 dead and 2,212 seriously injured were accounted for. The final death toll was expected to reach 25,000.
The merciless revenge perpetrated on the entire German civilian population of Eastern Europe during the closing stages of the war, and for many months after, took the lives of over 2,100,000 ethnic German men, women and children. For generations these Germans had lived and toiled in areas that today are part of central and Eastern Europe. Around fifteen million of these Volksdeutsche were driven from their homes and ancestral lands in Poland, East Prussia, Silesia, Ukraine, Belarus and Serbia and forced back into the Allied occupied zones of Germany.
This was the greatest forcible evacuation of people in European history. It is estimated that of the eight million Germans expelled from Poland around 1,600,000 died in the process. In Czechoslovakia, memories of the Lidice massacre inspired acts of revenge against German soldiers and civilians. Soldiers were disarmed, tied to stakes, doused with petrol and set alight. Wounded German soldiers in hospital were shot in their beds, others were hung up on lamposts in Wenzell Square and fires were lit beneath them so that they died the gruesome death of being roasted alive. These ethnic Germans lived in fear of the Russians but no one thought that the dreadful fate which awaited them would not even emanate from the Soviets at all but from their own neighbours, the Czechs!
Thousands of innocent German residents were murdered in their homes by the Czechs, others were forced into interment camps where they were beaten and maltreated before being expelled. Bishop Beranek of Prague declared: 'If a Czech comes to me and confesses to having killed a German, I absolve him immediately'. The Americans, utterly blind to the political consequences of allowing the Soviets to liberate Czechoslovakia, halted at the Karlsbad-Pilsen-Budweis line. The Sudeten Germans now had no protection from the torrent of bestiality vented on them by the Czechs. In Brno, 25,000 German civilians were forced marched at gun-point to the Austrian border. There, the Austrian guards refused them entry, the Czech guards refused to re-admit them. Herded into an open field they died by the hundreds from hunger and cold before being rescued by the US 16th Tank Division on May 8th 1945. In the Russian occupied zones of Eastern Europe and in Germany, hundreds of thousands of civilian men and women, Poles, Czechs, Romanians and Germans, were transported to the Urals in the Soviet Union and used as slave labourers until released in the late 40s. Mostly ignored by the world's press, the unimaginable suffering experienced by the expellees is largely unknown outside Germany, yet it was systematically carried out in a brutal fashion as official Allied policy in accordance with the decisions formulated at Yalta and Potsdam.
Monte Cassino fell to the Allies on May 18, 1944. After a four month struggle and the abbey bombed into ruins by the US Air Force, Polish troops of the 12th Lancers, 3rd Carpathian Division, raised their regimental flag over the ruins of the 6th century Benedictine Monastery situated high in the Apennines of central Italy. The next night thousands of French Moroccan, Algerian, Tunisian and Senegalese troops, attached to the French Expeditionary Corps, swarmed over the slopes of the hills surrounding Monte Cassino and in the villages of Ciociaria and Esperia, which is in the region of Lazio, raped every woman and girl that came within their sight. Over 2,000 women, ranging in age from 11 years to 86 years suffered at the hands of these gang-raping soldiers as village after village was entered. Menfolk who tried to protect their wives and daughters were murdered without mercy, around 800 of them died. Two sisters aged 15 and 18 were raped by dozens of soldiers each. One died from the abuse, the other was still in a mental hospital in 1997, 53 years after the event. Most of the dwellings in the villages were destroyed and everything of value was stolen.
Later in the war, these same troops raped around 500 women in the Black Forrest town of Freudenstadt, on April 17, 1945, after its capture. In Stuttgart, colonial French troops, mostly African, but under the command of General Eisenhower, rounded up around 2,000 women and herded them into the underground subways to be raped. In one week more women were raped in Stuttgart than in the whole of France during the four year German occupation.
On April 8, 1945, fourteen members of the 116th Panzer Division were marched through the streets of Budberg to the command post of the US 95th Infantry Division. There, they were lined up and shot. Three were wounded but managed to escape.
On April 13, 1945, tanks of the US 97th or 78th Infantry Division were approaching the village of Spitze about fifteen miles east of Cologne. They came under fire from a 8.8 anti-tank gun which disabled one of the tanks. That night, the village was pounded by tank and artillery fire and at daybreak the US forces entered the village. All the inhabitants, about eighty, were gathered together in front of the church. Included in the eighty were twenty German soldiers, members of an anti-aircraft unit stationed in the village. They were separated from the civilians and marched several hundred yards to a field just outside the village. There, they were lined up and mowed down by machine-gun fire. Next day the US Army ordered the civilians to dig graves and bury the dead. On April 14, 1995, a memorial for the twenty victims was built near the spot.
At the village of Chenogne in Belgium a group of twenty-one German soldiers emerged from a burning building carrying a Red Cross flag. Their intention was to surrender to the US forces but as they exited the doorway they were shot down by machine-gun and small arms fire. This happened soon after the Malmedy Massacre on December 17, 1944.
During the Allied assault on Sicily, the largest of the Mediterranean islands, (July, 1943) a dozen unarmed civilians, including some children, were apprehended by US troops after the town of Canicatti surrendered. The civilians were reported to be looting after they had entered a bombed out soap and food factory and were filling buckets with liquid soap that had spilled on the ground. At around 6pm, when an American officer, a lieutenant-colonel, and a group Military Police, accompanied by three interpreters, entered the factory the officer fired a series of shots from his automatic Colt-45 point blank into the crowd. He reloaded and fired again. Eight of the civilians, including an eleven year old girl, died. The officer and soldiers then drove off. Fearing reprisals from the residents of the town, the incident was hushed up for over sixty years. Due to the efforts of Dr. Joseph S. Salemi of New York University, this atrocity was brought to light. The perpetrator of this crime, Lieutenant Colonel McCaffery, died in 1954.
During the fighting at Leonforte in July 1943, according to Mitcham and von Stauffenberg in the book The Battle of Sicily, The Loyal Edmonton Regiment killed captured German prisoners.
Kurt Meyer, of the 12th SS Panzer Division Hitlerjugend, accused Canadian forces of the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division during the 1944 Normandy campaign of breaching the Hague Conventions. He claims that on 7 June notes were found that ordered no prisoners to be taken, information confirmed by Canadian infantry under interrogation; that prisoners were not to be taken if they hindered operations. Hubert Meyer also confirms this story; he states that on 8 June a Canadian notebook was found that contained orders to not take prisoners if they impeded the attacking force. Kurt Meyer also calls upon evidence from Bernhard Siebken’s war crimes trial during which the allegation was made that Canadian infantry shot, on at least one occasion, German soldiers who had surrendered during the campaign.
C.P. Stacey, the Canadian official campaign historian, reports that on 14 April 1945 rumours had been spread that the commanding officer of the Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders of Canada had been killed by a civilian sniper; this resulted in the highlanders setting fire to civilian property within the town of Friesoythe in a case of reprisal. Stacey later wrote that the highlanders first removed German civilians from their property before setting the houses on fire, he commented that he was "glad to say that [he] never heard of another such case".
Dan Dougherty was a 19-year-old soldier with C Company, which was ordered to relieve I Company after the SS soldiers were killed. In an interview in April 2005 with Jennifer Upshaw, Assistant City Editor of the Marin Independent Journal in Marin County, California, Dougherty said that the men of I company had "gone berserk" under the strain.
"They became very emotional, crying," Dougherty said. "We went in to relieve them. They'd walked along that same train of boxcars. We came to the coal yard. It was a strange sight because here are about 10 reporters standing in this courtyard around corpses of SS officers." An estimated 200 to 300 SS guards were rounded up - two to three dozen were "killed unnecessarily," Dougherty said. "I Company, we now know they got there about noon and at 2 p.m. arrived at the southwest corner and worked over to the east side where the prison was. They were holding the prisoners of war in the coal yard. We know there something happened. About 17 (guards) were shot." Dougherty said he has learned through his research a U.S. Army private insisted the group had fired at the guards in self defense, although the company's commanding officer said the group was not provoked. "I think it haunted some of them," he said. No one was ever charged with a crime, he said.
Herbert Stolpmann was a German POW who worked for the US military at Dachau after the liberation. In an e-mail letter to me, Stolpmann wrote:
When American Troops "liberated" Camp Dachau proper, they forced all the SS-families, including women and children, out of the so-called villas, put their fathers against the wall and shot them. Most of the mothers had cyanide capsules; they gave them to their children and told them, put them into their mouths, bite onto them as soon as Daddy is shot. The American "Liberators" stopped the shooting after about 24 children were dead.
The American soldiers who were involved in the Dachau massacre were court-martialled, but the papers were torn up and then burned by General George S. Patton, Commander of the US Third Army. The Dachau massacre was kept secret until 1991 when information was finally released.