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View Diary: For Six Decades, They Held Their Silence (213 comments)

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  •  But don't sanitize history, there was some bad (20+ / 0-)

    Ken Burns in his World War II documentary last week described how some Americans murdered surrendering German soldiers at the Battle of the Bulge, after the Nazis had perpetrated the Malmedy Massacre.  Another incident that didn't make the documentary occurred in New Guinea, where Americans murdered captured Japanese who were found with photos showing them holding body parts of American soldiers captured at Wake Island whom the Japanese then murdered.

    The firebombing of Dresden created a fire storm measuring 1 1/2 by 1 1/4 miles.  Inside the temperatures rose to 2,700 degrees fahrenheit.  The fire storm sucked out the oxygen, so as many of the 25,000 to 30,000 killed died from asphyxiation as from burning.

    The subsequent fire bombing of Tokyo was far worse because Tokyo, unlike Dresden, consisted largely of wooden buildings and wooden homes. The firebombing of Tokyo took an estimated 100,000 lives, more than the death toll at Hiroshima from the initial bombing.

    World War II was a necessary war, our enemies were absolute evil, and we must honor all those who fought on the Allied side, but our conduct of the war was not always saintly.

    "Great men do not commit murder. Great nations do not start wars." William Jennings Bryan

    by Navy Vet Terp on Mon Oct 08, 2007 at 06:12:32 AM PDT

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    •  Were the civilians "enemies" ? (7+ / 0-)

      I'd say the leaders of the countries were the criminals and enemies.  But what about all those civilians slaughtered?  Why were they our "enemies"?  Because they allowed their fascist government to take charge of their country?  What are we doing to stop cheney-bushco?

    •  The two incidents you mention were deplorable, (13+ / 0-)

      but understandable under the circumstances. Anyone, in my opinion, would have had the same reaction when finding Japanese soldiers with pictures of themselves with American soldiers body parts. I know I would have. And as for the German prisoners, well, Malmedy was basically SOP for the SS, but the US troops wanted vengeance for the massacre. Well, they got it. I would like to point out that it wasn't SOP for the US Army, though.

      And I am really tired of hearing about Dresden and Tokyo. Anyone ever heard of the London Blitz, the bombing of Rotterdam, the destruction of Warsaw?? And the many other horrors perpetrated by the Nazis?? Anyone want to take a good look at what the Japanese did to their "liberated" populations?? The sex slavery, looting, burning??? And let's not forget the Rape of Nanking. 350,000 people died in that little spurt of "high spirits" from "troops on leave". The high spirits and troops on leave are the explanation the Japanese gave for that massacre at the time.

      I am not saying that the two incidents by US troops you mention were right, but I am saying they were understandable under the circumstances.

      What explanation is there for Nanking, the concentration camps, the wanton destruction of cities all over Europe? The Japanese have yet to apologize, or make reparations, for Nanking. And the Germans blamed it all on the people in the dock at Nuremburg. Never mind that they elected Hitler TWICE (sound familiar?), and cheered him on at every opportunity.

      And the Germans thought the London Blitz was a great idea, but not when similar bombings came home to them. If they are going to dish it out, they should learn to take it.

      I don't think that the two incidents you mention are at all compatible with the POLICY-driven actions of the Germans and the Japanese. They were deplorable, but they were aberrations, not SOP. Can't say that about what the Germans and the Japanese were doing.

      What happens when Bush takes Viagra? he gets taller. Robin Williams

      by Demfem on Mon Oct 08, 2007 at 07:30:42 AM PDT

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      •  "They did it too, and worse," is a reason... (10+ / 0-)

        but not in any way an excuse. The civilians who were incinerated in Dresden and Tokyo were not the individuals who blitzed London, or massacred Nanking, or gave the orders to do so.

        If the fact that they applauded the actions of their government (as some, but not all, of them undoubtedly did) is sufficient justification for their mass slaughter... what shall we say Americans today deserve?

        Torture (Abu Ghraib and many other cases), kidnapping (extraordinary rendition), collective punishment (Fallujah), withholding necessities of life (a cholera epidemic is raging in Iraq and killing tens of thousands of civilians right now because chlorine is embargoed), and waging aggressive war...

        Would any of that justify firebombing Dallas?

        No, rather than getting into the morass of moral conjugation

        We accidentally killed a few civilians as a byproduct of our righteous war, and you were guilty of a deplorable lack of care for the lives of innocent civilians, but they were vicious inhuman monsters who committed atrocities the whole world must abhor...

        let us recognize that every part of the human race contains the potential for both awe-inspiring heights of nobility -- and great evil. And war often amplifies both those extremes, in any nations who engage in it.

        To deny that one's own side has also done evil, is to empower that evil and encourage it to spread.

        Folly is fractal: the closer you look at it, the more of it there is. - TNH

        by Canadian Reader on Mon Oct 08, 2007 at 08:59:04 AM PDT

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        •  They did it too, and worse is the classic sign (2+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          Canadian Reader, LondonYank

          of 'evil' when offered as an excuse, I heard someone say on the radio (the intelligent spectrum thereof)....

          I don't believe in 'evi' quite, but having this litmus test is helpful.

          "You can't depend on your eyes when your imagination is out of focus." --Mark Twain

          by LNK on Mon Oct 08, 2007 at 10:26:09 PM PDT

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    •  War is bad (0+ / 0-)

      War = death.  That's the way it has been for as long as there has been war.  Civilians get killed in wars.  War is deplorable and the very last resort.

      The USA did not ask for WWII nor did we want to fight it.  But we did, and we and our allies won.  I firmly believe the world is a much better place because we won - even with the Soviet victory thrown in.  In fact many in Europe faulted us for staying out of the war so long - especially in Eastern Europe where the vast majority of the casualties were.  

      We weren't perfect in WWII, but our example was a shining light.  The Germans knew to surrender to us because we were known to treat our prisoners fairly.  The USSR?  Not so much.  Thousands of GIs have the Geneva Conventions to thank for their lives.  Millions of Soviets died because of it.

      "Strength and wisdom are not opposing values" - Bill Clinton.

      by RAST on Mon Oct 08, 2007 at 06:02:46 PM PDT

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