Armistice Day – a catalyst for peace?

I will never forget my one and only visit to an Italian town called Nettuno. I had gone there to visit the shrine of a young Italian saint (St Maria Goretti) who it so happened had died violently. After my visit to the shrine, I had some time on my hands and ended up in a war cemetery. It turned out to be the Sicily-Rome American cemetery all 77 acres of it. I was totally unprepared for what I saw and the memory has stayed with me ever since. I remember it clearly even though it was over 30 years ago.

Sicily-Rome American military Cemetery in Nettuno near Anzio

Sicily-Rome American military Cemetery in Nettuno near Anzio

The visit stunned me. I recall the sheer beauty of the place with its immaculately kept grounds and eerie silence. I saw the perfect symmetry of row upon row of white marble crosses interspersed every now and again with a white marble Star of David headstone. Apart from the different names, different companies, ranks and place of origin and the occasional Star of David, the headstones were identical. I understand now why I was stunned – these were the 7,861 headstones of American military war dead most of them dying in 1943, many of them in their early 20s. There were 23 sets of brothers. I had been to cemeteries many times before but had not encountered such a scale of death within such a short time.

Elsewhere in the cemetery on marble walls was engraved the names of 3,095 American personnel whose bodies were never found. Although I found it difficult to take in the enormity of it, the horrors of warfare robbing these people of life, there was an incredible sense of peace. I believe something stirred in my soul that afternoon which until very recently I could not put words on. It was only when I read the words on a memorial which the family of the last soldier shot in Northern Ireland had used that I found the words: “Restorick (Stephen) (Lance Bombardier 3RHA) ‘May his death be a catalyst for peace’. Somehow on that Sunday afternoon as I gazed upon the rows of headstones, that visit was a “catalyst for peace” for me helping me understand why I am committed to reconciliation and healing in this part of the world.

This article published on Armistice Day (armistice literally means arms stopping) recalling how
on 11th November 1918 (the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month) this marked the official end of the First World War and the cessation of hostilities. The guns were to fall silent. The enormous human cost of the war would be realised. The “great war” was to have been the war to end all wars. Each year on 11th November, as people stop for silence we recall the scale of human suffering in war and sadly the fact that war continues. Despite the great hopes that some people had at the end of the Great War, that war on such a scale would never happen again, these hopes have not come to pass. Every day in our media we hear about wars in various different parts of our world and the destruction of human life and the untold human suffering of the families left behind. During the 20th century over 200 million people were killed in war or conflict throughout our world.

The guns clearly have not fallen silent. Billions and billions of pounds are being spent every year in the war industry. There is a narrative that says that war whilst regrettable is inevitable and even natural. My confidence in humanity is such to believe it does not need to be this way. Human beings at our best have the skills, qualities and ability to find ways other than war and violence to resolve differences. I believe Armistice Day provides an ideal opportunity not only to remember but to look at how we eradicate war in the same way as we want to eradicate cancer or malaria or whatever disease. Armistice Day I would hope could be a catalyst for peace.

On Remembrance Sunday I listened to an interview with the Chief Rabbi, Ephraim Mirvis on Radio 4 in which he was asked about “remembrance”. He explained in very clear terms how the word has particularly rich significance for Jews (and for some of us Christians) and then he added: “if we only remember for remembrance’s sake, then it becomes a mere historical technical exercise but when we utilise our memories in order to shape and influence a better world those memories become extremely relevant”. As I stood looking at the row upon row of headstones of American war dead, I would like to think that I could utilise that memory to shape and influence a better world.

Many people throughout our world prayed often for peace in Northern Ireland. During some of our very dark days, I sometimes wondered would we ever see it. The world looked on as we teetered on the brink, the talk of civil (how ironic) war was even mentioned. It can be easy to forget that our peace process here, even with all its faults, has come a long way. As we observe the daily destruction of human life in various places in our world, I believe we need to acknowledge what our politicians have achieved. Even this week our political leaders have the potential to be a source of hope for people throughout the world signalling politics and dialogue do work.

During November Catholics have a particular focus on the dead and are encouraged to visit a cemetery. I was interested to discover that Loyalist members of our community visit a cemetery on Armistice Day to pay their respects and remember their dead. (I have already acknowledged the complex nature of remembering all our dead). Yesterday when I visited the cemetery in Aldergrove where members of my family are buried, I stopped at the grave of a neighbour (aged 22), “inhumanly taken” as the headstone described his death during our conflict. I had forgotten his mother died just over a year after his murder. As I stood at their grave a few metres from where I will be buried, I reflected that whatever time I have left on this earth, I want to work for a world where human beings do not die by war or conflict.

On this Armistice Day I would like to suggest that today or during November we consider visiting a cemetery to remember those who died in war or conflict. As we stand in silence at the graves of people whose lives ended violently we would reflect on the words of the Restorick family “may his death be a catalyst for peace”.

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  • Zig70

    if we only remember for remembrance’s sake. It’s past that, more of a nationalistic chest beating exercise now in Britain. I think when religion comes at it softly, trying not to offend then the message is diluted. To me war is not unjustifiable, to a devote christian it probably should be. When you see it used by politicians who wouldn’t dare pull a trigger then it’s a bit sickening.

  • Martin

    I was stunned by the perfect symmetry of Arlington. But I was moved by the Vietnam Veterans Memorial.

    I believe we need to acknowledge what our politicians have achieved.

    You may need to acknowledge that if you must, Martin. As long as you also acknowledge the involvement of MI5, Mitchell Reiss, and all the unelected power-players that forced their hand.

    I’ll continue critiquing what they’re actually engaged in doing now.

    That’s what we [Kemo sabe? – Ed], as Slugger, are supposed to be doing. Rather than sermonising…

  • Gopher

    So people stopped dying because geniuses recongnized the principle of consent. I’m really losing count of these efforts to edify our secterian murder campaign and those involved in it by the good Father. Now the Liberation of Europe is right up there. I look forward to how the Liberation of Belsen ties into both “sections of our community” in an upcoming article.

  • Zeno

    “I believe we need to acknowledge what our politicians have achieved.”

    I’m not to sure about that Pete. We need to acknowledge that they caused a lot of what happened. You can’t get a lot of credit for just stopping inciting hatred and murder.

  • Reader

    That’s harsh on Britain’s attitude. It may be that the likes of Blair pumped up remembrance after he went to war, because he had to do something. But I also think that a lot of attention paid to remembrance does make the next war less likely. Politicians know that the price won’t be hidden.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Pete, I entirely agree with you about the Vietnam Veterans Memorial, which I’ve visited also. When I was living at Old Windsor, I used to visit Edward Maufe’s moving AirForces Memorial at Runnymede, which presented something of the same experience with its walls of names of 20,456 airmen lost in WWII. Of the 90,00 or so airmen who participated in the bombing of Germany, over 50,000 died, an appalling attrition rate for a policy whose effect on the war has been seriously questioned by historians. For the successors of those who sent these people to their deaths your important comment about our own questionable politicians “I’ll continue critiquing what they’re actually engaged in doing now” equally applies to my mind.

    And about Vietnam:

    Gerry Nicosia’s history of the Vietnam Veteran’s movement is a hearty corrective to any belief that the memorial itself, moving as it is, represents anything more than a cosmetic evasion of what life in the post conflict US had offered those who were unfortunate enough to survive. I’m reminded of that 1926 photograph of the “snowman war memorial” some out of work survivors of the Great War put up in Newtownards that bleak winter. In common with our modern politicians, the politicians of the wee six in the 1920s were more concerned with their own careers than with the post war experience of those who had fought.

    “I believe we need to acknowledge what our politicians have achieved.”

    Far, far too little outside of what they have simply been herded towards by others from outside the province, as you say, to merit any sincere praise from me.

  • Gopher

    125,000 Aircrew served in Bomber Command all volunteers 47,258 died KIA or in POW camps and 8195 died in flying accidents.. They flew 307,253 night sorties at a loss rate of 2.6% and 80,163 daylight sorties at a loss rate of 1.2%. During the war Bomber Command flew operations on 71.4% of the nights and 52.5% of the days at an average of 186 sorties a day dropping on average 460 tons of bombs daily.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Thank you Gopher for the detailed statistics. I was quoting figures from memory.

    The Air Forces Memorial above Runnymede is a most fitting attempt to represent something of what these figures mean in concrete terms. My own issue is with those such as Churchill and Harris who went for brutal and inhuman solutions to the problem of how to act after the entry of the US and USSR into the war. Solutions that, in targeting civilians, should have been recognised as a war crime on a level with what National Socialism engaged in, and with the atrocities committed against civilians of not only Germany, but of all states in the east by the Russian army. My first wife’s mother was a Polish exile, a press-ganged worker in Germany during the war who was lucky enough to survive the bombing of Berlin. Her family’s stories about the German atrocities in Poland, followed by those of the Russian “Liberator” do not bear repeating in sensitive company. But her descriptions of helping pile the bodies of German woman and children shrunken by the fires of a nights bombing come close also. None of this made her bitter at the young men commemorated at Runnymede, only at those who sent them out.

    My grandfather was a gunner in the Great War, an officer commanding part of the anti-aircraft defence of southern Belfast in the second war. Much of my personal anger at the targeting of civilians as a war crime came from points he made in discussions he had during my childhood with similar survivors of both wars, some of them airmen. Following his example I feel that, as Pete says, there is a requirement on all of us to hold those who rule us to account over what they engage in, without cutting them any slack. By excusing those culpable for harm done, we become complicit in that harm, something I feel applies equally to the perhaps smaller evils of our own current rulers.

  • Gopher

    A couple of points, the Air ministry and Bomber Command anticipated a much higher loss rate than actually occured. Secondly 800,000 Germans, mainly civilains died from the effects of starvation in the First World War. Around 400,000 died from bombing. In sheer numbers bombing was more humane method of defeating your enemy. Thirdly what is often overlooked is that the Luftwaffe was so overmatched by Bomber Command in the ability to deliver ordinance, the use of poison gas on civilain targets or against the Russians in desperation was ruled out as insane. Bomber Command saved lives many millions of lives.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Gopher, we will simply have to disagree on the issue that “Bomber Command saved lives many millions of lives.” By August 1942 the successful American daylight raid on Rouen had finally proved that pin point accuracy could be achieved using the new Norden bomb-sight. There were significantly no losses to either the B-17s or their RAF fighter escort on the raid. So there were other options open. The decision to continue with carpet bombing of civilians by Harris was not only a war crime, it was a gross mistake as German war production continued to increase up to the US air fleets targeting of genuine strategic industrial sites and oil installations. That, and the Russian army supplied by US war materials, is what actually defeated Germany, something the WWI officers I remember discussing these issues in my youth were very clear about. The Bombing campaign was a cosmetic effort, an attempt to be seen to be doing something, that would have ensured that many of our war leaders ended up in the dock if an entirely objective authority had convened the Nuremburg Trials and judged their actions as Germany was judged.

    The targeting of Civilians was directly in contravention of the Hague 1907 agreements. We do not accept that Germany was justified in committing war crimes by “the necessity of war” so why should we cut that slack for our own people?

    About the Luftwaffe. In 1938, after an assessment of the actual value of actions such as Guernica and in the light of the Amsterdam Convention’s draft agreements against aerial bombardment, the decision was made to end development on a series of strategic bombers for Germany, and to concentrate on a medium range military support bomber fleet of light bombers. Britain ignored the Amsterdam Convention discussions and continued work on their plans for long distance strategic bombers that could carry out Douhet’s dream of knock out blows against civilian populations, already something that was then being marked as a war crime at Amsterdam. It is a frightening thought that in this one thing even Nazi Germany was perhaps at that moment more moral in intent than our own people.

  • Gopher

    Worth a watch if your interested in the Norden Bomb Sight

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Thank you for the link Gopher, a witty performance, and sure, the Norden bomb sight may not have been utterly perfect in genuine war conditions, but the kind of inaccuracies found while using it need to be put into context.

    Britain had started bombing German cities from 1940, but a survey of the effectiveness of this British campaign in August 1941 showed that only one in four of the very best crews were bombing within FIVE MILES of their target as briefed. Strategic bombing simply did not work as the war winner that Guilio Douhet and others had claimed. It was the shock of this obvious failure that gave the opening for Harris to move to the area bombing of whole cities and their inhabitants, the only target that his air fleets could actually hit. The Norden bomb sight may have not actually permitted the hitting of “a pickle barrel from 20,000 feet” it still permitted the US air fleets to knock out German industries with far more accurate sighted bombing than the RAF ever managed, something that actually told in terms of damaging the German war effort in a manner that the elective shift to targeting civilians never managed. As I’ve said before about the targeting of civilians, “C’est pire qu’un crime, c’est une fate”.

  • Gopher

    You really have to start using facts in this discussion. For instance against oil targets the USAF averaged about 11.14% accuracy of bombs dropped. Bomber Command averaged 15.8%. That does not tell the whole story either, the average size of bomb dropped by the USAF was 388lbs whilst Bomber Commands average was 660lbs. As Speer commented much to the chagrin of his American interogators USAF bombs did little damage against oil plants compared to the RAF ones. Again this does not tell the whole story. Oil targets were heavily defended and generally in Eastern Europe at extreme ranges for the Allied aircraft so Bomber Command was given the toughest ones.
    The B17’s and B-24’s wenrt good bomb trucks too small bomb bays, though not bad as they turned out as fighter bait. A Mosquito could carry the same bomb load as Fortress could to Berlin. But the Fortress had to wait until 1944 to get there until the *Merlin* engined Mustang arrived to escort it and another British invention H2S was lent so as it could actually find it! Whilst the Mossie was was making Goering “Green and yellow with envy” with daylight trips to Berlin along time before that. Bomber Command being such nice chaps they even let the Americans borrow some to radar map Europe for the USAF to bomb as the USAF had no comparable aircraft.

    Over the entire war only 45% of Bomber Commands effort was against German Cities. Whilst reducing 31 German cities to cinders was quite impressive at under 50% capacity sinking 50% of Germanys heavy warships and sinking or damaging over 1000 German merchant ships is equally impressive. Destroying the French railway network and V bomb sites were also testament to the versatility of the the force.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Oh dear, Gopher, this most interesting excursion into detailed statistics and the discussion of aircraft types and capacities is actually ignoring the core point of what I’ve been saying, that the targeting of civilians was a British war crime that was ignored at Nuremburg.

    Some other rather more damning facts are perhaps needed. The Hague Conventions before the Great War attempted to take into account the discovery that the scientific developments effecting how war would be waged endangered civilian populations. Agreed laws to limit military action were agreed in international treaties that both Britian and d Germany signed. As I’ve mentioned, early in WWII the Germans (counter-intuitively?) could actually be said to have “kept to the rules” of the 1907 Hague Conventions on Bombardment, even to the far more stringent rules from the unratified 1923 convention and against aerial bombardment, and even the Amsterdam Convention of 1938’s draft agreements:

    “Article 1. The civilian population of a State shall not form the object of an act of war. The phrase “civilian population” within the meaning of this Convention shall include all those not enlisted in any branch of the combatant services nor for the time being employed or occupied in any belligerent establishment as defined in Article 2.


    Art. 2. The bombardment by whatever means of towns, ports, villages or buildings which are undefended is prohibited in all circumstances. A town, port, village or isolated building shall be considered undefended provided that not only (a) no combatant troops, but also (b) no military, naval or air establishment, or barracks, arsenal, munition stores or factories, aerodromes or aeroplane workshops or ships of war, naval dockyards, forts, or fortifications for defensive or offensive purposes, or entrenchments (in this Convention referred to as “belligerent establishments”) exist within its boundaries or within a radius of “x” kilometres from such boundaries.


    Art. 3. The bombardment by whatever means of towns, ports, villages or buildings which are defended is prohibited at any time (whether at night or day) when objects of military character cannot be clearly recognized.

    Art. 4. Aerial bombardment for the purpose of terrorising the civilian population is expressly prohibited.”


    The Germans certainly killed civilians during bombing but actually stuck to the letter of these articles quite pedantically in the early years of the war. Their bombing was carried out by a small tactical airforce employing an admittedly primitive form of precision bombing to aim for specific military targets. In this context civilian casualties were incidental rather than the entire purpose of raids. Notably, as I’ve already mentioned, they had purposefully not developed aircraft with carpet bombing capacity such as Britain developed.

    The idea of carpet bombing and the centrality of targeting civilians was clearly recognised as something quite different even by those who advocated its use in Britain. Sir Arthur Harris was unambiguous about this in his statements:

    “the aim of the Combined Bomber Offensive…should be unambiguously stated [as] the destruction of German cities, the killing of German workers, and the disruption of civilised life throughout Germany.

    … the destruction of houses, public utilities, transport and lives, the creation of a refugee problem on an unprecedented scale, and the breakdown of morale both at home and at the battle fronts by fear of extended and intensified bombing, are accepted and intended aims of our bombing policy. They are not by-products of attempts to hit factories.”

    The whole point was that while the Germans had broken the Hague Conventions in WWI, they actually began the war attempting to comply with the high standards of even the unratified treaties right up until Britain set the new standard in atrocity by purposefully targeting civilians. This immoral precedent has made it something of a norm today to bomb civilians, something we in NI should be particularly sensitive to in the light of how this precedent has been used here.

    I’d like to see your source for the statistics of accuracy on the oil targets. While I do not doubt them, they only tell a small part of the story. The USAF had pressed for the targeting of key industrial plants that would cripple war effort. Harris was so obsessed by his mission to kill civilians that he fought against this bitterly, and argued that any effort to target the “V” sites or even to directly support the military in the invasion of Europe was a pointless distraction from the real work of killing German civilians. On another post on Slugger I’ve suggested that had the campaign to kill German civilians not been given the lions share of resources, and ariel warfare efforts been committed entirely into attacking military and war industry targets, it would have had a much greater effect on the war, something you appear to be obliquely agreeing with in your distracting of the argument to those actual actions where the Bomber Command was removed from an enraged Harris and actually offered genuine military targets. In mentioning this successful employment of Bomber Command you appear to be suggesting that it was the US policy that had most effect on breaking the ability of Germany to wage war, rather than Harris’s vision of “Total War” against the civilian population.
    However, with the discussion of payloads, etc, you seem to be shunting the argument onto what is really quite irrelevant detail and skilfully evading actually addressing the core point I’ve been trying to make with my own postings. The real issue is that the entire area bombing campaign was not an acceptable mode of warfare, any more than the culpable German atrocities addressed at Nuremburg were, nor was it actually even an effective mode of waging war.

    While your praise for the Mosquito and the discussion of bomb loads is certainly interesting in purely academic discussion, it does not address the core issue, the immorality of Harris’s obsession. The logic of your final argument that only 45% of Bomber Command effort was directed at the murder of civilians would seemingly dismiss the entire nexus of the holocaust and associated slave labour camps as having only taken up a very slight portion of Germanys war effort.

  • Gopher

    You should actually read what your posting Seaan.


    “Article 1. The civilian population of a State shall not form the object of an act of war. The phrase “civilian population” within the meaning of this Convention shall include all those not enlisted in any branch of the combatant services nor for the time being employed or occupied in any belligerent establishment as defined in Article 2.

    Art. 2. The
    bombardment by whatever means of towns, ports, villages or buildings which are undefended is prohibited in all circumstances. A town, port, village or isolated building shall be considered undefended provided that not only (a) no combatant troops, but also (b) no military, naval or air establishment, or barracks, arsenal, munition stores or
    factories, aerodromes or aeroplane workshops or ships of war, naval dockyards, forts, or fortifications for defensive or offensive purposes,or entrenchments (in this Convention referred to as “belligerent establishments”) exist within its boundaries or within a radius of “x” kilometres from such boundaries.

    Basically that says every town in Western Europe was a legitimate target unless it was declared an open city. Feel free to explain why firebombing Coventry is somehow okay and Essen is not.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    And, Gopher, its never a good idea to pounce on something that appears to support your own reading without carefully weighing up everything said comparatively. Perhaps you should review again the first sentence of the first article:

    “The civilian population of a State shall not form the object of an act of war.”

    Civilians were defined as those “not enlisted in any branch of the combatant services nor for the time being employed or occupied in any belligerent establishment”. This is quite clear. Soldiers and actual war workers are “permitted” as legitimate targets, but certainly no-one else. The intentional targeting of civilians would still have been considered a war crime in any attack on a city seemingly “covered” by the second article. And anyway, the Amsterdam conference was an attempt to define the second Hague Convention of 1907, an agreement signed by Britain and still in force even today:

    “The attempts, in 1907, to adopt a permanent prohibition of the discharge of projectiles from the air led to the insertion in Article 25 of the Hague Regulations on land warfare, which prohibits the attack or bombardment of undefended towns, villages, etc., of the words “by whatever means” in order to cover attack or bombardment from the air.”

    Far from opening up unrestricted warfare as you appear to think, the articles enshrined the principal that civilian targeting was murder, not war. You really need to attempt thinking as those who had not experienced the bombing of WWII were thinking in 1938. The intention of article 2 was to discourage the militarisation of a civilian hinterland, but while it stated that military installations in defended towns were open to attack (a full justification for Guernica, for example), it did not to any degree qualify the very first sentence of the first article, that civilian populations were not a legitimate target. When Harris stated that “… the destruction of houses, public utilities, transport and lives, the creation of a refugee problem on an unprecedented scale, and the breakdown of morale both at home and at the battle fronts by fear of extended and intensified bombing, are accepted and intended aims of our bombing policy. They are not by-products of attempts to hit factories” he was self-condemned as a war criminal out of his own mouth. That he was decorated for this after the war is simply the mirror image of what would have happened if Germany had won the war, and the German leaders would have claimed full justification for all their acts, no matter how heinous, while Harris and Churchill would have been on trial.

    While I know that some mothers can never believe that their sons can commit criminal acts, such partiality should never stand without objective criticism. “My country right or wrong” is always going to be a recipe for complicity with criminality at some point. As John O’Leary told Yeats, “there are many things a man should be unwilling to do for his country.” For me the wilfully intentional burning of cities that must inevitably involve the murder of women and children, the old and infirm, and non-combatant men is unquestionably one of these things.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Gopher, please forgive me for my lateness on replying to you on this point. Some days of flu have limited my ability to access my books in a separate workspace to my house.

    “You really have to start using facts in this discussion. For instance against oil targets the USAF averaged about 11.14% accuracy of bombs dropped. Bomber Command averaged 15.8%.”

    I’d be interested in hearing how you understand such “accuracy”was measured. Perhaps I should mention that the US and Bomber Command each kept their own statistics and, as I remember, measured these things rather differently. While your comparison may not be that of “carrots and horses”, it may just be “carrots and apples”.

    Figures and “facts”, seldom are they ever exactly the same thing.

  • Gopher

    So the use of incendaries at Coventry and London etc what were they targeting?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Gopher, this is not a see-saw. Where did I even begin to suggest that I accepted that the ariel bombardment of any city or town was ever justified by any beligerent? While the Germans may have claimed that their use of incendaries helped knock out factories, etc, they were still aware that such tactics meant that they were hitting (and burning) non-combitant civilians. I believe that they were engaged in a war crime accordingly. The legitimacy of these deaths was argued by those planning the raids along the same lines as you have used to interpret article 2 of the Amsderdam Convention. They believed that they were attacking legitimate military targets and the civilian deaths were an unaviodable effect of raids on such targets, something I’d believe to be utterly in contravention of Hague II, 1907. That “total war” was only declared by Germany at the Sportsplatz Speech Goebbels gave in Februrary 1943 does not in any way qualify either the killing of civilains in the raids on Britian or earlier, although Goebbels obviously thought that a line was being crossed only at that instant.

    My own reading is consistent, I believe, in that I’d view all such actions when they occured as war crimes. The only difference would be that Germany at least argued that they were generally conforming to the internationally agreed conventions in the years before the Sportsplatz Speech, and can be shown to have broadly conformed to such agreements in some detail in their creation of a bombing fleet and in its general deployment. In contrast Harris was perfectly clear about his targeting of civilian populations as a strategic policy and his distain for any such “softness” as would question this.

  • Gopher

    I know one of the most famous and empassioned speeches in the History of Parliament “The Bomber will always get through” By Stanley Baldwin pleading for the Bombing of cities to be made illegal or such a deterent force be built up left you unconvinced or blind to reality so I’ll try another source.

    Here is an extract on the rules of Airwarfare commisioned by the Red Cross, I imagine they know more about it than Wiki. The piece refers directly to Arthur Harris and his (sic) “City Bombing” strategy”.

    “In examining these events in the light of international humanitarian law, it should be borne in mind that during the Second World War there was no agreement, treaty, convention or any other instrument governing the protection of the civilian population or civilian property,as the Conventions then in force dealt only with the protection of the wounded and the sick on the battlefield and in naval warfare, hospital ships, the laws and customs of war and the protection of prisoners of war.”

  • Greenflag 2

    ‘But I also think that a lot of attention paid to remembrance does make the next war less likely.’

    Interesting take on remembrance .Any evidence yet to back up your thought.

    ‘Politicians know that the price won’t be hidden.’

    The politicians of all states and ideologies are not found in the front lines . Thats for the likes of Tommy Atkins and co .

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Gopher, just over a day after an utterly unjustifiable attack on “civilians” in Paris has taken place, you are still trying to justify something that is also entirely unjustifiable for any moral person.

    But to answer in detail. Without a broader picture, you appear to have misread the Red Cross comments in order to support your stance. I really would recommend that you go back to the actual articles agreed in the conventions rather than relying on secondary sources as final authorities in this way. What the Red Cross are referring to is that grey area Harris pinpointed where defended factories and workers could be attacked. There was considerable debate over whether this should be interpreted to mean only workers actually at their machines, by the way. But to get back to law, the Second Hague Convention clearly stated that the bombardment of any town required certain things to occur:

    “Article 25: The attack or bombardment, by whatever means, of towns, villages, dwellings, or buildings which are undefended is prohibited.

    Article 26: The officer in command of an attacking force must, before commencing a bombardment, except in cases of assault, do all in his power to warn the authorities.

    Article 27: In sieges and bombardments all necessary steps must be taken to spare, as far as possible, buildings dedicated to religion, art, science, or charitable purposes, historic monuments, hospitals, and places where the sick and wounded are collected, provided they are not being used at the time for military purposes.
    It is the duty of the besieged to indicate the presence of such buildings or places by distinctive and visible signs, which shall be notified to the enemy beforehand.”

    Article 26 required anyone undertaking bombardment to give notice so that civilians could be withdrawn. So much for international law. One of the key points I’m making is that the League of nations had fully passed resolutions calling for the protection of civilian populations against aerial attack. The Amsterdam conference tried to draft this into an international agreement. While this was not ratified, both the U.S and surprisingly Germany attempted to wage war in compliance to these guidelines, while Britain did not. And after the war at Nuremburg Germans were hanged for war crimes that had not been codified before the Nuremburg trials. So a war crime may be codified from morality alone rather than from pre-existing treaties. In this instance, the League of Nations Resolutions heavily weighs the scales.

    Just to clarify how the debate over civilian targeting has progressed:

    “In 1977, Protocol I was adopted as an amendment to the Geneva Conventions, prohibiting the deliberate or indiscriminate attack of civilians and civilian objects, even if the area contained military objectives, and the attacking force must take precautions and steps to spare the lives of civilians and civilian objects as possible.”

    Legally today Harris would have unquestionably been just as much of a war criminal as any German Ensatzgruppen commander in the Ukraine in WWII. That he was lauded after WWII shows a level of hypocritical double standards that must shock any clear thinking person.

    At the very moment when the world is displaying public outrage at the killing of 129 civilians, that any policy that ensured the killing of half a million German civilians should find anyone willing to support it is almost beyond belief. Especially from anyone in a country where the example for Republicans of this policy “legitimising” the targeting of civilians as “warfare” has inspired so much misery for our own people.

  • Gopher

    Now that is amusing trying to link me and bomber command to terrorists. Not nearly as amusing as using the speech from Germany’s *Propaganda* minister in totaly the wrong context. Some of your assertions would make Thomas Goodrich blush. On rememberance Sunday I remember 50,000 plus thousand volunteers among others who made the supreme sacrifice defeating Nazi Germany

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Gopher, I have had family (now all dead) who fought in both World Wars. I remember what they and their companions experienced on 11th November. Much of what I’m stating here came to my hearing first from men who proudly wore British Legion badges and stood at their local memorials on 11th November, and this is part of how I remember them. I’m not linking the people who flew, some of whom are commemorated at that Runnymede Memorial my mention of which began this discussion, with the war crimes of their leaders as you appear to need to do. My respect for the personal sacrifice of such men does not in any way bind me or anyone else to support a policy of atrocity by those who sent them to their deaths. For me, those who died in the air war over Germany are equally victims of this iniquitous policy to those who died under the bombs they dropped. Are you actually trying to tell me that you are not only remembering our own dead and maimed on 11th November, but celebrating the deaths of the half million German Civilians killed? Many of those who flew, whom I’d met in my youth, would have had considerable trouble with that.

    And what exactly are you trying to say by linking my comments to “Hellstorm”? Are you perhaps suggesting that the allies carried out a war with no atrocities, that half a million and more German non-combatants were not killed horribly in the devastating destruction of German cities, that when the Russian advance left raped and murdered civilians in the east these were unimportant or even simply imaginary? No serious historian would even begin question the truth of these things. When the culpability for these things are fully accepted and understood as something we and our allies did, I’d find it impossible to believe that anyone would find it acceptable to even begin to justify them, just as I find it beyond belief that what happened in Paris could ever be justified.

    Personally I am unable to find anything amusing in the killing of civilians in any context. Oh, but perhaps I should have remembered that we have had some elements of this exchange before over my friend Philip Orr’s Ray Davey play:

    If the courageous efforts of men of that time such as Major Stokes and others who supported the war effort but utterly opposed our own descent towards the moral equivalent of Nazi Germany can fail to convince you of the moral turpitude of so unquestionably supporting area bombing, I doubt that anything I can say ever will.

    ” Alfred Salter and Major Richard Stokes the Labour MPs frequently argued against it in the House of Commons and Bishop George Bell of Chichester in the Lords publicly questioned the morality of area bombing primarily intended to target civilians, “stating that it called into question all the humane and democratic values for which Britain had gone to war”. The Marquess of Salisbury wrote to a friend that “of course the Germans began it, but we do not take the devil as our example.” None of these people were Nazi fellow travellers or supporters of Hitler. Their stand was for adherence to the Hague Conventions and to what they considered to be the moral values that justified Britain’s war effort.”

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Related to what I’m saying below:

  • Gopher

    How could I forget your many ancestors Seaan and their colourful lives I am constantly reminded of all their deeds. Are you a Hellstorm fan? Well you get all types on here.

    Me I have no delusions about war when you hear stories of guys who bayoneted numerous German prisoners or machine gunned others to death in the desert because they were a handicap. Men who beat rescued U-Boat crews off the decks in the Artic or simply shooting prisoners because it was too far or to much trouble to take them back to HQ. You know war is a dirty buisness when your told stories like that. You think machine gunners, snipers or flame thrower operators ever got taken prisoner?

    Best to get the war over quickly. But for the war the guys that done these things would be sitting in the pub or at home just like our bomber crews. So if Fräulein Hiedi copped a 500lb bomb in Friedrichshafen because there was a tank gearbox factory in the town like one bomber crew expressed it, nope I’m not worried. That my friend is the reality of war and despite your long winded posts perfectly legal and the perfectly moral thing to do to a nation that was dealing death on an industrial scale.

    Rule number one of war

    1/ Don’t bomb a nation first that has a huge aeronautical industrial base if you have no means to destroy it.

    As for our fellow Allies the Russians rule number two of war covers that.

    2/ If your nation is going wage an idealogical “war of extermination” either put one behind the ear of the eejit who is going to start it or dont lose.

  • Greenflag 2

    ‘As we observe the daily destruction of human life in various places in our world, I believe we need to acknowledge what our politicians have achieved.’

    Indeed – I’m trying to imagine what NI would be like without it’s local politicians . Some might be tempted to utter a cynical -good riddance . Others might pause for reflection and consider that without the efforts of local politicians and the support of both HMG and the Irish Government and the American brokered GFA the death toll in NI would not have been under 4,000 but probably closer to 40,000 or more with Balkan like casualties and forced population removals . Yes many of the politicians on all sides are not without their faults but they ALL have a responsibility to prevent a return to the hopeless past 🙁 There are some on slugger whom you might think from their postings that can hardly wait for that past to return 🙁

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Gopher, I must offer you my sincerest apologies for actually coming from family that has played a not inconsiderable part in the public life of our community, and, incidentally, of the Empire. I’ve found that such “deep memory” seems to broaden my vision of things, and but I’m aware that it is a rich advantage not all of my fellow citizens are able to share, although I’d imagine that they all have ancestors of some kind or other, and have simply not been told what happened to them. I imagine a family needs to have an interest in its history to actively retain these memories.

    That over, back to the issues. So, as I surmised, you believe civilians are legitimate targets. But where does this “hard headedness” stop? Where would you draw the line? Slave labour, the shooting of, or torture of, prisoners? By your argument, taken to its logical conclusion, all law and every effort to codify civilised behaviour might as well be torn up, and those unable to defend their lives and goods plundered. “The weak can go to the wall”. Might is utterly right and, in such a situation, other than those values consequent upon simple patriotic partiality, what actual values divided Britain in any sense from Nazi Germany? This was the issue that Bishop Bell and Lord Salisbury were raising regarding the bombing campaign.

    Really, what is the difference between taking civilians out to grave pits and shooting them in the back of the head, as the Ensatzgruppen, did and killing them with blast bombs and incendiaries from 60,000 foot? Or do you justify both, certainly your argument seemingly does, although it may be so concerned with the rhetorical affirmation of brutalism that you may not have throughout it through, and what such thinking would actually imply for ourselves as a people. Certainly such flippant disregard of moral values has had post war consequences for our own community. The methods used by any belligerent in war create precedents, and the “legitimising” of bombing attacks on civilians has offered a precedent for the PIRA campaign in NI to, as one person put it “wreck the place” and permit the callous dismissal of accompanying civilian casualties.

    War is a dirty business, certainly, and I’ve heard the stories from both wars directly from people who actually observed similar things, such as the mass graves of British prisoners killed in north Africa by the retreating Italians, something I’ve never encountered in print. However, the Hague Conventions, the Nuremburg trials, and the later Geneva Conventions have ensured that a great deal of what could happen in war does not actually happen, that war could, under ratified agreements, become a degree more civilised. That is why thinking old soldiers were well aware of the value of the Hague conventions, especially those who had been captured. One of the things I’ve frequently found is that civilian commentators are rather more bloodthirsty in regard to the waging of war than those who have experienced it at first hand.

  • Gopher

    If you can’t tell the difference between invading a country and marching civilians to a forest and shooting them and using all means possible with the caveat of being practical including area bombing to stop them I would argue it is you that has the morality problem.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Ok, agreed, Gopher, you actually have no answers……..

    According to the second Hague Conference, 1907, actually no difference in law…..

  • Gopher

    According to your interpretation of bombing but no one else was worried about the legality because it was. The Western Allies convicted no one, America changed form daylight precision attacks over Japan to night time area attacks burning Japan from end to end delivering the most devastating area raid of the war on Tokyo. I dont remember Japan Bombing American Cities do you?

    25% of German production went to Flak only 7% to tanks, imagine how much more Lebensraum they would have had to butcher in if they could have rejigged that percentage. Bomber command saving lives yet again.

    Germany was commiting serious war crimes from the declaration of war. In Poland 1939 it was common knowledge amongst the German soldiers what was going on. Halder Chief of Staff of the German Army mentions it not a few times in his diary. He did not stop it. On the seas the Liner Athenia was torpedoed and sunk within hours of the war starting. In France 1940 British troops were massacred in cold blood at Wourmhouht and Le Paradis, French Senagalese troops were extremely lucky to make POW cages. From the air you had the strafing of refugees, Rotterdam followed by the Blitz. Germany set the tone of the war from the get go.
    But these were Blue Square Conference North until they decided to hit Russia. Wiki the Hunger Plan if you aint heard of it, makes the final solution look like a day in the park and all before Wannsee. The line I draw is when Nazi Germany is defeated.

    “Sowed the wind and reaped the Whirlwind” The Whirlwind being perfectly proportionate, legal, moral and there was absolutely no alternative tactically or strategically.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    What a bizarre statement: “no one else was worried about the legality because it was”.

    Those wageing war in Britain were all too aware of the illegality of the actions. Just after Dresden Churchill began to put blue water between himself and Harris:

    “It seems to me that the moment has come when the question of bombing of German cities simply for the sake of increasing the terror, though under other pretexts, should be reviewed. Otherwise we shall come into control of an utterly ruined land… The destruction of Dresden remains a serious query against the conduct of Allied bombing. I am of the opinion that military objectives must henceforward be more strictly studied in our own interests than that of the enemy.

    The Foreign Secretary has spoken to me on this subject, and I feel the need for more precise concentration upon military objectives such as oil and communications behind the immediate battle-zone, rather than on mere acts of terror and wanton destruction, however impressive.”

    And I’ve already mentioned above some of those others who in the course of the war brought the illegality of the strategy up in the Commons and elsewhere. I am very far from being in any way alone in my position on this.

    But, even if one could excise moral judgement and accept an amoral and illegal stance on this from the understanding that it was a necessary evil for anyone wishing to win the war, perhaps the most telling facts are that, despite the massive area bombing effort of 1943, German war production increased, peaking in 1944 as war production was quickly decentralised and the loose pattern of area bombing ensured that most machinery survived that did not receive direct hits. The production of tanks and armoured vehicles even continued to increase until February 1945. In many factories, production recommenced within days once the building damage had been cleared. And, as with the London Blitz, morale was if anything increased and consequent support for the Nazi war effort strengthened on the home front. As I’ve already stated “C’est pire qu’un crime, c’est une fate”.

    It is equally bizarre to claim there was “absolutely no alternative tactically or strategically.” While the strategic bombing effort against genuine targets in cities had been shown in 1942 to clearly be unworkable, there were many possible alternatives to Britain’s descent to a competitive level of atrocity with those you so rightly condemn as utterly culpable in the German war effort. With strategic bombing alone, the targeting of canals, communication networks, and, eventually, the POL campaign all showed marked results in contrast to the area bombing campaign, ” in its analysis of strategic bombing as a whole the USSBS identified the consequences of the breakdown of transportation resulting from attacks against transportation targets as ‘probably greater than any other single factor’ in the final collapse of the German economy.”(Wikipedia) Had every effort actually directed against genuine military targets whose destruction would actually have some effect instead of the morally indefensible state sponsored murder of non-combatants, the war might even have been ended far sooner.

    Alongside those who courageously criticised their own Governmemts policy during the war, I simply cannot see the logic of an argument claiming that defeating National Socialism required us to descend ourselves to committing similar atrocities to those very things that primarily justified us in our effort to defeat them. We are quite properly morally outraged at the German atrocities in the east (my first wife was Polish, and I’ve heard first hand accounts), and at the unspeakable horrors of “The Final Solution”. But no amount of whataboutery such as you are employing above can begin to excuse a war policy of our own side that any person of conscience will see parallels such atrocities. I know where you are coming from, and while I entirely accept your sincerity in all of this, I cannot avoid thinking that had the Nazis won, we would be hearing similar heart felt arguments in justification of their own evils, as necessary actions to win the war and save the world from the twin horrors of unrestrained Capitalism as perpetrated by the Democracies and the brutalities of Bolshivism. In the end such arguments are not rooted in logical arguments based on moral values, but are jingoistic affirmations of the values of “my country right or wrong”.

  • Gopher

    It is not whataboutery it was the nature of the conflict the UK and Commonwealth found themselves in.

    So are FDR, Truman, Marshall, Spaatz and Le May war criminals? They firebombed Japan into oblivion.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    “So are FDR, Truman, Marshall, Spaatz and Le May war criminals? They firebombed Japan into oblivion.”

    Which is why Harris was not in the dock.

    But you are again misdirecting and simplifying my point. Britain took the lead in an actual Government sponsored policy of targeting civilians in 1942, directed by Arthur Harris. By 1944 everyone else joined in once the ambiguities were breached, something that would produce a norm of the killing of civilians as an example for PIRA in the 1970s. The all important thing to realise is that, as opposed to the incidental killing of civilians during the bombing of targets, an actual policy to drop bombs on civilians in order to wage war directly against civilians by intent during WWII was instigated by Britain.

    The outcry after the German raids on Britain during WWI had produced genuine concern across the world to avoid this atrocity in future. Attacks on civilians were classified in the minds of most people as unquestionably murder. The propaganda drive in WWII amongst the allied powers ensured that this concern for human values, and the waging of war within the terms of treaties, only needed to be applied to the defeated. This double standard has debauched both the actions of governments, not only in war, and the expectations of those they govern to the harm of us all. I spoke with old soldiers who were already tracing its effect on public life during the 1950s and 60s and the decline in political morality they described continues unabated to this day. It is difficult to retreat from the lesson in hard mindedness and cynicism that the Nazis have taught our rulers, so in this creation of disciples following the themes you support the Nazis have actually significantly won. I’ve been privileged to have spoken with quite conservative men who understood this, and understood the importance of some moral values in maintaining a free society. I see few of their like anywhere today.

  • Gopher

    Lets be clear you are stating FDR possibly the greatest President and “Commander in Chief” was a war criminal, His successor Truman in your opinion was also a “war criminal” Their subordinates Arnold, Spaatz and Le May are “War Criminals” according to you. Should they have been executed? Jailed for life? What punishment do think fits your percieved crime?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Are you attempting to tell me that any great man who is a head of state has carte blanche to do what he would? This is dangerously close to the arguments that I remember going the rounds in English political circles about the sexual predatoriness of Cyril Smith and other senior politics figures, and about Jimmy Saville who “did so much good with his charity work”. If a head of state authorises the targeted killing of civilians, I would believe this to be a criminal act. If there is international law to confirm this, such as the Hague Conference agreements of 1907, and if this was ratified by the head of states own country (USA ratified the Hague agreements in 1909), then surely the case is pretty watertight?

    In addition he is condemned out of his own mouth in the statements against bombing that he issued at the start of the war in Europe:

    “The ruthless bombing from the air of civilians in unfortified centers of population during the course of the hostilities which have raged in various quarters of the earth during the past few years, which has resulted in the maiming and in the death of thousands of defenseless men, women, and children, has sickened the hearts of every civilized man and woman, and has profoundly shocked the conscience of humanity.

    If resort is had to this form of inhuman barbarism during the period of the tragic conflagration with which the world is now confronted, hundreds of thousands of innocent human beings who have no responsibility for, and who are not even remotely participating in, the hostilities which have now broken out, will lose their lives. I am therefore addressing this urgent appeal to every government which may be engaged in hostilities publicly to affirm its determination that its armed forces shall in no event, and under no circumstances, undertake the bombardment from the air of civilian populations or of unfortified cities, upon the understanding that these same rules of warfare will be scrupulously observed by all of their opponents. I request an immediate reply.”

    Le May’s role in the fire bombing of Japanese cities, using nap ham and white phosphorus was clearly a targeting of civilians and an atrocity. H.H. Arnold’s support and advocacy for Harris’s targeting of civilians would make him also a candidate for a legal action. Carl Spaatz was an advocate of targeted bombing of the infrastructure of German production, and was in general carrying out acts of war that did not centre on atrocity as a policy.

    And please, let me make it quite clear that for someone who has actually understood just what a utterly unacceptable innovation the murder of non-combatant civilians as an act of war was, what you are saying above is entirely comparable with this:

    “Lets be clear you are stating Adolf Hitler, possibly the greatest leader and “Commander in Chief” was a war criminal, His successor Joseph Goebbels in your opinion was also a “war criminal” Their subordinates Goering, Kaltenbrunner and Jodl are “War Criminals” according to you. Should they have been executed? Jailed for life? What punishment do think fits your percieved crime?”

    And of course this is exactly what, in the circumstances of a Nazi victory, someone who had fully acceptedi atrocities as a necessary price they needed to pay to win the war and save civilisation would have also said. As I’ve said above, any affirmation of the murder of non-combatant civilians reduces us to the level of the Nazis. I beg you to actually think perhaps about every implication that comes from what you are supporting.

  • Gopher

    Yes Adolf Hitler should have been executed and Geobbels too if captured. We missed one one who got off lightly Speer who deserved the drop. I believe the other three you mentioned were taken care off. I see we are linking area bombing against Germany and Japan to Jimmy Saville. Linking Me and the Strategic campaign to ISIS and Paris was amusing but this is now hiliarious. Spaatz incidently commanded the airforces that dropped the Atomic bombs which was hardly a “precision” weapon.

    “TO: General Carl Spaatz

    Commanding General

    United States Army Strategic Air Forces

    1. The 509 Composite Group, 20th Air Force will
    deliver its first special bomb as soon as weather will
    permit visual bombing after about 3 August 1945 on one of the
    targets: Hiroshima, Kokura, Niigata and Nagasaki. To
    carry military and civilian scientific personnel from the
    War Department to observe and record the effects of the
    explosion of the bomb, additional aircraft will accompany
    the airplane carrying the bomb. The observing planes will
    stay several miles distant from the point of impact of the

    2. Additional bombs will be delivered on the above
    targets as soon as made ready by the project staff. Further
    instructions will be issued concerning targets other than
    those listed above.

    3. Discussion of any and all information concerning
    the use of the weapon against Japan is reserved to the
    Secretary of War and the President of the United States.
    No communiques on the subject or releases of information
    will be issued by Commanders in the field without specific
    prior authority. Any news stories will be sent to the War
    Department for specific clearance.

    4. The foregoing directive is issued to you by direction
    and with the approval of the Secretary of War and of
    the Chief of Staff, USA. It is desired that you personally
    deliver one copy of this directive to General MacArthur and
    one copy to Admiral Nimitz for their information.”

    FDR, Truman, Churchill, Arnold, Spaatz, Le May, Portal, Harris and those who served under them deserve every honour for expediting the end of tyrany. But none more more so than those that fell limiting the dead of all nations by the Strategic offensives against Japan and Germany.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Gopher, I’m not linking you to Jimmy Saville, but while I believe you to be arguing your position in all sincerity, I remember discussing Cyril Smith’s behaviour with several people in English politics some years before it became a public cause célèbre. They argued that the instance I was referring to (the attempted rape of a member of my family) was simply Smith’s private morality, and the work he was doing for the Liberal party was good work that needed to be thought about on its own merits. I know of other cases even closer to your “good men did these things to achieve good ends, and any moral harm done should be dismissed in the light of what they achieved”, where similar behaviour to Smith’s has been suppressed where other services carried out by the men involved were considered to be of significance to national security, and outing their crimes was considered as “contrary to the national interest”.

    This just will not do. Simply because a non combatant is murdered in the interests of democracy, it does not make it any the less murder than if they were killed by a brutal and tyrannical regime, if anything it makes it more culpable as democracy claims the moral high ground. We cannot hang Nazis for crimes against humanity and then say that such crimes committed by our own people were justified by the need to win the war. In both case those who order such actions are either culpable, or innocent. I would go of r culpable myself.

    I have a genuine problem even beginning to understand how anyone with any moral standards can even begin to find the murder of civilians in warfare acceptable, no matter what such an atrocity might achieve. With every comment you make above, I cannot but hear similar justifications in the mouths of the Nazis, as with my slightly altered re-write. As you are still arguing that the policy to commit atrocities was justified by “good ends” I cannot but think you simply have not actually thought through the implications of what you are supporting, any more than the politicians supporting Smith did, or the BBC grandees did who knew about Saville, but, being boys of the sixties simply thought “hey, everybody does something similar…”

    Oh and thank you for the information, We can add Spaatz to the blacklist.

  • Gopher

    My god you have just wrote a paragraph on Cyril Smith, a large one at that in a debate on the Strategic offensive.I’ve never heard any opponent of Strategic Bombing and they are legion, I have many of their books on my shelves introduce Jimmy Saville or Cyril Smith to the debate. I think you have commited a crime against reasoned debate there.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Gopher, I’m employing a recent case of double standards to illustrate an important issue you appear to not understand. I think the parallels are perfectly clear for anyone reading my comments with an open mind.

    “Lets be clear you are stating FDR possibly the greatest President and “Commander in Chief” was a war criminal”

    I’m trying to explain to you that arguing that a good man cannot do evil is not a logical argument. You cannot simply say “FDR was a good man, therefore everything he did was a good action.” You need to examine the nature of what a commander ordered and evaluate their culpability or its lack from that, and not from anything else they may have done. No one has a “get out of jail” free card, simply from being who they are.

    I’m illustrating this by showing that both Saville and Smith were given similar support for their fine record as charity workers (in Smith’s case, his value as a politician, as you have done with FDR), and given a carte blanche to commit unacceptable actions off the back of this, even by people whom knew what they were up to and dismissed it on grounds ofd their value in other things. I realise that you cannot actually successfully answer issues such as the morality of killing civilians or the legal status of such actions in the light of Hague II, 1907, so one of the only responses left to you is to simply bluster that “FDR was a great man and no great man, or his bomber lords, can commit a war crime”, but this is self -evidently not true. As you would probably not be presenting these arguments if you were aware that they are gross crimes “against reasoned debate” I’ve attempted to offer you some quite clear illustrations as to why exonerating politicians from immoral actions with the argument that who they are as important people exonerated them simply is illogical. Smith and Saville are offered as dramatic illustrations as to how this sounds to anyone looking at the actions of people and not simply being blinded by the reputations of the persons involved. If you want to argue from the strategic offensive alone, sure, we can do that, but without these transparently evasive star-struck exonerations that ignore the culpability of war leaders and bomber lords in the intentional targeting of non-combatants, please!

  • Gopher

    Three paragraphs now on Saville and Smith . Dear Lord. FDR commited no war crime

    ( “In 1923, Britain, France, Italy, Japan, and the United States agreed to a set of rules for air warfare. One article prohibited bombing from the air “for the purpose of terrorizing the civilian population . . . or of injuring noncombatants. . . .” The participating governments, however, never ratified these rules, so they were not legally binding. At the Geneva Disarmament Conference of 1932, most of the world’s powers agreed that air attacks on civilians violated the laws of war. But the conference broke up before approving a final agreement.”)

    and was not trying to hide anything the papers were full of stories about the Tokyo Fire Raid. Just as the British press celebrated the destruction of Lubeck the Ruhr or Berlin and a host of other cities. The German press was full of stories about the destrucion of Coventry. I could be wrong but I dont think Saville or Smith were posting after action reports.

    You have attempted alot Seaan, I agree

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Gopher, I see you are not even attempting to offer any serious arguments against my points any more. If you had read my postings I’d already mentioned that the 1923 agreements were “unratified”, but were still employed as a yardstick by powers from that date. If you then checked the situation further forward and further back you’d come up on what your source is not mentioning. The 1938 agreements were also unratified but followed a unanimous resolution by the League of Nations in 1938 whose first principal declared:

    “The intentional bombing of civilian populations is illegal.”

    So although Britain had not ratified the 1923, 1932, or 1938 treaties, the targeting of non-combatants was still illegally in breach of this resolution by the League of Nations whose statement is utterly unqualified regarding attacks on civilian populations. Britain was also in breach of agreements they had ratified regarding the unacceptability of any bombardment of civilians at the Hague in 1907. Under the wording of this entirely ratified agreement, before any attack that might harm civilians, the city to be “bombarded” must be given notice of the attack so that civilians may be evacuated. Again law and again unqualified.

    “You have attempted a lot Seaan, I agree”…

    But not on my own. Have you heard of Anthony Grayling, perhaps? Or Gregory Staunton, the founder of “Genocide watch” Both are serious critics with unimpeachable status who have described area bombing unquestionably as a war crime. I suppose I could list many other sources, but I think I’ve given you enough matter which you are already ignoring or deflecting in your evasions.

    And it is important to remember when citing the non-ratification of these treaties that they failed to be ratified simply because Britain stonewalled the ratification of these agreements. This does not make the murder of civilians morally correct, and it really does not make it in any way justifiable any more than the absence of ratified legislation to cover the mass extermination of civilian populations would have made the holocaust in any way a justifiable act of war. If you go back to Hague II, 1907, you will discover that such attacks on non-combatants (by “bombardment”) was covered there, and so could be considered to be war crime. The attempts to carefully define this in regard to ariel warfare by international treaty in 1925 and 1938 were actually negotiations to legally define wriggle room to permit bombing of cities, and the refusal of GB to ratify these treaties did not in any way permit such bombing as “legal” in international law, it simply left some grey areas regarding the details of how this was defined. And it implied that they were not getting the freedom to commit atrocity that they wished for. In this light the general conformity of Germanys bombing actions to these unratified agreements is highly significant. The area bombing policies of Britain in WWII simply ignored the core legal position that rested on Hague II (cited on a post above), and this can only be considered as (as you put it) “justified” because Britain was amongst the victors and wrote the laws at Nuremburg, and thus “justified” their immoral actions retrospectivly.

    And again and again in your responses you are simply stating the canonic interpretation that has developed post war to “justify” the immoral and illegal actions of the allies, You appear to be only permitting yourself to see what you want to see in the responses you offer, and ignoring uncomfortable truths. This is how the families of terrorists must often behave when citing in defence clever lawyers arguing morally ambivalent points of law, or in the final analysis, as you have now begun to say, “he was a good boy and cannot be guilty.”

    Now to address using Smith and Saville for illustrative purposes to show the weakness of your “he was a good boy and cannot be guilty” argument, what I’m trying to show you is that for many decent people what Smith and Saville did (and what was done by many more important and influential people and, so far, not reported in the press) was not considered as a problem because, like the area bombing, it had not been trumpeted as an actual prosecuted criminal action. Important people knew (and still know, in the case of those still protected) that these things were happening, but configured them as something entirely acceptable as long as no-one is actually prosecuted, as you are still doing with your arguments in support of area bombing and the intentional targeting of non-combatant civilians. This bizarre argument is utterly unsustainable in both situations should you actually examine it properly.

    Perhaps it would help clarify just why what you are arguing is unacceptable morality to read through Gregory Staunton’s “Ten Stages of Genocide.” Especially, perhaps, number 10:

    “DENIAL is the final stage that lasts throughout and always follows genocide. It is among the surest indicators of further genocidal massacres. The perpetrators of genocide dig up the mass graves, burn the bodies, try to cover up the evidence and intimidate the witnesses. They deny that they committed any crimes, and often blame what happened on the victims. They block investigations of the crimes, and continue to govern until driven from power by force, when they flee into exile.”

    Importantly, what Gregory here highlights is the primary denial that such crimes are crimes at all, that they are something to glory in, where only the culpability of the atrocity is denied, and where 500,000 dead only have themselves to blame. As you say “was not trying to hide anything the papers were full of stories about the Tokyo Fire Raid. Just as the British press celebrated the destruction of Lubeck the Ruhr or Berlin and a host of other cities.” Yes.

  • Gopher

    Admiral Hipper: No conviction for the bombardment of Scarborough, Yarmouth, Whitby and Lowestoft

    Zeppelin Raids : Non Convictions

    Gotha Raids: No Convictions

    Paris Gun: No Convictions

    All First World War and long after Hague 1907

    Between the Wars

    Abyssina: No Conviction even though poison gas was used

    Guernica: No Convictions

    Shanghai: No Convictions

    Bit of a pattern there and suggests your imagining things about Hague 1907.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Of course there is a pattern. Laws exist but were not applied by those in power, as the precedent of doing so would perhaps lead to similar application of such law to their own possible enactments of atrocity in the future. While law certainly existed no objective international tribunal existed to apply that law. This pattern was broken at Nuremburg, although the Nuremburg Principals, the guidelines for evaluating a war crime, were simply not applied equally to the actions of the victors and vanquished. There is a powerful case however, Principal VI, parts B & C clearly applied to the area bombing campaign, and culpability for ordering such actions would have meant that Principal III would have ensured that Churchill, Stalin and Roosevelt should have been tried for crimes against humanity.

    And, to go back to my illustration, the supression of the dossier on Child abuse by MPs by Leon Brittan or the failure by those in key positions who knew of Cyril Smith’s abuse of minors to act does not in any way imply that child abuse is not a crime.

    If you were to read Hague II, 1907 (I’ve given the wording in another comment) you would see that it is clear on these issues and was used at Nuremburg to charge the defeated.

    But one of the many unanswered questions I’d asked you that really require answers could be profitably returned to here. How did the strategy of area bombing differ in any meaningful way from the campaign of of civilian murders carried out by the Ensatzgruppen? Six days ago you blustered:

    “If you can’t tell the difference between invading a country and marching civilians to a forest and shooting them and using all means possible with the caveat of being practical including area bombing to stop them I would argue it is you that has the morality problem.”

    This is simply evasive causality which does not explain why you actually believe them to be in their nature different in either law or morality. In terms of Hague II 1907, of the League of Nations Resolution of 1938, and certainly in the light of the Nurenmburg Principals, I simply cannot see how any targeting of civilains in any bombing campaign is other than a war crime. The failure to apply such law does not negate its authority as law. Argueing that our committing the massive crime of murdering 500,000 non-combitants was necessary to stop another power from committing similar acts is neither logical argument or justification.

  • Gopher

    Right so in case the British or French post world war one were going to build the biggest artillery piece in history and put it seventy miles from some nations capital and fire it indiscriminately sometime in “the future” they did not prosecute anyone in the present for doing so. They also had a time machine that could go forward to the Nurenmburg Trials. I see Leon Brittan finally made into one of your responses on Area Bombing, do you take requests?

    Yup I understand full well why you have difficulty differentiating and the Strategic offensive between the Einsatzkommandos. Perhaps the Einsatzkommandos were telling their victims they were digging an air raid shelter.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Gopher, there is argument and there is evasive abuse. Obviously you are having as much trouble differentiating them as you have finding a moral compass regarding the targeting of civilians.

    Oh dear! It does not require a time machine to go forward to the Nuremburg Trials, as all the arguments against the targeting of civilians in war were clearly aired at the first two Hague conferences, but the great powers simply ignored ratified international law and did as they pleased, and in this, our very own Bastion of Freedom and Human Rights was a prime offender, whose morality on some issues was indistinguishable from the Nazis. Simply stating that we did this because we were the good guys and had God on Our Side in no way addresses this. And after a century long process to define war crimes so carefully that there is little doubt now in most reasonable people’s minds about the utter immorality of attacking non-combatants during a war. Over ten days of exchanges you have offered nothing whatsoever that even begins to discuses the numerous legal and moral points I’ve quoted in postings.

    Read back over my postings and unless you actually have something to contribute other than your simply telling me over and over that Britain was self evidently justified in a policy that was both immoral and illegal, and that bears full comparison with the worst Nazi atrocities, perhaps this might be a good place to end what as regards serious argument has become a very one sided exchange.

  • Gopher

    I have made my moral points clearly.

    From Hansard 1943 I believe Stokes is one of your chaps A Sinclair was a Liberal MP and secretary of State for Air

    HC Deb 31 March 1943 vol 388 c155

    “Mr. Stokes asked the Secretary of State for Air whether on any occasion instructions have been given to British airmen to engage in area bombing rather than limit their attention to purely military targets?”

    Sir A. Sinclair

    “The targets of Bomber Command are always military, but night bombing of military objectives necessarily involves bombing the area in which they are situated”

    Straight forward enough for me absolutely no moral problems, no ambiguity and perfectly legal.

  • Gopher

    They even had the decency to warn the Axis powers

    A. Sinclair. From Hansard

    All practical precautions were taken to avoid damage to
    religious and cultural buildings in Rome. As for the second part of the Question, it has been made clear, by broadcast and leaflets, to all the people in the occupied territories in Germany and Italy that the Allied nations intend to attack from the air all centres working for the Axis war machine. Repeated warnings have been given that any civilians who remain in the vicinity of such centres do so at their own risk. As regards the last part of the Question, I am informed by my right hon.
    Friend the Minister of Information that the B.B.C. Italian programmes have conveyed this information to the Italian people on a number of occasions.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Now, my dear fellow, you are quoting other people’s evasions as well as manufacturing those of your own. It’s generally accepted by even those who still mistakenly support the Area Bombing Strategy that Harris and his teams were intentionally targeting German civilians, something your earlier comments do not even attempt to refute, and even perhaps felt able to boast of.

    “So if Fräulein Hiedi copped a 500lb bomb in Friedrichshafen because there was a tank gearbox factory in the town like one bomber crew expressed it, nope I’m not worried. That my friend is the reality of war and despite your long winded posts perfectly legal and the perfectly moral thing to do to a nation that was dealing death on an industrial scale.”

    After the firestorm effect was discovered during the attack on Hamburg, the future planning of raids undertook the effort to re-create a similar effect, an earlier version of the mass destructiveness of the atom Bomb, as it was the most effective way of killing civilians so far discovered. Aiming sites were also selected to maximise the creep of early bomb dropping back over non-target swathes of civilian housing. No, bombing was not aimed at accepted targets and their immediate “area” but at whole cities and , intentionally, at their inhabitants.

    I’ve quoted Harris’s own words on the targeting of non-combatants above myself, but I could refer you to endless references to similar statements in a range of histories printed over the past seventy years. The Rt Hon Archie Sinclair was quite knowingly lying to the house of Commons, but that’s a very slight culpability to set against his involvement in 500,000 non-combitant deaths caused by the policy he was so infamously defending. Significantly, his comments imply an awareness that the targeting of civilians was entirely against international treaty and that only legitimate sites could legally be targeted.

    What you are in effect offering me is on a par with Goebbels’ evasive comments on the German war effort, or the sort of answer Himmler might have offered if challenged by a particularly altruistic or sensitive party member on the rumours about the death camps. Your faith in this sort of flimsy evasion as some kind of “answer” is increasingly more and more bizarre!

    Oh, “I believe Stokes is one of your chaps”, so perhaps you should check out Major Dick Stokes, MC & Bar’s career:

    His uncle had invented the Stokes Mortar. In common with many other gunners, Dick was keenly aware of the international agreements on bombardment, and was alive to the fact that the area bombing campaign his own country had developed from 1942 was a war crime. Needless to say, he was an active anti-Nazi who had even as a director of Ransomes & Rapier “offered to charge the nation cost price for all his firm’s rearmament work” during the 1930s. Not a bleeding heart, simply a man who believed in moral probity and in his countries honour. You may find it of some interest that he was a member of Labour’s “Friends of Ireland” group. Look it up, perhaps.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Gopher, Gopher, I believe that the quote refers in particular to raids undertaken just before the Armistice of Cassible, when a friendly Italian Government formally removed Italy from the war, while most of Italy continued to be engaged in civil war under German occupation.After the surrender in North Africa the Pope was in negotiation with the US regarding Rome being declared an open city. But under British pressure Rome was several times bombed during these negotiations.

    I quote quite a good summary of this in Wikipedia:

    “Many Americans were against a major destruction of Rome. However, the British War Cabinet refused to see bombing Rome as a crime against human history. The first bombardment occurred on the 19th July 1943 and was carried out by 500 American bombers which dropped 1060 metric ton of bombs. The entire working class San Lorenzo district was destroyed, and 4500 Italian civilians were killed. The military targets were few, the large Stazione Termini contained a marshalling yard and railways and industries that manufactured steel, textile products and glass. Winston Churchill approved the bombardment by the words “I agree, W.S.C. 16.7.43.” ”

    There was another major raid in August. Over the entire seventy-eight days of the campaign “600 aircraft were lost and 3,600 air crew members died”, showing something of the wastefulness of such gesture actions.

    In June Roosevelt stated:

    “Attacks against Italy are limited, to the extent humanly possible, to military objectives. We have not and will not make warfare on civilians or against nonmilitary objectives. In the event it should be found necessary for Allied planes to operate over Rome, our aviators are thoroughly informed as to the location of the Vatican and have been specifically instructed to prevent bombs from falling within Vatican City.”

    So Archie’s comments show that he was simply falling into line behind FDR in this uncharacteristic sensitivity to cultural values. Of course this lapse was more than made up for by the bombed dropped on civilian areas and the deaths of non-combatants, but, due to US policy on targeted bombing, on a very much smaller scale than the attacks Harris organised on German cities. I don’t think Archie is claiming actual British responsibility for any of these decisions regarding the avoidance of sites of cultural importance, and is here essentially recording American led policy. I’d begin in future to check these evasions and fictions from Hansard against some actual history before posting such incriminating evidence if I were you……..

    The leafleting comment while it shows a cynical attempt to loosly meet one stripulation of Hague II 1907, the prohibition on the conscious targeting of non-combatants without immediate notice just before an attack, but such general leafleting ensured that British actions were still in flagrant contravention of even this striipulation’s wording.

    I do not remember any such warnings being offered to the sizable numbers of refugees, principally made up of the elderly, women and children who had retreated to Dresden, then generally considered a safe “Cultural” city, but I believe we’ve already had this arguement some months back.

    None of this kind of posting of isolated details and of Archie Sinclair’s prevarications even begins to confront the simple fact that Britain began the targeting of civilians by ariel bombardment, that this was illegal under ratified treaties (although admittedly there was a reluctance before Nuremburg to apply these laws to anyone) and most importantly, that it reduced a significant portion of our war effort to the moral level of the Nazis’ atrocities in Europe.

    Another aside. I find it strange that you should show in earlier comments on this thread some selective sensitivity about the terrorist murder of civilians locally, but find such behaviour commendable when Britain is historically implicated in the kind of policy that spuriously “authorises” such modern atrocities:

    “So people stopped dying because geniuses recongnized the principle of consent. I’m really losing count of these efforts to edify our secterian murder campaign and those involved in it by the good Father.”

    For myself, the murder of civilians. of anyone, is always something obscene, no matter who carries it out.

  • Gopher

    I dont remember any prevarications. Was Lubeck or Rostock not a warning? Cologne not a warning? surely Hamburg or Kassel should have been interprepted as a warning? Its not as if people did not heed the warning Jeschonnek chief of staff of the Luftwaffe blew his brains out after Bomber Command raided Peenemünde because he knew the writing was on the wall. Hitler got the hint, Himmler became interior minister after Hamburg incase this fabled morale decided to crack handing out 100 death penalties a week for defeatism in 1943. Speer gave him control of factory security because he trusted his workforce so much. I think the Nazi’s got the hint. Himmler even gathered all the Gaulitiers, Industrialists and other notables at Posen to explain what defeat would entail since they had all collectivelly off’ed a couple of million jews. So I would say even Himmler got the hint, after he spoke I think the audience got the hint.

    Closer to home Martin Mutschmann the Nazi leader of Saxony certainly heeded the warning he built a state of the art air raid shelter for himself in Dresden. Nope there were plenty of warnings, the German people just did not heed them.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Prevarications? well yes, you are conspicuously failing to answer any of the actual the points I’m making above where I’m posting the actual wording of international legal agreements and you are ignoring plain statements you may have no answer to and simply stating that what Britain did was completely “moral and legal” without either argument or possible proof to support this. Instead you flood your answers with irrelevant detail, statements that FDR and others could not have committed atrocities because of being who they were and now even mendacious quotes from Hansard.

    But really, what else is open to you! There is no argument that can even begin to support a case for “Moral and Legal” area bombing in the light of the Hague Conventions (1898, 1907), and the unambiguous League of Nations Resolution of 1938 against civilian targeting, or even of the unratified Commission of Jurists Report of 1925 on the 1923 Hague III agreements. Spesifically because Germany had used a loophole (they had not ratified Hague II 1907) to excuse their bombing practice in WWI, Hague III of 1923 had intentionally removed the requirement of ratification, so that, as in modern practice, culpability applied to anyone anywhere who infringed the rules settled at the conference, whether they ratified these terms or not. Both Britain and Germany argued that the other side had contravened the 1925 Hague III Agreements on Aerial Warfare in their bombing activities throughout the early years of the war, each clearly suggesting in this that they regarded the agreements as International Law that could be invoked against the practices of the other. It might help here to be reminded of two of these agreements:

    Article 22: Aerial bombardment for the purpose of terrorizing civilian population, of destroying or damaging private property not of military character, or of injuring non-combatants is prohibited.

    Article 24: i) Aerial bombardment is legitimate only when directed at a military objective. . . .
    ii) Such bombardment is legitimate only when directed exclusively at the following objectives: military forces; military works; military establishments or depots; factories constituting important and well-known centers engaged in the manufacture of arms, ammunition or distinctively military supplies; lines of communication or transportation used for military purposes.
    iii) The bombardment of cities . . . not in the immediate neighborhood of the operations of land forces is prohibited. In cases where the objectives specified in paragraph 2 are so situated, that they cannot be bombarded without the indiscriminate bombardment of the civilian population, the aircraft must abstain from bombardment.
    iv) In the immediate neighborhood of the operations of land forces, the bombardment of cities . . . is legitimate provided that there exists a reasonable presumption that the military concentration is sufficiently important to justify such bombardment, having regard to the danger thus caused to the civilian population.
    v) A belligerent State is liable to pay compensation for injuries . . . caused by the violation . . . of the provisions of this article.

    Your statement “Straight forward enough for me absolutely no moral problems, no ambiguity and perfectly legal” is simply bluster and evasion against such a collection of clear and unambiguous statements that the targeting of civilians by any belligerent was against international law (i.e.: “a war crime”) . Your “answers” are simply the usual response of anyone callously supporting an atrocity, the self-justifying claim that they do not consider it an atrocity, or as you have claimed a few times above, your “side” was justified by necessity in committing their atrocities. Prevarication, exactly!

  • Gopher

    Right so the murder of 6 million is an “irrevelant Detail” I can post the whole transcript from Hansard to avoid claims of mendacity. How many provable leaflet raids and public annoucements to the Axis powers is mendacious. You cant show me one prosecution for the bombing of cities since the dawn of aviation. Ergo it was legal because the caveats relating to first use, industry and the basing of military forces could not stand up to scrutiny with any rules on warfare previously laid down. The British Government specifically state because of changing technology between the wars it was impossible to codify laws for bombing. I think it is you that is callously supporting atrocity, whilst Bomber Command expedited the end of cold blooded murder on an industrial scale. Your arguements are like a cut and paste from crank web sites by the way, in case you did not know.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    In the face of irrefutable proof that the targeting of civilians was a war crime, you appear to simply go into denial mode. International law against carrying out war on civilian populations was not set aside simply because, before the Nuremburg Trials, no prosecution was made. Not applying a law does not make a crime in any sense “legal”. Blustering and claiming that something is legal or necessary does not actually prove that it is. And quoting the whole of Hansard is entirely irrelevant if the quote you are relying on is simply a lie.

    “The British Government specifically state because of changing technology between the wars it was impossible to codify laws for bombing.” Really? I’d think that the killing (or not) of civilians is a pretty straightforward matter. In a technologically more complex world the United Nations has had little trouble in codifying laws on this very issue that would, incidentally, have put FRD and Churchill in the dock alongside Goering.

    And the last “argument” you seemingly can muster in your final sentence is crude personal abuse, an indicator of your unconscious acceptance of defeat here probably. Are Anthony Grayling or Gregory Staunton, the founder of “Genocide watch” “cranks”? Please let me know if what I’m posting above is any different to the arguments they and other honourable moral people are currently making on this issue. Perhaps you should read them first before answering.

    Let me help you. If you are serious about presenting a case in support of area bombing, you really need to read back through our correspondence here and actually convincingly address the arguments I’ve made in some proper detail. Anyone objectively reading the exchange will clearly see that, so far, you are simply blustering, rather than offering serious reasoned argument. If you wish to claim any credibility you need to discover some genuine proof (if such actually exists) that the targeting of civilians was not on a par with the holocaust or even lesser German atrocities, otherwise you are sailing dangerously close to the manner in which Holocaust deniers develop their arguments, blind denial of entirely incontestable facts. It does not work for them and certainly does not work here for you.

  • Gopher

    If it was illegal there were plenty of captured Bomber aircrew to bring criminal charges against. In case you had not noticed they were considered POW’s not criminals. The Nazi’s had no problem issuing the Commisar Order, the Commando Order or even the Severity Order, infact they issued orders against just about everyone except it seems Bomber Crews.

    I think it is you who is sailing in holocaust denying waters

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Gopher, I’ve quoted in great detail over numerous postings those articles of the Hague Conventions, the League of Nations Resolution, and many other irrefutable facts that unequivocally show that the targeting of civilians was illegal. That Governments did not apply these laws to themselves and their actions is no surprise to anyone wise to the ways of the world, but that in no way affects the legal situation. I’d suggest that these agreements and such need to be read perhaps before you attempt to so unthinkingly dismiss them.

    The trajectory of international law over a period of 120 years has increasingly demanded that civilian populations should not be the object of violence in war. If you were to follow the development of this process you would have noted that the Nuremburg Trials mark the moment when any nation was first called to account, using international law. That the victors of WWII did not sit in Judgement on themselves in this situation is morally reprehensible but quite unremarkable in the light of just how cynically all nations (even democracies) behave, but the standards by which they called others to account cannot be ignored by historians when assessing the meaning of actions in war. This is the simple fact I’m trying to explain to you. That you appear unable to grasp this means that you cannot even begin to assemble a logical response, perhaps because there is no way anyone can honestly justify what you are attempting to justify. What confused me here was that you are obviously perfectly capable of perceiving that the bombing campaign during our recent troubles was morally unacceptable, and that many actions of the National Socialists were clearly also morally unacceptable. I’d assumed that you would be able to see that, if you are to be consistent, the same moral evaluations apply even to those whose moral lapses our own inherited versions of history have ignored. Perhaps I’d undervalued the ability of others to insist that their partisan perceptions are licensed to blindside constancy and to put their own sacrosanct “cause” in front of all else. The morality of the blades, “Alles fur Deutschland” and “Meine ehre heist trene……..”

    Odd, after making it perfectly clear that I abhor and reject all atrocity in war, and am consistently arguing here against the murder of non-combatant civilians, to find you quite unjustifiably saying “it is you who is sailing in holocaust denying waters.” Where do you get that from I wonder? Please explain. But the undeniable fact stands that unquestionably it’s your postings that are so stridently attempting to justify the immoral and illegal murder of 500,000 non combatant civilians. I’ll leave it to others perhaps reading here to consider whose comments might logically be thought to be treading in David Irving’s reprehensible footsteps.

  • Gopher

    1 aircrew died for every 10 in your 500,000 figure . If you worked on a V weapon in a factory, making Uboats, Bombers or even in a factory developing Zyklon B you were part of that 500,000 figure. I think a member of the Einsatzkommando once staved his toe on the way to the slaughter pits. You can’t tell the difference. I’m afraid you dont reject all atrocity in war.


  • SeaanUiNeill

    Oh dear Gopher “I’m afraid you dont reject all atrocity in war.”….where, oh where do I “accept” or praise any atrocities in war in anything I’ve said? This is simply another of your entirely unsupported statements designed to bluster across any genuine attempt to elicit reasoned argument on this matter.

    And perhaps even a bit of what my fellow Jungians (I’ve trained a bit in Jungian Psycology) would call “Psycological Projection”.

    “Psychological projection, also known as blame shifting, is a theory in psychology in which humans defend themselves against their own unpleasant impulses by denying their existence while attributing them to others. For example, a person who is rude may constantly accuse other people of being rude.” (Wikipedia)

    The area bombing campaign is not, it never can be, a numbers game nor should it be reduced to whataboutery in this manner. It was and is a moral and legal issue. The targeting of civilians during the war can be judged to be a war crime, as all my references in postings above clearly testify.

    And incidentally, my smidgen of Jewish blood (from my father’s marriage to an American after a war-time romance) is one of the very things that makes me readily question what you are still attempting to justify. The (literal) British Holocaust of area bombing is simply something no thinking moral person could ever even begin to argue support for. A sensitive awareness of the genuinely chilling implications for each and every one of us of anyone, anywhere blandly arguing that 500,000 non-combatant dead is in any way ever an acceptable act of war makes it impossible for me to cut you any slack on what may simply be a lapse into poor taste.

    Historians have come to use the term “denial” to clearly distinguish the views and methodology of Holocaust deniers from the researches of legitimate historical revisionists, who challenge orthodox but questionable interpretations of history employing established historical methodologies. This necessitates undertaking the careful interrogation of popularly accepted interpretations of events such as the area bombing campaign to cut away the dead wood of unexamined misconceptions. To follow, as you are doing, the methodology of the “deniers” and refuse to discuss the real issues does not add to our collective understanding of these things in any way.

    It is perhaps important for you to re-read the discussion fully and to recognise what you have been doing all along is simply denying quite straightforward evidence by evasions and distractions such as the number comparison that your last posting starts with. Such undigested material does not even begin to properly answer the central issue that “those articles of the Hague Conventions, the League of Nations Resolution, and many other irrefutable facts…… unequivocally show that the targeting of civilians was illegal”.

  • Gopher

    By anything except airpower as I have proved as no agreement was ratified and no prosecutions were made simply because so many of the workforce were engaged in war production and cities were defended. This was argued as far back 1916. You made a few other howlers with gambits on precision bombing and Norden bomb sight without any understanding. Oil was another rookie mistake by the way. The USAAF good RAF bad was also fun till you had to change tack. You forget about Tokyo and Berlin? The largest daylight area raid of the war was after all on Berlin and the small matter of two A bombs? The Merlin engine in the Mustang never ceases to amuse me. “War is Hell” as Sherman said, best not making it.

    If anyone can follow your arguement they will realiase how important pedophiles and family history is when one contemplates the Combined Bomber Offensive and how vital cut and paste is to the understanding of it. Me I was dead against the offensive until I visited the bombed cities then it kinda clicked I was wrong, Harris was right.

  • SeaanUiNeill

    The targeting of civilians by bombradment was simply illegal not excepting airpower. You are forgetting the League of nations resolution which says nothing about defended places. You accept bombardment of civilians was illegal “By anything except airpower as I have proved as no agreement was ratified and no prosecutions were made” but I’ve already answered this above. So just another instance of employing evasion and misdirection to cover the fact you have no answer. But there can be no answer from your stance to “those articles of the Hague Conventions, the League of Nations Resolution, and many other irrefutable facts…… unequivocally show that the targeting of civilians was illegal”.

    “Cut and Paste”, Gopher. As you obviously had not read the treaties (and still haven’t, as far as I can see from your answer above) I set them down “cut and paste” for yourself and others to see the incontrovertable evidence. Its called proving a point and means taht others can follow an arguement without having to take time to look up books, that is if they acre to answer rather than evade. It trumps simple bluster every time. And yes, some of us have been thinking about these things from childhood, following the arguemnets both of men who actually flew and were repelled by what they’d done, and others who had some understanding of the Hague Conventions as “end users” of their safeguards during the Great War. Yes, “family history”, where do you think history comes from other than from the memories of those who actually experienced events? Living opinions, tempered by my reading and my historical training, not half-baked opinions formed from a third hand experience of these things simply from popular books alone. And this is why the human experience of those who acted and suffered is what I can never forget as the true source of these things. Real history is not abstract figures but an engagement with others, many long deada nd without a vioce other than through the agency of concerned historians.

    The precision arguement still stands (as it will for anyone who reads the proper research rather than relying on internet comedy for their information) and points I was making with the difference in the US policy in 1943/4 were broad rather than highly detailed comments. To unpack that one I’d have needed about 12,000 words, and you were alraedy complaining about the strain of long posts, which seems to have put you off actually reading them.

    But I fully realise that without other recourse when faced with the illegality of what occured and the conivance of governments in ignoring this (another case of my Cyril Smith, etc, illustration) all you can do is simply revert to the tried and trusted technique, like the late Lord Bannside, of simply saying “NO”, a tactic rather than an answer. I’d recommended you read back over everything for your own sake, so that you could see just how much weaker your failure to seriously address things looked with every misdirection and evasion, and perhaps actually try and formaulate an answer. But I can see that you are unable to even begin to answer with anything more than a very nervious laugh.

  • Gopher

    The all Axis bombing attacks good Allied bombing attacks bad arguement is amusing. Feel to write another 10 paragraphs explaining that one. I’ll give you a clue the Germans used incendaries during the Blitz. Were they good incendaries or bad incendaries? Legal incendaries or illegal ones?

  • SeaanUiNeill

    Gopher, if you had perhaps actually read my posts instead of commenting “sight unseen” you would have seen that I am opposed to ALL targeting of civilains. What I said (sommething most authorities agree with me on) is that German bombing POLICY was (in common with Britain’s policy in that period), to conform to the unratified agreements which most accurately reflected world legal opinion on the morality of bombing and to avoid the targeting of civilains. That the Germans were looking for grey areas with teh spurious excuse that incenduries were needed to ensure destruction of military targets, does not free them of rseponsibility for civilian deaths. But it is imporatnt to fully realse that it was a major shift in British policy that finally dropped any attempt to hold to this policy and to begin the specific targeting of civilian populations with area bombing in the course of the war. Germany quickly followed their example, and in the last year of the war, even the United States followed, also.

    If you’d reviewed our comments properly, perhaps the fact that you appear to be the one seemingly proposing a concept of “good” bombing would have inhibited you from attempting such a bizarre misrepresentation. Please remember that others visiting the site can read what has been said for themselves.