Postwar Germany

Oct 2008
147
#1
What happened to all the Nazis after WWII? I know that the Nuremberg Trial convicted and hanged the leading Nazis, but what about all the millions of others? Did they get away with their crimes?
 

Nick

Historum Emeritas
Jul 2006
6,111
UK
#2
Unfortunately a lot of them did. Scientists were taken in by the US and Russia to research new weapons. The Catholic church helped many Nazis escape justice by sheltering them. After that they'd go on to Spain or South America where they were untouchable: Peron was an admirer of Hitler and Argentina has a large German community.
Lower-ranking war criminals like Klaus Barbie created a new identity for themselves to evade punishment.
 
Nov 2008
639
Melbourne, Australia
#3
I wouldn't have thought that there were "millions" of German war criminals. I see no real reason to suppose that in the regular army, there would have been many more war crimes than any other nation. The Allied armies did their fair share of massacring and raping - especially the Red Army.
Does one classify as a war criminal a soldier acting upon the enforced orders of a senior officer?
 

Lucius

Forum Staff
Jan 2007
16,363
Nebraska
#4
What happened to all the Nazis after WWII? I know that the Nuremberg Trial convicted and hanged the leading Nazis, but what about all the millions of others? Did they get away with their crimes?
sammy,

See -

[ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Die_Spinne"]Die Spinne - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia[/ame]

[ame="http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Otto_Skorzeny"]Otto Skorzeny - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia[/ame]

Also, Skorzeny, Hitler's Commando by Glenn B Infield is a good read if you can find it.
 

Belisarius

Forum Staff
Jun 2006
10,359
U.K.
#5
Does one classify as a war criminal a soldier acting upon the enforced orders of a senior officer?
Yes. It takes away the "I was only obeying orders" defence. The US introduced this into 'international law' but it's one reason the USA refuses to be a part of the war crimes process now.
 
Jun 2008
1,236
United Kingdom
#6
It's one of the gravest examples of double standards that some of these 'men' were excused following their crimes if they helped out the Allies. The leader of Unit 731 (his name escapes me) was responsible for some of the worst war crimes of the 20th Century, yet the information he provided to the US about chemical warfare ensured his impunity. The same goes for some Nazi officials who leaked information. It's just disgusting. Letting these men off was easily one of the most abhorrent actions by the Allies during the war.
 
Nov 2008
639
Melbourne, Australia
#8
The same double standards could be said of the Allied forces. The vileness of the Axis war effort obscured the war crimes of the Allies. The victors were practically immune. Everyone seemed to accept that, from the Allied perspective, anything was acceptable in the battle with the Reich.
 

Belisarius

Forum Staff
Jun 2006
10,359
U.K.
#9
I'm not convinced it was a good idea to create a "War Crime" as such. I subscribe to Churchill's view, which was "take out the back and shoot them".