7 Comments

  1. George Avery

    Generaloberst Johannes Blaskowitz , commander of the German 8th Army, refused to allow his troops to participate in atrocities in Poland in 1939, interfered with SS Sonderkommandos carrying them out, and wrote written protests documenting the atrocities and protesting against them. He was relieved of command by Hitler for his “childish” “Salvation Army” attitudes. Recalled to duty in January, 1945, he was placed in command of Army Group H, where he cooperated with allied commanders to end the famine in the Netherlands.

    A number of Red Army officers intervened to protect German women from rape in the aftermath of the Battle of Berlin.

    In April, 1945 at Niedersdorf, Austria, German Heeres soldiers freed 139 “high value” prisoners (including a former French PM, a former Hungarian PM, members of the Stauffenberg family, a former Austrian Chancellor, etc) from SS troops who had orders from Himmler to execute them rather than allow them to fall into allied hands. Heeres Oberst Bogslaw von Bonin contacted General Karl Rottinger and SS-Gruppenfuhrer Karl Wolff, who ordered a Heeres unit under Hauptman Wichard von Alvesleben to secure and protect the prisoners for return to the Allies.

    Likewise, Heeres Major Josef Gangl and SS-Hauptsturmfuhrer risked their lives to notify the US of senior French politicians imprisoned at Schoss Itter in Austria, then led 10 German troops in fighting alongside a small US force under Captain Jack Lee as well as French General Maurice Gamelin and former French PM Paul Reynaud to defend them against a small kampfgruppe from the 17 SS Panzergrenadierdivision “Gotz von Berlingen” that had orders to seize the castle and execute the prisoners. The fight, detailed in Harding’s “The Last Battle,” occurred in the first week of May, 1945.

    At Sand Creek, Colorado in November, 1864, Captain Silas Soule and Lt Joseph Kramer of the 1st Colorado Regiment refused direct orders from Col Chivington to engage in the massacre against Black Kettle’s peaceful Cheyenne followers, and held their companies out of the action. The regular army commander at the adjacent Fort Lyons also attempted to interfere, and was rebuffed by Chivington (who outranked him), but held the regular troops out of the massacre.

    • Bookscrounger

      Good comments, thanks. I was unaware of most of this. All of these were heroic actions, and it seems they were all officers collaborating with civilians and enemy armies. I’m wondering if any of them physically put themselves between advancing troops and foreign civilians. And do you know if anyone before the modern period (which we can say started 200 years ago?) did that? Thanks again.

  2. SteveK

    Followed your link on The Moderate Voice and I’m glad I did.
    Excellent article, thank you… I’ll be back.

  3. Robin T.

    Nice article, Joe. But I am troubled somewhat. What is your definition of “liberal”? Of “conservative”? Of “moral”?

    • Bookscrounger

      Excellent questions. We have been talking about Conservative & Liberal a lot here; but the basic idea is that conservative, to conserve, is do it the way it has been done, which is most of what we do in life. Liberal, to be free, means to be free to try new things which, in order to remain competitive as the world rapidly changes, is essential but risky.

      Despite what partisans say, it’s not one or the other, it’s both. For instance, the most staunch conservative today will be quite liberal about, say, technical or economic innovations within the free market. That may seem fatuous, but in the past, and even today in some parts of the world, conservatives do not tolerate such things. At the far extreme, we looked at the modern Bakhtiari nomads, who are completely conservative, who have changed almost nothing in thousands of years.

      Moral is trickier. But let us say that it is the strategy that moves the most people forward, and hurts the fewest. Here I will say something that will surprise some of my friends: compassion in warfare in millennia past was liberal, reckless, and immoral. That assertion requires explanations that I will not get to for a few years. And I should note that I don’t like my conclusions, it’s just that the practicalities are pretty clear. Awful, but clear.

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