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Nuremberg - were they Wrong to execute the Nazi soldiers?

Old 09-06-10, 11:32 PM
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Nuremberg - were they Wrong to execute the Nazi soldiers?

I don't mean to sound "insensitive" or to be a "complete jerk," although that's what I'm putting myself out there as, with such a question.

Now I'm not questioning the executions of the Officers - Hitler himself, or the Generals, et al. They were the brains behind the atrocities. No, I'm just talking about the grunts, the privates, the sergeants....the guys who "had to follow orders or else they'd get shot in the head for insobordination."

Let's put it this way - you're in a war, and you're just a lowly Corporal, and General MacArthur tells you to guard that shower stall and make sure no inmates escape, or else it'll be your ass. What are you gonna do, tell the General that you think it's wrong? Hell no, you're gonna secure that shower stall, and you're gonna make sure you do the best job you can - to save your own chicken neck.

Like that story The Reader with Kate Winslet. She gets thrown in the clink years after the war for "war crimes," meanwhile, as she protested at her trial, she was just doing what she was told to do! Should the Tribunal really prosecute foot soldiers?! Was that right? What the Nazis did was WRONG - duh, ya know!? - but in and of itself, it was a war, and the Officers told the grunts "what to do, and they did it."

Does anybody else see this as just a Buttmunker moment, or as something else? It was great that Nuremberg rounded up that fat bastard who wound up committing suicide by poison. Terrific! But I think i was just an excuse for more bloodshed and horror to prosecute mere soldiers.
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Old 09-06-10, 11:37 PM
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Re: Nuremberg - were they Wrong to execute the Nazi soldiers?

fatso = Hermann Goring, who held the rank of Reichsmarschall (which was a very big deal, so I hear).
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Old 09-07-10, 12:06 AM
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Re: Nuremberg - were they Wrong to execute the Nazi soldiers?

The Nazi officials who were tried and executed at Nuremberg were not, for the most part, "foot soldiers." They were high ranking officials in the Nazi party.

Most of the Nazis who WERE rank and file that wound up executed were people like Irma Grese, a concentration camp guard whose brutality and cruelty were well known to many people.

So no, I don't think it was wrong to execute Nazi soldiers.
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Old 09-07-10, 12:12 AM
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Re: Nuremberg - were they Wrong to execute the Nazi soldiers?

P.S. A friend of mine whose father served in the Army says he was one of the soldiers who liberated Bergen-Belsen. He was very reluctant to talk about what he saw there, but he did remember that he and his buddies were so disgusted that they wanted to kill every Nazi they saw. They were expressly forbidden to lay a hand on any guards, however, and found it quite ironic that these people who had helped to wipe out almost all the Jews on the continent of Europe were to be treated with fairness and justice. Although he knew it was right, he never forgot the visceral fury he felt seeing what they had wrought.
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Old 09-07-10, 12:20 AM
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Re: Nuremberg - were they Wrong to execute the Nazi soldiers?

Maybe the point is that by creating a system of international laws and jurisprudence that makes possible the punishment of anyone for just following orders, it is a warning to all people not to let their society's reach such a state.

A Nazi soldier who explains his participation in an atrocity by claiming that he was just doing what he was told has to also accept responsibility for his role in letting people who would give such orders come to power in the first place.
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Old 09-07-10, 12:39 AM
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Re: Nuremberg - were they Wrong to execute the Nazi soldiers?

Originally Posted by Count Dooku View Post
Maybe the point is that by creating a system of international laws and jurisprudence that makes possible the punishment of anyone for just following orders, it is a warning to all people not to let their society's reach such a state.

A Nazi soldier who explains his participation in an atrocity by claiming that he was just doing what he was told has to also accept responsibility for his role in letting people who would give such orders come to power in the first place.
Don't blame me, I voted for Kodos.
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Old 09-07-10, 12:50 AM
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Re: Nuremberg - were they Wrong to execute the Nazi soldiers?

Originally Posted by kvrdave View Post
Don't blame me, I voted for Kodos.
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Old 09-07-10, 01:30 AM
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Re: Nuremberg - were they Wrong to execute the Nazi soldiers?

Originally Posted by Buttmunker View Post
Now I'm not questioning the executions of the Officers - Hitler himself, or the Generals, et al. They were the brains behind the atrocities. No, I'm just talking about the grunts, the privates, the sergeants....the guys who "had to follow orders or else they'd get shot in the head for insobordination."
Who do you think was tried at Nuremberg? 22 people were put on trial. 12 were sentenced to death. These were people like government ministers and Gauleiters (Nazi party heads). The grunts, privates, and sergeants never got near Nuremberg.
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Old 09-07-10, 02:01 AM
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Re: Nuremberg - were they Wrong to execute the Nazi soldiers?

There were trials all over Europe, run by various countries, charging people of all ranks with war crimes; as far as the US is concerned, some of the post war trials aren't pretty in retrospect - Tokyo Rose was sent to prison and General Yamashita executed.
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Old 09-07-10, 04:00 AM
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Re: Nuremberg - were they Wrong to execute the Nazi soldiers?

Originally Posted by Buttmunker View Post
I don't mean to sound "insensitive" or to be a "complete jerk," although that's what I'm putting myself out there as, with such a question.

Now I'm not questioning the executions of the Officers - Hitler himself, or the Generals, et al. They were the brains behind the atrocities. No, I'm just talking about the grunts, the privates, the sergeants....the guys who "had to follow orders or else they'd get shot in the head for insobordination."

Let's put it this way - you're in a war, and you're just a lowly Corporal, and General MacArthur tells you to guard that shower stall and make sure no inmates escape, or else it'll be your ass. What are you gonna do, tell the General that you think it's wrong? Hell no, you're gonna secure that shower stall, and you're gonna make sure you do the best job you can - to save your own chicken neck.

Like that story The Reader with Kate Winslet. She gets thrown in the clink years after the war for "war crimes," meanwhile, as she protested at her trial, she was just doing what she was told to do! Should the Tribunal really prosecute foot soldiers?! Was that right? What the Nazis did was WRONG - duh, ya know!? - but in and of itself, it was a war, and the Officers told the grunts "what to do, and they did it."

Does anybody else see this as just a Buttmunker moment, or as something else? It was great that Nuremberg rounded up that fat bastard who wound up committing suicide by poison. Terrific! But I think i was just an excuse for more bloodshed and horror to prosecute mere soldiers.
Have you seen the photos from the liberation of the concentration camps? The things that were going on there were some of the worst atrocities in the world. And these weren't enemy soldiers (who probably would have been treated better). These were German citizens, French citizens, Polish citizens. Women, children, families. "I was just following orders" doesn't cut it.

Think of the outrage that happened when the Guantanamo Bay photos came out. Now imagine that the photos were of piles of corpses, some burned, some starved to death, some frozen by harsh winter conditions. Would you have much sympathy for the people who allowed that to happen, regardless of what orders they had?
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Old 09-07-10, 04:20 AM
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Re: Nuremberg - were they Wrong to execute the Nazi soldiers?

Originally Posted by Buttmunker View Post
Now I'm not questioning the executions of the Officers - Hitler himself, or the Generals, et al.
I'd like to point out that Hitler was not tried or executed at Nuremberg, or anywhere else for that matter.

Originally Posted by JasonF View Post
Who do you think was tried at Nuremberg? 22 people were put on trial. 12 were sentenced to death. These were people like government ministers and Gauleiters (Nazi party heads). The grunts, privates, and sergeants never got near Nuremberg.
Exactly. A quick trip over to Wikipedia would have tipped off the OP to the flaw in his thesis.
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Old 09-07-10, 05:34 AM
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Re: Nuremberg - were they Wrong to execute the Nazi soldiers?

Just as elections have consequences...............
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Old 09-07-10, 09:03 AM
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Re: Nuremberg - were they Wrong to execute the Nazi soldiers?

Nuremberg did try many of the surviving generals (and I know Hitler killed himself, I was just lumping him in with the high ranking officers), but also tried others who weren't officers - doctors, judges. And I was just using "Nuremberg" as an "example."

Let's say we had lost the war - WWII, WWI, whatever - and some country wanted to prosecute Americans for their actions in said war? Once the war is over, it's over. I'm a wee Private First Class in the Marines, and I was told to do this or do that by General Patton himself - or risk death or life imprisonment at Leavenworth. So I do it - whatever it is. Fortunes of war (and I know the Concentration Camps were deplorable, but that doesn't make it any less a duty, if I'm told to do something from my superior).

Then you want to execute me 15 years after the war for doing what I was told to do in war?

There's a plaque hung at Ft. Schuyler in The Bronx that says that a good soldier must follow orders in the heat of battle....by a famous general, and I wish I could find it online, but maybe someone else can. It applies.
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Old 09-07-10, 09:10 AM
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Re: Nuremberg - were they Wrong to execute the Nazi soldiers?

Originally Posted by Suprmallet View Post
Have you seen the photos from the liberation of the concentration camps? The things that were going on there were some of the worst atrocities in the world. And these weren't enemy soldiers (who probably would have been treated better). These were German citizens, French citizens, Polish citizens. Women, children, families. "I was just following orders" doesn't cut it.

Think of the outrage that happened when the Guantanamo Bay photos came out. Now imagine that the photos were of piles of corpses, some burned, some starved to death, some frozen by harsh winter conditions. Would you have much sympathy for the people who allowed that to happen, regardless of what orders they had?
Following orders is one thing. Participating in what actually occurred in these places is quite another. These soldiers had alternatives. More alternatives than the inmates.
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Old 09-07-10, 09:22 AM
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Re: Nuremberg - were they Wrong to execute the Nazi soldiers?

Originally Posted by CRM114 View Post
Following orders is one thing. Participating in what actually occurred in these places is quite another. These soldiers had alternatives. More alternatives than the inmates.
What choices? Defecting, getting caught, and thrown in with them? Or allowing them to escape, then getting shot? Or running to Adolph Hitler and explaining to him what he was doing was wrong, or maybe to that sensible fellow name of Goebbels? Or maybe just by shooting yourself in the head, get it over with?

I don't have sympathy for the officers, but the soldiers were trapped.
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Old 09-07-10, 09:37 AM
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Re: Nuremberg - were they Wrong to execute the Nazi soldiers?

Jodl was accused of conspiracy to commit crimes against peace; planning, initiating and waging wars of aggression; war crimes; and crimes against humanity. The principal charges against him related to his signature of the Commando Order and the Commissar Order, both of which ordered that certain prisoners were to be summarily executed.

Have any American generals done about the same thing?
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Old 09-07-10, 09:37 AM
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Re: Nuremberg - were they Wrong to execute the Nazi soldiers?

I don't think it was a refusal=death situation. Yes, participation was by far the easiest way out.
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Old 09-07-10, 09:39 AM
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Re: Nuremberg - were they Wrong to execute the Nazi soldiers?

Originally Posted by classicman2 View Post
Jodl was accused of conspiracy to commit crimes against peace; planning, initiating and waging wars of aggression; war crimes; and crimes against humanity. The principal charges against him related to his signature of the Commando Order and the Commissar Order, both of which ordered that certain prisoners were to be summarily executed.

Have any American generals done about the same thing?
No, but MacArthur was "dismissed" for inappropriate (or insubordinate) behavior. Who's Jodl?
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Old 09-07-10, 09:41 AM
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Re: Nuremberg - were they Wrong to execute the Nazi soldiers?

Originally Posted by CRM114 View Post
I don't think it was a refusal=death situation.
You don't? You think there was, um, compassion for a disobedient soldier? "Oh, so you don't want to shoot this poor little jew? Okay, Corporal, we'll just let Oskar do it, he won't mind. You can go home to your mother, Corporal."
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Old 09-07-10, 09:46 AM
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Re: Nuremberg - were they Wrong to execute the Nazi soldiers?

Originally Posted by Buttmunker View Post
No, but MacArthur was "dismissed" for inappropriate (or insubordinate) behavior. Who's Jodl?
He as a German Field Marshall. I believe at one time he was in charge of the
'Warsaw operation.'

He may have been in charge of the homeland guard toward the end. He surrendered all German troops to Eisenhower.
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Old 09-07-10, 09:55 AM
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Re: Nuremberg - were they Wrong to execute the Nazi soldiers?

Hell, the Russians committed as many atrocities in Poland as the Germans did.
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Old 09-07-10, 09:59 AM
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Re: Nuremberg - were they Wrong to execute the Nazi soldiers?

Originally Posted by classicman2 View Post
He as a German Field Marshall. I believe at one time he was in charge of the
'Warsaw operation.'
You may be thinking of Jürgen Stroop or Erich von dem Bach-Zelewski for Warsaw.

Jodl signed the "Commisar Order".

Last edited by Nazgul; 09-07-10 at 10:22 AM.
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Old 09-07-10, 10:06 AM
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Re: Nuremberg - were they Wrong to execute the Nazi soldiers?

Jodl's last position: Chief of the Operations Staff of the Armed Forces High Command (Oberkommando der Wehrmacht, or OKW)
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Old 09-07-10, 10:17 AM
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Re: Nuremberg - were they Wrong to execute the Nazi soldiers?

(someone wrote this, so I'm adding it here ------> In addition there have been plenty of movies where soldiers, one in Austria that I can recall, were visited by Nazi officials stating they must join their army. Whether the soldier agreed to or not it was required by them to join their cause after the country was taken over.

Silly or not, but I'm taking this information from the movie, "The Sound of Music".
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Old 09-07-10, 10:47 AM
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Re: Nuremberg - were they Wrong to execute the Nazi soldiers?

Bear in mind, they didn't just send random soldiers to the death camps and expect them to obey orders. These guys were carefully screened.
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