Biography Of An Arsehole

Discussion in 'WW2 General' started by Maestro, Apr 18, 2007.

  1. Maestro

    Maestro Active Member

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    Greetings ladies and gentlemen.

    After watching a documentary about the SS massacre of Canadian soldiers near Caen in 1944 the other day, a name remained in my mind : Kurt Meyer. I decided to search for more information on him and guess what ? That guy was Court-Martialled, sentenced to death, then the sentence was switched to life prison, and he was then released in 1954...

    Here is his biography on Wikipedia :
    Kurt Meyer (Panzermeyer) - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

    Feel free to add biographies of other WWII criminals to this thread, if you want to.
     
  2. plan_D

    plan_D Active Member

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    If Kurt Meyer is an arsehole for his apparent massacre of Canadian troops; then all Allied soldiers who refused to take prisoners are arseholes. Are you forgetting that Allied airborne troops rarely took prisoners in Normandy?

    Kurt Meyer was a remarkable commander, great skill and bravery...it was commander that the Allies were often lacking.
     
  3. Civettone

    Civettone Active Member

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    I agree Plan_D.
    Also made me think of Joachim Peiper who was also ordered to death.

    At age 29 Peiper was a full colonel of the Waffen-SS, well respected and a holder of one of wartime Germany's highest decorations, the Knight's Cross with Swords personally awarded to him by Adolf Hitler.

    Peiper was a skilled combat leader and took part in a number of major battles of the war. His men were fiercely loyal to him, and he was regarded by many as a "charismatic leader." Peiper participated in several major battles including the two battles for Kharkov and the Kursk offensive of 1943. On the East front Peiper and his men got among the German army a reputation of merciless soldiers since they had burned several Russian villages and killed their inhabitants; earning them the epithet the 'Blowtorch Battalion,' although Peiper claimed this to be fraudulent and that the 'blowtorch' nickname arose from its usage as a tool to unfreeze vehicles in the winter campaigns.

    Most notably, he commanded the Kampfgruppe Peiper of the LSSAH (assigned to the 6th SS Panzer Armee under Sepp Dietrich) during Operation Wacht am Rhein (Battle of the Bulge). Kampfgruppe Peiper advanced to the town of La Gleize, Belgium, before running out of fuel and coming under heavy fire from American artillery and tanks. Peiper was forced to abandon over a hundred vehicles in the town, including six Tiger II tanks, and made his way back to German lines with 800 men on foot.

    During its move from Lanzerath, Belgium to La Gleize, the Kampfgruppe Peiper killed American POWs at several places, the most notable being the Malmedy massacre. Moreover, in the area of Stavelot, more than 80 Belgian civilians (including women and children) were killed by units under Peiper’s command.


    After the end of World War II, Peiper and other members of the Waffen-SS were tried for war crimes in the Malmedy massacre trial. Peiper volunteered to take all the blame if the court would set his men free: the court refused. Peiper was found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging, as were many of his men. Peiper later requested that his men be shot by firing squad and was denied.

    After the trial, the sentences created a big turmoil in some German circles, including the Churches, leading the commander of the US army in Germany to commute some of the death sentences in life imprisonment. The main reason for that, however, were probably the protests of the Germans' defense attorney in the case, that is American military attorney Lt. Col. Willis M. Everett, who petitioned US Supreme Court claiming that defendants were found guilty on the ground of "illegal and fraudulently procured confessions" and were subjects of a mock trial. His claims raged a big scandal. This turmoil would soon be relayed in the United States where the Senate would eventually investigate the case.

    In its investigation of the trial, the Senate’s Subcommittee of Committee on armed services came to the conclusion that improper pre-trial procedures (including mock trial, but not torture as sometime stated) had harmed the process and, although in some cases there was little or no doubt that the accused were indeed guilty of the massacre, the death sentences could hardly be applied.

    At the end, the sentences of the Malmedy defendants were commuted to life and then to time served, and Peiper was released on parole from prison at the end of December 1956, after serving 11 and a half years.

    Peiper has also been accused of, but never prosecuted for, the Boves Massacre. In 1968 the German Minister of Justice declared that there was no reason to prosecute Peiper, and the case was dismissed on December 23, 1968.

    After release Peiper eventually went to live in Traves, Haute-Saône, France, and supported himself as a translator. Following explicit death threats, Peiper was murdered in a fire bomb attack on his house on July 13, 1976. The attackers were never prosecuted, but were suspected to be former French Résistants.


    Kris
     
  4. timshatz

    timshatz Active Member

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    Read they also found an empty rifle next to Piper. And when the fire company came to put out the fire, all their hoses were cut. House burned, Piper burned, end of story.
     
  5. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    Interesting last bit I did not know about.
     
  6. amrit

    amrit Member

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    Peiper seems to divide a lot of people. There's an excellent discussion on whether he was or wasn't a war criminal at:

    Axis History Forum :: SS Colonel Peiper involved personally in one war Crime?

    And the there were also rumours/investigation into the possibility that Mossad had a hand in his death. I remember discussing that on another forum, and will try to find the reference for it later.
     
  7. timshatz

    timshatz Active Member

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    In some ways, he was a tough guy to pin down. In others, he was obviously indifferent to killing anyone who got in his way (prisoners, civilians, ect). He really earned his stripes on the Eastern Front. There, the war was about as close to a war of extermination as is humanly possible. War of the Ants I've heard it called. Killing prisoners on both sides was SOP. Somewhat the same as the Allied-Japanese war in the Pacific.

    Piper is most remembered for the Malmedy Massacre and to a lesser extent for numerous civilians he killed during the same period. His actions would've been commonplace in the East, but they were War Crimes in the West. While there is some evidence (depends on who you read) he didn't know the massacres had happened, he was responsible just the same in that his men did them and he created an atmosphere where such events were acceptable or at least tolerated.

    His death was no accident. But, I don't think anybody really missed him.
     
  8. Civettone

    Civettone Active Member

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    Perhaps it's a war crime when the executions are ordered without a military significance. I can understand that there are instances where one cannot take prisoners without jeopardizing the operation. I can also understand that soldiers shoot prisoners out of revenge or the stress of battle, that I can also understand. But if that last bit is ordered from higher up, than it's a war crime.

    As to the soldiers who committed them, that is really a difficult issue. At the end of the war, they were pretty much left alone as it would have meant mass persecutions.
    Kris
     
  9. Maestro

    Maestro Active Member

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    There is difference between not taking prisoniers (killing them as they surrender) and taking prisoners to question them and then execute them. That's what Meyer did.

    Abbaye d'Ardenne - Veterans Affairs Canada

    I never said he was not a good tactician, I said he was an arsehole.
     
  10. Civettone

    Civettone Active Member

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    Just one more question about Meyer. Did the tactical situation force him to shoot these captives or could he easily have taken transferred them to become PoW without jeopordising his mission? If that last bit is the truth, then Meyer was a war criminal. No doubt about it!

    Kris
     
  11. Maestro

    Maestro Active Member

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    Well, I once met a veteran who was captured in Normandy shortly after D-Day. He was brought to the German POW camp "Stalag 12 A" near Cherbourg. So I bet the only diference between him and our poor North Nova Scotia Highlanders/Sherbrooke Fusiliers troops were the fact that he was lucky enough to not fall in SS hands.
     
  12. timshatz

    timshatz Active Member

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    That was actually a problem the Allies faced at the War Trials. At what point does the responsibility of a criminal regime (and the Nazis were considered one) end. There was considerable talk about jailing all of the SS. Stalin suggested shooting 50,000 officers (Roosevelt passed it off as a joke, Churchill didn't think it was funny). It was (and still is) a big problem. Who is guilty when war crimes occur?

    The line that seems to be taken is that those who commit the crimes and their direct superiours are to blame. It can go as high as the leader of the nation and as low as the trigger puller. But there is a direct line, much as there is in any military formation.

    It is an interesting question and one that doubtless be revisited with every genocide/massacre that comes along.
     
  13. Lucky13

    Lucky13 Forum Mascot

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    1943 Canicatti Sicily slaughter, US Troops kill 12 unarmed civilians at a soap factory.
    1943 Biscari Sicily massacre US Troops massacre 76 German and Italian POWs.
    1945 Chenogne Belgium massacre. In reprisal for the Malmedy massacre, sixty German soldiers are executed by a unit of the U.S. 11th Armored Division outside the town of Chenogne.

    List of massacres - Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia Not a very pleasant read folks... We've been going at it for centuries.
     
  14. DerAdlerIstGelandet

    DerAdlerIstGelandet Der Crew Chief
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    All sides committed crimes during the war. It happens in all wars. Not justifiying anyone who did it because I dont stand for war crimes.
     
  15. Lucky13

    Lucky13 Forum Mascot

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    I agree with you Adler. There's probably still some that we haven't found out yet me thinks....
     
  16. Maestro

    Maestro Active Member

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    May be. Continental Europe is a huge territory... And there is still plenty of MIA soldiers. So who knows ?
     
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