Allied War Crimes

I had a question for out of the foxholes. It is well known that the Germans, Japanese, and Soviets committed war crimes of unprecedented levels on the nations they subjugated. However, I was wondering to what extend, if any, would Allied War Crimes be covered. I know that many people, especially in the US, with the greatest generation myth, like to ignore war crimes, downplay the events, or just plain lie about them. But I feel like events, such as the mass rape in England, the execution of axis pows, like the Biscari Massacre, Lippach Massacre, and the after events of the Malmedy Massacre, which were ordered by General Raymond Hufft, should be covered and exposed. I would also hope that Soviet war crimes against axis civilians will be talked about, as it is well known by anecdotal evidence, that millions of women were raped by soviet soldiers during the invasion into Germany at the end of the war. So I guess my full question is, will such things be talked about, at least on the War Against Humanity?


This is a very thought provoking question.

One of the reasons why we hear so little of allied atrocities is something we were taught in school and I whole heartedly believe and that is “The victors will always write history in their favour”

That has a whole lot of truth to it. Also the governments and militaries of the day also wanted their soldiers viewed in a positive light so many atrocities were intentionally buried so as not to disturb the civilian populace not only at home but in occupied territories and the victorious armies wanted people to see them positively.

In the case of Canada there are multiple accounts of killing unarmed German soldiers usually as revenge killings for what were done to unarmed Canadian POWs.
There are also multiple accounts of raping, looting and killing of civilians of all stripes.
Add to that the liberation of the death camps left little room for compassion of the German guards.

Some of the above listed I was taught in school others I learned throughout the years but it was rarely reported or written about.

No military was innocent and often turned blind eyes or quietly made the issue disappear. War is not kind and war is hell.


The fighting in Normandy between the 3rd Canadian Infantry Division and the 12th SS Panzer Division (Hitler Youth) got ugly almost from the initial contact and there were incidents of POW murder on both sides. 12th SS had committed warcrimes even before the D-Day invasion, and I don’t think it’s unreasonable to assume that they were the ones who began the murders (June 7th, with 11 Canadian POWs from the North Novas and the Sherbrooke Fusiliers executed after surrender), but the Canadians certainly retaliated.


There was the (fire) bombing of axis civilians by the allies that should be counted as a crime against humanity but that was already in the WAH series

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In a war that killed more than 60 million people, there were crimes to go around. Killing for the sake of killing is always evil. Killing in the name of winning a war is not good either and would never claim it as such. That is where the term necessary evil comes from.

I will always be a fan of Sherman. He visited hardship and destruction on his enemies. Not mindless killing but he made the south sick of the war. All war is bad. The best war can be is brief.


There’s a whole (fairly tedious) pile of writings on “military ethics,” and the dellimna you pose, Dan. It comes down to:

If I see someone certain to kill a third person, am I justified in killing the first person? What if I wait until the first person has killed the third?

Overarching this question is the same thing for nations - the concept of “just” and “unjust” wars. The seminal work on the issue is, unsurprisingly, “Just and Unjust Wars”, by Michael Walzer.


I wonder if we can use the evolution of rules of engagement, i.e. when the nation state says you can kill someone to help determine perception of war crime. When men step outside those rules they are subject to prosecution. When the rules of engagement themselves are immoral them this would be a war crime of the type referred to The Hague.

Just a thought.


I dunno, it’s all standing on a pool of mud (whatever you do, you’re dirty. :slight_smile: “Rules of Engagement” typically don’t concern themselves with ethics, except in the way that “anything that keeps my folks alive is ethical.”

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In the Pacific, Japanese who did try to surrender were often shot anyway. I have seen US army veterans admit to this in documemtaries filmed in the late 1990’s.


It happened and more frequently than one would think. The Americans knew the Japanese were cruel in combat and often mistreated prisoners and wounded. It led to some of the ugliest infantry fighting ever. Americans had more of everything but the Japs just would not surrender and in those conditions not taking prisoners happens. Not arguing it’s right but I’m in no position to understand the fear and adrenaline of combat. Throw in stories of Japanese bayoneting wounded soldiers and I’m not surprised by the results.

As Patton said: “when you put your hand into the goo that was once your best friends face, then by God you‘ll know what to do”.


Mostly I think you are right about rules of engagement. But it was much more of a free fire zone in previous wars. Example in world war 2 if you take fire from a town you leveled the place with artillery. No one thought twice. You cannot do that now.

The Pacific was in some ways as cruel a war as the Eastern Front, just not writ as large. The Japanese would sometimes pretend to surrender… with a grenade hidden on them (that goes for the wounded as well; even boobytrapped dead.). Japanese would try to sneak within grenade range at night by pretending to be dead in no-mans land, and creep forward when flares went out.

The Japanese military did not think much of surrendering to the enemy (and visa versa). It was shameful to them; better to die, best to die taking enemy with you.

The Japanese January 8th 1941 “Senjinkun” (“Field Service Code” - reading from the Japanese “Tokyo Gazette” translation) - which says of that the content “originate from and end in the Imperial Rescript”, that is, the will of the Emperor, and is pretty specific:

(From the introduction)

“The battlefield is where the Imperial Army, acting under the Imperial command, displays its true character, whenever it attacks, winning whenever it engages in cornbat, in order to spread Kodo far and wide so that the enemy rnay look up in awe to the august virtues of His Majesty.” (Kodo is the achievements of the Japanese people at the direction of the Emperor.)

(From chapter 1, section 6, “Agressiveness”)

“When attacking, be determined and positive, always taking the initiative, fighting vigorously and stubbornly vowing not to cease until the enemy is crushed. In defense, always retain the spirit of attack and always maintain freedom of action; never give up a position but rather die.”

(From Chapter 1, section 7, “The Conviction to Win”)

“The destiny of the Empire rests upon victory or defeat in battle. Do not give up under any circumstances, keeping in mind your responsibility to keep untarnished the glorious history of the Imperial Army with its tradition of invincibility.”

(From. Chapter 2, section 7, “View of Life and Death”)

“Do your duty with heart and soul, regardless of life or death. After exerting all your powers, spiritually and physically, calmly face death rejoicing in the hope of living in the eternal cause for which you serve.”

(from Chapter 2, section 8, “Honor”, emphasis mine)

“If alive, do not suffer the disgrace of becoming a prisoner; in death, do not leave behind a name soiled by misdeeds.”

So, a Japanese soldier is coming toward you shouting words you don’t know. Is he surrendering? Willing to bet your life?

There actually was a more concerted attempt to take prisoners as the war progressed, when it was discovered that Japanese captives were so depressed by their situation they would give up military information. But it was still a risk.


The testimony of E.B. Sledge in his book ‘The Old Breed’ support this reasoning on taking Japanese prisoners-walk a mile in that Marine privates shoes before judging him, 80 years on.

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