11 October 2018

Hitler's Atrocities Against Allied POWs

Seventy years ago, the Nuremberg Trials were in full swing in Germany. In the dock were the leaders of the Nazi regime and most eventually received their just desserts. But what happened to the other war criminals?

In June 1946, Lord Russell of Liverpool became Deputy Judge Advocate and legal adviser to the Commander in Chief for the British Army of the Rhine in respect of all trials held by British Military Courts of German war criminals. He later wrote;

'At the outbreak of the Second World War, the treatment of prisoners was governed by the Geneva Prisoner of War Convention of 1929, the Preamble of which stated that the aim of the signatories was to alleviate the conditions of prisoners of war.

'During the war, however, the provisions of the Convention were repeatedly disregarded by Germany. Prisoners were subjected to brutality and ill-treatment, employed on prohibited and dangerous work, handed over to the SD for "special treatment" in pursuance of Hitler's Commando Order, lynched in the streets by German civilians, sent to concentration camps, shot on recapture after escaping, and even massacred after they had laid down their arms and surrendered.'

This book, authored by the chairman of the National Ex-Prisoner of War Association, Philip D. Chinnery, provides a comprehensive overview of the mistreated meted out to British, American and significantly Russian POWs held by Germany and her European allies. The title is somewhat misleading, as it implies a systematic and planned abuse of POWs by the Nazis, and while that was certainly the case against Russian prisoners, and indeed was also carried out in certain infamous POW camps and against certain types of prisoners such as Commandos, many of the detailed examples cover specific incidents of offhand cruelty and mistreatment. The stories recounted have been researched at the Public Records Office in Kew, and NARA in Washington, and the notes on each chapter give detailed references.

The grim list of murders and cruel treatments include well known episodes such as the killing of US POWs at Malmedy in the Adrennes, and Canadian POWs in Normandy, but also covers incidents in North Africa, attacks on Allied airmen in Germany, executions of SAS men, and many additional war crimes. This is a sobering and harrowing book, detailing many forgotten crimes committed against POWs who should have been offered the protection of the Geneva Convention, but tragically were not.

Available from:
Pen & Sword

2 October 2018

LST 388: A World War II Journal

Robert von der Osten (1920-2016) served as a Radioman 1/C onboard Landing Ship Tank (LST) 388 during World War II. Through his journal entries, von der Osten details his experiences of the war, from his training days in the newly created amphibious force, to practice beachings on the Chesapeake Bay; from the ports of North Africa and the United Kingdom, to the hostile shores of Sicily, Salerno, and Normandy. 
During World War II, Robert von der Osten kept journals from his time in boot camp to the invasions of Sicily, Salerno and Normandy. In the years following the war, Robert continued to add to his collection of war-related materials to one day turn into a book. With every attendance at a US LST Association Annual Convention, at every new book that came out explaining events of WWII in a new way, and every newspaper or magazine article that related in any way to his experience aboard the USS LST-388 during WWII, the collection expanded. 
This collection of material has helped to build the book LST 388: A World War II Journal. Completed with the help of his youngest daughter Barbara von der Osten, the book is full of dated journal entries, over 50 photos - many taken by Robert von der Osten or by another Radioman aboard the ship (Bill Schellhorn), maps and extracts from the ships radio log.
An additional point of note is that von der Osten was a second generation German-American, and the introduction of the book details a brief encounter with the German-American Bund in the late 1930s - an unusual story seldom heard. 
Providing a unique insight into both the role of LSTs in the Allied landings in Europe, and the personal account of a young member of the crew, LST 388: A World War II Journal is a great addition to the literature of World War II. 
See more at: LST 388 
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