For a Kinder, Gentler Society
Occupation and Insurgency:
A Selective Examination of The Hague and Geneva Conventions
  • Colin D. Heaton
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Occupation and Insurgency: . A Selective Examination of The Hague and Geneva Conventions
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When Germany invaded the Soviet Union, they had an opportunity to "win the hearts and minds" of a population disaffected with their national leader. In Occupancy and Insurgency, a military history professor looks at Nazi racial, counter-partisan, and counterinsurgency policies in the context of The Hague and the Geneva Conventions and suggests that the way an occupation is carried out can create an insurgency where none existed before.

"This is an appalling, indeed chilling, solidly researched story told in brief compass." -- CHOICE


About the Author

Colin D. Heaton is a professor in history, military history and sociology at American Military University, where he has created many courses for all departments, specializing in European, African and military history, and laws of warfare. He is the senior Holocaust Studies professor in the History Department.

Prof. Heaton has also taught American history, European history, Soviet/Russian history, and military history at the University of Glasgow, Campbell University (primarily adult education and Commissioned Officer Degree Completion at Jacksonville/Camp Lejeune, NC), Cape Fear Community College, and other colleges in the United States and UK.

He earned his MPhil in modern European social and political history at the University of Strathclyde, Glasgow, where his research focused on German racial policy as a factor in German counterinsurgency doctrine in the USSR, 1941-45. Shefferton University, London, awarded Heaton an honorary postgraduate research degree in military history in 2002 for research and policy suggestions regarding the responsibilities, qualifications, and legal roles of civilian paramilitaries in conflicts according to The Hague and Geneva Conventions. This work included assisting in creating a petition to revise the Geneva Convention of 1949 to a more rational and timely legal document. He holds an MA in World History from Temple University and a BA with Honors in History from UNC-Wilmington, where he received the Thomas Mosely Award

Prof. Heaton is planning a series of military biographies and studies of the laws of war with Algora Publishing. His other books include German Anti-Partisan Warfare in Europe, 1939-1945 (Atglen, PA: Schiffer Publishing, 2001), and Nachtkrieg: The Evolution of Nocturnal Aerial Warfare, 1939-1945 (Annapolis, MD: Naval Institute Press, due Fall 2008).

About the Book

Occupation and Insurgency details German policies towards civilians and captured military forces in the Soviet Union from 1941-1945 and examines them in the...

Occupation and Insurgency details German policies towards civilians and captured military forces in the Soviet Union from 1941-1945 and examines them in the context of the laws of war. The results of these policies illustrate how an occupying force can establish a sense of legitimacy or spur a stronger resistance among the local citizens. While focused upon World War II, the book is very relevant to today’s war on terror and the handling of current counterinsurgency scenarios.

Evaluating certain actions by the Germans in the USSR from the standpoint of The Geneva and The Hague Conventions, the book also studies many actions that, while morally egregious, did not qualify as war crimes under the law. Some of the events analyzed prompted the 1949 revision of The Geneva Convention.

The German actions, as well as the Soviet responses, lend themselves to discussion as related to international law and military actions. There is no other book that uses chronicled events to address both the international legal conventions and analyzes these events in both a legal and historical paradigm.

The book is closely documented, including 20 photographs and numerous interview segments with SS officers, resistance fighters, and other primary persons involved in the war, and it provides as well the perspectives of other historians regarding the critical issues discussed.

Occupation and Insurgency is a book that will appeal to all levels of academia, as well as the general public with regard to general history, World War II, and legal studies. It complements and goes beyond works such as Christopher Browning’s Ordinary Men, Omer Bartov’s Hitler’s Army: Soldiers, Nazis and War in the Third Reich, Arad, Kurowski and Spector (eds), The Einsatzgruppen Reports, and Richard Rhodes’ Masters of Death.


Introduction

This book focuses upon German racial policy as instituted with the establishment of the Nuremberg Laws of 1935 and for the duration of the Third Reich under Adolf Hitler until 1945. It shows how this policy and collective mindset amongst the German officer corps and the supreme leadership hindered the development of an...

This book focuses upon German racial policy as instituted with the establishment of the Nuremberg Laws of 1935 and for the duration of the Third Reich under Adolf Hitler until 1945. It shows how this policy and collective mindset amongst the German officer corps and the supreme leadership hindered the development of an effective, timely, and unilateral counterinsurgency policy for the German armed forces in the Soviet Union, as well as their violations of applicable international laws which governed the conduct of the war in the east.

The reader will become quite familiar with the terms “counterinsurgency” and “insurgent.” Counterinsurgency is, simply put, the efforts by conventional military or paramilitary forces to counter the activities of “irregulars” (civilians operating in a paramilitary or terrorist role), whether they be “partisans,” “terrorists” or “guerrillas” (see Colin D. Heaton, German Anti-Partisan Warfare in Europe, 1939-1945 for these legal distinctions) and to establish an environment of perceived stability according to existing civil or military law.1

The ruthless nature of the National Socialist racial policies and propaganda contributed heavily to the military’s perception of the conquered Soviet peoples; their ingrained belief in the Rassenfeind (racial enemy) and German superiority were both factors which contributed to a false sense of security, thereby providing the military with a flawed self-perception and sense of invincibility.

The failure of the German military to address the core issues sparking insurgency actions against their forces, during both the initial invasion and the occupation that followed, were primarily due to the ever-conflicting policies of segregation, forced labor, extermination, and the socially-accepted Untermenschen mentality which permeated the ranks of the Wehrmacht from top to bottom.

Whilst discussing certain portions of the German military and paramilitary actions and their contributions to the Holocaust in areas of immediate concern to this book (only in relation to counterinsurgency), this book does not focus upon the Holocaust in particular, but rather will provide new insights into the failure of the NSDAP 2 and Wehrmacht on a macro-scale to comprehend the problem of civilian unrest due to German policies, and adequately alter its overall operational methodology regarding the handling of the populations in resistance.

These failures in providing overt legitimacy for their actions and stabilizing the regions provided the necessary impetus for the continued and escalating resistance, forcing the Germans to re-evaluate their methods on a micro-scale in the field. This approach apparently met with some success, as opposed to the overall Armed Forces High Command macro-scale approach to reducing the threats through alternative yet conflicting actions. This book utilizes specific primary and secondary sources in the research, as well as examining German conduct towards these military and civilian populations under the existing international laws of the respective Hague and Geneva Conventions, which were both applicable. Most of the historians quoted in this book are cited for the relevance of their specific areas of research.

One major historian cited is Alexander Dallin, whose works on the German occupation of the USSR (in particular the Ukraine) constitute one of the most authoritative collections within the literature. However, while Dallin discusses specific examples during the occupation, such as Odessa, 1941–1944: A Case Study of Soviet Territory under Foreign Rule, he does not delve deeply into the legal aspects of German actions and thus is not cited as thoroughly as many others.3 Another author briefly noted is Daniel Jonah Goldhagen. Judging from small excerpts of his research, Goldhagen again does not approach the international legal aspect, which is the primary focus of this research. Goldhagen is more focused upon moral and social aspects of German anti- Semitic policy as opposed to the salient military and legal considerations.

This book also incorporates oral testimony from various subjects who were interviewed over the last twenty years, and who were themselves active during the war in the counterinsurgency as well as conventional military roles, thus providing individual perspectives from both Allied and Axis participants. This book also frequently cites the thesis of Dr. Benjamin Shepherd, which traverses similar terrain regarding German actions against insurgents.4 Where this work differs is in its extensive focus upon the existing international laws and its comparative analysis of German abrogation of those laws, as well as in the use of oral testimony as a supportive element to supplement the published sources.

The use of interviews in writing and researching history has proven itself important in the fact that the testimony of participants, when supported by primary source evidence, and the mutually corroborating testimony from other sources, often provides previously unknown details. This method assists in either corroborating or challenging previously-held beliefs, which may have a great impact upon historical understanding. It is important to remember that the interview itself is only as viable as the source, since memories fade and the interviewed subjects will often not provide self-incriminating evidence regarding their actions. Thus the very select nature of the interviews included within this book.


Excerpt

Abstract

The purpose of this book, which was researched in part at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland, is to evaluate the military and political failure of the German government under Adolf Hitler and its attempts to introduce an effective and competent counterinsurgency doctrine following the invasion of the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941. In addition, the legality of German military and political actions are...

Abstract

The purpose of this book, which was researched in part at the University of Strathclyde in Glasgow, Scotland, is to evaluate the military and political failure of the German government under Adolf Hitler and its attempts to introduce an effective and competent counterinsurgency doctrine following the invasion of the Soviet Union on 22 June 1941. In addition, the legality of German military and political actions are examined according to the existing international accords that were in effect during the war: primarily The Hague Convention of 1907 and Geneva Convention of 1929, with Geneva revised in 1949.

Based on the relevant sources and interviews with surviving participants, it seems clear that the German violations of international law, as well as their convoluted and ever-conflicting policies regarding the handling of noncombatants, proved to be their greatest detriment. Analyzing the historiography, it becomes clear that German military necessity was subordinated to the overall political agendas of forced labor and exploitation. These policies were often at direct odds with each other, as well as with other policies the military considered necessary to win the war. Had logic dictated the actions of German forces, millions of disaffected Soviet citizens would have rallied to their liberators’ cause, and Germany could have had victory in the Soviet Union.

The contrasts between legitimate military operations and illegal acts committed by troops in the field provide the background for Germany’s loss of perceived legitimacy amongst the conquered peoples; for the resulting hindrances faced by the military in general; and for the difficulty in formulating a universal and workable counterinsurgency doctrine suited to both military and political needs in the long term.

By openly violating international law in the USSR, Germany and its leadership created a hopeless situation founded on a set of impossibly conflicting agendas. In effect, this book argues that the war against the Soviets was technically lost on the human level as soon as it began.

Examining the actions of the German military, paramilitary, and political bodies, as well as their interpretation and execution of orders — including their complete abrogation of moral, ethical, and legal responsibilities — during the war in the USSR, Germany’s failure to achieve overall success against resistance factions and the general populace disaffected with Stalinism becomes clear.

The failure of the Germans to fully appreciate and implement the requirements for winning the “hearts and minds” of the population goes to the root of the problem. Their failure to make the most of people’s natural desire to be free from oppression and exploitation was their doom.


Reviews
Book News | More »
Bryan Mark Rigg (Author, Hitler\'s Jewish Soldiers: The Untold Story of Nazi Racial Laws and Men of Jewish Descent in the German Military, and Rescued from the Reich. | More »
Otto Kumm, SS Brigadier General (Recipient, Knight\'s Cross with Oak Leaves and Swords) | More »
Albert H. Wunsch III, Esq. | More »
CHOICE September 2009 | More »

Pages 274
Year: 2008
LC Classification: D804.G4H35
Dewey code: 940.53’370947—dc22
BISAC: HIS027100 HISTORY / Military / World War II
BISAC: HIS027060 HISTORY / Military / Strategy
Soft Cover
ISBN: 978-0-87586-609-3
Price: USD 24.95
Hard Cover
ISBN: 978-0-87586-610-9
Price: USD 34.95
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ISBN: 978-0-87586-611-6
Price: USD 24.95
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