On Sat, 12 Jun 2004 04:29:53 GMT, "Leon"
Jewish civilians weren't protected by the Geneva conventions.
Attrocities like that were such an aberration at the time of drafting
that they're simply outside the scope of Geneva.
One of the Nurnberg defences was that German soldiers acted no worse
than RAF pilots against Berlin or Dresden. This was rejected, partly
because someone else's crime is never a defence for your own, but also
because the Holocaust was treated as a non-military action carried out
by soldiers, rather than a military campaign. The much-quoted defence
that "we were only follwing orders" failed no only because there was
seen to be an over-riding moral imperative to disobey such an order,
but also because these orders could not _be_
valid military orders in
an operation that had failed to be "military" within the bounds of
Some cases that weren't presented at Nurnberg (and perhaps should have
been) involved anti-partisan actions on the Eastern front. In some
cases these _could_
be presented as legitimate military actions, and
it was their _manner_
that was under question, not their _purpose_
(unlike an extermination camp, which is basically morally wrong from
the outset). This is a much weaker legal case than for others, even
for those similar actions in the Baltic states that were carried out
by "civilian" "police" and were prosecuted.
There were also cases where western allied Jewish soldiers and airmen
were captured. They were generally (except for a few rare cases)
treated reasonably well as POWs and were not given the special
treatment they might have expected as occupied civilians on the basis
of religion. This was generally true for Luftwaffe prisoners, as the
Luftwaffe resented any intervention from other groups, mainly for
reasons of internal management poolitics. It was broadly true for army
prisoners too, although it's known to have broken down somewhat when
POWs found themselves under the forced labour organisations towards
the end of the war.
Sadly "Allied" prisoners have to be distinguished as Western Front or
Eastern Front though. Slavs captured on the East _were_
primarily as untermensch to be abused with the worst excesses that the
civilians endured, not as soldiers.
One of the worst recent offenders against _the_Geneva_conventions_ is
the US' actions at Guantanamo and the like. Note that the US is still
a country with a good human rights record and a broadly fair treatment
of other nation's civilians (there are problems, for sure, but only
the worst of anti-US bias can really equate Iraqi prisons before and
after the war). However as it applies to Geneva, then the US is on
clear contravention of it, when most other nation's attrocities just
aren't applicable to Geneva's rules.
This is one of the strongest arguments for an international court of
human rights, despite the US' objections to it. Geneva is just no
longer enough to cover cases such as Rwanda or Srebrenica.