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“I mean, you remember during the Nuremberg trials, part of what made us different was even after these Nazis had performed atrocities that no one had ever seen before, we still gave them a day in court and that taught the entire world about who we are but also the basic principles of rule of law. Now the Supreme Court upheld that principle….”br> Unsurprisingly Obama’s rehash of American treatment of German POWs is flatly wrong. Around 200 German war crimes defendants went on trial in what most people commonly refer to as the “Nuremberg Trials,” with another 1,600 tried under the laws governing military justice. All these trials, of course, took place after the German surrender in May of 1945. None occurred during the war itself. The trials ran from 1945 until 1949.
The obvious question never seems to occur to Obama. If America’s only problem was with a sum total of about 1,800 German soldiers, why all that disturbing fuss known as World War II? What happened to all the Germans who weren’t killed outright when they were captured on the battlefields of Europe and North Africa as al Qaeda fighters are being captured now in Afghanistan or Iraq? And what about all the captured Italians and Japanese who were busily fighting America in the 1940s?
TO BE SPECIFIC, almost a half million of them were brought to America. Once here they were stashed in 511 internment camps sprinkled all around the good old USA from North Carolina to Iowa to California. And no, I’m not talking about or including here FDR’s infamous internment camps for 120,000 Japanese-American citizens, who did indeed have their constitutional rights violated. We’re talking about captured Nazis, Italians and Japanese — warriors on the battlefield for Hitler, Tojo and Mussolini, the bin Laden’s of their day. From the viewpoint of the L.A. Times’ Rutten and Jane Mayer, that would mean these people were imprisoned in 511 “American gulags,” not just one measly Gitmo. Not a single one of these men were given their habeas corpus rights. They were not tried. Not one. They were held as prisoners, forced to do whatever labor their American captors thought suitable until America had won the war.
Forced labor was their lot. Like the case of a German POW known to history only as “Hans” who was made to load and unload trucks at the E.G. Morse Poultry house in Mason City, Iowa. Hour after hour, day after day, with no lawyer from the ACLU to come to his rescue and no Jane Mayer to write him up sympathetically, young Hans was forced to do the backbreaking labor American men weren’t around to do because they were overseas fighting Germans. Then there was the young German who signed himself in a note to an American girl only as “R.” “R” was frustrated that his status “thwarts all my plans” and described what he called his “instantaneous dead life here.” “R” was in this vicious state of affairs because the Roosevelt administration had him doing his forced labor at a cannery in Owatonna, Minnesota.
Then there was “Jerry.” Whether that was really his name or he identified himself as such because it was the American slang for Germans is not known. How did “Jerry” find himself in the wilds of Fairmont, Minnesota? He was captured in North Africa where he was trying to kill Americans as a member of Nazi General Erwin Rommel’s murderous Afrika Corps. Did I mention that “Jerry” was crying at his sad state one particular day that he was standing in downtown Fairmont during a momentary pause in his labors? It seems the day in question was June 6, 1944. Minnesotans in Fairmont were listening to radio accounts of D-Day and the fierce fighting that was in progress as American soldiers sought to break the iron grip “Jerry’s” fellow countrymen had imposed on all of Europe. Jerry’s tears, of course, were not being shed for the Americans charging those beaches. Beaches where, according to the D-Day Museum, almost 7,000 Americans were lost that June 6th as they fought the followers of a zealot obsessed with mass murdering Jews and establishing a thousand year Reich.p>Quite aside from these “American gulags” in America were the American gulags in Europe and North Africa. The number of prisoners, according to General Dwight Eisenhower, was almost overwhelming. There were a quarter million Axis prisoners that had to be dealt with in Tunisia alone. The Battle of the Bulge all by itself produced German prisoners at the rate of 10,000 a day. Here’s this from the late historian Stephen Ambrose, an Eisenhower biographer, in a 1991 article in the New York Times : br> /p>