e-book A Prisoner of War - Justified Vengeance

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The situation of Patriot and Loyalist prisoners was complicated by their status as rebels and traitors, thus their treatment could be inconsistent and often quite severe. As in many early modern conflicts, the unsanitary conditions of rudimentary prison facilities caused far more deaths than actual combat. Prisoners captured on European battlefields historically faced a very uncertain fate.

Bombing of Dresden

Ransom, slavery, starvation, disease, and even execution were all potential outcomes for captives until the early modern period. Following the destructive conflicts of the seventeenth-century and inspired by ideals of the Enlightenment, European states adopted standardized customs of prisoner exchange and committed, rhetorically at least, to humane treatment for the rank and file.

These rules governing the treatment of prisoners were not, however, codified in law. Rather, by the eighteenth century, soldiers and officers taken prisoner could expect to be treated according to widely accepted custom. In wars between sovereign European states, treatment depended on rank. Officers were normally permitted generous freedoms. They were usually granted two-thirds of the daily rations of a soldier in the field and were confined in camps, stockades, or prison ships while they awaited exchange or the end of hostilities.

Escape was considered a form a desertion for common soldiers and dishonorable oath-breaking for officers. The American Revolution complicated these accepted customs.

I survived the bombing of Dresden and continue to believe it was a war crime

From the British perspective, the conflict was an internal rebellion, therefore the standards of prisoner treatment in wars between sovereign European states did not apply. They denied captured Patriot soldiers and militiamen the official status of prisoners of war in the early years of the conflict. It was only after American forces captured significant numbers of British and Hessian soldiers and officers at the Battle of Saratoga in that fear of retaliation compelled the British to accept the necessity of improving conditions for Patriot prisoners.

At the time it seemed possible. With the benefit of hindsight, popular opinion has labelled Hitler as virtually insane for invading the Soviet Union, but at the time many people - including those influential in both Britain and America - thought his decision was a sound one. Indeed, Hitler came much closer to pulling off his grand plan than the Soviet Union was ever prepared to admit. The German Blitzkrieg technique was as devastating in Russia as it had been in the rest of Europe.

The scene was set for a war of annihilation waged by the Nazis against the Soviets with no mercy shown by either side.

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One week into the German invasion, , Soviet soldiers were either dead or wounded - more than during the five months of the Battle of the Somme. As the German armies swept further into the Russian heartland, one million Soviet troops were drafted to protect Kiev. But despite Stalin's ruthless order forbidding any city to surrender, Kiev fell and , Soviet soldiers were captured.

By October , three million Soviet soldiers were prisoners of war.

Don’t Confuse Revenge With Justice: Five Key Differences | Psychology Today

New testimony and documentary evidence can now reveal that Stalin was seriously considering suing for peace and had even organised a 'getaway' train to take him to safety as German guns started pounding Moscow. His decision to stay and fight was a crucial turning point in the war. During the Battle of Moscow, in which 8, Soviet citizens were executed for perceived cowardice, the Russian armies were forced to stand their ground, despite perishingly cold conditions of 43 degrees below freezing.

To prevent his soldiers deserting the front line around the capital, Stalin ordered special 'blocking detachments' to shoot all deserters. The Soviet leadership also instructed Soviet partisans operating in the countryside to kill anyone whom they believed was disloyal. This resulted in an effective carte blanche for partisans to abuse their power and extract whatever they wanted from helpless villagers. A report from one partisan division shows that rape, killings and beatings were commonplace. To make villagers' lives still more hellish, in some areas, particularly the occupied Ukraine, nationalist partisans as opposed to Soviet partisans , who were bent on freedom from the Soviet regime, also started up their own brutal operations in the countryside.

Villagers were now faced with violence from three different fighting forces. Russians did not suffer only from their own side.


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Nazi rule over the territories they captured from Russia was draconian. Erich Koch, Reich Commissar of occupied Ukraine stated that the 'lowliest German worker is a thousand times more valuable' than the entire population of the Ukraine. Starvation was widespread, with Soviet civilians forced to eat dogs - until the dog supply ran out and people were forced to turn to rats, crows and birch bark.

In the Ukrainian town of Kharkov, which was administered by the German army, , people died of starvation and disease. The German army, faced with an ever growing partisan threat, became increasingly comprehensive in their view about what constituted a partisan. One army document lists 1, partisans and their 'helpers', killed by the Germans in one action. And yet people still managed to survive. Inna Gavrilchenko tells how lucky she was to get a job in a slaughter house during the occupation of Kharkov. It gave her access to blood, which she smuggled out and cooked into a 'blood omelette'.

In the spring of , he launched a two-pronged attack in what he believed would be his final offensive in the East. One set of troops headed towards Baku and it's rich oil resources, whilst a second group pushed towards Stalingrad and the Volga.


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After more than a year of bitter defeats, the Soviet army was exhausted and demoralised, but it started to employ a new tactic - the fighting retreat - which put a strain on German supply lines. Soviet soldiers were no longer instructed by their generals to stand their ground at all costs. Instead they retreated - to avoid capture and continue fighting.

The Germans moved swiftly forward, reaching the banks of the River Volga. The German soldiers of Army Group B had one last major task - to take the city of Stalingrad on the west bank of the Volga. And so began the bitter and bloody battle. More than 1, tons of bombs were dropped on the city, but Stalin initially forbade any evacuation from the city, even of children. The Ministry of External Affairs works through diplomatic and official channels and demands the safe and immediate return of the Indian pilot.

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Meanwhile, various amateur videos were on circulation in which Wing Commander Abhinandan was seen being manhandled by a crowd in PoK. The Geneva Conventions are a set of international treaties - four conventions, with three protocols added on since The conventions ensure that warring parties conduct themselves in a humane way with - non-combatants such as civilians and medical personnel combatants no longer actively engaged in fighting, such as prisoners of war, and wounded or sick soldiers PoWs are usually members of the armed forces of one of the parties to a conflict who fall into the hands of the adverse party.

Crime and punishment

Article 3 of the Geneva Convention on Treatment of PoWs deals with every kind of situation that may arise for a captive and captor. All countries are signatories to the Geneva Conventions. ICRC visits prisoners, both military and civilian. Both India and Pakistan have been careful not to term the confrontation a war. Nevertheless, both sides are bound by the Geneva Conventions. As, the provisions of the conventions apply at the following times: in peacetime situations in declared wars in conflicts that are not recognised as war by one or more of the parties This means the IAF officer is a prisoner of war, and his treatment has to be in accordance with the provisions for PoWs under the Geneva Conventions.

According to the provisions, the nations should avoid the following acts : Violence to life and person, in particular, murder of all kinds, mutilation, cruel treatment and torture taking of hostages outrages upon personal dignity, in particular, humiliating and degrading treatment the passing of sentences and the carrying out of executions without previous judgment pronounced by a regularly constituted court Any unlawful act or omission by the Detaining Power causing death or seriously endangering the health of a prisoner of war is prohibited.

It will be regarded as a serious breach of the present Convention. Likewise, PoWs must at all times be protected, particularly against acts of violence or intimidation and against insults and public curiosity. Any acts of vengeance against prisoners of war are prohibited as per Article 13 of the Convention. The responsibility for the "humane" treatment of PoWs lies with the detaining power, and not just the individuals who captured the PoW.