Firing at pilots who have parachuted

Armed conflicts in the history of humanity from the ancient times to the 20th Century.
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minoru genda
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Firing at pilots who have parachuted

Post by minoru genda » Sat Oct 17, 2009 12:07 am

Was it OK, legal by internatinal law to open fire at pilots who parachuted during a dogfight? Did exist a "code of honor" among enemy pilots not to shoot themselves if they were shot down?

What about enemy paratroopers dropped behind enemy lines? Soldiers are allowed to shoot at them while they are still in the air?
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Re: Firing at pilots who have parachuted

Post by marcelo_malara » Sat Oct 17, 2009 12:26 am

I think that shooting a downed pilot is inhuman, be it against the law or not, I pilot coming down in a parachute can´t do any harm. A paratrooper is a different question, they are coming down to acomplish a mission. Is the same difference between shooting a cast away in a lifeboat and a soldier in a landing craft.

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Re: Firing at pilots who have parachuted

Post by Karl Heidenreich » Sat Oct 17, 2009 12:37 am

I do believe that it is prohibited to fire upon parachutist while in their way down, as soon as they touch earth then you are allowed to fire. Which basically is stupid because in a real fight you are not going to wait to give the other guy a chance to fire at you.
I think that in Crete the allies fired upon German paratroopers as they were falling. In Arnhem the favor was returned.
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Re: Firing at pilots who have parachuted

Post by marcelo_malara » Sat Oct 17, 2009 12:58 am

I don´t think the Geneva Convention covers this issue, a massive airborne assault was out of the technology of the day. Anyway, I don´t see how shooting a soldier who is going to shoot me after landing, however exposed he is, can be outlawed. So a frog man can not fired upon because he can not fire in return?

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Re: Firing at pilots who have parachuted

Post by Karl Heidenreich » Sat Oct 17, 2009 1:21 am

These are some answers to that same question on Wiki Answers. I found it worth of posting so there they are:


Answer
German Papatroopers did not have a policy of taking no prisoners. As to where the rumor began, like most rumors through lack of the facts.

Richard V. Horrell WW 2 Connections.com


Answer
No, but I've talked to American WWII vets who told me that some American GIs would never turn over Germans taken prisoner who were in SS uniforms. The Americans routinely murderered them all in cold blood, in direct violation of the Geneva Convention, according to a veteran I know who was in the D-Day landing.

Heinz Knoke, in his book __I Flew for the Fuhrer__, recounts several episodes in which he was an eyewitness to American fighter planes opening fire on German pilots in their parachutes while descending after a bailout (including killing one of them). Again, that's in open violation of the Geneva Convention.


The above passage is a complete fabrication. The author has obviously never read the Articles of the Geneva Convention. First the Articles of the Geneva convention at the time of WWII had no mention of pilots that have bailed out. It was common practice to open fire on any pilot in a descending in a parachute over his homeland since it was assumed he would be put back in the next available plane and shoot at you. It was also a common practice not to shoot at a pilot that bailed out over your territory since he would most likely end up as a POW. However these are not guidelines in the Articles of the Geneva Convention ***

Of course the Soviets (who had not signed the Geneva Convention) carried out the horrible Katyn Forest Massacre of captured Polish officers.

How come when a German is accused of killing a POW its a war crime. However, when the Allies kill German POWs its well you know its only war. TALK ABOUT TO STANDARDS.

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As paratroopers from both sides (Allies and Axis) are usually dropped behind enemy lines (and thus are surrounded by enemy combatants), it is very tough to take prisoners (where would you put them?). I doubt if it was considered "policy" to kill all captured prisoners, but I'm sure it happened, on both sides.


Answer
German paratrooper's, like those of Britain and the U.S. were the highest trained and disciplined of all troops and would never have gone alomg with that as a policy. One account of British prisoner's about to be shot by a German officer when the German Maj. Gen. Kurt Student the German Airborne commander happenedon the scene and stopped it immediatelyand ordered the prisoner's to be taken to the normal routine collection system.They said "he saved our lives that day>"


Answer
I served as an American Paratrooper and also "earned" my Fallschirmjager wings and the German Army Weapons Qualification Badge in Bronze(times sure have changed since 1945). The book that would answer your question would be "Infantry Aces" written by Franz Kurowski. It tells the story of 8-WW2 German Soldiers who were exceptional Combat soldiers. Oberleutnant Erich Lepkowski was a German Paratrooper who fought at Crete, the Russian Front, and then the western front. Both the British Forces and German Paratroopers took prisoners at Crete, but the Russian Front was another story. Quarter was not asked for or given in close combat by either the Russians or Germans as a rule. Soldies with severe injuries were reasigned from the Russian Front, to the Western Front so their injuries could heal, While waiting for the Allied invasion of Europe. These soldiers with recent combat experience were invaluable as the Allies opened another front to ease the pressure off the Russians. I'm sure that these soldiers fought with the same brutality on the Western Front as they had learned on the Russian Front. Further I'm quite sure that the Allies Forces returned the favor. If in doubt go to the local VFW and talk to the few remainng combat soldiers from WW2.

Do some more reading on Crete. The Brits and Greeks shot and mutilated lots of Germans wounded at Crete.

Answer
Further research on this subject leads me to believe the opposite is true. The fallschirmjager were part of the german airforce and wore the blue scarves w/ white dots and the fighter pilots blouse to further show their pride. I have read numerous articles written by both german and allied ww2 veterans and have learned that the German paratroopers were actually known for their chivalry in combat as well as their tenacity in the offense or defense. Many times german paratroopers risked their own lives to save wounded allied soldiers, while under fire. But of course there is always an exception. By 1945 few fallschirmjager were left who had fought w/ chivalry in Africa or Crete.


Answer
My father was a Geraman PAR with the 2nd para div. from 1940 till the end of the war. He never saw any German para shoot unarmed troops. But, in Russia it was different.

I am searching for the author of the above reply. My father was also a german para with the 2nd FJ division.



Answer
in regard to killing of prisoners and downed pilots it happened to all the nations involved . german killing american ,american killing german and so on . it is what happens in war , along with the deaths of innocent civilians.


Answer
Generaloberst Kurt Student, the head of the German parachute branch, was tried for war crimes before a British court on 6-10 May 1946. The trial involved command responsibility for the mistreatment and killing of British and New Zealand prisoners of war during the airborne invasion of Crete. Two charges on which he was convicted involved the killing of Royal Air Force ground crew on 20 May 1941 when paratroopers landed on Maleme airfield (the Germans wanted the prisoners of war to unload transport planes and when three refused they shot them) and the shooting of wounded soldiers from the 1st Battalion of the Welch Regiment after surrender on 27 May 1941. The court determined that these incidents did occur and the paratroopers from the Sturm Regiment were responsible, but the conviction was quashed later because legal doubts were raised about Student's criminal responsibility for the actions of lower subordinates. Other charges, on which Student was acquitted, involved the use of prisoners of war by paratroopers as screens or shields during attacks.


Answer
The German paratroopers treated prisoners according the Geneva Convention, except in a few isolated incidents. In Corinth alone one regiment took 12.000 Allied prisoners without a single being executed. In fact, the remarkable thing about the german paratroopers was that there were never involved in any atrocities or masacres (unlike the SS) though they were always fighting in the toughest parts of the fronts.

It is remarkable that the few German Fallschirmj䧥r officers, who were charged with war crimes after the war (most of these trials were rigged anyway, as the prosecution selected all the 'evidence' and the defence council!), where all defended by testiments of their former foes.

Little is known about the Allied atrocities, because thousands of incriminatating files are still not open after more than 60 years! But some details have come out now, and some of the can be seen on this website: http://members.iinet.net.au/~gduncan/ma ... _axis.html

If you do the research you see most "light Fighters" (rangers. special forces, airborne) are sometime placed in the position by tactical curcumstance to be unable to look after prisoners. As you can not leave armed enemy combatents in your area of operation, you do what you have to. Wrong? Maybe, but you can't second guess troops fighting for thier lives.
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Re: Firing at pilots who have parachuted

Post by Karl Heidenreich » Sat Oct 17, 2009 1:22 am

This I like a lot:

How come when a German is accused of killing a POW its a war crime. However, when the Allies kill German POWs its well you know its only war. TALK ABOUT TO STANDARDS.

:whistle: :negative:
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Re: Firing at pilots who have parachuted

Post by lwd » Sat Oct 17, 2009 1:58 am

In world war two it was not against the "rules of warfare" to shoot a parachuting pilot. Not long after the war that prohibition was added. (there have been some extensive discussions on this over on the axis history forum). In a number of cases the policy seemed to be that if one was over enemy territory shoot them if over friendly don't. While a pilot in a parachute isn't a threat at the time if he's over friendly territory he'll be back in a plane soon. There were on both side those who felt that it was not chivalrous and those who thought this isn't a knightly tourney. I do remember reading of a US pilot (Johnson?) who had an extended dogfight with a German pilot and shot him before he could exit his plane. He wasn't going to shoot him in his shoot but consider him too dangerous to let live.

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Re: Firing at pilots who have parachuted

Post by Kyler » Sat Oct 17, 2009 4:17 am

From my readings of aviation history, these types of shootings did take place on both sides. It was common for opposing pilots to do their best to shoot down any opposing pilot that shot at parachuting pilots.

Japanese Army and Navy pilots were better known for this practice while pilots bailed out in the air, sea, and land.

While these actions took place by Allied and Axis pilots in Europe for the most part Allied and Luftwaffe pilots had respect for one another and did not shoot bailing out pilots.
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Re: Firing at pilots who have parachuted

Post by RF » Mon Oct 19, 2009 1:43 pm

I would think the consideration on this is of whether the target is armed and offers any threat to the firer. An unarmed pilot having baled out isn't, a paratrooper is.

The original Geneva and Hague Convention protocols pre-date the widespread use of airpower.
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Re: Firing at pilots who have parachuted

Post by lwd » Mon Oct 19, 2009 2:03 pm

RF wrote:I would think the consideration on this is of whether the target is armed and offers any threat to the firer. An unarmed pilot having baled out isn't, a paratrooper is.

The original Geneva and Hague Convention protocols pre-date the widespread use of airpower.
But is it just the firer? or is it to the force of which he is part? IE a pilot may not be a threat when he's falling to the ground in a parachute but if he's over freindly territory he'll liky be back in a plane in short order. IE he is a potential threat. Now one dropping in on enemy territory is in a different class and at least some of the orders/actions recognized this.

I'm pretty sure the early post war modification of the conventions made shooting at aircrew who had bailed out a war crime but it was not at the time.

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Re: Firing at pilots who have parachuted

Post by tommy303 » Mon Oct 19, 2009 7:52 pm

On the whole, not shooting at pilots who had bailed out was good manners; but more to the point, would you really want to waste ammo on someone who was not an immediate threat, or should you save it for a better target later on or to defend yourself with if you should wind up in another fight.

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Re: Firing at pilots who have parachuted

Post by Dave Saxton » Tue Oct 20, 2009 3:00 pm

Adolf Galland spoke to this as not being considered as chiverous during the Battle of Britain by both sides, although it happened a few times by both sides. Late war, it became common practice to shoot at German pilots who had bailed out. It became an unspoken policy among American fighter pilots to kill any German pilot in or out of the aircraft. The problem was that the German pilots bailed out over their own territory and would just get in another plane the next day. The Americans were trying to destroy the Jadgewaffe but the production of German fighters had actually increased despite the bombings. There were far more new aircraft available than there were fighter pilots. As long as the experienced core pilots remained alive they were not really destroying the Luftwaffe's fighter command. It was a brutal unofficial policy, but a necessary policy to win and shorten the war.
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Re: Firing at pilots who have parachuted

Post by Byron Angel » Tue Oct 20, 2009 3:29 pm

Dave Saxton wrote: Adolf Galland spoke to this as not being considered as chiverous during the Battle of Britain by both sides, although it happened a few times by both sides. Late war, it became common practice to shoot at German pilots who had bailed out. It became an unspoken policy among American fighter pilots to kill any German pilot in or out of the aircraft. The problem was that the German pilots bailed out over their own territory and would just get in another plane the next day. The Americans were trying to destroy the Jadgewaffe but the production of German fighters had actually increased despite the bombings. There were far more new aircraft available than there were fighter pilots. As long as the experienced core pilots remained alive they were not really destroying the Luftwaffe's fighter command. It was a brutal unofficial policy, but a necessary policy to win and shorten the war.

..... I recall reading the very same logic openly expressed by an American ETO ace.

On the other hand, there are well documented cases of pilots of all the warring nations displaying great consideration for their opponents. There is something strange about war that can elicit both the worst barbarism and the greatest nobility from mankind. Perhaps that is why we find it so fascinating.

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Re: Firing at pilots who have parachuted

Post by lwd » Tue Oct 20, 2009 3:37 pm

In Johnston's (sp?) autobiography the incident I mentioned above. He wasn't going to shoot the pilot if he managed was "in" his chute. He might not have shot him before he could get clear of his plane but if he hadn't been so good but he put it something to the efffect that if he didn't shoot him the guy would be back tomorrow killing other US pilots.

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