German Destroyer - Bernd von Arnim

From the Washington Naval Treaty to the end of the Second World War.
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RF
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Re: German Destroyer - Bernd von Arnim

Post by RF » Tue Aug 03, 2010 1:34 pm

Precisely what evidence is there that the RN deliberately shot at men swimming in the water?

I can understand the RN shooting at the men on shore, if they believed they were armed and capable of firing at them, or about to man a torpedo battery for example. Being in a fjord they would be very vulnerable to shore based fire.
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Re: German Destroyer - Bernd von Arnim

Post by marcelo_malara » Thu Aug 05, 2010 1:27 am

Ok, I took a look at Narvik by Dickens. In the extreme of Rombaksfjord, were grounded three German destroyers, from N to S, Zenker, von Arnim and Ludemann. The first, von Arnim, exploded at 1520. Then the British arrived and Bey and his crews were still on board Zenker, relaeasing depth charges to sink the destroyer. The British opened fire on them, no type of weapon detailed, and the Germans leave the destroyer as it sunk. Ludemann was the last to the South, still afloat. According to the British, she still appeared in fighting condition, so she was fired upon. As the Germans left her, the fuze ignited, a British boarding party came onboard, but soon left. As the charge didn´t go off, the British finished her with a torpedo.

So there is no description of the British firing directly to the sailors, there is of them firing to the ships. May be some shells passed to the beach, giving to the Germans the idea they were being fired.

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Re: German Destroyer - Bernd von Arnim

Post by RF » Thu Aug 05, 2010 8:06 am

This issue of helpless survivors being allegedly fired on is a serious one for any navy accused of it, both for the RN and the KM. Allegations have been made against both, and upon examination have not been substantiated except in two cases involving the KM. Both the cases here involved conviction of the officers accused by war crimes tribunals; one case was that of the Pelues, a Greek merchant ship sunk by a U-boat, the other was that of Helmuth von Ruckteschell for his activities on the hilfskreuzer Widder and Michel.

The issue had far nastier implications concerning the IJN. There were several war crimes hearings concerning the murder of Allied civilians and servicemen committed not in the water but on the decks of Japanese warships.
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Re: German Destroyer - Bernd von Arnim

Post by Dave Saxton » Fri Aug 06, 2010 2:19 pm

How many have seen the film footage of a US sub crew taking turns shooting Japanese survivers in the water with sniper rifles? I guess this type of thing wasn't that uncommon in what became a very brutal war.
Entering a night sea battle is an awesome business.The enveloping darkness, hiding the enemy's.. seems a living thing, malignant and oppressive.Swishing water at the bow and stern mark an inexorable advance toward an unknown destiny.

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Re: German Destroyer - Bernd von Arnim

Post by marcelo_malara » Fri Aug 06, 2010 2:32 pm

I didn´t see it Dave. Can it be downloaded? Anyway, the case of Narvik is a bit different, it was at the beginning of the war.

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Re: German Destroyer - Bernd von Arnim

Post by RF » Fri Aug 06, 2010 5:35 pm

Dave Saxton wrote:How many have seen the film footage of a US sub crew taking turns shooting Japanese survivers in the water with sniper rifles? I guess this type of thing wasn't that uncommon in what became a very brutal war.
I trust this depiction is fiction; it is clearly a breach of international obligations on the conduct of maritime warfare the USA has signed up to.

Were the survivors in the water German - bear in mind that a number of German vessels were sunk in the Far East theatre by US subs - would they have been treated the same way?
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Re: German Destroyer - Bernd von Arnim

Post by Dave Saxton » Fri Aug 06, 2010 7:15 pm

No its not fiction. It's actual war time footage, but I don't know if its available on Youtube or anything. It's been several years since I seen the film footage, but if I recall correctly part of the context was the Japanese cramming POW/slave laborers in unmarked "hell ships" with the strong likelyhood that they would be sunk by US subs. Other factors were that Japanese survivors usually refused to be rescued and if they did they were sometimes booby trapped, or they fought back from the water as the sub crews tried to sort out survivors.

The war in the pacific was particularly brutal, and by later during that war American GIs and sailors usually did not take prisioners as a matter of practice. Even when they did they usually had no means of gaurding or caring for them so they usually shot them after questioning them.
Entering a night sea battle is an awesome business.The enveloping darkness, hiding the enemy's.. seems a living thing, malignant and oppressive.Swishing water at the bow and stern mark an inexorable advance toward an unknown destiny.

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Re: German Destroyer - Bernd von Arnim

Post by Karl Heidenreich » Sat Aug 07, 2010 12:48 am

RF:
I trust this depiction is fiction; it is clearly a breach of international obligations on the conduct of maritime warfare the USA has signed up to.
Well, that are those episodes we know of... Also, of those we know we can recall the Laconia Incident in which the German U Boat captain Werner Hartenstein and some of his comrades were to rescue the Laconia survivors when US bombers deliberatly started to bomb them when trying to rendevous with a Red Cross ship. As a result was the infamous Laconia Order that, ironically and cynically, the prosecution at Nuremberg used against Doenitz. The bold is mine:
Among the war-crimes charges, Dönitz was accused of waging unrestricted submarine warfare for issuing War Order No. 154 in 1939, and another similar order after the Laconia incident in 1942, not to rescue survivors from ships attacked by submarine. By issuing these two orders, he was found guilty of causing Germany to be in breach of the Second London Naval Treaty of 1936[14]. However, as evidence of similar conduct by the Allies was presented at his trial, and with the help of his lawyer Otto Kranzbühler, his sentence was not assessed on the grounds of this breach of international law [14].

Quoted from:
14.^ a b c d e f g h Judgement: Dönitz the Avalon Project at the Yale Law School.
This claryfies the issue of war crimes from the allies too.

For further reading on allied war crimes you can follow these links:


http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Laconia_in ... man_attack

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Allied_war ... rld_War_II

This one, specific on US War Crimes:

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_crimes ... ted_States

I do imagine that a much better and patient research will reveal a much broader scope of this kind of situations but that's off topic here. Just want to support the previous comments.

Regards,
An appeaser is one who feeds a crocodile, hoping it will eat him last.
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Re: German Destroyer - Bernd von Arnim

Post by RF » Mon Aug 09, 2010 8:38 am

It doesn't really clarify it in the case of the Laconia as the Americans had good reason to think the Germans were abusing the Red Cross flags. The fact that the Americans got that wrong wouldn't alter their justification for bombing the U-boat, just as Captain Martin in Dorsetshire was correct in his judgement to leave the Bismarck survivors in the water because of a wrong assumption he was about to be attacked by a U-boat.
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Re: German Destroyer - Bernd von Arnim

Post by dunmunro » Wed Aug 11, 2010 12:57 am

A grey area is the transport of assault/invading soldiers aboard ships and/or sailors who may add their numbers to the attempted landing. The soldiers, if they reach shore will become combatants, and the attacking ship is typically not in a position to accept their surrender. I'm not sure how international law treats such a case.

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Re: German Destroyer - Bernd von Arnim

Post by RF » Wed Aug 11, 2010 9:31 am

The answer, something of an ambiguity, is that the transport vessels usually are not all sunk, the surviving vessels presumably deal with the survivors in the water.

There was also an incident concerning the hilfskreuzer Thor, when it attacked a passenger ship. The ship concerned, Britannia, broadcast a raider report which would place its actions as hostile and not compliant to the German ships orders. A British cruiser acknowledged the report and stated it was in close proximity to Britannia's position. Kapitan Kahler in Thor, on reading the reply, left the crew and passengers of the Britannia in their lifeboats for the British to pick up.
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Re: German Destroyer - Bernd von Arnim

Post by lwd » Wed Aug 25, 2010 8:23 pm

Dave Saxton wrote:... by later during that war American GIs and sailors usually did not take prisioners as a matter of practice. Even when they did they usually had no means of gaurding or caring for them so they usually shot them after questioning them.
I'd like to see some documentation on this. On it's surface it appears irrational. For one thing not many on either side could speak the same language so once you got people back to the point where there were intelligence types who could speak Japanese you could generally take care of them.

Several of the firng at crews from sinking or sunk ships incidents were due to the US sub taking small arms fire from the survivors and or firing at Japanese boats. The Battle of the Bismarck Sea seems a bit more deliberate but even there the targets were often "barges" and "boats" rather than survivors in the water. For one account see: http://www.historynet.com/battle-of-the ... -sea.htm/1

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Re: German Destroyer - Bernd von Arnim

Post by RF » Thu Aug 26, 2010 7:56 am

Dave Saxton wrote:The war in the pacific was particularly brutal, and by later during that war American GIs and sailors usually did not take prisioners as a matter of practice. Even when they did they usually had no means of gaurding or caring for them so they usually shot them after questioning them.
I assume that this is a reference to the warning given to US serviceman not to take prisoners because of the risk that such potential prisoners could (and sometimes did) hide live grenades within their uniform and would try to blow up themselves and take their captors with them.
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Re: German Destroyer - Bernd von Arnim

Post by Viggo » Sun Aug 19, 2012 4:48 pm

BI Naess wrote:Hi Andy,
My grandfather was on the BvA. He met my grandmother and they got a girl, my mother, during the war. Both my grandfather, grandmother and mother have passed away. But I have a photo album with pictures from Narvik during 1940.

I have not done any research before and have very few details.

Bjorn
Hello Bjorn. I am writing about the very exciting battles that took place in my hometown. I am borned and raised in Narvik. I have been diving at most of the wrecks that you can find of the bottom of the ocean in Narvik. I am very interested in your photos from Narvik during 1940. It is a very important part of my hometowns history. Do you think that you could send me a copy of some of your pictures?
Regards Viggo Kristensen

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Re: German Destroyer - Bernd von Arnim

Post by tommy303 » Sun Aug 19, 2012 9:26 pm

Dave,

Is this the film you were referencing?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=G6gFQH54 ... 26tab%3Dw1

Their shoulders held the sky suspended;
They stood and Earth's foundations stay;
What God abandoned these defended;
And saved the sum of things for pay.

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