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The Geneva Convention and Human Currency

Updated on April 26, 2016

Did Nazi Germany Set a Precedent?

According to the movies (since I am poorly read when it comes to WWII), prior to the arrival of the Red Army in Berlin, high ranking Nazis, including Hitler, took their own lives. Some also blotted out the lives of their children. To the best of my knowledge, it is illegal to hunt down the surviving children, or children's children, of former combatants, whether from the winning or losing side of a war. A factor in the decision of the more pessimistic Nazi parents must have been their absolute defiance of the Geneva Convention throughout. Having shown repeated contempt for it in the worst ways imaginable, they could not, practically speaking, place an iota of trust in laws offering protection in the aftermath of World War II. It is unnatural, to say the least, for mothers and fathers to murder their own children. But something more was at stake than the fear of a harsh retaliation in their bloodcurdling actions. The war changed human nature. If that had been the main objective of the Third Reich, then it won. Unfortunately, Nazis, even if the degradation of man was a subsidiary goal, would not have wanted the wrong end of the stick. Or, for the sake of argument, did they think they could weather the blows, however delivered, until another set of circumstances permitted them to rise up from the dust and debris? In any case, people did in fact get meaner. Just ask today's old-timers about people they once knew. They will tell you about a kinder sort who no longer exist.

As to the notion of lives as currency (currency to burn, sometimes literally), I lifted the idea wholesale from other books. The context in mind dealt with armies leaving sections of the Balkans that had been militarily routed and subdued. On the way out, departing soldiers handed lethal weapons to the ethnic group of choice, and believe it or not, it proceeded to mercilessly brutalize former friends and neighbors. Without discernible experience, they were nonetheless as gruesome as professionals. Although the victims posed no threat whatsoever, they were hideously abused unto death. It took a quick, agile, and dark imagination to accomplish as much. Other books might focus on Russians during its Gulag period, the rampages of the Khmer Rouge, or, the cutthroat villainy of Nazi Germany. But all peoples everywhere, unless they impose self-discipline, are capable of terror. Under the right conditions, it takes no coaxing at all. So, what about the Geneva Convention, which expressly condemns these excesses?

The First Geneva Convention

By Charles Édouard Armand-Dumaresq, born in Paris in 1826, died in Paris in 1895.
By Charles Édouard Armand-Dumaresq, born in Paris in 1826, died in Paris in 1895. | Source

Legalities and War

The historical record points out how time and again, Nazis paid no attention to the Geneva Convention, despite, one can assume, at a certain level, a complete and thorough understanding of it. Germans were also signatories to the Hague Convention of 1907. From 1940-1945, nary a minute went by without cold infractions at variance with what they had promised. Thus, to give only a single example, Allied soldiers in uniform attacked a German military target, were caught by Nazis, and summarily executed, forced to first dig their own graves. Some were needlessly made to suffer from non-fatal shots. In fact, massacres occurred with a disconcerting frequency on both sea and land. The Geneva Convention produced article after article appertaining to nearly every aspect of land and sea engagements. For example, it included careful instructions on the treatment of captured medical personnel. The point is, however, for the hub-at-hand, rather than rehash the all-too-familiar, scores could continue to be settled, prolonged indefinitely, extra-generationally. In seventy-five years, following the end of WWII, nothing of the sort, to my knowledge, has happened. If it did, it would amount to little more than a lame excuse to commit random acts of violence, since, in terms of geopolitics, there is nothing to gain. In fact, it hardly pays to dwell on the fantasies of the deranged, except that people today are so fond of digging up family trees. What is going on?

What indeed! Plainly speaking, once an outbreak of war occurs, there is no pulling in the stops. Nevertheless, with the exception of homegrown maniacs, who activate anyway, when moved to do so, war or no war, there is more than likely nothing to fear. Post-war, multiple generational conflict would be a zero sum affair. Second, enough mileage separates us from current wars and the very worst terrorists. At present, no decisive battleground pits either ISIS, or collection of terrorist organizations, against United States troops. Instead, for Jihadists, soft targets are the holy grail: spectators, café customers, concertgoers, or passers-by. It might well be that despite the sensitive political aspects involved, Syria's implosion, and related international predicaments, is not our fight. The response is perfectly reasonable. However, once again, as in WWII, the rule of law is being flagrantly thwarted in the name of higher aims. If unchecked, senseless bloodshed tends to ensue. Then what? The moral upper hand is lost. It also seems self-evident that barbarism, apart from dubious justifications, is busily, if sporadically, ranging the whole gamut, from long before Nazism, in the 20th century, to Radical Islam, in the 21st, and, perhaps, beyond.

Conscientious Objectors in Great Britain

If you don't want to fight (kill), you might wind up in trouble.
If you don't want to fight (kill), you might wind up in trouble. | Source

The Mighty and the Meek

It is possible to get them mixed up. Tomorrow's mighty would not appear much different than today's meek. Even if both meek and mighty, they would not be the meek Jesus spoke of in His famous sermon. I mean the flabby (or buff, whatever) man or woman on a soft office, swivel chair, sitting at a desk, on which is a button, operated by an encrypted code, and an index finger. I am beginning to wonder about weight-lifting, ripped warriors. They get so much hype in the movie, television, and game worlds. But they could be on track to extinction. That button has more power than several well-equipped armies of muscular, hardened, patriotic, psyched, adrenaline-laced soldiers. To operate it requires almost no military training, only an ear to certain advice, and, maybe, a modicum of encouragement. It is something akin to the choice of Indiana Jones to fire a gun to eliminate a knife-fighter. Something to think about, anyway, though I mean no disrespect. After the dust clears, I do not doubt the inheritance due the genuinely meek.

All one can say is that ten years ago, to speak seriously of using nuclear weaponry, was unanimously considered insane. Almost all national leaders felt likewise, even if each hated the other. Now, the atmosphere has changed. It is a bit creepy, but while nuclear weaponry is openly discussed, whether in videos or on television, it is eminently clear that boots-on-the-ground, as a traditional component of war, is becoming less and less tenable. Too many people get hurt, some in unspeakable ways. The element of unpredictability is infinite. There are no guarantees, no controls. To begin with, peruse a few military history books on any theater of action from 1939 to 1945. Absorb the intolerable consequences of conventional fighting. It is so horrifying, and then, it follows, unstoppable, creating a vicious cycle, that atom bombs were actually employed as the most humane solution to the final phase of WWII. Then, to bring one up to speed, think only of what radical Islamicists are doing now. Their wish to outdo the Third Reich, thinly masked by Sharia, is, bit by bit, coming true. They are only just getting started. There you have it, a sensible, if flawed, argument for the megaton bomb.

Defendants at Nuremberg

Relaxed, but found guilty.
Relaxed, but found guilty. | Source

Victory, Defeat, and Meaninglessness

Nazi Germany lost to the Allies. But in the process it made a complete mockery of the Geneva Convention. The evidence was undeniable and ubiquitous. Eventually, German war criminals were hung for unprovoked massacres and systematic deaths in camps, but hardly enough, so numerous were the culprits, not to mention victims. The more I read up on Nazi atrocities, the more ridiculous did the rules, regulations, and abstract ideals embodied by international law appear. In the heat of battle, as camouflage, evil things happen that are done strictly for their own sake. For this self-evident reason alone, it seems clear that those dreaded and despised bombs are in play. To the unseen, unknowable formulators of our haplessly shared fate, they are irresistible. Only an opinion, mind you, but not a complete fantasy. Free shipping and no tracking numbers needed. If the human race turns back from its path to self-destruction, it will have been a miracle. Since the humanitarian stipulations of the Geneva Convention, along with U.N. resolutions, are routinely ignored, then there is nothing to prevent total annihilation. It is hard enough to think of the deployment of refined and upgraded atomic bombs not to also have to add in the possibility of no survivors.

The U.N.

Hero or villain?
Hero or villain? | Source

The United Nations

After the failure of the Geneva Convention comes that of the United Nations. The first was treated with the utmost disrespect, the second is laughed at as ineffective and, at times, biased. Still, there is at present no better mechanism to diffuse tense situations leading to war and war crimes. To phrase it more talmudic, if not the U.N., then what? True, in Africa, the U.N. had to pull out, thus allowing the Rwandan slaughter. It did not have the manpower. But why is this? Why does it not have sufficient backing? Is it because there is no faith in its judgment, or because nations want to reserve the right to violate human rights if they so choose? To date, our best defense against insane leaders and grave political conflicts is still the U.N. Nevertheless, there are other mechanisms in place to counteract belligerence. There are multi-national pacts as well as shared intelligence. Most peoples, regardless of their forms of government, are desirous of peace. But not at any cost. Hence, it is not absolutely neurotic to be nervous about what, not dreams, but reality, might bring.


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    • Ericdierker profile image

      Eric Dierker 

      2 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Great article. It is a saddening what man is capable of by I have hope we are doing better gradually.


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