The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: people/m/musmanno.michael/instrumentality-of-bombing

Archive/File: people/m/musmanno.michael/instrumentality-of-bombing
Last-Modified: 1999/07/27

"It was submitted that the defendants must be exonerated
from the charge of killing civilian populations since every
Allied nation brought about the death of non-combatants through
the instrumentality of bombing. Any person, who, without cause,
strikes another may not later complain if the other in repelling
the attack uses sufficient force to overcome the original
adversary. That is fundamental law between individuals in every
civilized nation and it is fundamental law between nations as

"It has already been adjudicated by a competent tribunal
that Germany under its Nazi rulers started an aggressive war. The
bombing of Berlin, Dresden, Hamburg, Cologne and other German
cities followed the bombing of London, Coventry, Rotterdam,
Warsaw and other Allied cities; the bombing of German cities
succeeded, in point of time, the acts discussed here. But even if
it were assumed for the purpose of illustration that the Allies
bombed German cities without Germans having bombed Allied cities,
there still is no parallelism between an act of legitimate
warfare, namely the bombing of a city, with a concomitant loss of
civilian life, and the premeditated killing of all members of
certain categories of the civilian population in occupied

"A city is bombed for tactical purposes: communications are
to be destroyed, railroads wrecked, ammunition plants demolished,
factories razed, all for the purposes of impeding the military.
In those operations it inevitably happens that non-military
persons are killed. This is an incident, a grave incident to be
sure, but an unavoidable corollary of battle action. The
civilians are not individualized. The bomb falls, it is aimed at
the railroad yards, houses along the tracks are hit and many of
their occupants killed. But that is entirely different, both in
fact and in law, from an armed force marching up to those same
railway tracks, entering those houses abutting thereon, dragging
out the men, women and children and shooting them.

"It was argued in behalf of the defendants that there was no
moral distinction between shooting civilians with rifles and
killing them by means of atomic bombs. There is no doubt that the
invention of the atomic bomb has added a preoccupation and worry
to the human race, but the atomic bomb, when used, was not aimed
at non-combatants. Like any other aerial bomb employed during the
war, it was dropped to overcome military resistance.

"Thus, as grave a military action as is an air bombardment,
whether with the usual bombs or by atomic bomb, the one and only
purpose of the bombing is to effect the surrender of the bombed
nation. The people of that nation, through their representatives,
may surrender and, with the surrender, the bombing ceases, the
killing is ended. Furthermore, a city is assured of not being
bombed by the law-abiding belligerent if it is declared an open
city. With the Jews it was entirely different. Even if the nation
surrendered they still were killed as individuals." (Musmanno, U.S.N.R, 
Military Tribunal II, Case 9: Opinion and Judgment of the Tribunal. 
Nuremberg: Palace of Justice. 8 April 1948. p.72.)

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