Bacque 4, Bacque James

The Economist, Nov 25, 1989 v313 n7630 p102(2)
Title: Other Losses

…Mr Wiesenthal emphasises the need for nations to look at their
own history, honestly, if they are to be fit to survive. He too
will be startled by a new, and singularly nasty, can of worms now
opened by a Canadian 20 years his junior, James Bacque. In the
last winter of the war, a safe-conduct bearing the arms of the
United States and Britain was widely distributed round the German
army on the western front. It said: “The German soldier who
carries this safe-conduct is using it as a sign of his genuine
wish to give himself up. He is to be disarmed, to be well looked
after, to receive food and medical attention as required, and is
to be removed from the danger zone as soon as possible.” As
Hitler’s Reich disintegrated, hundreds of thousands of German
soldiers surrendered to their western rather than to their
eastern enemies, believing this would suit their own interests

Mr Bacque seeks to prove that the safe-conduct just quoted was,
so far as the Americans were concerned, a sham; that American
policy was to kill off german prisoners of war, renamed “disarmed
enemy forces”, by starvation; that over 800,000 of them duly died
in captivity, concealed as “other losses”–hence his title–in
the bureaucrats’ reports; and that the secret had lain buried in
the United States archives until he dug it out.

He writes more sharply than Mr Wiesenthal; he is especially
fierce in his condemnation of General Eisenhower, whose memory he
clearly detests. His allegations run directly counter to the
image that the West has long accepted, of Americans as kindly,
friendly, neighbourly; quite apart from the intrinsic
improbability that so vast an atrocity could so long have been
utterly hidden. This is the sort of story that gives government a
bad name, whatever government it is. It is founded on a
statistical basis that may not stand up to a closer look, and on
points that both diplomatic and economic historians will
query–was there for instance really no food shortage in the
summer of 1945? But it deserves a reasoned reply, promptly, from
a qualified historian.

OTHER LOSSES. By James Bacque. Stoddart, Toronto; 248 pages;
C$26.95. To be published in Britain by Macdonald Futura in August


Maclean’s, Nov 13, 1989 v102 n46 p69(2)
Title: Other Losses
Authors: Glynn, Lenny; Bemrose, John

Other Losses

Among the new Canadian books on the War, a few also probe the
darker side of the Allies. James Bacque’s Other Losses (Stoddart,
248 pages, $26.95) is an investigation into the treatment of
German troops who surendered to American and French armies and
were held captive in European camps. Toronto-based Bacque claims
that up to one million German veterans – as well as many
civilians – may have died of exposure, dysentery, starvation and
other illnesses in the dark days of 1945. Such claims have
created international shock waves (page 75).

Bacque argues that those “other losses,” an American military
euphemism for dead or escaped prisoners, were the victims of
deliberate policy at the highest levels of the Allied command. In
a foreword, U.S. Col. Ernest F. Fisher, who assisted Bacque in
his research, concurs that Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower’s “fierce
and obsessive hatred not only of the Nazi regime, but of all
things German … passed through the lens of a complacent
military bureaucracy $(and$) produced the horror of death camps
unequalled by anything in American military history.” According
to Bacque, most of the deaths occurred after the Germans’
surrender and after Eisenhower stripped captives of POW status –
and Geneva Convention protection – by redesignating them as
“detained enemy forces.”

Bacque argues that the scale of deaths in the vast open-air camps
was either concealed at the time – by calculated miscounting – or
covered up in the Cold War 1950s to prevent erosion of the new
West Germany’s commitment to the NATO alliance. German prisoners,
Bacque charges, were denied adequate food and water, medical care
and shelter. That treatment produced murderous squalor in U.S.
camps. “Nagging hunger and agonizing thirst were their
companions,” one German prisoner recounts, “and they died of
dysentery. A cruel heaven pelted them … with streams of rain.
Amputees slithered like amphibians through the mud, soaking and
freezing.” Those conditions left as much as a third of the
prisoners, handed over to French authorities as
reparations-labor, too weak to work. And, in French camps, a
further 167,000 to 300,000 died by 1946, Bacque charges. In stark
contrast, German casualties were minor among troops captured by
the British, the Canadians, or even by Gen. Mark Clark’s largely
American forces in Italy.

The author invites other scholars to carry on his research, flesh
out gaps and verify errors – without fearing, as some warned
Bacque, that to do so would justify Nazi crimes or spur neo-Nazi
movements. Although Bacque’s figures may be off – many
surrendered Germans could already have been close to starvation –
it is difficult to argue with his conclusion that at least some
American and French commanders were “sinking toward the evil
which we had all supposed we were fighting.”


Last-Modified: 1994/10/07

From: [email protected] (Wayne McGuire)
Date: Thu, 6 Oct 1994 23:35:20 GMT