Thursday, November 27, 2003

As I navigated the jam-packed aisles of the Bread and Circus market in Newton yesterday morning, surrounded by other shoppers all snatching up their favorite holiday foods, I couldn't help but be struck by a disquieting realization.

What are we all doing, celebrating our plenty--our collective obesity, if you will--in a world where the vast majority of the people are hungry? I admit I feel a bit like a party pooper to voice this thought on one of our most cherished national holidays. I could continue this thread, if I weren't sure I'd be turning away readers. No one wants to be reminded, on Thanksgiving of all days, of the way the U.S. and its large corporations finagle it so that we have lots, and much of the rest of the world's people have so little.

American Policy to Starve German Prisoners of War?

I have been reading--more like studying, actually--the book Crimes and Mercies: The Fate of German Civilians Under Allied Occupation, 1944-1950 by James Bacque.
Disturbing assertions abound in this small volume. According to Bacque (not a historian, by the way), Eisenhower established a postwar policy of starving German POWs held in American camps in the immediate postwar weeks and months. The evidence of this has long been noted in German and Austrian publications, but is not generally available to American audiences. In fact, Crimes and Mercies was published in Canada and Britain.

While most historians of the period agree that German POWs suffered terrible privation in American, British, and French camps after the war, they also agree that Bacque's research and statistical reasoning is flawed, so much so that the book cannot be relied upon to back up the assertions of any American who might claim that Eisenhower insisted on starving the Germans, even if there is enough evidence to suggest that it is fact.

More quality research is needed in this area. I will report more as I dig it up.


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