Succeeding at anti terrorism (updated)
As World War ll recedes into the mists of ancient history, while former enemies have ostensibly turned into allies, many of the ugly, grim realities of defeating Germany have been downplayed. One, that has special relevance today, is defeating post war terrorism.
After their military defeat by regular forces, the occupied population
produced terrorists who engaged in bombings, sniping, poisonings, and
other attacks on occupation forces and on the civilian population. They
operated as irregulars in small terror units, armed with automatic weapons
Women and minors as young as eight participated in the terror attacks.
They attempted to build weapons of mass destruction, using chemical
poisons. They assassinated officials of the occupation regime. They had a
special obsession with torturing and murdering "collaborators." They
murdered hundreds of civilians, while thousands of the terrorists
themselves were killed by the occupation armed forces. The occupiers
responded to terror with brutality and force, sometimes using collective
How were those terrorists eventually defeated? With brutal military force
and counter-terrorism combined with a long-term program of denazification
of German civilians.
The Soviets were by far the least squeamish of the Allies when it came to
suppressing Werwolf terrorism. According to a Vatican report, "Russian
reprisals were terrible. Using flame-throwers the Russians destroyed
entire blocks of houses causing the deaths of hundreds of the
While such behavior may strike us as barbarous retaliation, Biddiscombe describes it thus: "None the less, given what the Werwolf was doing, or trying to do, the responses of the occupiers do not lay beyond the realm of comprehension." The Soviets were still concerned about threats of Werwolf sabotage and terror in Eastern Europe during the 1950's.
The French were second to the Soviets in the viciousness and ferocity of
their suppression of Werwolf terrorism. French soldiers pillaged German
areas as they fell under their control. Random beatings of Germans by the
French were common. The French forcibly expelled all German civilians from
numerous towns and villages in their area of control. General Le Clerc
issued an edict on November 25, 1944 to shoot five Germans for every act
of sniping near Strasbourg.
While American troops generally avoided the excesses of the Soviets and French, they were sharply criticized by the British for using excessive brutality and force in suppressing the Werwolf. General Eisenhower ordered the execution of all Werwolf fighters captured in civilian garb.
It was understood among U.S. troops that they had a green light for
applying frontier justice to terrorists, with no lawyers or trials. The
counterinsurgency manual issued by the Supreme Headquarters Allied
Expedition Force (SHAEF) recommended that troops simply ignore Geneva Convention rules when dealing with the Werwolf.SHAEF instructions allowed using captive Germans in forced labor; seizure of German civilians as hostages; collective punishment; shooting of hostages; and massive bombings of civilian areas containing terrorists.
Threats to shoot all curfew violators were commonly made. At Lutzkampen, Allied troops threatened to burn down the village if there were any violations of curfew.
While no one in his or her right mind would advocate some of the more
excessive means used to suppress the German terrorists of the late 1940's, that era nevertheless teaches us that a determined no-nonsense campaign of wiping out terrorism with armed force is capable of succeeding, even against the most brutal of opponents. Determined denazification of fanatic violent populations was also shown to work.
Such success is not easy, nor does it come cheaply.