our Shame
One, two, three, four
Every night we pray for war.

Five, six, seven, eight
Rape, destroy and mutilate.

In his book Other Losses, the Canadian writer, James Bacque, provides the results of his research into the treatment of German prisoners of war after World War II. (Read an excerpt, here.)

Since its publication (in 1989) there has been much criticism of his work - this and this, for example and this in support of Bacque's claim. .

Perhaps the most devastating criticism came from Stephen E. Ambrose, then the chief of the Eisenhower Center in New Orleans.
Apparently Ambrose supported Bacque's book and agreed to write a foreword, then wrote to Bacque, saying:

I have now read Other Losses and wish I had not. I have had nightmares every night since I started reading... You have a sensational if appalling story and it can no longer be suppressed, and I suppose (in truth I know) it must be published... I must withdraw my offer to write a Foreword; I just can't do it to Ike. I quarrel with many of your interpretations, [but] I am not arguing with the basic truth of your discovery.... you have the goods on these guys, you have the quotes from those who were present and saw with their own eyes, you have the broad outline of a truth so terrible that I really can't bear it.... You really have made a major historical discovery, the full impact of which neither you nor I nor anyone can fully imagine.... I have written at length about your script to Alice Mayhew, my editor at Simon and Schuster.

Bacque writes here (in response to questions about his book):

Many historians have supported my work. They include Col. Dr Ernest F. Fisher, formerly A Senior Historian, United States Army Center for Military History, Washington, DC; Prof. Richard Overy, King's College, University of London; Prof. Ed Peterson, University of Wisconsin; Dr. Alfred De Zayas, formerly Senior Legal Counsel to the UN High Commission on Human Rights; Prof. Hans Koch, University of York, England; Prof. Ralph Raico, University of Buffalo. There are others--maybe these will do for now?

PS Stephen E. Ambrose was a strong supporter of my work and helped me to get published. He appeared on CBS Evening News and was quoted in Time Magazine in support of Other Losses. Suddenly, after a semester in the fall of 1989, at The US Army War College at Carlisle Barracks PA, he switched over to defending Eisenhower. He has never explained this sudden aberration.

Perhaps ... perhaps there will, one day, be rational, unbiassed, critical review of the available evidence to support or refute the claims made by Bacque. Let's hope so. In the meantime, I think it best not to tell ourselves that:

We are the Good Guys, more civilized than they are.


Since writing the above, I have started to read Bacque's book, the second edition of Other Losses.

He had, in the original edition (written in 1989), provided arguments to show that almost one million German prisoners died in the French and American prison camps. As one might expect, there was widespread scorn placed upon the author who, they said, was "not a historian". I guess a "historian" is one who has a university degree in ... what? History?

Or is a historian one who does the necessary research, seeks the truth and writes about it.

In 1992 the Soviet government opened its vast and secret archives to Western researchers.
It contained dossiers on four million prisoners of war.
Bacque went there in 1991, 1992 and 1993, took notes, photocopies, talked to archivists
... and wrote the second edition of Other Losses.

The biblography and references to his sources (which number in the thousands) occupy much of the book.
I can tell you it's frightening.

Makes one proud to be Homo sapiens, eh?


Other links:
Martin Brech's story
truthseeker article
Bacque comments
Stephen Ambrose