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Gestapo and torture


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#1 GrandsonofAMarine

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Posted 15 May 2009 - 07:13 AM

The raging controversy over torture now days has gotton me to thinking about how effective torture is as a tool to procure information. The Gestago was well known for the use of harsh interrogation tactics to attain info on resistence movements. My question to is how effective where they? And did the Soviets use such tactics? How about the US , French, and tha Brits?

This is NOT intended as a political post so please restrict your comments to WWII. Thanks in advance.
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#2 hucks216

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Posted 15 May 2009 - 10:20 AM

I think it is fair to say that all sides used torture at some stage or another during WW 2.

#3 Richard

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Posted 15 May 2009 - 10:48 AM

Correct me if I'm wrong, but I don't believe it was fully effective as it could take days to get the answers they wantted and clumsily interrogation would result in death with no answers. I would not be that surprised there methods were clumsy, I think the Gestapo gain more by psychological terror that the people knew stepping out of line would result in torture.

I have no idea if the Allies used physical torture, I heard that we the British used psychological methods in interrogation but to what length I do not know.

#4 texson66

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Posted 15 May 2009 - 12:08 PM

Torture has been part of every war. Here's a link that points out the UK's WWII activities in this area and contrasts it to the US activities now.

Bottom line: you do what's necessary to win the war and protect your people

How Torture Helped Win WWII - The Daily Beast
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#5 Triple C

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Posted 16 May 2009 - 10:44 AM

The British however did not torture German spies captured in England; the problem was (and still is) that analysts could not determine which confessions made under duress are true and which ones are false with certainty. It maybe true that sooner or later, everyone talks. But one does not know when do they run out of real information and start making imaginery leads. It is highly probable that information given under duress maybe tailored by the tortured to meet the expectations of the interrogator. Which for the Gestapo might not neccessarily be a bad thing.

#6 STURMTRUPPEN

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Posted 18 May 2009 - 01:05 AM

it's fair to say each side used torture at one point during the war
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#7 marc780

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Posted 18 May 2009 - 07:03 PM

The Gestapo certainly did use various forms of torture and were completely ruthless in inflicting any amount of pain and horror to get information. They were of course experts in exttracting information using psychology, brain washing, trickery and whatever else they thought would work, they were complete psycopaths but were smart ones. That is, if they thought you were lying they had all the time they needed to ask you about what they wanted to know until they got consistent answers. I know a guy who went to survival school in the Air Force and one of the instructors had been a POW in Vietnam. He told them point blank "they will eventually find a way to force you to tell them everything you know."

I recall very few instances of physical torture being used by British and Americans on their enemies although you know it must have occurred at some point. (I do recall an account of the British army making one German prisoner stand on a box for acting up in the camp but generally British policy forbade torture as did the Americans.)
The remarkable thing about WW2 was that it was the last war where we fought an enemy (Germany) who generally did obey the Geneva convention rules with regard to Western POW's. Although exceptions were certainly made (Hitler's famous "commando" order, that specified captured members of commando units would be shot, whether in uniform or not - for disseminating this order, Jodl and Keitel were hung at Nuremburg.)

Many nations prefer psychological trickery to torture and a good account of interrogation techniques as used by the US Army in Afganistan, modern day is this one:
Amazon.com: The Interrogators: Inside the Secret War Against al Qaeda: Chris Mackey, Greg Miller: Books

#8 brndirt1

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Posted 19 May 2009 - 02:23 AM

First; a point of semantics. Humans are "hanged", pictures are "hung". The word "hung" should only be used in the male human sense in XXX terminology. That said, we Americans weren't spotless when it came to "unorthodox" interogation methods, but less "nasty" than most.

There were fourteen German POWs hanged in the US, and all were hanged after the war in Europe was over, but their execution had only been stayed for concern that American POWs in Hitler’s hands would be executed in retaliation. The final executions were performed only, as Col. Karlheinz Ammann said, after the Nazi KZs, and the Japanese POW camp horrors were becoming known. Leniency toward former Axis soldiers (if they themselves had committed criminal acts while in captivity) was then far from possible, no matter if their own intentions seemed "honorable" in their own minds.

Seven men (Helmut Fischer, Fritz Franke, Gunther Kuelsen, Heinrich Ludwig, Bernard Ryak, Otto Stenger and Rolf Wizuy) were executed for the beating and hanging of Werner Drechsler whom they had discovered was an informant and as such a traitor, in their eyes. It is widely believed that they were tortured before their courts-martial. Murder was always the crime case in the hangings of German POWs, not just in the case of Drechsler but the other seven as well.

Dr. Leonarde Keeler used one of his early polygraph machines to sort through over 120 suspected POWs and winnow the number down to a manageable twenty in the Drechsler case. These twenty were transferred to Stockton CA where they were subjected to interrogation methods closely approaching; if not actual physical torture. These were methods such as sleep depravation, extreme heat (rumored to have been cuffed to a steam radiator), random strip searches, and lastly gas masks filled with onions. This was when they were then forced to wear a gas mask with crushed onions in the filter chamber, allowing them no respite from the fumes.

Now those don't exactly qualify as "Spanish Inquisition like" tortures, but all would be rather uncomfortable to say the least. Out of those twenty, seven confessed to murdering Drechsler as loyal German soldiers who had discovered a traitor in their midst. Not exactly "pull out your fingernails" type nasty/sadistic.

"It was a bad time in 1945," said Col. Karlheinz Ammann, the German Federal Armed Forces liaison at Ft. Leavenworth. "The Allies had found the concentration camps, and there was no desire to show mercy for the Nazis at that time. And that is (easily) understandable."

These POWs "...(these men) were educated in the Third Reich. They were convinced the guys they killed were traitors. They had no chance to learn differently," said Ammann, one of several foreign military men working with US officers at the Army's Command and General Staff College. One executed soldier echoed that very sentiment, across the decades; "What I did was done as a German soldier under orders." This was said by Rudolf Straub just before his execution. "If I had not done so, I would have been punished when I returned to Germany." In 1944, Straub and another German soldier had beaten Horst Guenther to death at a POW camp in Aiken, S.C..

In the Dreschler case, seven captured submariners beat, choked and then themselves hanged Werner Dreschler from a beam in a shower. He was another Nazi inmate whom they believed had given the Americans information about German U-boat tactics. They believed Dreschler's action had caused the deaths of their comrades at sea. Dreschler hadn't done that really, what he had done was to try to find the most "virulent" Nazis in the POW encampment (at camp authorities request), and report as to who they were so they could be segregated. His remaining in the camp was a major error in judgment by the American officers controlling the camp, I just don't think they (Americans) really thought his comrades would "kill him" if they discovered his informing activities, only beat the crap out of him. A bad mistake on the part of the camp officers.

Happy Trails,
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#9 Triple C

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Posted 21 May 2009 - 03:33 AM

Torture is known to be ineffective and every real professional in the business knows this. Interrogators torture because they were unskilled, ignorant, sadistic, desirous to inflict harm on hated enemies or is plain lazy. Tortures is the quickest and easiest way to create a tangible facsimile of results that resemble information, even though in reality they were of very low grade and highly undependable. Historically, people became torturers not because they have been proven to be effective in getting information, but just because they had the reputation of being tough, politically reliable, or volunteered. All that the Gestapo had done was to make people confess to whatever they have been accused of. I do not have the information on hand at this time, but I distinctly recall that German interrogators' own studied conclusion on torture was that it was not dependable.

A good counter point to the torture of Al-Qaida operatives would be HOW TO BREAK A TERRORIST by the interrogator who uncovered the information that led to the elimination of al Zarqawi. He did so completely through conventional means. He says in his book that in his experience, almost no useful intellegence had been gathered by torture.

#10 lwd

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Posted 21 May 2009 - 01:58 PM

Torture is known to be ineffective and every real professional in the business knows this. ....

This is not only debateable it is almost asuredly false. What is apparently true is that a good interogater can do better in most cases with out it.

#11 PzJgr

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Posted 21 May 2009 - 02:10 PM

I believe that the idea of the knowledge that torture is a method used in itself is enough to get one to talk especially if the one being interrogated has not been trained in how to resist interrogations.

The German people feared the Gestapo because they knew those who were interrogated were indeed tortured. That fear is what made the Gestapo successful in a lot of cases with the general population willingly providing the Gestapo with tips. Better to turn someone in rather than ignore them and then having been turned in themselves just for either knowing about it and not reporting it.
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