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 Fighting for the Foe

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Priscilla
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PostSubject: Fighting for the Foe   Wed 11 Jun 2014, 11:04

Yet another awful consequence of warfare, that of conscripting men from defeated lands also happened in France during WW2. I had not known  the extent of this until the D Day progs. Can such service be committed and dependable? And what happens after the war? Are they condemned for it?
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: Fighting for the Foe   Wed 11 Jun 2014, 14:14

@Priscilla wrote:
Can such service be committed and dependable?

Yes, if the conscripted soldiers are deployed in situations where their alternatives to fighting are practically non-existent (such as on the Russian front during WWII). The death penalty for even minor disciplinary transgressions also worked wonders too, the Germans found.

In WWII many Latvian and Estonian conscripts, for example, were also motivated to fight on the German side as they believed fighting the Russians represented the lesser of two evils and the better chance of retaining some kind of autonomy for their homelands after the war.

After the war conscripts to the Waffen-SS (recruits post-1943) were generally exempted from inclusion in war crime trials. Volunteers however (such as the Norwegians who signed up in their thousands) could face double punishment - once at the hands of the various tribunals set up by the allied victors and then again when and if they were repatriated.
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Triceratops
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PostSubject: Re: Fighting for the Foe   Wed 11 Jun 2014, 16:04

Ost Battalions of the Wehrmacht;

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Ostlegionen




and the remarkable story of one man who was in the Japanese, Soviet and German Armies at various phases of the war;

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Yang_Kyoungjong
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Gilgamesh of Uruk
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PostSubject: Re: Fighting for the Foe   Wed 11 Jun 2014, 23:16

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Operation_Keelhaul

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Andrey_Vlasov

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Jiffs

One further encouragement to fighting determinedly for the "new" cause - if you know that capture or defeat means death - if you are lucky, quick death, if not .........
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Priscilla
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PostSubject: Re: Fighting for the Foe   Thu 12 Jun 2014, 00:00

And what of further back in history? As I recall, at Platea, Greek cavalry fighting for Xerxes were somewhat lack lustre - and they had not been conscripted. Or perhaps Pausanius hoped they would be once they got started after a long delay - awaiting a suitable sheep's liver reading to get the battle started.
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nordmann
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PostSubject: Re: Fighting for the Foe   Thu 12 Jun 2014, 08:21

Armies assembled through alliance haven't always functioned that well, even when on paper they have been vastly superior to their opponent. Just taking contemporary examples as an indication one can see that coalition forces enjoyed various degrees of success if you compare for example the recent campaign in the Balkans to those in the Middle East, despite the method of assembly and the identity of the participants and prime movers being more or less identical in each case. Besides the problem of varying levels of committment and application there is also the thorny problem of quantifying success - each partner in the coalition can exhibit very different criteria for measuring same.

The Romans perfected the system in their day. However what are generally referred to as mercenaries now in the Roman context are difficult to be made conform to the rather limited current definition of the term, particularly when one examines the actual nature of both their recruitment and the perceived rewards for enrolling in the Roman war machine when they did. By the second century of empire it is even hard to see how the machine itself could not by then be labelled "mercenary" at almost all levels. Despite great success in subsuming the soldiers' identity into an overall "Roman" ethos even this hugely successful strategy of establishing a permanent "coalition" army was still to revert to the inevitable default of constituent elements prosecuting their own disparate ambitions. The final centuries of empire were in fact almost completely governed and shaped by these forces.

In that context the question of conscription seems to become almost unimportant. Rome used various methods of coercion at all times to maintain this army model, the extent of its application varying from time to time and from region to region. However the pattern of this deployment of coercion is hardly discernible at all from the military record of success and failure experienced by Roman forces in the service of empire. As with Xerxes' dilemma you mention above, Rome frequently (and often quite intentionally) pitched people of close or equal ethnicity to their foe into direct conflict. Yet unlike Xerxes and his Greek mercenaries Roman generals seldom had reason to regret this tactic and often reason in fact to laud it. From Caesar's use of Gallic tribal affiliates right up to Byzantine recruitment within Balkan and Anatolian territories already under Muslim control the tactic was so tried and trusted a staple of Roman warfare that it is almost unimaginable how Rome could have existed at all as a great power without a huge amount of "conscripted foreigners" at its disposal throughout most of its existence who were often sent to war against people with whom they shared much more in common ethnically than they did with their  employers.

Germany under Nazi control fancied itself as the prime inheritor of this tradition ("third reich" and all that) and had no qualms about implementing a similar policy, especially when things started going against it militarily. And to be fair to this policy, however delusional it might have been in terms of justification at the time, it must be said that they enjoyed some qualified success which might even have surprised them at the time. It certainly still raises some awkward and potentially embarrassing questions regarding common perceptions of nationality and patriotism and often is a cause of no small discomfort to certain historians and politicians tackling this issue from recent history even today.
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Vizzer
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PostSubject: Re: Fighting for the Foe   Sun 15 Jun 2014, 10:11

@Priscilla wrote:
Yet another awful consequence of warfare, that of conscripting men from defeated lands also happened in France during WW2. I had not known  the extent of this until the D Day progs. Can such service be committed and dependable? And what happens after the war? Are they condemned for it?

This reminds me of the story I heard about a family from Alsace-Lorraine:

One family member was conscripted into the French army in 1870. He experienced defeat by the German army during the Franco-Prussian War that year and was taken prisoner.

As a result of that war Alsace-Lorraine was annexed by Germany and when his son grew up he was conscripted into the German army in 1914. He experienced defeat by the French army during the First World War and was taken prisoner.

Alsace-Lorraine then reverted to France after the Treaty of Versailles and his son (the grandson of the veteran of the Franco-Prussian war) was conscripted into the French army in 1939. He experienced defeat by the German army during the invasion and occupation of France in 1940 and was taken prisoner and then released.

Alsace-Lorraine was re-annexed by Germany and his younger brother (who had been too young to be conscripted by the French army in 1939) reached the age of conscription during the Second World War and was duly conscripted into the German army and then experienced defeat by the French army in 1944 and was taken prisoner.

I can't think that there are too many other regions of the world that have see-sawed between two neighbouring powers in this way as much as has Alsace-Lorraine.
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MadNan
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PostSubject: Re: Fighting for the Foe   Sun 15 Jun 2014, 13:13

I wonder what the army equivalent of Jonah is.....it seems to be hereditary in this family.
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Meles meles
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PostSubject: Re: Fighting for the Foe   Sun 15 Jun 2014, 15:42

Further to Vizzer's comment:

In about 2005 the French papers all had articles commemorating the death of one of the last soldiers that had fought in WW1. He was a Frenchman, a dairy farmer, again from Alsace .... but he was never a Poilu and indeed the accompanying photo showed him wearing a germanic pickelhaube helmet.

In WW1 he had been conscripted into the German army to fight for the Kaiser. Then in 1939, by which time Alsace had again become French, the poor chap was just within the call-up age-range to serve in the French army and so was enlisted to fight against the Germans. In 1940, following the capitulation of France and the formation of the Vichy Government, he was demobbed and again allowed to go home ..... to his beloved cows: I seem to remember from the newspaper articles that the one thing that always worried him whenever he was in the army (whether during the 1st or 2nd world wars) was how his cows were managing without him to look after them.
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PostSubject: Re: Fighting for the Foe   Mon 16 Jun 2014, 10:06

The Hundred Days Campaign of 1815, the Dutch Army was composed of troops who just a year earlier had been soldiers in Napoleon's Grande Armee



The Army of the Netherlands in the Waterloo Campaign is often neglected;

http://www.waterloo-campaign.nl/preambles/nederland.pdf
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