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Wednesday, January 16, 2013

On Italian and Russian War Crimes during WWII

"The Japanese war crimes trials were part of a long litany of such trials that began much earlier and that continue in The Hague to this very day... The Japanese had to answer for their crimes in the months and years following Hirohito’s surrender. Their enemies did not. The Italians were also spared—and that’s another story worth briefly recapping here.

Italy has never atoned for its war crimes in Spain, in the Balkans and in Africa where it gassed Ethiopian villagers in a flagrant breach of the Geneva Convention. Italy, which helped foment the war, has actually been brazen enough to put aged Nazis in the dock—whilst simultaneously engaging in fresh bouts of adventurism in the Balkans and Iraq under the NATO umbrella. Of more than 1,200 Italians sought for war crimes in Africa and the Balkans, not even one has ever faced justice. Webs of denial spun by the Italian state, the Vatican, academe and the media have re-invented Italy as a victim, gulling the rest of us into acclaiming the Good Italian long before Captain Corelli strummed his mandolin, while running his hand up the legs of peasant Greek girls. Benito Mussolini’s invading soldiers slaughtered all before them, they starved infants in concentration camps and they engaged in genocide. There was no Nuremberg for Italy’s legions of criminals.

When General Pietro Badoglio, whose planes strafed Red Cross camps and dropped 280kg bombs of mustard gas into Ethiopian villages, died of old age in his bed, the Italians buried the bastard with full military honors; they even renamed his home town after him! General Rudolfo Graziani, aka the butcher of Libya, massacred entire communities; his crimes included an infamous assault against the sick and elderly of Addis Ababa. His men posed for photographs holding the severed heads of the victims of Mussolini’s Pax Romana. General Mario Roatta, known to his men as the black beast, killed tens of thousands of Yugoslav civilians in indiscriminate reprisal attacks and murdered thousands by deliberately depriving them of water, food and basic medicines in the concentration camps he herded them into. Successive Italian governments have steadfastly refused to reveal the location of stockpiles of mustard gas in Ethiopia and innocent African children still continue to die as a result. And Italy couldn’t care less...

Japan, Hirohito and Tojo included, undoubtedly had as serious a case to answer as have the Italians and history’s other butchers. However, so too had the prosecution, most of whom now admit that the Tokyo trials were a travesty of justice. For a start, the Soviet Union, who only attacked Japan after the Hiroshima outrage, was a central part of the Tokyo hanging jury. The Soviets charged Japan with attacking them—even though they had attacked Japan. The Soviets, Hitler’s loyal allies up to 1941, had earlier demanded that the Nazis be charged with the Katyn Forest massacre of Polish Army officers, conveniently forgetting for over 50 years that they carried out that atrocity themselves. The Soviet judge at Tokyo was a veteran of Stalin’s show trials, hardly a glowing recommendation to anyone who believes in due process. More Japanese prisoners died in Soviet hands than British or American soldiers died in Japanese gulags. But then the Japanese were the bad guys. None of Stalin’s minions has ever been brought to task for their monumental crimes. Russia has never paid a dime in reparations to any of her victims."

--- The Japanese Disease: Sex and Sleaze in Modern Japan / Declan Hayes
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