Welcome to Amman
Capital City of the Hashemite Kingdom of Jordan
The view from my hotel room
Sunday, 23 March
Newsflash: 6.16 pm
Aljazeera TV shows the horrifying scene of dead US soldiers and has an interview with captured soldiers, one from Kansas.
Oh, it hurts because he reminds me of my son. He is frightened, and when asked why he has come to Iraq, he replies: "I was told to ... I follow orders".
And then I recall President Bush a few days ago so smugly and grandly announcing to the world that "following orders" is no defence for captured Iraqi soldiers.
Oh, oh, oh - and then earlier there is a scene on the Tigris banks where two US pilots who allegedly ejected from their plane were caught hiding in the reeds.
Another shot is of a truck that had been towing a water tanker with the driver dead on the ground.
Nasiriya is the place where the young US marines were ambushed and killed, and CNN screened portions of the Aljazeera interview.
I saw the full segment direct from Aljazeera TV's reporting. [I saw it on TV so it must be true!]
The propaganda war has begun.
On CNN it is stated that Donald Rumsfeld claims the US soldiers were humiliated, something that is against the Geneva Convention. Then Rumsfeld says: "... the course is clear, outcome is clear, the regime is gone ...".
Iraq denies mistreating US POWs and a spokesperson says Iraq will treat POWs humanely because Iraqis have values and principles ... as given to them by their religion, Islam ... and they will adhere to the Geneva Convention.
President Bush stands condemned for stating he will treat anyone harming US soldiers as "war criminals" because he forgets that his command to invade Iraq is an illegal act of aggression, and that the Iraqi defence force is merely protecting its own territory.
Now begins the mourning for the dead, and an abandonment of the rule of law. The US war of aggression has sent in an Internet flash the signal that now anything goes. It appears that the planners of the war have not yet calculated on the power of the Internet as a weapon of mass instruction. No wonder there is a frenzy among the control freaks to also control the Internet's free flow of information.
The Pentagon claims a chemical factory has been found where possible production of weapons of mass destruction may have occurred.
ITN's Terry Lloyd died from coalition fire and an Australian journalist also died.
The Arab League meeting in Cairo condemns Kuwaiti involvement in this conflict.
The Iraq embassy in Jordan remains open but some diplomats have been asked to leave. Jordan has an exclusive role to play in the Middle East but more of that later, except to say that there are now moves to stop this war from escalating. It is rumoured that perhaps the Russians will be invited by the USA to mediate some sort of peace; perhaps this is wishful thinking.
On the Jordanian-Iraq Border
A visit to a refuge camp
Jordan is wedged between Iraq and the Zionist, apartheid, racist state of Israel, and it maintains diplomatic relations with both countries. This makes Jordanian politics a delicate balancing act. It is in Israel's interest to keep that common border with Jordan as peaceful as possible. Hence the USA, so it appears, is also extending some kind of protection via information to Jordan because what hurts Israel also hurts the USA.
Jordan is totally reliant upon Iraqi oil, and that brings Jordanian politics into the politics of Middle Eastern oil politics, something that again involves the Anglo-American oil cartels.
What all this has to do with us Australians, well, that's something that I personally have an opinion on, namely that Australia's Zionists have our Prime Minister by the proverbial balls, or rather, Mr Howard is letting himself be grabbed by the balls, for whatever reason!
That the post-World War Two political order is also fracturing, gives rise to a new re-alignment of power blocks. As I stated some time ago, the Soviet Union's fracturing will also flow into the US , that powerhouse of world capitalism. Little wonder then, that the war on terrorism, called out four days after the 11 September 2001 WTC catastrophe [which occured four days after Israel's name was blackened and labelled a Zionist, racist, apartheid state, at the UN anti-racist conference in Durban, South Africa], attempts to consolidate the US as a sole imperial power.
So, a word of caution is in order here. Whenever we focus on some kind of definitive core that tends to explain the Middle East conflict, something else pops up, and so it is wise to say, yes, oil plays a major part in this conflict, but not only because the whole issue cannot be reduced to a single causal factor.
Religion also plays a role, yet we must remember that a sector of Jews vehemently opposes the existence of the Zionist State of Israel.
It is sad to see that since the Intifada in Palestine, Jordanian's tourist industry has collapsed. Hotels are offering reduced rates just to stay afloat, and to think that this whole Middle East region could be as prosperous, as is currently Kuwait. But that country is playing a different political game, isn't it. It shows me how volatile a situation prevails if a country bases its stability on tourism, as we have also seen in South East Asia, especiall in Bali.
The visit - to the Human City
I receive limited offical permission to travel to a restricted zone where refugees fleeing the Iraqi war zone are cared for. The journey to Ruweished, a small border settlement, takes us around four hours in ideal travelling weather with cool and overcast conditions.
30 Km out of Amman, the sign that indicates where we're heading to.
We reach Azraq where we meet our first police roadblock, and we stop to buy some snack for our trip.
The younger Jordanian generation will tell a tale about the tragedy about the US-Zionist attack on Iraq. Dr Zakaria Al-Sheikh, above, General Director of Fact Internation for Research and Study, together with Anita Visser, the SABC Radio journalist collecting goodies.
While in a shop, Anita, smiles and greets a woman entering the shop with "Salam". The Jordanian woman smiles back at her and says, "'May God kill all of you", thinking Anita was an American. That she was from South Africa and I from Australia, made a difference.
We see the pylons of the huge electricity grid that links Egypt, Jordan, Syria and Lebanon, a project of the Arab League. Israel wanted to join it but it was declined membership.
Jordan has no oil wells operating because if it began drilling, then because Jordan is lower than the other oil-producing countries, it would drain the oil basin. Hence Jordan receives its oil mainly from Iraq for a very low price. Now there are moves afoot for Jordan to perhaps entertain the idea of drilling for oil because the Ministry claims Jordan has the largest oil reserves in the world.
The road, financed by Iraq, is good but the desolate scene impresses upon me that the once busy road between Amman and Baghdad is practically deserted. The roadside shops that catered for the travellers' needs lie deserted. Various police roadblocks control all traffic.
The small desert town settlement of Ruweished has become a boom-city because hundreds of journalists are stationed there, waiting for the war to end, then making that dash across the Jordanian-Iraqi border for a possible scoop.
A UN spokesperson advises that the expected flood of refugees from Iraq has not happened. I asked him whether he knew what the road was like. No, he didn't know.
G'day from Ar Rwayshid's Press Centre
Beyond the camp city that has sprung up about twenty km east of Ruweished, is a military area, and traffic to the actual Jordanian-Iraqi border is not permitted. Even those with Iraqi visas are now turned back.
TCN - Third Country Nationals
One camp, set up by the Red Crescent within eight days has absorbed about 600 fleeing individuals from Baghdad. There are men, women and children who lived in Iraq and now are on their way back home to Egypt, Somalia, etc.
"We set up this camp in just eight days,"says Ahmad Mutlq Al-Hadid, assistant DMC of the Jordan Red Crescent. "We are preparing to receive up to 5000, but can then extend the camp to handle 25,000 refugees."
Amer Saleh Suifan, the other assistant DCM said, "The expected Iraq refugees have their own camp, but if it overflows we can take in more here."
Ahmad Mutlq Al-Hadid, and Amer Saleh Suifan, assistants DMC, doing everything possible to make life tolerable for the refugees.
The main tent
Some of the 200 Red Crescent helpers , excluding the one above, of course!
The camp is becoming a settlement. Says Ahmed Mutlq Al-Hadid, "We have 200 staff and we need more. There are 170 toilets and 100 showers and the kitchen provides the refugees with three meals a day."
I meet young men from Somalia who were studying agriculture at Baghdad University. They claim that this war is illegal and "that Americans do not like peace of the world because they have killed people in Somalia, Vietnam, Phillipines, Sudan."
One of the students said he knew of the bus heading from Baghdad to the Syrian border because students friends had been on that bus. They didn't make it home when a US plane dropped a bomb on that bus. The US later regretted the incident.
Students from Somalia: L to R: Abdulkadir Shick Ali, Abdi Ali Isaac, Alimed Abdsalam, Mohamed Nur Haji (not pres.), Ahmed Mohammed Lukman, Fredrick Töben
Four of the eight 'Human Shields' from South Africa who arrived from Baghdad only this morning, are adamant that "war does not solve problems." They also met the elderly Australian human shield from Adelaide. Apparently she was on a bus that was involved in some incidents and she seemed shaken by that episode.
Jordanian Telecom has provided a bus with 20 computer terminals so that refugees can stay in touch.
Notice that Adelaide Institute's website is uncensored here!
The road from Baghdad to the Jordanian border has been bombed by the US forces, making it impossible for anyone to flee. In particlar a petrol stop on the Iraqi side was eliminated by a US attack. A strange scene occurred a few days ago where Iraqis who had fled across to the Jordanian border, were making their way back home. Now border traffic has ceased because it is unsafe.
Jordan's oil supply is now also threatened because, as Iraqi vice-president stated in a news conference (25 March) that it was not the Iraqi's who stopped the flow but that fifth-columnists within the Jordanian government who advised the government unilaterally to transporting oil from Jordan to Iraq.
However, we did see what I was told was a US embassy vehicle travelling to the border.
We managed to get only as far as this point beyond the 'Human City', about 40 km
from the Jordan-Iraq border.
We were then turned back by a police check-point. I was impressed how polite and civilised Jordanian police
are in executing their duties. Smiling and ever so politely, we were advised to turn back and go home because if we did continue, there would be another check-point, and at this point we would then be taken in for interrogation.
So we heeded the advice given in such polite terms and back we drove to Amman, a comfortable four-hour drive on a good road.
Of interest is the announcement on CNN that Russia has illegally been providing the Iraqi military with night vision goggles and electronic jamming devices, thereby "putting US men and women in harms way"!
Well, what about the other side's safety?
It is always a risky business to predict anything because an outcome of war, especially after only six days of fighting, is not guaranteed.
However, the US-Zionist aggression is a coalition of the desperate because the post-World War Two world order is at stake here.
Why is it that again we have Anglo-Americans (whites) stupidly fighting not for themselves but for the Jewish cause, as they did during WWI and WWII?
The fact that the exit roads out of Iraq have been bombed indicates that the US-Zionist-led coalition of the desperate wish to create another myth along the line of the 'Holocaust'.
Fortunately, the Internet is our weapon of mass instruction, and the free flow of information will overcome the lies and deception that the desperate are spreading.
Tuesday, 25 March 2003
What a day! Late afternoon Amman experienced a heavy snow fall that almost caused peak-hour traffic to come to a standstill.
Interestingly, road-rage is hardly known in Jordan. Another interesting fact about the Jordanian mentality: It is still possible to leave your car unlocked, even leave the key in the lock and return to find your car still there and your handbag still on your seat.
Such state of affair existed still in rural Australia up to the 1980s. Today in a certain town, if you do not lock your door, then you are fined $60. The reasoning is that a potential thief must not be tempted through our carelessness.
That's sick because the thief is encouraged to present himself as a victim of tempation . I wonder whether this kind of thinking, this playing the victim while hurting and damaging society, does not spring from some well-known text, such as the Talmud.
The Jordan-Iraq border is still open, according to the latest official information available. Jordan also advises that the three Iraqi diplomats expelled can at any time be replaced by the Iraqi government. The Jordanian Foreign Minister has also reinterated that Jordan opposes the military occupation of Iraq.
Participating in a demonstration in Amman
Beginning at the King Abdullah Gardens (named after Jordan's first king, grandfather of the late King Hussein, himself the father of Jordan's current King Abdullah) hundreds of members of the various opposition parties made their way to the UN headquarters to protest against US aggression in Iraq.
Salah Al-Sheik, a teacher, said, "I want peace because people without peace can't prosper. Good people hate war and so we have to stand against it. War is the main reason why the world is going backwards. We have children and the children are the new builders of this world. America has become puppets in the hands of the Zionists who want to control the Arabic regions who can strengthen their state only by killing others."
The man with the microphone cheers on the chanting marchers.
A hall filled to capacity with a man holding up a sign that read, also in English, 'Did Americans learn nothing from Vietnam?'
I was asked to address the gathering, something that I accepted as an opportunity to spread the message:
1. We oppose the bully war and our Australian Prime Minister is not speaking on behalf of all Australians.
2. The coalition attack of 'the cowards' is a racist attack upon Iraq because those involved are the Anglo-Americans, who in turn are controlled by the Zionists.
3. The tragedy in Iraq deflects from the Palestinian tragedy, and the Zionist, apartheid, racist state of Israel must be dismantled. Only in this way will peace come to the Middle East.
P.S: The Star of David in the background is part of a banner that reads: Zionism = Racism
Upon my return from the demonstration, I was advised that Dr Ibrahim Alloush, head of the anti-Zionist movement in Jordan, has been missing for a day. I had planned on meeting him today.
Today's newspaper article in Al Sabeel (The Way) reports it ever so briefly:
The Jordan Security Department asked Dr Ibrahim Alloush to come in for an interview on Monday morning. Since then he has not returned home.
The Anglo-American-Zionist Forces (AAZF) continue their invasion of Iraq
After six days Iraqi television has been knocked out and the Ministry of Information offices have been destroyed. The Pentagon gloats because now it is impossible for Iraqis to hear their leader's side of the story; there is now no right of reply for those who disagree with the Anglo-American-Zionist attack on this sovereign nation ... we don't know how long it will last, but we know the out come, so says President Bush.
Well, that's nothing to boast about because the whole conflict is a no-match situation.
In Umm Qasr, southern Iraq, the AAZF report that the city is surrounded and there may be a popular uprising soon. Likewise with Basra.
Iraq's opposition movement now claims it should be brought in by the AAZF because it is wrong for outsiders to win the war.
I rang Ibrahim Alloush's wife to find out what is going on with her husband. She advises that she has not heard from him since together with a number of activists he was taken away from his home. What to do? I am advised it is difficult to get an interview with the Minister of Justice, something I well understand considering the current crisis, and that usually Jordanian Ministers are generally quite approachable.
Is it time for me to depart before I get thrown out of Jordan? Just thinking aloud.
Predictions from AAZF, and comments from others
President George Bush: A campaign on harsh terrain in a vast country could be longer and more difficult than some have predicted ...we will be relentless in the pursuit of victory. .. that day of reckoning [for Iraqi government] is drawing near ... we will prevail ... Iraqi people are closer to freedom ... accept no outcome except complete and final success ... all the way to Baghdad and all the way to victory.
General Tommy Franks: Commander of the AAZF (Anglo-American-Zionist Force) at Qatar headquarters:
This will be a campaign unlike any other ... It will be characterised by shock, by surprise, by flexibility, by the employment of precise munitions on a scale never before seen, and by the application of overwhelming force. The outcome is in no doubt. There may be difficult days ahead but the forces in the field will achieve the objectives that have been set out.
Donald Rumsfeld, Defence Secretary: Force is increased in the country every minute and every hour of every day.
General Richard Myers , Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff: We've been at it now for less than a week [and] we're just about to
Ari Fleischer, President Bush's spokesman: We are very concerned that there are reports of ongoing cooperation and support to Iraqi military forces being provided by a Russian company that produces GPS-jamming equipment. There are other causes of concern as well involving night-vision goggles and anti-tank guided missiles ... There are problems, this clearly is a problem, that needs to be resolved and this is why it came up in the phone call, this is why it's disturbing, and this is why the two have talked about it."
Tony Blair, British Prime Minister: There are those closest to Saddam that are resisting and will resist strongly. There are bound, therefore, to be difficult days ahead but the strategy and its timing are proceeding according to plan.
Sultan Hashim Ahmed, Iraqi Defence Minister: Iraq will not harm the captured prisoners of war. It will treat them in accordance with the Geneva Convention on prisoners of war.
Geoff Keele, Unicef spokesman: We're going to have to get the water bladders to Kuwait, and then they'll be taken into the Basra area by some NGO's that we work with there ... then the water tankers follow them in and fill them up with clean water. This isn't an immediate tomorrow type of scenario, that will take a few days. Time is of the essence right now.
ABC (Australia) Internet Newsmail, 26 March 2003:
Bush pledges $5 billion aid to Mid East
The Bush administration has asked the United States Congress to provide nearly $5 billion in direct aid and loan guarantees to key allies in the Middle East and partners in the global war on terrorism. The amount is included in Mr Bush's emergency spending request for the war on Iraq.
It rewards 19 countries including Bahrain, Israel, Jordan, Oman, Turkey and central and eastern European nations with military and other aid. Funding also has been made available to support anti-terrorism efforts in Afghanistan, Colombia, Pakistan and the Philippines. The request includes a grant to Turkey despite a serious dispute over its refusal to allow US troops to deploy on its soil.
Stephen Kenny, the lawyer representing the alleged Australian Taliban fighter, David Hicks, says the United States has been quick to talk about the Geneva Convention regarding their own soldiers imprisoned in Iraq.
I call on the International Red Cross to immediately review what's happening in Guantanamo Bay and insist that the American Government stop treating people in clear violation of the Geneva Convention.
During the meal, Jordanian Tourist police arrived worrying about the Human Shields' visas. The suggestion is that they be returned to the camp.
Luckily the SA Embassy's First Secretary was on-hand within the half-hour, and together with Fact International's Director, Dr Zakaria M Al-Sheik, who is looking after the Human Shields' legal matters, the problem was resolved.
SABC TV covered the scene well
The 'loner' human shield Suraya Bibi Khan from South Africa
And here is the man who looked after the Human Shields
Dr Zakaria M Al-Sheik
General Director of Fact International for Research, Media & Trade
Anglo-American-Zionist Occupation begins to grip?
The Australian Defence Force is policing the
Baghdad-Amman road some 160 ks out of Baghdad
Will history repeat itself?
[per Michael Santomauro]
A U.S. Prison Guard's Story
"We can protest the bombing of civilian targets, which still goes on today.
And we can refuse to condone our government's murder of unarmed and
defeated prisoners of war." -Dr. Brech
In October 1944, at age eighteen, I was drafted into the U.S. army. Largely because of the "Battle of the Bulge," my training was cut short. My furlough was halved, and I was sent overseas immediately. Upon arrival in Le Havre, France, we were quickly loaded into box cars and shipped to the front. When we got there, I was suffering increasingly severe symptoms of mononucleosis, and was sent to a hospital in Belgium. Since mononucleosis was then known as the "kissing disease," I mailed a letter of thanks to my girlfriend.
By the time I left the hospital, the outfit I had trained with in Spartanburg, South Carolina was deep inside Germany, so, despite my protests, I was placed in a "repo depot (replacement depot). I lost interest in the units to which I was assigned and don't recall all of them: non-combat units were ridiculed at that time. My separation qualification record states I was mostly with Company C, 14th Infantry Regiment, during my seventeen-month stay in Germany, but I remember being transferred to other outfits also.
In late March or early April 1945, I was sent to guard a POW camp near Andernach along the Rhine. I had four years of high school German, so I was able to talk to the prisoners, although this was forbidden. Gradually, however, I was used as an interpreter and asked to ferret out members of the S.S. (I found none.)
In Andernach about 50,000 prisoners of all ages were held in an open field surrounded by barbed wire. The women were kept in a separate enclosure I did not see until later. The men I guarded had no shelter and no blankets; many had no coats. They slept in the mud, wet and cold, with inadequate slit trenches for excrement. It was a cold, wet spring and their misery from exposure alone was evident.
Even more shocking was to see the prisoners throwing grass and weeds into a tin can containing a thin soup. They told me they did this to help ease their hunger pains. Quickly, they grew emaciated. Dysentery raged, and soon they were sleeping in their own excrement, too weak and crowded to reach the slit trenches. Many were begging for food, sickening and dying before our eyes. We had ample food and supplies, but did nothing to help them, including no medical assistance.
Outraged, I protested to my officers and was met with hostility or bland indifference. When pressed, they explained they were under strict orders from "higher up." No officer would dare do this to 50,000 men if he felt that it was "out of line," leaving him open to charges. Realizing my protests were useless, I asked a friend working in the kitchen if he could slip me some extra food for the prisoners. He too said they were under strict orders to severely ration the prisoners' food and that these orders came from "higher up." But he said they had more food than they knew what to do with and would sneak me some.
When I threw this food over the barbed wire to the prisoners, I was caught and threatened with imprisonment. I repeated the "offense," and one officer angrily threatened to shoot me. I assumed this was a bluff until I encountered a captain on a hill above the Rhine shooting down at a group of German civilian women with his .45 caliber pistol. When I asked, Why?," he mumbled, "Target practice," and fired until his pistol was empty. I saw the women running for cover, but, at that distance, couldn't tell if any had been hit.
This is when I realized I was dealing with cold-blooded killers filled with moralistic hatred. They considered the Germans subhuman and worthy of extermination; another expression of the downward spiral of racism. Articles in the G.I. newspaper, Stars and Stripes, played up the German concentration camps, complete with photos of emaciated bodies; this amplified our self-righteous cruelty and made it easier to imitate behavior we were supposed to oppose. Also, I think, soldiers not exposed to combat were trying to prove how tough they were by taking it out on the prisoners and civilians.
These prisoners, I found out, were mostly farmers and workingmen, as simple and ignorant as many of our own troops. As time went on, more of them lapsed into a zombie-like state of listlessness, while others tried to escape in a demented or suicidal fashion, running through open fields in broad daylight towards the Rhine to quench their thirst. They were mowed down. Some prisoners were as eager for cigarettes as for food, saying they took the edge off their hunger. Accordingly, enterprising G.I. "Yankee traders" were acquiring hordes of watches and rings in exchange for handfuls of cigarettes or less. When I began throwing cartons of cigarettes to the prisoners to ruin this trade, I was threatened by rank-and-file G.I.s too.
The only bright spot in this gloomy picture came one night when. I was put on the "graveyard shift," from two to four A.M. Actually, there was a graveyard on the uphill side of this enclosure, not many yards away. My superiors had forgotten to give me a flashlight and I hadn't bothered to ask for one, disgusted as I was with the whole situation by that time. It was a fairly bright night and I soon became aware of a prisoner crawling under the wires towards the graveyard. We were supposed to shoot escapees on sight, so I started to get up from the ground to warn him to get back. Suddenly I noticed another prisoner crawling from the graveyard back to the enclosure.
They were risking their lives to get to the graveyard for something; I had to investigate.
When I entered the gloom of this shrubby, tree-shaded cemetery, I felt completely vulnerable, but somehow curiosity kept me moving. Despite my caution, I tripped over the legs of someone in a prone position. Whipping my rifle around while stumbling and trying to regain composure of mind and body, I soon was relieved I hadn't reflexively fired. The figure sat up. Gradually, I could see the beautiful but terror-stricken face of a woman with a picnic basket nearby. German civilians were not allowed to feed, nor even come near the prisoners, so I quickly assured her I approved of what she was doing, not to be afraid, and that I would leave the graveyard to get out of the way.
I did so immediately and sat down, leaning against a tree at the edge of the cemetery to be inconspicuous and not frighten the prisoners. I imagined then, and still do now, what it would be like to meet a beautiful woman with a picnic basket, under those conditions as a prisoner. I have never forgotten her face.
Eventually, more prisoners crawled back to the enclosure. I saw they were dragging food to their comrades and could only admire their courage and devotion.
On May 8, V.E. Day, I decided to celebrate with some prisoners I was guarding who were baking bread the other prisoners occasionally received. This group had all the bread they could eat, and shared the jovial mood generated by the end of the war. We all thought we were going home soon, a pathetic hope on their part. We were in what was to become the French zone, where I soon would witness the brutality of the French soldiers when we transferred our prisoners to them for their slave labor camps.
On this day, however, we were happy.
As a gesture of friendliness, I emptied my rifle and stood it in the corner, even allowing them to play with it at their request. This thoroughly "broke the ice," and soon we were singing songs we taught each other or I had learned in high school German ("Du, du liegst mir im Herzen"). Out of gratitude, they baked me a special small loaf of sweet bread, the only possible present they had left to offer. I stuffed it in my "Eisenhower jacket" and snuck it back to my barracks, eating it when I had privacy. I have never tasted more delicious bread, nor felt a deeper sense of communion while eating it. I believe a cosmic sense of Christ (the Oneness of all Being) revealed its normally hidden presence to me on that occasion, influencing my later decision to major in philosophy and religion.
Shortly afterwards, some of our weak and sickly prisoners were marched off by French soldiers to their camp. We were riding on a truck behind this column.
Temporarily, it slowed down and dropped back, perhaps because the driver was as shocked as I was. Whenever a German prisoner staggered or dropped back, he was hit on the head with a club until he died. The bodies were rolled to the side of the road to be picked up by another truck. For many, this quick death might have been preferable to slow starvation in our "killing fields."
When I finally saw the German women in a separate enclosure, I asked why we were holding them prisoner. I was told they were "camp followers," selected as breeding stock for the S.S. to create a super-race. I spoke to some and must say I never met a more spirited or attractive group of women. Icertainly didn't think they deserved imprisonment.
I was used increasingly as an interpreter, and was able to prevent some particularly unfortunate arrests. One rather amusing incident involved an old farmer who was being dragged away by several M.P.s. I was told he had a "fancy Nazi medal," which they showed me. Fortunately, I had a chart identifying such medals. He'd been awarded it for having five children! Perhaps his wife was somewhat relieved to get him "off her back," but I didn't think one of our death camps was a fair punishment for his contribution to Germany. The M.P.s agreed and released him to continue his "dirty work."
Famine began to spread among the German civilians also. It was a common sight to see German women up to their elbows in our garbage cans looking for something edible -- that is, if they weren't chased away.
When I interviewed mayors of small towns and villages, I was told their supply of food had been taken away by "displaced persons" (foreigners who had worked in Germany), who packed the food on trucks and drove away. When I reported this, the response was a shrug. I never saw any Red Cross at the camp or helping civilians, although their coffee and doughnut stands were available everywhere else for us. In the meantime, the Germans had to rely on the sharing of hidden stores until the next harvest.
Hunger made German women more "available," but despite this, rape was preva lent and often accompanied by additional violence. In particular I remember an eighteen-year old woman who had the side of her faced smashed with a rifle butt and was then raped by two G.I.s. Even the French complained that the rapes, looting and drunken destructiveness on the part of our troops was excessive. In Le Havre, we'd been given booklets warning us that the German soldiers had maintained a high standard of behavior with French civilians who were peaceful, and that we should do the same. In this we failed miserably.
"So what?" some would say. "The enemy's atrocities were worse than ours." It is true that I experienced only the end of the war, when we were already the victors. The German opportunity for atrocities had faded; ours was at hand.
But two wrongs don't make a right. Rather than copying our enemy's crimes, we should aim once and for all to break the cycle of hatred and vengeance that has plagued and distorted human history.
This is why I am speaking out now, forty-five years after the crime. We can never prevent individual war crimes, but we can, if enough of us speak out, influence government policy. We can reject government propaganda that depicts our enemies as subhuman and encourages the kind of outrages I witnessed. We can protest the bombing of civilian targets, which still goes on today. And we can refuse ever to condone our government's murder of unarmed and defeated prisoners of war.
I realize it is difficult for the average citizen to admit witnessing a crime of this magnitude, especially if implicated himself. Even G.I.s sympathetic to the victims were afraid to complain and get into trouble, they told me. And the danger has not ceased. Since I spoke out a few weeks ago, I have received threatening calls and had my mailbox smashed. But its been worth it.
Writing about these atrocities has been a catharsis of feeling suppressed too long, a liberation, and perhaps will remind other witnesses that "the truth will make us free, have no fear." We may even learn a supreme lesson from all this: only love can conquer all.
Friday at 6:30 --Please be there
The speaker will be Dr. Martin Brech, retired professor.
Topic: CRIMES AND MERCIES:
An Exposure of Ike's Death Camps
CRIMES AND MERCIES: the fate of German civilians under Allied occupation, 1944-1950, Little Brown, 1997.
In his earlier book, Other Losses, Bacque documented the deaths of about one
million Axis prisoners in Allied camps after the war
The cynicism of Rumsfeld is unbelievable! You mention Guantanamo, but a far
greater war crime was the treatment of German prisoners of war at the end of
W. W. II. Eisenhower, who hated Germans, had them "reclassified" from POWs to
"disarmed enemy forces" so they would not be subject to the Geneva
Convention. Thousands of them were kept in barbed wire enclosures in meadows
on the Rhine near Remagen, with no shelter and almost no food. They were
eating grass to stay alive. James Bacque in his book "Other Losses" claims
that up to 1,000,000 died in this and other POW "camps". We set the example
for violating prisoners' human rights and "war crimes" relating to their
Burgess Jamieson (ex 1st.Lt., US Army) firstname.lastname@example.org
Location: The Soldiers', Sailors', Marines' and Airmens' Club at 283 Lexington Avenue, 2nd floor between 36th and 37th Street, five blocks south of Grand Central.
Reason and free inquiry are the effectual agents against error. They are the natural enemies of error and error only
Peace is patriotic!
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29 March 2003
... and for me it's another journey to somewhere ...
I visit the Iraqi Embassy in Amman to enquire about a visa. What kind of visa? Tourist visas are out because no-one in their right mind would wish to tourist in Baghdad right now.
Journalists are at the moment also a no-no; there are too many waiting at the watering hole at Baghdad Café, Ar Rwayshid, ready to cross over as soon as the battle is over. Journalists are not allowed beyond this point to the actual border check-point at Al Karam. Why not? Jordan does not wish anyone to report that the US-led invasion of Iraq has its soldiers stationed there.
I offer myself as a human shield, and am rejected. Without a recommendation from Baghdad it is not possible to become a human shield, and in any case, this propaganda weapon is now becoming ineffective because serious fighting is about to begin.
And so, reluctantly I bid my Amman host farewell and decline that invitation to travel to Petra for sightseeing because work awaits me elsewhere. Mind you, Jordan is currently a wonderful tourist haven. Prices are rock-bottom because the tourist industry is dead. Now flourishes the war industry!
I am exhausted and thankful that I can fly back home
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