As US soldiers “liberated” from Germany schnapps, watches and cameras

The American army entered the German soil in April 1945: tens of thousands of pieces of equipment and soldiers crossed the Rhine at Remagen and rushed towards Frankfurt and Kassel. The mood has changed the military: they came to the territory of the enemy, because of which affected the whole world, and they themselves were sent to die overseas. If France and Italy soldiers tried not to hurt civilians, the Germans believed the robbery just cause: “We give them experience what they have done for many years with all the others,” - said a corporal. To submit a legal confiscation of valuables from civilians, soldiers have come up with a lot of euphemisms: they looted and requisitioned, took custody of confiscated, expropriated - and freed.

“Trophy Brigades” and mass export values ​​by the Red Army - a well-known facts, then so GI (American soldiers) have the reputation of innocent souvenir hunters or even saviors of cultural values ​​(as in the movie “Treasure Hunters”). In historical monographs and memoirs, this theme highlights the extremely meager and fragmentary. In addition, the military is not always carried a line of demarcation between the collection of trophies on the battlefield and appropriation of property civilians - and in fact the second is under the protection of the Hague Convention Respecting the Laws and Customs of War on Land (Articles 46-47) and the Uniform Code of Military Justice USA ( Art. 75 and 93).

What subjects and for what purpose appropriated US troops in Germany? First of all I must say that many of the soldiers on the front line for the first ten months after the Normandy landings were a “cultural” conditions: no wet trench or a haystack on a French farm, and the house with hot water and a clean bed. Feeling at home, GIs could not resist the order to open the cabinet doors and cupboards.

25 April 2015

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