(Contact Info: larry at larryblakeley.com)
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Major Roy James Blakeley (December 10, 1928 - July 22, 1965) - USAF (KIA)
When I was young my dad would say
Come on son let's go out and play
No matter how hard I try
No matter how many tears I cry
No matter how many years go by
I still can't say goodbye
- "I Still Can't Say Goodbye," Performer: Chet Atkins
MP3 audio file/lyrics http://www.royblakeley.name/larry_blakeley/songs/still_cant_say_goodbye.htm
For a larger image click on the photograph.
[This summary was created by Larry Blakeley]
... genocide is not about war between armies and states; it is war
of against a people.
Since genocide involves the destruction of a group, either through outright killing or by other means, one can recognize that genocide is a form of warfare. It is not, however, warfare focused on states, which is what the various Hague and Geneva Conventions attempt to regulate. It is a war by one people against another people, based upon the national identity of the peoples; hence nationalism.
While in the West the state existed first and then created the nation through institutions and society, in the East it was ideas of the nation and a national identity that created the state.
The question this work addresses is how the interaction between ideas, institutions, and society contributed to the evolution of nations, states, and nationalism in Europe between the 18th and the 20th centuries.
In discussing Germany, this question must focus on how ideas, institutions, and society interacted to lead to the rise of the National Socialists, with their subsequent shift from violence to murder to genocide.
... several conditions in Germany at the end of the war combined to create the environment that allowed nationalism to become Nazism, and brought Hitler to power.
What made the Nazis stand out among the rest for attracting membership and political power was the oratorical skills of Hitler.
Hitler possessed an intense ability to appeal to the nationalist sentiments of the people, already feeling downtrodden and threatened from the left. His Twenty-five points appealed to all classes on a nationalist platform. It supported private property and individual entrepreneurship as part of the German character, while attacking "the idle rich and capitalist exploitation," in a word, Jews.
Hitler and the Nazis did not create the nationalist hatred and racism of interwar Germany. Rather, these elements brought Hitler and the Nazis to power. The combination of a nation that could determine its own destiny, in an environment of complete chaos and extreme polarization to the left or right, with armed paramilitary organizations and a weak unpopular government with little support, are the elements that brought the Nazis to power.
Like many of the countries of Eastern Europe, the nationalism of Germany became increasingly exclusionary. The theory of Kulturnation, that a man is a member of his nation through his mother tongue and will always be so, was carried one step further. A man who is not a member of the cultural nation, Jews in particular, could never become a member of the nation. He would always be foreign to the nation. When this idea of perpetual difference and foreignness is superimposed on the years of chaos and crisis that Germany experienced, against the backdrop of mass violence and death that the First World War introduced to Europe, the mixture can become volatile, and nationalism became violent, then murderous, then eventually genocidal.
Particularly for Nazi Germany, nationalism became a matter of race. A person was either of the German race, or he was not. Based upon this racial identity, the Nazis attempted to completely restructure Europe along racial lines, with a set racial hierarchy defined social roles of each race. The ultimate fate of the Jews, considered a "non-race" in the Nazi racial hierarchy, was the complete removal of their physical presence in Europe.
Furthermore, the professional proponents of racial hygiene and eugenics were far from the radical fringes. They were, instead, highly-respected members of the medical community. Indeed, a number of eugenics and racial hygiene research centers were established in Germany during the Weimar years. In fact, the entire early stages of the Nazi genocide, those of sterilization and later euthanasia, were utterly dependant upon the medical profession. Without its willing cooperation and participation, these stages would not have been possible.
Concurrent with the killing of the handicapped was the expulsion of the Jews from Germany, an act unquestionably genocidal. Eventually the two programs, Jewish expulsion and systematic killing would come together in the form of the extermination camps.
At the same time as the sterilization and euthanasia, however, the Jews were falling victim to the genocidal act of expulsion. Throughout 1939 and 1941 they were forced out of their homes and cities, and relocated (to) the east. Those who would argue that there is a qualitative difference between genocide and ethnic cleansing would argue that this was not a genocide, but "only" ethnic cleansing. During this period, the Nazis did not seek to kill all the Jews, but merely to remove their presence from the Reich.
As argued in Chapter I, however, this author sees no real distinction between the two, and sees the expulsion acts to be just as genocidal as the later extermination camps. The point of the expulsions was to rid the Reich, including its territorial acquisitions, entirely of both the Jews and of any and all Jewish influence.
The Polish ghettos, originally intended to be waypoints along the route to expulsion, had become permanent and a new solution was needed, one that would also address German Jews within the Reich. But the experiences of the Soviet Jewish executions demonstrated some serious difficulties for the Nazis. First was that the mass killings by firing squad required considerable manpower. Second was the obvious mental strain the on the firing squad. And third was that the executions did not remain secret for long. Too many soldiers knew about them, and took pictures and wrote home about it. While this was not a problem in the far-off Soviet front, it would create serious difficulties in the rest of Europe. The Nazis needed a more efficient, detached, and secret method to kill the rest of the European Jews.
The solution, of course, was the gas chamber method that was originally developed for the euthanasia program.
With the model of the euthanasia centers, the massive numbers of Jews in the Polish ghettos and also still inside the Reich, and the difficulties experienced by the Einsatzgruppen in the Soviet Union in terms of manpower, stress, and secrecy, the creation of the Nazi extermination camps was a logical evolution.
Thus the roots of the Final Solution, in its ultimate execution, did not have any grand plan. It rose out of the sterilization and eugenics programs that attempted to purify the German race from within. While this internal purge was underway against the weak elements of the German race, the Jews were being driven out of Germany by terror, and form Poland by force. Finally, the invasion of the Soviet Union targeted Jews for the nothing less than execution. It also demonstrated to the Nazi leadership that they could not physically shoot every single Jew, and the turned back to their internal methods of purging for the answer, leading to the element of mass murder in their genocide of the Jews.
Forty-seven years later, genocide reappeared in Europe in Bosnia. Like the Nazis, the Serbs attempted racial restructuring, although on a much smaller scale. Like the Nazis, they used terror tactics to coerce the Bosniacs to flee. Those who remained were forcible driven out, if not murdered outright. Many were incarcerated in concentration camps that rivaled the brutality of the Nazi concentration camps. While the Nazis introduced systematic extermination into their genocide of the Jews, the Serb introduced another weapon of genocide, that of systematic rape.
Genocide is the ultimate expression of integral nationalism, and this is abundantly true in the Former Republic of Yugoslavia in the 1990s. From 1991 to 1995 Europe witnessed the worst atrocities on the continent in forty-five years. Hundreds of thousands of civilians were forced out of their homes, tens of thousands were brutalized, tortured, and raped, and thousands were murdered. All this was done in the name of "ethnic cleansing."
Although all three groups involved, Serbs, Croats, and Bosnian Muslims (or Bosniacs), committed atrocities and ethnic cleansing, the worst offenders by far were the Serbs, although the Croats weren't significantly better. The Bosniacs also committed their share of atrocities but unlike the Serbs and Croat, their crimes were not committed in the name of ethnic cleansing, but were "merely" the savageries of war.
The Balkans wars brought two debates to the fore. The first was whether or not the crimes were committed because of age-old ethnic hatreds based on the belief that the South Slavs always had been killing each other and would always continue to do so. The second, and far more controversial, debate was whether or not the Bosnian Muslims were the victims of genocide, or if ethnic cleansing was less than genocide.
In answer to these two debates, this chapter answers the first with the response that the wars were not the continuation of centuries-old hatreds, but were a continuation of World War Two hatreds. The response to the second debate is that the ethnic cleansing was a genocide. This is admittedly a minority opinion today, but that doesn't make it wrong; only uncomfortable for decisionmakers.
In contrast to the Nazi genocide of the Jews, the Serbian genocide against the Bosnians was sporadic, wild, and significantly less centralized. Like the Nazis, the intent of the Serbs was not to necessarily kill every single Bosnian Muslim, but to destroy their presence, to include any legacy of them, in a particular territory. Recall that the Nazis were perfectly content to encourage voluntary emigration of the Jews. And they had not particular desire to kill every Jew, only to remove their presence from all territory under their control. The systematic approach of the Nazis came about because of the sheer numbers they were dealing with, and therefore of the most significant differences between the Nazis and the Serbs was not qualitative, but quantitative; it's a difference of scale, not scope.
The Serbs used rape to an unprecedented degree as a weapon of war. Rather than being an individual act committed against the victim as an individual, the Serbs used rape as an additional act of genocide against both the Bosnians and the Croats, although as with everything else, the Bosnians got the worst of it. Two important aspects make the Serb rape practices genocidal. First, the victims were victimized because of their membership in their particular ethnic collectivity. Second, the rapes were committed with the aim of destroying the collectivity.
By and large the purpose of the rape regime in Bosnia was to drive the Bosnian Muslims out of the Serb-dominated areas, as part of the overall ethnic cleansing.
Unlike the Nazis, the Serbs did not have an "expulsion policy," per se. They had a general plan that provided guidelines to the subordinate units; namely to drive off non-Serb populations in order to create homogeneous Serb regions. This was done with a variety of methods. One method was to instill terror into the local population through rapes, torture, and murder. In this way, the rest of the population would be less willing to resist. Another method was to simply drive everyone out by force, and kill anyone who resisted.
In conjunction with the goal of driving out the Muslims was the apparent phenomenon of punishing the Bosnian Muslims for their very existence, in a sense to punish them for having to make the Serbs drive them out. This bizarre punishment for it(s) own sake was accomplished largely through the concentration camps established throughout Serb-controlled territories of Bosnia. These facilities were the scenes of some of the most horrid inhumanities of the entire conflict. There is no need to go into an unending litany of the atrocities committed in such places as Keraterm and Omarska. Suffice to say that the prisoners were subjected to all forms of senseless abuse, beatings, random killings, tortures, and rapes (males as well as females, of all ages). Frequently detainees were allowed to leave after being forced to commit savage atrocities themselves, such as killing or even raping their own relatives. The accounts of survivors are a sickening recollection of pure evil sadism.
Beyond driving out the Bosnian Muslims, the Serbs also took steps to ensure that any reminder of them was destroyed to ensure they never returned. This was accomplished partly through the deliberate destruction of cultural monuments and religious locations.
Besides the rapes and the forced expulsions, the genocide in Bosnia was accompanied by significant numbers of mass murders, although nowhere near the scale of the genocide of the Nazis.
Exact figures are unavailable, but most sources agree with six to eight thousand victims.
"How does nationalism become genocidal?"
To this end, we can make the statement that one aspect of the genocides in the Holocaust and Serbia comes from the individual "cult of personality" of both Hitler and Milosevic. While it would be irresponsible to say that without them neither of the wars would have occurred, it would be safe to say they certainly contributed immensely to working the public sentiment into the necessary frenzy that direct(ly)ed led to genocide.
While a significant amount of the blame rests on the individual leaders, and an equal amount on their immediate lieutenants, some blame must also rest on the people of the aggressor nation. In both cases, the atrocities committed were so widespread that they involved vast numbers of soldiers, civilians, paramilitaries, and bureaucrats. Occasionally the clergy was involved to a certain extent through complicity. Therefore, to some degree all parts of society had some part.
However, although many may have felt coerced into the acts they committed, when we consider the vigor and enthusiasm with which these same individuals committed their atrocities, we have to wonder. It is this willing and eager participation of both the rank and file Bosnian Serbs and Germans that indicate that, beyond themselves as individuals, themselves as members of their collective nation bear a substantial part of the blame for the nationalism becoming genocidal. While the leaders used the rhetoric of national extremism for their own power plays, the "masses" bought into it in one form or another.
All stages of the Serb campaign included mass murders, but the campaign never reached the stages of complete physical annihilation like the Nazi extermination camps. The reason this never occurred in Bosnia has nothing to do with a supposed difference between "genocide" and "ethnic cleansing." The reason is, simply, that the Serb campaign of genocide was successful without needing to resort to mass extermination. Once the Serbs controlled the areas they wanted, the fighting front stabilized. Because of the much smaller numbers involved, and the much smaller geographical area involved, it actual was practical and possible to drive the Bosnians Muslims and Croats out, and then destroy any remaining elements of their culture and heritage. Bear in mind that the Nazis transitioned to the Final Solution because they couldn't get rid of all the Jews otherwise.
This work has supported the argument that these two crimes (genocide and ethnic cleansing) are not different. Ethnic cleansing is one form of genocide, as mass extermination is another. Ethnic cleansing seeks to destroy a nation every bit as much as mass extermination does. When the purpose is to remove an entire people from their lands and homes, to drive them off by force, terror, and violence, then it is genocide, plain and simple. Therefore, the Serbs unequivocally committed genocide against the Bosnian Muslims in Bosnia and Hercegovina in the 1990s.
At this time, we have yet to know all the facts of the Balkans conflicts. Two of the most wanted war criminals remain at large, and one other is still in trial. While we have a fairly clear idea of the facts of the conflict, such as who did what to whom, we do not yet have a full understanding the reasons behind those facts. Volumes of information have been collected over the past several years from on-site investigations and interviews with thousands of survivors. But solid academic work on the Balkans may be decades away yet. Some of the best works on the genocide of the Second World War are only a few years old.
Nevertheless, we cannot afford to turn a blind eye to the genocide in Bosnia as a useful tool in future conflict management simply because we are waiting for somebody to write the definitive history. We must accept that wars will continue to happen, and that the potential for ethnic violence and genocide is always present, even in the most advanced countries.
- "Races at War: Nationalism and Genocide in Twentieth Century Europe," Michael Alan Adelberg, The Center for Contemporary Conflict (CCC) http://www.ccc.nps.navy.mil/index.asp, Naval Postgraduate School http://www.nps.navy.mil/, Monterey, California, Thesis, March 2005 http://www.ccc.nps.navy.mil/research/theses/Adelberg05.pdf
File Name: michael_alan_adelberg200503_summary.htm
Full PDF report here. http://www.royblakeley.name/larry_blakeley/articles/monthly_articles/michael_alan_adelberg200503.pdf
Post Date: June 15, 2005 at 7:40 AM CDT; 1240 GMT