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Would you ever let the enemy escape?

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I just came across this story, and was touched by the empathy shown. Would you let an enemy escape in these circumstances?

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Charlie Brown was a B-17 Flying Fortress pilot with the 379th Bomber Group at Kimbolton, England. His B-17 was called 'Ye Old Pub' and as in a terrible state, having been hit by flak and fighters. The compass was damaged and they were flying deeper over enemy territory instead of heading home to Kimbolton.

After flying over an enemy airfield, a pilot named Franz Steigler was ordered to take off and shoot down the B-17. When he got near the B-17, he could not believe his eyes. In his words, he 'had never seen a plane in such a bad state'. The tail and rear section was severely damaged, and the tail gunner wounded. he top gunner was all over the top of the fuselage. The nose was smashed and there were holes everywhere. Despite having ammunition, Franz flew to the side of the B-17 and looked at Charlie Brown, the pilot. Brown was scared and struggling to control his damaged and blood-stained plane.

Aware that they had no idea where they were going, Franz waved at Charlie to turn 180 degrees. Franz escorted and guided the stricken plane to and slightly over the North Sea towards England. He then saluted Charlie Brown and turned away, back to Europe.

When Franz landed he told the c/o that the plane had been shot down over the sea, and never told the truth to anybody.

Charlie Brown and the remains of his crew told all at their briefing, but were ordered never to talk about it.

More than 40 years later, Charlie Brown wanted to find the Luftwaffe pilot who saved the crew. After years of research, Franz was found. He had never talked about the incident, not even at post-war reunions.

They met in the USA at a 379th Bomber Group reunion, together with 25 people who are alive now - all because Franz never fired his guns that day.

Research shows that Charlie Brown lived in Seattle and Franz Steigler had moved to Vancouver, BC after the war. When they finally met, they discovered they had lived less than 200 miles apart for the past 50 years!!

More information in link below.

http://aviationartstore.com/charles_brown_2.htm

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I just came across this story, and was touched by the empathy shown.

I think what's most interesting about the story is that it - maybe - shows an example where a man (the German pilot) did not believe in his own country's cause. Multiculturally, "the enemy is the enemy", and that's how modern war movies depict things - the difference between Americans fighting Japanese and Japanese fighting Americans, it's just your perspective (e.g. Clint Eastwood's recent set of two movies about Iwo Jima, one from the American and one from the Japanese perspective.) But of course there *is* a difference, and a thinking man may well reject his own society's evil and give the supposed enemy a chance. Consider for instance Schindler in the movie Schindler's List, based on a real story, who spent his personal fortune to save Jews and create deliberately defective munitions for the Nazis, or the story of Victor Belenko, an ex-Russian fighter pilot who flew his Mig-21 to Japan in order to gain his freedom from dictatorship.

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I just came across this story, and was touched by the empathy shown. Would you let an enemy escape in these circumstances?...

I guess Franz realized that the "conceived" threat was not real and acted accordingly (going by his mind rather than following orders). Maybe he understood his orders as "because that aircraft is a danger to us, bring it down...and maybe he didn't want start another battle or aggravate it.

His rationality is definitely proved by him avoiding unnecessary ill-consequences of his choice by keeping quite about the incident.

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I just came across this story, and was touched by the empathy shown.

Reading this post caused me to recall the "Christmas Truce" of 1914:

Now what I am going to tell you will be hard to believe, but it is quite true. There was no firing on Christmas Day and the Germans were quite friendly with us. They even came over to our trenches and gave us cigars and cigarettes and chocolate and of course we gave them things in return. Just after one o'clock on Christmas morning I was on look-out duty and one of the Germans wished me Good morning and a Merry Christmas. I was never more surprised in my life when daylight came to see them all sitting on top of the trenches waving their hands and singing to us.

(From a letter published in The Bedfordshire Times and Independent)

Even during an armed conflict between (relatively) rational opponents, there is some room for honor.

. . . Victor Belenko, an ex-Russian fighter pilot who flew his Mig-21 to Japan. . .

Minor nitpick: It was a MiG-25.

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I might think it has more to do with respect for the man with the courage and skill who can control a shot-up bomber and decimated crew. He represents a higher value than the alternative.

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I think what's most interesting about the story is that it - maybe - shows an example where a man (the German pilot) did not believe in his own country's cause.

I am curious when this incident happened. If it happened near the end of the war, I would agree with this statement. That seems like the most likely explanation. Of course, one can't know without asking the German pilot.

In a war, it would make all the sense in the world to shoot down every enemy plane, even if it was in battered shape and did not pose an immediate, direct threat. A highly trained, skilled pilot is a valuable thing to the enemy. By letting him go, he may shoot you down in a future aerial battle.

As an act of humanity by a German pilot who may have either never had or lost belief in the Nazi cause, I find it to be a very moving story from that horrific war.

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In a war, it would make all the sense in the world to shoot down every enemy plane, even if it was in battered shape and did not pose an immediate, direct threat. A highly trained, skilled pilot is a valuable thing to the enemy. By letting him go, he may shoot you down in a future aerial battle.

Exactly. I do not think there is anything honorable in letting the enemy go, provided you're fighting for the right side. By letting the enemy go, you could be sacrificing your friends or even yourself. In this case, given that it was a German pilot, I suppose there is a modicum of honor in the action, but not as much as if he hadn't been a pilot for the Nazis! I believe this question was asked (and, implicitly) answered in "Saving Private Ryan."

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I just came across this story, and was touched by the empathy shown.

Reading this post caused me to recall the "Christmas Truce" of 1914:

Now what I am going to tell you will be hard to believe, but it is quite true. There was no firing on Christmas Day and the Germans were quite friendly with us. They even came over to our trenches and gave us cigars and cigarettes and chocolate and of course we gave them things in return. Just after one o'clock on Christmas morning I was on look-out duty and one of the Germans wished me Good morning and a Merry Christmas. I was never more surprised in my life when daylight came to see them all sitting on top of the trenches waving their hands and singing to us.

(From a letter published in The Bedfordshire Times and Independent)

Even during an armed conflict between (relatively) rational opponents, there is some room for honor.

. . . Victor Belenko, an ex-Russian fighter pilot who flew his Mig-21 to Japan. . .

Minor nitpick: It was a MiG-25.

You can't really blame them... am I crazy or was World War I basically completely pointless?

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I just came across this story, and was touched by the empathy shown.

Reading this post caused me to recall the "Christmas Truce" of 1914:

Now what I am going to tell you will be hard to believe, but it is quite true. There was no firing on Christmas Day and the Germans were quite friendly with us. They even came over to our trenches and gave us cigars and cigarettes and chocolate and of course we gave them things in return. Just after one o'clock on Christmas morning I was on look-out duty and one of the Germans wished me Good morning and a Merry Christmas. I was never more surprised in my life when daylight came to see them all sitting on top of the trenches waving their hands and singing to us.

(From a letter published in The Bedfordshire Times and Independent)

Even during an armed conflict between (relatively) rational opponents, there is some room for honor.

. . . Victor Belenko, an ex-Russian fighter pilot who flew his Mig-21 to Japan. . .

Minor nitpick: It was a MiG-25.

You can't really blame them... am I crazy or was World War I basically completely pointless?

A very interesting question. I read Robert Massie's book "Dreadnought" about the construction of the world's first all big gun battleship (i.e. dreadnought class!) and it was set against the back drop of the lead up to WW1. The whole time I found myself highly sympathetic to Sir Edward Grey (Britain's foreign secretary). The sad conclusion I reached was that German militarism made WW1 inevitable as well as pointless.

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I just came across this story, and was touched by the empathy shown. Would you let an enemy escape in these circumstances?

------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------------

Charlie Brown was a B-17 Flying Fortress pilot with the 379th Bomber Group at Kimbolton, England. His B-17 was called 'Ye Old Pub' and as in a terrible state, having been hit by flak and fighters. The compass was damaged and they were flying deeper over enemy territory instead of heading home to Kimbolton.

After flying over an enemy airfield, a pilot named Franz Steigler was ordered to take off and shoot down the B-17. When he got near the B-17, he could not believe his eyes. In his words, he 'had never seen a plane in such a bad state'. The tail and rear section was severely damaged, and the tail gunner wounded. he top gunner was all over the top of the fuselage. The nose was smashed and there were holes everywhere. Despite having ammunition, Franz flew to the side of the B-17 and looked at Charlie Brown, the pilot. Brown was scared and struggling to control his damaged and blood-stained plane.

Aware that they had no idea where they were going, Franz waved at Charlie to turn 180 degrees. Franz escorted and guided the stricken plane to and slightly over the North Sea towards England. He then saluted Charlie Brown and turned away, back to Europe.

When Franz landed he told the c/o that the plane had been shot down over the sea, and never told the truth to anybody.

Charlie Brown and the remains of his crew told all at their briefing, but were ordered never to talk about it.

More than 40 years later, Charlie Brown wanted to find the Luftwaffe pilot who saved the crew. After years of research, Franz was found. He had never talked about the incident, not even at post-war reunions.

They met in the USA at a 379th Bomber Group reunion, together with 25 people who are alive now - all because Franz never fired his guns that day.

Research shows that Charlie Brown lived in Seattle and Franz Steigler had moved to Vancouver, BC after the war. When they finally met, they discovered they had lived less than 200 miles apart for the past 50 years!!

More information in link below.

http://aviationartstore.com/charles_brown_2.htm

It would depend if he was my enemy or the enemy of my country. That said, I would be such an awkward, useless soldier, I could never see myself being trusted with a gun!

I wonder if Franz would have let an RAF bomber go? The USAAF were more or less the most honourable air force of any major combatant, targeting mostly military targets. The night time RAF by contrast tended to aim (of necessity) at cities, which was somewhat less honourable, albeit we had no real choice at the time.

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I wonder if Franz would have let an RAF bomber go? The USAAF were more or less the most honourable air force of any major combatant, targeting mostly military targets. The night time RAF by contrast tended to aim (of necessity) at cities, which was somewhat less honourable, albeit we had no real choice at the time.

Setting aside the hunch I have that the USAF also targeted civilian targets as needed to win quickly, decisively: Since RAF aimed at cities "(of necessity)", theses actions can be no less honorable than targeting military targets.

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I wonder if Franz would have let an RAF bomber go? The USAAF were more or less the most honourable air force of any major combatant, targeting mostly military targets. The night time RAF by contrast tended to aim (of necessity) at cities, which was somewhat less honourable, albeit we had no real choice at the time.

Setting aside the hunch I have that the USAF also targeted civilian targets as needed to win quickly, decisively: Since RAF aimed at cities "(of necessity)", theses actions can be no less honorable than targeting military targets.

That's not entirely true. The USAAF more or less targeted military targets as per daylight bombing from more armoured bombers often (but by no means always) with escort fighters. The RAF tried that early on, but the more robust German response early in the war, combined with planes that sacrificed armour for bomb load, meant night time, inaccurate bombing. Even though we were notionally 'de-housing' people, we were actually just blowing up their cities at random, kids and all.

And when all is said, civilian bombing did not win the war quickly as its advocates initially claimed. At best it had a marginal affect by killing munitions workers. The break in morale, leading to peace never came.

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It would depend if he was my enemy or the enemy of my country. That said, I would be such an awkward, useless soldier, I could never see myself being trusted with a gun!

I wonder if Franz would have let an RAF bomber go? The USAAF were more or less the most honourable air force of any major combatant, targeting mostly military targets. The night time RAF by contrast tended to aim (of necessity) at cities, which was somewhat less honourable, albeit we had no real choice at the time.

I can only imagine that if someone threatens you with life or death that you might learn how to be a useful soldier very quickly and request that you be trusted with any weapon possible.

In the South Pacific during WWII General Arnold targeted almost every major city on main land Japan with his fire bombs and hence why when the two bombs were finally ready the command chose the two cities that they did.

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That's not entirely true. The USAAF more or less targeted military targets as per daylight bombing from more armoured bombers often (but by no means always) with escort fighters. The RAF tried that early on, but the more robust German response early in the war, combined with planes that sacrificed armour for bomb load, meant night time, inaccurate bombing. Even though we were notionally 'de-housing' people, we were actually just blowing up their cities at random, kids and all.

Even if all this were true, it still wouldn't make the necessary bombing of civilians -- your term -- less honorable than bombing military targets.

And when all is said, civilian bombing did not win the war quickly as its advocates initially claimed. At best it had a marginal affect by killing munitions workers. The break in morale, leading to peace never came.

According to whom?

Given the hatred we've seen for so long of the strong and self-assertive, along the guilt imposed on anyone who dares defend himself by any mean necessary, I'd need a massive argument to buy into any of this.

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It would depend if he was my enemy or the enemy of my country. That said, I would be such an awkward, useless soldier, I could never see myself being trusted with a gun!

I wonder if Franz would have let an RAF bomber go? The USAAF were more or less the most honourable air force of any major combatant, targeting mostly military targets. The night time RAF by contrast tended to aim (of necessity) at cities, which was somewhat less honourable, albeit we had no real choice at the time.

I can only imagine that if someone threatens you with life or death that you might learn how to be a useful soldier very quickly and request that you be trusted with any weapon possible.

In the South Pacific during WWII General Arnold targeted almost every major city on main land Japan with his fire bombs and hence why when the two bombs were finally ready the command chose the two cities that they did.

Yes, clearly true, if threatened, I would of course do my best to resist.

I was thinking of conventional European bombing but it is true, nukes did bring about a rapid end to the war.

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That's not entirely true. The USAAF more or less targeted military targets as per daylight bombing from more armoured bombers often (but by no means always) with escort fighters. The RAF tried that early on, but the more robust German response early in the war, combined with planes that sacrificed armour for bomb load, meant night time, inaccurate bombing. Even though we were notionally 'de-housing' people, we were actually just blowing up their cities at random, kids and all.

Even if all this were true, it still wouldn't make the necessary bombing of civilians -- your term -- less honorable than bombing military targets.

And when all is said, civilian bombing did not win the war quickly as its advocates initially claimed. At best it had a marginal affect by killing munitions workers. The break in morale, leading to peace never came.

According to whom?

Given the hatred we've seen for so long of the strong and self-assertive, along the guilt imposed on anyone who dares defend himself by any mean necessary, I'd need a massive argument to buy into any of this.

Well in Europe, (though not Japan when the nukes were used), it is self-evident that Germany was beaten finally when it's capital was occupied and surrender followed. So area bombing failed in Europe.

I think my viewpoint really comes down to this. You either try to destroy an enemy's ability to wage war by targeting his resources to that effect (which may include people), or you randomly target people in the hope to break his will. I have to choose the former, becaue if I choose the letter I would find myself in the same camp as Hamas who have no problem with civilian attacks.

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I think my viewpoint really comes down to this. You either try to destroy an enemy's ability to wage war by targeting his resources to that effect (which may include people), or you randomly target people in the hope to break his will. I have to choose the former, becaue if I choose the letter I would find myself in the same camp as Hamas who have no problem with civilian attacks.

Hamas attacks civilian Israelis because they are committed to remaining too primitive to wage organized warfare, are terrified of the IDF and instead aim to demoralize the civilian population, and are fighting to drive the Jews into the Mediterranean so that they can establish a Muslim theocracy on what they insanely regard as holy Muslim land.

A rational, moral man wouldn't attack civilians for those reasons, but rather to defend his free country from a savage aggressor, which obtains the power to assault peaceful nations by sanction of the populace. It's all the difference in the world.

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Hamas attacks civilian Israelis because they are committed to remaining too primitive to wage organized warfare, are terrified of the IDF and instead aim to demoralize the civilian population, and are fighting to drive the Jews into the Mediterranean so that they can establish a Muslim theocracy on what they insanely regard as holy Muslim land.

A rational, moral man wouldn't attack civilians for those reasons, but rather to defend his free country from a savage aggressor, which obtains the power to assault peaceful nations by sanction of the populace. It's all the difference in the world.

Don't be absurd. The reason Hamas doesn't have more advanced weapons is not because they are committed to remaining primitive, it's because they can't get them. Do you imagine for one instant they would reject more advanced weapons? It is true that in open combat, most if not all Arab states would struggle against the IDF, certainly Hamas almost regardless of their weaponry.

It is true also that it is insane to make historic religious claims to land (regardless of your monotheism) ~ both sides palpably do this. Some rabbinical debates question whether the Ammonites represent a biblical injunction for genocide today

I agree, a rational, moral man wouldn't attack civilians, my posts up to this point have suggested that doing so, is often not moral. I do not regard Hamas as moral.

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Well in Europe, (though not Japan when the nukes were used), it is self-evident that Germany was beaten finally when it's capital was occupied and surrender followed. So area bombing failed in Europe.

The occupation of Berlin certainly meant that the war was over. But how does this fact allow one to infer that fire bombing Dresden, for example, didn't make occupying Berlin easier, or happen sooner, etc.? (I assume you're aware of the actual mortality numbers in Dresden and the two cities the US nuked. There's not much of a difference.)

I think my viewpoint really comes down to this. You either try to destroy an enemy's ability to wage war by targeting his resources to that effect (which may include people), or you randomly target people in the hope to break his will. I have to choose the former, becaue if I choose the letter I would find myself in the same camp as Hamas who have no problem with civilian attacks.

First of all, you're the one who stated that the bombing of German civilians was necessary. Are you now retracting that assessment? I ask because my initial question, why is the necessary bombing of civilian targets any less honorable than the necessary bombing of military targets, was based on this assessment.

Second, how did you get the Either Or in the above quote? Why wouldn't one pursue both the decimation of an enemy's facilities and his will?

Third, the equivocation with Hamas holds water about as well as a sieve. Among its other errors, it equivocates self-defense with power-lusting thuggery. (Should we stop doing everything Hamas members do, including eating, drinking, using the English language, etc.?)

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The reason Hamas doesn't have more advanced weapons is not because they are committed to remaining primitive, it's because they can't get them.

Not to speak for Kurt, but it's clear that the reason Hamas can't get better weapons is because of their primitive philosophy -- an ideology they're fully committed to.

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In a war between two groups how you determine between "the good guys" and "the bad guys" isn't based on who bombs X number of civilians or what targets they select for destruction. The primary moral factor is who is initiating force, and which side is a more rights respecting nation.

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The reason Hamas doesn't have more advanced weapons is not because they are committed to remaining primitive, it's because they can't get them.

Not to speak for Kurt, but it's clear that the reason Hamas can't get better weapons is because of their primitive philosophy -- an ideology they're fully committed to.

Then if I may, you are proposing the following

Weapons Dealer: "Would you like some longer range rockets, something to take out IDF tanks, good anti-aircraft missiles to bag a few F-16's etc"

Hamas: "Nope, our primitive ideology means were quite happy with 40 year old AK's and home made explosives thanks"

I put it to you, this is not credible. Now if you are saying they lack the technology to devise or manufacture better weapons, this is true. But if you are saying there is no aspiration for better weapons, this is palpable nonsense. Iran has a similar ideology to Hamas, and yet would you not agree they rather fancy Nukes?

They cannot develop an advanced weapons manufacturing facility for many reasons, not all ideological by any means and they struggle to import better weapons because not many people (save Iran) are selling and the Israeli blockade discourages weapons imports. Surely this is a more likley explanation than an ideological one?

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In a war between two groups how you determine between "the good guys" and "the bad guys" isn't based on who bombs X number of civilians or what targets they select for destruction. The primary moral factor is who is initiating force, and which side is a more rights respecting nation.

There is some truth in this but the explanation is too simplistic. For instance if say New Zealand found itself on the wrong end of an attack by Singapore because some Kiwi fishing boats had seized some Singaporean cargo, then by your definition, Singapore being marginally more free, and the initial victim of aggression could destroy NZ carte blanche, slaughter its civilians en masse and be the "good guy"

Thus it is an inadequate definition.

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Then if I may, you are proposing the following

Weapons Dealer: "Would you like some longer range rockets, something to take out IDF tanks, good anti-aircraft missiles to bag a few F-16's etc"

Hamas: "Nope, our primitive ideology means were quite happy with 40 year old AK's and home made explosives thanks"

I put it to you, this is not credible.

It's nowhere near credible; good thing no one has claimed that this is what Hamas&Friends do. The point is that they're anti-freedom, which means they couldn't afford the better weapons, let alone design and build them, or create a professional, moral, rights-respecting military to trust with such power. (Let's do the near-impossible and separate the fact that if they were pro-freedom and were genuinely interested in the well-being of their fellow Middle Easterners, they'd be fighting to expand the influences that they're looking to squash by whatever means necessary.)

But if you are saying there is no aspiration for better weapons, this is palpable nonsense. Iran has a similar ideology to Hamas, and yet would you not agree they rather fancy Nukes?

What have you read that makes you think the above necessary? And why are you drawing a distinction between Iran and Hamas? Who do you think is making Hamas possible?

Surely this is a more likley explanation than an ideological one?

"Ideology", as you're calling it, determines everything, including Hamas' relative ineptitude, the shortage of weapons brokers that are willing to sell to them -- is that the case? -- that Israel must and can blockade them, etc.

If the West, and I include Israel in that group, held its ideology clearly, we wouldn't be having this exchange; the Middle East would be light-years ahead of where it is today; there would be no mid- to long-term Middle East issue(s); no energy crises; etc.

At any rate, Stussy, you keep moving on to the next thing, never addressing my points or answering my Qs. I think I'm done here.

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