Other Losses

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Publication.png Other Losses 
(Historical revision)Rdf-entity.pngRdf-icon.png
Cover of the 2008 paperback edition
Author(s)James Bacque
SubjectsWorld War II/War crimes
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An expose of allied war crimes as regards treatment of prisoners.

Other Losses - An Investigation into the Mass Deaths of German Prisoners of War after World War Two is a book by Canadian historian James Bacque[1] about the treatment of German soldiers who surrendered to the allied armies in the closing months of World War II and its aftermath. For those schooled in the western official narrative of the Allies' essentially benign intent and humane behaviour towards their captives whilst 'doing their best in trying circumstances', its content will be shocking.


In summary between 900,000 and 1.2 million Germans - mainly soldiers but including a significant proportion of old men, women and children - died of starvation, disease and exposure in open-air, barb-wire enclosed camps, under the control of the US and French military and as a direct result of official policy. If that number is not shocking enough in and of itself, consider that it is roughly 10 times higher than the officially recorded Wehrmacht losses from fighting in the western theatre through 1941 to the 1945 surrender!!. There was an explicit policy to provide no shelter in these camps through 2 winters of their operation and to provide below starvation levels of food, in spite of available supplies being plentiful. Access to the camps by the ICRC was forbidden by high-level policy decisions concerning the Geneva Convention legal mechanism of 'POW Protecting Power'; neither were the ICRC or German civilians allowed to provide additional provisions. There were explicit warnings issued by SHAEF that civilians attempting to provide supplementary provisions to camp inmates risked being summarily shot.

In an ominous precursor to to 21st century use of the designation "Enemy Combatant" by the US to justify present-day abuses, camp populations were officially re-designated as "Disarmed Enemy Forces", avoiding the 'Prisoner of War' provisions of the Geneva convention which required, inter alia, prisoner shelter and provisioning to the same standards as the base military.

Source of the title Other Losses

The title Other Losses derives from a column heading on the standard forms used for periodic official reports on the numbers held in the camps. The term is confirmed as covering 'escapes and deaths' but, since the number of escapees averaged around just 1/10 of one percent of the total, it was effectively a chilling bureaucratic euphemism for 'deaths'.

Initial reaction to the revelations

Following publication of the first edition in 1989, strenuous Establishment attempts were made to discredit the book and its author.

"Soviets to blame"

The main basis of the arguments used was that the discrepancy between agreed German records of still missing persons and the deaths officially accounted for by the Allies (ie about 1.7 million) were largely the responsibility of the Soviets. This argument was shattered by the opening of the Soviet archives in 1990. These archives demonstrate beyond all doubt, that James Bacque's first edition was indeed substantially correct. Since there is no attempt to hide such infamies as (for example) the Katyn Massacre in the archives, it follows that the archive evidenced figure of around half a million German POW deaths under Soviet control is also overwhelmingly likely to be correct - particularly so since there is no evidence of archive tampering and the Soviets would have had no incentive to systematically falsify their records at the time. Subtracting the Moscow archives derived figure from the agreed official German figure leaves between 900,000 and 1.2 million deaths which can thus only have occurred in US, UK and/or French camps. Similar corroborating evidence of their accuracy is provided by substantial agreement of the Moscow archive figures for:

  • German forced labour deportees to the Soviet Union
  • Japanese POWs

with their respective home government figures.

Since the opening of the Soviet archives, Western silence on this whole issue has been deafening.

The latest (3rd) edition of the book incorporates substantial information and evidence from the Moscow Soviet archives.

Introduction by US Army Colonel Ernest F Fisher

Over most of the Western Front in late April 1945, the thunder of artillery had been replaced by the shuffling of millions of pairs of boots as columns of disarmed German soldiers marched wearily towards Allied barbed wire enclosures. Scattered enemy detachments fired a few volleys before fading into the countryside and eventual capture by Allied soldiers.

The mass surrenders in the west contrasted markedly with the final weeks on the Eastern Front where surviving Wehrmacht units still fought the advancing Red Army to enable as many of their comrades as possible to evade capture by the Russians. This was the final strategy of the German High Command then under Grand Admiral Doenitz who had been designated Commander-in—Chief by Adolf Hitler following Reich Marshal Goering’s surrender to the west.

From the German point of view, this strategy delivered millions of German soldiers to what they believed would be the more merciful hands of the Western Allies under supreme military commander General Dwight Eisenhower. However, given General Eisenhower’s fierce and obsessive hatred not only of the Nazi regime, but indeed of all things German, this belief was at best a desperate gamble. More than five million German soldiers in the American and French zones were crowded into barbed wire cages, many of them literally shoulder to shoulder. The ground beneath soon became a quagmire of filth and disease. Open to the weather, lacking even primitive sanitary facilities, underfed, the prisoners soon began dying of starvation and disease.

Starting in April 1945, the United States Army and the French army casually annihilated about one million men, most of them in American camps. Not since the horrors of the Confederate-administered prison at Andersonville during the American Civil War had such cruelties taken place under American military control. For more than four decades this unprecedented tragedy lay hidden in Allied archives.

How at last did this enormous war crime come to light? The first clues were uncovered in 1986 by the author James Bacque and his assistant. Researching a book about Raoul Laporterie, a French Resistance hero who had saved about l,600 refugees from the Nazis, they interviewed a former German soldier who had become a friend of Laporterie in 1946. Laporterie had taken this man, Hans Goertz, and one other, out of a French prison camp in 1946 to give them work as tailors in his chain of stores. Goertz declared that “Laporterie saved my life, because 25 percent of the men in that camp died in one month.” What had they died of? "Starvation, dysentery, disease.”

Checking as far as possible the records of the camps where Goertz had been confined, Bacque found that it had been one of a group of three in a system of 1,600, all equally bad, according to ICRC reports in the French army archives at Vincennes, Paris.

Soon they came upon the first hard evidence of mass deaths in US-controlled camps. This evidence was found in army reports under the bland heading Other Losses. The terrible significance of this term was soon explained to Bacque and me by Colonel Philip S Lauben, a former chief of the Germany Affairs Branch of SHAEF.

In the spring of 1987, Mr. Bacque and I met in Washington. Over the following months, we worked together in the National Archives and in the George G. Marshall Foundation in Lexington, Virginia, piecing together the evidence we uncovered. The plans made at the highest levels of the US. and British governments in 1944 expressed a determination to destroy Germany as a world power once and for all by reducing her to a peasant economy, although this would mean the starvation of millions of civilians. Up until now, historians have agreed that the Allied leaders soon cancelled their destructive plans because of public resistance.

Eisenhower’s hatred, passed through the lens of a compliant military bureaucracy, produced the horror of death camps unequaled by anything in American military history. In the face of the catastrophic consequences of this hatred, the casual Indifference expressed by the SHAEF officers is the most painful aspect of the US. Army’s involvement.

Nothing was further from the intent of the great majority of Americans in 1945 than to kill off so many unarmed Germans after the war. Some idea of the magnitude of this horror can be gained when it is realized that these deaths exceed by far all those incurred by the German army in the west between June 1941 and April 1945. In the narrative that follows, the veil is drawn from this tragedy.

Dr. Ernest F. Fisher Jr. Colonel.
Army of the United States (Retired)
Arlington, Virginia. 1988


Related Documents

TitleTypePublication dateAuthor(s)Description
Document:Eisenhower's Holocaustarticle22 June 2008AnonymousA brief introduction to the treatment of German military prisoners by the allied authorities in the 18-24 month period AFTER the German unconditional surrender in May 1945.
Document:In Eisenhower's Death Campsarticle1990Martin BrechReminiscences of a US soldier assigned as a guard to one of the Allies' Rhine Meadow concentration camps for "disarmed enemy combatants" after the German WWII surrender in 1945
Document:The Expulsion of the Germansbook extract2003Alfred de ZayasA brief resume of the circumstances surrounding the expulsion of 15 million ethnic Germans from their homes in the Czech Sudetenland and areas East of the Oder and Neise rivers between 1944 and 1948, in which over 2 million died horribly. It is just one of many outrages committed by the victorious WWII allies against an innocent and defenceless, ethnically German, civilian population and remains the biggest 'ethnic cleansing' crime in history - but shhhh, mustn't talk about it
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  1. Other Losses: An Investigation Into the Mass Deaths of German Prisoners at the Hands of the French and Americans After World War II