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James Bacque (born in 1929) is a Canadianmarker novelist, publisher and book editor.

Early life

Bacque was educated at Upper Canada Collegemarker in Torontomarker and then the University of Toronto, where he studied history and philosophy graduating in 1952 with a Bachelor of Art degree. He was a member of Seaton's House, one of the school's boarding houses.

Fiction writing

Bacque was a mainstream fiction writer and essayist before turning his attention, in 1989, to the controversial fate of German soldiers held as POWs by the Allies after World War II. His recent works include Dear Enemy (2000), with Richard Matthias Mueller, essays on Germany Then and Now. This was followed by a novel, Our Fathers' War (2006) probably the first novel ever to treat objectively and on a broad scale the experiences of Germans and allies during the Second World War. Bacque has just completed a comic drama for the stage entitled Conrad, about a media mogul in prison, which is scheduled for production on October 2, 2009 at the George Ignatieff Theatre in Toronto. Bacque's latest book, Putting On Conrad, about the experiences of producers trying to put on his play in the face of libel chill, is an amusing satire on Canada's literary establishment.

Other Losses

In Other Losses (1989), Bacque claimed that Allied Supreme Commander Dwight Eisenhower deliberately caused the death of 790,000 German captives in internment camps through disease, starvation and cold from 1944 to 1949. In similar French camps some 250,000 more are said to have perished. The International Committee of the Red Crossmarker was refused entry to the camps, Switzerland was deprived of its status as "protecting power" and POWs were reclassified as "Disarmed Enemy Forces" in order to avoid recognition under the Geneva Convention. Bacque argued that this alleged mass murder was a direct result of the policies of the western Allies, who, with the Soviets, ruled as the Military Occupation Government over partitioned Germany from May 1945 until 1949. He laid the blame on Gen. Dwight D. Eisenhower, saying Germans were kept on starvation rations even though there was enough food in the world to avert the lethal shortage in Germany in 1945-1946.

Academic Analysis

Other Losses received initial support from some historians, including Richard Overy and Desmond Morton. Jonathon Osmond, writing in the Journal of the Royal Institute of International Affairs, said: "Bacque...has published a corrective to the impression that the Western allies after the Second World War behaved in a civilised manner to the conquered Germans... The voices of those who suffered give harrowing accounts of cruelty and suffering... It is clear that he has opened up once more a serious subject dominated by the explanations of those in power. Even if two-thirds of the statistical discrepancies exposed by Bacque could be accounted for by the chaos of the situation, there would still be a case to answer." Joan Beaumont, writing in the December, 1995 issue of The Journal of Modern History, discussed the reactions to the book and concluded "(T)he landscape of the history of the Second World War, and of prisoners of war, remains permanently changed by Bacques's work."

Academic reviewers question three major aspects of Bacque's work: his claims that there was no post-war food shortage; Bacque's estimate of the number of German deaths; and the allegation that Eisenhower was deliberately vindictive.Bacque's critics note many of the German soldiers were sick and wounded at the time of their surrender, and say his work does not place the plight of the German prisoners within the context of the grim situation in Western Europe in 1945 and 1946.

Writing in the Canadian Historical Review, David Stafford called the book "a classic example of a worthwhile investigation marred by polemic and overstatement." R.J. Rummell, a scholar of 20th-century atrocities, has written that "Bacque misread, misinterpreted, or ignored the relevant documents and that his mortality statistics are simply impossible.". More recently, writing in the Encyclopedia of Prisoners of War and Internment, S. P. MacKenzie states, "That German prisoners were treated very badly in the months immediately after the war...is beyond dispute. All in all, however, Bacque's thesis and mortality figures cannot be taken as accurate".

Eisenhower biographer Stephen Ambrose, who helped edit Other Losses, wrote I quarrel with many of your interpretations, [but] I am not arguing with the basic truth of your discovery and acknowledged that Bacque had made a "major historical discovery", in the sense that very little attention had hitherto been paid to the treatment of German POWs in Allied hands. He acknowledged he did not now support Bacque's conclusions, but said at the American Military Institute's Annual Meeting in March, 1990: "Bacque has done some research and uncovered an important story that I, and other American historians, missed altogether in work on Eisenhower and the conclusion of the war. When those millions of Wehrmacht soldiers came into captivity at the end of the war, many of them were deliberately and brutally mistreated. There is no denying this. There are men in this audience who were victims of this mistreatment. It is a story that has been kept quiet.

A book-length disputation of Bacque's work, entitled Eisenhower and the German POWs, appeared in 1992, featuring essays by British, American, and German historians. In a 1991 New York Times book review, Ambrose claimed:"Mr. Bacque is wrong on every major charge and nearly all his minor ones. Eisenhower was not a Hitler, he did not run death camps, German prisoners did not die by the hundreds of thousands, there was a severe food shortage in 1945, there was nothing sinister or secret about the "disarmed enemy forces" designation or about the column "other losses." Mr. Bacque's "missing million" were old men and young boys in the Volkssturm (People's Militia) released without formal discharge and transfers of POWs to other allies control areas."

One of the historians in support of Bacque was Colonel Ernest F. Fisher, 101st Airborne Division, who in 1945 took part in investigations into allegations of misconduct by U.S. troops in Germany and later became a Senior Historian with the United States Army. In the introduction to the book he states "Starting in April 1945, the United States Army and the French Army casually annihilated one million [German] men, most of them in American camps . . . Eisenhower's hatred, passed through the lens of a compliant military bureaucracy, produced the horror of death camps unequalled by anything in American history . . . an enormous war crime."

Despite the criticisms of Bacque's methodology, Stephen Ambrose and Brian Loring Villa, the authors of the chapter on German POW deaths, conceded the Allies were motivated in their treatment of captured Germans by disgust and revenge for German atrocities. They did, however, argue Bacque's casualty figures are far too high, and that policy was set by Allied politicians, not by Eisenhower.

Nevertheless, Stephen Ambrose conceded, "we as Americans can't duck the fact that terrible things happened. And they happened at the end of a war we fought for decency and freedom, and they are not excusable."

Crimes and Mercies

In a subsequent book, Crimes And Mercies (2003), Bacque claimed that Allied policies (particularly Sovietmarker policies) led to the premature deaths of 5.7 million German civilians, 2.5 million ethnic German refugees from Eastern Europe and 1.1 million German P.O.W.s due to Allied starvation and expulsion policies in the five years following World War II. The book also details the charity work conducted by the Allies, primarily Canada and the United States, crediting it with saving or improving the lives of up to 500 million people around the world in the post war period. This work was led by Herbert Hoover at the behest of President Truman, and by the Canadian Prime Minister, Mackenzie King, together with Norman Robertson and Mitchell Sharp. This was the largest relief program ever organized, and expressed the ideals of many of the allied combatants.

Crimes and Mercies met with far less hostility from historians, who acknowledge the deaths of hundreds of thousands of German soldiers and civilians held in Soviet captivity, and possibly up to two million civilians who died in the mass expulsions of Germans from East Prussia, eastern Brandenburgmarker, Pomerania, western Poland, Silesia, the Sudetenland and Romania.

Books by James Bacque

Big Lonely Juvenile fiction 1961

The Lonely Ones Fiction 1969

Creation Literary critique 1970

A Man of Talent Fiction 1972

The Queen Comes To Minnicog Humour 1979

Other Losses History 1989

Just Raoul Biography of a French resistance hero 1992

Dear Enemy History 2000

Our Father's War Historical fiction 2006

Crimes and Mercies History 2007

Putting on Conrad: A Fable Comic Drama 2009‎

Notes

  1. Other Losses: An Investigation into the Mass Deaths of German Prisoners of War After World War II., Review author[s]: Jonathan Osmond International Affairs (Royal Institute of International Affairs 1944-) © 1991 Royal Institute of International Affairs
  2. Canadian Historical Review [Canada] 1990 71(Sep): 408-409.
  3. Power Kills Chapter 13. Available on line at: http://www.hawaii.edu/powerkills/SOD.CHAP13.HTM
  4. S.P. Mackenzie in J. Vance, ed. The Encyclopedia of Internment and Prisoners of War, 294
  5. The Scholarship on World War II: Its Present Condition and Future Possibilities. Richard H. Kohn. The Journal of Military History, Vol. 55, No. 3 (Jul., 1991), pp. 365-394
  6. Note: Food relief shipments to Germany were prohibited by the Allies until December 1945, since "they might tend to negate the policy of restricting the German standard of living to the average of the surrounding European nations". "CARE package shipments to individuals remained prohibited until 5 June 1946". The U.S. Army In The Occupation of Germany 1944-1946 by Earl F. Ziemke Footnotes to chapter 23, Further referenced to: (1) Memo, European Section Theater Group, OPD, for L & LD, sub: Establishment of Civilian Director of Relief, 8 Dec 45, in OPD, ABC 336 (sec. IV) (cases 155- ) . (2) OMGUS, Control Office, Hist Br, History of U.S. Military Government in Germany, Public Welfare, 9 Jul 46, in OMGUS 21-3/5.
  7. Eisenhower and the German POWs: Facts against Falsehood., Review author[s]: Joan Beaumont The Journal of Modern History © 1995 The University of Chicago Press.
  8. Eisenhower and the German POWs: Facts Against Falsehood., Review author[s]: Earl F. Ziemke The Journal of American History © 1994 Organization of American Historians
  9. Ike's Revenge? Time Magazine, Monday, Oct. 2, 1989


Bibliography

  • Other Losses Prima Publishing; ISBN 1-55168-191-9
  • Crimes and Mercies, Little Brown & Company; ISBN 0-7515-2277-5


See also



Further reading

"Other Losses" in The Encyclopedia of Prisoners of War and Internment, 2nd Edition. Jonathan Vance, ed. (Millerton, NY: Grey House Publishing, 2006), 294-295.

Gunter Bischof and Stephen Ambrose, eds., Eisenhower and the German POWs (Baton Rouge: Louisiana State University Press, 1992).

S.P. MacKenzie, "Essay and Reflection: On the Other Losses Debate," International History Review 14 (1992): 661-680.

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