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Martial Justice: The Last Mass Execution in the United States (Bluejacket Books Series) Paperback – October 1, 1997
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On August 25,1945, seven young German POW submariners were hanged at Fort Leavenworth. It was the largest single execution in the United States in the twentieth century and the country's last mass execution. Their crime was the murder of a fellow German prisoner, a man they called a traitor because he helped interrogate other German prisoners. But why was their execution carried out four months after the end of the war for conduct many Americans would have expected of their own POWs in an enemy camp? And why was this "traitor" sent to the very camp where the men he had interrogated were imprisoned? Why did President Harry S. Truman, who signed the orders of execution, decline to be interviewed by the author, and why did all documents relating to the case vanish from the Truman Library after the author requested a research permit? Richard Whittingham probes the events that led to the murder, its perpetration, the brutal interrogation, the court-martial, and the execution, and he reveals how the seven were used as pawns by the U.S. government for the return of American prisoners in German hands before the war's end - then executed once Germany surrendered. The author also raises questions about military justice and the treatment of prisoners of war that are as controversial today as they were when this book was written more than two decades ago.
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It seems likely to me that 1) some, or even all, of those hanged were not guilty; 2) the USA would have given medals for what they (or unknown others) did; 3) these seven PoWs were executed to prevent them from telling their story of interrogation by the USA military.
of Charity in Levenworth, Kansas.
Ryan Michael O'Brien, Fair Oaks, California Ryan95628@hotmail.com