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November 20, 2013

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I think in antiquity the idea was quite common and retribution tended to be disproportionate.
In the Middle Ages there were times when esp. Jews got persecuted for alleged conspiracy and collaboration with the Muslims (usually totally unfounded). Strongest of course in Spain but there it could again be interpreted as a civil war issue given the length of the 'occupation' before the reconquista.
Between 1871 and 1914 the people of Alsace were treated as notoriously unreliable by the Germans and kept under military control. After 1918 it was the French that treated them the same (Alsatians were seen as French in Germany and German in France) and many persecuted (driven out in most cases) for German connections.
Back to Spain, I think during the Napoleonic wars the guerilla went after collaborators by preference.

My great grand dad, or maybe it was my grand dad, immigrated to the US in the 1870's from the Alsace. He spoke French, but got conscripted into the German army (was it Prussia at that time?). The family sent all of their sons to the US.

I suppose it makes a difference whether the enemy is a new boss, same as the old boss, or has a radically different vision of how society should be organized. Hegel proclaimed that history had ended on a Tuesday afternoon in October at Jena, when Napoleon, representing the ideals of liberalism, defeated the Prussian nobles, representing the traditional nobility. The Nazis and Fascists proposed to start history up again with a vision of society in which it would be "All within the state, nothing outside the state, nothing against the state."

That's a difference akin to the sort of thing that happened during the Protestant reformation, when people were killed because of their religion (see Huguenots.)Liberalism advocated freedom of speech and religion, fascism condemned and persecuted these activities.

This was not merely collaboration with a nobleman who had a claim to a throne that he wished to press by force of arms against another nobleman with a competing claim and exactly the same objectives. It was collaboration with an attempt to end an entire way of life.

The efforts of the Allies to get those who "collaborated" with the Japanese in Southeast Asia treated as severely as their European counterparts were generally faltered, over the widespread Southeast Asian view that you did what you did under occupation because you had to, and war was just like that, not a matter of Good [Allies] vs. Evil [Axis].

The prosecution of collaborators got farthest in the Philippines, but even there it crumbled away before any major figures were convicted. Elements in the US (trying to uphold the Japanese as potential allies in the Cold War) abetted in this, undercutting America's own crusade, but most Filipinos themselves were inclined to be forgiving even of egregious collaboration. After all, they had been forced to collaborate with nearly four centuries of Spanish and American colonialism!


(In this I am benefitting from the research of my mentor, David Joel Steinberg, Philippine Collaboration in World War II, though not quite reaching his conclusion.)

What was Steinberg's conclusion, dr ngo?

the widespread Southeast Asian view that you did what you did under occupation because you had to

I always thought that it was less that and more, there wasn't much difference between occupiers. Some random things.

Subhas Chandra Bose and the Indian National Army are an amazing chapter in Indian history and the Red Fort trials illustrates precisely that refusal to punish collaborators/patriots.

This is a great discussion of the situation in Vietnam, which had numerous sets of 'collaborators'. From that link

World War II also generated a new series of collaborative relationships. Staring in 1940, the Japanese occupation of Indochina gave rise to a particularly complex situation and set of power dynamics. Whereas the Japanese overthrew Western colonial regimes across Southeast Asia, incorporating them into their own Asian empire, the fall of France in June 1940 and Pétain’s decision in October 1940 to pursue a policy of collaboration with Nazi Germany prevented the Japanese from overthrowing the French in Indochina. As a result, until early 1945 two colonial empires ruled Indochina, a French one located within a wider Japanese one. Both the Japanese and the French competed for the hearts and minds of their Vietnamese subjects. Both sides pitched the advantages of their colonial project. But neither could go too far in this strange colonial condominium. The Japanese needed the French and the French needed to work with the Japanese to hold on to Indochina.

I think johnw is on to something. If you are in a country where a war is simply a matter of a new (even if external) group taking over, then "collaboration" is not a big deal. Which is why people in SouthEast Asia saw nothing odd about collaborating with the Japanese during WW II: the Japanese weren't trying to remake society there, just take over and run it.

In contrast, in Europe in WW II, as in many civil wars, the (German) occupying power was trying to remake society after they took over. Which meant that some would work with them out of ideology rather than mere economic necessity. And those were the collaborators who were a) most enthusiastic and b) most likely to get regarded as criminal after the occupyers were forced out.

It does, however, raise an interesting question. After WW II in Europe, the US was effectively an occupying power in (West) Germany for a decade. And yet, even after Germany was back under local sovereignty, those who "collaborated" with the US occupation were not faulted by their countrymen. So perhaps what matters is both whether the occupyers want to remake society and how they want to remake it.

I am struggling with the logic that: prior to WWII, collaboration with the enemy was not a crime except in civil wars, therefore WWII must/may have been a civil war (in Europe).

Seriously?

How many wars did France fight against Germanny, and formerly Prussia between the late 18th and early 20th Century? What evidence is there that collaboration was tolerated by either side during any of these conflicts?

As to why collaboration with the Nazis might be viewed by former subjects of Nazi occupation in a particularly negative way, there is the small fact of Nazi brutality, forced slave labor, deportation of the Jews, and so on and so on. Possibly collaborating with slime like that provokes a different reaction, assuming the initial premise, that collaboration with a foreign invader was just good, clean fun back in the day--which I suspect is not an historically unchallenged notion.

What evidence is there that collaboration was tolerated by either side during any of these conflicts?

Maybe it was not that collaboration was tolerated more, it was that resistance was tolerated less. The Franco-Prussian war raised the notion of franc-tireur and how they were to be treated became an issue then.

What evidence is there that collaboration was tolerated by either side during any of these conflicts?

What Judt says is that it wasn't on the legal books as a *crime*, and that in order to punish collaborators after 1945 they had to go through various legal and extra-legal shenanigans.

Treason of course was already a crime, but its legal scope was limited to higher-ups and the military.

Also, in France (at least) women who had slept with Nazi were socially shamed for horizontal collaboration, which I don't recall of hearing about after other wars. In earlier eras, "loose women" might be shamed, but IIRC sleeping with the invader didn't involve much *extra* shame, it was pretty much expected.

The Franco-Prussian war raised the notion of franc-tireur and how they were to be treated became an issue then.

Right, which is the polar opposite of collaboration. Franc-tireur's, being out of uniform and not in regular military service have minimal protections under the laws of war. Shooting them outright

Steinberg tried to argue that Filipinos in general *had* internalized the view that the Japanese were bad - not just new boss, same as the old boss - and that therefore collaboration was unacceptable, but that this perspective had been undercut in practice:

First by the actions of certain Americans, starting with Douglas MacArthur (who effectively gave a free pass to his former aide Manuel Roxas, one of the top collaborators) and continuing with the soft-pedaling of anti-Japanese antagonism as the Cold War evolved.

Second by the rapid restoration of the pre-war Filipino elite, most of whom had collaborated and therefore were not anxious to pursue the issue.

Both of these are valid points, but the initial assumption, that Filipinos in general thought of collaboration as a kind of national betrayal, is somewhat more speculative, IMHO. Given the influence, tenacity and articulateness of the Filipino elite, who have been playing the collaboration game for centuries by now, it's all but impossible to establish what the ordinary tao - peasant - really thought or thinks about anything.

And LibJap is right to point out that because of Franco-Japanese cooperation in the wartime administration of Vietnam, that country is an outlier within the region in certain respects. Much of the support of the Communists in that country was based less on their economic policies, which were downplayed and ill understood, than on the fact that they, almost alone, had stood against BOTH the French and the Japanese, and therefore were the true vanguard of Vietnamese nationalism.

Possibly relevant, although I'm admittedly not an expert.

The Sicarii were extremist Zealots during the Roman occupation of Judea (1st century. My recollection (very faint) is that they targeted romans and sympathizers. It's backed up by Wikipedia, but its uncited (gasp). So I'm not sure if that's largely fiction that both I and the writer of the Wikipedia page were told, or if its supported by historical data.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sicarii

But if accurate, that's a very early anti-collaborationist vibe. That would suggest to me its a feature of human society, not just recent history.

Also, in France (at least) women who had slept with Nazi were socially shamed for horizontal collaboration, which I don't recall of hearing about after other wars. In earlier eras, "loose women" might be shamed, but IIRC sleeping with the invader didn't involve much *extra* shame, it was pretty much expected.

Treason--aiding and abetting the enemy in time of war--has been a crime going back centuries. I am not sure what difference there is between treason and collaboration--seems like a fine line to me.

Using very rough time frames, post Reformation, wholesale territorial conquest and occupation was not the agenda--and certainly not the successful agenda--of nation vs nation war in Europe. Border disputes, this province or that, sure; but once the Netherlands and Belgium obtained separate nationhood and once the Armada failed, there weren't any successful invasions followed by long term occupation until WWII.

So, we really don't have any examples of sustained opportunities for collaboration in pre-modern Europe as precedent to compare with WWII.

As for horizontal collaboration, what historical record do we have and how far back does it go? My take is that, first and foremost, rape accounts for the highest percentage of sexual interaction between invader and invadee. Somewhere down the line is prostitution occasioned by a variety motivations ranging from inclination to starvation. Voluntary coitus, I suspect, was relatively rare post Reformation, primarily because invading armies seldom stayed in one place long enough--logistics being what they were, armies had to stay on the move or starve under most circumstances.

As a footnote, Poland is exception to the foregoing.

When you get to earlier folk movements, where Tribe/Culture A conquers Tribe/Culture B, and assimilation takes place, that is a whole different thing entirely. And, assimilation did not always take place nor did it always take hold. In other cases, it was as if the former population never existed.

In some European wars, collaboration was not an option. When the British took over Calais, Edward III's men persuaded him to spare the lives of its citizens, but they were expelled from the city, which was repopulated with English people. In some of the conflicts that made up the 100-years war, resistance by a town resulted in its citizens being put to the sword. In such circumstances, collaboration might be seen as understandable.

J. Watkins--there is a reason why I differentiated between post Reformation Europe and what went on before. The concept of nationhood changed post Reformation, and thus the concept of an 'enemy'. The Hundred Years War was fought over which royal family owned France. Feudal society--'society' being a bit of a misnomer--did not lend itself to modern concepts of collaboration or treason for that matter. In the day, it was treason against the king or the crown, not the country.

Sounds to me as though the case is being made not that WWII was a civil war but that it was a holy war.

Not the first person to suggest that frame, of course....

Sounds to me as though the case is being made not that WWII was a civil war but that it was a holy war.

This is a tough sell. You had two principal aggressor nations, united after a fashion, who were highly successful and one secondary aggressor (USSR) that was then turned on by its fascist partner. The US and the UK/Commonwealth were pretty much all that was left. But for the USSR, the Nazis would not have been defeated other than by nuclear means.

It was not a war of choice, but when you look at the fallout, including the nuclear age and the Cold War, it was probably the single most destabilizing event since the rise of Islam. I would include USSR and communism in this but my take is that the USSR would never have been much of a threat but for the impetus of WWII.

It was neither a civil war, nor a holy war, but rather a potentially existential event that continues to echo in many strange and completely unforeseen ways.

So, we really don't have any examples of sustained opportunities for collaboration in pre-modern Europe as precedent to compare with WWII.

The Balkans?
Finland?

Certainly there was religious content to WW II, otherwise you would not have seen people being killed for their faith. I'd have a little trouble defining it as a religious war, but in many ways secular ideologies have replaced religion in defining a way of life. Marxism, for example, opposes all religion, hoping to replace it with Marxist ideology.

Interestingly, the Japanese were not killing people for their faith, they were killing people for opposing them, which might make collaboration mean something different in the Pacific theater.

The Balkans?
Finland?

Neither apply. My premise was post Reformation Europe, which excludes the Balkans because the dominant Christian faith there was and is Eastern Orthodox which was pretty much unfazed by the Reformation. Additionally, the sectarian warfare in the Balkans predates the Reformation by centuries. It is an evolution of the early resistance to Islamic intrusion into that region commencing more than a 1,000 years ago (or maybe 900, but regardless, a long time ago). Some may not care for that characterization, but I think it is historically accurate to say that Islam spread by conquest, not by persuasion, and Christians and Muslims have been battling each other there since the initial Muslim incursions way back when. I am not unmindful that Christianity has more than its share of conversions by the sword, but that is not applicable to how the party got started in the Balkans. We know who was there first and it wasn't the Muslims.

As for Finland, it has been an independent country for just under a century. Not having existed prior to 1917, it could not have been *occupied* in any conventional sense by a conquering outsider. If it has ever been occupied by an outsider at all, it was by the USSR during WWII, but I am not even sure that happened. Finland was part of Russia for two hundred years up until it became independent.

It strikes me that Germany's brutal occupation of Belgium in WW I would be a good test for this. I know of no prosecution of collaborators with the Germans following the war, even though the rape of Belgium was about as brutal as anything that country had ever sustained. The Germans weren't trying to change the way of life in Belgium, they were just frustrated that the Belgian army had stymied their plans to walk through and take Paris.

It strikes me that Germany's brutal occupation of Belgium in WW I would be a good test for this.

I had completely forgotten about Germany's occupation of Belgium during WWI. I know it happened, I don't know any of the details. Has anyone done a study on whether and to what extent there was collaboration, and what was done post war about it?

Actually during WW1 the German leadership developed plans to absorb Belgium completely, either like Alsace-Lorraine or as a permanent protectorate. In any case the inhabitants would have been 2nd class citizens/subjects. It was part of the growing hybris and reality loss (the worse the situation got the larger became the stated war goals to compensate for it).

The Belgian case is a difficult one due to the elaborate lies spun around it by all parties many of which still haunt the history books. Everyone 'knows' about the hacked off hands of children (a myth) but few about the very real electrified 'fence of death' on the border to the Netherlands that killed hundreds of refugees and was a spiritual ancestor to the Berlin Wall.

There were probably very few collaborators due to the almost total opposition to the occupation and its 'suck 'em dry' policies (that included the dismantling of all factories that could not get pressed into the production of war materials for Germany. The estimated damage was 2.2 billion dollars).

In the Balkans I was not thinking of the Ottoman times but the period between the Turkish retreat and WW1 when Austria tried to take over the newly independent states (like Boznia).

Well, I've done some mousing around on the internet, and it looks like at least one collaborator, Gaston Quien, was prosecuted after WW I. He turned over people at a Belgian nursing school who were helping allied soldiers.

So perhaps WW II is not so unique in this respect.

At least concerning the treatment of civilians WW1 was clearly a test run for WW2. There are actually some aspects of German WW1 policies that I find even more disgusting than what the Nazis did a generation later (and some behaviour on the entente side mirrors it to some degree).

" I am not sure what difference there is between treason and collaboration--seems like a fine line to me."

One insight I gleaned from Steinberg is that the "line" is not ours to discern, unless we ourselves are involved in the fray. When does cooperation with a superior occupying force become "collaboration" in the pejorative sense, verging on treason, and when is it simply something any sensible (or desperate) person will do? The Dutch tried to depict Sukarno as a traitor - he certainly cooperated with Japanese authorities in the Indies - but the Indonesians by and large regarded him as at worst a pragmatist, but generally as a hero. It was even argued on his behalf (and his counterparts in other countries) that his cooperation actually masked clandestine nationalism: in the guise of helping Japan he was in effect helping Indonesians.

We may or may not accept this, but it's not our call.

Speaking of both franc-tireurs and mass opinion, current historical thinking is that the German massacres in Belgium in the first weeks of WWI were essentially due to a meme among the soldiers, not any kind of plan by the generals.

The meme was the belief that the German lines could expect to be attacked by horrible, bloodthirsty franc-tireurs as they marched through the low countries, and that any sigh of acquiescence on the part of the populace was just a ruse. This meme was spread by the experienced soldiers in the ranks, and agitated the mass of green troops to the point where they were twitching at every cow.

And so every instance of fighting back on the part of the Belgian army, or of friendly fire, was attributed to "franc-tireurs", and they retaliated on the populace to "teach them a lesson". They basically frightened themselves into atrocities.

Hartmut raised a point about different nations on the topic of collaboration and McKinneyTexas answered:

As for Finland, it has been an independent country for just under a century. Not having existed prior to 1917, it could not have been *occupied* in any conventional sense by a conquering outsider. If it has ever been occupied by an outsider at all, it was by the USSR during WWII, but I am not even sure that happened. Finland was part of Russia for two hundred years up until it became independent.

Facts first:
*Finland was part of Russia from 1809 until 1917.
*A part of Finland was occupied during the WWII. With the exception of a few border villages at the onset of Winter War (1939-1940), those areas had been evacuated completely before the Finnish troops left, so no collaboration occurred. Six residents of the border villages that were captured before evacuation were convicted of treason and sentenced to prison during the Interim Peace (1940-1941).

Unlike McKinneyTexas states, the position of Finland as a part of Russia was not completely straight-forward. Finland was an autonomous province, with a Finnish (Swedish-using) internal administration. It even had, until 1905, a Finnish military with officers trained in the Finnish Cadet School.

In Finland, service in the Finnish bureaucracy was prestigious and unproblematic. However, service in the Russian civil service in Russia was seriously frowned upon. Especially Swedish-speaking liberally minded middle class considered this immoral. The same went for persons who served as press censors. They were shunned in polite society, even by political conservatives.

Service in the Russian military proper was more acceptable, as the Finnish Cadet School trained much more officers than the few Finnish units could use. For the noble youth graduating from the Cadet School, the Russian military was often the only possible career path, and most noble families had members in the Russian military.

The things changed, however, in 1899, as Russia embarked on a program of russification. After that, collaboration with the Russians was seen more and more despicable, of course depending on one's political views. (The liberal "Swedish" and "Young Finns" parties advocated passive resistance while the Social Democrats and the conservative "Old Finns" were open to limited collaboration with Russians. Active resistance was a fringe phenomenon until 1917.)

When Finland became independent, no one was tried for political crimes that occurred prior to 1917. However, the careers of the most collaborative civil servants and politicians ended, and many were forced to resign or even removed from office. Officers trained in Russian military were purged from the newly formed Finnish military by 1924, with a few exceptions, most of whom were retained for their supreme capability (e.g. later General of Artillery Vilho Nenonen)

Lurker, thanks for that. Would you classify Finland's pre-independence relationship with Russia as one of a conquered and occupied country? If I am reading you correctly, until 1899, Finn's were more or less internally autonomous. Thereafter, less so. So, in the 1899-1917 period, or thereafter, were their consequences for collaborators or was it seen, as Doc S proposes, as a more benign phenomena?

A few points to consider here...

The idea of the autonomous nation state, and the self-determination of a 'people' was fairly new (cf Wilson's fourteen points etc), and prior to that, 'collaboration' with say an imperial occupier would have made little sense as a crime, or even a concept.

Individual autonomy - and therefore responsibility - was a fairly recent development. After all, it would have been a bit odd for a society which happily allowed the institution of slavery to consider 'collaboration' a crime.

'International law' had only existed as a concept since the 19th century.

Auschwitz and Treblinka meant that WW2 collaborators had aided genocidaires.

The idea of the autonomous nation state, and the self-determination of a 'people' was fairly new (cf Wilson's fourteen points etc), and prior to that, 'collaboration' with say an imperial occupier would have made little sense as a crime, or even a concept.

Maybe, but it had to get started somewhere. The policies/positions of Henry VIII and Elizabeth I in England and Martin Luther in what would become Germany played a major role in those two countries identifying as nation-states, not part of some prince or king's realm. None of it happened overnight, but if you want a starting place for the birth of modern nationalism, you could do a lot worse than starting with the Reformation.

I think classical Greece showed first signs of it too. There was an idea of Greek nationalism that went beyond the quarreling city states (Platon addresses it in the Politeia too). Interestingly the question of collaboration did not come up with regard to the Persians, although the latter were the trigger for the idea of panhellenic unity but after the Peloponnesian (civil) War. The loser Athens was ruled for some time by the '30 Tyrants' acting as the arm of the Spartan victor. It would be interesting to see, what happened to their helpers when they got overthrown. What I remember is that Athens underwent a process of political and religious radicalization leading to a series of political/religious per/prosecutions (Socrates being just the most prominent victim).

Maybe, but it had to get started somewhere.

Of course.

As Hartmut points out, the roots of modern culture go back a very long way indeed.

Nevertheless, a very large proportion of the world was quite happy with the institution of slavery well into the nineteenth century. Such societies are not ones in which the modern concept of 'collaboration' - especially as a legal concept - is likely to arise.

In Finland, the relationship between Russia and Finland had been relatively unproblematic. The Russian emperors were ruling Finland directly, and a Finnish civil servant presented all issues directly to the emperor, without the input of Russian ministers. A law was first proposed by the Finnish imperial Senate (government) to the Diet, then passwd by the Diet and finally sent by the Senate to the Finnish minister-secretary-of-state in St. Petersburg, who presented the issue to the Emperor for ratification.

In 1899, the Russians unilaterally changed the system. Laws relating to the state security or defence were now passed by Russian adminstration, with only limited Finnish input.

The issue was mainly about whether Finnish civil servants should obey laws enacted thus. All parties agreed that the laws were unconstitutional but differed on implications. The Russification was temporarily rolled back in 1905 but resumed in 1909. Particularly during the latter period, but also during the Russo-Japanese War (1904-05), the situation started to resemble a military occupation.

There were conseqeunces for those who were most obiviously collaborating. The police forces were completely discharged in 1917 and I mentioned the purge of the military earlier. However, after independence, Finland immediately underwent a civil war. After it, 20.000 Finns were dead and the communists were the public enemy no 1. The ardent supporters of the defunct czarist system were a small minority that was already socially dead. Having lost their jobs, they were no longer dangerous enough to persecute, as there were more recent problems.

I think that Judt was refering to "Collaboration" being made a legal crime. the key word being "Legal". People have been punished or killed for centuries for supossedly being "traitors". But WW2 was probably the first time that "Collaborators" were put in front of actual legal courts

The same could be said of war criminals in general.

A war crimes tribunal was tried after WW1 but it failed in the end because of relentless German opposition. Given that it was highly questionable and less about justice than justification of the unprecedented treatment of the losers that does not come as a surprise. Nuremberg had its flaws too but those were far outweighed by the need to deal with what had been done under the German flags.

There was a small precursor after the American Civil War too, although iirc that was mainly about the mistreatment of POWs.

"It was not a war of choice, but when you look at the fallout, including the nuclear age and the Cold War, it was probably the single most destabilizing event since the rise of Islam. "

Posted by: McKinneyTexas

I'd put the Protestant Reformation up there, especially in Western/Central Europe. It fractured a unified religion and hierarchy.

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