bob lembke, on 06 January 2012 - 03:13 PM, said:
If you want to go further into this I possibly could help a bit. Anyone have more info on this Waechtler? Rank, full name, unit? There were four German armies in WW I, and at the end of WW II a Brit bombing raid destroyed the Prussian State Archives. But the other three armies also had their archives. Unfortunately between the wars the Germans collected some materials from the other archives and centralized their storage at the Prussian archives at Potsdam, extending the historical disaster of 1945.
Generally in WW I the Germans were unique in that in serious courts martial the defendants were afforded defense counsel that had to be lawyers. Fortunately many German reserve officers had law degrees (like the commander of my father's regiment, Garde=Reserve=Pionier=Regiment (Flammenwerfer) ; Major Dr. Reddemann; the doctorate was in law, although he was a fire department director and a published scientist); in Germany at the time a doctorate in law was sort of the pre-war version of the current MBA as an important tool for career advancement at a high level.
However, at the beginning of the war proceedures were probably being sorted out, and all sides were swept by spy mania.
If anyone has more on this Waechtler I might be able to sort out if German records might exist. For example, if he was a Bavarian officer records of the trial may well still exist in Bavaria, but probably only accessible in an archive.
I myself have to at some point inquire into the availability of some German legal records of the period. There also is a chance that for some reason the German military legal records were kept seperately; this is true of many WW I medical records.
That is a good offer and we would be interested in any positive result, thank you.
For my part I have consulted Man Mil Law 1914 "Laws and Usages of War". It does not seem to cover in a specific sense the case of a soldier, armed and more-or less- uniformed, at large behind enemy lines. I hasten to add I am no lawyer.
The only direct and perhaps relevant paragraph is 56. every member of the armed forces, if he falls into the hands of the enemy, has a claim to be treated as a prisoner of war, unless he has committed a war crime.
Note there is no mention of surrender, he "falls into the hands of the enemy".
However, adopting Devil's Advocate status, regardless of any statutes or announcements by the enemy, surely such a soldier presents as big a threat to the enemy as if he were standing in their way in conflict? He has, by his actions, not only not surrendered [and this is covered by the Laws and every man so doing must be spared
[!]], but ignored lawful commands by proclamation of the occupying powers. Again, the bottom line of an occupied country is that it has a duty to behave itself although not a duty to collaborate.
Finally, I am satified that the espionage angle is not worth following in most cases ....... such soldiers behind enemy lines would make risible spies.
As a footnote to history, Civil Servants on/near the front line in the Cold War held Dormant Commissions, Military ID, and uniforms, and would have been armed, and granted powers of command, to be activated in the event of WW III. I know ...... I was there.
It was explained that it would be risky to be captured in uniform, and suicidal out of uniform. The pistol would have disappeared sharpish in my case!