At the same time the Nazis were mass-murdering Jews, Gypsies, partisans and millions of innocent civilians during World War II, the Wehrmacht Bureau on War Crimes (1939–1945) was collecting evidence to prove that there were also crimes carried out by the Allies. Realizing that the winners would indeed hold the vanquished nation’s feet to the war crimes fire, all sides carefully created dossiers to show they were not alone in their misdeeds. Often these investigations were used for propaganda purposes, to show the world the darker sides of the enemy.
In Germany the Wehrmacht Bureau on War Crimes was administered by judges who claimed independence from the Nazi party. Their findings were compiled in what was dubbed “White Books.” These documents showed that atrocities were committed by the Allies against Germans and non-combatant civilians on both the Eastern and Western fronts. Some of these, like the massacre of over 4,000 Polish officers by the Soviet NKVD in the Katyn Forrest near Smolensk, would have proved embarrassing for the Allies. But nearby the SS carried out their own mass murders of Jews.
Color-coded books were common as evidence of the horrors of the war. The White Books proved German claims. The Brown Book was a Western introduction to Hitler’s terror and the rationale for Jewish persecution. And after the war, the Black Book assembled many but not all the crimes committed by the Nazis.
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