Razing of Friesoythe
The town of Friesoythe was razed by the 4th Canadian Division in 1945. The rubble of the town was used to fill craters in local roads. Twenty German civilians died in the two days of fighting and its aftermath. Similar, if usually less extreme, events occurred elsewhere in Germany as the Allies advanced in the closing weeks of the war.
About Razing of Friesoythe in brief
The town of Friesoythe was razed by the 4th Canadian Division in 1945. The rubble of the town was used to fill craters in local roads to make them passable for the division’s tanks and heavy vehicles. Twenty German civilians died in the two days of fighting and its aftermath. Similar, if usually less extreme, events occurred elsewhere in Germany as the Allies advanced in the closing weeks of the war. There was frustration throughout the Allied ranks at the Germans’ continued resistance in a clearly hopeless cause. The frequency and nature of retaliatory actions differed between national contingents within the Western Allied forces. The First Canadian Army served in the predominately British 21st Army Group, and more frequently retaliated against German civilians than the British. French troops took a similar, if more rigorous, approach to that of the Americans. The Soviet Union’s leadership was concerned about the threat of a German resistance movement, and Soviet forces killed, raped and imprisoned large numbers of local civilians and destroyed property following guerrilla attacks. The commander of 4th Canadian Division, Major-General Christopher Vokes, believed that destroying property was the most appropriate way of responding to resistance by German civilians. The British commanders disapproved of retaliations against civilians, and British troops carried out few reprisals. At least one British battalion refused to take Waffen-SS prisoners, shooting those who surrendered on spot; an officer of the battalion blamed this on the risk of being shot on spot.
An American officer wrote that these people … should be made to feel the full significance of war and what their troops had done to other people. The U.S. general George Patton wrote in his diary that \”we should fire about a thousand rounds into every town in every town that we entered. Do them good! Do the good for them! Do not shoot them up! Do tculence them up. Do not kill them! They are good people! Do you know who they are? Do you know them? If you do, call them up and tell them. If you don’t, don’t call them! If you think they are good, tell them that they are not good people. If they are bad, they are dead! If they’re not dead, they’re dead! Do they know that you are good? Do you understand what you are doing? If not, then don’t do it. Do you want to know what you’re doing? Then do it now! You can do it! Do it now!” It was incorrectly rumoured that the battalion’s commander was killed by a German soldier, but it was incorrectlyRumoured that he had been killed by a civilian. Under this mistaken belief, thedivision’s commander ordered that the town be razed in retaliation and it was substantially destroyed. Little official notice was taken of the incident and the Canadian Army official history glosses over it. It is covered in the regimental histories of the units involved and several accounts of the campaign. On 15 April the British reached Bergen-Belsen concentration camp.