Sunday, November 13, 2005

Disobeying Orders I - Nazis & the Lamed Hey

How should we treat soldiers who disobey orders? Should it matter if the order was "illegal" (not really sure how you can decide that in a war, where most "laws" are out the window and a different set of rules, unknown in peacetime, take effect).

That following orders is not an excuse became apparent during the Nuremberg trials. You would be hard pressed to find someone willing to state that the Nazis who shot Jews, who pushed them into gas chambers and crematoria, should not be jailed because they were following orders.

Killing civlians (however defined) is against the "rules of war." On the other hand, the Lamed Hey, upon being discovered by a civilian, refused to kill her. She sounded the alarm, and after a long battle, all 35 were killed. Would they be justified in having killed the woman? To save themselves, and possibly those in Gush Etzion? I submit that this is a much tougher question.

What do you think? I plan on developing this topic further, possible suggesting an alternative, if I can figure one out.