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prr
 
Posts: 21
Joined: 2007
German "lessons" about futility of torture?
4/16/2022 11:11:07 PM
I have been reading bits and pieces about the Algerian war of independence from France, and came across this preface by Jean-Paul Sartre, which on page xxxviii, he wrote the following:

Quote:
These tortures bring a poor return; the Germans themselves ended by realizing this in 1944; torture costs human lives but does not save them.


Now was this simply his own lesson drawn from the German occupation of France in WWII? Or did the Germans actually reduce torture of the French Resistance during this time?

[Read More]

Sorry I think you might need to log into archive.org and actually (virtually) check the book out before reading it, not sure. I'll reproduce the quote in its context below:

Quote:
Arrests are made at random. Every Arab can be “questioned” at will. The majority of the tortured say nothing because they have nothing to say unless, to avoid torture, they agree to bear false witness or confess to a crime they have not committed. As for those who do have something to say, we know very well that they do not talk. All of them or nearly all of them. Neither Audin, nor Alleg, nor Guerraudj unclenched their teeth. On this point the torturers of El-Biar are better informed than we. One of them said after Alleg's first session of questioning: “All the same, he has gained a night to give his friends time to get away.” And one of the officers commented, a few days later: “For ten years, fifteen years, they all have had the same idea, if taken they must not talk; and there is nothing we can do about it.”

Perhaps he was only talking about the Communists, but do we believe that the partisans of the ALN [the military wing of the FLN in Algeria] are of a different metal? These tortures bring a poor return; the Germans themselves ended by realizing this in 1944; torture costs human lives but does not save them.

In spite of that, the point is not altogether badly taken; it, at any rate, throws light on the function of torture: the question, that secret or semi-secret institution, is indissolubly allied to the secrecy of the resistance and the opposition.

Brian Grafton
Victoria BC Canada
Posts: 4353
Joined: 2004
German "lessons" about futility of torture?
5/5/2022 8:57:04 PM
Prr, I’ve come to this post late, first reading it today. I will admit I’m not entirely certain what issue you are attempting to raise.

My understanding – I’m no expert in the field – is that whatever interrogation techniques were used during wars up to WW2 were found unreliable, but were supplanted by other techniques which might damage the interrogated less while providing more reliable information.

If your interest is about the French-Algerian war (OK, choose your own descriptor) – why else would you be raising Sartre’s specific condemnations? – then approximation of time makes German findings valid.

If your are more interested in the value of torture in itself, I would suggest that while torture is still one technique used by various national governments, it is not a rewarding technique as an intel tool.

I think most folks these days see psychological manipulation as standard techniques for information withdrawal. I also think the concept terrifies most of them. The movie “Manchurian Candidate”, from decades ago, might still be the best known demonstration of psychwar techniques. It scared the shit out of an entire generation.

Cheers,
Brian G

----------------------------------
"We have met the enemy, and he is us." Walt Kelly. "The Best Things in Life Aren't Things" Bumper sticker.
OpanaPointer
St. Louis MO USA
Posts: 1469
Joined: 2010
German "lessons" about futility of torture?
5/7/2022 10:34:18 AM
Take ten men. Confine them in isolation from the other. Inquire about certain things. Compare all ten responses. If 9 out of 10 match then you can high confidence that they were telling the truth.

Call me a bad person here.
kaii
Oslo  Norway
Posts: 3062
Joined: 2010
German "lessons" about futility of torture?
5/13/2022 5:42:56 AM
Quote:
Take ten men. Confine them in isolation from the other. Inquire about certain things. Compare all ten responses. If 9 out of 10 match then you can high confidence that they were telling the truth.

Call me a bad person here.


Or that they have all rehearsed the same cover story.
----------------------------------
"They tried to bury us - but did not realise that we are seeds." -Volodymyr Zelenskiy, President of Ukraine
OpanaPointer
St. Louis MO USA
Posts: 1469
Joined: 2010
German "lessons" about futility of torture?
5/14/2022 7:39:35 AM
Enough pressure will rattle anybody. Just sayin'.
GaryNJ
Cumberland NJ USA
Posts: 177
Joined: 2010
German "lessons" about futility of torture?
5/14/2022 11:15:07 AM
Torture did sometimes succeed in obtaining valuable information. In The Devil's Garden: Rommel's Desperate Defense of Omaha Beach on D-Day by Steven Zaloga he points out that the French Resistance in the Normandy area was betrayed in March 1944 when an operative in Paris was captured. He and others arrested were tortured and subsequently revealed the entire group.

This was important as the French had noted both the removal of the guns from Pointe-du-Hoc and the movement of the German 352.Infanterie-Division from St. Lô area to the Normandy coast in March 1944. The info on Pointe-du-Hoc did not get through to the Allies and the info on the German division may or may not have gotten to the Allies.

Gary
vpatrick
MA MA USA
Posts: 2243
Joined: 2020
German "lessons" about futility of torture?
5/14/2022 2:28:53 PM
Always thought women would make the best spies as there were many in the French resistance, if I was faced with a pair of pliers that were threatening my two fellows I think I would give away gods army to the devil. Just an observation nothing more.


vpatrick
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nuts
OpanaPointer
St. Louis MO USA
Posts: 1469
Joined: 2010
German "lessons" about futility of torture?
5/20/2022 6:23:49 PM
I went to work one day, NavSta San Diego. On the way I realized that I wouldn't function very well and went to sick bay. They had me a gurney and heading for a meat wagon before I knew it. Had my appendix out that afternoon. That's the worst hurt I've ever had that I fully experience. Getting blown up somewhere on the Mekong was longer, seven days back to base. I didn't experience the full effect of that one, I was in a drug-induced coma for about a month. Doctors said it was worth the risk, but they didn't take that risk. Eventually I was up and about, after three months of daily physical therapy. Not many prisoners have experienced 24/7 pain.
Brian Grafton
Victoria BC Canada
Posts: 4353
Joined: 2004
German "lessons" about futility of torture?
5/20/2022 9:37:31 PM
OP, I think it’s fair to say most people have not experienced 24//7 pain, at least at the levels you’re implying. And I believe/agree/accept that most humans cannot do so. The body has ways of dealing with that: coma; loss of consciousness; even death become better alternatives.

My argument, I guess, remains that physical torture – the application of pain-inducing actions – is increasingly seen as not effective, and that psychosis-inducing applications have proven to be effective. Its not that either won’t get answers, but that physical pain will gain answers to stop the pain, while chemicals may induce a desire to share. While some folks have a high pain threshold, and some can prepare themselves to fight psychosis-inducing drugs better than others, the issue is that psychological manipulation is more effective than physical torture.

Cheers
Brian G
----------------------------------
"We have met the enemy, and he is us." Walt Kelly. "The Best Things in Life Aren't Things" Bumper sticker.
OpanaPointer
St. Louis MO USA
Posts: 1469
Joined: 2010
German "lessons" about futility of torture?
5/21/2022 8:24:35 AM
What I saw worked. The White Mice were more ferocious than many people think.
prr
 
Posts: 21
Joined: 2007
German "lessons" about futility of torture?
5/24/2022 10:20:50 AM
Well that's ok. I gave up looking for replies, and then logged in today and saw quite a few. Oh well better late than never!

Yeah I was thinking primarily about WWII and the German torture techniques. So your position would be that since WWII, techniques have been developed that produce better info? Interesting.

One point that was made in his writings about torture, is that the people who would talk, didn't know much detail, and the people who were in possession of valuable intel, wouldn't give it up under torture. So in either case, it was seen as useless. Although again, this might be a dated view that is obsolete if in fact new techniques have been developed.

Quote:
Prr, I’ve come to this post late, first reading it today. I will admit I’m not entirely certain what issue you are attempting to raise.

My understanding – I’m no expert in the field – is that whatever interrogation techniques were used during wars up to WW2 were found unreliable, but were supplanted by other techniques which might damage the interrogated less while providing more reliable information.

If your interest is about the French-Algerian war (OK, choose your own descriptor) – why else would you be raising Sartre’s specific condemnations? – then approximation of time makes German findings valid.

If your are more interested in the value of torture in itself, I would suggest that while torture is still one technique used by various national governments, it is not a rewarding technique as an intel tool.

I think most folks these days see psychological manipulation as standard techniques for information withdrawal. I also think the concept terrifies most of them. The movie “Manchurian Candidate”, from decades ago, might still be the best known demonstration of psychwar techniques. It scared the shit out of an entire generation.

Cheers,
Brian G


OpanaPointer
St. Louis MO USA
Posts: 1469
Joined: 2010
German "lessons" about futility of torture?
5/25/2022 6:54:01 PM
Dzerzhinsky Square.

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