Crimes and Mercies: The Fate of German Civilians Under Allied Occupation, 1944–1950.


304 pages
Contains Photos, Maps, Bibliography, Index
ISBN 978-0-88922-567-1
DDC 943.087'4





Reviewed by Dieter K. Buse

Dieter K. Buse is professor emeritus of history at Laurentian


This is the second, larger edition of Braque’s controversial assertions published in 1997 that expanded upon his even more contested book, Other Losses, about the brutal treatment of German POWs by the western Allies in 1945. This version has added claims about a conspiracy of silence and web of intrigue by a long list of individuals who supposedly sought and continue to cover up the deaths of Germans under Allied control. His statistics are better presented than in the earlier books, and correct those authors who minimize the deaths. However, Braque should let his evidence speak for itself and seek some perspective on the situation at war’s end. That the Allies committed horrible deeds (8000 French soldiers were charged with rape; in addition there was looting, murder, starvation policy, cages for POWs, and secret interrogation camps) is increasingly known and Braque’s earlier service was to reveal some of them.


The novel aspect here is that in addition to the crimes, he highlights the merciful successes of a few individuals, in particular Herbert Hoover, Mackenzie King, and Norman Robertson, who worked to provide food to starving Europeans, including Germans. Braque’s most contentious claim is that no postwar food storage existed, only malicious practices by American and French military leaders bent on revenge. A bit more evidence is offered to counter the earlier apologetic defenses of General Eisenhower by Stephen Ambrose, whose reputation suffered when it was shown that he plagiarized, but in general Braque’s work remains a study in how to dig out significant facts yet also how not to write balanced history.



Bacque, James., “Crimes and Mercies: The Fate of German Civilians Under Allied Occupation, 1944–1950.,” Canadian Book Review Annual Online, accessed April 19, 2024,