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Bearing Silent Witness: A Grandfather's Secret Attestation to German War Crimes in Occupied France

American Intelligence Journal (AIJ), Vol. 32, No, 1, 2015

Florida Journal of International Law (FJIL), Vol. 25, No. 1, 2013

Journal of Law, Crime, and History (United Kingdom), Vol. 3, No. 2, 2013

Presented at the George Washington University Law School and the George Mason University School of Law, 2014

Presented at International Association for Intelligence Education, "Expanding the Frontiers of Intelligence Education," 2013

Presented at University of Mississippi Center for Intelligence & Security Studies, "Understanding and Improving Intelligence Analysis: Learning from Other Disciplines," 2013

38 Pages Posted: 4 Aug 2012 Last revised: 18 Jan 2016

McKay Smith

George Washington University Law School; George Mason University School of Law; U.S. Department of Justice; Department of Homeland Security

Date Written: November 2015

Abstract

Scholars have acknowledged that the study of World War II era intelligence can be an extremely arduous undertaking. Intelligence tradecraft, by its very nature, requires that certain information remain secret. It necessitates the sustained concealment of activities or events. Moreover, this government emphasis on secrecy often results in the suppression of sensitive information from historians and citizens alike. Thus, one must turn to declassified records of the past to reshape modern conceptions of history. This article should be regarded as a spirited departure from traditional scholarship. Specifically, it utilizes the case study method to communicate a powerful message related to both law and history. Readers are encouraged to examine this narrative and related analysis in conjunction with the primary source material it references. More importantly, they are asked to apply a socio-legal approach to the personal account contained therein. In the summer of 2011, the author was fortunate to discover a declassified report detailing his grandfather’s experiences as a young airman in World War II. Lt. Raymond Murphy was shot down in 1944 by German anti-aircraft fire on his sixteenth mission as a B-17 Navigator with the U.S. Army Air Corps. When examined from a legal perspective, his report is illustrative of a number of law of war topics, including the foundational principles that gave rise to modern humanitarian law. Unfortunately, Lt. Murphy's account also evidences something far more disturbing, a criminal atrocity committed by German forces at the French village of Oradour-sur-Glane.

Keywords: McKay Smith, Oradour-sur-Glane, Oradour, Raymond Murphy, World War II, intelligence, legal history, socio-legal, escape and evasion, war crime, Nuremburg, law of war, humanitarian law, Martens Clause, Hague IV, Kriegsraison, Army Air Corps, Eighth Air Force, Maquis, French Resistance

Suggested Citation

Smith, McKay, Bearing Silent Witness: A Grandfather's Secret Attestation to German War Crimes in Occupied France (November 2015). American Intelligence Journal (AIJ), Vol. 32, No, 1, 2015; Florida Journal of International Law (FJIL), Vol. 25, No. 1, 2013; Journal of Law, Crime, and History (United Kingdom), Vol. 3, No. 2, 2013; Presented at the George Washington University Law School and the George Mason University School of Law, 2014; Presented at International Association for Intelligence Education, "Expanding the Frontiers of Intelligence Education," 2013; Presented at University of Mississippi Center for Intelligence & Security Studies, "Understanding and Improving Intelligence Analysis: Learning from Other Disciplines," 2013 . Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2122898 or http://dx.doi.org/10.2139/ssrn.2122898

McKay Smith (Contact Author)

George Washington University Law School ( email )

2000 H Sreet, NW
Washington, DC 20052
United States

George Mason University School of Law ( email )

3301 Fairfax Drive
Arlington, VA 22201
United States

U.S. Department of Justice ( email )

National Security Division
Washington, DC 20530
United States

Department of Homeland Security ( email )

Office of Inspector General
Washington, DC 20005
United States

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