From page 427 of General Heinz Guderian’s classic book Panzer Leader, discussing matters in March 1945 when Nazi Germany was facing imminent collapse:

During this difficult month of March many conversations took place which are sufficiently interesting to be worth preserving. Thus one evening Hitler lost his temper at the high prisoner-of-war claims that were being issued by the Western Allies. He said: ‘The soldiers on the Eastern Front fight far better. The reason they give in so easily in the West is simply the fault of that stupid Geneva convention which promises them good treatment as prisoners. We must scrap the idiotic thing.’ [General Alfred] Jodl contradicted this wild and senseless proposal with great energy and, with my support, succeeded in persuading Hitler to postpone taking any such step. Jodl also prevented Hitler from appointing as commander of an army group a general who had recently been punished for gross irregularity of conduct and dismissed [from] the Service.

General Alfred Jodl was tried, convicted, and hanged by the Nuremberg Tribunal for ‘conspiracy to commit crimes against peace; planning, initiating and waging wars of aggression; war crimes; and crimes against humanity.’

General Heinz Guderian was imprisoned at Nuremberg but ultimately avoided prosecution.

Alberto Gonzales wrote a memo to the president on January 25th, 2002.

As you have said, the war against terrorism is a new kind of war. It is not the traditional clash between nations adhering to the laws of war that formed the backdrop for GPW [the Geneva Convention III on the Treatment of Prisoners of War]. The nature of the new war places a high premium on other factors, such as the ability to quickly obtain information from captured terrorists and their sponsors in order to avoid further atrocities against American civilians, and the need to try terrorists for war crimes such as wantonly killing civilians. In my judgment, this new paradigm renders obsolete Geneva’s strict limitations on questioning of enemy prisoners and renders quaint some of its provisions requiring that captured enemy be afforded such things as commissary privileges, scrip (i.e., advances of monthly pay), athletic uniforms, and scientific instruments.

Sometimes you just have to wonder.

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