Casual Slaughters and Accidental Judgments: Canadian War Crimes Prosecutions, 1944-48

by Patrick Brode, Legal Counsel, City of Windsor. Published with the University of Toronto Press, 1997.

Casual Slaughters and Accidental Judgments: Canadian War Crimes Prosecutions, 1944-1948 is Patrick Brode’s third publication with The Ogoode Society and furthers his already considerable reputation for combining sound scholarship with readability. The prosecution after the Second World War of German and Japanese war criminals by the Canadian military was a new venture for Canadians, a break from Canada’s colonial past and an entry into world affairs. In one of the most sensational trials, SS General Kurt Meyer was prosecuted for the massacre of Canadian prisoners, Meyer’s reprieve, only days before he faced a firing squad, remains one of the most contentious post-war decisions. Throughout these trials, which included the trials of Germans accused of murdering Canadian airmen as well as of Japanese guards who allegedly tortured Canadian prisoners from Hong Kong, evolving standards of international law were applied by military tribunals. This fascinating and disturbing study demonstrates the efforts of military tribunals to apply the law of war against those who had acknowledged no law.

Reviews of Casual Slaughters and Accidental Judgments: Canadian War Crimes Prosecutions, 1944-48

A well-researched account of little-known and even less remarked upon Canadian war crimes prosecutions at the close of WWII.  J.M. Jago, American Journal of Legal History, Vol 42, 1998, p. 464.
What Brode shows conclusively in this well-written, scrupulously researched, groundbreaking book is that many high ranking Canadian army officers were extraordinarily reluctant to try Meyer and other SS officials directly culpable in the murder of Canadian POWs.  David J. Bercuson, American Historical Review, Vol 104, 1999, p. 558.
Brode’s study is well written and thoroughly researched. It deserves attention not only from Canadians interested in this part of their history, but also from international specialists, for whom it is a significant contribution to the literature of war crimes prosecutions.  William A. Schabas, University of Toronto Quarterly, Vol 68, 1998, p. 550.

Reviews have also appeared in the following publications:

  • Joseph C. Holland, Military Law Review, Vol 170, 2001, p. 224.
  • Michael Biddiss, English Historical Review, Vol 114, 1999, p. 783.
  • Greg Donaghy, Canadian Historical Review, Vol 80, 1999, p. 151.
  • R. John Pritchard, Criminal Law Reform, Vol 10, 1999, p. 505.
  • Randy Steele, Saskatchewan Law Review, Vol 62, 1999, p. 349.
  • Howard Margolian and A. Gilbert Drolet, The Beaver, Vol 79, 1999, p. 45.
  • The Globe and Mail, 6 June 1998, p. D15.
  • J.L. Granatstein, Choice, Vol 35, 1998, p. 1590.
  • James Mennie, The Gazette (Montreal), 2 May 1998, p. H3.
  • Christopher English, Canadian Book Review Annual, 1997, p. 285.