(ABOVE IMAGE: Waffen-SS Soldiers playing with a kitten.)
Compare the behaviour of these honourable SS men and Wehrmacht soldiers with those of a modern democratic country (or the Australian Army):
By LLOYD JONES
15may04, Townsville Bulletin
AGAINST a global backdrop of outrage against the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by American soldiers, another military scandal angered Australians this week – the victims, four kittens.
The litter of a stray cats was held captive in a residential section of Lavarack Barracks in Townsville during an Easter Saturday drinking session involving six members of an army support battalion.
One kitten was dragged behind a motorcycle on a rope and then crushed under the tyre of a 4WD vehicle, while the others were doused with fuel and set alight.
Talkback radio lines ran hot and letters to the editor baskets filled up with angry demands for the six Townsville-based servicemen to be discharged from the Australian Army.
Many drew parallels with the abuse of Iraqi prisoners by American soldiers in Baghdad.
The six soldiers pleaded guilty in Townsville Magistrates Court on Monday to cruelty to animals and were each fined $2000, although convictions were not recorded against them.
Each of the soldiers, aged from 19 to 26, also offered to do 100 hours of community service at Townsville’s animal refuge, an offer swiftly rejected by the RSPCA.
The RSPCA called for the soldiers’ dismissal from the army and for the sentences to be appealed on the grounds they were manifestly inadequate, when the maximum penalty available was a $75,000 fine.
National RSL president Major-General Bill Crews joined calls for the soldiers to be discharged, saying they had disgraced the service.
But Defence Minister Robert Hill said although the incident was horrible and embarrassing for the Australian Defence Force, the culprits’ service record should be examined before discharge was considered.
He said it was up to the soldiers’ commanders to take any further action.
Those commanders will make their assessments knowing that many Australians want the soldiers marched out of the army.
In some letters to the editor, writers drew parallels between the treatment of the kittens and the torture of Iraqi prisoners by American soldiers in Baghdad’s Abu Ghraib prison.
“The Australian Army tries to tell us that Australian soldiers would never be involved in the kinds of humiliation and torture that US and British soldiers have perpetrated on Iraqi prisoners,” Betty McLellan wrote to the Townsville Bulletin. “Violence is violence, whether the victim is a little kitten or another human being, and those who perpetrate gross acts of violence against animals and brag about it later are capable of anything.”
Margie Rowe wrote to the Canberra Times that the soldiers’ actions made her sick.
“I assumed they would be discharged from the army, as well as facing criminal penalties, but … I find their records will be reviewed and a determination made as to whether they remain in our defence forces.
“Unbelievable. Cruelty to animals is well established as an indicia of sociopathic behaviour and is common in the background of sadistic serial killers. Imagine what this lot would do if they were in Iraq.”
A similar point about sociopathic behaviour was made by RSPCA national president Hugh Wirth, who in a letter to Senator Hill urged that the soldiers be discharged.
Commander of 3rd Brigade at Lavarack Barracks, Brigadier David Morrison, said he shared the public’s indignation over the torture of the kittens, which he described as disgusting. He said the soldiers would have to show cause why they should not be dismissed from the army.