There are certainly several questions about this event which will never be answered. Certainly, it was war, and war is fraught with tragedy, just ask the survivors of Bataan, or Dresden, or London, or Pearl Harbor, etc. It is a difficult thing to pick out certain individuals for blame, because they were in fear of their lives and the lives of their families and the survival of their communities and ways of life. Everyone, on all sides, was working to end the war, decisively, in their side's favor. Even the Germans, many if not most of whom were not Nazis, wanted their side to win, and believed that it was the only way for they and their families to preserve their lives. We may quibble and fret, and argue over decisions made and unintended consequences reaped, with the clarity of 20/20 hindsight, but we must admit, in the end, that war produces tragic events and evil consequences in the same way that strenuous exertion produces sweat: as a natural by-product.
It is not that some people engaged in behaviors which resulted in attrocities and horrors; it was that those people were part of a large collective which became embroiled in conflict with other large collectives. It surprises me that in this day and age, after so much blood has been spilled, to no good end whatsoever, that people still put so much faith in large collectives. Consider the disdain for wealth and and the irrational fear of an unequal distribution of goods and services in contrast to the average man's blindness to concentrations of arbitrary power. For all of Bill Gates's billions, Microsoft owns not one tank, nor can I imagine the ridiculousness of seeing Sam Walton attempt to convince his board of directors that the most effective business strategy requires that Wal-Mart possess an atomic warhead. Only governments have researched, financed, built, and bought nuclear weapons, and only governments have used them, or would. For all the supposed evil of rich "robber barons," none of them would conceive of nuking potential customers. It is only the holders of government office, the posessors of arbitrary authority, driven by a lust to control the destinies and lives of others, or citizens enflamed with the holy zeal of nationalism, which can conceive of anhilating another people... and yet people still can ask me why I am an anarchist, and why I do not vote.
"All the shrewdness of 'man' seeks one thing: to be able to live without
"Of all tyrannies a tyranny sincerely exercised 'for the good of its
victims' may be the most oppressive. It may be better to live under
robber barons than under omnipotent moral busybodies. The robber baron's
cruelty may sometimes sleep, his cupidity may at some point be satiated;
but those who torment us 'for our own good' will torment us without end,
for they do so with the approval of their own conscience."
"From the day when the first members of councils placed exterior
authority higher than interior, that is to say, recognized the decisions
of men united in councils as more important and more sacred than reason
and conscience; on that day began lies that caused the loss of millions
of human beings and which continue their work to the present day."
"Men, it has been said, think in herds; it will be seen that they go mad
in herds, while they only recover their senses slowly, and one by one."
"It is clear that war is not a mere act of policy but a true political
instrument, a continuation of political activity by other means"
Karl von Clausewitz, On War