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Honest Errors in Combat Decision-Making: State of Our Knowledge 75 Years after the Hostage Case
Swedish Defence University, Department of Political Science and Law, Centre for International and Operational Law.
VID Specialized University (NOR).
2023 (English)In: Honest Errors? Combat Decision-Making 75 Years After the Hostage Case / [ed] Nobuo Hayashi; Carola Lingaas, The Hague: T.M.C. Asser Press, 2023, p. 3-21Chapter in book (Refereed)
Abstract [en]

Seventy-five years have passed since Hostage, a post-World War II case in which Lothar Rendulic was acquitted of Northern Norway’s devastation and forcible evacuation on account of his faulty yet honest judgment. This introductory chapter surveys the current state of our knowledge about honest errors in modern combat decision-making by synthesising the findings of the anthology’s contributing authors. First, contemporaneous sources suggest that Rendulic did not consider it militarily necessary to devastate the region in its entirety or to evacuate all of its residents by force. Second, even though Rendulic’s acquittal was factually contentious, it was arguably on firmer legal ground. His case has led to the emergence of an eponymous rule against second-guessing difficult combat decisions, the reasonable commander test in international humanitarian law and the mistake of fact defence in international criminal law. Third, assessing the reasonableness of battlefield errors remains challenging because of the limitations of modern information technology, the diminishing room for empathy in the soldierly profession, and the salience of institutional bias.

Place, publisher, year, edition, pages
The Hague: T.M.C. Asser Press, 2023. p. 3-21
Keywords [en]
Northern Norway, devastation, forcible evacuation, Lothar Rendulic, Josef Terboven, military necessity, honest judgment, Rendulic Rule, reasonable commander, mistake of fact, revolution in military affairs, empathy in war, moral equality of victims, drone warfare
National Category
Law (excluding Law and Society)
Research subject
International law
Identifiers
URN: urn:nbn:se:fhs:diva-11813DOI: 10.1007/978-94-6265-611-6_1ISBN: 978-94-6265-610-9 (print)ISBN: 978-94-6265-611-6 (electronic)OAI: oai:DiVA.org:fhs-11813DiVA, id: diva2:1796694
Available from: 2023-09-13 Created: 2023-09-13 Last updated: 2023-11-20Bibliographically approved

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CiteExportLink to record
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Citation style
  • apa
  • harvard-cite-them-right
  • ieee
  • modern-language-association-8th-edition
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  • de-DE
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  • nn-NB
  • sv-SE
  • Other locale
More languages
Output format
  • html
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  • asciidoc
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