Discussion in 'Honor, Service and Valor' started by bobsmith76, Oct 20, 2014.
Very informative. Thank you for posting this.
In 1983 and 84 I was stationed in Baumholder, 1/39 Inf. Every year they went to Diekirch, Luxemborg and had a parade to celebrate their liberation from the Germans. In 83 we went in dress greens, had the parade, went to the town celebration, stayed the night in the Lux barracks, had breakfast the next morning and headed back to baumholder. Gave most of my uniform pieces away along with my garrison cap (1SG wasn't happy). In 84, we went in BDU's and didn't stay the night. Instead of staying with the party, a friend and I went walking through Diekirch. Didn't buy a beer anywhere, and talked to a lot of locals, most speaking English. We talked to one old fella, who mentioned he was in WWII. He said he had been captured and was sent to the states to a POW camp. The both of us didn't know what to say. Didn't have a clue. Then he said he was glad that happened. The Americans around the camp didn't like them, but they were treated good and ate well, better than the German Army. I only remember that particular thing he said. We talked a while and then left for the next bar or whatever came along. Left with 4 Diekirch glasses and an ashtray.
Unfortuanately I forgot the name , but I remember the visit of a German Veteran in Ukraine where he met an Ukrainian vet. They cried together, forgave and became friends, because they had both experenced the same hell and only those who were ther,e were able to understand what they had been through .
Similar examples are available with other nationalities (incllduing with Russians) . I know a Luftwaffe pilot who used to go to commemorations together with a RAF pilot (one had shot down the other and they were both aware of it) .
Some will forgive, others won't . It is their individual story and each story is different. Therefore I shall neither judge , praise or condemn, just mention what I know from those who were there.
Naturally I'm not going to argue with a vet and totally understand your point of view, Sir, based on your personal experiences.
On the other hand the Waffen-SS troops in Normandy 1944 and e.g. the Baltic Waffen-SS conscripts 1943 onwards only fighting in the front against the very same murderous soviet dictatorship, which had earlier attacked and occupied their countries, were not the same. Joining Waffen-SS was for many not a voluntary, Nazi-supporting political option, but the only possibility to avoid worse consequencies.and to fight the mortal enemy no better than the Nazies.
I'm sure you can say that across the board for the entire Wehrmacht, Heer in particular. It is surely evident on the Eastern front that many soldiers, regardless of unit, were directly involved with horrific acts of violence. So in comparison with units serving in the west it was considerably less. However, despite their reasons for serving, voluntary or not, their training included a nice blend of military tactics and ideology. Which, unfortunately made good men into monsters. Not all, but many.
I have contacts with Germans and Austrians almost on daily basis and we always have sincerely friendly relationships. The war is over and life goes on. I spoke just once about the war with my distant German relative who's family was expulsed from Poland. They have suffered too – his family was literally uprooted from their own homeland. The war wasn't really a fairy-tale for all of us – including the Germans. It was tough and even worse as you go East.
But, honestly, I really wouldn't be delighted to have anything to do with someone if I knew he was a Nazi. That's the question of taste.
It seems to me that it would pay some here to read the book Das Reich Number 2 SS Panzer Div march across France and then tell me how anyone could be friendly with any of them....With all the good will in the World. get the book and read its atrocities.
PS many of them were trapped inside the Falaise pocket... where unspeakable slaughter took place.
"During the Nuremberg Trials, the Waffen-SS was declared a criminal organisation, except conscripts from 1943 onward, who were exempted from that judgement as they had been forced to join."
Jewish Virtual Library, Waffen SS
"In 13 April 1950, a message from the Allied High Commission (HICOG), signed by John J. McCloy to the Secretary of State, clarified the US position on the "Baltic Legions: "they were not to be seen as "movements", "volunteer", or "SS." In short, they had not been given the training, indoctrination, and induction normally given to SS members. Subsequently the US Displaced Persons Commission in September 1950 declared that:
The Baltic Waffen SS Units (Baltic Legions) are to be considered as separate and distinct in purpose, ideology, activities, and qualifications for membership from the German SS, and therefore the Commission holds them not to be a movement hostile to the Government of the United States."
Mirdza Kate Baltais, The Latvian Legion in documents, Amber Printers & Publishers (1999), p104
No Finnish Waffen SS volunteer has ever been accused of any war crime. They recieved only military training, no political, and did not take an oath to Hitler. They were forbidden to fight against any other country except the USSR.
I'm well aware of the atrocities made by Waffen SS (and the Heer too) e.g in France. Therefor I'm NOT saying that the Waffen-SS soldiers in general were only soldiers like anybody else. What I AM saying is that not all Waffen-SS were war criminals nor shared the Nazi ideology just because they wore the Waffen-SS uniform. I hope everybody understands the difference!
I agree completely with your entire post. Excellent information. My contention was, and possibly less specific as it should have been, that the SS soldier, regardless of how they entered the organization (by choice or against their will), were indoctrinated with soldiering coupled with a nice layer of hate mongering thrown in. As I said above, "not all but many" were guilty of crimes against humanity.
I think I'll have to go along with sapper. He was there, we weren't.
What happened to that young American we captured that served in the German army....Its all a matter of "ships that pass in the night" We never discover what happened to these folk. What happened to the wounded officer we found while inside enemy territory.... All of these are part and parcel of wars fleeting moments that vanish into the grey mists of time.
Returning to the SS ... Sound never vanishes completely, it fades and is lost in the atmosphere around us.....Is it possible that the SS that burned the women and-children alive in the church at Orador, Will have to listen to the horrific screams of women and children as they slowly burned to death in Orador church....... locked in with no escape. Now, someone was saying about how veterans felt about meeting old foes?
I said earlier, when we are gone the memory of those times will go with us. That will heal the never ending wounds of war.
My grandfather served in the RAAF, and suffered for decades from what he lived through on Los Negros, in the Admiralty Islands.
Many of his mates could never forgive the Japanese. Somehow, my grandfather did, at least on his good days. Emotions are like that. He never spoke an ill word about them. I know the memories haunted him.
This is entirely wrong stereotype which was re-iterated since the end of the war untill the present day to defend millions of murders committed for the "higher Nazi causes". This doesn't diminish their crimes, quite the contrary.
Anyone old enough to carry a gun in his hand knows what is right and what is wrong. Ideology can not turn genuinely good man into a monster. A man turns into a monster for the causes of ideology only if he is ready to consciously trade human values for the values of evil . A man turns into a monster only by his own will. Consciously.
Tens of millions of innocent were murdered in the name of ideology that was widely accepted by the German population in the first half of the previuos century. If you blame the ideology then you have to blame those who supported that morbide ideology - again, you will end up with a wast majority of the Third Reich population. They made all these crimes in the name of their own ideology. They were essentially willing executioners for their own bad reasons.
Either way you try to understand this, you will end up with the same conclusion: they murdered for the causes of their own ideology. Are they to blame? Yes almost 99,99+% endorsed the Nazi ideology.
You are completely fabricating what you want out of my post. Never in my post did I ever defend, nor will ever defend these monsters. Yes they were willing participants in these horrific crimes, but, like anyone with a weak mind, can be swayed into morbid beliefs that may not have existed prior. Hence the Nazi ideology. It existed you know, and was disgustingly spread throughout the German people. Germany was a powder keg waiting to explode, and unfortunately the most heinous and evil human beings in history erupted from it.
I wasn't telling that you defended anyone since I know you wouldn't. I said that the stereotype is entirely wrong.
But, about the "spreading of ideology" I wuild just state that it isn't so difficult at all to force a frog to jump into the water.
So your contention is, and correct me if I'm wrong, that it was an easy transition for the German people because there was an inherent anti-semitism?
Among other prejudices and other unsettled accounts at the East - yes. Even the most moderate Germans considered eastern borders as an unsettled matter which should be resolved in the near future.
Back to the question
How would you feel if you met a German WWII vet?
Met a few on a trip to Monte Cassino back in 2008.
It added to the trip immensely.
They showed us their photos of them in uniform from back then.