Ethical Quandry.

Quarto

Unknown Enemy
Well over. Try more like 12, and that's just counting the civilians that were actively targeted by German policies (as opposed to just being "collateral damage" or those directly involved in the fighting). Not only the Jewish, but homosexuals, the mentally ill, terminally ill people, the Rom (more commonly known as gypsies), and others who were classified as untermenschen (sp?) by the Nazi party.
Yeah - the Polish were specifically targetted as well, suffering about 3 million losses as well (that, plus another 3 million who were both Polish and Jews, but are classified as Jews because that was the "crime" they were killed for - all in all, we lost quite a chunk of our population). Then there's the Russians, who were also specifically targetted, and claim losses of around 10 million... but Russian statistics were manipulated, in that they were based on population data from before Stalin's most violent purges. So, it's difficult to say how many of those 10 million Russians were really Hitler's victims, and how many belong to Stalin. Either way, though, I'm pretty sure the total count for all those targetted by German policies would be way higher than even the 12 million you mention.
 

Iceman16

Vice Admiral
In regards to the flag, I would say keep it but don't display it. It is a part of history and should be preserved for future generations to see, a museum might get rid of it due to its controversial nature so donating it may not be the best idea.

As for this morality debate, I have German origins, my Opa was a paratrooper in the 1st Division and he always said the only reason he stuck around so long in the military was because he couldn't leave his comrades, not because of some political ideal but because of the friends he made. I should also point out that he was drafted along with most of the male members of my family that were of fighting age at the time, he didn't go willingly.

The war was terrible and should not be forgotten, but the prejudices and hatred should.
 

rapierdragon

Rear Admiral
To forget a harsh lesson is to end up repeating it.

Yet...

To remember a great evil simply to remember that it was, is to constantly look back and place guilt on the surviving descendants of those who were part of that great evil; regardless of their ancestors being wiling members of that evil (or just too afraid to stand against it).

This isn't to say that the holocaust should be forgotten... but it should slowly fade. Ten or twenty years ago it was manditory learning, often as early as grade five or six. These days I think they try to avoid WW2's horrors until grade 7 or 8 (or in some places, grade 9).

Its like how South Park talks about AIDS and non-straight ppl... in the 70's and 80's it was either not discussed, or only talked about in quiet yet serious tones... in the 90's ppl talked about it more openly, but no one really made jokes openly... and it wasn't until what, 2006 or so before jokes started happening openly?

I mean even in the 90's, Nazi-related stuff was still treated fairly seriously (TV shows and movies that dealt with the topic was serious and had little to no comedy) yet now we have movies like Inglorious B@stards and The Men Who Stare At Goats (an action comedy and an outright comedy).

In the strictest historical sense you could argue its valuable and should be held onto, but unless it has a redeeming quality I would say it should be destroyed. (were there good Nazi's? I don't know if Shindler (sp? they did a movie on him called Shinder's List) was a Nazi. (don't forget, Nazi's were a bit like Stalin in Russia... you could be rich and powerful german during WWII, but at one point that didn't stop the Nazi's from appropriating/stealing from their own German neighbours if you went against them.

I'm not making excuses for all of them, but surely there were a few who had no choice cause the local Nazi leaders were of the opinion that "any German who tries to protect a Jew should be taken out and shot for treason". And its because of this that the topic gets even more debated (and dangerous).

Iceman16... I think your final statement is wrong. Remembering a war but not the reasons behind it doesn't do us any good. Take away the prejudice and hatred from WW2 and remembering simply that "it was a terrible war" makes the entire event meaningless.

I mean my personal take is that the whole Hitler/Nazi "blame the jews" thing was just a well designed cover-up for the fact that the gov't fubar'd them royally before, during, and after WW1. (More's the pity that it worked so well that it resulted in countless death and suffering).

Future kids would ask and the conversations would end up going like this;

adult: "ww2 was a horrible war."
kid: "why?"
a: "cause lots of people died in ww2."
k: "why?"
a: "cause that's what happened when you get shot, or blown up by a bomb."
k: "I know about that... I mean, why were they fighting?"
a: "I dunno... a lot of germans must'a woke up on the wrong side of the bed one day and they all got together and decided to be a bunch of a$$holes, kind'a like how some woman go apesh!t over the tiniest insignificant things when they get p.m.s."
 

frostytheplebe

Seventh Part of the Seal
In the strictest historical sense you could argue its valuable and should be held onto, but unless it has a redeeming quality I would say it should be destroyed. (were there good Nazi's? I don't know if Shindler (sp? they did a movie on him called Shinder's List) was a Nazi. (don't forget, Nazi's were a bit like Stalin in Russia... you could be rich and powerful german during WWII, but at one point that didn't stop the Nazi's from appropriating/stealing from their own German neighbours if you went against them.

Heh it's funny you should ask. I did a report back in one of my senior level class: Holocaust. The report was titled "Honor Amongst Thieves." It was a report about men who wore the German uniform who actually helped save many of the people in the camps. The class was taught by a pair of gentlemen who's families were affected by the holocaust, in fact, the elder professor's father died in one of the camps. I got a C- on the report and suspected bias, so I brought it to the head of the History dept and he agreed with me. As a result, I got an honor level marking. Anyway, if you're interested in doing some truly fascinating reading, may i suggest you research these names:

Major Karl Plagge
Georg Ferdinand Duckwitz
Wilm Hosenfeld (See also, the movie 'The Pianist')

And finally one of my personal favorite stories from WW2 that I learned about during my research...

Dr. Albert Battel
From Wiki: As a fifty-one-year-old reserve officer, Battel was stationed in Przemyśl in southern Poland as the adjutant to the local military commander, Major Max Liedtke. When the SS prepared to launch their first large-scale “resettlement” (liquidation) action against the Jews of Przemyśl on July 26, 1942, Battel, in consort with his superior, ordered the bridge over the River San, the only access into the Jewish ghetto, to be blocked. As the SS commando attempted to cross to the other side, the sergeant-major in charge of the bridge threatened to open fire unless they withdrew. All this happened in broad daylight, to the amazement of the local inhabitants. Still later that same afternoon, an army detachment under the command of Oberleutnant Battel broke into the cordoned-off area of the ghetto and used army trucks to evacuate up to 100 Jews and their families to the barracks of the local military command. These Jews were placed under the protection of the Wehrmacht and were thus sheltered from deportation to the Belzec extermination camp. The remaining ghetto inmates, including the head of the Judenrat, Dr. Duldig, underwent “resettlement” in the following days.

After this incident, the SS authorities began a secret investigation into the conduct of the army officer who had dared defy them under such embarrassing circumstances. It turned out that Battel, though himself a member of the Nazi Party since May 1933, had already attracted notice in the past by his friendly behaviour toward the Jews. Before the war he had been indicted before a party tribunal for having extended a loan to a Jewish colleague. Later, in the course of his service in Przemyśl, he was officially reprimanded for cordially shaking the hand of the chairman of the Jewish Council, Duldig. The entire affair reached the attention of the highest level of the Nazi hierarchy. No less a figure than Heinrich Himmler, the Reichsführer-SS, took an interest in the results of the investigation and sent a copy of the incriminating documentation to Martin Bormann, chief of the Party Chancellery and Adolf Hitler's right-hand man. In the accompanying letter, Himmler vowed to have the lawyer arrested immediately after the war.

All this remained unknown to Battel. In 1944, he was discharged from military service because of heart disease. He returned to his hometown Breslau, only to be drafted into the Volkssturm and fall into Soviet captivity. After his release, he settled in West Germany but was prevented from returning to practice law by a denazification court. Battel died in 1952.

These are only the most significant examples... i wish I still had my report, it had about 100 pages of stories of true heroism. I was quite proud of it. Anyway, if you look at the "Righteous Among the Nations" you'll find many other examples.
 

Quarto

Unknown Enemy
I think, as far as German acts of resisting the Holocaust go, the one that fascinates me the most is the Rosenstrasse protest.

Remember all that about how Germans couldn't do anything to stop the Holocaust, because Hitler was a dictator, and no resistance would ever be tolerated, yadayadayada? Well, it seems that every single time that the Germans actually bothered to protest against Hitler's policies, they got their wishes, and none of the people involved suffered any consequences. This happened on about three occasions:
- This one, directly against the Jewish deportations - wives of Jews protested against their husbands being deported, and got them back. Some of them had already been on route to Auschwitz, and they were brought back.
- An earlier protest, in June 1941, against the removal of crosses from schools in Bavaria. Resulted in public demonstrations, and Hitler ordered the Gauleiter of Bavaria to stop the removals.
- Another Catholic protest, in August 1941 - apparently, the only time Hitler had ever faced a hostile, jeering crowd in Germany. They were protesting against the "T4" euthanasia programme. After he got jeered by Catholics, he ordered the entire T4 programme to be stopped.

It's amazing to think how easily they were able to get these results, and how little ultimately came from it. What happened? Well, the answer is simple - there was no free press. All those acts of German resistance, whether by civilians or by soldiers, were isolated. Spreading information about people who disagreed with Hitler was, at the very least, difficult - best you could do would be to talk to as many people as you can, and ask them to pass the information on. But each person would be afraid to do so - passing such info on to the wrong person could get you in trouble. Based on these three incidents, we can guess that the Nazis, just like any other totalitarian regime, were secretly terrified of their people, and didn't dare to ever oppose the nation. But, most of the time, they were able to terrify their people into submission. Even that large-scale Catholic protest against T4 - that would never have happened, if it wasn't for one man, bishop Clemens August Graf von Galen.


Hmm. I do wonder if we're not getting a bit too far from the original topic here. Although, given how terrifyingly quiet the chatzone has been for the past couple of weeks (months?), any subject worth talking about is certainly welcome...
 

frostytheplebe

Seventh Part of the Seal
Hmm. I do wonder if we're not getting a bit too far from the original topic here. Although, given how terrifyingly quiet the chatzone has been for the past couple of weeks (months?), any subject worth talking about is certainly welcome...

Don't worry about it. In truth, I'm quite fascinated by your opinion of the events and the outlook after the fact especially given that you are from a country that was directly affected by Nazi occupation. If I'dve known I'd get responses like this, I would have started a Nuremberg debate long ago. :p

Sadly I have to agree with most of what you've said. I do not believe anyone "Just following orders" should have been given a free pass. However like was earlier stated, I believe that eliments of the navy should be absolved. There are accounts of German naval officers refusing to allow Jewish crewmembers and specialists to be transferred off their ships... I believe there were even a few on the Bismarck. I need to find my original source material though.

In truth my HS girlfriend's grandfather was a mid-level ranking SS officer. If I recall, he was Sturmbannführer, which is the equivalent to a US Major? Unknown to her until he was deported in the mid 90s. She was convinced that he was innocent and made it her mission to absolve him. I did a little research on the side to try and help her out. Now I wish I hadn't, what little I was able to find out from cache of documents and information was that her grandfather participated in the deportation of Jews on the Western front. The records of how he got in to the United States weren't available and that remains a mystery to me. From what she told me though, he and his wife came here to escape the Soviet Occupation and had their children here in the US... smart as under the law, his American born family can't be deported.
The evidence was irrefutable and he was justly deported. I wish I'd never offered to do the research.
However most of her grandfather's things were left to her, and she told me that she wasn't keeping any of the militaria. She told me I could take w/e I wanted. Honestly there wasn't a whole lot there, but I got an old field blouse, a few pictures and medals. I guess the rest went back to Germany.
 

Quarto

Unknown Enemy
Sadly I have to agree with most of what you've said. I do not believe anyone "Just following orders" should have been given a free pass.
That's not necessarily true. You have to take psychology into account. Yes - these specific kinds of orders were illegal in German law, so soldiers could refuse them. In theory, the worst that could happen to them is that they'd be sent to the Eastern Front. But... well, first up, the Eastern Front certainly was a fearsome punishment enough. Secondly, given that we're talking about illegal orders, can we be sure that refusing soldiers wouldn't be meted out an illegal punishment (most of the time, apparently they weren't, though)? And finally... it's just plain bloody difficult psychologically to refuse an order when you're in the military. Heck, it's tough enough to refuse to stay an extra hour or two at work when you work for a corporation, and nobody's threatening to kill you there. I imagine many soldiers found it literally impossible to refuse, and the best they could do was to adopt a "I'll smoke, but I won't inhale" attitude, where they followed orders but tried to shirk the worst duties as far as they could.

Now that I think about it, possibly the worst thing is the fact that for most people, the punishment for refusing orders was not death. A few weeks ago, doing some research, I came across a photo of a Jew kneeling over a pit, filled with bodies. He was surrounded by Germans - about to be executed. His face was absolutely peaceful. People usually can collect themselves in the face of death - more than that, they're often willing to accept death rather than risk further suffering if they struggle to get away. That's why, so often, Germans were able to draw people at random from a crowd, line them up against the wall, and kill them. The people in the crowd were so relieved that they weren't chosen, that they didn't want to risk intervening (even though they could easily overcome the small group of soldiers in these situations), and the people being executed were either terrified that resistance would result in an even more painful death, or were simply determined that if they have to die, they won't show the Germans an ounce of fear.

What's my point? Well, the average German soldier didn't have the choice of death. If a soldier, ordered to shoot a civilian, had a gun pointed to his own head, many would of course follow the order because they wanted to live - but there'd be quite a few who'd recoil at that point, and allow themselves to be executed rather than kill the civilian. After all, while religion was already on the decline at this time, most people still believed that they'd be held accountable for what they did. But their situation was worse - they weren't being threatened with death, but with suffering. Do it, or you'll freeze on the Eastern Front. Do it, or we'll discharge you and reduce your family's food rations. Do it, or we'll send your uncle to a concentration camp. And so on, and so on. That kind of thing is much more insidious than death.

...I mean, hell - if my boss ever threatened to kill me if I didn't stay past work hours to finish off a project, I'd probably snap and tell him to screw himself. But he didn't have to - the fact that he could fire me was enough. Sure, I believed I could get another job - but to go through the bother of it all, possibly having to move to another city in the process? Eh, I'd rather just stay overtime.

...For three months straight :p. That's how human psychology works.

However like was earlier stated, I believe that eliments of the navy should be absolved. There are accounts of German naval officers refusing to allow Jewish crewmembers and specialists to be transferred off their ships... I believe there were even a few on the Bismarck. I need to find my original source material though.
You have to be careful on that. Refusing to allow Jewish crewmembers and specialists to be transferred was hardly a huge risk - the people faced with this choice were pretty much irreplaceable (go on, find yourself a new U-Boot captain when you had fifty altogether before the war, and now you're building fifty new U-Boots every month), and they had the backing of their superiors, all the way to Admiral Roeder. Although the Navy was more traditional, and therefore more honour-bound than the Army (there's that old joke, stating that when Hitler went to war, he had the Kaiser's Navy, the German Army, and the nazi Luftwaffe), ultimately the thing that saves their honour was simply the fact that there was no Holocaust at sea. The Kriegsmarine is relatively clean not because they were better men, but because they were luckier men.
 

Iceman16

Vice Admiral
Iceman16... I think your final statement is wrong. Remembering a war but not the reasons behind it doesn't do us any good. Take away the prejudice and hatred from WW2 and remembering simply that "it was a terrible war" makes the entire event meaningless.

no, take away the prejudice and hatred and you're left with the facts of what happened. It was a terrible war that had a huge impact on the world, the fact that we're talking about it on the internet 64 years after it ended is evidence of that. What I'm saying is many good natured, regular people were thrown (drafted) into those situations against their will, given a rifle and some training, were told who to shoot and justified it with some propaganda. Many were just people serving for however long they had to (not sure on the length of tours and service) and planned on getting out as soon as possible.

I've grown up with this stigma, I remember back in elementary school when we were learning about WW2 and the holocaust I would be bullied at recess because of my German background. I myself did nothing wrong and didn't participate in any of the events of WW2 (obviously since I'm only 22 and even my dad wasn't born until after WW2) yet I was being punished for no obvious reason other than my heritage which I have no control over. It kinda pissed me off to say the least.
 

frostytheplebe

Seventh Part of the Seal
no, take away the prejudice and hatred and you're left with the facts of what happened. It was a terrible war that had a huge impact on the world, the fact that we're talking about it on the internet 64 years after it ended is evidence of that. What I'm saying is many good natured, regular people were thrown (drafted) into those situations against their will, given a rifle and some training, were told who to shoot and justified it with some propaganda. Many were just people serving for however long they had to (not sure on the length of tours and service) and planned on getting out as soon as possible.

It sounds more like you're describing Vietnam then WW2.

I've grown up with this stigma, I remember back in elementary school when we were learning about WW2 and the holocaust I would be bullied at recess because of my German background. I myself did nothing wrong and didn't participate in any of the events of WW2 (obviously since I'm only 22 and even my dad wasn't born until after WW2) yet I was being punished for no obvious reason other than my heritage which I have no control over. It kinda pissed me off to say the least.

Its unfortunate, but "To the Victor go the spoils." That sadly includes the writings of history... for example Hitler and his Nazi were villified (and rightly so) for thier crimes against humanity, this much we know and can be found in most history books. Also, the Nuremberg trials are very well documented.
All that is well documented and should not be forgotten in my mind, lest it be repeated. But where was the trials for those who opened the Japanese interment camps in the United States? Or, even more guilty, what about the Trials for our WW2 "allies" in the Soviet Union. The death tolls for the gulags was aparently so high that historians are still unable to get an exact figure... sadly I myself have been able to put the #s in at between 30-60 million to Hitler's 12 in the years Stalin had the riegns. But you don't see that in the history books. You type in Nazi to any search engine, you'll find Holocaust documentaries within the first three results... the Soviets? It's hidden somewhere two pages back.

I sympathize with you, friend. As I before stated, and ex girl friend of mine, still a friend is the grand daughter of an SS officer and 100% German descent. When we were in Junior HS, her family was disgraced because of what happened with her grandfather. She was what you'd expect too, pretty blond hair, blue eyes, etc. She got attacked, called an Aryan etc. etc. I can not tell you how many times she came to crying her eyes out saying, "I'm not a Nazi, I swear."

Fortunitly she went to a private HS out of town. We both went to Catholic schools, and she sat in on a debate our school's history club was having about the Nuremberg trials. I decided, for a challenge, to try and play the devils advocate... simply because their weren't many who were willing to be on that side of the debate. So I took what information I could find, and even took some of what she said about her grandfather. We lost the debate, mostly because no one was willing to listen to logic, but we sort of expected that.

Since then, I've taken classes about Nazi Germany and the Holocaust and done reports of heroism behind enemy lines and such. My goal was to challenge the accepted view you've been subject to... the basic "Duh Germans bahd we gooood" ideology. Believe me I've taken flak for it, but it's a pass time I enjoy and I still try every now and again. I do not want to dishonor the memory of those who died in that terrible period or do injustice to people like my grandfather who saved holocaust victims. My goal was always to just make people see that things are not as black and white as they may seem, nothing more.
 

Quarto

Unknown Enemy
I sympathize with you, friend. As I before stated, and ex girl friend of mine, still a friend is the grand daughter of an SS officer and 100% German descent. When we were in Junior HS, her family was disgraced because of what happened with her grandfather. She was what you'd expect too, pretty blond hair, blue eyes, etc. She got attacked, called an Aryan etc. etc. I can not tell you how many times she came to crying her eyes out saying, "I'm not a Nazi, I swear."
The thing that bothers me about cases like that is that what happened to your girlfriend's grandfather was not justice - it was a blatant perversion of justice. There's a reason why crimes can only be prosecuted for a certain period of time, usually up to about twenty years. To punish someone fifty years after the fact is, no matter how vile his crime was, just plain wrong. It *is* just - no matter how much time has passed, punishment for a crime remains just, but it's completely mercyless, and futile. There's no point in punishing such a person, from the society's point of view (an eighty-year-old is not likely to start up another genocide), and there is every reason to show mercy and just let it go. For example, when I read about that 89-year-old Ukrainian guy (John Demjanjuk) they recently deported from the US to Germany for trial, I can't help thinking that trying 89-year-olds is something that only the nazis could have come up with - and yet, it's present-day Germany that's doing it, in collusion with an equally guilty United States (who did, after all, choose to strip him of his citizenship and deport him). He may well have done everything they accuse him of - but why should we care? At this point, it's better to show mercy, and leave justice to God. It seems to me that was the case for your girlfriend's grandfather, as well. Technically, the US was punishing him for lying on his citizenship application, not for his actual crimes, but that seems even worse to me - I mean, the guy would have spent most of his life working in the US, for the benefit of the US. The debt he owed to the country for getting in illegally paled in comparison with the debt the country owed him for fifty years of his life.
 

frostytheplebe

Seventh Part of the Seal
The thing that bothers me about cases like that is that what happened to your girlfriend's grandfather was not justice - it was a blatant perversion of justice. There's a reason why crimes can only be prosecuted for a certain period of time, usually up to about twenty years. To punish someone fifty years after the fact is, no matter how vile his crime was, just plain wrong. It *is* just - no matter how much time has passed, punishment for a crime remains just, but it's completely mercyless, and futile. There's no point in punishing such a person, from the society's point of view (an eighty-year-old is not likely to start up another genocide), and there is every reason to show mercy and just let it go. For example, when I read about that 89-year-old Ukrainian guy (John Demjanjuk) they recently deported from the US to Germany for trial, I can't help thinking that trying 89-year-olds is something that only the nazis could have come up with - and yet, it's present-day Germany that's doing it, in collusion with an equally guilty United States (who did, after all, choose to strip him of his citizenship and deport him). He may well have done everything they accuse him of - but why should we care? At this point, it's better to show mercy, and leave justice to God. It seems to me that was the case for your girlfriend's grandfather, as well. Technically, the US was punishing him for lying on his citizenship application, not for his actual crimes, but that seems even worse to me - I mean, the guy would have spent most of his life working in the US, for the benefit of the US. The debt he owed to the country for getting in illegally paled in comparison with the debt the country owed him for fifty years of his life.

Yeah... thats another quandry if you ask me, I suppose in this case justice is in the eyes of the beholder. I've had the honor of being able to interview 2 holocaust survivors and a liberator who are still alive. For them, what happened is still very real. One of the survivors refused to speak of what happened to his sister once she entered the camp, I can only imagine... The soldier I interviewed was fighting back tears when he described his experience at the camp.

Should Nazis who came here be punished? Maybe... but perhaps just allow a meeting between the victims IF anyone who was directly affected by this man and make him face them. But deportation? Although it's well within legal... usually there are ways to aid people who have entered the country illegally, which he would have been denied.

I mean on one side I agree with you about a statute of limitations Quarto... I guess it's just hard for me to be as adamantly against the idea of making ex-Nazis face what they have done.

I'm curious though, as a fellow Catholic, what is your opinion of having a former member of Hitler's Youth as the pope?
 

Iceman16

Vice Admiral
It sounds more like you're describing Vietnam then WW2.



Its unfortunate, but "To the Victor go the spoils." That sadly includes the writings of history... for example Hitler and his Nazi were villified (and rightly so) for thier crimes against humanity, this much we know and can be found in most history books. Also, the Nuremberg trials are very well documented.
All that is well documented and should not be forgotten in my mind, lest it be repeated. But where was the trials for those who opened the Japanese interment camps in the United States? Or, even more guilty, what about the Trials for our WW2 "allies" in the Soviet Union. The death tolls for the gulags was aparently so high that historians are still unable to get an exact figure... sadly I myself have been able to put the #s in at between 30-60 million to Hitler's 12 in the years Stalin had the riegns. But you don't see that in the history books. You type in Nazi to any search engine, you'll find Holocaust documentaries within the first three results... the Soviets? It's hidden somewhere two pages back.

I sympathize with you, friend. As I before stated, and ex girl friend of mine, still a friend is the grand daughter of an SS officer and 100% German descent. When we were in Junior HS, her family was disgraced because of what happened with her grandfather. She was what you'd expect too, pretty blond hair, blue eyes, etc. She got attacked, called an Aryan etc. etc. I can not tell you how many times she came to crying her eyes out saying, "I'm not a Nazi, I swear."

Fortunitly she went to a private HS out of town. We both went to Catholic schools, and she sat in on a debate our school's history club was having about the Nuremberg trials. I decided, for a challenge, to try and play the devils advocate... simply because their weren't many who were willing to be on that side of the debate. So I took what information I could find, and even took some of what she said about her grandfather. We lost the debate, mostly because no one was willing to listen to logic, but we sort of expected that.

Since then, I've taken classes about Nazi Germany and the Holocaust and done reports of heroism behind enemy lines and such. My goal was to challenge the accepted view you've been subject to... the basic "Duh Germans bahd we gooood" ideology. Believe me I've taken flak for it, but it's a pass time I enjoy and I still try every now and again. I do not want to dishonor the memory of those who died in that terrible period or do injustice to people like my grandfather who saved holocaust victims. My goal was always to just make people see that things are not as black and white as they may seem, nothing more.

yup, 'History is written by the victors'. If the Nazi's had won then there would be a very different view on things and we'd probably be speaking German right now, at least as a second language.

I hate it when I hear of stories like what happened to your girlfriend, theres no reason for it. When I was in elementary school I looked like I couldve been a poster boy for the Hitler Youth or something haha, I had very blond hair, blue eyes and very tall and big for my age. Those traits definately didnt help, except for the being big and tall when I fought back. I was definately very Aryan looking, not so much anymore due to my mixed descent though.

There were concentration camps pretty much everywhere in the world at that time, hell even in Canada there were concentration camps for anyone of Japanese, Italian or German descent which most of the people around here just don't talk about because its embarrassing to us, its a chapter of our history that we try to forget about and instead we focus on the British Commonwealth Air Force Training Plan that built hundreds of airport across the country which are still in use today, and various other things that we did to help the war effort, like training troops and taking part in raids and attacks and whatnot. We Canadians focus more on attacks like Dieppe and D-Day and the Battle of Britain, etc etc.

I was just reminded of a story my Opa told me once about how after the war when he came to Canada he tried to join the Legion but wasnt allowed to because he fought on the side that came in second and they were worried that it might cause an uproar letting a German veteran in.
 

LeHah

212 Squadron - "The Old Man's Eyes And Ears"
Theres an old story of a conversation between directors John Milius and Steven Spielberg.

Milius showed up with a present for Spielberg: a Wehrmacht from a Panther tank. Apparently, it had been saved after the tank's destruction and put into storage. Milius had bought some of the collection since he's a war nut and felt like giving some of it to people he'd think would appreciate it.

Spielberg was appalled at the offer, asking why in God's name Milius would be handing out such things.

Milius replied, "Steven! We won the war! This is ours to take! Its a part of history!"

Steven took the gift but Lord knows if he pitched it afterward.

Personally, while I can understand why your girlfriend would have issue with you hanging up the flag or something else tasteless, keeping it is something else entirely. Its your thing.

And I hate to say it, but when it comes to women, theres a title of a play that comes to mind: "I love you, you're perfect, now change".
 

frostytheplebe

Seventh Part of the Seal
Theres an old story of a conversation between directors John Milius and Steven Spielberg.

Milius showed up with a present for Spielberg: a Wehrmacht from a Panther tank. Apparently, it had been saved after the tank's destruction and put into storage. Milius had bought some of the collection since he's a war nut and felt like giving some of it to people he'd think would appreciate it.

Spielberg was appalled at the offer, asking why in God's name Milius would be handing out such things.

Milius replied, "Steven! We won the war! This is ours to take! Its a part of history!"

Steven took the gift but Lord knows if he pitched it afterward.

Personally, while I can understand why your girlfriend would have issue with you hanging up the flag or something else tasteless, keeping it is something else entirely. Its your thing.

And I hate to say it, but when it comes to women, theres a title of a play that comes to mind: "I love you, you're perfect, now change".

I smacked my forehead when I read this...

Personally... this just seems like Milius didn't think before he jumped. I mean giving 1940s German ANYTHING to a Jewish man is... well you run a pretty big risk as it being seen as tasteless. No matter how well intentioned. I know I would jump at a gift like that. In fact, I have a jewish friend who shares my love for antiques. But when i brought him in to my museum room, I told him like 5 times that there was nazi stuff in there. He really got annoyed, he's like, "I know Jim! You told me 5 times, I have a K98 Mauser, I WANT to see that stuff."

So really, it's something you gotta be careful of.
 

Mace

Vice Admiral
yup, 'History is written by the victors'. If the Nazi's had won then there would be a very different view on things and we'd probably be speaking German right now, at least as a second language.

I hate it when I hear of stories like what happened to your girlfriend, theres no reason for it. When I was in elementary school I looked like I couldve been a poster boy for the Hitler Youth or something haha, I had very blond hair, blue eyes and very tall and big for my age. Those traits definately didnt help, except for the being big and tall when I fought back. I was definately very Aryan looking, not so much anymore due to my mixed descent though.

There were concentration camps pretty much everywhere in the world at that time, hell even in Canada there were concentration camps for anyone of Japanese, Italian or German descent which most of the people around here just don't talk about because its embarrassing to us, its a chapter of our history that we try to forget about and instead we focus on the British Commonwealth Air Force Training Plan that built hundreds of airport across the country which are still in use today, and various other things that we did to help the war effort, like training troops and taking part in raids and attacks and whatnot. We Canadians focus more on attacks like Dieppe and D-Day and the Battle of Britain, etc etc.

I was just reminded of a story my Opa told me once about how after the war when he came to Canada he tried to join the Legion but wasnt allowed to because he fought on the side that came in second and they were worried that it might cause an uproar letting a German veteran in.

I'm Half German, half dutch.. When you hear "old people" talk about the great war, it usually is a view from their side, and "if the germans had won" has been a fun debate with my friends in high school. There were people against raising a statue in a village in my country of a german soldier who saved some children during an "accidental" allied bombing over Holland, and died in the attempt. Weird detail was that alle those opposed were born after the war, and raised with the "Allies=good, Axis=bad" mentality, while the elderly and young respected it very much.

There is nothing wrong with Germans, or any people wherever they come from, there was a big wrong about nazi ideologies, still, if you were to "erase" and "mask" those events from history, the lesson learned from all that is gone.
 

scheherazade

Rear Admiral
I see it as a valuable historical artifact.

I would :
Hold on to it, research it as much as you can.
In a few years, pass it on to your kids or sell it for more than you paid for it.
And if you're feeling generous, give it to a museum.

I wouldn't get all emotional about something that doesn't involve me (ww2 / nazis / etc.). It's a historical piece. Simple as that.

Frankly I'm surprised that people who didn't live through the era (i.e. have no good reason to be emotionally attached to the issues), feel so attached to the issues.

-scheherazade

p.s. I'm also originally from Poland, 30 mins or so outside of Ludz. Not like it matters.
My grandparents hate Swedes and Turks because of wars fought centuries ago.
They also hate Jews for 'owning' the place before the war.
When my family moved to Germany before moving to the U.S., my grandmother swore to disown my mom.
To me, it's just a tragic comedy that people even still care.
 

Mace

Vice Admiral
To me, it's just a tragic comedy that people even still care.

There is nothing wrong with laughter... or black comedy.. however I do find it ridiculous when somebody born in 1943 sais "Well, you do not know because you did not live through the war!"
 

Aginor

Vice Admiral
First of all, I want to express that I'm thankful that most of you don't equate "German" with "Nazi", and have a quite educated view about european history.
As said before, I don't blame LarkInFlight or people who think like him for their views, I guess it is just natural, and I hope I don't insult them with what I'm going to say in further postings here. If I do that anyway I beg your pardon. I don't want to insult you.

I want to express my opinion about some things mentioned, and tell some stories.


As I already told you, both of my grandfathers (who have already died btw) and a brother of one of them fought in WW2, and of course they made some experiences I want to share with you.
The Wehrmacht were mostly regular troops, and a lot of them (like my grandfather) had a lot of fear against partisans. In France that weren't much of a problem, but especially in Poland and Russia there were quite a lot of them. And a lot of Wehrmacht soldiers blamed the SS divisions for that. That's because the SS had actually been ordered to do things like murdering civilians and so on at the eastern front. The Wehrmacht soldiers had been "educated" with propaganda, too, and of course there were war crimes by the Wehrmacht, too, but as I said, a lot of Wehrmacht soldiers weren't too happy with what was done there. Not only because it drove the civilians to become partisans, but because they had been told stories about heroes and heroic deeds in wartimes, and they were discouraged by the fact that what the own soldiers (in that case the SS) did was everything but heroic.
My other grandfather was a member of the Kriegsmarine, on a submarine and he didn't experience much of that, but it is quite interesting that he once told my father a story that is very similar to one my other grandfather told me. He said:
"Every time we sunk a ship we cheered. Of course we did, because we were expected to do so. But when we sat together before going to sleep, we talked a lot about the poor guys that drowned in the freezing cold water of the ocean out there. Some of us even prayed for their souls." My other grandfather told me that he was quite sorry for the ten poor guys in a B17 he killed with a single shot as a flak gunner (I think it was in Kiel 1943), because he knew they were just like him, "19 year old boys who have mothers that will miss them." He got three days special leave to see his family and an Iron Cross for that, but he said he didn't feel very good about that. IIRC he threw the Iron Cross away later.


About Demjanjuk and others:
I think it is right that there is no lapse of time for murder, and if he is a murderer he deserves to be punished, no matter how old he is. And I think his victims in the KZ (of whom some are still alive) deserve the relief that there is finally justice, over 60 years after the war.


About the Nazi-accusation on highschools that were mentioned here:
I'm shocked. Really. I didn't think such things would happen in the US. But I guess some things will never change. There will always be bullies, and they will always find some reason and a way to do bad things to other students.

@Iceman16:
I'm not sure what the term "concentration camp" is used for in your native language. But in German there is a huge difference between camps for prisoners of war and concentration camps. Nazi concentration camps were camps where you put people (mostly civilians) you didn't like, in order to kill them. I don't think such things existed in canada. My grandfather was a prisoner of war in canada (after his submarine surrendered to a american destroyer in order not to get captured by russians) and was brought to a pow-camp in Canada, where he and the other soldiers were treated friendly, always got enough to eat (In fact they ate the same meals as the soldiers who guarded the camp), and could sleep in a cleaner bed than on the submarine they came from. That is not even similar to a Nazi concentration camp.
Btw: concentration camps weren't invented by the Nazis, they were invented by the british during the Boer War in southern Africa. But they weren't half as bad as Buchenwald or Auschwitz. The only comparable camps I know of existed in the Soviet Union.


I think I forgot one or two of the points I wanted to mention. If I remember them again I will post them.
 

Quarto

Unknown Enemy
I mean on one side I agree with you about a statute of limitations Quarto... I guess it's just hard for me to be as adamantly against the idea of making ex-Nazis face what they have done.
As a Catholic, you know that they'll face what they've done anyway. You also know that God is willing to forgive anyone who honestly repents, though they'll still need to atone. Indeed, one of the few arguments in favour of the death penalty is that, when willingly accepted by the condemned, the death penalty allows criminals to atone in this life instead of suffering in Purgatory. If we go to Heaven after we die, we may well find some pretty notorious Nazis waiting to meet us - provided, of course, they truly did repent.
So, does this mean that we actually owe a punishment to former Nazis, in order to help them make amends? Well... no. Our duty on earth is limited to two things - preventing unrepentant criminals from committing further crimes (we do this both by physically preventing them from doing so, and by using their punishment to set an example), and to help criminals understand the need to repent. But our justice will always be a far-too-imperfect copy of divine justice. Now, fifty (well, over sixty, at this point) years after the crime, what purpose can our punishments serve? Preventing 90-year-olds from committing further crimes? That would be a joke. Help them to repent? After all these years, either they've repented many times over, or they simply will not repent. At this point, it becomes more important to set an example by treating these elderly men with the mercy and kindness they lacked, than by punishing them for their ancient crimes.

I'm curious though, as a fellow Catholic, what is your opinion of having a former member of Hitler's Youth as the pope?
Even if Benedict XVI had once been a Nazi personally involved in the Holocaust, I would willingly accept him as the Pope, provided that it were evident he had repented and atoned for what he'd done. Remember St. Peter - our first Pope, the one who thrice denied knowing Christ?
As it stands, however, none of that needs to be considered, because Benedict XVI was never a Nazi. His only sin is that he was born in Germany in 1927, which made him old enough to be conscripted into the Hitler Youth. Given that he refused to attend Hitler Youth meetings, and that he was already studying in a seminary to become a priest at this point, it should be obvious to anyone that his Hitler Youth background is a complete non-issue. The only reason anyone ever brought it up is because it's obviously a convenient argument for the media - "the Pope is a Nazi, Catholics are baaaad!"

I'm Half German, half dutch.. When you hear "old people" talk about the great war, it usually is a view from their side, and "if the germans had won" has been a fun debate with my friends in high school.
Don't take this personally, but the Netherlands is one of the few places that might conceivably have been better off had the Germans won. I don't know for how long Germany would continue to pursue Nazi eugenic policies... but even if it lasted all the way until now, at least you'd have a foreign occupant killing your elderly and your disabled children, instead of doing it all by yourself. Makes little difference for the people killed, but at least the rest of the country would object to it, instead of cheerfully supporting these policies as "human rights".

(again, since I don't know what your personal views are, don't take this as a personal attack... unless you too happen to support such things. If you do, I suggest you take a very, very long look at this particular lesson in history)
 
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