Historum - History Forums  

Go Back   Historum - History Forums > World History Forum > European History
Register Forums Blogs Social Groups Mark Forums Read

European History European History Forum - Western and Eastern Europe including the British Isles, Scandinavia, Russia


Reply
 
LinkBack Thread Tools Display Modes
Old November 6th, 2012, 10:16 AM   #21
Hellenist
 
Joined: Jan 2010
From: Eugene, Oregon
Posts: 4,653
Blog Entries: 2

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bluehawk View Post
That is well stated, in my opinion, and very close to completely so.

That last sentence reminds me again of the endless dispute about why the American Civil War was fought, whether to preserve States' independence or to free slaves.

"Yes he did blame Minorities such as Jews, but this was not the key motivation."

Doubtless may will disagree, but not I.
We promoted the war with love of family and defense of them and defense of the country, and as the will of God. In battle soldiers are defending each other. At Christmas everyone may lay down their weapons, and join in the trenches to share human goodness, only to return to being enemies the next day. Wars are about love and defense, being a man, and following orders, not hate.

The "enemy" is dehumanized, not humanized, and when people slaughter other people, they always think of them as less than human. It should be said, the military puts a lot of effort into training men to kill, and if a person in battle stops to think about killing another, instead of reacting as trained, this person is less apt to survive. Let us get real about this. Humans are trained to kill, and this goes against our civilized nature. Mine is to do or die, not to question why. That is training.

Last edited by athena; November 6th, 2012 at 10:22 AM.
athena is offline  
Remove Ads
Old November 6th, 2012, 10:43 AM   #22

Black Dog's Avatar
Idiot of the year 2013
 
Joined: Mar 2008
From: Damned England
Posts: 9,970
Blog Entries: 2

Quote:
Please, don't say what I am saying is true, because I really want to be convinced I am wrong.
I know that feeling. I spend too much of my time saying things I'd much rather weren't true.

Wars are self perpetuating to a large extent. As Hermann Goering said, just tell the people that they're being attacked, denounce any nay-sayer as unpatriotic, and that's it- all done. Once the casualties start coming in, revenge will be a strong motive for those at home and "kill or be killed" for those actually fighting.

In the middle will be legions "just doing their job", whatever that is.
Black Dog is offline  
Old November 6th, 2012, 10:56 AM   #23

Bluehawk's Avatar
Historian
 
Joined: Jul 2012
From: Ozarks
Posts: 1,479

Quote:
Originally Posted by athena View Post
Let us get real about this. Humans are trained to kill, and this goes against our civilized nature. Mine is to do or die, not to question why. That is training.
True, but only in war.

Most humans absolutely will or are capable of killing other humans in self-defense or in defense of loved ones; it is both genetic and hereditary.

To some degree we must be trained NOT to kill.
Bluehawk is offline  
Old November 6th, 2012, 01:03 PM   #24
Historian
 
Joined: Jan 2010
From: -
Posts: 17,473

Quote:
Originally Posted by athena View Post

The "enemy" is dehumanized, not humanized, and when people slaughter other people, they always think of them as less than human. It should be said, the military puts a lot of effort into training men to kill, and if a person in battle stops to think about killing another, instead of reacting as trained, this person is less apt to survive. Let us get real about this. Humans are trained to kill, and this goes against our civilized nature. Mine is to do or die, not to question why. That is training.
First of ll thank you for these thread and the participating members. A lot of good postings.
Your words above remember me to a german officer. I can't find the source. i must have a look. He participated in the shooting of civilians in Russia and reported this to his wife. He was a loving father of some little children. He wrote to his wife about his problematic JOB. A job, that had to be done. He told her how difficult it was for him, especially the killing of the children. He mentioned that he had to shot some children which looked like his own. He told his wife what a great mercy and favour it was, that he shot this kids in a "clean, fair" way. Much more mercyful than the jews and Russians would kill his children, if they would get the possibility to do this.
Many participated in these killings, the most not directly. I know the story about two female secretaries, who discussed whom they'll send today to the death camps, the victims were just numbers, just files.
It is similar in the behaviour to the US helicopter crew, who killed several civilians some time ago. Please, I don't compare what they did with nazi crimes!!! i want to try the psychology behind it. The people on the ground were no real humans, they became some kind of computer game figures. And what they recognized as human was just an evil muslim, who would kill innocent Americans if he could. This is what you call correct "dehumanisation".

I don't like the terms "ordenary" or "average" german in this context, because we had it in these forum already, some use it to blame all germans, to show that it is a german gene or character fault. The term itself is not that wrong, if we accept, that you don't have to be a psychopathic monster to commit crimes. Bluehawk said it correct, people must be trained not to kill. War, hate and murder are not an exception in mankind's history, but the rule.

What happened in germany can happen everywhere, it is in all of us. That it happened in Germany had some special reasons. Anti-semitism is just one reason for it, but anti-semitism was nearly everywhere, even worse in other countries. But this would lead to much away from the thread.

So in general one can say, that the vast majority felt to be in a fight to protect germany of jews and communists. When soldiers saw the murders in the east, they recognized it of course, but put it into their frame of reference and in this frame "the Soviet" was brutal, too. They had to do their job and to survive. That was, what was important for them. When it went back and the closer it came to the border of the reich it was a struggle for the own survival and those of their families. Jews and others had again no place in their frame.
beorna is offline  
Old November 6th, 2012, 02:07 PM   #25

Black Dog's Avatar
Idiot of the year 2013
 
Joined: Mar 2008
From: Damned England
Posts: 9,970
Blog Entries: 2

Quote:
What happened in germany can happen everywhere, it is in all of us.
Agreed. One of the most unsavoury aspects of humans is that they could even justify it "next time" or claim that this time is "not the same".

I don't agree that most people are capable of deliberately killing, even to defend themselves. Most people "flight" not "fight".
Black Dog is offline  
Old November 6th, 2012, 02:23 PM   #26
Historian
 
Joined: Jan 2010
From: -
Posts: 17,473

Quote:
Originally Posted by Black Dog View Post
Agreed. One of the most unsavoury aspects of humans is that they could even justify it "next time" or claim that this time is "not the same".
Thanks

Quote:
Originally Posted by Black Dog View Post
I don't agree that most people are capable of deliberately killing, even to defend themselves. Most people "flight" not "fight".
Very difficult to say. If people have the choice to flee, probably you are correct. If they are subjected to group dynamics this is perhaps much more difficult.
beorna is offline  
Old November 6th, 2012, 05:07 PM   #27

Koko the Monkey's Avatar
Academician
 
Joined: Nov 2012
Posts: 99

Quote:
Originally Posted by beorna View Post
I don't like the terms "ordenary" or "average" german in this context, because we had it in these forum already, some use it to blame all germans, to show that it is a german gene or character fault. The term itself is not that wrong, if we accept, that you don't have to be a psychopathic monster to commit crimes. Bluehawk said it correct, people must be trained not to kill. War, hate and murder are not an exception in mankind's history, but the rule.

What happened in germany can happen everywhere, it is in all of us. That it happened in Germany had some special reasons. Anti-semitism is just one reason for it, but anti-semitism was nearly everywhere, even worse in other countries. But this would lead to much away from the thread.

So in general one can say, that the vast majority felt to be in a fight to protect germany of jews and communists. When soldiers saw the murders in the east, they recognized it of course, but put it into their frame of reference and in this frame "the Soviet" was brutal, too. They had to do their job and to survive. That was, what was important for them. When it went back and the closer it came to the border of the reich it was a struggle for the own survival and those of their families. Jews and others had again no place in their frame.
I understand what you are saying, but I'm not sure that I could agree with you. It was indifference that allowed the Holocaust to happen, which as we saw throughout the war, was a German trait. The crimes committed by Germans and those by its allies have completely different characters. To start with, Germany's extermination campaign was carried out in a totally dehumanized manner, allowing most of its perpetrators to kill large amounts of people without emotion. German murderers were just "doing their job" for the most part (except for a few psychos who truly enjoyed killing).

Oppositely, German collaborators volunteered to kill. For instance, the Einsatzgruppen was almost entirely made up of Ukrainian volunteers, tens of thousands of ordinary men who were so passionately anti-Semitic and anti-Russian that they were willing to volunteer their time killing Jews and Russians. These people were committing emotional crimes, not emotionless ones like the Germans.

Therefore, I'm not sure the German side of the Holocaust could happen anywhere. It requires a society that is fairly emotionless and very willing to almost blindly follow authority figures. Germany was, and in my opinion has generally been this. These traits are not necessarily bad either. For instance, though they allowed the Holocaust to happen, I believe they allowed the German people to admit their crimes far more easily than other people. Most countries are far more unwilling to admit their crimes, at least in the short amount of time that it took Germany to do so. Look at Turkey, where high emotions on nationalism and religion have prevented it from recognizing all the crimes it has committed.
Koko the Monkey is offline  
Old November 6th, 2012, 05:49 PM   #28

Sam-Nary's Avatar
Historian
 
Joined: Jun 2012
From: At present SD, USA
Posts: 6,140

Quote:
Originally Posted by jeroenrottgering View Post
I always wondered how did the average Wehrmacht soldier thought about serving a regime this evil? Im not talking about SS or SD or any other branch, but about the Wehrmacht. The regular soldier sort of speaking. My grandfather who is still alive considered the average German soldier stationed in Holland friendly and innocent, but I wonder how much of that is true. Did the average German soldier fought because he was ordered to and was not evil at heart or did the majority believe in the cause of Adolf Hitler and the Third Reich?
In general it probably varried. Some may have been fairly apolitical when Hitler took office, but especially on, he seemed to give the German people what they wanted. And he got it fairly easily. Remilitarizing the Rhineland, without a shot fired by the French (which they were fully justified to do), annexing Austria without a shot being fired (which violated the Versailles Treaty), being given Czechoslovakia by the Allies (which violated the Versailles Treaty and the Czech's independence) brought a great amount of confidence in the Hitler among the soldiers of the Wehrmacht. He'd gotten most of what he wanted, and Germany never had to fight for it.

Then, once the war began in 1939, Hitler was boosted by a series of rapid military victories. Poland fell quickly with minimal German casualties (and the Germans were told the Poles attacked them first), Denmark fell without a fight, and while the naval fighting around Norway went Britain's way, Germany won the air and land battles there, securing ultimate victory there. And then German conquered France, Belgium, Luxembourg, and the Netherlands in 6 weeks time and essentially destroyed the British Army in the field. Alsace, Lorraine, Luxembourg, and parts of Belgium and the Netherlands were annexed to the Reich. These victories gave a great deal of confidence to the fighting men. France was percieved in 1940 to be a powerhouse, and had lost in 6 weeks.

In the fall of 1940, the German people, largely, loved Hitler for his successes, both peacetime and in battle. They felt themselves invinciable and didn't challenge Hitler. This hubris, however, would lead to Germany's downfall and would truly show the horrors of this support...

In 1941, Germany picked a fight with the Soviet Union, expecting a quick victory. In addition to this, the Wehrmacht recieved the Kommisar Order from its high command (OKW). The order gave the command for the deliberate killing of any Jew or Soviet Political Officer taken prisoner in the east, and saw to the creation of several Einzatzgruppen units that followed the regular army advance. While many in these Einsatzgruppen may have been members of the SS, there were significant numbers of them that were regular Wehrmacht soldiers. And these men became the executioners of where the Holocaust was the highest...

Remember that while the Death Camps in Poland killed many, and the evidence of the murders there was horrific, and the deaths of emaciated people in the Concentration camps in the last years of the war were horrific and cruel, but they were but a drop compared those shot in the East in places like Babi Yar. The Wehrmacht was involved in these killings, as well as in reprisal killings for partisan activity in later years.

However, the failure to defeat the Soviets in one summer's campaign began to break the support the German army had for Hitler. While those raised on antisemitic propaganda and antisemitic cultural practices eagerly participated in the murder of Soviet citizens, officers and those who had been marginally mistrusting of Hitler began to mistrust him again. Following the defeat at Stalingrad, members of the German military joined a fairly long list of those who had tried to assassinate Adolf Hitler.

They tried to blow up his plane following a visit to the Eastern Front in 1943, and other army officers began to mistrust Hitler for other failures. The name we know best, Colonel Stauffenberg was wounded in Africa after Hitler continued to give "no retreat" commmands, and after which he joined the German resistance. Most of these men had turned on Hitler because they had realized that Germany was losing or would lose if Hitler's policies continued, but they came the closest to actually offing Hitler with the Valkyrie plot of July 20, 1944...

However, the plot failed to kill Hitler, and once it was clear that Hitler was alive, Nazi loyalists and those who were somewhat hesitant to join turned on Stauffenberg, Beck, and the Valkyrie conspirators. Hitler's government survived and thewar continued, but by now the adoration by the Wehrmacht was no longer there. Those that served did so, either because they were afraid of being executed by SS men (who would serve as political officers until the end of the war with regular units) or they feared the vengence the Red Army would take on the German people.
Sam-Nary is offline  
Old November 6th, 2012, 06:44 PM   #29
Scholar
 
Joined: Oct 2011
Posts: 620
Thumbs down The missing link in


All these theories is the basic fact that -from 1935 onwards EVERY German soldier had to swear a personal oath of loyalty to Hitler and the Nazi party.
Consequently, while there were noble exceptions in the Wehrmacht whose actions demonstated that they had not been totally corrupted by the foul racism of Nazism the majority of Wehrmacht soldiers played a leading role in both the Holocaust and Nazi war crimes as active participants or passive accomplices.
The concept of the noble non-Nazi Wehrmacht ordinary soldier is deluded fantasy.
''Orders ae Orders'' was another phoney argument because EVERY Wehrmacht soldier had in his paybook a list of rules of conduct which precluded assisting the kind of Nazi crimes caried out against civilian populations in the east especially.-but this was routinely ignored.
Toomtabard is offline  
Old November 7th, 2012, 01:39 AM   #30
Historian
 
Joined: Jan 2010
From: -
Posts: 17,473

Quote:
Originally Posted by Koko the Monkey View Post
I understand what you are saying, but I'm not sure that I could agree with you. It was indifference that allowed the Holocaust to happen, which as we saw throughout the war, was a German trait. The crimes committed by Germans and those by its allies have completely different characters. To start with, Germany's extermination campaign was carried out in a totally dehumanized manner, allowing most of its perpetrators to kill large amounts of people without emotion. German murderers were just "doing their job" for the most part (except for a few psychos who truly enjoyed killing).
There was a lot of indifference, I agree. But such indifference was not limited on Germany. In germany did widely not exist these brutal anti-semitism of the east, but the indifference in the west was not that smaller.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Koko the Monkey View Post
IOppositely, German collaborators volunteered to kill. For instance, the Einsatzgruppen was almost entirely made up of Ukrainian volunteers, tens of thousands of ordinary men who were so passionately anti-Semitic and anti-Russian that they were willing to volunteer their time killing Jews and Russians. These people were committing emotional crimes, not emotionless ones like the Germans.
If you look on the consumption of alcohol in such German units, you wouldn't speak of emotionless. But these units, who committed directly murder were limited. The Einsatzgruppen in the east were less than 3,000 men. Of course did we have other units, too, like the GFP, but as well limited in numbers. And if you include the Sicherungsdivisionen of the Wehrmacht or some Infantry division with security tasks and the Police batallions, then it is not that clear, that this was all emotionless. They were inflicted in a brutal partisan war and many of the crimes happened in these relation.

Quote:
Originally Posted by Koko the Monkey View Post
ITherefore, I'm not sure the German side of the Holocaust could happen anywhere. It requires a society that is fairly emotionless and very willing to almost blindly follow authority figures. Germany was, and in my opinion has generally been this. These traits are not necessarily bad either. For instance, though they allowed the Holocaust to happen, I believe they allowed the German people to admit their crimes far more easily than other people. Most countries are far more unwilling to admit their crimes, at least in the short amount of time that it took Germany to do so. Look at Turkey, where high emotions on nationalism and religion have prevented it from recognizing all the crimes it has committed.
When i spoke of "it could have happened everywhere", i was speaking theoretically. Of course do we need several reasons for such a holocaust. That these several reasons occur in the same place at the same place is less probable, in Germany it happened.
It is often said that Germans tend to follow blindly authorities. This is difficult to say. maybe it was higher than in some other countries, but the question is how and how much it influence the support of the holocaust.

Anti-semitism and obedience are a factor of the holocaust, but not the main. For me WWI is crucial. Here is the very difference to the other europen states. Millions of germans served in the trenches of WWI, we know today of the psychological consequences of this. millions of germans gave their lifes at the front or their health and not only this, about at least 400,000 died of malnutriation by the british blockade, another 200,000 by the flu, as consequence of the malnutriation and these are just the figures for those of above 1 year. The figure excludes all those who died before they became 1 year old. When the war was lost, german soldiers stood abroad. It was hard for them to recognize they had lost. Imagine millions of death people, troops abroad and nevertheless the looser? all lifes wasted? And when they came home there was revolution, the emperor gone, their whole old world was broken. The entente states took controll over Germany, humiliated it by the treaty of Versailles and with further occupations. In the west germans were beaten, when they did not leave the pavement or greeted when allied soldiers passed their way. there were uprises in the east of minorities. Soldiers who did not find home, joined the Free corps and went on fighting. If you look to the early nazi leaders, they all were part of these guys, disrooted, disinhibited and caught in the past. And after they had lost the war, they lost all their money in 1923. all this was crucial for the conscience of germans. Perhaps the holocaust had nevertheless never happened if all had become normal with the golden twentieth. But the great depression pulled again the rug out from under their feet. And the young German democracy had not the strong characters to bring germany thru these crisis. the way for the nazis was open.

sam-Nary described it very well, was followed was a long list of obviously success of the nazis and in the shaddow of these success the nazis tried to change the german's frame of reference. It began with small anti-semitic actions. Nothing happened. There was so much trouble on the streets during the late 20th and early 30th. Hitler brought quiet. Some actions against jews were not seen as that bad. If you accuse people of something, even if they are innocent, some sceptics remains. then the nazis introduced the race laws. The reaction was different, many supported these laws, but, orthodox jews even supported the prohibition of marriages. then the nazis started with their Kristallnacht. Many did not agree with it, but at least there were as well no general outcry. All the murderous action like T4 or the later holocaust happened during the war or even during the brutal war in the east. We have to connect this.
so you can perhaps see, that for the holocaust many things had to come together. In Germany this happened. It wasn't inevitable, but here human behaviour was responsible. it was easier to look away, to howl with the wolves, to swim with the stream.
I wrote it above, I don't want to compare german crimes with others. If I use other examples, then to show human behaviour. A good example are the USA. Different to Germany in the 30th a democratic, pluralistic state. But these state was heavily stroken by 9/11. These terror attack allowed the US government to attack Afghanistan, ruled by a former supported regime. It allowed the US government to attack the Iraq, allthough it was obvious, that he was not responsible for 9/11. They were willing to go to war, the media voluntarily went in a line with this. Not much critics. and it allowed the US government to open such a place like Guantanamo, Abu Ghraid with torture, it allowed the US government to kidnapp people all over the world, even from allied states, to imprison them without rights, to bring them to syria and egypt to get tortured much brutal, and? any outcry all thru the USA? They introduced the patriot act and gave up many freedom rights! All this in a free, democratic, pluralistic state, with free media, the www. people usually tend to behave wrong.

At least, please don't see my posting as an attempt to white-wash germans. Of course everybody is responsible for what he did. I just tried to show the reasons, the procedures, the evolution of the nazi state. to demonize germans like Goldhagen and others to explain the holocaust as unique german crime will not help to prevent further crimes.
beorna is offline  
Reply

  Historum > World History Forum > European History

Tags
average, german, nazigermany, serving, soldiers, view, wehrmacht



Search tags for this page
Thread Tools
Display Modes


Similar Threads
Thread Thread Starter Forum Replies Last Post
Off the Battlefield: The Civilianís View of Late Roman Soldiers Belloc War and Military History 0 July 22nd, 2012 05:36 PM
A polarising view of how soldiers are viewed in Germany Son of Cathal War and Military History 25 February 19th, 2012 04:23 PM
did the average wehrmacht soldier know the war was lost irishcrusader95 War and Military History 64 August 2nd, 2011 08:29 PM
Strength and weakness of German Wehrmacht (Army), Kriegsmarine (Navy) and Luftwaffe (Air Force) Edward European History 32 December 12th, 2009 12:30 PM

Copyright © 2006-2013 Historum. All rights reserved.