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Old November 4th, 2012, 04:42 PM   #1
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What was the average German wehrmacht soldiers's view towards serving Nazi-Germany?


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?
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Old November 4th, 2012, 04:48 PM   #2
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When you think Third Reich, think nationalism.
The average German soldier felt like he was doing what was necessary to restore his Fatherland to it's former glory. Hitler motivated these young men by preaching nationalism, not by preaching about the murder of minorities.
Yes he did blame Minorities such as Jews, but this was not the key motivation.
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Old November 4th, 2012, 04:58 PM   #3

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In documentaries with interviews of surviving German soldiers many expressed that they believed the French/British/Americans/Dutch etc were corrupted countries run by the Jews and that the fight against the USSR was a fight against the dual threats both Bolshevism and the Judaism. They expressed that they were doing western countries a favor in saving them from their corrupt democracies and the 'untermensch', and that they were fighting for the entire western civilization against the USSR.
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Old November 4th, 2012, 05:01 PM   #4

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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?
I would say the "average" German soldier was fighting for what he thought was the survival of his country and his family. JMHO.
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Old November 4th, 2012, 05:09 PM   #5

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Yes, I agree. Most men do not really think huge ideas like 1000 year Reichs or 10 year plans. Soldiers are not taught nor encouraged to think about such stuff, either. They did as they were told and as the war wore on, they fought to stop the enemy from killing them, or out of revenge. And then, when defeat looked likely, they fought to protect their own country and families. When it became plain that only unconditional surrender would do, most Germans remembered 1918 and fought on, determined not to repeat that.

Even the ideologically motivated Waffen SS displayed a large degree of derision for many top Nazis and the usual soldier's habit of his "homeland" largely becoming his unit. Hubert Meyer, adjutant of the Liebstandarte (elite Waffen SS Division) remarked when he heard about the bomb plot against Hitler that he thought it incredible that anyone could do such a thing whilst Germany was fighting for her life, and when the Allies had made it clear that no matter what, unconditional surrender was what they wanted. In other words, killing Hitler would make no difference to Allied demands, but it would weaken and confuse Germany.
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Old November 4th, 2012, 05:15 PM   #6

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Yes, I agree. Most men do not really think huge ideas like 1000 year Reichs or 10 year plans. Soldiers are not taught nor encouraged to think about such stuff, either. They did as they were told and as the war wore on, they fought to stop the enemy from killing them, or out of revenge. And then, when defeat looked likely, they fought to protect their own country and families. When it became plain that only unconditional surrender would do, most Germans remembered 1918 and fought on, determined not to repeat that.

Even the ideologically motivated Waffen SS displayed a large degree of derision for many top Nazis and the usual soldier's habit of his "homeland" largely becoming his unit. Hubert Meyer, adjutant of the Liebstandarte (elite Waffen SS Division) remarked when he heard about the bomb plot against Hitler that he thought it incredible that anyone could do such a thing whilst Germany was fighting for her life, and when the Allies had made it clear that no matter what, unconditional surrender was what they wanted. In other words, killing Hitler would make no difference to Allied demands, but it would weaken and confuse Germany.
I think Hitler helped bring a more speedy end to the Third Reich, with all his military blunders and all. Good thing for us huh?
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Old November 5th, 2012, 04:28 AM   #7

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Indeed. Hitler's skills as a general are hard to define really. Often, he was an inspired gambler, like in the lead up to war. Also, only he of all the German High Command got it right, about where the Allies would land on D-Day. He argued that the Channel Islands would be an unlikely venue due to the loss of British life amongst the islanders and for little gain other than a morale boost. Likewise Dieppe or other channel ports.

But his tendency to try to defend everything cost the German army dear and did, as you say, make life easier for us in the end. It's ironic to think that had Hitler been killed in the bomb plot, Germany's defence may have been put into the hands of someone more effective- and the war may have dragged on longer and cost us more men's lives. Strange how it works out
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Old November 5th, 2012, 06:01 AM   #8

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I tend to believe in Christopher Browning's Ordinary Men thesis, which is the idea that Germans fought and committed horrible acts because they were indifferent. The average man just did not care about German nationalism, nor did he care about the lives of Jews and others. Thus, nearly all Germans, even those who opposed Nazism, could be coerced into committing crimes or be silent as they occurred. World War Two and the Holocaust were carried out by an emotionless German populace, not an emotional one. Personally, its far more disturbing to think that the German people just didn't care about what was going on, than that they were passionately for it. Nazism is terrifying, but indifference is even scarier. An event such as WW2 and the Holocaust ought to inspire either support for the crimes or opposition to them. Instead, the German people were totally indifferent.

On a side note, Sacha Baron-Cohen's Borat character was inspired by Browning's Ordinary Men thesis. While at college, he was a student of Ian Kershaw, a noted historian and follower of Browning's theory. Baron-Cohen was so disturbed by the idea that people could just not have any emotion about the Holocaust, that he decided to create a character to show how even today, people can stand on the sides or be coerced into saying and doing horrible things because of their own indifference.
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Old November 5th, 2012, 06:20 AM   #9
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Under a capitalist tyranny like that of the nazis no-one can speak or think clearly, ever. A man I knew, Philip Whitehead, used to give an interesting illustrated talk showing how you had to look at things like how people raised (or sort-or-raised) their arms for 'Heil Hitler' to have the slightest notion of what they were thinking. And as for troops, to judge from my own memories, what they were thinking was mainly: 'I want to hang the officers/get drunk/go home', which produced enough aggression to keep the crap going.
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Old November 5th, 2012, 06:48 AM   #10
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Koko the Monkey View Post
I tend to believe in Christopher Browning's Ordinary Men thesis, which is the idea that Germans fought and committed horrible acts because they were indifferent. The average man just did not care about German nationalism, nor did he care about the lives of Jews and others. Thus, nearly all Germans, even those who opposed Nazism, could be coerced into committing crimes or be silent as they occurred. World War Two and the Holocaust were carried out by an emotionless German populace, not an emotional one. Personally, its far more disturbing to think that the German people just didn't care about what was going on, than that they were passionately for it. Nazism is terrifying, but indifference is even scarier. An event such as WW2 and the Holocaust ought to inspire either support for the crimes or opposition to them. Instead, the German people were totally indifferent.

On a side note, Sacha Baron-Cohen's Borat character was inspired by Browning's Ordinary Men thesis. While at college, he was a student of Ian Kershaw, a noted historian and follower of Browning's theory. Baron-Cohen was so disturbed by the idea that people could just not have any emotion about the Holocaust, that he decided to create a character to show how even today, people can stand on the sides or be coerced into saying and doing horrible things because of their own indifference.
This thread has some very interesting comments. Because the US adopted the German model of bureaucracy and also the German model of education for technology, and I am thinking we are the same path Germany followed. The Military Industrial Complex established during President Eisenhower's term is what Hitler and Bush call the New World Order. We are no longer ordered by family order, and even if threw all our weapons in the oceans, we would still be ordered by this military order, because we have the institutions for it.

The 1960's social upheaval and the 1970 national youth crisis, followed the 1958 National Defense Education Act, that replaced our liberal education with the German model of education for technology, which was established before the first world war, and both time is about advancing military and industrial technology. Liberal education transmitted a culture, and education for technology, as my high school teacher said when the act was implemented, is for a technological society with unknown values.
The emotions are talking about are about values. The only shared value we have had for the 40 years is money, and following orders and policy.
We have made ourselves the valueless, mechanical society Germany was.

We have literally conditioned young minds to function differently. We replaced education for independent thinking with "group think". Some schools are adding logic, but for awhile logic was replaced by a focus on memorization. We went form the Conceptual Method to the Behaviorist Method, which is also used for training dogs.
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