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Old November 7th, 2012, 12:13 PM   #11

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Toomtabard, what a loathsome attitude...
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Old November 7th, 2012, 12:17 PM   #12

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Originally Posted by Naomasa298 View Post
I have to say, I have that book and I found it quite boring. Given the subject matter, it's probably hard for it to go in to a great deal of depth as I don't imagine many of the executioners who survived the war would want to talk about what they did, for fear of retribution, but I was expecting more personal stories about why they did what they did and how it affected them.
Yea this is a fair critique but as far as arguing that they were ordinary people, the book was very persuasive and I have not come across anything like it. It's got to be one of the more relevant books for the purpose of the OP, at least in terms of the social, political and economic background to how normal German people were turned into mass murderers. I agree completely though, more personal stories would really be fascinating but, as you say, there are too few of them.
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Old November 7th, 2012, 12:17 PM   #13
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Fair comment. Of course there were rumors and people who knew people that had seen what was being done behind the lines. But when you are marching along or cowering in a foxhole i am not too sure that politics or the much fantasised international jewish conspiracy was the main topic of conversation.

Not much in the way of heil Hitler and long live the Furher in this letter home.

Lone Sentry: German Soldier Describes Terror of Sicily Retreat (WWII Intelligence Bulletin, November 1943)
Remember its not just the organized stuff (Jews, gays, priests, etc.). The military had an extended policy of brutalization of their slavic prisoners, and the general civilian population. Summary executions on a mass scale, burning of villages and cities, all these were common.

The military liked to foster a myth that they weren't involved but it was just that, a myth.
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Old November 7th, 2012, 12:19 PM   #14

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Its hard to imagine that on the Western Front, German soldiers knew what was happening to Jews. They probably knew that Petain, Quisling, and the collaborators in the Netherlands were deporting Jews, but I doubt they knew the Jews were being sent to death factories.

On the other hand, basically any German soldier on the Eastern Front knew about the Holocaust, and they'd be lying if they claimed they didn't. Executions of Soviet prisoners of war were commonplace, Jews were routinely rounded up and killed by the SS and their allies (generally Ukrainians, Balts, and Croats), and the Croats even operated their own German-supervised concentration camp system to exterminate the Serbs. Not to mention the amount of raping being carried out by your average German soldier. It's also fascinating to see pictures and hear accounts of large numbers of German troops using their free time to watch executions being carried out by the Einsatzgruppen.
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Old November 7th, 2012, 12:27 PM   #15

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Remember its not just the organized stuff (Jews, gays, priests, etc.). The military had an extended policy of brutalization of their slavic prisoners, and the general civilian population. Summary executions on a mass scale, burning of villages and cities, all these were common.

The military liked to foster a myth that they weren't involved but it was just that, a myth.
That's undoubtedly true. The military had a hand in terrorizing the people in the Eastern Occupied Territories. And not that this makes it excusable but so did the Soviet Partisans and the Red Army themselves.

Your not wrong though, Nazism has an immense capacity to exacerbate violence and I think it's not so hard to prove. What we can't do is simply white wash an entire group of Wehrmacht grunts as participating directly and intentionally in the Final Solution. This is simply not the understanding we should adopt and is far too simplistic to describe the attitudes and actions millions of individuals IMO. Not to mention these last to points. 1. Many camps and death squads were composed of nationalities other than German 2. It's not exactly fair to say that if you saw signs of genocide being persecuted by your comrades whilst you too are in the middle of a war, you were complicit or morally culpable in their actions. What are you supposed to do? Shoot your buddies, free the Jews and walk away? Not likely.

I think all nations involved in WWII had to be guilty of some sort of atrocity but, it seems to me, that many forget this because Germans were particularly and egregiously guilty the of mass murder of a specific ethnic grouping. That said, I think some countries managed to keep their hands pretty clean, perhaps because they only played a small part in the war itself.

Last edited by hisstoryin; November 7th, 2012 at 12:45 PM.
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Old November 7th, 2012, 12:33 PM   #16
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Agreed.
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Old November 7th, 2012, 01:24 PM   #17
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On the other hand, basically any German soldier on the Eastern Front knew about the Holocaust, and they'd be lying if they claimed they didn't. Executions of Soviet prisoners of war were commonplace, Jews were routinely rounded up and killed by the SS and their allies (generally Ukrainians, Balts, and Croats), and the Croats even operated their own German-supervised concentration camp system to exterminate the Serbs. Not to mention the amount of raping being carried out by your average German soldier. It's also fascinating to see pictures and hear accounts of large numbers of German troops using their free time to watch executions being carried out by the Einsatzgruppen.
but because of german war crimes were committed 90% hunreds of km-s behind the frontline they usually saw soviet war crimes against german soldiers/german pow's/civil population+ the german media was full of russian crimes not germans.
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Old November 7th, 2012, 01:43 PM   #18

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Wehrmacht officers undoubtedly did see what was going on in many instances. A few chose to try and do something about it, although most did not.

Karl_Plagge Karl_Plagge


To suggest that the Wehrmacht - particularly officers in the East, as others have said - did not know about it simply beggars belief. Given that the Waffen-SS took part in a number of actions, such as the liquidation of the Warsaw ghetto, and Waffen-SS soldiers served alongside Wehrmacht personnel, it is highly unlikely that the whole thing could have been kept secret, although some people may have been able to justify it to themselves as reprisal actions against "bandits".
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Old November 7th, 2012, 03:21 PM   #19
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My father was a forced “slave labourer” in III Reich. According to him, and he was a keen observer with fluent knowledge of German language, there was a common knowledge of extermination policies of Nazi leadership. As certainly not all German supported these policies, overwhelming majority were indifferent.


During the Nazis T-4 ( http://www.life.org.nz/euthanasia/abouteuthanasia/history-euthanasia6/Default.htm )
program of euthanasia of mentally sick and disabled German citizens, German Religious Group strongly opposed implementation of this program.

There was no such opposition against the “final Solution” despite common knowledge of treatment of Jews and other east European nations.
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Old November 7th, 2012, 04:24 PM   #20

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Yeah, they knew.
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