help contrasting between America and WWII Germany

Feb 2012
12
West
I've read a lot of books about WWII in the past year, spanning from the end of WWI, the economic troubles, the war itself, and the aftermath. I unfortunately do not know anyone who has any interest in history, so I have no way of bouncing my thoughts off other people. The more I've read about the third reich, the more it seems to me that they tried, but failed to do what America did with its westward expansion and killing of the indians. So, if Germany had won they would have emerged with dominion over Europe as a superpower not so much unlike the United States. We are taught that WWII Germany is evil, but how were their aims different than that of the USA? Who are we to call them evil because we got away with it?
 

Rongo

Ad Honorem
Dec 2011
5,683
Ohio
Hmmm. Well, the Iroquois Indians wiped out the Erie Indians, so the Iroqouis Indians must have been Nazis. Then the Americans wiped out the Iroquois Indians, so, that makes us the good guys, right?
 
Nov 2010
7,890
Border of GA and AL
I've read a lot of books about WWII in the past year, spanning from the end of WWI, the economic troubles, the war itself, and the aftermath. I unfortunately do not know anyone who has any interest in history, so I have no way of bouncing my thoughts off other people. The more I've read about the third reich, the more it seems to me that they tried, but failed to do what America did with its westward expansion and killing of the indians. So, if Germany had won they would have emerged with dominion over Europe as a superpower not so much unlike the United States. We are taught that WWII Germany is evil, but how were their aims different than that of the USA? Who are we to call them evil because we got away with it?
I'm not one to call the Third Reich evil, as I don't believe in the concept, but the way the US expanded west and the Germans east were quite different. Unlike the German march east the Americans slowly spread west. In fact westward migration, despite a surge in the 1840s and 1850s, didn't take off until the 1870s with the building and completion of the Union Pacific Railroad. The Westward Migration members were constantly assailed by Indians such as the Sioux and Lakota, something that did not occur in Poland and Russia.

Another point is that while Americans did wipe out entire tribes in the name of Manifest Destiny, these tribes were small and spread out. In Europe the Germans marched and cleaned out entire sections of cities in Poland, the Ukraine, and Russia. Plus genocide was not the stated goal of the American government, just relocation of tribes into desolate, worthless pieces of land.
 

Rongo

Ad Honorem
Dec 2011
5,683
Ohio
I'm not one to call the Third Reich evil, as I don't believe in the concept, but the way the US expanded west and the Germans east were quite different. Unlike the German march east the Americans slowly spread west. In fact westward migration, despite a surge in the 1840s and 1850s, didn't take off until the 1870s with the building and completion of the Union Pacific Railroad. The Westward Migration members were constantly assailed by Indians such as the Sioux and Lakota, something that did not occur in Poland and Russia.
This is true. It was basically a state of war between the natives and the Americans. I don't remember hearing many stories of Jews scalping Nazis, or burning them at the stake, or attacking German villages and killing every man, woman and child in it. By the same token, I don't remember hearing many stories of Americans sending the Indians to gas chambers. Nor do I remember ever hearing of an official US government policy of extermination. What I do know is that 50 to 80% of Native Americans died because of diseases brought over by the white man to which they had no immunity.

Relations between the American settlers and the Native Americans is undoubtedly an ugly chapter in this country's history. And no doubt there were some Americans, including some in high places, who were just as awful as any Nazi ever was. But a much better comparison for the American people as a whole is to the Iroquois Nation, not the Nazis.
 

Jake10

Ad Honoris
Oct 2010
11,960
Canada
We also have to consider the time and situation. Americans expanded westward in a wild country, where slavery was still acceptable around the world. By the time the Nazis tried to enslave there was a global consensus banning it. Much the same way, rape was still far more accepted and common by all armies back in the 40s compared to today.
 
Mar 2010
1,327
Ohio
We've are at a point as a society where we judge the actions of our ancestors by our own 21st century morals, at which point it is easy for certain people to sling around words such as racist, barbaric and then throw the burden of guilt upon the decedents. I study history to understand the past, for my own selfish purposes, not to advance a political or social agenda. How someone without a political or social agenda can so easily categorize "good" and "evil" in this situation just don't make sense.

The Native Americans weren't the benevolent mass of stoicism and earthly innocence they are portrayed as. They raided, murdered, enslaved, kidnapped, tortured and cannibalized white settlers. Understanding the realities of the time I can understand how a 17th through 19th Christian European/American mindset could use dehumanizing terms such as savages and heathens to describe the Native American and I could understand the aggressive policies towards them. On the other hand, it was their land. So I can also understand without passing judgement, why the Indians, raided, murdered, enslaved, kidnapped, tortured and cannibalized white settlers.

What happened to the Native Americans is tragic, and unfortunate part of our history, but even more unfortunate is the inevitability of it. If it wasn't us it would have been someone else.

I cannot make such justifications towards the Nazi's. I cannot make sense of what they did.
 
Last edited:
Mar 2012
4
I've read a lot of books about WWII in the past year, spanning from the end of WWI, the economic troubles, the war itself, and the aftermath. I unfortunately do not know anyone who has any interest in history, so I have no way of bouncing my thoughts off other people. The more I've read about the third reich, the more it seems to me that they tried, but failed to do what America did with its westward expansion and killing of the indians. So, if Germany had won they would have emerged with dominion over Europe as a superpower not so much unlike the United States. We are taught that WWII Germany is evil, but how were their aims different than that of the USA? Who are we to call them evil because we got away with it?
Your so right,I also thought about this aswell. But unfortunatly 'Winners Rewrite History' even if it means lying and pointing the finger at the losing side.
 
Aug 2011
7,045
Texas
Your so right,I also thought about this aswell. But unfortunatly 'Winners Rewrite History' even if it means lying and pointing the finger at the losing side.
If you both think so, but you both would be entirely wrong... just as wrong for me too say that US efforts of civilizing the natives and honoring it myriad agreements were not only justified but a complete success.

There is a history here gentleman that drove each other to an end where revenge and domination became the only means left in settling this, most unfortunately. They both hated each other with all the passions that 19th century generalities could surmise and pretending either as being saints is beyond ridiculous. But, here we are....
 
Dec 2010
14
USA, Milwaukee
We've are at a point as a society where we judge the actions of our ancestors by our own 21st century morals, at which point it is easy for certain people to sling around words such as racist, barbaric and then throw the burden of guilt upon the decedents. I study history to understand the past, for my own selfish purposes, not to advance a political or social agenda. How someone without a political or social agenda can so easily categorize "good" and "evil" in this situation just don't make sense.

The Native Americans weren't the benevolent mass of stoicism and earthly innocence they are portrayed as. They raided, murdered, enslaved, kidnapped, tortured and cannibalized white settlers. Understanding the realities of the time I can understand how a 17th through 19th Christian European/American mindset could use dehumanizing terms such as savages and heathens to describe the Native American and I could understand the aggressive policies towards them. On the other hand, it was their land. So I can also understand without passing judgement, why the Indians, raided, murdered, enslaved, kidnapped, tortured and cannibalized white settlers.

What happened to the Native Americans is tragic, and unfortunate part of our history, but even more unfortunate is the inevitability of it. If it wasn't us it would have been someone else.

I cannot make such justifications towards the Nazi's. I cannot make sense of what they did.
Nice post. I have often wondered what would have happened had the Japanese "found" America first. What they would have done to the Nez Perce or the Blackfeet?