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How would you feel if you met a German WWII vet?

Discussion in 'Honor, Service and Valor' started by bobsmith76, Oct 20, 2014.

  1. Tomcat

    Tomcat The One From Down Under

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    It is never wise to assume anything mate. I am New Zealand born, Australia raised but British Isle Heritage. My generation of kids is the only ones born or raised of this country. My parents were both British born around 1950 and raised, Grandma was a young lady during the Blitz in 1940, one Granddad was a Paratrooper during overlord in the British army who later died from his wounds he recieved the other was a submariner with the Royal Navy and finally Grandma's dad too old to enlist was one of the Guys that walked london at night during the blitz ensuring that the blackout was strictly observed to ensure German bombers had nothing to target, while the other Great grandfather also to old to enlist worked in a munitions factory when it was bombed.

    It is true that I have never experienced war or in fact even neither of my two countries have been invaded and Australia only suffered piecemeal attacks compared to other nations, this naturally does allow me to remain a little more neutral. I however do not allow any type of prejuduce to fill my mind and do not assume that an German WW2 soldier is a Nazi or a war criminal and thus I treat them with the same respect of any other nation.

    I worked with a Japanese women once or upon learning of my interest in Australian WW2 History she volunteered an apology for her country and her father who was a Soldier during ww2 who fought against Australian troops at Kokoda. I was amazed and I told her you don't need to apologise for you father fighting for his country especially since the Japan of 1940 was a much different country then to now. I hold this true to a WW2 German Veteran.

    I agree that this topic is subjective and depends on one's history and experience.
     
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  2. GunSlinger86

    GunSlinger86 Active Member

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    This is just a personal perspective or opinion, but to me it's almost unbelievable that a highly modernized, civilized Western, cultured society would literally attack and try to do away with and murder other civilized modern Europeans in the ideal of the Nazis in such brutal ways let alone the people they considered unworthy of life, the fact that they thought they could make that decision, and try to overrun and take over sovereign established countries who did nothing to Germany to colonize them, so I would probably look at it from both POVs. And yes there is a difference between Nazi leadership's delusional plans and the ordinary soldier, but they did a heck of a job indoctrinating the Army and civilians as best they could.
     
  3. Dave55

    Dave55 Member Patron  

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    Agree. If you lie down with dogs, you get fleas.
     
  4. GunSlinger86

    GunSlinger86 Active Member

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    Even Rommel was indoctrinated to a degree, but he did not agree with nor support the Genocide and when he heard first hand accounts he agreed with the coup. Rommel and Albert Speer seem to get a pass with the Allies.
     
  5. Tamino

    Tamino Doc - The Deplorable

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    Speer was actually running the business in death camps, not Himmler. He has deserved to be hung on the first tree but he got away with it. Who knows why?

    As for Rommel - he voluntarily attended a course of the Nazi education. According to the German militarry tradition a German soldier should avoid any political engagement and he did it - voluntarily. He has started changing his Weltanschauung (Eng: world view) when he realized that the Third Reich was losing the war. He was just lucky that he served entirely against the Western Alies.
     
  6. GunSlinger86

    GunSlinger86 Active Member

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    I watched a special on Rommel where they mentioned he attended a Nazi education/political re-education for the military course and the special said it changed his outlook and that the military should start to think in political terms.
     
  7. GunSlinger86

    GunSlinger86 Active Member

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    Secrets of World War II- "What Happened to Rommel?"
     
  8. Admiral_Humaid

    Admiral_Humaid New Member

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    I remember I knew a friend whose grand-dad came in to talk about WW1 and that he captured a German prisoner and he knowing a bit of english talked a little. But not everyone was quite so nice.
     
  9. Smiley 2.0

    Smiley 2.0 Smiles

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    I read the book Band of Brothers recently, and at one point when they were advancing into Germany not long before E Company discovered the Nazi camp, they were driving along a road and there was this long, long line of German prisoners, described as if they were walking arrogantly and proudly as they were still conquerors despite the fact that is reversed this time
     
  10. Smiley 2.0

    Smiley 2.0 Smiles

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    I have always wanted to meet a German WWII veteran. My mom used to work in a nursing home a long time ago and she said that there was a resident who was very German. He told her that his son fought with the Germans during the war and was KIA. She said that because of that the man was very resentful of Hitler and Germany for forcing his son into the war.
     
  11. Admiral_Humaid

    Admiral_Humaid New Member

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    Rommel couldn't have got a pass with the Allies, Hitler forced him to suicide.
     
  12. KJ Jr

    KJ Jr Well-Known Member Patron  

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    I think the point was that, had he not committed suicide, he would of gotten pardon. Who knows.
     
  13. green slime

    green slime Member Patron  

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    Hardly a pardon.

    More likely, he'd never be indicted, or in the unlikely event that he was, he'd be acquitted. Which is very different thing from a pardon.

    Rommel
     
  14. CAC

    CAC Ace of Spades

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    Speer was asked a similar question upon his release...yes, release. He winked and replied 'never underestimate the power of charm'...he was likeable and could talk himself in or out of anything...but I'm sure he knew his guilt.
     
  15. KJ Jr

    KJ Jr Well-Known Member Patron  

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  16. Terry D

    Terry D Active Member

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    Unless I knew for a fact that a German veteran had done something particularly vicious or that he was still a Nazi I don't think I would treat him any differently than any other veteran. Many of these guys were not particularly ideological, and in the years after the war a great many more came to regret and be ashamed of the war, the Nazi regime, and their parts in both. Besides that, a huge number of German veterans paid heavily for their service and their support (however passive) of the regime. Those who were captured in the East spent years in the gulag. Others had their home towns bombed flat and/or lost relatives to the air raids. The men who came from the eastern provinces (Silesia, East Prussia, Pomerania) lost their homes entirely, and often found that the Soviets had murdered their relatives and raped the women among them. Many of them were left with crippling wounds, to say nothing of post-combat stress, alcoholism, etc. None of them who had any moral sense or conscience could wear their old uniforms or medals with pride. The younger generations grew up ignoring or scorning them and their experiences. As far as the ordinary German soldier goes, I think a lot of them experienced their fair share of cosmic justice for fighting in such an evil cause and I would not set myself up to judge such men further unless I had good reasons to do so (see first sentence, above). How did Churchill put it? "In victory, magnanimity." Besides that, I think human beings generally should receive common courtesy whether they deserve it or not.
     
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  17. KJ Jr

    KJ Jr Well-Known Member Patron  

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    Interesting sentence. You've taken a more supernatural approach here. :)
     
  18. Incessant

    Incessant New Member

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    This is an interesting topic. I will offer my opinion. I have traced some of my Jewish relatives to Auschwitz, so I consider myself affected and connected to the WWII.
    In my study, which is on-going, I have found that many in the Wehrmacht we dutifully serving their county. Some did not know anything about the atrocities taking place. Some knew and didn’t care. Some knew and did care. Some took a part in them. Some opted out of them. Rommel, who I respect, ignored orders from Hitler to ‘kill any Jewish soldiers & civilians’ they captured in Africa.

    Most of the research I have done lends credence to the “following orders” mentality. I find this viable. In countless interviews with those involved in the death camps, its apparent that this was a job for them. It wasn’t a maniacal mass murder with severe mental issues running around killing people, nor did the German people start digging ditches and rounding up hundreds of Jews on their own accord. These were regular Germans, with families who loved their country and their führer, who believed what they were told. 'The Jews are the problem it is our duty to save Germany by ridding ourselves of them.'
    I never got the sense that there was pleasure gained by those from murdering millions. It was pleasure gained from doing their job successfully, pleasing the führer and furthering Germany in its conquest.
    The murders also clearly bothered some Soldiers, as the camps were created in part due to field reports that the soldiers were not handling the killing of innocents very well.

    There was also inherent anti-Semitism in Germany and other parts of Europe long before Hitler came to power. So you could say that Germany was ripe for the task, pre-conditioned, fertilized and grown into a hate machine through Hitler’s amazing use of propaganda and scapegoating the Jews as the problem.

    Hitler did such a great job of “de-humanizing” Jews through segregation and the Nuremberg Laws. It took many years of this for the German people to fully accept Jews as the problem. (not that every German did). These laws passed in 1935. So after Jews had been stripped of rights, wealth, property, business and citizenship- it was easier to sell them off as ‘sub-human’ to the rest of Germany. It took a lot of careful crafting to gain the level of anti-Semitic support he needed.
    However even after all of that, he only trusted the most devout Nazis (the SS) with the task of the elimination of the Jews, and this was purposefully done out of public view.

    It’s would be easiest to say that many Germans during WWII are guilty of accessory to murder, because they heard about it, or knew it was going on, yet did nothing. Maybe they were not anti-Semitic enough to kill, but enough to not do anything to stop it.

    However it’s also worth mentioning that the Nazi Party had 8 million members at peak with a population of 70 million Germans. That’s 11-12%. So most German’s were not Nazis. That does not mean they weren’t anti-Semitic.

    Now back to the question of a meeting a German WWII Veteran. The question of Nazism and the Wehrmacht arises. There is a Wiki page that talks about this. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Nazism_and_the_Wehrmacht
    Reading this makes it sound like a lot of normal German soldiers committed terrible crimes against humanity, not just SS or devout Nazis.

    I believe most of them fought bravely for their country and did their duty. I believe they thought their actions were vital for the struggle of their people.
    I would be eager to learn their views and opinions from the German perspective.

    I think it’s vital for all of us to continue seeking answers as to how this happened, why it happened, never forget it happened and hopefully prevent it from happening again.

    I fear the day when no one is left to explain what happened first hand. Because the further removed from it we get, the easier it becomes to forget.

    -incessant
     
  19. Guni

    Guni New Member

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    I would be absolutely grateful and full of questions if I was ever to meet a veteran of WW2. No matter the side he fought for. Those were crazy times and every soldier followed orders (as one is supposed to). The Allies fought to free countries and people, NS Germany fought to follow their leader's ambitions (keep in mind that A.H. abolished unemployment of over 70% and the Germans praised him).
    My oppinion is that every veteran should be honored for fighting and defending his/her's people and motherland! (I do not approve atrocities of war and abuse of humans)
     
  20. Tamino

    Tamino Doc - The Deplorable

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    Recently I watched a documentary where a British 11th Armoured Division veteran spoke about the deliberation of Bergen Belsen concentration camp. Many years after the war he was visibly affected by what he has seen. He couldn't hold tears many years afer he has seen what was "normal" practice in the Nazi Germany.

    German citizens of the nearest town Bergen were completely indifferent, guards explained that they just did their duty. Others didn't care at all. Many of them denied that murders have ever happened.

    I can see the difference and I am not indifferent. I am gratefull to all British soldiers. We all owe them a great deal. :salute:
     

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