*Hitler’s Soldiers*

by on September 25, 2016 at 11:37 am in Books, History, Political Science | Permalink

The author is Ben H. Shepherd and the subtitle is The German Army in the Third Reich.  That may seem like a timeworn topic, but I found this book consistently fresh and interesting, also well-written, analytic throughout, one of the year’s best non-fiction studies.  Here is one bit:

Two occupied populations whom the German army particularly tried to cultivate were the Muslim peoples of the Crimea and the Caucasus.  The Sunni Tatars comprised a quarter of the Crimea’s population, and German army administrators saw them, as they would also come to see their Muslim brethren in the Caucasus, as presenting an opportunity to woo Islam in the Soviet Union for political and military gain.  The Germans granted the Tatars religious rights and concessions and reintroduced major religious holidays, and Manstein’s otherwise infamous November 1941 order required his troops to treat the Tatars with respect…the Germans appointed a Muslim committee to re-establish the religious infrastructure.

…Yet the failings of German occupation were soon apparent to these Muslim peoples.

Overall the message is that the German army was less effective and less moral [sic] than many other historians had suggested.  Recommended.

1 Jamie_NYC September 25, 2016 at 12:02 pm

“Hitler’s soldiers” – is this post about Trump’s supporters?

2 steve September 25, 2016 at 12:06 pm

Nope. Trump supporters are effective, and we already know they are less moral. Don’t need a book to know that.

3 Some Guy September 25, 2016 at 1:18 pm

When men with beards are throwing you off a building, I’ll be the guy not caring.

4 mikefoo September 25, 2016 at 6:50 pm

Men with beards? So what, like, hipsters? Lumberjacks? Why on earth would lumberjacks want to throw him off a building? What did he ever do to them?

5 prior_test2 September 25, 2016 at 12:23 pm

No, it is a book about German soldiers in WWII, including the large range of the atrocities they committed.

Why would anyone think otherwise? History isn’t all about Trump, strange as that might seem to some commenters here.

6 anon September 25, 2016 at 1:31 pm
7 Baby Fark McGeezacks September 25, 2016 at 3:23 pm

From the article:

“Jesus preached a gospel of compassion and human dignity, gratitude and grace, he reached out to the widow and the orphan, the stranger and the dispossessed.”

Great that we have the Jews always eager to tell us what our bible says. We can be sure they read it with a 100% unbiased eye. They aren’t too keen, however, on the goyim reading their Talmud:

The terms of the disputation demanded that the four rabbis defend the Talmud against Donin’s accusations that the Talmud contains blasphemies against the Christian religion, attacks on Christians themselves, blasphemies against God, and obscene folklore. The attacks on Christianity were from passages referencing Jesus and Mary. There is a passage, for example, of someone named Jesus who was sent to Hell to be boiled in excrement for eternity. The Jews denied that this is the Jesus of the Bible, stating “not every Louis born in France is king.”[9]

Hyam Maccoby gives his opinion that the Jewish representatives in the Paris disputation were less than forthcoming. There are ancient Jewish polemics against the Jesus of Christianity such as the Toledot Yeshu, and the Jesus who was portrayed in the Talmud fits that portrayal. Among the obscene and odd folklore, there are passages that Og of Bashan was a giant. There is also a story that Adam copulated with each of the animals before finding Eve. Noah, according to the Talmudic legends, was castrated by his son Ham.[10] It was common for Christians to equate the religion of the Jews with the Israelite Mosaic Faith of the Old Testament. The Church was therefore surprised to realize that the Jews had developed an authoritative Talmud to complement their understanding of the Bible. Maccoby believed that the purpose of the Paris disputation was to rid the Jews of their belief in the Talmud, in order that they might return to Old Testament Judaism and eventually embrace Christianity.[11]

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Disputation_of_Paris

8 anon September 25, 2016 at 7:01 pm

Kind of a dark moment in MR and US history. I guy quotes a bit of 13th century history, to explain that we can’t trust Jews today who say Jesus was about compassion .. and not a peep.

Take a stand, people.

9 So Much For Subtlety September 25, 2016 at 7:26 pm

Why should anyone here take a stand? This is just the Left’s usual smear by association. Am I my brother’s keeper? Perhaps but he is not my brother. He is some random guy on the internet. Who said something a little borderline. Are you trying to imply that the rest of us are equally guilty unless we sign up to your politics?

I don’t like that sort of manipulative passive-aggressive bullying. Especially as the Left is indifferent to much worse. They do not mind actual murderers like Bill Ayers. They shower awards on KGB functionaries like Zygmunt Bauman. What is your moral standing to demand anything?

As sketchy as his comment was, it was actually interesting as it touched on an area little discussed. Presumably because of accusations, with varying degrees of justification, of anti-semitism.

10 anon September 25, 2016 at 7:37 pm

It is pretty easy to invent an alias and say “no, that is a bridge too far, that is not where we want America to be in 2016.”

Instead what, you call the antisemitism “a little borderline” and then turn on your real enemies, the liberals.

Is that just MR, or is that the subtext of this election? Does it relate well to the Jewish Journal article?

11 Josh September 25, 2016 at 7:48 pm

Well, really, anon, concern trolling is concern trolling no matter the century.

12 anon September 25, 2016 at 7:54 pm

Explain that one liner Josh, do you believe that the Jewish Journal article was out of line?

Or was it good, but you dislike it, and so antisemitism will serve?

13 So Much For Subtlety September 25, 2016 at 7:56 pm

anon September 25, 2016 at 7:37 pm

It might be easy to do so. That is irrelevant. The issue is, as you say, where we want America to be in 2016. I do not want it to be a place where Brendan Eich is driven out of his job for a perfectly legal, and small, donation to a political campaign. You want to insist that everyone has some sort of moral obligation to join your political crusade? Why? Especially when it is so one sided. There is no equivalent to denounce someone with actual blood on their hands. But perhaps I misjudge you. How would you like to distance yourself from Ericka Huggins – who is on tape taking part in the torture and murder of Alex Rackley? Again the Left’s double standards are obvious as Huggins, like many other former terrorists, has gone into academia and has been rewarded with nice jobs in the Californian college system and plum gigs at Stanford, Cornell and UCLA.

I did not turn on my real enemies. The remaining anti-semites are a tiny minority of people. I would expect that most people could live their entire lives in the West and not come across any anti-semitism outside of academia and the Muslim immigrant community. What is the point? Why insist on flogging a horse that is long dead? His views were not grossly offensive. They are just borderline.

The real problem remains your use of those comments to insist that we all have to enroll in the Left’s Cultural Revolution – denounce or be denounced. Because the totalitarian Left is not a tiny minority and they are a very real danger to everyone. Why is that where anyone would want America to be in 2016?

14 anon September 25, 2016 at 7:58 pm

What I’m worried is, the bigots have captured the right in this way: When right-bigots speak, anyone countering them is seen as countering the “right” part, as well as the “bigot” part, and the right closes ranks.

To address bigotry becomes nothing more than concern trolling.

15 Baby Fark McGeezacks September 25, 2016 at 8:10 pm

I somewhat regret the shrillness of my comment, especially given the context in an article about WWII. I do not suggest that Jews are especially evil or untrustworthy, but they an extraordinarily tone-deaf people. If you are a gentile, I dare you to go lecture a bunch of rabbis about what their religion really says. It is easy to imagine how wounded and offended they would be, for watching Jews getting offended at things is a constant in our culture. But then Jews go and try to lecture Christians about Christianity and wonder why they receive a hostile reaction. The idea that they might try to imagine it from the goy’s perspective, that never occurs to them. Whites are constantly told them must try to imagine it from the non-White perspective, to avoid giving offense, while minorities, living in a still majority-White society, are forced by this to imagine how their actions come across to the Whites they interact with. But Jews, due to their Whiteness, are able to act without the majority of the goys consciously noticing their ethnicity.

16 So Much For Subtlety September 25, 2016 at 8:13 pm

And what I am concerned about is the way that the Left exploits racism to smear the entire Right. If you want to denounce racism, by all means, be my guest.

But when you insist that somehow the Republicans are to blame for the Democrat’s former policies and must abase themselves, I think you go too far. This is why Trump is doing well. The Establishment Republicans are whipped and only too happy to push the Democrat agenda that the Republicans are to blame for what the Democrats did. The Republicans have never closed ranks to defend racism. They are the party of the Civil Rights Act and the NAACP after all. I see no reason to further this dishonest discourse. To assert I have an obligation to denounce is to imply there is some connection. I do not agree with that. If you want to have a sensible discussion you need to acknowledge that.

This is the flip side of the debate on the German Army. For political reasons the West pretended the German Army had nothing to do with the Nazis. For political reasons the Left has insisted that there was no difference with the SS. Reality is somewhere in the middle. The American Right has nothing to do with anti-semitism but for political reasons these demands to denounce is a passive aggressive way of insisting they are the KKK in suits.

17 anon September 26, 2016 at 8:15 am

The “accusation” was that “Jesus preached a gospel of compassion and human dignity, gratitude and grace, he reached out to the widow and the orphan, the stranger and the dispossessed.”

Is that wrong? It strikes me as really strange that someone would say Christians don’t aspire to those values

And my whole point, So Much is that it is EASY to say “I don’t like antisemitism, and I don’t see a conflict with my conservative values.”

But on you go again thinking that someone who is not liberal, must be, because he opposes antisemitism.

Revealing.

18 anon September 26, 2016 at 8:28 am

We are so screwed. Pack Republicans when confronted with the deplorable will put on a “I’m deplorable” t-shirt rather than take it on.

At this point a Trump Presidency can become anything. There are no values, only loyalty to the party.

19 anon September 26, 2016 at 8:33 am

Historical note: I am an independent ex-Republican, who sees through the whole thing. Definitely not a leftist or socialist looking forward to government give-always.

20 Jason Bayz September 26, 2016 at 11:34 am

“Historical note: I am an independent ex-Republican, who sees through the whole thing. Definitely not a leftist or socialist looking forward to government give-always.”

Possible, but it sounds a lot like concern trolling.

21 anon September 26, 2016 at 3:03 pm

What even is concern trolling at this point? A reminder that morality should be stronger than day to day politics?

I could say look at this forum, Tyler. This is what happens when you give bigotry a place in the sun, and don’t prune for healthy growth.

I could also call this the end stage of .. no they did it better

https://www.theguardian.com/news/2016/aug/16/secret-history-trumpism-donald-trump

22 anon September 26, 2016 at 3:19 pm

Seriously folks, this is the year that actual trolls started sending Jewish writers on Twitter images of gas chambers.

If your takeaway from that is “concern trolling,” you might need to adjust your moral constellation.

23 Thomas September 27, 2016 at 4:07 pm

The left has been sending death threats for decades. The left is currently working on making violence against the right acceptable. “The only response to a microaggression is a macroaggression”. The left has armed “antifa” groups clad in black, funded by Trotskyites and Soros, traveling the country to attack white people and conservatives. Your concern is about a claim that Rabbis dislike Christians explaining judaism? Who do you think bussed in those outside rioters to Charlotte, the ones who attempted murder with stones on a highway overpass and apparently tried to light a journalist on fire. Who? Was it some right wing internet commenter, or was it a leftist group funded by George Soros ?

Gtfo

24 prior_test2 September 25, 2016 at 12:16 pm

‘and less moral [sic] than many other historians had suggested’

First, how can anyone actually sic themselves?

Second, most of the historians (ever so coincidentally, many of them German, who again ever so coincidentally, had also been supporters of the Dolchstoss theory) suggesting that the Wehrmacht was honorable had a not so subtle agenda, which luckily fit perfectly into the developing Cold War narrative that required a solid German cadre of devoted anti-communists to help rebuild the army that so valiantly slaughtered its way almost all the way to Moscow.

It took a solid 50 years, and the fall of the Soviet Empire, to start to effectively demolish the comforting myth of an honorable Wehrmacht only doing its duty to defend the Fatherland. An ongoing process, apparently. For a quick overview, there is always this wikipedia link – https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/War_crimes_of_the_Wehrmacht

I knew a German Lutheran priest who talked a bit about this, in the sense of just how willfully ignorant most Germans, at least in this area, wished to remain when talking about the reality of what German soldiers did in WWII. As is generally the case with priests, one of his duties was to spend time with the dying in their final hours. Often, the brother/father/grandfather/uncle/great-uncle would begin to say something about wanting forgiveness, telling the priest that they had been involved in horrible things. At which point, the family would do their best to keep their brother/father/grandfather/uncle/great-uncle from talking on their deathbed, and if the dying person insisted on talking with the priest, they would leave the room so as not to hear the truth. He was not a Catholic priest, and he was not performing confession, but I never asked him about any details concerning atrocities – we both knew the details were not important in this case, as the point of the discussion was the behavior of the surviving family members.

(To be pedantic concerning the first point, from the wiki article – ‘The Latin adverb sic (“thus”; in full: sic erat scriptum, “thus was it written”) inserted after a quoted word or passage, indicates that the quoted matter has been transcribed exactly as found in the source text, complete with any erroneous or archaic spelling, surprising assertion, faulty reasoning, or other matter that might otherwise be taken as an error of transcription.

The usual usage is to inform the reader that any errors or apparent errors in quoted material do not arise from errors in the course of the transcription, but are intentionally reproduced, exactly as they appear in the source text. It is generally placed inside brackets to indicate that it is not part of the quoted matter.

Sic may also be used derisively, to call attention to the original writer’s spelling mistakes or erroneous logic.’)

25 rayward September 25, 2016 at 12:54 pm

I think the sic is Cowen’s way of questioning the “less moral” depiction of the German army by the author: “less moral” compared to what, beelzebub? There was nothing moral about the German army, so it’s impossible to describe the German army as “less moral”. Not even the Church in Germany condemned the Germans. Dietrich Bonhoeffer did, for which he saved his soul but lost his life. That America chose to appease the Germans after the end of WWII as necessary to resist the Godless Communists reveals that we too are “less moral [sic] than many other historians had suggested”.

26 prior_test2 September 25, 2016 at 1:32 pm

Sure, but it is such a complete misuse of sic that one would almost be forced to write ‘and less moral [sic] [sic] than many other historians had suggested’ when quoting the passage, because the term sic is used so incorrectly that it would appear to be a transcription/quotation error which would be worth noting when trying to accurately reflect what he actually wrote.

Something Prof. Cowen, who just happens to be a published academic member of the GMU econ dept. with a reputation as a voracious reader, would seemingly be aware of.

27 Jacques René Giguère September 25, 2016 at 12:32 pm

They also try to cultivate Bosnics Muslims. But, for reasons thet called them Croatische, not to be confused with the Croation Oustachis vassal state. It ended with the same results. You cannot long reconcile your need for native levies with the contemps in which you hold them.

28 Jim September 25, 2016 at 1:18 pm

At the Houston Holocaust museum a Hungarian Jewish survivor wonders out loud how 200 Nazi soldiers deported 1/2M Jews and said the Hungarian police, politicians, clergy etc helped.

The immoral ones are always the power elite of any society who are both liars and hypocrites.

Jewish persecution goes back to the dawn of time when they couldn’t even own land (theory as to why they r so smart as had to get by on wits and not property). And to see the Nazis as the only ones is to see America as the inventor of slavery. All this (following orders, war, taxes, slavery, religion, nation states) is a simple byproduct of man being the only animal aware of mortality.

Regarding Hitler all German historians try to impart to the populace that it was the people who elevated him to power, not Hitler hypnotizing them.

And regarding the defeat of the Nazis it was the Russians, not Allies, who lost soldiers at 6-1 ratio.

29 derek September 25, 2016 at 1:56 pm

The Canadians who were among those invading Italy in WWII found the priests in the villages the worst. The populace and businesses were glad to see the Nazis gone.

If you read books about the OSS their experiences in places invaded by Germany were that it was easy to find people who would hide them, but in Germany itself they were in constant danger because there were no places to go that would accept and protect them.

The most frightening aspect of the Nazi rise to power is how mundane the whole thing was. Hitler and Goebbels were common politicians unrestrained by a failed and discredited political institutional structure. The Weimar Republic was enlightened but useless, the monetary authorities were dangerous, while the Military had the only structure available.

If Adolph Hitler had been term limited to 8 years he would be a hero to the Germans and National Socialism would have characterized the last half of the 20th century.

That is what is particularly dangerous right now. The institutional lethargy and resilience would keep a lid on the stupidity of Bush, Clinton and Obama. And would make life miserable for Hillary and Trump. But it seems there is a whole swathe of powerful people who are detached from either reality or their own countries interests. The FBI is worse than any time in it’s history; J Edgar Hoover was feared by the politicians rather than the other way around. Did Comey find a horse head in his bed one night and not tell us?

I think Clinton would be a disaster, cementing the politicized IRS and FBI. Essentially Chicago ward politics writ large. Trump elicits the right fear of power, the careful mistrust and desire to oppose and contain. The media will report every mishap and misstatement, the Congress will flex it’s muscle, the Courts will jump on the opportunities to limit his excesses, and the civil service will actively constrain his actions. All constrained by the Populist Trump’s ability to harness the voice of the people. The US Constitution working as designed. None of these will do anything remotely if Clinton is President. Trump would strengthen the institutions by forcing them to act. Clinton would not.

30 Art Deco September 25, 2016 at 2:10 pm

I think Clinton would be a disaster, cementing the politicized IRS and FBI. Essentially Chicago ward politics writ large.

Nope. Alinskyite lawfare with public money. Neither BO nor HRC have any experience with Chicago ward politics, nor do they have the people skills (or interest in flesh-and-blood human beings) to thrive in that sort of environment. (Btw, Richard J. Daley was an exceedingly decent man in his mundane life).

31 Alex from Germany September 25, 2016 at 5:43 pm

“The most frightening aspect of the Nazi rise to power is how mundane the whole thing was.”

https://www.amazon.com/Why-Germans-Jews-Prehistory-Holocaust/dp/0805097007/ – Best read in my opinion about the aspect that you touch. Imagine the inequality debate with a spin where the 1% are not only distinguishable from the 99% by wealth, but also by factors of race or religion.

32 So Much For Subtlety September 25, 2016 at 7:40 pm

The inequality debate is not taking place where the 1% is distinguishable by race and religion? At least in the US I would think it is.

The Democrats are an odd coalition. When they talk about the 1% to Blacks, of course everyone knows they are not talking about the Black 1%. But they also have strong support from American Jews. Who are disproportionately in the 1%. When Hillary raises money from Goldman Sacks and Hollywood, it is the 1% voting against their own interests.

I would assume if you asked Hillary’s wealthy supporters are reasonable number would say that she doesn’t mean them. She means people like George H. W. Bush. That is, they see themselves as a traditionally oppressed community, not part of the 1%. I would think a reasonable proportion of that reasonable number fully expect some sort of special arrangement that would make sure they do not pay higher taxes but Old Money does. Look at Affirmative Action. As it works in practice, it is about punishing people who vote Republican and rewarding people who vote Democrat. If they meant it, they would remove poor Whites from Appalachia from the same category as rich Jewish people from New York. As they did in California with Asians.

33 Art Deco September 25, 2016 at 2:13 pm

The immoral ones are always the power elite of any society who are both liars and hypocrites.

Public policy in Hungary was escalatingly anti-semitic during the period running from 1919 to 1941, but not murderous. Any co-operation between Hungarian officials and the Nazis prior to the Arrow Cross regime of 1944-45 was coerced.

34 sort_of_Knowledgeable September 25, 2016 at 3:14 pm

It’s true that most of the Nazis military was concentrated on the Russians, but the soldier loss ratio is a bad metric to use. The Chinese had a large loss ratio to the Japanese, but they weren’t the principal reason the Japanese were defeated. Wars are won not by dying for your country, but making the other poor bastard die for his country.

35 prior_test2 September 25, 2016 at 2:20 pm

This seems relevant enough to include in a discussion of Hitler’s drug using soldiers, particularly this interesting tidbit – ‘Was Blitzkreig, then, largely the result of the Wehrmacht’s reliance on crystal meth? How far is Ohler willing to go with this? He smiles. “Well, Mommsen always told me not to be mono-causal. But the invasion of France was made possible by the drugs. No drugs, no invasion. When Hitler heard about the plan to invade through Ardennes, he loved it [the allies were massed in northern Belgium]. But the high command said: it’s not possible, at night we have to rest, and they [the allies] will retreat and we will be stuck in the mountains. But then the stimulant decree was released, and that enabled them to stay awake for three days and three nights. Rommel [who then led one of the panzer divisions] and all those tank commanders were high – and without the tanks, they certainly wouldn’t have won.”’ https://www.theguardian.com/books/2016/sep/25/blitzed-norman-ohler-adolf-hitler-nazi-drug-abuse-interview

36 Art Deco September 25, 2016 at 2:28 pm

f Adolph Hitler had been term limited to 8 years he would be a hero to the Germans and National Socialism would have characterized the last half of the 20th century.

No, if Hitler had had the sense to quit while he was ahead. He actually believed that mess about lebensraum.

37 byomtov September 25, 2016 at 3:11 pm

What historians have claimed that the Wehrmacht was in any way “moral?” Don’t get me wrong. There probably are some. I’m just curious as to who they are.

38 So Much For Subtlety September 25, 2016 at 6:30 pm

It is a perfectly mainstream opinion to view the German Army as essentially gentlemen fighting a decent war. As they mostly did in the West. It would be easier to list those that did not. As p_a says, this was helpful in the Cold War when those German soldiers were needed again to keep the Soviets to their side of the inner German border.

The converse of that, of course, is that the view of the German Army as immoral as the SS certainly served the Soviet Union and presumably that is why the Left pushes it – and why people like p_a think it is a condemnation to say the West needed those soldiers.

While the German Army certainly did bad things, the bottom line is that it remained a place where decent people could serve. It was not like the Soviet Army which morally corrupted all who served. Which required moral corruption. As a result Soviet atrocities were always much more significant and more widespread than German ones on the battlefield.

A historian you might be interested in would be Frank Ellis Barbarossa which points out that Hitler’s atrocities started much later than Stalin’s. Even before the war started, Stalin’s soldiers were murdering Polish prisoners of war – whom they refused to consider as prisoners of war – simply for being Polish patriots. Katyn took place a long time before German soldiers entered Russian territory. What are you supposed to do with people who do not respect the laws of war? If Stalin refused to fight a clean war, why should the Germans?

39 chuck martel September 25, 2016 at 7:36 pm

Where does Vichy fit into all this? Since the Krauts occupied only a portion of France and the French government itself administered the rest, who was responsible for the atrocities committed in the unoccupied zone? Take your time, the answer will come to you. And, since the French government was the government in place, what would be the status of the French resistance? Wouldn’t they have been defined as traitors or perhaps “terrorists”?

40 So Much For Subtlety September 25, 2016 at 8:04 pm

I don’t know where Vichy fits into this. The French have, and have been allowed to get away with, pretending that Vichy was an irrelevant aberration with the “real” France was in London. They have not had the introspection that the Germans have.

No matter who was responsible for what the French did in their zone, the German Army did not do it. Everyone who was occupied by the Germans – enabled of course by the German Army – had to deal with a state now turned to criminal ends. Usually obeying the law and the lawful authorities is a good thing. Some people, I would guess, knew those ends were criminal. Some did not know but must have suspected. Either way the habits of lawful authority were very deep. When a policemen asks you to put your hands up, most of us have been taught from an early age to obey. Most of us don’t even jaywalk. Normally, that is a good thing.

Presumably if the French had lost, the Free French would have been called traitors and terrorists. Obviously.

41 byomtov September 25, 2016 at 9:18 pm

No matter who was responsible for what the French did in their zone, the German Army did not do it.

No. Of course not. They were nowhere near the scene. Probably home sleeping.

Look, I hold no brief for Vichy. They were as bad as Chuck suggests. But to pretend that the German army had nothing to do with their behavior is stupid.

42 Baby Fark McGeezacks September 25, 2016 at 8:31 pm

Can’t you make the same argument for the Red Army as well. Just as the SS performed most of the killing among the Germans, it was the NKVD, not the Red Army, who committed the massacre at Katyn, operated the Gulags, ect.

43 Sam Haysom September 25, 2016 at 10:01 pm

Except it wasn’t just the NKVD that raped its away across a continent.

44 byomtov September 25, 2016 at 9:07 pm

The converse of that, of course, is that the view of the German Army as immoral as the SS certainly served the Soviet Union and presumably that is why the Left pushes it

Or maybe “the Left” and others push it because it’s true.

Whatever the behavior of individual soldiers, there is no doubt that the Wehrmacht was a deeply immoral organization, clearly complicit in Nazi crimes. Were the top generals unaware of what the regime was doing, of SS activities? Of course not. And even if they were, they were still fighting a war of aggression. No one can seriously claim that Germany in WWII was fighting in self-defense.

As to Wehrmacht vs. SS, If I break down the door of a house, intending “only” to rob it, and my known-to-be-murderous friend runs in and kills the inhabitants, am I not culpable? To pretend that the Wehrmacht was simply an honorable army is ludicrous.

Do Stalin’s crimes justify Hitler’s? I don’t think so.

45 Sam Haysom September 25, 2016 at 10:04 pm

Then why were Hitler’s crimes allowed by your allies to justify Stalin’s crimes.

46 Nigel September 26, 2016 at 8:03 am

Stalin’s crimes were part of what enabled Hitler’s crimes.

47 byomtov September 26, 2016 at 10:16 am

How did they do that, exactly?

48 byomtov September 25, 2016 at 9:09 pm

to view the German Army as essentially gentlemen fighting a decent war.

Leaving all else aside, which is quite a stretch, when did wars of conquest become “decent” wars?

49 John Smith September 26, 2016 at 2:04 am

Since the existence of human history?

50 Nigel September 26, 2016 at 8:02 am

Except they weren’t fighting a war of conquest; rather one of racial annihilation.

51 prior_test2 September 26, 2016 at 12:49 am

‘and why people like p_a think it is a condemnation to say the West needed those soldiers’

Oddly, to say that in 1949 the ‘West’ needed the Nazi Army to defend itself against the Soviets would have been considered bizarre – after all, much of the ‘West’ had just spent years being occupied by those same soldiers. There was essentially no demand in the ‘West’ to rebuild the German military, apart from the U.S.

And as it turns out, the process took long enough that the German soldiers were generally not veterans – apart from a number of former Wehrmacht officers – ‘When the Bundeswehr was established in 1955, its founding principles were based on developing a completely new military force for the defence of West Germany. In this respect the Bundeswehr did not consider itself to be a successor to either the Reichswehr (1921–1935) of the Weimar Republic or Hitler’s Wehrmacht (1935–1946).

——————————————————

After World War II the responsibility for the security of Germany as a whole rested with the four Allied Powers: the United States, the United Kingdom, France and the Soviet Union. Germany had been without armed forces since the Wehrmacht was dissolved following World War II. When the Federal Republic of Germany was founded in 1949, it was without a military. Germany remained completely demilitarized and any plans for a German military were forbidden by Allied regulations. Only some naval mine-sweeping units continued to exist, but they remained unarmed and under Allied control and did not serve as a national defence force. Even the Federal Border Protection Force, a mobile, lightly armed police force of 10,000 men, was only formed in 1951. A proposal to integrate West German troops with soldiers of France, Belgium, the Netherlands, Luxembourg and Italy in a European Defence Community was proposed but never implemented.’ https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bundeswehr

But never fear, you can rant about how in comparison to the Wehrmacht, the Bundeswehr is filled with leftist political correctness – ‘The Bundeswehr was officially established on the 200th birthday of Scharnhorst on 12 November 1955. In personnel and education terms, the most important initial feature of the new German armed forces was to be their orientation as citizen defenders of a democratic state, fully subordinate to the political leadership of the country. A personnel screening committee was created to make sure that the future colonels and generals of the armed forces were those whose political attitude and experience would be acceptable to the new democratic state.’

52 Ricardo September 26, 2016 at 6:32 am

“As a result Soviet atrocities were always much more significant and more widespread than German ones on the battlefield.”

A pretty dubious claim, once one factors in the cooperation with and participation in Einsatzgruppen efforts to murder Jews, the starving to death of one million Soviet POWs and the siege of Leningrad which probably killed one million civilians. Additionally, the original plan for the invasion of Eastern Europe and Russia was for the army to seize as much food as possible in occupied areas and starve about 30 million civilians to death. German battlefield atrocities would have been even worse than they were had the invasion of the Soviet Union not gotten bogged down.

As pointed out, the notion that the Wehrmacht was not extensively involved in Nazi criminality is pure Cold War-era mythology and has been repeatedly debunked by historians of World War II and the Holocaust.

53 Jason September 25, 2016 at 5:25 pm

If Germany was able to prevail in Europe, Japan was somehow capable of landing troops in California, and both countries were blockading America, what would have happened to all those Japanese in the internment camps? The American government identified and quarantined racial-political hostiles as the Germans and other nations did during the war.

Sure, they were treated fine when the war was thousands of miles away and America was exporting food, but if push came to shove, if Americans were starving and blockaded, if domestic bases had to be abandoned in the face of an enemy offensive, the Japanese-Americans would probably have been slowly starved out and/or exterminated lest they serve as assets to their captors, similar to what happened in occupied Europe in the later years of the war.

54 chuck martel September 25, 2016 at 7:31 pm

” if Americans were starving and blockaded”

That’s an “if” that’s bigger than my girlfriend.

55 Baby Fark McGeezacks September 25, 2016 at 8:28 pm

Problem with this is that the Nazis started committing war crimes on a mass scale in July 1941, the same time they were on a successful blitzkrieg across the Western Soviet Union. And not just against Jews either, they treated brutally the Slavs who would have wanted to rebel against the oppressive communist system. The decision to kill all the Jews was made in January 1942, before the Germans had to abandon any territory.

56 Ricardo September 26, 2016 at 9:21 am

“The American government identified and quarantined racial-political hostiles as the Germans and other nations did during the war.”

As unjust as the internment of Japanese and Japanese-Americans was, this is a false equivalence. Japanese-Americans living in Hawaii and everywhere else aside from the West Coast were not interned and some even joined the U.S. military and fought in Europe.

57 too hot for MR September 25, 2016 at 5:39 pm

I was going to point out that this is the second time recently that I’ve seen “comprise” used to mean “constitute” on MR, but that’s just pedantic and who cares if economists ever learned to spoke good anyways lol.

58 Rafael September 25, 2016 at 8:09 pm

One problem I have with all these accounts of WW2 is that they characterize the USSR as if it were a powerful industrialized superpower. When the reality was that it was among the most economically backward countries in Europe, with a life expectancy of 42 years in 1938 compared to 62 years in Germany and the UK and 61 years in the US. The incredible nature of the fact that it was able to resist an invasion by a German dominated Europe (essentially, it was the EU invading Russia, think of the massive economic discrepancy between the two), which enjoyed a vast superiority over the USSR in material and human resources is never mentioned.

One thing to note is that in WW1, the same country collapsed against a small fraction o Germany’s military. And the economic discrepancy between Russia and Western Europe was similar in both wars. Therefore, invading the USSR was in principle a sane strategic move, only after the fact that the USSR almost miraculously managed to survive and defeat the Nazis that people say it was not. They never enjoyed any real material advantage as lend-lease was only 5-10% of GNP and they were losing 5 soldiers to each German soldier in the battlefield in 42 and 43, a much higher discrepancy than the relative sizes of their populations, specially considering that Germany could import labor from occupied countries. Also, in terms of aggregate economic resource both the Allies and Axis were similar position, and since most of the Allies’ resources were far away from the front lines in North America which prevented their effective deployment, the fact was that in the decisive front, the Eastern Front the Axis enjoyed a massive superiority in potential economic resources.

Also, airpower wasn’t exactly that important relative to numerical superiority at the ground either. According to Dupuy’s estimations, airpower represented about 4-5% of the Allied firepower in Italy and France in 43-44, not remotely enough to make for a decisive contribution by itself. While numerical superiority in terms of infantry was by a mile the most important factor for Allied victory and that had nothing to do with apparent economic superiority but with the fact that Nazi racist ideology prevented mass recruitment of non-ethnic Germans into the armed forces while Allied armies were multinational.

Given these factors, the brutality of the German army in the Eastern front was hence of critical importance for inducing the population of the USSR to accept the tremendous sacrifices they were required to make in order to prevail. Including the sacrifice of about 12 million soldiers and the same number of civilians, compared to ca. 3 million German losses. The Eastern front was kinda similar to the Vietnam War in that sense: an economically less advanced country defeating a more advanced one through massive sacrifices in terms of blood. These sacrifices were made possible by the own brutality of the Nazis which essentially lead to their self destruction. While in France the relatively more civilized warfare also enabled to their easy victory over the Western countries.

59 So Much For Subtlety September 25, 2016 at 8:19 pm

It is unlikely that the Soviet population had any idea of the brutality of the Nazis in occupied territories. How would they have learned about it? The Soviet media would have lied either way.

It is more likely that the Soviets were more afraid of their own government than the Nazis. It is more likely that the Soviet population fought because, as Zhukov said, it takes a very brave man to be a coward in the Soviet Union. Because the Soviets murdered millions of their own citizens and shot hundreds of thousands during the war. Because a large part of those millions of Soviet soldiers died in penal companies if they were merely suspected of disloyalty.

The Tsar was not willing to drive his own people over minefields. Stalin was.

60 inertial September 26, 2016 at 11:27 am

The notion that the Soviet people didn’t know what was happening in the occupied territories is brain dead. A lot of territory changed hands during the war. When the Soviets recaptured a town they could see with the own eyes what the Germans did there while they held it. Hundreds of thousands of Soviet soldiers were captured by managed to escape and rejoin their forces. They told stories. So did the civilians who also managed to escape.

Do you really believe the people will fight for FOUR YEAR, doing their utmost – out of fear? If you do, you’ll believe anything. And the notion that Stalin “drove his people over minefields” is one of those Russophobic myths that are abound, especially on this subject.

61 Thomas September 27, 2016 at 4:23 pm

Lol it is “Russophobic” to claim one Russian leader who was indisputably a monster, did one particularly bad thing. Thank you for giving us the insane identity politics leftist view.

62 byomtov September 26, 2016 at 10:12 pm

It is unlikely that the Soviet population had any idea of the brutality of the Nazis in occupied territories. How would they have learned about it?

From their neighbors, relatives, and friends?

63 chuck martel September 25, 2016 at 9:05 pm

“which enjoyed a vast superiority over the USSR in material and human resources is never mentioned.”

The German invasion of the USSR was done via horse-drawn equipment, pretty much the same as the Soviets used, and the Russians were at no numerical disadvantage. The Krauts had the same problem other invaders, such as Napoleon had. Russia is a big place that gets cold in the winter.

64 JT September 26, 2016 at 10:47 am

Napoleon invaded Russia without bothering to set up a supply train. The Germans had adequate supply lines. The Germans relied somewhat on horse-drawn transport, but they mostly used trucks and trains.

I see that the Russian Winter meme has turned up its ugly head. The Germans were not prepared for the first winter and it didn’t help matters but by no means was it a deciding or even significant factor in Operation Barbarossa’s failure. The Russian Fall probably played a more significant role; the heavy rains slowed the German advance.

Everything Jason posts below is correct. The Russians had a massive numerical advantage in equipment and man-power. As OKH General Staff chief Franz Halder writes, “The Russian colossus…has been underestimated by us…whenever a dozen divisions are destroyed the Russians replace them with another dozen.” The Soviets even held an advantage in the quality of crucial equipment. For example, the main tank used by the Germans during Operation Barbarossa was the Panzer IV. Its 75mm gun couldn’t even penetrate the Soviet T-34.

Here’s an excellent and succinct video that breaks down Operation Barbarossa and gives perspective on the massive disadvantages the Germans faced.
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=A_3R-Rkn_98

65 JWatts September 26, 2016 at 5:31 pm

” For example, the main tank used by the Germans during Operation Barbarossa was the Panzer IV. Its 75mm gun couldn’t even penetrate the Soviet T-34.”

That’s not really true. The original 75 mm couldn’t penetrate the T-34 from the front, but the upgraded high velocity 75 mm could.

“The 75 mm KwK 40 L/43 gun on the Panzer IV could penetrate a T-34 at a variety of impact angles beyond 1,000 m (3,300 ft) range and up to 1,600 m (5,200 ft).[72] Shipment of the first model to mount the new gun, the Ausf. F2, began in spring 1942, and by the summer offensive there were around 135 Panzer IVs with the L/43 tank gun available. At the time, these were the only German tanks that could defeat T-34 or KV-1 with sheer firepower.[73] They played a crucial role in the events that unfolded between June 1942 and March 1943,[74] and the Panzer IV became the mainstay of the German panzer divisions.”

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Panzer_IV

66 Jason Bayz September 25, 2016 at 9:25 pm

Life expectancy doesn’t matter much in war, what matters is how many tanks, guns, ect, can be produced. The Soviets outproduced the Germans in most categories.[1] It was not “essentially the EU invading Russia.” France, the Netherlands, Norway, ect, contributed only a few volunteers to the German cause, too few to have much impact. Those countries did, however, require a lot of German troops to be stationed in them to keep order and deter a potential British invasion. Germany grew weaker, not stronger, as it expanded. The Germans could have done what Stalin did in the Baltics and East Poland, declare those areas part of the Reich and conscript their populations, but he did not do that apart from among the “German” populations in Poland and France. Of Germany’s allies, only Finland and Romania put their full weight into the war against the Soviet Union, Italy was busy with the Mediterranean while Bulgaria refused to declare war on the Soviet Union at all.

The Soviet Union had a massive population advantage over Germany, which had 82 million people if you include the Germans in the annexed territories, while the Soviet Union had 190 million people if you include the territory it annexed from 1939-1941. The Germans had to keep large numbers of troops in the occupied territories, Stalin only needed about 700,000 troops in the East to deter a Japanese attack. The Soviets lost much of this advantage in the latter half of 1941, as the Germans captured millions of POWs and captured much of the Western Soviet Union before Stalin could mass-mobilize the population, still, the Soviets had the advantage in men along the Eastern front from 1942 on.[2]

The Soviets had additional advantages, they received a large quantity of aid from the U.S in addition to what they produced themselves and their industrial centers were not at great risk of bombing. Unlike the German army, they were not restricted by a constant shortage of oil. In conclusion, it was their war to lose.

Russia did lose against Germany in WWI, still, it took the Germans 3 years to occupy a territory where the same sized territory was occupied in two months during Barbarossa. In November 1917, they had only just reached the edge of East Slav inhabited territory, they had taken all of Russian Poland, mostly of modern day Lithuania, and half of modern-day Belarus and Latvia. Russia and Ukraine were still in Russian hands, Russia was far from defeated militarily. Only after Russia’s government fell apart did the Germans advance at will. The Germans were fighting with only a fraction of their military, but it should be noted that they had the Austrians and Turks as allies.

1. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Military_production_during_World_War_II#Production_summaries_1939.E2.80.931945
2. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Eastern_Front_(World_War_II)#Forces

67 Andreas Moser September 25, 2016 at 11:52 pm

Of course it was easier for the Nazis to woo Muslims once the Grand Mufti of Jerusalem, Amin Al-Hussaini, officially supported them.

68 John September 26, 2016 at 4:19 am

The same story goes with Bosnian Muslims.

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