Stone: Look who protest (5-9-45)

The Pittsburgh Press (May 9, 1945)

Stone: Look who protest

By Walker Stone

WASHINGTON – Impressions of a civilian just returned from a tour covering the final two weeks of the European war:

Not in modern times, surely, has a nation been so utterly defeated as Germany.

Plough under the rubble of Cologne and Coblenz, sow the areas with salt, and you have Carthage all over again.

The city of Essen, home of the great Krupp works, and through the Ruhr where we drove, is an expanse of debris – shattered masonry and twisted steel girders where great industrial plants once were. Blasted homes, demolished bridges, locomotives and freight cars lying in the ditches. No vehicles are on the road, except American Army jeeps and trucks – our tanks, artillery and halftracks had long since passed on into Germany’s interior.

Wrecked equipment of the once-mighty Wehrmacht lines the roadside. Once-haughty generals, gauleiters, oberlieutenants fled or surrendered. Their demoralized troops hiding out or eating well in our prisoner-of-war camps.

How about inviting Jap generals?

It was a good idea of Gen. Eisenhower to invite groups of well-nourished and skeptical editors to come to Germany to be convinced of the atrocities in the political prisoner-slave labor camps of Buchenwald and Dachau.

It might be a better idea to invite groups of Jap generals, industrialists and political leaders to tour that devastated land and be convinced they’d better surrender unconditionally while they still have something to surrender.

Miserable people in those industrial areas – miserable but unrepentant. No sense of guilt, no sense of shame no feeling of responsibility for what Germany has brought on the world and on herself.

Only knowledge of defeat, fear of consequences, and self-pity. The unfathomable German mind claims credit to the whole people for the achievements of any one, but disavows all individual or collective blame for the acts of their organized society.**

America, they say, made a “mistake” in “interfering” with their war. But now that it is all over, ands our Army is on the scene, won’t the Americans please save the “innocent” Germans from those “awful” Russians? Yes, they would like to forget everything and start again from scratch.

Hot water, yes; windows, no

Munich, hometown of the Nazi Party, once had a population the size of Washington’s. Now it is doubtful that 10,000 sleep between sheets and with a roof overhead. There’s only one small hotel with hot water, and it has no windows.

The beer hall where the Nazi Party was born is only a shell. The beer hall of the “Putsch” blown up, rebuilt, bombed again – and down in the famous cellar is the loot of the synagogues of Europe, and the litter of mementoes of the Nazis’ years of power. A bronze bust of Horst Wessel lies dusty on the floor.

In the largest and grandest of the beer halls is a desk bearing a plaque which says it was the first desk used by Adolf Hitler. Our Army used that desk to sign the orders for the military government of Munich.

In front of Munich’s city hall, from where our Army now governs, stood a large crowd of Germans, come to petition for redress. Most of their protests were about the petty thievery of overcoats and bicycles by “displaced persons.”

DPs are the liberated slaves of Germany – Poles, Russians, French, Belgians, Dutch, Danes, Norwegians, you see plodding endlessly along every country road, on foot and on bicycles, trying to find their way back home.

We asked the protesting Germans whether they knew of the privations suffered by slaves and political prisoners at the nearby horror camp of Dachau. They pretended to know nothing about that.

We asked if they ever congregated to protest about anything while Hitler ruled.

“No. of course not – but the Americans are different!”

We asked if they thought the city of Munich could ever be rebuilt.

“Yes, if we can get the money to do it.”

“And where do you expect to get the money?”

“From America, maybe – we hope.”

Untouched in Munich is the building where Chamberlain and Daladier signed the Munich Pact. Untouched also are the two impressive monuments enclosing the iron caskets of the 16 Nazi hoodlums who were killed in the ill-fated “putsch.” It will be interesting to observe how the Germans feel about leaving those monuments standing.

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