I have recently watched this very, very interesting and brave video about the Wehrmacht and the clean Wehrmacht myth, that deserves far more attention, so I recommend it to you guys. It is well written and incredibly well researched. I will also put it into the commentsection of the next weekly episode.
(The Complicated History of the 'Clean Wehrmacht Myth' - YouTube)
I know this is a very emotional topic, so please reply civilized.
Danke for posting this video. Well researched, some research I think is a bit problematic in the sense that people who e.g. question surviving German (or Italian, Dutch SS, Finnish SS Belgian SS etc) soldiers wether they were real National Socialists you predictably have a lot of them who say they were just "following orders/ or a “A loyalty is our honour” as a pretext of shooting Jews and looting their corpses and pulling out their gold teeth. This while the research of e.g. the SS Police Bataillon 101 showed that Gernans who refused where giving other “duties” like car repair. (but less chance for promotion and having a high rank on your gravestone I guess).
We can’t mindread but it is predictable that Nazi fanatics would have died before becoming POW and those who were captured would deny it (e.g. Einchmann). So polling those survivors will lead to bias and I don’t really know a way around it as even some “Party Members” might not have been fanatics.
The bad part:
The maker almost apologetically tells the Italian viewers that the Italian soldiers were less fanatical followers. Well I think the latter is a good thing. Their honour was not blindly following Mussolini and his gang of criminals. “Loyalty” is hardly ever a really good thing as it seems just an attempt to soothe the conscience.
To balance obviously there were also a lot of Germans who secretly resisted and helped starving people or tried to desert. The latter were only pardoned in 2002 (sadly WAY too late). Those people should also be remembered, not everyone chose to be an automaton (a contradictio in terminis). And just to be clear, post war Germans aren’t responsible but also should not feel obliged to defend historical actions by other people. I don’t feel the need to defend hereditary Serfdom which the French got rid of in 1798.
Having met some Italian vets, some of them were still quite fanatical even 50-60 years later (one even participated in the war against Ethiopia in the '30s and he had some rather colorful statements on Africans).
Here in Denmark (and in Norway) we discuss the many of our citizens that fought for the Germans. App 8000 here in dk alene. were they Nazis? They did it with goverment aprovval, but should they have known better. Difficult topic, but good that we can have a discussion in the open.
Quite complicated to answer because not all of them were die-hard National Socialists. Some were opportunists, some wanted to prove to the Germans that they weren’t disloyal, some were anti-communists, and of course some were already Nazi ideologues.
I recomend you to watch the criminal underated YouTuber “History Hustle” who made many videos on foreign S* volunteers. He primarily focuses on the Dutch volunteers since he is Dutch, but I highly recommend him. Here is the playlist about Axis volunteers: (Axis Formations - YouTube)
As a german patriot and histor nerd, I very often am confronted with this dark chapter of my nations history.
(Before I write something: NO , I do not believe in the clean Wehrmacht myth.)
So here is my opinion: I always say: “You have to judge history from the perspective of the past situation” and I think if I grew up in Germany I would have also become a Nzi or at least accepted the regime. Indy and Sparty did some good videos about this topic (Why “All Germans Were Nazis” - How Hitler Created the 3rd Reich | BETWEEN 2 WARS I 1934 Part 1 of 4 - YouTube) & (How Hitler Manipulated Germany into Committing Genocide - WW2 Special - YouTube). And I am saying this as someone who has friends with various beliefs and skincolors and monthly donates 8.50 euros so that TG can continue to make WAH.
So I cant really blame them for being sympathetic with the N*zi regime. But I am not saying that they are completely innocent, the Germans back then do share some guilt, but not in anyway that justifies crimes against them (Terrorbombing, Flight and Expulsion, massr*pe) and I dont see them as secondclass victims to the allied civilians that died, same for the japanese. And it is also worth mentioning that the Germans back then didn`t want war but thought war was forced apon them (How Did Germans React to the Outbreak of World War II? (1939) - YouTube)
And the soldiers were indoctrinated into Nzi ideas and to follow all orders given to them, they made an oath. And just like the allied soldiers they were fathers, sons and brothers fighting for their country and family they loved and hoping the war would soon end so they can return home, who also went through the hell of war.
So here is my conclusion:
Since Germany also fully recognizes its crimes, I respect the German Wehrmachtsoldiers who fought for their country the same way I respect the US, Soviet, Chinese and Japanese soldiers (there are exceptions like of course the S*, whos primary job it was to commit the N*zi crimes and soldiers who glorify the crimes after the war). BUT , big but, I absolutly refuse to see them in any way as heroes, even for figures like Erwin Rommel and Erich Hartmann (who you could argue are warheroes), same for the Japanese and Italians.
I know many will disagree with my opinion that I respect them, so please reply polite.
@weigand.sebastian Thank you for your very interesting approach. I think a hero is by definition (Google) one who are admired for their courage, outstanding achievements, or noble qualities. This means that every young person who are willing to risk his life when doing what he is told to do by his family and country is a hero to them. They boys who kept flying b17s over Germany are heroes everone of them. And because Germany lost WW2 does not, in my opinion, mean that German soldiers were not heroes to their families and the German people.
Thanks for your reply. You know my grandfather was stationed in Hamburg and defended the city against air raids from the ground and my grandaunt was a nurse in Frankfurt who helped many people after bomb attacks. Both saved many lives, so I can see them as heroes.
To be honest I kind of find it hard to “give a blanket respect to German soldiers “. At best I can say that I can’t judge at an individual level for what I don’t know. So I don’t go condemning either and as an atheist uur god doesn’t play a role.
As for civilians as my grandparents 1924/25saw German school classes throw empty cans at starving Soviet prisoners. This kind of explains my grandmother yelling at the lady who served coffee at sandwhiches at the Neanderthal museum (in Germany)She was a very decent 84 year old llady. I was really surprised with the obvious trauma and like many of those generation she likely took most horrors to the grave.
Oh but my other granddad refused to work for Germany as a POW but ended up being helped by a partyman who wanted to know why The Netherlands tried to invade Germany. He ended up changing his mind and providing food to him. After the war they reciprocated and sent food to the Muellers in Stuttgart.
There are many millions of these stories. Most lost to history. That is why TG is important.