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German soldiers view of themselves in WWII - during and after...

Discussion in 'books, films, TV, radio & writing' started by Gavin Bl, Jun 10, 2011.

  1. Gavin Bl

    Gavin Bl terrible awful baaad

    Hi
    I was interested in any recommendations on books, about the 'average' German soldiers view of their role in WWII, at the time and since - their view of themselves, and the things they were involved with, how they were rationalised internally, or in discussion with comrades (to the extent that this would have been permitted at all).

    Particularly how they looked back upon time in the Eastern front - I'm especially interested in the sorts of internal conversations they would have had with themselves, and then how they viewed their behaviour after the war.

    Any suggestions - doesn't need to be academic or anything, but would need to be about the self-perception, rather than the mechanics of the killing

    Its motivated by reading a really interesting book on a reservist group used to murder Polish Jews, "Ordinary Men" I believe it was called - where their main motivation for taking part in shootings (they could often have wriggled out of), was to avoid being seen as not doing their 'fair share' and letting the others soliders down.

    thanks
    Gav
  2. HAL9000

    HAL9000 Lasting Damage

  3. pk

    pk RIP Sam

    Nice bedtime reading then.

    I can't see them as anything but shit people. Even the "average" German soldier must have been aware of the genocide and the pro-aryan agenda. Glad they lost.

    The only exception for me would have been the U-Boat crews, plucked mostly from fishermen and naval stock, many of them hated Hitler and only carried out missions to be with their mates.

    Nazi or not, it took a brave man to enter the water in a U-Boat for months on end. There are some interesting accounts available:

    Herbert Werner - "Iron Coffins: A Personal Account of the German U-Boat Battles of World War II"
    ISBN 978-0304353309

    Oh and here's a free book you can read now:
    http://www.forgottenbooks.org/info/9781606209257
  4. DotCommunist

    DotCommunist virtue without terror is impotent.

    pre war wermacht and conscripts would have had no choice, the oath was the oath, and they shot deserters or put them behind barbed wire and starved them.

    the SS, mind, personal allegiance to the fuhrer. Culpable. As for the waffen SS, fucks sake. No forgiveness.
  5. Anudder Oik

    Anudder Oik Well-Known Member

    Timewatch did a docu drama about Metelman where he provides the narrative himself, which sadly reflects his regret and guilt.

    but you must also bare in mind that for every german veteran who is repentant there is another who isn't and if they had won I doubt that so many of them would have had regrets. They would have happily forgotten all the suffering they caused.

    If you study photos of the time you will see an abundance of smiles and laughing faces of the germans while they are winning. Thousands of them gleefully took photos of executions. They nearly all kept fashionable photo albums which are all full of smiling faces on the russian front up until 1942, then the expressions change and the stress and regret sets in. I don't feel sorry for any of them.



    I would recommend 2 books;

    Servants of Evil by Bob Carruthers (First hand accounts of the second world war from survivors of hitlers armed forces)

    And possibly Blood red snow, an autobiography of a soldier on the russian front.
  6. Gavin Bl

    Gavin Bl terrible awful baaad

    I think pretty much everyone can agree, we're glad they lost. I'm interested in reading about what was going on in their heads at the time, and when they looked back upon it.
  7. Gavin Bl

    Gavin Bl terrible awful baaad

    Thanks for this, I do wonder to what extent men fitted in with 'the script' after the war was over. I can imagine someone feeling glad that they had held off the russians as bitterly as they did, to prevent the complete overrun of the country by Stalin. The fact that the russians were, at least in part, avenging the previous invasion and genocide might just be erased out of that mental picture.

    I heard an anecdote about James Mason being involved in doing a war film in Germany, and being dressed as a nazi. Don't remember the detail, but basically he was in a nazi uniform and an old woman saw them and started weeping. Thinking her upset about the war and the suffering, they tried to explain they were doing a programme - and she said something "no, no - its just wonderful to be reminded of those days".

    Not looking to box everyone into a 'Hitlers Willing Executioners' mould - just interested in how people function in those environments.
  8. littlebabyjesus

    littlebabyjesus would be a rubbish god

    Most of them were conscripts. That's a stupid, ahistorical comment. Shit people? A whole nation?
  9. Anudder Oik

    Anudder Oik Well-Known Member

    In a History Channel documentary called Hitler's Assault, how ww2 began, A german veteran explains how on re-reading his war letters he had sent to his family he couldn't recognize himself.
  10. DotCommunist

    DotCommunist virtue without terror is impotent.

    It's worth rembering that by the start of ww2 the nazification of germany was in the vinegars- it had become normal to view the disabled with disgust and so on, you were a traitor to the riech to think otherwise. A society deliberately driven insane by a madman and his coterie.

    Rise and Fall dryly documents some of the background to this, but I would myself like to read a decent book that focuses specifically on the pre war social make up of germany during the nazi years.
  11. Hollis

    Hollis bloody furious

    You could try reading Richard Evans books to get a 'feel' for the period. I've not really read anything along these lines.. but I imagine it'd be interesting. Richard Bessel's "Germany 1945" does what it says on the cover.
  12. Gavin Bl

    Gavin Bl terrible awful baaad

    well yes, a 20 year old in the Wehrmacht would probably struggle to have any memory of a time before the nazis, and would have been indocrinated through the whole of senior school and their youth, let alone before the army got hold of them.
  13. HAL9000

    HAL9000 Lasting Damage

    Its easy to be opposed to Nazi's from your sofa but humans like to conform to the people around them. If the whole country has gone mad what can the ordinary person do?
    Classic 1960's experiment, people were tricked into giving leathal voltages during mock interrogations.

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Milgram_experiment
  14. Hollis

    Hollis bloody furious

    This on amazon:

    Two Soldiers, Two Lost Fronts: German War Diaries of the Stalingrad and North Africa Campaigns [Hardcover]
    Don A. Gregory
    Don A. Gregory (Author)
    › Visit Amazon's Don A. Gregory Page
  15. Gavin Bl

    Gavin Bl terrible awful baaad

    yes, thanks Hollis - shoulda looked on Amazon!

    "Victims, Perpetrators" looked interesting too..
  16. DaveCinzano

    DaveCinzano WATCH OUT, GEORGE, HE'S GOT A SCREWDRIVER!

    How odd, I'm reading that at the moment, on seeing the thread title I was about to suggest it.
  17. Hollis

    Hollis bloody furious

    And this on amazon:

    In Deadly Combat: A German Soldier's Memoir of the Eastern Front (Modern War Studies) [Paperback]
    Gottlob Herbert Bidermann (Author), Derek S. Zumbro (Editor, Translator), Denis E. Showalter (Introduction)
  18. likesfish

    likesfish chanelling mike from spaced

    quite a large number of hitlers so called willing executuioners found some where else to be when it was killing time. a few german soldiers activivly resisted atrocitys and got shot for there trouble.
  19. DotCommunist

    DotCommunist virtue without terror is impotent.


    saw one milgram done where the button pushers could hear the actor screaming as they delivered the shocks. 3 out of the 12 stopped before lethal shock.

    amplyfiy the 'white coat says it is ok' a few notches and suddenly you'd have, well, nazi germany. There were plenty of people saying 'this is not right', but they ended up behind the fucking wire regardless. It's an object lesson in why we have to get these people first. Give them a fragmented post war society combating economic crash and the rise of political ideology, then fuck. It's a mistake to think we've learned from that war, that mad society.
  20. littlebabyjesus

    littlebabyjesus would be a rubbish god

    Most were just trying to get through it alive, same as the British, Russians or anyone else. Too easy to judge from this distance of time.
  21. Casually Red

    Casually Red fear not

    what makes them more morally repugnant than US, British or French soldiers ? The only difference is the nazis committed these crimes against white europeans. That the nazi definition of a master race was a bit stricter than a British or US one . Klaus Barbie was convicted of crimes against the french people that were no different than what the British French and United states went on to commit post ww2 in Algeria , Kenya , Malaya , Vietnam and Iraq and elsewhere . We'll not even get into the carry on before then .
    If Germans are a shit people it doesnt say a lot about you lot .
  22. Anudder Oik

    Anudder Oik Well-Known Member

    I recommend this film that explores the experiences and courage of a youth who goes against the nazi grain at an elite school.

    Napola.
  23. DotCommunist

    DotCommunist virtue without terror is impotent.


    http://exiledonline.com/when-pigs-fly-and-scold-brits-lecturing-sri-lanka/

    an amusing american tearing the arsehole out of english claims to highground. Fish/barrel but worth the read
  24. temper_tantrum

    temper_tantrum The beauty of the ride

  25. Casually Red

    Casually Red fear not

    actually theres the case of the gestapo in Yugoslavia being appalled at the savagery of the Ustashe against civilians there and asking permission from Berlin to physically intervene . They were told not to , on the grounds that if they intervened once then all subsequent Ustashe war crimes could blamed on their deliberate non intervention .
    Then theres the reason why gas chambers were introduced . Hitlers generals were complaining that shooting their prisoners was having a devastating effect on their troops morale . So quite obviously the average german soldier wasnt altogether comfortable with that type of thing .
    And lets not beat about the bush . The round up of Jews in Paris was completed without the assistance of a single german soldier , same thing happened in most of the countries they were deported from . And a lot of the savagery wasnt even committed by actual germans , but by citizens of numerous nations who joined the SS or nazi controlled police units or local fascist militias .
    And a lot of those guys were given refuge in Britian and Canada after the war because they were "good fervent anti communists" . Anyone who thinks the British wouldnt have co-operated in nazi atrocities just like pretty much every other overrun country did is having a laugh .

    Its worth remembering that winston churchill was an extremely bigotted anti semite . In world war one Jews were at every level of German society while in Britian they were pilloried as german 5th columnists and subjected to all sorts of attacks and abuse . France was bitterly anti semitic too . Had america not intervened on the British and french side and saved them from the german army in world war one Ive little doubt that a resentful and bitter Britian and France would have sought them out as a scapegoat a few years later . No doubt at all .
  26. DotCommunist

    DotCommunist virtue without terror is impotent.

    [deleted by order of the Party]

    intrinsic to the rote armee faktions anti-state ideology was the fact that many nazis were still in power, after the show trials at nurenburg there were still officials of the privious regime in place. The methods were wrong, but they had a point
  27. Casually Red

    Casually Red fear not

    if anyone can tell me the difference between Hitlers Nuremberg laws and Britians penal laws that operated in Ireland for centuries then Im willing to hear it . Every last vestige of national life was systematically destroyed , including the language . Not over a few years but for centuries . An entire population was turned into outlaws in their own country and reduced to illiterate half starved savages with no protection under the law - which didnt even recognise their right to exist - . And kept that way . And even after they relaxed those laws they still managed to have a genocide they dismiss as a " potato famine" . Akin to calling tthe Auschwitz holocaust an "oxygen shortage ".
    Even right into the 1950s carrickfergus town council rang a curfew bell at 9 oclock that was to warn all catholics to be off the streets of the town . They only stopped after they decided to save money and sack the guy whos job it was to ring it .
    And what the french did in ALgeria post ww2 - starting on armistice day - was barbaric beyond belief .

    a machine of wise and elaborate contrivance, as well fitted for the oppression, impoverishment and degradation of a people, and the debasement in them of human nature itself, as ever proceeded from the perverted ingenuity of man

    http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Penal_Laws_(Ireland)
  28. Casually Red

    Casually Red fear not

    dont remember hearing of any British getting shot for protesting this

    [​IMG]
  29. temper_tantrum

    temper_tantrum The beauty of the ride

  30. ernestolynch

    ernestolynch Banned Banned

    http://www.amazon.co.uk/Social-History-Third-Reich/dp/0753819384

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