Saturday, October 16, 2010

It was a German war

I've devoted a good part of my life to World War II--living it, studying it, writing about it--and one of the things I find most irritating about the way it's remembered is that it was the work of the Nazis. I read of "Nazi-occupied Europe," as if Germany were just another conquered nation. And I read of "the Nazi army," when there was no such thing, only the Heer, abetted by the Kriegsmarine and the Luftwaffe. These were German institutions, not Nazi inventions. (To be sure, there was also the Waffen SS, a combat branch that could fairly be termed "Nazi.")

The Good People who dominate our universities and the press still hew to the Nazi/German dichotomy, but the Germans at least are beginning to spread the blame more broadly. (It helps, I suppose, that those who were active during the war are now either dead or in their eighties and nineties, and no threat to anyone.) The photo is from an exhibit at the German Historical Museum in Berlin, nicely written up in today's New York Times. There's also a slide show of images, including the one above. Blue skies! -- Dan Ford


At 10:23 AM, Blogger Robert said...

I agree with you totally. All of the German officers, Kreigsmarine, Whermacht and Luftwaffe, took the loyalty oath to Hitler. While the above mentioned were (in most cases) not as active in war crime related actions as the Waffen SS, they were most certainly by their actions upholding the regimes political and war aims.


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