CONTROVERSIAL TOPICS

CONTROVERSIAL TOPICS

Monday, March 23, 2015

World War II myths fuel Western crimes:The German View of the Thirty Years' War

 

World War II myths fuel Western crimes:

The German View of the Thirty Years' War

Kaiser Wilhelm II has long been blamed for playing a key role in starting World...

DPA

Kaiser Wilhelm II has long been blamed for playing a key role in starting World War I by granting the Austro-Hungarian Empire his support for an invasion of Serbia.

 

Private Adolf Hitler was in a military hospital near the Baltic Sea when World War I came to an end. His regiment had come under fire in a British poison gas attack on the night of Oct. 13, 1918. While advancing on German positions in the Belgian town of Comines, the British fired off several tons of "LOST," which soldiers referred to as mustard gas, because of its mustard-like odor.

 

LOST was one of the most-feared weapons in the war. When the agent comes into contact with the skin, it causes chemical burns and blisters. If the fumes are inhaled, they destroy the bronchial tubes. Hitler apparently suffered severe conjunctivitis and inflammation of the eyelids and he worried he would lose his eyesight. In a letter to a doctor, he mentioned that he had initially been "blinded" but that the symptoms had soon subsided.

On Nov. 10, the hospital chaplain told the wounded that the war had ended. The House of Hohenzollern had been overthrown, the Weimar Republic had been established in Berlin and it was now up to Germany to accept the cease-fire "while trusting in the magnanimity" of its enemies.

Hitler became hysterical when he heard the news. "As a blackness surrounded me, I groped my way back to the dormitory, threw myself onto my bed and buried my head in the blanket and pillow," he later wrote, describing the moment he had recognized that it had "all been for nothing." For the first time since the day of his mother's funeral, Hitler wrote, he wept uncontrollably.

In his book "Mein Kampf," Hitler described the day of the German defeat as his political enlightenment. The chapter in which he describes his wartime experiences and the shock over a peace agreement detrimental to Germany ends with a sentence that would often be quoted in the future: "I, for my part, decided to go into politics."

Germany's Collective Memory

As its name indicates, World War I was the first truly global conflict, the effects of which only a few nations managed to escape. To this day, the countries involved remain divided over how the conflict should be remembered. When France and Great Britain commemorate the war this year, it will be remembered as a singular event of such great importance to the national identity of both nations that it is still referred to as the "Grande Guerre" or "Great War."

In Germany, on the other hand, a unique culture of remembrance has never become established. There are war monuments in many places to commemorate fallen soldiers, but the only aspects of the war that have become firmly entrenched in Germany's collective memory are its bloodiest battles: Verdun, of course, the Battle of the Somme, Gallipoli, Tannenberg and the Battle of Jutland.

One reason for the differences in approaching the war almost certainly has to do with casualty figures. While Germany lost two million soldiers in World War I -- more than any other country -- that number was more than doubled in World War II. The situation was reversed among Germany's adversaries in the West. More than twice as many Britons and four times as many Frenchmen died on the battlefields of World War I than in World War II. In retrospect, the number of victims is not only an expression of suffering, but also emblematic of the heroism of a nation, an essential element in the mythologizing of wartime events.

The experience of victory or defeat divides nations even more than the commemoration of the dead. It is difficult to say how many German soldiers perceived the cease-fire as a shock, as Hitler did. But by the time the Treaty of Versailles was signed, the dream of exacting revenge for the humiliation Germany had suffered became an obsession. This is one reason why there is not only a temporal but also a causal relationship between the two world wars.

For many historians, there is a direct line between Verdun and Stalingrad. To emphasize the continuity of violence, some even characterize the two conflicts as the "Second Thirty Years' War." In their view, the years between 1914 and 1945 merge into a single, uninterrupted conflict interrupted by a prolonged cease-fire.

Without the attack on Belgium in August 1914, would there have been no invasion of Poland 25 years later? As simple as it seems, this notion leads to treacherous territory when it comes to the interpretation of historical events. If the two wars are seen as a single protracted conflict, the causes must be viewed in a different light.

The Starting Point

Any effective peace agreement should not only eliminate the conditions which led to conflict, but should also seek to ensure that those conditions do not reoccur. The imbalances that led to violence must be resolved.

In the case of Germany, this objective of the peace agreement failed spectacularly. At the beginning of World War I, Germany feared encirclement by France and Russia. It was essentially the starting point for everything that ensued.

The Treaty of Versailles seemed to confirm all fears. It was to be expected that France would insist on the return of Alsace-Lorraine, which the country had lost to Germany in the Franco-Prussian War of 1870-71. Financial compensation was also expected, and yet this was not enough to satisfy French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau.

Under Article 231 of the treaty, Germany was forced to concede that it was solely responsible for the war -- a genuflection from which the victorious powers derived their claim for extensive reparations. But Clemenceau was interested in more than compensation. His goal was to keep Germany in its place by permanently weakening the country.

It is tempting to think about what would have happened had US President Woodrow Wilson adhered to his original resolution to keep the United States out of the war. Throughout most of the war, the Germans were tactically superior to their opponents. What they lacked in materiel and manpower they managed to make up through battlefield strategy.

Indeed, in the summer of 1917 France was on the verge of collapse. The number of dead French soldiers had surpassed one million. And while the general staff attempted to distribute the losses throughout the country by constantly rotating its fighting forces -- thus spreading the pain among the individual provinces -- despair had taken hold. While the average German family produced three to four children, the birth rate in France had declined to two children per family. Each loss was even more difficult to handle. Many parents who had had only sons were suddenly childless.

The soldiers themselves were also succumbing to fatalism. After a devastating offensive on the Aisne, in which the French lost 130,000 men within a few days, large parts of the army were refusing to continue fighting. After a flood of court martial proceedings, General Philippe Pétain held out the prospect of no longer engaging in major offensives. But this also limited the effectiveness of his army.

A Cardinal Error

There are many indications that the French, with no hope for an improvement in the situation, would have been prepared to conclude a separate peace with the German Reich. The collapse of the Entente would have been imminent, as Russia too was on the brink. Although morale was surprisingly high among British soldiers are three years of war and horrendous losses, the United Kingdom would hardly have continued fighting on the Continent without its allies.

It was the United States that turned the tide in World War I. Beginning in the spring of 1918, Germany's adversaries had an almost unlimited supply of well-rested units at their disposal. By August, some 1.3 million men had been shipped from the United States to Europe. "The German army would have persevered longer than the others. On average, its soldiers had been exposed to greater hardships, and they had they become more effective in combat -- but now the troops were running on empty," concludes political scientist Herfried Münkler in his excellent study, "Der Große Krieg" ("The Great War").

When, on Sept. 27, the Allies penetrated the Siegfried Line, the German army's last defensive position to the West, the Supreme Army Command, under General Erich Ludendorff, knew that the war had been lost. The quartermaster general suffered a nervous breakdown. The next day, he asked the Kaiser to approve the initiation of cease-fire negotiations. So much for the stab in the back that politicians on the home front had supposedly inflicted on the brave military.

Today Versailles is seen as a cardinal error, with the French playing the role of the victor seeking revenge. In truth, however, it was the United States that did not live up to its responsibility.

Wilson drafted a new world order, in which all nations were granted a right to self-determination. But when it came to stepping into America's new role as a hegemon, Congress withdrew its support by forcing the president to agree to a strict policy of nonintervention. The Europeans were on their own once again, but this time it was in a different configuration than before the beginning of the war.

The British, who had entered the war as the world's creditors, emerged from it as debtors to the United States. While the French were one of the victorious powers, they were in fact no longer a major military power. Fearing their neighbor to the east, they dug themselves into a bunker system stretching more than 1,000 kilometers (620 miles), but it was more of a psychological bulwark than an effective defense system, as would become apparent in 1940. Paradoxically, it was Germany that would hazard another war -- precisely what the Treaty of Versailles was intended to avert.


The indecisiveness of the United States, its political elites divided over how to assume their role as a new world power, was already apparent in the peace negotiations. The resulting peace was one with conditions that were insufficiently draconian to permanently weaken the German Reich, and yet too severe not to give rise to a desire among the losers to reverse the peace when the next opportunity arose.

From Germany's perspective, the victors' demands were not only immoderate, but also served as a constant reminder of defeat. Germany's total war reparations, enforced with massive threats, amounted to 132 billion gold marks, payable in 66 annual installments, together with 26 percent of the value of its exports. Present-day Germany was still suffering the consequences until 2010, when Berlin made its last interest payment on foreign bonds it had issued after World War I to satisfy the Allies' demands for reparations. The most agonizing aspect of the war repayment was its duration.

Hardly anyone was as familiar with the Germans' smoldering resentment (or knew how to take advantage of it) as the private from Munich. Within three years, Adolf Hitler went from being an unknown veteran to the "King of Munich," a man who could fill the city's largest beer halls with his appearances.

The fact that the Allies had forced Germany to sign the Treaty of Versailles was a central theme of Hitler's speeches. At his rallies, he never failed to mention "shameful and humiliating peace" that had condemned Germany to "servitude" for the foreseeable future. Humiliation at the hands of the victorious powers became a collective trauma that united Germans far beyond the circle of supporters of the rising Nazi Party.

What was initially a psychological problem became an existential one when the economic crisis began. Until 1929, the German economy had managed to keep itself more or less afloat, partly as a result of American investments. Now the creditors from abroad were withdrawing their money, plunging the German Reich directly into the vortex of the Great Depression. The deflationary policy of Reich Chancellor Heinrich Brüning drove unemployment numbers to well over six million.

Despite the defeat in 1918, the pride of the German officer corps was still intact. It was clear to everyone, beginning with the general staff, that the French would never have achieved victory on their own. But covetousness arises when a victor is only a victor through the help of others. Hitler, at any rate, was confident that a second effort could correct the failures of the first.

Gratification

When Germany invaded France in 1940, the Wehrmacht had learned from past mistakes. In the first war, German attacks had frequently failed due to an inability to bring up additional artillery and infantry quickly enough to preserve the momentum of attack achieved by shock troops. Now the tank force was being combined with dive bombers, which functioned as airborne artillery. This enabled German troops to advance at speeds previously believed to be impossible. German troops reached the Meuse River in two days, and after six weeks France was forced to capitulate. It was the greatest defeat of a proud nation in military history. When the French laid down their arms, half of their soldiers had not even arrived in the combat zone yet.

For the majority of German officers, the victory over France was the gratification they had desired. But for their commander-in-chief, the western campaign was merely ome stage in a much more extensive war of conquest. As a result, the world was transformed into a hell on earth once again, and what began as a war of revenge ended in a war of extermination more complete and boundless than the massive slaughter of World War I.

What was to be done with Germany? The Allies now faced the same question a second time, in the summer of 1944. By the time the Americans had landed in Normandy, everyone knew that the Third Reich's days were numbered. But the victorious powers were confronted with the same problem they had faced a quarter of a century earlier: How to prevent the Germans from planning the next war soon after their defeat.

One of the men who had been pondering this issue for some time was US Treasury Secretary Henry Morgenthau. He believed that the Germans were a people with an unquenchable thirst for war. Because there would no longer be anyone to stand in the way after a third attempt to achieve global dominance, the goal was to figure out how to prevent them from doing so. It was a question of survival, not just for Europe for all of mankind.

In September 1944, Morgenthau submitted a plan to the president in which he proposed the large-scale destruction of German heavy industry. Anything that could be used to produce weapons was to be destroyed, seized or placed under international control. This meant the elimination of Germany's chemical, steel and electrical industries.

The Germans were not to be allowed to ever produce anything again that was "more deadly than toasters, vacuum cleaners and hair curlers," Morgenthau wrote in the extended version of his "Plan for Germany," which he published as a book after the end of the war. "If the German people are to make the best use of their soil, they are going to have to substitute the work of human hands for machinery for several years to come."

Morgenthau had influential adversaries. Both the American State Department and senior military officials stationed in Germany were strictly opposed to sending Germany back to the Middle Ages. They believed such a step would lead to millions of starvation deaths because Germany would be incapable of feeding itself without producing goods for export. But the treasury secretary had both the strength of his convictions and the ear of President Roosevelt. Their wives were good friends, and the two couples socialized with each other.

'Castrate the German People'

In addition, Roosevelt had little sympathy for what he called the "Huns." As a child, he had frequently accompanied his father, who had a heart condition, to the German spa town of Bad Nauheim for treatments and had developed a clear distaste for the country and its people. One of Roosevelt's anecdotes was the story of how he had been arrested four times in one day for such minor offences as spitting out cherry stones. "We have got to be tough with Germany," Roosevelt told to his secretary of state. "You either have to castrate the German people or you have got to treat them so they can't just go on reproducing people who want to continue as in the past."

Morgenthau seemed to prevail at a meeting between Roosevelt and British Prime Minister Winston Churchill in Quebec in September 1944. Churchill, who initially had strong objections to the plan, snapped at Morgenthau, saying that he would not allow himself to be chained to a "dead Germany." But then money came into play and decided the issue. Churchill urgently needed a new loan from the United States. With that hurdle out of the way, the two commanders-in-chief placed their initials under a document agreeing on the transformation of Germany into a "country principally agricultural and pastoral in character."

That the Germans were eventually spared this fate is thanks the US public outcry over the plan and fear of the Russians.

If Roosevelt dreamed of a long-term alliance with the Soviet Union, his successor Harry S. Truman had no illusions about the character of Russian dictator Joseph Stalin. Churchill, too, did not have to be convinced of Stalin's malevolence. "We mustn't weaken Germany too much -- we may need her against Russia," Churchill had whispered to his foreign secretary, Anthony Eden, in 1943. "I do not want to be left alone in Europe with the bear."

In contrast to 1918, the Western powers chose generosity. Those who lived in the Western occupation zones benefited from the kind of post-war reconstruction that the United States had failed to push through in Versailles. Those unlucky enough to experience the end of the war in the eastern part of Germany bore the burden of the war, which should have been carried by the entire country. Another 44 years would pass before this injustice eliminated.

The pacification of the Germans through benevolent reeducation was an experiment that had never been attempted, and it proved to be surprisingly successful for everyone involved. Ironically, the nation that had brought large-scale wars to the continent twice was transformed into a model democracy and a force for European integration.

Learning Their Lesson

Everything was done differently this time. Instead of rubbing the faces of the defeated in the extent of their humiliation by demanding submission, the United States carefully guided the country back into the family of nations. The victors also practiced leniency in the courts, limiting their prosecutions to a small number of leading war criminals. The majority escaped with a formal interrogation, with which the requirements of denazification were satisfied.

Only two decades later, in the Auschwitz trials starting in 1963, did a true investigation of the crimes begin. A look at the lives of people like Kurt Franz, the last commandant of the Treblinka extermination camp, reveals that a former Nazi thug and mass murderer was able to live scot-free in Germany until the early 1960s.

The Germans learned their lesson. The notion that they could never be allowed to possess weapons again is a view that the Germans, only too happy to be disarmed, completely internalized over the years. Pacifism had become national policy by the time the peace movement began. Even the swearing in of new recruits by torchlight can be a source of discomfort.

When the Germans decide to do something, they do it thoroughly. In a strange reversal of roles, they had assumed the role of the reformed criminal who lectures others on how to bring about peace without weapons. In 1989, many still believed that it was important to cling to German partition, so as to contain the ghosts of the past. In West Germany, the motto "Nie wieder Deutschland" ("Germany, Never Again") appeared on banners next to the East German slogan "We are One People."

To this day, the mistrust among Germans hasn't disappeared completely. In the European debate, the suspicion that things could change drastically once again is a subliminal but clearly perceptible motif. Hardly any appeal to European solidarity makes do without a reference to the war and the resulting obligation to keep the peace. Integration into Europe is seen as a sort of self-shackling of the German giant, intended to relieve its neighbors' fears of the country's size and economic might.

Too Young

British economic historian Niall Ferguson has pointed out that Germany's achievements during the course of European integration roughly correspond to the burdens imposed on the country by the Treaty of Versailles. When net contributions to the budget of the European Community are taken into account, Germany paid more than 163 billion deutsche marks to the rest of Europe between 1958 and 1992. Ferguson has also calculated 379.8 billion in "transfer payments without counter-performance."

During the euro crisis, there has been a noticeable decline in the Germans' desire to contribute to peace in Europe through transfer payments. But the ongoing impact of the memory of both world wars remains evident in the fact that an EU-critical party has yet to win seats in German parliament.

Until his death in 1967, Morgenthau remained convinced that the Germans could not be pacified. "You're too young to know whether the Morgenthau Plan was a mistake,"

You are too young to be able to evaluate whether the Morgenthau plan was a mistake," he told his biographer when he tried to get Morgenthau to admit that his plan was wrong. "And I'll bet you -- though I won't be around to collect -- that you're going to have to fight Germany again before you die."

Like many historians, the former US treasury secretary saw World War I as the beginning -- not of a Thirty Years' War but of a Hundred Years' War.

Did Allied troops rape 285,000 German women? That's the shocking claim in a new book. But is the German feminist behind it exposing a war crime - or slandering heroes?

  • Book claims Allied troops raped 285,000 German women during invasion
  • There are numerous cases of rape recorded by Allied officers during war
  • However, the alarming figure is based on assumptions and lacks evidence
  • British and U.S. soldiers could, and were, executed for committing rape

There was no doubt that Private Blake W. Mariano of the 191st Tank Battalion was a brave man. As part of the American Army's 45th Infantry Division, he had killed many Germans as he fought through Africa, Italy and southern France, before finally, in March 1945, he and his Sherman tank had crossed the Rhine into Germany.

By April 15, 1945, Mariano had been away from his home in New Mexico for nearly three years. A father of three, the 29-year-old was divorced, although he did have a girlfriend in England.

His loved ones, however, were far from his mind that evening. During the day, his unit had successfully overrun the large village of Lauf on the edge of the Black Forest in south-western Germany, and Mariano decided it was time to celebrate.

Accompanied by another American private, Mariano went out drinking. After finding a well-stocked cellar, the two men quickly became inebriated on cognac, at which point they went looking to complete their evening.

They found what they wanted in an air raid shelter under the town's castle. Huddled there were 17 villagers, two of whom were children.

Mariano pointed his rifle at a young woman called Elfriede. Aged just 21, Elfriede worked in an office, and had a fiancé who was away fighting. Mariano took her outside and raped her. After he had finished, his companion did the same.

Still not sated, Mariano returned to the shelter and chose a 41-year-old woman called Martha. When it became apparent that she was menstruating, Mariano shot her. It would take Martha until the following morning to die.

In a final act of savagery, Mariano selected one more woman, a 54-year-old shopkeeper called Babette, who he also raped. His 'entertainment' now over, Mariano finally returned to his tank.

The following morning, Martha's husband returned to the village after being discharged from the Army. He might have thought that he and his wife were now safe, having survived six long years of war.

As soon as he had discovered what had happened, the widower went straight to the Americans, who immediately launched an investigation.

Just over three weeks later, on May 8, Mariano was arrested and charged. In his defence, he claimed not to remember a thing. The villagers of Lauf would have no such problem. What Mariano had done in a few hours that one night would remain with them for decades.

Never mind that the German population was complicit in countless horrors.

One of the enduring narratives of World War II is that during the invasion of the Third Reich, British and American troops largely behaved well, and it was the soldiers of the Soviet Union's Red Army who raped hundreds of thousands of German females, aged from eight to 80.

However, a new book published in Germany makes the shocking and disturbing claim that the Americans raped a staggering 190,000 women in the decade from the invasion until West Germany became a sovereign country in 1955.

In When The Soldiers Came, historian Professor Miriam Gebhardt also suggests the British raped 45,000 German women, and the French a further 50,000.

It should be stressed that Dr Gebhardt is not a specialist World War II historian, but is better known for her works on other topics, such as the feminist movement in Germany, the philosopher Rudolf Steiner and the history of education.

She has also spoken at conferences on Left-wing politics, and it is therefore tempting to regard Dr Gebhardt as one of many academics who is not entirely minded to view countries such as the United States and the United Kingdom in a positive light.

But, if these figures are correct, then we would not only have to alter dramatically the way we look at how the Allies overran Germany, but also need to make a radical reassessment of what we call 'our greatest generation'.

Is it really possible that the numbers are so high?

In her new book When the Soldiers Came, Professor Miriam Gebhardt (pictured) suggests the Americans raped 190,000 women between 1945 and 1955

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In her new book When the Soldiers Came, Professor Miriam Gebhardt (pictured) suggests the Americans raped 190,000 women between 1945 and 1955

Naturally, it would be naïve to deny that the British and American armies had bad apples who carried out such atrocities. But these figures are huge, and would suggest that rape was almost as unexceptional as it was in the Red Army.

What then, is the truth?

When American troops first arrived in Britain in early 1942, they brought with them not only stockings, money and chewing gum, but also sex. For many young GIs, the prospect of being far from the strictures of home in a place where there were many single and available women, was an appealing one.

As is well known, countless relationships developed, from quick flings to marriages that have lasted until today. A huge, open resentment built up against the figure of the 'oversexed' GI, but what was barely discussed was the fact some of the Americans were rapists.

According to an official U.S. Army report, American troops committed 121 rapes when they were stationed in Britain.

Because rape is a notoriously under-reported crime, the true figure is doubtless far higher.

According to the criminologist Sir Leon Radzinowicz, only five per cent of rapes are ever reported, which suggests the Americans could have raped some 2,400 British women.

It is impossible to ever know the truth, but such a figure, although distressing, does seem low compared to the fact 1.5 million U.S. troops were eventually stationed here.

However, it was during the invasion of continental Europe after D-Day that an increasing number of GIs turned to rape.

Although France was an ally, that did not stop U.S. troops from raping an estimated 3,600 French women.

It was during the invasion of Germany (pictured) that incidences of rape grew much higher. File image used

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It was during the invasion of Germany (pictured) that incidences of rape grew much higher. File image used

A total of 152 American soldiers were tried for the crime, of whom 29 were hanged.

But it was during the invasion of Germany that incidences of rape grew much higher. As the Americans stormed into the crumbling Reich, troops would shout out at terrified German women: 'Sleep with me!'

And indeed, many German women did sleep with GIs, partly to obtain luxuries, and partly because they wanted to.

However, many sexual encounters were not consenting, and were also accompanied with particularly brutal violence, as some GIs used the act of rape to hit back at a hated enemy.

Many examples are too distressing to report in detail, especially the rapes carried out on children, with one victim being just three years old. Frequently, the crimes would be committed by marauding gangs of drunken GIs, such as the rapes of a woman called Katherine and her 18-year-old daughter, Charlotte, in Sprendlingen, about 40 miles southwest of Frankfurt.

Shortly before midnight one night in March 1945, a group of GIs burst into their home. The two women were forced upstairs, where they were repeatedly raped in the same room for two hours by six Americans, during which Charlotte kept desperately crying out: 'Mama, mama!'

Many such incidents were reported to parish priests. In his journal for July 20, 1945, Michael Merxmüller, a priest near Berchtesgaden, recorded: 'Eight girls and women raped, some of them in front of their parents.'

British troops march through the streets of Udem, Germany, in 1945

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British troops march through the streets of Udem, Germany, in 1945

A few days later, Father Andreas Weingand, from a village near Munich, noted how 'heavily-drunk Americans' had raped a married woman, a single woman, and a 'spotless girl of 16-and-a-half'.

Such acts were not exclusively committed by Americans — British troops also raped German women.

On April 16, 1945, for example, three rapes were reported to have been carried out by British soldiers in the town of Neustadt, 30 miles west of Heidelberg.

Elsewhere, in a village called Oyle, two soldiers dragged a girl into some woods. Unsurprisingly, she started to scream, whereupon one of the troops shot her dead.

But such horrific acts appear to have been rare. As one soldier pointed out years after the war, there was no 'need' to rape women, as many were available for little more than a packet of cigarettes.

One Army major later recalled that he had never come across an incidence of rape by a British soldier, although he acknowledged 'it may well have happened elsewhere'.

In both the British and American armies, the punishment for rape was usually life imprisonment, and in particularly brutal cases, perpetrators were hanged.

Commanding officers, however, were often keen to avoid their men being found guilty, as it would bring shame to a unit, and there are some instances of rapes being covered up.

Nevertheless, courts-martial were by no means reluctant to convict. There is one recorded instance of a British officer being charged with rape, and convicted on the flimsiest of evidence in 1945.

Busted to the ranks, he was imprisoned, and then divorced by his wife. However, two years later, he received a full pardon from the King.

In fact, much of the sex that took place between the British and Germans appeared both consenting and in violation of Montgomery's strict non-fraternisation orders.

'Non-frat was as dead as a Dodo from the time Montgomery closed his mouth,' said one junior officer. 'I didn't go out and chase my chaps away from the women. I didn't have time — I was doing it myself!'

The breaching of the order was so flagrant, that one soldier recalled seeing a 'No Fraternising' sign adorned with six condoms, while another spoke fondly of how buses would be organised to collect German girls to attend parties.

Although it would be wrong to paint a rosy picture, the image that emerges seems somewhat less grim than that painted by Professor Gebhardt.

It was during the invasion of continental Europe after D-Day (pictured) that an increasing number of GIs turned to rape

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It was during the invasion of continental Europe after D-Day (pictured) that an increasing number of GIs turned to rape

So where does she get her high figures of 190,000 rapes by the Americans, and 45,000 by the British?

According to the U.S. Army's figures, American troops carried out 552 rapes in Germany. Even if one applies the 'five per cent rule', then this would mean that the total figure is around 11,000.

This is a shockingly high number, to be sure, but nowhere near that of nearly 200,000 by U.S. troops alone.

Instead, Dr Gebhardt has looked at childbirth statistics in West Germany, and has assumed that five per cent of the children born to unmarried women from 1945 until 1955 were as a result of rape.

Of these, she says 1,900 were born to American men.

Even if one were able to accept these assumptions, Dr Gebhardt then takes things to an implausible level. Estimating that for each of these 1,900 births there were 100 rapes, she arrives at her bizarre figure of a total of 190,000 German rape victims.

This number is far too high, and is not supported by any documentary evidence whatsoever. One can only assume that Dr Gebhardt is motivated more by some Leftist anti-American agenda than by proper historical inquiry.

Such absurd claims distract from the nature of the horrors that did occur.

The 21-year-old Elfriede never recovered from her rape by Private Mariano. Her fiancé refused to marry her and she ended up as an alcoholic recluse and died unmarried several years later.

Her rapist, meanwhile, was convicted of murder and rape. During his court-martial, it was revealed that he had a history of sexual offences, and a medical board had classified him as a 'high-grade moron'.

At 11.02am on October 10, 1945, Mariano was asked if he had any last words to say before he was hanged. He did not.

He was declared dead 20 minutes later. In a way, his demise was more merciful than the fates of those he and so many others had destroyed.

 

 

Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin at the Yalta Conference in 1945. Initially,...One Dresden is worth a million ISIS atrocities

One Dresden is worth a million ISIS atrocities

By Kevin Barrett

Freshman US Senator Tom Cotton already has two claims to fame. First he wrote a letter to Iran in an effort to sabotage his own President’s diplomatic efforts and start a war. And then he set an all-time record by invoking Hitler in less than one minute during his first Senate speech.

Sen. Cotton thus stands condemned under Godwin’s Law, which states that whoever mentions Hitler first automatically loses the debate. “Playing the Hitler card” is widely reviled. Yet people like Cotton cannot resist the temptation.

Why has the demonization of Hitler—and of anybody one wants to demonize through comparisons to Hitler—become such a massively overused, utterly shopworn cliché?

In Western culture, Hitler is everybody’s favorite villain. And while the German dictator’s transformation from historical figure to avatar of ultimate evil is partially based on fact, it is primarily the product of a mythological process. Scholars who study the creation of myths, legends and folktales can easily see the distortions in mainstream Western accounts of World War II, “the Good War,” enshrined in the collective imagination as a struggle of pure goodness against diabolical evil.

Today, as Senator Cotton and his neoconservative colleagues push for World War III, it seems increasingly likely that the West’s self-serving World War II mythology will lead us into a war far more destructive than anything humanity has yet experienced. For that reason, everyone who supports peace should be working to demythologize World War II.

The so-called “Good War” was not a metaphysical good-versus-evil battle. It was a power struggle between empires. The British ruled the most powerful empire of the first half of the twentieth century, and they orchestrated World War I in an effort to pre-empt the rise of the number two power, Germany. World War II was really just unfinished business from World War I. So in effect, there was only one World War with two distinct phases (1914-1919 and 1939-1945) and the British, not the Germans, were the primary instigators.

Other imperial potentates, including leaders in the US, Russia, Austria-Hungary, Italy, Japan and China, also played self-serving, power-seeking roles. There were no good guys, except maybe the pacifists like Eugene Debs, who was sentenced to ten years imprisonment (and ran for President from prison) for opposing US involvement in World War I; or those like Robert Maynard Hutchins and Charles Lindberg, who bravely stood against the treasonous deceptions that pushed the US into World War II.

Western schoolchildren are taught that World War II was the supreme example of a just and necessary war. Yet in his book Churchill, Hitler, and the Unnecessary War, Patrick Buchanan offers strong evidence debunking this notion.

Leaders lionized as heroes by the Western mythographers—people like Winston Churchill and Franklin D. Roosevelt—were, in reality, less than heroic. A case could be made that Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin, alongside Hitler and Mussolini, stand as the worst mass murderers in human history. (Stalin’s crimes against his own people dwarfed Hitler’s.)

Churchill and Roosevelt were responsible for firebombing German and Japanese cities and roasting alive their civilian populations. The ISIL video of a Jordanian pilot being burned to death, presented to the world as proof of terrorist villainy, gives a hint of what was done to more than one million innocent civilians in such cities as Hamburg, Dresden and Tokyo. Imagine more than a million people suffering the fate of the pilot in the ISIL video! The British-American campaign to mass murder civilians by firebombing had no military purpose. It was sheer sadism.

Even worse were the American, British and Russian rapes and massacres of Germans after the war. Tom Goodrich’s book Hellstorm offers bone-chilling, nausea-inducing descriptions of the shameful holocaust the occupiers perpetrated against a defeated and helpless German population. Millions of German women were raped—not just by Russians on the Eastern front, but also by Americans on the Western front. (The de facto US official policy of mass-raping the women of defeated and helpless populations is probably the single biggest reason why most American World War II veterans would maintain shame-faced silence when asked by family members about their experiences in the war—a phenomenon well known to all Americans who have had fathers, uncles or grandfathers who fought.)

 

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When we hear the phrase “World War II death camps” most of us think of Hitler. But what about those of US General Dwight David Eisenhower? The American General, who later served as President, massacred more than a million German prisoners of war by herding them into huge barbed-wire enclosures, providing no food, water, or shelter, and allowing them to die of exposure and starvation. By contrast, Hitler’s treatment of American and British prisoners-of-war was scrupulous and humane.

The Allies’ ethnic cleansing of the German Reich was conducted with similar brutality. Millions of German civilians were murdered, forced from their homes and driven to their inevitable deaths through deprivation of food, fuel and shelter.

All in all, more than 70 million human beings were murdered during World War II, the vast majority of them civilians. Virtually all of the 50 million civilians slaughtered during the “Good War” were killed purely because they belonged to a particular ethnicity. Germans were roasted alive in Dresden because they were Germans; Japanese were firebombed in Tokyo, and incinerated with nuclear weapons in Hiroshima and Nagasaki, because they were Japanese. The whole war, not just the Nazi crimes against Jews and Gypsies, was a holocaust—an episode of mass ethnocide.

The above descriptions cannot even come close to doing justice to the evil and brutality of World War II. Yet Americans, Westerners, and even Russians (who have somewhat better reasons, given Hitler’s plans for the “Slavic races”) all remember World War II as a heroic episode in their history. Western leaders use World War II myths, inflated on the Hollywood big screen, as justification for pursuing policies of murderous aggression. In their eyes, anyone who gets in their way is “another Hitler.”

Since World War II the US has murdered roughly 60 million innocent people all over the world, and ruined the lives of hundreds of millions more, in CIA and military “interventions.” (The 60 million figure comes from Chomsky and Vltchek’s book On Western Terrorism; for some of the details, read William Blum’s book entitled Killing Hope.) This so-called American Holocaust of post-World War II crimes, like the holocaust of African slaves and the holocaust of Native Americans, dwarfs the Nazi holocaust against Jews, gypsies and communists.

We Westerners are free to grossly underestimate the number of victims of our own holocausts. But anyone who argues that significantly fewer than six million Jews were killed by the Nazis risks imprisonment. Is “holocaust denial” illegal because the revisionist arguments cannot be successfully countered using logic and evidence? Or are these laws and prosecutions simply the neurotic symptom of a West that demonized the Nazis in order to cover up its own crimes, and conceal its own guilt?

Whatever the merits or demerits of holocaust revisionism, it is clear that we need something much larger in scale: We need an epic wave of World War II revisionism to sweep away the whole self-congratulatory feel-good myth written by the victors, and reveal the horrific truth.

If we are bamboozled by myth, we cannot know history. And as Santayana suggested, those who don’t know history are condemned to repeat it.

 

This year marks the 100th anniversary of the outbreak of World War I and the 75th of the start of World War II. Questions over the degree of German guilt remain contentious among historians, who have been fighting over the issue for years.

World War I was the first fully industrialized conflict. Among its horrors was...

 

World War I was the first fully industrialized conflict. Among its horrors was also one of the first uses of poison gas in warfare. Here, gasmasks for German soldiers and their dogs are being tested.

 

       

A mounted army patrol reconnoiters in the Alsace region in 1915. Much of Europe...

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A mounted army patrol reconnoiters in the Alsace region in 1915. Much of Europe is marking the centennial of the beginning of World War I this year.

 

On two separate occasions, in 1918 and 1945, the world had to decide what to do with Germany. The second time around, world leaders almost made the same mistakes that failed to keep the Germans down after World War I.

A German trench is seen in occupied Poland in 1915. New research is questioning...

AP

A German trench is seen in occupied Poland in 1915. New research is questioning the long-held view that Germany was alone responsible for starting World War I. Historians are not exonerating Kaiser Wilhelm II, but the failures of other players are being highlighted.

Stretcher bearers carry a wounded soldier in Flanders. The Western Front saw...

Stretcher bearers carry a wounded soldier in Flanders. The Western Front saw some of the most violent and deadly battles ever seen in the history of warfare.  

German and Austrian prisoners of war in 1918. At the time World War I began,...

German and Austrian prisoners of war in 1918. At the time World War I began, war was seen as a legitimate tool of foreign policy.

The war ended on Nov. 11, 1918 at 11 a.m. The armistice treaty was signed in a...

AFP

The war ended on Nov. 11, 1918 at 11 a.m. The armistice treaty was signed in a rail car in the forest of Compiègne.

A group of royals at the end of the 19th century. Many of the leaders of the...

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A group of royals at the end of the 19th century. Many of the leaders of the big European powers on the eve of World War I were related. In this 1894 picture, the Prince of Wales, later to become King Edward VII, can be seen on the back-right. Next to him stands Wilhelm II, the emperor of the German Reich.

The war made little sense even at the time and was primarily the result of...

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The war made little sense even at the time and was primarily the result of large powers attempting to prove their dominance over the Continent. Here, German machine gunners defending a position near the Italian-Slovenian border in 1917.

German troops advancing across open ground at Villers-Bretonneux during...

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German troops advancing across open ground at Villers-Bretonneux during Germany's last major effort to secure victory on the Western Front. Germany had hoped a quick victory over France would propel it to victory against Russia.

The passionate commemoration of World War I is a vital element of France's...

AFP

The passionate commemoration of World War I is a vital element of France's contemporary national cohesion. But before a momentous turning point in August 1914, the country looked to be on the brink of defeat. This photo shows French soldiers moving into attack from their trench during the Battle of Verdun in eastern France in 1916, which cost hundreds of thousands of French and German lives.

The memory of the last war of the modern age from which France emerged...

The memory of the last war of the modern age from which France emerged victorious -- and the invocation of those four years in which a united, heroic and self-sacrificing people (at least in the prevailing self-image) passed a test of global history -- provides contemporary France with an excellent source of meaning amidst the current economic and political upheavals. Here, an Allied gun crew fires against German forces on the Western Front in 1918.

In contrast to Germany, France does not treat the war as a remote and...

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In contrast to Germany, France does not treat the war as a remote and de-emotionalized part of history, but as the vivid subject of what historian Nicolas Offenstadt called a "social and cultural practice," or "Activism 14/18." The nation, internally divided, plagued by self-doubts, and at greater risk than ever of falling behind in the competitive struggle of a globalized economy, is turning inward to find refuge and protection. Here, a French soldier's grave, marked by his rifle and helmet, on the battlefield of Verdun.

French soldiers inspect equipment captured from German forces during the Battle...

Corbis

French soldiers inspect equipment captured from German forces during the Battle of the Marne of September 1914. The battle, known in France as the "Miracle of the Marne," was a dramatic turning point in the war. French and British soldiers halted the German advance across Europe, but at the cost of some 250,000 casualties.

 

James Francis Hurley/ Ullstein Bild

World War I may have ended in 1918, but the conflict and the peace agreements that followed continue to mark the political realities in the Middle East today. The arbitrary borders drawn at the time ensured a century of strife and violence. Here, a 1918 photo showing Australian soldiers of the Imperial Camel Corps in the war against the Ottoman Empire.

The Big Four of (left to right) British Prime Minister David Lloyd George,...

DPA

The Big Four of (left to right) British Prime Minister David Lloyd George, Italian leader Vittorio Emanuele Orlando, French Prime Minister Georges Clemenceau and US President Woodrow Wilson. This image was taken in 1919 during the negotiations over the Treaty of Versailles.

 

REUTERS

After failing in their initial attempt to take Constantinople, the British opted to attack on the periphery with the help of Arab uprisings. The Englishman Thomas Edward Lawrence, who would go down in history as "Lawrence of Arabia," played a significant role in the effort.

The war in the Middle East was not as bloody as the slaughter on the Western...

REUTERS

The war in the Middle East was not as bloody as the slaughter on the Western Front, but there were still hundreds of thousands of casualties. In addition, some one million Armenians were killed or starved to death during their deportation by Turkish forces.

The initial British attempt to take Constantinople failed at Gallipoli, where...

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The initial British attempt to take Constantinople failed at Gallipoli, where thousands of Australian and New Zealand soldiers lost their lives as well in addition to tens of thousands of English troops. The anniversary of the Gallipoli landing, April 25, is still marked in Australia, as this image from 2013 shows.

The Ottoman triumph at Gallipoli also marked the beginning of the rise of...

AP

The Ottoman triumph at Gallipoli also marked the beginning of the rise of Mustafa Kemal Atatürk, who is still revered in Turkey as being the country's founder.

The peace deals struck at the end of the war in the Middle East continue to...

AFP

The peace deals struck at the end of the war in the Middle East continue to mark the region today. Britain and France sliced the area up into several smaller countries without regard to ethnic or confessional makeup. Conflicts since then have been numerous and bitter. Here, a 1948 photo shows a ceremony in Tel Aviv marking the official creation of the Israeli army during the 1948 Arab-Israeli War.

Much of the violence in the Middle East has centered on Israel. Here, Israeli...

DPA

Much of the violence in the Middle East has centered on Israel. Here, Israeli troops during the Six Day War in 1967 which pitted Israel against its neighbors.

Not all of the violence involved Israel, however. Here, Jordanian soldiers...

AFP

Not all of the violence involved Israel, however. Here, Jordanian soldiers examining a destroyed Palestinian jeep during fighting between the Jordanian army and Palestinian fedayeen fighters during Black September in 1970. The violence came about when King Hussein of Jordan decided to break up the Palestinian Liberation Organization's state-within-a-state in Jordan.

Here, Israeli soldiers are seen bombarding Syrian positions on the Golan...

AFP

Here, Israeli soldiers are seen bombarding Syrian positions on the Golan Heights during the Yom Kippur War in 1973.


 

How Germany was crucified in the First World War: Hidden for 100 years, the astonishing photos by 16-year-old soldier shows how his brothers-in-arms would forever be haunted by the spectre of defeat

  • Captivating photographs taken by German soldier Walter Kleinfeldt who fought at the Somme aged just 16
  • The teenage soldier captured the reality of the front line for the German army with his Contessa camera
  • Kleinfeldt's photographs are seen for the first time, having been found by his son Volkmar just three years ago

They were taken by Walter Kleinfeldt who joined a German gun crew in 1915 and fought at the Somme aged just 16. As his haunting pictures, taken with a Contessa camera, make all too clear, life in the  trenches was a harrowing experience. The images provide an insight into the epic machinery of war – and capture the darkest moments of battle, with bodies strewn among the rubble.

Returning home in 1918, Walter set up a photography shop in the town of Tubingen, where he worked until his death in 1945. Walter’s son Volkmar discovered the pictures three years ago.

Carnage: Amid the appalling devastation and bodies of dead soldiers, a crucifix stands tall - miraculously preserved from the shell fire. The powerful image was captured after a bloody skirmish in 1917 - and Walter's son Volkmar says: 'This photograph is like an accusation - an accusation against war'

Carnage: Amid the appalling devastation and bodies of dead soldiers, a crucifix stands tall - miraculously preserved from the shell fire. The powerful image was captured after a bloody skirmish in 1917 - and Walter's son Volkmar says: 'This photograph is like an accusation - an accusation against war'

Final moments: Walter was just 16 when he fought at the Somme but his photos soon took on dark tone. Here he captures a German army medic kneeling beside a dying colleague - but he can do no more than offer comfort

Final moments: Walter was just 16 when he fought at the Somme but his photos soon took on dark tone. Here he captures a German army medic kneeling beside a dying colleague - but he can do no more than offer comfort

Young life: Walter Kleinfeldt, pictured carrying ammunition in a Somme trench, joined a German gun crew in 1915 and fought at the Somme aged just 16, taking pictures of life on the frontline with his Contessa camera

Young life: Walter Kleinfeldt, pictured carrying ammunition in a Somme trench, joined a German gun crew in 1915 and fought at the Somme aged just 16, taking pictures of life on the frontline with his Contessa camera

Calm before the storm: A 16year old Walter Kleinfeldt photographed in the German city of Ulm in 1915. Just a few weeks later, he was on the Somme.

Calm before the storm: A 16year old Walter Kleinfeldt photographed in the German city of Ulm in 1915. Just a few weeks later, he was on the Somme.

Constantly under threat: Gas attacks were a frequent menace in the Somme during the war so this group wear masks as they load shells into their gun in 1916

Constantly under threat: Gas attacks were a frequent menace in the Somme during the war so this group wear masks as they load shells into their gun in 1916

A studio portrait of 16 year old Walter Kleinfeldt, taken shortly after he volunteered in 1915 Walter Kleinfeldt, photographed on the Somme in 1916.

Two worlds: A studio portrait of 16 year old Walter Kleinfeldt, taken shortly after he volunteered in 1915, left on the Somme in 1916, right

Eyes in the sky: A German observation  balloon takes off  to direct artillery fire at the Somme in 1916. Walter Kleinfeldt was fascinated with the latest machinery of war

Eyes in the sky: A German observation balloon takes off to direct artillery fire at the Somme in 1916. Walter Kleinfeldt was fascinated with the latest machinery of war

First day of horror: This photograph of members of Walter's gun crew was taken on the 1st of July 1916, the first day of the battle of the Somme

First day of horror: This photograph of members of Walter's gun crew was taken on the 1st of July 1916, the first day of the battle of the Somme

 

 

 

James Francis Hurley/ Ullstein Bild

World War I may have ended in 1918, but the conflict and the peace agreements that followed continue to mark the political realities in the Middle East today. The arbitrary borders drawn at the time ensured a century of strife and violence. Here, a 1918 photo showing Australian soldiers of the Imperial Camel Corps in the war against the Ottoman Empire.

Most of the countries created in the Middle East in the wake of World War I...

AP/dpa

Most of the countries created in the Middle East in the wake of World War I were unsustainable from an ethnic and religious perspective. Lebanon is perhaps the most unwieldy of them all. The country's civil war lasted from 1975 to 1990 and resulted in an estimated 120,000 deaths. In this photo from 1986, Lebanese crowd around the scene of a bomb blast in Beirut that killed more than 30 people.


Iraq has remained a focal point of violence in the region, with two US...

AFP

Iraq has remained a focal point of violence in the region, with two US invasions of the country since 1990. This image shows the opening bombardment of Baghdad ahead of the US invasion of the country in 2003.



Map: Borders in the Middle East before and after World War I.

Map: Borders in the Middle East before and after World War I.

The signing of the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919. The peace agreement...

Ullstein Bild

The signing of the Treaty of Versailles on June 28, 1919. The peace agreement officially ended World War I, but it laid the foundation for the next European conflagration.


 

Many historians refer to the two wars together as the "Second Thirty Years'...

DPA

Many historians refer to the two wars together as the "Second Thirty Years' War." The connections between the two conflicts are clear. Many in Germany wanted to avenge the Versailles Treaty by defeating France. But there was also unsettled business elsewhere. Here, a plaque celebrating Gavrilo Princip as a hero is given to Adolf Hitler after the Wehrmacht marched into Sarajevo in 1941.


 

Following the Treaty of Versailles, Germany had to send massive amounts of...

AKG

Following the Treaty of Versailles, Germany had to send massive amounts of money, materiel, raw materials and industrial machinery to France. Here, a shipment heading for France in 1920.


 

Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin at the Yalta Conference in 1945. Initially,...

AKG

Churchill, Roosevelt and Stalin at the Yalta Conference in 1945. Initially, Roosevelt was in favor of punishing Germany as France had done following World War I. Ultimately, however, fear of Soviet dominance in Russia led Washington to reconsider that stance.


 

Germany celebrating reunification day in 2009. Throughout the Cold War, it was...

DPA

Germany celebrating reunification day in 2009. Throughout the Cold War, it was East Germany that largely had to bear the burden of the loss of World War II. The country became a model of democracy in the decades following 1945.

   

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