NPF: LIKED AND RESPECTED BY CO-WORKERS

First off, sorry for the erratic posting this week. End of semester. Lots of balls (*giggle*) in the air.

On Tuesday I wrote about how poorly students are taught about recent history – the past 50-75 years – in K-12 in the United States. It's particularly damaging that many students past and present have concluded their high school history courses without getting to World War II, which I argued is essential to understand if one hopes to make sense of the world since 1950. On that note, today seemed an appropriate time to share a couple of my favorite trivial facts about ol' WWII. Well, several iterations of one fact, I guess.

One of the funny things about the Nazis (And really, who can pick just one?) was how important the concept of racial purity and Aryan supremacy was to them when the war was going well and how quickly it became a secondary concern when the tide turned in 1943. For a group of people who considered almost every other ethnic group and nation in Europe to be composed solely of degenerates, the Nazis sure did have a lot of foreigners in their midst.

True fact: The last Nazi SS troops defending Berlin were…French. The SS "Charlemagne" Division was composed of French volunteers who had greeted the Nazis with enthusiasm when they took Paris. By May of 1945, German troops had surrendered in droves to the advancing American and (if they had no other option) Soviet armies. But not the Charlemagne Division. So it transpired that the last holdouts, the people defending the bunker as Hitler and Goebbels were writing out wills and killing themselves, were Frenchmen. We might assume that the French Nazis preferred death in battle to whatever awaited them if they returned to France.

Speaking of, I'm sure the Red Army had a forgive-and-forget attitude toward members of the Russian Liberation Army – Russian expatriates and POWs who volunteered to fight for the Third Reich. What do you suppose was the life expectancy of a Russian in a Nazi uniform who fell into Soviet hands?

And the Russians weren't the only Degenerate Slavs welcomed into the SS and Wermacht with open arms. There were dozens of Croatian units (no one remembers the Ustase, who were actually more fascist than the Nazis and largely responsible for the "ratlines" through which Nazi war criminals escaped to Argentina after the war) as well as the British Free Forces (which was mostly for propaganda purposes), Danish, Belgian, Serbian, Turkish, Dutch, Estonian, and Ukranian units fighting in the German Army and SS.

Oh, and a bunch of dark-skinned, swarthy Indians. Yes, the "Indische Legion" was composed of Indians who so hated the British colonialists that they fled to Berlin and took up with the Nazis. Most were followers of Subhas Chandra Bose and the Nazis thought enough of these decidedly non-Aryan troops that they were heavily represented in the Atlantic Wall defenses that opposed the Normandy landings on D-Day. So contrary to what Saving Private Ryan would have you believe, a lot of the "Germans" defending those beaches were Indians (and Russians).

Must have made for some awkward moment, though, to have so many foreigners in the ranks of such a thoroughly xenophobic population. I mean, not that the Indische Division was disliked by any of its German colleagues or anything…

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39 Responses to “NPF: LIKED AND RESPECTED BY CO-WORKERS”

  1. robotswillstealyourjobs Says:

    Indians are technically Aryan, though, since Aryan refers to the Indo-European peoples. Aryan is Sanskrit for 'noble'.

  2. Xynzee Says:

    "There were dozens of Croatian units (no one remembers the Ustase, who were actually more fascist than the Nazis and largely responsible for the "ratlines" through which Nazi war criminals escaped to Argentina after the war)"

    And a significant reason why the Serbs hate Croats.

  3. J. Dryden Says:

    This is why, I'd argue, the narrative of the Eastern Front continues to get such short shrift. Not simply because it botches up the hilarious "the U.S. won WWII" narrative* , because how do you teach the lesson of that campaign without completely sacrificing the notion of WWII as a 'heroic' war–a narrative we're completely addicted to? Between the agents of Stalin and Hitler, who the hell do you root for? Well, for the Russians, presumably–particularly the Russian soldiers, who were only fighting in defense of the Motherland, and doing so for a leadership that consistently fucked them over with its vicious cruelty and incompetence. Except that that leadership was the ultimate beneficiary of their sacrifice–the soldiers fought, but the spoils of glory went to the cowards in Moscow. The atrocities committed by Russian forces (and indeed, the pernicious evil of Stalinism within the Soviet military chain of command) makes the narrative of "The Russians were the good guys" a tough sell.

    But we can't root for the Germans to win, God knows–Hitler and his quite popular vision for lebensraum represent the worst of human activities–yet though their goal ("defeating the Commies and making Europe safe for the West") immediately became *our* goal after the war. So…yeah, we want the Germans to win. Just not, you know, *win.*

    And back and forth it goes. The Nazis were, unquestionably, the systematic perpetrators of immeasurable evil. But so were the Soviets, as the citizens of the Ukraine could attest. The misery of Stalingrad is that the heroes who won that godawful battle, won it for a monster who would promptly take all the credit and murder anyone who lived as a testament to the contrary. The good guys died so that the bad guy could win.

    Fuck it, I'm gonna go rewatch INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS and pretend it's a documentary.

    *A narrative that would have a great deal more validity if we confined it to the PTO.

  4. Nunya Says:

    Thanks for the informative read. I had assumed that I was not one of those unfortunates that didn't know what happened in WWII but I most certainly did not know any of the facts you brought up tonight.

  5. amil666 Says:

    Speaking of Aryans, Iran was pretty close with Nazi Germany too, until the Allies (mostly the British) intervened. The Nazi-sympathetic Shah even went so far as to ask the international community to refer to Persia as "Iran" from now/then on–though native Persians often referred to Persia as Iran before then anyway. "Iran" means "Land of the Aryans." The Nazis considered the Iranians to be a pure Aryan race.

  6. Arslan Says:

    Oh you just made my WEEK, and on this, the eve of my journey from Russia to Berlin.

    Interestingly enough, Goering once replied to someone's objection that he did not care if Dutch or Norwegian people were "Germanic," they weren't German. Oh how that tune did change from the time he said that, which was incidentally 1940.

    But this allows me to go into Comic Book Guy-like nitpick mode.

    1. French Charlemagne members may have been among the last defenders of the Reichstag, but also don't forget that the Reichstag at the time was really more symbolic than strategic. It certainly was a fortress though, considering the fact that fighting was still going on in the building and its basements long after red flags appeared on its roof.

    2. Spanish former members of the "Blue Division" were also among the Reich's last defenders.

    3. The so-called ROA(Russian Liberation Army) was, for nearly all its existence, a complete misnomer and a propaganda ploy. By the time the "ROA" actually went into battle, it had become known as the VS-KONR(Armed Forces of the Committee for the Liberation of the Peoples of Russia). Actual Russian or Soviet POWs were employed in various Ostbattalionen or as "Hiwis." Even then, there were revolts within their ranks and secret underground networks were formed in the POW camps where the propaganda for Soviet soldiers was made. Abdul Alish and Musa Jalil were two Tatar writers who were captured and then employed by the Wehrmacht to make propaganda for recruitment of an Idel-Ural army composed mostly of Volga Tatars and other Turkic Muslims from that region. Instead, they created an underground network and at least on Idel-Ural unit saw its soldiers murder their German officers and go back over to the Soviet lines.

    In fact, desertion back to the Soviet side became quite common in 1942, including among minorities such as Georgians, Tatars, Ukrainians, etc. The only Russian SS unit to operate on Soviet territory, known as the "Druzhina Brigade", deserted to the Soviet partisans and its commander was decorated for bravery in actions against the occupiers before being captured and killed by them.

    It is generally believed the the policy towards collaborators was almost exclusively death, but to my own surprise, based on the archival documents I read earlier this year the policy changed so much by the end of the war that it was ridiculously lenient given the actions of the Nazis and their collaborators on Soviet territory.

    One individual case stands out more than any other: Vasyl Kuk, of Ukraine, who became commander of the terrorist UPA(Ukrainian Insurgent Army) in 1950. What price did he pay for being a member and leader of an organization which carried out an armed uprising against the USSR into the 1950s(he was captured in 1954), which entailed numerous brutal murders of innocent civilians for being "loyal to Soviet power?" Six years. Yes you read that right. Six years in a labor colony; that wasn't even a GULAG. After that he was released, allowed to move to Kiev, got a university degree at the expense of the state, and then enjoyed the various benefits of the "evil empire" until it collapsed in 1991, at which point he started running his punk ass mouth about how terrible Soviet Ukraine was. Anyone who doubts the unusual mercy of the regime ought to take a look at the parades of collaborator "veterans" in Riga, Tallinn, Vilnius, and L'vov and ask where all those folks came from. Hint- They didn't return from exile, and in the case of UPA veterans, many of them actually deserted to the NKVD and helped root out their former comrades. So much for the "Undefeated Army."

    That is an extreme case, but according to Red Army policy literally thousands of collaborators in German uniform were simply sent home or enlisted into the Red Army. Mostly Ukrainians, Russians, and Baltic peoples were among them.

    Unfortunately there is little decent information on these facts in English. The most detailed books on the subject tend to come from the, shall we say, politically questionable publisher Axis-Europa books, and many other publications which focus on these formations tend to repeat the old Cold War whitewash whereby collaborators are portrayed as "freedom fighters against Hitler and Stalin." Funny how if they were truly against both sides, they always seemed to flock to the German side. Of course this is only about collaborators with nationalist ties. The truth is most "collaborators", regardless of Soviet nationality, were in fact just Soviet POWs who joined literally for the sake of survival. One in every three Soviet POWs died in German captivity.

    4. Croatia was independent thanks to the Axis powers after April 1941. The official name of the state was NDH(Independent State of Croatia). While the Ustase were known for terrible atrocities, it should be pointed out that they had no monopoly on this in the region. While the Serbian "Chetniks" are often stereotyped as followers of the loyalist Draza Mihailovic, many Chetnik units were "legalized" and worked with the occupiers, including Muslim and Croat units in some operations. Serbia also had its collaborationist units as well, the largest being the Serbian Volunteer Corps. Ironically their first casualty ever was a Bosnian Muslim.

    5. Indian Legion? I raise. http://upload.wikimedia.org/wikipedia/commons/b/b1/Bundesarchiv_Bild_101I-177-1465-16%2C_Griechenland%2C_Soldaten_der_%22Legion_Freies_Arabien%22.jpg

    Yup, that's a black African guy in a Wehrmacht uniform. Free Arab Legion.

    6. I'm pretty sure no Indian units were stationed in Normandy but rather in the Netherlands or perhaps near Calais. Ostbattalionen in Normandy were typically Russian, Belorussian, and Ukrainian, though there was at least one Georgian Battalion(I forget the number) in the Contentin peninsula. I believe it was engaged by the 101st AB division. Ostbattalions were transferred to the West, Yugoslavia, and Italy around 1943, largely due to the belief that they could not be trusted on the Eastern Front, which in turn was most likely due to the event I mentioned before involving Musa Jalil. When these troops were moved to the West, they typically retained their Soviet weapons and a limited stock of ammunition. When it ran dry, they typically surrendered.

    7. Not an Axis unit, but people often never hear about the Brazilian Expeditionary Force which fought in Northern Italy in early 1945. Their insignia was a snake smoking a tobacco pipe. When the president of Brazil declared war on Germany, people believed that they would send troops "when snakes smoke," an idiom which at the time meant "when pigs fly." Once the Brazilians went overseas, people said "snakes will smoke," which came to mean that something will definitely happen.

  7. Arslan Says:

    Oh nearly forgot, the typical Nazi justification for allying with Slavs(e.g. fascist Slovakia, which was Germany's first combat ally) typically involved them claiming that the Slavic people in question were not really Slavs. It was a little different with Russia. Himmler at Posen said that he preferred to spend Slavic(Russian, Belorussian, Ukrainian) lives rather than German ones. This is why it's so ridiculous that some former Soviet nations celebrate these troops today as "freedom fighters for their independence." Nazi Germany had no intention of making these lands independent and they would have easily swept away any resistance movement had they defeated the Soviet government. Goebbels himself wrote in his diary that people like those of the Baltics must have been stupid to believe that Germany was sacrificing her "best blood" for the sake of Estonian or Latvian independence.

    And now Latvia, Estonia, and Lithuania are no longer independent once again.

  8. Arslan Says:

    Another bit of obscure trivia: The man who invented the term "assault rifle?" None other than Adolf Hitler himself. Think about it!

    Also, rare photo of Soviet naval infantry of the Northern Fleet with lend-lease Thompson guns(rare because the RKKA/VMF rarely used American small arms). http://albumwar2.com/wp-content/uploads/2013/04/39514.jpg

  9. Xynzee Says:

    @Arslan: The Baltics are no longer independent? Link please so I can educate myself of the goings on in that part of the world. Thanks.

  10. Arslan Says:

    Yeah they're in this thing you might have heard of called "the European Union." It's "capital" is in Brussels but basically Germany runs the show. It's been working out great so far in Greece, Spain, Italy, and Portugal.

  11. giri Says:

    Arslan: Mind. Blown. Thank you.

  12. Xynzee Says:

    EU? Is that all? You made it sound as though they'd been resubsumed by the RFS

  13. c u n d gulag Says:

    Vlasov's Russian troops did not fair well with the Soviets if they were captured, and didn't die in action, or kill themselves.
    They were labelled as traitors, the leaders all executed, as were many of the troops.
    The rest of them ended up in GULag's, mostly in Siberia, and very few made it out alive.

    The same thing happened to Russian refugee's who escaped from the war in their area, and ended up leaving with the Germans.

    Both sides of my family, my late Father's from Ukraine, and my Mother's from Stalingrad, faced the same dire circumstances if they were "repatriated."

    My Father's side were "Forced Labor" from the Mittelbau-Dora Concentration Camp, and worked at the V-2 Plant in Kohnstein. The were captured by the Americans, and had no worries, since they ended up in the American Zone.

    My Mother's Father, was a Foreman at the Red October Tractor (read: tank factory, during WWII). My Grandmother was "Halb-Deutch," which means that her Mother was from Germany. She was pregnant, and my Grandfather decided to go to her, abandoning his job, to cross over to the German side. The second he did that, he was a dead man.

    The rest of my Grandmothers family decided to also try to leave with the Germans (she had 5 Sisters – her two Brothers had been executed by Stalin in 1939). Four of them succeeded. The fifth one started to go, but decided to stay in Stalingrad at the last second, since she was a singer, and her husband was the cities Orchestra Conductor (for her families desertion, they were sent to Siberia, where he eventually became the Conductor for the Orchestra in the city they ended up in. Her singing career ended, though).

    Towards the end of the war, everyone knew that to be caught anywhere near the rapidly approaching Soviet Army was probably a death sentence, so they all tried to get as far West as possible, in the theory that they'd end up with either the Americans (everyone's hope), or the English, or French.

    Most were successful.
    My Grandparents got to the Americans – so did one of her Sisters. Two of my Grandmother's other Sister's families, ended up with the British, and the last Sister and her family, ended up getting captured by the Soviets, just as they were nearing the British troops.

    To make a long story short, my parents ended up in America, so did my Mom's cousin's.
    The two in the British Zone, ended up in Australia.
    And the fourth, the one whose family was caught by the Soviet troops – they ended up in Siberia, where they stayed (I'm not sure how much choice they were given in the matter) – the Grandchildren and their children are still there.

    The Germans treated the Halb-Deutch better than other refugees.

    The Ukrainian's were treated as Untermenchen, and ended up in the Concentration Camps – though, in the Labor part, not the Death part. Which didn't mean they didn't work you to death – just that that wasn't the German's sole goal.
    If you and your family had any German blood, you ended up in Labor Camps – but the work wasn't as brutally hard, and the food and treatment, better. Not exactly The Ritz, but a lot better than being in the camps with the Jews, Gypsies, Gays, and traitors to The Reich, or the Untermenchen in the sorrounding part of the camps.

    All of my life, up until a little over a decade ago, I was very happy that both sides of my family ended up in America in the early 50's, and my parent's met, and had a happy life here.

    But lately, I wish both sides had ended up in Australia – I'm getting mortally sick of this country, half-terrific, and half-horrific, full of religious loons, racists, misogynists, xenophobes, homophobes, idiots, morons, imbeciles, freaks, and/or geeks (and not the good kind). They are f*cking this country up badly, and won't stop until they completely f*ck it up, to their insane specifications – unless we stop them. AND SOON!

    But, then again, there's no guarantee that my parents would have ended up meeting in Australia, so…

    I'm hoping we can "take this country back," and make it not only what it once was – only better.
    DON'T SIT OUT THE 2014 ELECTIONS! OR ANY OTHER ONES EITHER. Even the local ones – EXPECIALLY THE LOCAL ONE!
    A vote for a local Liberal or Progressive, can help change things from the bottom up. If he/she wins, onwards to a higher office! And that's how we "take this country back!"

  14. Metafalcon Says:

    Actually, the light-skinned NORTH Indians are Aryan, while darker-skinned southern Indians are not. That's why Hindi and Sanskrit are Indo-European languages while southern Indian languages are not. Centuries ago, the Aryans invaded the northern half of India, and the political repercussions continue to this day.

    Re: the Ustasi, my understanding is that the GOP has been working closely with them for a while. One of my frustrations about the American media is that the deep connections between the American conservative establishment and WWII fascist war criminals is never addressed. The Heritage Foundation is effectively a neo-Nazi group with a lot of ties to WWII era war criminals, but they get presented on NPR as a "conservative group" rather than as a fascist group, and never mind that the #2 man in HF was a WWII fascist in Eastern Europe.

  15. Arslan Says:

    No disparagement to your family, cundGULAG, but I take archival documentary evidence over anecdotal any day. I mean hear you can't throw a rock without hitting a veteran who will tell you that every day of his childhood growing up under Stalin was wonderful, and who would get extremely angry should you even criticize someone like Zhukov, for example. That's why we have to go to the objective facts. Recently I was giving an impromptu lecture on Stalingrad myths and realities, and the thing is that both Anthony Beevor(Stalingrad) and William Craig(Enemy at the Gates) got a lot of things incorrect.

    @Metalfalcon- Yes, a lot of collaborators and Axis folks were brought over to do propaganda work in the US and Canada among emigres. Some of them, such as the Western Ukrainians, supposedly wormed their way into Ukrainian studies programs at prestigious universities. One thing that was rather amusing is that it must have caused some CIA guy to tear his hair out trying to teach these guys how to stop ranting about "Judeo-Bolshevism." As late as the 80's some of the Ukrainian emigre newspapers still included "Judeo-" in "Muscovite-Bolshevism."

    As some of you may already know, a similar embarrassing situation occurred with Solzhenitsyn. He was at first embraced as some great intellectual of liberal thought. Then it turned out that he was in fact a romanticizer of the Russian empire and Tsarism, and guess who he blamed for the revolution and terror in the USSR. Yup, da jooz!

    Lastly, I've never been able to confirm this, but I had a much older friend who grew up in Milwaukee and he told me that the local Croatian community would run advertisements on TV celebrating the birthday of the dead "Poglavnik"("leader" as in fuhrer) Ante Pavelic.

  16. Major Kong Says:

    "It takes a brave man not to be a hero in the Red Army"

    Alleged quote by Joseph Stalin. Certainly sounds like something he might have said.

  17. c u n d gulag Says:

    Arlan,
    None taken.

    However, when you write, "…but I take archival documentary evidence over anecdotal any day," I'd just like to say something.

    I've read a lot of history over the years, and I agree with you. Stories told later on about what happened at any event, evolve over time, sometimes embellished, sometimes diminished, sometimes they're not even true in the first place. Or, they're someone elses stories, adapted by the individual telling it.

    A good historian takes letters written at that time, plus, documents from places like government offices, companies, even churches.
    But a lot of good historians also include a lot of anecdotal evidence in their research. They seek out survivors or their families, and use their storied to "fill-out" their histories. Readers love a good story told by someone who was there – or, someone related. Some of the worst history books I've read have, in my opinion, far too many statistics, and resource materials, and not enough stories to personlize the material.

    It would take more than one enormous library to house all of the data that the meticulous Nazi's kept – which helped hang a lot of them, and sent the rest of the ones caught to prisons for long sentences. But, they wouldn't make good reading. I want to hear from the surviving people who were the statistics, or their families and friends.

    Hell, some of my favorite books about history are oral histories.
    A great example of this, is Studs Terkel's "The Good War." I wish people who read "The Greatest Generation" would read that, and end the Tom Brokaw hagiography. Not that Borkaw's stories aren't as good, or as true, it's just that Borkaw as a researcher and interviewer can't hold a candle to Terkel. And Brokaw sticks himself into the people's stories far too often.

    Imho – the best histories combine factual, documentable, evidence, and personal stories.

    PS: I was in Moscow back in '95, but I never got to Stalingrad (now Volgograd).
    One reason was that I had no time. But the other reason, is that the city my family knew was completely leveled. My Grandmother's house on Stanilavsky Street wasn't even standing when they left. Maybe the address was rebuilt into a house, or maybe it's part of an industrial complex, or, maybe it's a playground, or parking lot. I'll never know. I tried looking for it on Volgograd maps a few times, but I couldn't find.
    If the house was still there, I'd have been more motivated to go.
    Likewise, my Father's families home in Poltava. Leveled.

    We Americans often don't realize how lucky we are. In Europe, houses on streets that were there before WWI, weren't there there afterwards. Ditto WWII – and some of those were the ones rebuilt from WWI.
    Here, because we've been untouched by war since 1865 (discounting Pancho Villa, Hawaii, and terrorist attacks), and most cities and towns have had steady addresses, since they were built.
    So, most Americans can search for their roots, and their families homes, and find that the address is still there (maybe renamed) – the house may not be there, but you can find something there in its place.
    In Europe, with whole cities destroyed, the people can't say the same thing about their ancestral homes – unless they were the very rich, and the homes were in the country.

    Sorry, everyone, for this long digression.
    Have a great weekend!!!

  18. Middle Seaman Says:

    My mother, was in Auschwitz, always claimed that the Ukrainian units were way worse than the Nazi ones.

  19. c u n d gulag Says:

    Middle Seamn,
    Oh, I believe it!
    A couple of my Ukranian friend's of friend's Father's and Grandfather's here in the US, were picked-up in the years after the notorious John Demjanjuk, and charged. But if I remember right, it was for other camps.

    From some of the stories I'd read about (not the ones above, but others), not to excuse them, but they were told if they weren't brutal slaughterers, they, or, frequently, their families who were with them, would be killed along with the Jews.
    Apparently, in the early part of the war, the psychological trauma was too much, even for the SS, when they were taking Jews into the woods, and doing mass shootings – so the upper-level Nazi's came up with gassing the Jews with Zyklon B in extermination chambers at Concentration Camps, to lessen the stress for their fellow Nazi's.
    But, even that was too much, even for the SS, so they used captured prisoners, since who gave a sh*t how they felt, or what happened to them? They were probably going to be dead, one way or the other.

    I'd like to think I'd say 'no' if it was just my life.
    But who the hell really knows how anyone would act, especially if it wasn't just you who was going to be killed, but your parents and siblings – or worse, your wife and kids.
    What happened in WWII is really incomprehensible to those of us who mercifully never went through it. We can relate to (or, at least those of us who aren't sociopaths), but we'll never really know, the horror that man's inhumanity to man is capable of.

    Ok, enough of this serious and morbid sh*t – here's a little levity:
    Did you know that ex-MSNBC contributor Pat Buchanon's Grandfather died at Aushwitz?
    Yeah, he fell out of a guard tower. ;-)

  20. Stefan Says:

    @Arsland Nice anti EU propaganda. So you are saying none of whats happening now had anything to do with the countries themselves, but it was the German path? How about facts instead of nonsense?

  21. Arslan Says:

    Oh yes, the EU is doing wonderfully.

    And as for whose fault it is, well, Germany likes playing the blame game without checking their facts first. Here's Portugal's answer: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=hrWhBWazoaQ

    And then there is the matter of EU democracy, also known as "hold the vote again and again until people vote the right way."

  22. Doctor Rock Says:

    What kind of Indian are we talking? I had a friend in college whose father was from north India, and he was as white as my WASP ass (and he was not of British descent or anything)

  23. Jaime Oria Says:

    Further evidence of the Nazi infatuation with Indo-Aryan philosophy and, frankly, mythologizing along the ever-so-scientific lines of the Theosophists:

    http://www.amazon.com/Hitlers-Priestess-Savitri-Hindu-Aryan-Neo-Nazism/dp/0814731112/ref=sr_1_1?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1366985322&sr=1-1&keywords=hitler%27s+priestess

    I been known to snark about the Nazis being "Theosophists with panzers".

  24. Well, mostly Says:

    And into this incredibly confusing mix of nationalities, political forces, religions, languages, and historical rivalries went the American troops (among others), wide-eyed innocents, drawn from the small towns and rural areas of the US. Places where what little history may have been taught didn't include even the names of all the contenders and yet any understanding of what was really going on. No wonder the narrative since then (at least in America) has been so simplistic, so easily passed along in John Wayne movies. And, no wonder that schools somehow avoid, as Ed has described, getting into the heart of things from WWII. In the best of circumstances how would we teach all that? Even the thread here today leaves out the whole of the Pacific.
    Many thanks for the brilliant comments. Loving me some G and T.

  25. Arslan Says:

    Ooooh…Savitri Devi. Now THERE'S obscurity and insanity all rolled into one. IIRC she at one point wrote a novel where her cats were the characters. Crazy Nazi Cat Lady.

  26. Jaime Oria Says:

    And then there's this:

    http://www.serbianna.com/columns/savich/104/002.jpg

    Fez-wearing members of the Bosnian 'Handszar' division

  27. Major Kong Says:

    The totenkopf just doesn't look quite as menacing on a fez.

  28. j Says:

    One comment and related question:

    I heard from a friend that his grandfather living somewhere in the slavic states was forced into the SS army when they took over his hometown. Apparently the story is that when the Nazis rolled through your town, the men either had to join the army or get killed. Does anyone know if there's any truth to that?

  29. Xjmueller Says:

    Great post, greater comments. Thanks Ed, et al. I knew much of what was discussed and agree with CUND about personal narratives being an important part of history. I can confess that my own kids ( in their 30s) are woefully ignorant about history in general. They often ask me about things I thought everybody knew. I'm pretty sure they covered history in school, I remember them taking it. Somehow, it just wasn't important to them, which I'll take some blame for.

  30. c u n d gulag Says:

    J,
    Not necessarily in the SS, since that was pretty exclusive.

    But yeah, as the war wore on, the Nazi's were desperate for troops, and were taking all comers.

    And don't kind yourself, in the USSR, and parts of Eastern Europe, after Stalin's "Reign of Terror," there was no shortage of guys willing to help out – but usually they did it in the Wehrmacht.
    Only the most sociopathically brutal made it to the SS. And they had to earn that.

    Stalin was Hitler's greatest recruiting tool.
    But, too may times, instead of trying to woo the local population in the right way, most of whom were more than happy to hand over any Jews, and turn on Stalin – especially in Ukraine, where 3-6 million, or more, were starved to death in the 30's by Stalin (read "Harvest of Sorrow," to better understand about the scope of that man-made famine, meant to break the Ukrainians will), Hitler didn't do anywhere near what he could have done to get the population on his side.

    Instead, when they welcomed him and his troops, he considered the Ukrainians, Untermenschen, and beneath contempt.

    He blew it.
    He treated too many Ukrainians little better than the Jews they were turning over in droves.
    He killed many men who would have gladly supported him, and their families, in towns where the Soviet Army put up a particularly tough fight (which wasn't all that often, since they were retreating to protect Leningrad, Moscow, Stalingrad, and Hitlers path to the oil-rich Caucuses, and didn't give a sh*t about the Ukrainians, who were looked upon as rebels and traitors).

    If Hitler had embraced the Ukrainians, history might have been a bit
    different – or, at least, it would have taken Hitler longer to lose.

    Russia had too many troops in reserve, and the Nazi's were losing too many, and, at the end of the war, the defense of Berlin was handled by teenage boys, and old men.
    So, probably no matter what he did, it was only a matter of time.

  31. Big dog Says:

    Wonderful post and great reposte. Just a reminder that you don't have to be a sociopath to torture and kill in defense of the fatherland, freedom or whatever. We have a whole bunch of guys in the CIA along with their hirelings who aren't a tad different.

  32. Death Panel Truck Says:

    "True fact" is a tautology.

  33. Robert Says:

    The comedy website Cracked has has a few WWII articles mentioning some of this. In my own historical studies, I happened across an interesting detail; allegedly, for years after '45, the Soviets had annual essay contests for schoolchildren. The topic was "What the Great Patriotic War means to me". The winner in each town or village got to lay the memorial wreath at the base of the war memorial, as all the surviving veterans sat (wearing their medals) watching. I cannot imagine how this burned certain messages into those children's minds – children who are now essentially every Russian over forty. I'll bet they remember.

  34. Ellie Says:

    Just out of curiosity…

    Am I the only one who read this entire post waiting for a punchline about the irony of those patriotic white Christian "real 'Merikan" support-the-troops wing-nuts living in a county whose military is far more integrated than most of it's other institutions?

  35. c u n d gulag Says:

    Bubba and Bubbette's POV:

    Ellie.
    Btw – We loves to fish, so it's "Reel 'urkans!"
    Yeah, 'n that's a problem.
    We's now armin' N*****s, Sp*cs, J*ws, W*men, R*gheads, R*d Injuns, Sl*ant-eyes, 'n F*gs!!!
    'N teackin' 'em to shoot, just like us Reel Murkans!!!
    'N ain't nothin' good ain't gonna come o' that.

  36. c u n d gulag Says:

    Oooops!
    "Murkans," we ment up thar.

    Some Commie Heathen Moooozlum, prolly done stole that "M," juss like they is doin' steelin' hour KKKuntry!

  37. purpleplatypus Says:

    This is a nice piece, but I don't quite see how it fits as an NPF.

    Or does "no politics" just mean "no current, American politics"?

    (If so, isn't that rather close to the kind of parochialism you criticized as recently the 22nd?)

  38. Tengrain Says:

    My HS history never made it through the Civil War, and my father wouldn't talk about his role in WW2.

    Stuff like this post fascinates me because I just never heard any of it before.

    Rgds,

    Tengrain

  39. vegymper Says:

    Death Panel Truck Says:
    "True fact" is a tautology.

    I beg to dissent. It is an oxymoron.