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  #1  
Old 02-14-2011, 08:28 AM
Agent Foxtrot Agent Foxtrot is offline
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How are the Nazi veterans of WWII treated in Germany today?

In the U.S., American World War II vets receive a lot of respect. There are many programs for vets to ensure that no one was left behind after the war. We have memorials to fallen WW2 soldiers and honor them yearly.

What about Nazi veterans who survived the war? Does the German government (which is staunchly anti-Nazi now) support them in any way? Do they receive any sort of pension or healthcare? Or were they left to fend for themselves after the war?
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  #2  
Old 02-14-2011, 09:16 AM
Agent Foxtrot Agent Foxtrot is offline
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Just to clarify, I'm not asking about the upper-echelon officers of the regime. I'm curious about the enlisted men and low-level officers who served only out of the sense of survival for themselves and their families.

Last edited by Agent Foxtrot; 02-14-2011 at 09:17 AM..
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  #3  
Old 02-14-2011, 09:27 AM
Mops Mops is offline
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Generally, the law makes not distinction of political views (i.e. between Nazis and non-Nazis) for benefits to veterans of WWII. Times of conscripted service and POW times are counted towards the general (statutory) pension entitlement (that all employed people contribute to); AFAIK pension benefits for professional soldiers as well as disability benefits are (were, for the most part) separately dealt with in the normal civil service benefits framework.

Health care would have been be covered mostly in the normal statutory health insurance scheme (i.e. no difference between vets and non-vets because none was necessary).

The general attitude to the common soldiers of WWII is that they did not get to decide whether to go to war, and that what distinguishes them from later generations is their date of birth.

(personally, when I think of people who were 20 years old in 1942, as opposed to me who was 20 years old in 1982, I think "there but for the grace of God....")

Last edited by Mops; 02-14-2011 at 09:32 AM..
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Old 02-14-2011, 10:57 AM
dolphinboy dolphinboy is online now
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My understanding is that the German government doesn't discriminate against those who fought in and survived WWII. How would that benefit German Society in general? You would be making "martyrs" out of these people and which would help keep the Neo-Nazi movement alive.

Of course they don't have public parades celebrating Nazis and WWII either. Why would they?
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Old 02-14-2011, 01:03 PM
constanze constanze is offline
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Originally Posted by Agent Foxtrot View Post
What about Nazi veterans who survived the war? Does the German government (which is staunchly anti-Nazi now) support them in any way? Do they receive any sort of pension or healthcare? Or were they left to fend for themselves after the war?
It sounds as if you are asking about veterans of the armed forces, the Wehrmacht soldiers, and not members of specific Nazi groups like the SS? Because the normal Wehrmacht soldiers and officers are, as Mops said, treated like other soldiers. They were drafted, and had no option of denying the draft (death penalty for Wehrkraftzersetzung = defetaism, which included also simply saying that the war was lost or being critical of any officer).

Additionally, the Allies did wage a war against the civilian population, and Stalin had told the Russian soldiers to take revenge on the German women, so Hans Schmidt becoming a soldier to defend his family against the hordes of barbarians from the East, and to take revenge or stop the bombs falling every night was reasonably expected of a normal person and not Nazi-evil.

The POWs who returned from Russia up until the 50s and the soldiers left behind earlier were left alone with their memories and conflicted ideology and without help to integrate into society, but that's more because in the 50s, society in general didn't believe in therapy, and everybody was eager to move on, forget all this, and just live and enjoy that there was food on the table and stuff to be bought in the stores.

Soldiers returning after the war had to deal with the problem of their ideology and the state they had fought for collapsing and learning that everything they had believed in was wrong; they had to cope with the horrors they had seen and experienced on the battlefield (both the horrors of a world war and some also with the Nazi mass shootings or the Army shootings of hostages).

They also had started out from a macho society where men protected the women who stayed at home. When they returned, women had worked 12 hr shifts in factories during the war, and started rebuilding homes from bombed ruins afterwards, raising children with almost nothing to eat. Not everyone was ready and willing to step aside and become a helpless wife again (many were eager to relinquish responsibility and stop the difficult work of scrounging).

Many women had been told that their husband had died, but some turned out to be missing and found their bed occupied when returning years later, because the wife had moved on with her life, or needed a friendship with an allied soldier to survive.

The POWs from Russia returned in the 50s just as the economy was starting to pick up and when people wanted to put everything behind them. They were an unwelcome reminder of the past, and nobody wanted to help them with their nightmares and other problems, even if they had wanted to talk, which they had learned that a real man doesn't, anyway.
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Old 02-14-2011, 01:05 PM
constanze constanze is offline
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Of course they don't have public parades celebrating Nazis and WWII either. Why would they?
They did have a demonstration of silent memory yesterday in Dresden for the victims of the huge bombing there on Feb. 13th, but this was mainly done to deny the Neo-nazis a chance to twist this date into a "Germans were the real victims" lie.
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Old 02-14-2011, 01:44 PM
Gary T Gary T is offline
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A data point for what constanze has related:

Thirty-some years ago I worked with a fellow who had been a German soldier during WWII. He explained that he was just doing his duty in service to his country, as I imagine many or most of his comrades were. When he returned home after the war, he felt unappreciated and even unwanted. He thought many of his countrymen saw the soldiers as unpleasant reminders of things they'd rather forget. Feeling he no longer had a real home there, he came to the U.S. I don't know just what year he immigrated, or how he was received here. The thing he talked about was feeling betrayed by his country after serving it.
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Old 02-14-2011, 02:11 PM
Gedd Gedd is online now
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Not trying to hijack, but does anyone know of a movie or book along this line?

This makes me think of Gone With the Wind when she gets home after they have lost the war; everything has changed. She's flat broke, the whole area has gone to pieces and there are still Union soldiers around and not being too nice. Quite different from what the other guys had.
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Old 02-14-2011, 02:41 PM
Inthewater Inthewater is offline
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Originally Posted by Gary T View Post
A data point for what constanze has related:

Thirty-some years ago I worked with a fellow who had been a German soldier during WWII. He explained that he was just doing his duty in service to his country, as I imagine many or most of his comrades were. When he returned home after the war, he felt unappreciated and even unwanted. He thought many of his countrymen saw the soldiers as unpleasant reminders of things they'd rather forget. Feeling he no longer had a real home there, he came to the U.S. I don't know just what year he immigrated, or how he was received here. The thing he talked about was feeling betrayed by his country after serving it.
Is it just me, or does this sound really familiar? Sometime in about 1972-75 in America?

If asked today, my Dad would have similar sentiments about his "warm welcome back" from S.E. Asia.

Interesting stuff, Constanze and Gary.

I have a friend who married a gal from Nuremberg, and I asked her one time almost this very question.

In return, I received almost the same response.
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Old 02-15-2011, 02:14 AM
constanze constanze is offline
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Originally Posted by Gedd View Post
Not trying to hijack, but does anyone know of a movie or book along this line?
One of the most iconic plays would be "Draussen vor der Tür" (Outside or in front of the door), which is rather depressing.

The general genre is Trümmerliteratur (literature from the ruins), with Heinrich Böll and Borchert as well-known names.

The topic of soldier coming home after the war to find his wife in the arms of someone else is of course not specific to the German soldiers of WWII, but rather occurs after every longer war, so it's been treated in literature often.
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  #11  
Old 02-15-2011, 06:50 AM
EinsteinsHund EinsteinsHund is online now
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I'm a bit reluctant to post the following, because this is a loaded subject for me as a German, and I don't want to deny any of the bad things the Wehrmacht was responsible for in WW2, but the OP sounds like making the common mistake of equating Wehrmacht soldier = Nazi. This is not correct. The Wehrmacht, other than organsiations like the SS or SA, was not a NSDAP organisation, it was the regular German armed forces, with almost any male German who was fit for military drafted during the times of WW2.

I tried to find statistics about the proportion of NSDAP members in the Wehrmacht to no avail, but I very much doubt that they were the majority, even among the officers.

Of course you can argue (and believe me, this has been argued over and over in post war Germany till today) that the German forces were a willing tool of Hitler and his party, but the expression "Nazi veteran" for any former soldier of the Wehrmacht who fought in WW2 is historically incorrect.

Last edited by EinsteinsHund; 02-15-2011 at 06:54 AM..
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Old 02-15-2011, 07:13 AM
t-bonham@scc.net t-bonham@scc.net is online now
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With geriatric medicine, mostly.

Remember that the very youngest soldiers would be at least in their 80's now, and many of them even older. If not dead & buried.

I believe that the US VA hospitals have reported that US WWII veterans are dying off at the rate of more than 1,000 per day now. I'd expect German vets are much the same.
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Old 02-15-2011, 10:09 AM
BlinkingDuck BlinkingDuck is offline
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Originally Posted by constanze View Post
Many women had been told that their husband had died, but some turned out to be missing and found their bed occupied when returning years later, because the wife had moved on with her life, or needed a friendship with an allied soldier to survive.
When I was in college, I worked in a warehouse and, one summer, was paired with an older gentleman who turned out to have fought for the German army in WWII.

He was quiet about it until he found out I was interested, non-judgemental and (probably most importantly) half German (and spoke it a little).

The quote above happened to him. He was told that his wife had died in a bombing raid. It wasn't until he had immigrated to the U.S. and 10 years later he found out his wife was alive. He says he was told they did that in order to make him fight harder and was common practice toward the end of the war.

He met his wife but he and she had remarried...they talked and said their goodbyes and never met again.

{Interestingly enough I asked how a German POW could immigrate to the U.S. in 1946. He said it wasn't that hard probably because he spoke English. Sometimes you really have to love the U.S....seriously }

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Old 02-15-2011, 10:12 AM
Ludovic Ludovic is online now
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Originally Posted by BlinkingDuck View Post
The quote above happened to him. He was told that his wife had died in a bombing raid. It wasn't until he had immigrated to the U.S. and 10 years later he found out his wife was alive. He says he was told they did that in order to make him fight harder and was common practice toward the end of the war.
That's weird, I hear that one of the biggest reasons that more regular Wehrmacht did not surrender on the Western Front was that they were told there would be reprisals against their family. Which isn't to say that the Nazis didn't try mutually illogical strategies occasionally.
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Old 02-15-2011, 10:22 AM
BlinkingDuck BlinkingDuck is offline
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That's weird, I hear that one of the biggest reasons that more regular Wehrmacht did not surrender on the Western Front was that they were told there would be reprisals against their family. Which isn't to say that the Nazis didn't try mutually illogical strategies occasionally.
Please keep in mind this was a older guy and what he said. I can't verify if what he said was true. He was also interesting in that I did get the feeling from him that he thought Germans were better than others and was sorry Germany lost (though he didn't say that). He was not a 'nice guy'.

His stories were fasciniating though. They didn't glorify himself so I don't think he was just telling stories to the youngin but were generally true. My favorite was the time he volunteered for a patrol in exchange for a 1 week pass. He said he never volunteered for anything again

Last edited by BlinkingDuck; 02-15-2011 at 10:24 AM..
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Old 02-15-2011, 10:25 AM
kopek kopek is offline
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Originally Posted by constanze View Post
It sounds as if you are asking about veterans of the armed forces, the Wehrmacht soldiers, and not members of specific Nazi groups like the SS? Because the normal Wehrmacht soldiers and officers are, as Mops said, treated like other soldiers. They were drafted, and had no option of denying the draft (death penalty for Wehrkraftzersetzung = defetaism, which included also simply saying that the war was lost or being critical of any officer).

.
So I have to ask - what about the SS and other more political or "elite" branches? Is there a difference between the Allgemeine and Waffen? Between say the Herman Goering Panzer vets and the average Luftwaffe vet? Or is it more a case of barring a particular individual being a known war criminal a vet is a vet?
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Old 02-15-2011, 02:02 PM
constanze constanze is offline
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So I have to ask - what about the SS and other more political or "elite" branches? Is there a difference between the Allgemeine and Waffen? Between say the Herman Goering Panzer vets and the average Luftwaffe vet? Or is it more a case of barring a particular individual being a known war criminal a vet is a vet?
It's complicated. Officially, after WWII, there was the process of Denazifaction for every adult to go through. Everybody was obliged to list their membership in Nazi organisations, and would then be evaluated by the board and placed into one of several categories ranging from innocent/ resistance over Mitläufer (minor follower) and Nazi up to war criminal. Depending on the status, a monetary or prison fine and limits for further political service were handed out.

In practise, when they started with the small fry, found out that evaluating millions of people after a war and the refugee situation from the East had destroyed a lot of records (and people destroying incriminating evidence themselves), it was impossible to find out if somebody was lying. It was also popular to get a priest or similar to issue a "Persilschein" (Persil was a popular laundry soap) that you were innocent. Sometimes this was a deal for food (people were hungry to the point of starvation in the later war years and afterwards till the money change), sometimes it was a tit-for-tat of two guilty people giving each other clean papers.

Added to that was the practical problem that if all offical Nazi members would have been removed from all political or admin. positions and put into prison for the next several years, the country would have been shut down, because you can't take away the majority of the admin. in every town and city.

So most mid-guilty people were declared to be less guilty as followers.

And a lot of real high-ranking Nazis just kept their mouth shut and in the rush to rebuild the country both physically and politically (a Restauration set in under Adenauer, helped partly by the desire of the Americans to recruit the new West Germany as ally in the cold war, so exposing and arresting more Nazis was counterproductive for them, too) they rose to high positions.

It needed the next generation, the 68 students revolt, to ask questions of their fathers generation "How could you allow this to happen? Why didn't you resist? What did you do in the war?" and demand that Nazi judges and Nazi politicans be thrown out of office.

The general view is that, while normal people were drafted into the normal Army (Wehrmacht) without a choice, to end up in one of the SS divisions, you had to apply specially and fulfill special requirements (purity of lineage). Therefore members of these special groups are considered more Nazi than normal veterans. (With the caveat of things being more complicated because regulations changed as the war went on. In the last days, the Volkssturm was called, drafting men over 60, disabled, and teens of 15 years. Technically, these teens could also be considered veterans for serving a couple of days before the surrender, but I have never heard of that.
They also used divisions of Hitler youth as helpers at the Flak (anti-aircraft guns), see infamously Pope Ratzinger and the discussion about this).

Practically today, (besides the mentioned biological solution as people get older and older), people keep quiet and pretend to be normal veterans. A few prominent ones have been tried as war criminals, sometimes late (Nazi crimes were exempt from the expiration of process on purpose).
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Old 02-15-2011, 02:05 PM
constanze constanze is offline
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{Interestingly enough I asked how a German POW could immigrate to the U.S. in 1946. He said it wasn't that hard probably because he spoke English. Sometimes you really have to love the U.S....seriously }
He probably lied. Officially, there were a lot of exclusions after the war for German males to legally get into the US, if they were members of .... If he lied or had good fake papers, and spoke good English, he had a good chance.
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Old 02-15-2011, 02:12 PM
constanze constanze is offline
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I'm a bit reluctant to post the following, because this is a loaded subject for me as a German, and I don't want to deny any of the bad things the Wehrmacht was responsible for in WW2, but the OP sounds like making the common mistake of equating Wehrmacht soldier = Nazi. This is not correct. The Wehrmacht, other than organsiations like the SS or SA, was not a NSDAP organisation, it was the regular German armed forces, with almost any male German who was fit for military drafted during the times of WW2.
In the interest of fullness and truth. it's necessary to point towards the controversal Wehrmacht-Ausstellung (exhibition) organized by Reemtsa several years back. It was a collection of war crimes done not by the special SS divisions (who would follow the regular Army in the East, get together Jews, Poles etc., tell them to dig a mass grave and shoot hundreds of people at once. Einsatzgruppen, they were called) but by the normal Army. One famous case was in Italy, when a group of civilian hostages were executed after a terrorist attack, and it was only in the 1980s that this was publically brought to court and the responsible officer tried.

Precisly because this exhibition challenged the view of the children, grandchildren and veterans themselves that they were just doing their duty for the country and protecting their families, but still being honourable soldiers, it was met with enormous controversy. This wasn't helped when Reemtsa had to publically apologize and retract some of the more extreme claims as historically incorrect, leading to another backlash, with the Neonazis of course using it as a new excuse for their tired old themes.

Despite single terrible incidences that need to be known, the majority of the Wehrmacht soldiers were indeed just people trying to do their jobs as soldiers.

Last edited by constanze; 02-15-2011 at 02:13 PM..
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Old 02-15-2011, 02:17 PM
constanze constanze is offline
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About lying: people lying about what they did and did not do during the Nazi time is a very common theme in German society. There's a famous movie "Das schreckliche Mädchen" (the horrible girl), a young teenager in the city of Passau, who grew up hearing all about the elder generations resisting the Nazis. But when she starts researching herself for a school project, she is being blocked from the archives and meets reluctance and closed mouths from the same people who used to talk freely. Finally, with a lucky break in the archives, she uncovers that a KZ (concentration camp) was in the city, and that all those grandparents and parents who talked about resisting really did know and were complicit.
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Old 02-15-2011, 04:17 PM
EinsteinsHund EinsteinsHund is online now
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Constanze, you're doing a great job here in concisely summarizing the (West) German post war history of dealing with millions of ex (or still) Nazis. The real divide in handling the subject in fact was 1968 and the years that followed. While my parents during the late forties and fifties still were partially taught in school by former NSDAP members, the most of my teachers (in the eighties) had been students during the sixties/early seventies, and thus mostly had a different stand on German history (at least they were firm democrats).

Btw., wasn't the movie "Das schreckliche Mädchen" based on a true story?
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Old 02-15-2011, 04:25 PM
EinsteinsHund EinsteinsHund is online now
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Originally Posted by EinsteinsHund View Post
Btw., wasn't the movie "Das schreckliche Mädchen" based on a true story?
A quick google: Yes, it was.

(ETA: Sorry for my laziness)

Last edited by EinsteinsHund; 02-15-2011 at 04:26 PM..
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Old 02-16-2011, 03:00 AM
constanze constanze is offline
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EinsteinsHund, thanks for the compliment!

To add the links I didn't have at hand yesterday night:

Einsatzgruppen

Wehrmacht-Exhibition

Flakhelfer

Volkssturm

The link to the "schreckliche Mädchen" is already given bei EinsteinsHund above.

And the 68-movement is what we call the political part of the students protests, different from those who just smoked a joint and wore long hair simply because it was fashion, and from the Hippies who wanted to withdraw from society to live peaceful.*

* Though in an interesting twist of history, a lot of those Hippies that were concerned about healthy eating and clothes, and went to live in the countryside a more natural life, now own successful companies in the organic food or clothes sector, employing dozens or more of people.

Last edited by constanze; 02-16-2011 at 03:04 AM..
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  #24  
Old 02-16-2011, 05:58 AM
EinsteinsHund EinsteinsHund is online now
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I tried to find statistics about the proportion of NSDAP members in the Wehrmacht to no avail, but I very much doubt that they were the majority, even among the officers.
This bugged me, so I started a spin-off thread to tackle this question.
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  #25  
Old 02-16-2011, 06:20 AM
madmonk28 madmonk28 is offline
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One point that might be important is that there were two Germanies prior to reunification. Does anyone know if atitudes towards WWII vets were different in East Germany than in West Germany?
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Old 02-16-2011, 07:01 AM
constanze constanze is offline
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Well in East Germany, as communists they were violently anti-Nazi and not interested in papering things over like in the West, but I don't know details. I've also heard that in the 1950s, a lot of East Germans were put into prisons, some deported into other Eastern Bloc countries, without proper trials, many of them innocent. This was not mentioned again afterwards during the communist rule.
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Old 02-16-2011, 07:15 AM
Horatio Hellpop Horatio Hellpop is offline
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Not trying to hijack, but does anyone know of a movie or book along this line?
Fassbinder's The Marriage of Maria Braun comes to mind.
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Old 02-16-2011, 11:05 PM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is online now
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Originally Posted by constanze View Post
It sounds as if you are asking about veterans of the armed forces, the Wehrmacht soldiers, and not members of specific Nazi groups like the SS?
I don't want to defend the SS but not everyone who joined the SS did so because they were a Nazi. The pre-war police agencies in Germany (the regular police who dealt with normal criminal investigations) were incorporated into the SS when the Nazis took power. Presumedly some police officers stayed on the job and became members of the SS because they still wanted to oppose regular criminals.

The SS also had a military branch, the Waffen-SS, which fought alongside the regular army. Because of political influence, the Waffen-SS often got priority on receiving the best equipment. Some Germans saw this and made the pragmatic decision that if they were going to end up being conscripted anyway they might as well volunteer for the Waffen-SS and join a better-equipped unit. (And after 1943, some Germans were conscripted directly into the Waffen-SS.)
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Old 02-17-2011, 09:33 AM
Chefguy Chefguy is online now
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Originally Posted by constanze View Post
Well in East Germany, as communists they were violently anti-Nazi and not interested in papering things over like in the West, but I don't know details. I've also heard that in the 1950s, a lot of East Germans were put into prisons, some deported into other Eastern Bloc countries, without proper trials, many of them innocent. This was not mentioned again afterwards during the communist rule.
Following the war, Soviet paranoia went into overdrive. Stalin went on a rampage of purges of anybody who he thought even might be a German sympathizer or harbor anti-Soviet thoughts. This included not only East Germans, but Soviet POWs that had been held in German prisons, most of whom were accused of being traitors or collaborators because they had surrendered. A huge number were sent east to the Siberian camps with sentences of 25 years or more. There must have been a huge, collective sigh of relief when he croaked in 1953.
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Old 02-17-2011, 09:49 AM
Mr. Excellent Mr. Excellent is offline
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Following the war, Soviet paranoia went into overdrive. Stalin went on a rampage of purges of anybody who he thought even might be a German sympathizer or harbor anti-Soviet thoughts. This included not only East Germans, but Soviet POWs that had been held in German prisons, most of whom were accused of being traitors or collaborators because they had surrendered. A huge number were sent east to the Siberian camps with sentences of 25 years or more. There must have been a huge, collective sigh of relief when he croaked in 1953.
There was. Khruschev's big initiative domestically was de-Stalinization, to the extent that he delivered a remarkably full and frank report of Stalin's crimes to the Party Congress.
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Old 02-17-2011, 10:11 AM
constanze constanze is offline
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This included not only East Germans, but Soviet POWs that had been held in German prisons, most of whom were accused of being traitors or collaborators because they had surrendered. A huge number were sent east to the Siberian camps with sentences of 25 years or more.
Which is the basis of the novel "One day in the life Iwan Denissoywitch"
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Old 02-17-2011, 10:29 AM
[Undecided] Adrian [Undecided] Adrian is offline
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Following the war, Soviet paranoia went into overdrive. Stalin went on a rampage of purges of anybody who he thought even might be a German sympathizer or harbor anti-Soviet thoughts. This included not only East Germans, but Soviet POWs that had been held in German prisons, most of whom were accused of being traitors or collaborators because they had surrendered. A huge number were sent east to the Siberian camps with sentences of 25 years or more. There must have been a huge, collective sigh of relief when he croaked in 1953.
And because of these purges in the DDR, the later discussions of the guilt of society as a whole didn't happen there. That's why the Neo-Nazis today have much larger support in East Germany. Even there it doesn't amount to much, though - 17,000 people prevented a few hundred right extremists from coopting the memorial of the Dresden bombings recently.
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Old 02-17-2011, 12:03 PM
Chefguy Chefguy is online now
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Just an aside: I remember reading that a popular chant by Army men near the end of the Korean War went "Joe's dead, so they said; hurrah, hurrah, that's one less Red."
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Old 02-17-2011, 12:52 PM
md2000 md2000 is offline
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I imagine the party-member problem was the same as in the soviet bloc or Iraq - to even be considered for some better jobs, you had to be a member of the ruling party. You can't be neutral - noncommital would be taken for harbouring doubts about the regime. You had to at least go through the show of being part of it.

(This is what was so disasterous aout firing all the Baathists in Iraq - they basically eliminated anyone, for example, who had any experience in police work, judges, teachers, administrators in any significant organization, etc. Society can't function with all of it's core workers gone; and the "downtrodden" never had a chance to get any practical experience in those positions...)

I recall reading a discussion of looking for Nazi war criminals in the post-war occupation. One fellow mentioned that some very high-up regional administrators in the US Army actively obstructed the nvestigators. The fellow speculated whether this was some sort of collusion (i.e. financial or new friendships) or whether it was motivated by the desire to keep very in power civilians with very anti-communist views.

I too remember talking a few times to a fellow who had been in the GermanArmy during the war, then emigrated to Canada.He had been a teenager at the time, so he didn't sound like he was terribly invested in any ideology, he treated the whole thing as a joke. It was more like "Yeah, I was in the German army, these things happen to people, you know."

He told about the time he captured an American air crew with his shovel; apparently they were digging trenches when a bomber flew over at about 100 feet and he guys bailed out landing between him and the crew's stack of guns. He had to keep yelling at them and waving his shovel to distract them while one of the others went around them to get the guns before the Americans realized the situation.

He also mentioned the time he met Hitler, who apparently was a very charming fellow. He and a group of fellow students in Berlin were bumped out of their rush seats when Hitler and his entourage decided to go to the opera at the last minute. Hitler talked to them on the way in, and apologized for he inconvenience and displacing them. I guess Hitler did NOT apologize to Poland or Czeckoslovakia...
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Old 02-17-2011, 01:40 PM
Little Nemo Little Nemo is online now
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I guess Hitler did NOT apologize to Poland or Czeckoslovakia...
And if he did, you know it would have been one of those fake apologies: "I'm sorry you feel like I destroyed your country."
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Old 05-26-2011, 03:14 PM
ThirdCultureKid ThirdCultureKid is offline
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Originally Posted by md2000 View Post
I imagine the party-member problem was the same as in the soviet bloc or Iraq - to even be considered for some better jobs, you had to be a member of the ruling party. You can't be neutral - noncommital would be taken for harbouring doubts about the regime. You had to at least go through the show of being part of it.
This. There's a story in my family regarding my grandfather and great-grandfather getting into significant trouble with the local NSDAP official over their noncommital attitude.
I don't know the exact details and unfortunatly can't ask my grandfather for clarification, but the main issue was that my family were Danes living in Northern Germany (Bismarck mucking around with those damn borders).

My grandfather was about 17 in 1944-45, and as such beginning to be eligible for semi-forced drafting. My great-grandfather, no fan of the regime due to his family/heritage, was petrified that his son would be drafted. But he knew that by enrolling him in the Hitler Youth, he would be counted as 'already serving the nation' and thus ineligible, so off went my great-grandfather to enroll him. Cut to a few months later, and both of them get called up to the local Nazi's office to draft him.

Although my great-grandfather was right the legalistic aspects of his son's inequality, the local Nazi knew full well that this Dane wasn't exactly a fan of the regime. Despite having enrolled his own son in the Hitler Youth, the official was so enraged that he pulled a gun and waved it around, making my great-grandfather and his son lie on the floor for ages, ranting at them for their lack of patriotism.

Although as I have grown older I have on occasion doubted all the stories I have heard from various (multinational, not only German) sides of my family about their personal involvement in the war, it is certainly true that being noncommital was, to the individual, and dependant on their standing within the local community, very dangerous.
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Old 05-26-2011, 04:53 PM
Spavined Gelding Spavined Gelding is offline
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I can only offer a personal anecdote which probably can’t be confirmed because the guy is surely dead and forgotten by now.

Back in the late 1960s and early 1970s I had some contact with the public prosecutor in a middle sized West German city where I was stationed. Every two months or so he was required to personally present himself at some office in Bonn, then the federal capital, because of something he had done as a company commander on the Eastern Front. It always seemed the better part of discretion not to ask. I was given to understand, however, that it had something to do with the murder of civilians, whether Jews or Slavs I do not know.

Had he been a big Nazi he never would have attained what was a pretty important public office. He was just another junior officer. Twenty-five years after the end of the war the Federal Republic was still keeping track of him.
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Old 05-26-2011, 04:59 PM
aruvqan aruvqan is offline
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When I was in college, I worked in a warehouse and, one summer, was paired with an older gentleman who turned out to have fought for the German army in WWII.

He was quiet about it until he found out I was interested, non-judgemental and (probably most importantly) half German (and spoke it a little).

The quote above happened to him. He was told that his wife had died in a bombing raid. It wasn't until he had immigrated to the U.S. and 10 years later he found out his wife was alive. He says he was told they did that in order to make him fight harder and was common practice toward the end of the war.

He met his wife but he and she had remarried...they talked and said their goodbyes and never met again.

{Interestingly enough I asked how a German POW could immigrate to the U.S. in 1946. He said it wasn't that hard probably because he spoke English. Sometimes you really have to love the U.S....seriously }
One of the machinists who taught me my trade came over after WW2 as well, along with his surviving sister Sister Maria and his brother Fr Christian. Only reason those 2 survived out of a family of 11 kids was they were in orders in Spain. He was an officer, and from the way he described it the enlisted did not have to be party members but the officers did. Unpopular officers [those that were not all gung ho party members] tended to get sent to the Eastern front. He survived the Eastern Front, and made it all the way back because he was into winter sports and had thoughtfully brought along all 3 sets of silk and wool skiing underwear, and as officers were allowed a bit of leeway in uniform, he had a great coat made of much thicker wool than the issue greatcoat. As he said, a certain amount of hardening his heart against others suffering gave him troubles for a long time afterwards.
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Old 05-26-2011, 06:13 PM
Chimera Chimera is offline
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Originally Posted by ThirdCultureKid View Post
My grandfather was about 17 in 1944-45, and as such beginning to be eligible for semi-forced drafting. My great-grandfather, no fan of the regime due to his family/heritage, was petrified that his son would be drafted. But he knew that by enrolling him in the Hitler Youth, he would be counted as 'already serving the nation' and thus ineligible, so off went my great-grandfather to enroll him. Cut to a few months later, and both of them get called up to the local Nazi's office to draft him.
This sounds a little off. Wikipedia says;

By December 1936, HJ membership stood at just over five million. That same month, HJ membership became mandatory for Aryans, under the Gesetz über die Hitlerjugend law. This legal obligation was re-affirmed in 1939 with the Jugenddienstpflicht and HJ membership was required even when it was opposed by the member's parents. Massaquoi claims,[9] though, that the war did not allow the law to go very far. From then on, most of Germany's teenagers belonged to the HJ. By 1940, it had eight million members. Later war figures are difficult to calculate, since massive conscription efforts and a general call-up of boys as young as 10 years old meant that virtually every young male in Germany was, in some way, connected to the HJ. Only about 10 to 20% were able to avoid joining.

So besides being non-Aryan (and I really don't care about your background), your family would have had to have worked damned hard to keep your grandfather out of the Hitler Youth.

My grandfather was a member before he emigrated to the United States. I'm not 100% sure of the year, but my mother was born in the USA in 1938.
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Old 05-26-2011, 07:20 PM
ThirdCultureKid ThirdCultureKid is offline
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Oh, I completely agree that the story sounds a little off, especially regarding the dates as to mandatory HY conscription. As I said, I have had reason to doubt the perfect veracity of the stories I have heard from my family, especially my grandfather himself.

That being said, my great-grandfather, to all accounts, was a virulent anti-Nazist, by virtue of his heritage, and it is this virulence that a) led the local NSDAP official to despise him so, and b) for me to give credence to any story that shows him defying them. It may well be that this story happened significantly earlier, but I feel that I can say with a relative degree of certainty that if you were known in your community to have, shall we say, less than enthusiastic feelings regarding the party, you were very much at risk.
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Old 08-10-2013, 10:32 AM
USASANCO USASANCO is offline
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Pensions for WW II German vets

One of thing for pensions was that promotions after 1939 were not counted, so the 3793 flag officers received a smaller pension than their May 1945 rank. Officers were vetted and outright Nazis were not invited to participate in the new Armed Forces. Medals issued by the Third Reich could be worn without the swastika. Honoring WW II vets has been "touchy" as Ronald Reagan found out when he visited a military cemetery that had some SS graves. It hit the fan when Hans Ulrich Rudel died (500+ tanks killed and one Russian warship). It was agreed that soldiers on active duty could attend his funeral but not in uniform. When the newspapers published pictures, at least one general (chief of staff) had to resign.
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Old 08-10-2013, 10:33 AM
USASANCO USASANCO is offline
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Pensions for WW II German vets

One of thing for pensions was that promotions after 1939 were not counted, so the survivors of the 3793 flag officers received a smaller pension than their May 1945 rank. Officers were vetted and outright Nazis were not invited to participate in the new Armed Forces. Medals issued by the Third Reich could be worn without the swastika. Honoring WW II vets has been "touchy" as Ronald Reagan found out when he visited a military cemetery that had some SS graves. It hit the fan when Hans Ulrich Rudel died (500+ tanks killed and one Russian warship). It was agreed that soldiers on active duty could attend his funeral but not in uniform. When the newspapers published pictures, at least one general (chief of staff) had to resign.
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  #43  
Old 08-10-2013, 03:13 PM
Spectre of Pithecanthropus Spectre of Pithecanthropus is online now
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With geriatric medicine, mostly.

Remember that the very youngest soldiers would be at least in their 80's now, and many of them even older. If not dead & buried.

I believe that the US VA hospitals have reported that US WWII veterans are dying off at the rate of more than 1,000 per day now. I'd expect German vets are much the same.
This. I can't imagine that there are many Wehrmacht vets left. But when had my year studying abroad in Göttingen--back in the Middle Stone Age (1977-78), the city buses still had signs asking passengers to offer their seats to wounded vets. (In the U.S. the signs simply say "disabled persons" and not veterans specifically.)
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Old 08-10-2013, 08:39 PM
alphaboi867 alphaboi867 is offline
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...He also mentioned the time he met Hitler, who apparently was a very charming fellow...
My great aunt met Hitler when she did her junior year abroad in Germany back in the '30s; according to her he was very charming and a model gentleman. She also made some interesting observations comparing what she saw of the treatment of German Jews with how African-Americans were treated back home.
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