Can you honor the warrior without honoring the regime?

Today I was reading the newspaper and I found a letter from a jewish organization in Argentina. The letter was in response to another one that proposed a ceremony to honor Captain Hans Langsdorff in the seventy anniversary of his death.
This organization rejected the notion. The letter said that honoring Langsdorff is honoring the nazi war machine that killed millions.
I think they are wrong but I would like both your opinion and, if possible, cites to people that have written about this subject.

Why on Earth would we need cites to other people’s opinions? It’s not like there going to somehow be a more or less authoritative take on “Un hunh!” versus “Nuhn uh!!!”

With that being said, how could you possibly disagree with those who oppose honoring a Nazi? The man was a proud Nazi committed to Adolph Hitler. What’s worth honoring, that he was really good at helping the evil that was the Nazi regime? Should we have a Gobels Rhetoric Day? Perhaps a Jack The Ripper Urban Renewal Day? Maybe, while we’re at it, a Black Death Appreciation Month (boy, that was one plucky virus!)

No, there is no reason to honor a Nazi for his role in carrying out the horror that is the Nazis’ legacy.

He was a sailor. Not the Minister of Propaganda of the Third Reich.

We hear all the time that we should honor our own soldiers regardless of the justice of what they are being ordered to do. Most people get really angry if you say that an American soldier should be condemned for, say, engaging in an unjust war. So if we were consistent, we would cheerfully honor this guy just for being a capable soldier and handwave away what he actually did or why as being unimportant.

In cases like this it’s somewhat tricky. Not every German was a Nazi during World War II, and not every Nazi actually believed in the policies established by the Nazis. Germany was a one-party dictatorship, so it was in everybody’s best interest to join the Nazi Party if only out of a sense of self-preservation.

History is full of examples of people that fought for their country in spite of their leadership.

So what’s the context here, including extent of the “ceremony”?

If this is going to be a whoop-de-do sponsored by the Descendants of Nazi Expatriates Who Can’t Let Go Of The Good Old Days, with speeches by the mayor and other public officials, followed by a laying of wreaths in the harbor and a tour of vintage German staff cars with Nazi bunting around the city square, I might bristle at it too.

There was a dust-up some years back when President Reagan insisted (at the urging of Pat Buchanan) on visiting a cemetery at Bitburg in Germany where SS officers were buried. They were “warriors” too.

Why would the Argentine organizers of this event want a public ceremony (if that’s what it would be)? Can’t they just hoist a few glasses of schnapps in his memory at the local pub?

So if he ‘only’ helped advance the Nazis regime of utter evil by shelling people, not by writing, it’s okay? That makes it much better? Of course, the OP’s own link makes it quite clear that the “last words” of this, ahem, honorable fellow included specific praise of Adolph Hitler.

This is true. But the fellow in question quite clearly supported not only his country, but Adolph Hitler’s leadership of it. Moreover, while I can make some sort of allowance for someone who fights because his only option is being arrested and sent to some sort of prison camp instead, that still doesn’t make it praiseworthy. Self preservation is an excuse, not an honor.

Doing something/being good at something is not, in and of itself, an action which can or should necessarily earn someone kudos. We don’t, for instance, cheer on Killy McKillface for performing an excellent driveby in the cause of keeping his gang’s crack dealing territory intact.

You mean he was good at scuttling his ship?

I don’t see much point in honoring someone for being good at killing other people, whether in an unjust war or not.

I suppose that the claim is that he demonstrated the virtues of a good solider by going down with his ship, or what have you.

By all accounts he behaved well within the bounds of the Geneva convention, sailors from ships he sunk were usually evacuated their crews were gievn the chance to get out prior to sinking their ships, and they were transported to a place of safety.

I don’t think I can imagine any other Navy commander acting any better, he was pretty correct, for instance he stayed in port instead of leaving because of the Hague convention which ensured that merchantmen should have a 24 hour head start from an enemy warship when leaving an neutral port - he could have ignored that had he chosen, and would have escaped from the British fleet.

You can also mention, if you like, he held himself to account for the loss of his ship and shot himself instead of blaming some underling.

I think he simply was on the wrong side, there are allied commanders who are honoured but are well worthy of severe criticism for their less than humanitarian behaviour.

That he behaved within the lines of the GC while deliberately furthering Hitler’s goals is a bit like saying that Son of Sam was scrupulous about littering laws.

This is pretty much a black and white view, which completely fails to understand anything about circumstances.

Would you say that Sir Arthur Harris, despite needlessly killing thousands of civilians, is ok because he did it in the name of democracy?

We can only be what we are, and we can only act out our roles within our control.

Langsdorff is not known to have been personally involved in any atrocity, even if he was part of a military machine that did.

Having been born and brough up in his circumstances, do you think it was ever a realistic option to leave Germany and become an allied captain?

Do we state that every German supported Hitler? Were all Germans complicit in those crimes? You can make an argument that their actions enabled Hitler, but thats about it.

Look at the behaviour of the individual and make your judgments on those, and in his actions Langsdorff was not what one might call evil, he made a few mistakes in the way he engaged the British but I don’t think any credible historian would lump him in with the Nazi excesses and it does a disservice to all the victims of the 3rd Reich to do so.

“Humanely” prosecuting a campaign of utter evil takes all the circumstances into account. You, on the other hand, are attempting to ignore the actual circumstances and instead focusing on the manner in which the man waged a morally abhorrent war.

You’re still not grokking. Needlessly killing civilians is not any more praiseworthy because it was “for a good cause” than (sometimes) refraining from killing civilians in the course of the cause of absolute evil.

Already addressed in a post I just made to Doors. Self preservation is an excuse, it is not cause for praise. And a man always has the choice to refuse and take the consequences. That, is praiseworthy. “The Devil made me do it!” is not a claim to virtue.

So what? I’m sure that the quarter masters who kept the guns firing also didn’t personally fire them. They still helped the Nazis. And Langsdorff, as already pointed out several times, was in fact an enthusiastic and vocal supporter of not just his nation, but Adolph Hitler and Hitler’s ideology.

No, I could also state that you are deliberately ignoring not only my comment, but the quote in the OP that I just repeated.

Like vocally supporting Hitler and his ideology/goals?
Could’ve sworn I mentioned that.
Perhaps once, obliquely, in passing?

Surely Field Marshal Rommel deserve some regard for the honorably fought North Africa campaign (inasmuch as any operation can be)? His forces committed no war crimes, he actively disobeyed the order to kill Jews upon their capture, and later in the war he was complicit in the 20 July Plot against Hitler. When this failed, he committed suicide to avoid standing trial, thereby sparing the execution of his family alongside him.

Yes, Rommel’s actions tempered his overall legacy. A bit. As always, context is important. A man can redeem himself somewhat.

But that doesn’t mean that he never had anything to atone for.

Was he? Honest question, I haven’t found anything that says one way or the other if he joined the party. Or do you mean “a German between the years of 1933-45?”

Where? He mentioned the Führer in his suicide note. That’s all. The bit of his suicide letter on the cite from wiki is

The funny thing is the flag that he chose to honour when he blew his brains out. He shot himself on the *Graf Spee’s * battle ensign, which was a flag of the old Imperial German Navy. From here:

To be frank, I don’t see the symbolism of the flag as having the same weight of his explicit words:

Reasonable people can disagree, but I place much greater weight on his explicit words than on subjective interpretations of his (potentially) symbolic actions.

In actuality he went down with his Montevideo hotel room, where he shot himself.

Are there ceremonies these days honoring "Bomber’ Harris?

It would still be interesting to know if recognition of the 70th anniversary of Langsdorf’s death is something proposed as a small ceremony by a historical society, or whether a right-wing political group wants to use it to raise attention for their cause.

Incidentally, Wikipedia notes that the $30 million dollar project to raise the Graf Spee and put it in a museum has been halted by the Uruguayan government as of earlier this year.

Ah, thanks very much for clearing up my ignorance.