I think that it is very common for soldiers to de-humanize their “enemy”. It is much easier to kill a fellow human being if he or she is demoted to something not deserving of respect. I believe that sometimes war is a necessary evil. For example, I think that in WWII there was a clear moral imperative in the fight to defeat Nazism and its counterpart in Japan. However, I do not think that the firebombings of Dresden and Tokyo were morally justifiable. I am also troubled with the dropping of the atomic bombs, although they may have shortened the war and prevented millions of deaths that a U.S. invasion of Japan would have caused. Since that time, though, I believe that most of the wars that have occurred were for no good reason at all, and I especially think that about Bush’s invasion of Iraq!]]>
As a German I think I am qualified to say that of course Hitler had to be defeated.
And as the daughter of parents who were children - yet old enough to understand part of what was going on and to remember - I could tell you a couple of stories on how invading soldiers behave. But I could also tell good stories like the one about the Russian superior officer who stopped his underlings from going wild.
Still, as you say, there are things that must be done, for… call it a greater good.
But there’s always different ways of doing it, and I personally think that no goal justifies the use of the atomic bomb, Napalm, White Phosphorus or any chemical weapons. Nor should soldiers be allowed to behave like barbaric animals.
And Iraq…. was not very well thought through, to say the least.]]>
Melantrys, I didn’t mean to imply that the use of the atomic bombs against Japan was necessary. There are different schools of thought on that subject that present compelling arguments for and against that terrible action. By my way of thinking, actions should be based on the principle of doing the greatest good while causing the least suffering. Honestly, I do not know whether dropping the bombs or choosing one of several possible alternatives would have best satisfied that principle. Still, I have great respect for your position regarding WMD’s, and I do not believe that any of them should ever be used again! Also, I agree with what you said about soldier’s behavior. There have been many failures of leadership in Iraq (some possibly deliberate and at very high levels; e.g., Abu Greb) that have resulted in gross misbehaviors by soldiers, but so far, only a few low ranking soldiers have been held to account.
I would be very interested to learn more about your parents memories of WWII, if you would like to write about them.]]>
War is never the answer, neither is it ever a solution.
But somehow there is this thing in humans that makes some strive for power even though most of it is imaginative. And aside the power from religion, oppression or simply having a louder voice…
Didn’t you read Trip’s t-shirt at the Static-X gig, Krankie? War is the answer.
But seriously. I wasn’t really implying stuff; I was just voicing my opinion. (But with some people that already counts as being abusive… Nono, not talking about you, David, just fuming with rage about some other person.)
About the war stories, well, thing is, actually my memory is pretty hazy (must be old age), and I don’t want to get things wrong.
Only a couple of days ago, when I was driving with my father, he looked at the sky and said that the clouds used to be like that after artillery fire. All those years, and he sees the clouds, and there’s those memories…
I told him about what I had read on that soldier’s blog, and he said that he’d seen his fair share of corpses. And that you de-sensitize. But he agreed with my judgement on that dude and his fellow “pranksters”.
One sentence that I know from both sides of the family is about fleeing from the invading Russian soldiers in deep snow: And if you stumbled over something in the ditch, it was best not to look down.
My mother’s family fled from the advancing soldiers, hiding out in abandoned houses for sleep, always waiting for soldiers to come kicking in the doors. Some really enjoyed threatening and harrassing the fleeing German civilians.
At one house they came in and said they’d be back in 10 minutes and shoot everyone that was still there. Of course you didn’t stay to see if they’d really do that. You fled on, no matter how tired you were.
At another house my mother saved her elder sister from being raped by a Russian soldier by clinging to her and screaming. Certainly turns you off if you have a wailing little girl clinging to your intended rape victim… My mother was too young to know what that soldier wanted from her sister, but she knew it was nothing good.
I’m not sure but I think it was at that incident with Russian soldiers that a commanding officer intervened and ordered everybody out. Then he sat my mother on his lap and ate a jar of jam with her, telling the family that he had a little girl her age at home.
I’d like to add that after the war, at the place where my father’s family ended up most American soldiers at the local base were doing a good guard duty at their food storage. Often they’d stand on guard there, stoically staring off into the middle distance, “not seeing” the children entering and stealing the food.
That’s all I’m sure enough on to publish; maybe my sis remembers some more?]]>
Thanks for sharing your parent’s stories Melantrys. I had heard some stories from TV documentaries about Russian soldiers commiting rapes and other atrocities in Germany. I know that Russian people suffered greatly during the war, but that does not excuse their behavior. In some ways, war is like a collective madness. Ordinary people are placed in circumstances of almost unimaginable stress and fear. Many, I think, are simply unable to maintain their sanity. However, there are a few really exceptional people who somehow manage to set aside the horrors around them and find a little piece of normality or sanity to remind them of who they are. I think the kind Russian officer was such a man. I wonder, does your mother know his name? Perhaps she could someday share her story with his children. I think they would be very moved to hear it!]]>
No, she never knew his name. And everyone was just too busy hoping his fondness of her would save them to think of anything else.
My mother was just a little kid at that time. All that she retained from this situation was an aversion to beards, as she was not happy about eating from the same spoon with this bearded stranger. But her family was motioning for her to stop squirming and stay on his lap like a good girl, so she did.
Oh, and I should add that I was in no way implying that only the Russians committed atrocities, but they were the ones invading East Prussia, so I only have stories about Russians to offer.]]>
Hm…… the only story I remember that you didn’t already post here is this:
Some time during the war our Mom’s family and a lot of other refugees were temporarily living in a village somewhere in Eastern Prussia. (They were distributed evenly among the people already living there, whether they liked it or not.)
If I remember correctly, members of the Russian army were stationed there. And quite a few people from Poland. They had been taken from their country earlier and been forced to work for the Germans.
Naturally, they weren’t too fond of Germans in general, but they could distinguish between nazis and normal people, for when the refugees were told to move on (on a train that would pass this village the next day), one of them visited our Grandfather at night and asked him if he had any money or valuables left that he intended to keep. He indicated that the refugees boarding the train would be searched and robbed. He told our Grandfather to hand over anything he had for safekeeping.
Our Grandfather didn’t trust this man completely, so he gave him most, but not all of his money.
On the next day, when they were already on the train, having been thoroughly searched beforehand, the man came to the window of their compartment, saying: “Hey, you almost forgot your slippers!” - And he handed over an old, mangy pair of slippers, containing everything our Grandfather had given him the night before.
I’ve always loved to hear this story, because I think it shows that even during bestial times some people keep their humanity and selflessness.
So… I’ll end this before I start blubbering.
Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) estimates that a single acre
of wetlands can hold up to 1. Water damage in Manhattan continued to
be a problem for the next Century. The best way to do this I feel is to use a
synergistic blend of plants that help your body produce the proper
harmonious hormone balance.
Feel free to visit my blog; reconstruction]]>