The crimes they are a-changin’

In the context of yesterday’s post and the prosecution of Bruno Dey, comes this series of tweets:

I suppose being born in the post-war era in western Europe it’s hard to imagine what it’s like living under a murderous, totalitarian regime and therefore it’s easy to kid ourselves that we’d have been the Chinese guy standing in front of the tanks at Tiananmen Square. I suspect those who lived through the Soviet Union, occupied France, or Saddam Hussein’s Iraq don’t hold themselves in such high regard, though.

I’ve written before about the appalling binary choices the Nazis forced on people, and while I’m not going to say Dey is much of a victim (especially considering those on the other side of the wire) it’s unlikely teenage draftees into the Wehrmacht had a whole lot of say about their career paths. There are claims that guards didn’t have to serve at concentration camps and could request a transfer. Even supposing this is true, transfer to where? Stalingrad? Or perhaps it was true in theory, just as the Soviet constitution guaranteed a fair trial. This chap on Twitter presumably thinks Dey should have disobeyed orders and been shot instead, but what if he had others to think about, such as a family who might face repercussions? For all the fear of non-existent Nazis in contemporary society people seem to have forgotten how the real Nazis operated and how much the Gestapo was feared by the population. In my 19 years of corporate life I’ve barely met anyone brave enough to disagree with their boss, yet we’re supposed to believe our generation would face down a Nazi officer in 1944? Please.

Thinking about this last night, what Germany is doing by prosecuting this man is signalling to everyone they take Nazis and the Holocaust seriously in order to deflect attention from the fact that anti-Israeli sentiment runs strong across German politics and, largely thanks to Merkel’s immigration policies, antisemitism is on the rise. The decision to prosecute is therefore political, as is the hounding of British troops who served in Northern Ireland in the 1970s. You’ll note that the politicians who sent them there and the senior officers who commanded them aren’t being hauled into courtrooms 45 years after the events in question, it’s just the squaddies, NCOs, and junior officers who are having their lives ruined at the hands of treacherous lawyers and spineless politicians. Those really responsible are either dead or off-limits, which is why these prosecutions are happening only now.

The irony is this Ian Noble chap is an ex-soldier who served in Kosovo. He says he went there to prevent genocide and maybe he did, but he was there without a UN mandate and many Serbs (and probably a lot of Russians) would have every reason to think he was an accessory to war crimes. Bear in mind he was sent there by Tony Blair, a man who ordered Britain into an unsanctioned attack on Iraq, and if by some strange turn of events Russia ends up wielding clout on the international stage in 40 years time he might find himself yanked from his retirement home and asked to explain why he was murdering innocent Serbs. And he was no draftee. This chap probably doesn’t think it’s possible and nor do I, but I wouldn’t want to bet on some future British government not seeking to burnish its progressive credentials by punishing soldiers who took part in the Iraq War – or maybe even the Kosovo War – once the people responsible are safely dead. Who knows what form the British government will take in another generation? We already have an overt IRA sympathiser as leader of the opposition, and the demographics don’t look good if it’s favourable views of the Iraq War we’re after.

The fact that every German who served in the Wehrmacht wasn’t a genocidal Nazi was well-understood at the time, even by those who fought them. My Austrian friend from my MBA has grandparents who fought in the German army because – surprise surprise! – that’s what Austrian men of that age were forced to do. There’s a good chance they might have done some pretty unpleasant stuff while in the uniform too, because that’s what happens when men go to war across an entire continent. Their contemporaries on the winning side hanged the leadership then moved on, and never sought to punish the rank and file. But the ever-so-clever modern generation who weren’t there and have never seen their country attacked let alone occupied by a foreign army know better. In the same vein they’ve convinced themselves that every American who fought for the South was a racist who hated black people and took up arms only to prolong slavery, while those who fought on the Union side could be assistant editors at The Huffington Post. And somehow they think Abraham Lincoln fought the war to free the slaves. Unfortunately there are no ex-Confederates left for liberals to put in jail so they have to be content with tearing down their statues instead.

It’s hard to know what’s worse, the ignorance, the revisionism, or the opportunism. Whatever it is, it has nothing to do with justice.

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49 thoughts on “The crimes they are a-changin’

  1. To me part of it stems from what I believe is modern societies lack of ability to put ourselves in other peoples shoes, to think through and imagine what life is like with life experiences other than our own.

    Everything these has to be reduced down to black or white; right or wrong; good or evil; progressive or Nazi.

    I can’t see this changing without some massive change that upends western society

  2. The Milgram and Stanford Prison experiments tell as what we need to know. The vast majority of people would not stand in front of that tank, and far more than we’d like to admit would soon join in the genocide.

  3. The vast majority of people would not stand in front of that tank, and far more than we’d like to admit would soon join in the genocide.

    I may have written about this before, but Britain not being occupied in WWII and having been spared any moral dilemmas has allowed us to bullshit ourselves into thinking we’d not have collaborated. But as we can see from their current behaviour, certain elements would have happily volunteered to load people onto cattle trucks. However, we’re able to deny it. Mainland Europeans are different, and they know how they’d behave because they already experienced it. So they tend to get on their high horses a little less.

    Personally, I have no idea how I’d behave, either now or when I was 17. I have no way of knowing, but there’s a good chance I’d have gone along with everyone else. I’m certainly not going to pompously pronounce I’d have “done the right thing” in contradiction to everyone else.

  4. I think the actual motivation for this prosecution is it’s the last or almost-last chance to do it. Keep the memory alive for another generation. Which makes some kind of sense. I can understand why people see it as misguided, but I don’t believe it’s any kind of woke inquisition*. The guy will probably get a suspended sentence.

    Individuals in that sort of situation only have bad choices available. I don’t envy the choice he had to make. Who can? Especially from our comfortable position of having mostly only good choices available. If I were him now I’d hope I had the guts take the opportunity to ask people to look at my example and try to make the right choices in future, as bad as they look at the time. And boy do we need it, not just in opposing the woke extinction takeover, but in places like Hong Kong, where people bravely making the right but incredibly difficult choice, rather than kowtowing to increasing authoritarianism, might just change the world.

    *There was much sophistically sagacious commentary on Germany and its Boche ways on the last thread, but for all the failings of our current leaders we are probably the least nanny-stated country in Europe, and the only one with two parties (one of them mainstream) opposing the headlong rush to replace European culture with an oppressive, intolerant ideology in the name of diversity.

    I know our host was annoyed by the efficiency of his being issued a German speeding ticket some time ago, but he can’t have failed to notice that the penalties are pretty trivial, and don’t involve attending mandatory retraining, or three points on your license for going 1MPH over the limit.

  5. If I were him now I’d hope I had the guts take the opportunity to ask people to look at my example and try to make the right choices in future, as bad as they look at the time.

    He might have done that by being a guard who never killed anyone, rather than one who did. Maybe he thought not killing anyone was enough, but apparently not…

    I know our host was annoyed by the efficiency of his being issued a German speeding ticket some time ago

    I was far more annoyed the supermarket refused to sell me beer after 10pm even though I’d put them on the conveyor before the deadline. This would never have happened in France!

  6. On evening and weekend opening, we are indeed light-years behind the secular west.

  7. “He might have done that by being a guard who never killed anyone”

    …I was a policeman in Hong Kong in 2019 but I never fired a rubber bullet at anyone…

    Fine, but you’re still voluntarily drawing your pay from a corrupt regime that oppresses its own citizens and wants to take over the free world. Fortunately there are very few countries where you will now be drafted to be a concentration camp guard, but there are still a few places you can choose to be on the right side of history. Or the wrong one. Isn’t it good that today even the oppressors mostly have a choice and the consequence of not supporting the regime is just to lose your job, not get shot? I think this is for their benefit, not for those who lived under the Nazi terror.

    If I get time I’ll look into the individual case, because this is unusual. Like I said, I have the feeling it is more political than anything, and will end in the usual compromise of a suspended sentence, or even terminating the prosecution in return for a charitable donation. If that achieves a few people realising that civilization is eventually gonna come after them if they support totalitarians, then this gentleman has the chance to make a very meaningful atonement for his small, and obviously coerced, part, in past totalitarianism. What more fitting memorial could there be to that dark chapter in history than that we dissuade people from writing more dark chapters?

  8. Oh right. Another team player. Fucking dangerous people team players. People think very differently when they’re a group. It was team players gave us WW2 & the concentration camps.
    Would he have gone to Kosovo to prevent genocide on his tod? Of course he wouldn’t. He was playing soldiers. Following orders. Just like the camp guard was following orders. He feels morally justified because they told him he was morally justified. Just like they told the camp guard.
    Doing the “right thing” when you’re all alone in the firing line’s an entirely other matter. Especially if you know your actions are not going to make one ha’pence of difference to anything.

  9. Fine, but you’re still voluntarily drawing your pay

    A 17 year old draftee into the Wehrmacht in 1944 wasn’t voluntarily doing very much. I don’t know why I have to keep making this point. What do people think the Nazis were, an HR department?

  10. Well, if Bruno was 17 in ’44, then he would have been 12 when the war began. Which then means he would have been, what, two?, at the time of the Reichstag fire. Good luck with finding anyone trying to take the consequences of the hard option, as with those numbers you might as well put his parents on trial for failing to bring the lad up with a “decent” understanding of the world and his options.

    Of course, you’re going have to dig them up first.

  11. Tim,

    This isn’t being done to educate Nazi oppressors or pacify those they oppressed. It’s an aide-memoire for current oppressors. Most of whom can, unlike this accused, choose to stop.

  12. It’s an aide-memoire for current oppressors.

    I don’t think so. I think it’s a giant virtue-signal to deflect attention from the increasing authoritarianism (coupled with large dollops of antisemitism) we’re seeing all over the developed world.

    Besides, I’m not sure “were going to drop the lump hammer of the state on some poor sod who was forced to do things by our predecessors” is the best way to warn others of the dangers of totalitarianism.

  13. Well you think that because you know almost nothing about Germany, so are projecting.

    Virtue signalling has really not made it here yet.

  14. Well you think that because you know almost nothing about Germany, so are projecting.

    Heh.

    Virtue signalling has really not made it here yet.

    Maybe not at the individual level, but on a national level Germany has been virtue-signaller-in-chief for a long time. What the hell was Merkel’s invitation to 2m refugees if not that?

  15. On evening and weekend opening, we are indeed light-years behind the secular west.

    Or light years ahead.

    It was so nice to be in Germany recently (Molsel and Ahr Valley) and see Sunday is still a rest day with lorries mostly kept off the road and people relaxing as families, rather than spending the day as a family in the supermarket.

    Among many things I admired when I served there was their ability to think about quality of life as well as economic efficiency.

  16. As I said on the other thread, this chap is being prosecuted for not having actively decided to have been put up against a wall and shot as a 17 year old.

    Cos the choice was indeed binary.

    Nobody alive today who grew up in the West has had to make a similar choice. And most people would fail it by the standard being imposed here. Which is insane.

  17. The Nazis were big on ‘sippenhaft’: guilt unto the 3rd generation,
    So if this boy had refused his draft, his entire family would have been killed, grandparents down.
    Your twatter correspondent Ian Noble has lived a sheltered life and has no idea about the real world. Humour him, like all children.

  18. “LeMay said, “If we’d lost the war, we’d all have been prosecuted as war criminals.” And I think he’s right. He, and I’d say I, were behaving as war criminals. LeMay recognized that what he was doing would be thought immoral if his side had lost. But what makes it immoral if you lose and not immoral if you win?”

    From Robert McNamara in the Fog of War quoting US Airforce General Curtis Le May who commanded the US airforce in the bombing and nuclear bombing of Japan.

  19. “Would he have gone to Kosovo to prevent genocide on his tod? Of course he wouldn’t. He was playing soldiers. Following orders.”

    Whenever I think of peacekeeping forces (Orwellian term) preventing genocide in the former Yugoslavia, I cant get passed the cowardly Dutch regiment in Srebrenici. That when the time came to do what they had been trained and paid to do for god knows how long, bottled it, laid down their arms and watched on as the folk that they were specifically there to protect were marched off to certain death by the very folk that the Dutch were there to protect them from.

  20. BiG,

    “If that achieves a few people realising that civilization is eventually gonna come after them if they support totalitarians”

    Like Gerhard Schroeder resigning from Rosneft, scared that some pipeline technician might get prosecuted decades after Herr Schroeder is safely dead? Probably not.

    “Virtue signalling has really not made it here yet.”

    It’s rather being taken care of by The State, for fear that individuals might fail to do their virtue-signalling duty. Like you still have to pay some of the highest electricity costs in the world, no matter if you know those windmills are actually counterproductive w.r. to their purported goal. And you still can’t do your shopping on a Sunday, even if you’d rather have that relaxing family day on a Saturday.

  21. Tim Newman said:
    I suppose being born in the post-war era in western Europe it’s hard to imagine what it’s like living under a murderous, totalitarian regime and therefore it’s easy to kid ourselves that we’d have been the Chinese guy standing in front of the tanks at Tiananmen Square.

    After I met people who’d lived behind the wall in East Germany and Czechoslovakia, I came around to your point of view. These days I also look at occupied France with different eyes as well. Seeing how things in an authoritarian regime really work (along with having a family) changes one’s perspective.

    It’s hard to know what’s worse, the ignorance, the revisionism, or the opportunism. Whatever it is, it has nothing to do with justice.

    Exactly. It’s one thing to hunt down the real monsters. But no one’s going through Stasi and StB records to find some office juniors for a show trial like this. It tells us all we need to know.

    Bloke in Germany on October 22, 2019 at 10:21 pm said:
    Well you think that because you know almost nothing about Germany, so are projecting. Virtue signalling has really not made it here yet.

    If you keep that sort of nonsense up, you’ll disqualify yourself. The Germans invented virtue signalling, and it was in full flight during the six years I lived there.

  22. In my 19 years of corporate life I’ve barely met anyone brave enough to disagree with their boss

    Wonder if this is why at first I got along with my British boss and then a year later, I didn’t get along with my British boss. Hmmm….

  23. I was thinking about this after living in one of the nastiest totalitarian regimes that exists today. Most people do not resist there, except to illegally flee the country, and that is risky enough. A pacifist, religious sect refused to do national service and are still in jail 20-odd years later. Some prominent citizens and veterans publicly demanded reforms, same story. Two failed coups in recent years, perpetrators imprisoned or dead.
    These middle-class twits do not understand the terror of a knock on the door at midnight, or of torture, or indefinite imprisonment in which some end up dying of old age, their lives wasted. They do not understand the dark cloud of fear that hangs over everyday life. Even weddings and christenings are not wholly happy affairs. Even there, you must watch your words, because wherever five or more people gather there will always be at least one informant.
    Of course I did not protest at all, excusing myself because it was not my country. But if it was? I had a lot of time to think about that.
    A boy of 17 has much to look forward to. An old man, on the other hand, has less to lose. I decided that if my own country descends into such horror, being older, I will resist.
    But would I, really? Hopefully I will never have to find out.

  24. I recommend reading Bert Trautmann’s biography. As an apprentice mechanic in Hamburg he joined the Hitler Youth. He was told that if he didn’t join his father would lose his job on the docks. I do wonder what options Bruno Dey was given.

  25. Mr Noble is showing a complete lack of self-awareness, and has clearly never experienced a truly challenging environment despite his military service. He is clearly under an illusion that should he was in Nazi Germany he would have been one of a handful of extraordinarily brave people who stood up to the regime. The truth is he would have been just as much a Nazi as almost everyone else. It’s never a single choice, the idea this guard had ‘options’ is just laughable.

    A great book on this is:

    https://www.amazon.com/Ordinary-Men-Reserve-Battalion-Solution/dp/0062303023/ref=sr_1_1?keywords=ordinary+men&qid=1571809218&sr=8-1

  26. Merkel’s intake of “Syrians” wasn’t virtue signalling. She actually went through with it, to Germany’s cost. And hers, politically, as it happens.

    Virtue signalling is low cost activities done to make one look good. Dress-up politics, for example. Or saying one would leave the US if Trump was elected, then not going through with it.

    Virtue is actually doing the hard and taking the refugees. Stupid virtue, in this case, but there’s plenty of people do other stupid stuff because they believe it right.

  27. @BiND – “Among many things I admired when I served there was their ability to think about quality of life as well as economic efficiency.”

    I had an extended holiday in Europe this year and one of the themes was German history, consequently I spent considerable time in the fascinating Deutsches Historisches Museum in Berlin. I am not the type of bloke that normally recommends museums and galleries to others, especially in Berlin where you are spoiled for choice.

    If you are interested in and appreciate German history and culture, which it sounds like you do, then it should be a mandatory visit the next time you are in the area, on the assumption that you haven’t already visited it. There are no restrictions on photography either, I photographed the majority of the exhibits and am pretty chuffed that I have them now for my own collection.

    ……………………………………………………………..

    GERMAN HISTORY FROM THE MIDDLE AGES TO THE FALL OF THE BERLIN WALL

    https://www.dhm.de/en/ausstellungen/permanent-exhibition/epochs.html

  28. Thanks Bardon but we don’t do cities, much preferring small towns and villages. Having said that, if we are ever here I will make a visit.

  29. One thing about this man’s young life that should also acknowledge is that as a 17 year old he’d known nothing else other than Nazis. His schooling will have been around the superiority of the Aryan race and all the newspapers and cinema will have been nothing but propaganda. He would have known nothing, or very little, about democracy and liberal values and why Germany was at war. No internet and social media then for him to learn anything else.

    Even if he’d managed to build a conscience and be aware of how evil the regime really was, there was a collective action problem. He wouldn’t know if there were other like minded people to provide moral support, the Stasi learn’t their lessons about population control from the Nazis.

  30. Chester,

    I can see Merkel actions as a virtue signal because the cost to her was negligible.

    The difference in German society is that even the AfD don’t get constantly and cheaply shouted down as islamophobic fascists, at least not as much as they would in the anglosphere. That still doesn’t mean we can have a sensible conversation about the costs and risks of Islamic immigration, but that cheap virtuous attacking of easy targets isn’t a widespread as in Tim’s projections.

  31. “Merkel’s intake of “Syrians” wasn’t virtue signalling. She actually went through with it, to Germany’s cost. And hers, politically, as it happens.”

    It didn’t cost her personally anything though, did it? Thats the mark of virtue signalling, does it cost you personally? If it doesn’t then its ‘free’, regardless of any cost to others. She has exactly the same life today as she did before. No poorer, no worse health etc etc. Its not as if she took in a bunch of refugees herself is it? Ergo its cost her nothing. Its cost many other people of course, in many different ways, in some case their lives, but thats not her problem, she’s made it very clear that she’s the virtuous one…….

  32. BiG,

    I’d not mind your accusing me of projection so much if you knew what it meant. For me to be projecting, I’d have to practice the methods I’m accusing Germany of. What I suspect you mean is I’m extrapolating or applying my experience wrongly, which isn’t the same thing.

    And I never thought Merkel’s immigration policy was virtue-signaling to Germans. It was virtue signalling to the whole world. “Look at first us, look how progressive we are.” Germany reeks of this: Germans are by far the biggest donors to Greenpeace and fund a lot of the migrant “rescue” efforts in the Med that are causing Italy and Greece so much misery.

    And Merkel paid for it politically? Well, she’s still chancellor. Doesn’t seem the bill was that high to me.

  33. If every person in Europe made the “right” choice, the occupation of Europe would have been over in weeks. Every country had far more people than occupying soldiers, and it isn’t hard to fire a gun into someone’s head. It isn’t hard to get guns, once you start executing German soldiers and taking their guns. But people didn’t. Because despite the fact that collectively, killing 2 soldiers for your own life wins the war, you’re dead, and people don’t want to die.

  34. One thing about this man’s young life that should also acknowledge is that as a 17 year old he’d known nothing else other than Nazis….

    Such an excellent point, BiND. If one’s able to stand back & look at a comments section on a site like this, from a detached perspective, it’s fascinating how the arguments & opinions expressed reflect the underlying assumptions the posters make. And one can go to a different site & see posts around the same subject based on an entirely different set of assumptions. We do not all live in the same world, even contemporaneously. Let alone over quite short periods of historical time. Right & wrong are not absolutes. They are assumptions. The judges who sat on the Nuremberg trials were from a world believed homosexual acts should be punished by imprisonment, blacks in America should sit at the back of the bus & Britain had the duty to govern & police its colonial empire.

  35. My sympathy for Dey is pretty low, but what really sticks in my craw is that old Communists are treated completely differently to old Nazis. Old Nazis get prosecuted, whereas old Communists are given positions of power.

  36. I have the feeling it is more political than anything, and will end in the usual compromise of a suspended sentence, or even terminating the prosecution in return for a charitable donation. If that achieves a few people realising that civilization is eventually gonna come after them if they support totalitarians, then this gentleman has the chance to make a very meaningful atonement for his small, and obviously coerced, part, in past totalitarianism.

    I can’t say I’m entirely comfortable with this idea.

    A man is accused of something for which he has questionable culpability, something that wasn’t one the worst crimes that happened there, but merely of something adjacent to them. Any statute of limitations that might apply in other contexts are ignored in this context.

    But that’s OK, because the prosecution is just political. And anyway he probably won’t have to do any real time as the sentence will likely be suspended. Would that be the process being the punishment? Or maybe it’s just that a portion of his assets will be seized as a penalty; but again that’s OK because they will be given, not to the state’s coffers, but to a charity.

    If the real purpose of this is not to punish him but to serve as a warning to others then I can’t but see this as him being punished not for what he did, but for what some hypothetical man in a hypothetical future situation might hypothetically do.

    Are we happy to call this justice?

  37. The Channel Islands were occupied during the war.

    That’s an excellent point, Ken. I’d forgotten about that.

  38. Fascinating discussion! Thanks, everyone.

    What about the sheer inhumanity of destroying the last few months or years of life of a sick old man in a wheelchair over something that happened decades earlier in a very different world? Something that happened at the same time as heroic British airmen were getting medals for dropping fire bombs on the babies of Dresden? As General Sherman said: “War is Hell”.

    Is it possible that half a century from now, some retired paralegal in a German law firm will be dragged out of her retirement home and put on trial for her trivial part in this obscene prosecution of a sick old man?

    As for Germany and virtue signaling — it might better be described as German world-leading hypocrisy. These are the people who shut down clean nuclear power plants and build dirty brown coal power plants while telling us how Green Germany is! These are the same Germans who push water conservation in their dismally damp country to such a level that they then have to buy fresh potable water to flush out their sewers. These are the same Germans who have cornered the global market on gas-guzzling over-weight battlewagon automobiles, while lying about the efficiency of their diesel engines. These are the same Germans who are falling short of the CO2 reduction goals about which they have boasted so expansively.

    Where is the courageous German 17 year old today who will stand up and call bullshit on his rulers’ hypocrisy? What will happen half a century from now to those German youths who quietly go along with their country’s current hypocrisy?

  39. As an interested outsider to Europe, it is fascinating to observe the purblind collective in its natural environment at sites like this one.

    All y’all are seemingly oblivious to something that’s very clear to outsiders that pay attention, which is extremely evident when we observe the self-congratulatory disdain that is expressed for political phenomenon like AfD, UKIP, and all the other politically suspect parties. It’s a form of virtue-signalling and preening over your own supposed political acumen and good taste–Whatever you are, whether Tory or Labour, Christian Democrat or Green, you’re not “them”.

    Thing is, gents, those “them” sorts? You’ve created them, driven them to those parties like AfD and UKIP. The average person in them, from what I’ve been able to glean from reading what their adherents say, is not “neo-Nazi” or racist. What they are is disenfranchised from the mainline parties, because nobody will listen to or even offer validation for their concerns.

    For example–Most of the folks voting BREXIT, from what I can tell, aren’t particularly against European integration or the general idea of Europe, they’re against surrendering their sovereignty to unelected foreigners they can’t influence, and having their country overrun with said foreigners.

    AfD and UKIP are symptoms of the elites and their “bought-in” minions not listening to the concerns of the other people in their nations. The establishment in the UK, for example, did not even bother to explain what joining the EU really meant, when it was sold as merely “joining a customs union”, and now that the common folk see what it means in practice, they’re going “Hang on, wait a moment… I don’t remember signing on for this…”.

    Here in the US, we had the Tea Party, which was not at all what the media portrayed it as. It got ignored, suppressed, stabbed in the back by the establishment uni-party types on both sides of the supposed aisle, and we got Donald Trump. He’s a symptom of a deeper problem–Not enough people here in the US trust the establishment, so we brought in an outsider to blow the whole thing up. Which the establishment had better wake up and recognize before it well and truly blows up.

    Same thing’s going on in Europe, except that the establishment is suppressing everything like a novice cook who clogs the pressure-cooker release valve on the theory that that whistle is really annoying. The pressure is building, and when the whole thing finally lets go, y’all are going to be standing there in the ruins of it all, wondering what happened.

    The mandarin class in Europe is going to have one hell of a wake-up call, and the more I see the pressure build, the worse I think it’s going to get.

  40. And, to address the original point of this thread, the other thought that’s always occurred to me is this: Junior soldiers do not make decisions. 17 year-old men do not make decisions–They’re at the bottom of things, in nearly all respects. So, unless this guy was out there doing his own thing, killing Jews, gypsies, and what have you, the thing is that you lot let the people who actually drafted his ass, put him in uniform, and assigned him to those guard duties escape accountability already. The people who should have been in the dock were his parents, his seniors who were ten-twenty years ahead of him in time–You know, the actual people that put Hitler into power and backed what he was doing?

    Nearly all of them are dead, now, and virtually none of them were held accountable. Putting this kid, for that’s what he was at 17, in the dock and blaming him for Auschwitz is like looking around after that chemical plant in Bhopal blew up, grabbing the new-hire security guard on the gate, and holding him responsible for the explosion, and doing that seventy years after it happened. Oh, and after letting everyone else go, aside from some token folk who were involved in making a few of the major decisions like picking the site.

    That’s basically what prosecuting this kid (which is what he was when he committed the “offense”) means. And, the irony of ironies is that I’ll about guarantee you that the smarmy pricks doing it would have been all over each other sucking off Hitler had they been alive back then, themselves. None of them would have turned down jobs in the Nazi party, and none of them would have refused any of the multitude of little pay-offs they’d have been getting throughout the war.

    One of the little things that people never want to talk about are the steps that the Nazis took to buy off the German public–The economic looting that went on, the exchange fiddles that enabled German troops to strip occupied countries of their food and luxury goods to send home, none of that ever registers. German woman of my acquaintance had the decency and honesty to admit that they “knew” all the largesse that their father and uncle were sending home on Gefreiter pay could not have been on the up-and-up, but they looked the other way and scarfed down all that Dutch ham, Danish butter, and French wine with reckless abandon, while “Heil Hitlering” their way through the “good life”. She, at least, was honest enough to admit that nobody was anti-Nazi or resisting, until things turned south for the Germans. The loss of her uncle and brother on the Eastern Front, later on, she saw as a dark sort of justice, knowing how the Dutch suffered through the “Hunger Winter”.

    Sure, prosecute a drafted private. He got screwed by his elders, who you didn’t bother to prosecute for actually committing these acts, and who you don’t hold responsible for having put him there in that untenable situation.

    All I can say is, I hope that the people doing it, along with the folks cheering them on, eventually have a karmic balancing performed by the fates.

  41. Is it possible that half a century from now, some retired paralegal in a German law firm will be dragged out of her retirement home and put on trial for her trivial part in this obscene prosecution of a sick old man?

    Perhaps not a paralegal and hopefully not half a century in the future, but I do hope that those responsible for all of this face harsh punishment. Legally.

    Somebody called this an aide-memoire, and they are absolutely right. Keeping the story front and centre is essential to the current ruling order. It supports what they are doing to the whole western world.

  42. The Germans were insufferable virtue signalers long before “virtue signaling” as a phrase came into vogue. During the Cold War they always wanted to tell you about how West Germany was some kind of woke, antiracist social democratic paradise. Very tiresome.

  43. Jerry, also don’t forget that the Germans were the same assholes that brought in the conventions against expanding bullets before WWI, and who also agitated for the bans against chemical weapons and city bombardment in the same era.

    RE: The ban on expanding bullets, as well: The reasoning seems sound, in our day and age, but… When it came in?

    Stop and consider the state of the medical arts; the choice, in those days, was use expanding/exploding rifle bullets to inflict a quick although horrid death via massively damaging wounds vs. poking an hole in someone, carrying filth into the wound, and then having them die over a period of perhaps weeks in some nasty field hospital filled with fellow gas-gangrene victims that had overwhelmed the primitive medical system.

    That’s the reality of what the Germans agitated for. Quick, painful death, or dying horribly over a period of weeks. Stop and consider that.

    Now, try to tell me that the assholes advocating for all that weren’t some form of monstrous sadist.

    I remain, to this day, dismissive of anything Germanic when it comes to “humanitarianism”. The vast majority of what they actually accomplish strikes me as purest cruelty.

  44. @David Moore

    A couple of years ago I read “Hitler’s Willing Executioners”, which quotes extensively from the Police Battalion book.

    If I recall correctly, the book made the argument that ordinary Germans had a surprising degree of latitude, even in military units. That Police Battalion had men who never partook in any killing, men who volunteered for each aktion, and men from nearby units who were offered the chance to kill some Jews, and eagerly joined the fun. The killing of unarmed civilians was recognized as sapping morale, and commanders were flexible when individuals balked. In the end it made little difference, because enough men obeyed orders to keep the units effective. And if an entire unit had disobeyed orders, then the commanders might have been less understanding.

    As a judgment against German society in the 30’s and 40’s, this is pretty damning, but the individual ought to be judged for his own choices, not for being a member of a society which has embraced evil.

    @Henry Crun

    Re: Father would have lost his job if son doesn’t join Hitler Youth.

    I’m pretty sure that a lot of Germans, after the defeat, suddenly discovered all sorts of terrifying threats which in retrospect had forced them to do whatever it is they had done eagerly, unthinkingly, or just to fit in. I’m guessing that fellow knew more than one kid who did not join the Hitler Youth, and whose parents were still gainfully employed.

  45. As I understand these cases, the Germans amended the Law to allow prosecution of even those most indirectly or peripherally involved regardless of rank and is some cases, even after they had been prosecuted and/or cleared. Many of the decision makers involved got to live long loves with their families, most of these nonagerians will die in prison and the illusions will be maintained. Is justice truly served? Perhaps, perhaps not. I know some of the imprisoned spoke in documentaries, not about pride etc but what actually happened there. If punishment were required, why not have these men tell all about what they saw? That would do wonders against the deniers. (Sorry about the nom-de-plume, force of habit)

  46. I know some of the imprisoned spoke in documentaries, not about pride etc but what actually happened there. If punishment were required, why not have these men tell all about what they saw? That would do wonders against the deniers.

    A court room isn’t the best place to get the truth – an interview with a sympathetic historian would be better – and nothing will convince the deniers to change their minds at this stage.

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