Germany 1945-1948: Recollections and Reflections of an American Veteran

Charles E. Weber[1]

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PART I

My interest in the history of the Second World War is a result not simply of my having served in the American army during that war, but also as a result of particular assignments in military service and my subsequent service as a War Department Employee in Germany during 1946-1948. My work in intelligence and “Denazification” put me in a position in which I had unusually good opportunities to hear many views on the war, not only of Germans, but also of people of such diverse nationalities as French, British, Latvian and South African.

My involvement in the Second World War developed as follows: Like the vast majority of Americans, members of my family and I wanted no involvement in another European war. My father, a professor of law at the University of Cincinnati, despised Roosevelt, in particular as a result of Roosevelt’s demagogic feud with the Supreme Court (“the Nine Old Men”) and Roosevelt’s Machiavellian stirring up of class hatreds. My parents, like so many patriotic Americans, were both active in the America First Committee. In spite of any efforts we made, we had to watch with distress as Roosevelt undertook one measure after another calculated to bring us into the war against Germany, a country approximately the size of Texas and certainly not a military threat to the United States. The outbreak of the war between Germany and the USSR in June 1941 strengthened the desire of many Americans who disliked Communism to stay out of the war.

In 1940 I had commenced my studies at the University of Cincinnati towards a bachelor’s degree. During my sophomore year I became a member of the University of Cincinnati chess team and on 7 December 1941 our team went to the campus of the University of Indiana. Having defeated my opponent, I went downstairs to the lower floor of the student union building and heard on the radio that the Japanese had attacked Pearl Harbor, an event which was to have protracted influence on my life. Nearly a year passed before I received “greetings from the President” and on 13 January 1943 I was sworn into the U.S. Army with the serial number 35683098.

After some service at Nichols General Hospital near Louisville, Kentucky I was assigned, on the basis of a rather lengthy examination, to the Army Specialized Training Program. While in the ASTP I studied under some outstanding professors at Ohio State University and the University of Chicago (Professors Bergsträsser and Kunstmann in particular). My chief (and prescribed) studies were in German language and area.

Having graduated after some ten months in the ASTP, I was assigned to McDill Field near Tampa, Florida. I served in various humble capacities at McDill from early 1944 to the fall of that year. In the evenings I would often take walks and watch the big B-17’s going up on training flights. The officers flying them had all sorts of advantages, but I hardly felt any envy of them, since I realized that many of them would soon be flying over anti-aircraft installations defending western Europe, where scores of thousands of them were killed or captured. My interest in risking my life for the greater glory of Roosevelt & Co. was minimal. My attitude toward military service was somewhat analogous to that of the famous fictional Czech soldier Schwejk, who served in the Austrian army without any enthusiasm. (Novel by J. Hašek, 1921-1923.)

After an assignment at a Signal Corps installation near Fresno, California, where I was trained in radio monitoring of German communications, in early 1945 I was assigned to Camp Ritchie, which was located in a beautiful part of western Maryland. Camp Ritchie was the camp in which the American army trained its intelligence personnel. Many soldiers in Camp Ritchie being trained in counter-German intelligence were Jewish refugees assigned on the basis of their knowledge of the German language. In Camp Ritchie there were some standing jokes, such as “I em speakink sefen lengwitches, Angles de best.” And then, what is the German word for “traffic jam”? Verkehrsmarmelade!

In Camp Ritchie I heard officers lecture on such topics as techniques of interrogating prisoners of war, map reading and obtaining knowledge of the German order of battle. (I still have the valuable handbook dated March 1945, Order of Battle of the German Army.) I was given the Military Occupation Number 631, that of an intelligence non-commissioned officer, (I had never applied for Officer Candidate School, and not just as a result of laziness or indifference to a higher pay scale.) Since I had no burning desire to lay down my life to further Roosevelt’s criminal ambitions, I shed no tears when I learned of Roosevelt’s death in April 1945 while I was still at Camp Ritchie.

In June 1945 I was transported on the huge, new Queen Elizabeth to England. Shortly thereafter I was sent to France. Later that summer I was transported in a dirty boxcar down past the badly bombed Bad Kreuznach. We were let out in Mainz, where I had my first close look at the terrible bombing destruction. I recall conversing with a German civilian, who expressed his doubts that there would ever be financing sufficient to rebuild the badly damaged cities. From Mainz we went to Bad Schwalbach northwest of Wiesbaden. Bad Schwalbach is an attractive old town in the western Taunus Mountains that is famous for its mineral waters. (The famous Frankfurt engraver and publisher Matthäus Merian, died in Bad Schwalbach in 1650.) Bad Schwalbach was the location of a pool of intelligence personnel.

My first notable assignment out of the pool was to a document center in Fechenheim, a suburb of Frankfurt. I was in a detachment of about a dozen men. Our duties consisted of going through captured records of the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (German Supreme Command) in search of evidence against Germans who were to be tried in Nuremberg and other places. Nearly all or all of the other men in the detachment were Jewish. I can recall no evidence found in the Fechenheim deposits which would have a bearing on what is now commonly called the “Holocaust.” The Jewish lieutenant in charge of the detachment did not like my presence and after some weeks he had me sent back to the intelligence pool in Bad Schwalbach. I believe that my departure from the Fechenheim document center left complete racial homogeneity in the detachment, which had been billeted in formerly German barracks in a northern suburb of Frankfurt.

My next assignment away from the pool (November 1945?) was to Internierungslager 75, as it was designated. This facility consisted of former military barracks in Kornwestheim, a city of modest size north of Stuttgart. The internees were mostly those who had held positions in the National Socialist Party or German government which were high enough to put them into the automatic arrest categories, as in the case of all former German diplomatic personnel, for example. One of the lieutenants in command of our small detachment boasted that the interned men in the facility represented the cream of German brain power and that when they were asked simple questions they could respond with outlines of doctoral dissertations. We were involved in interviewing the interned men in order to determine if they could be released, that is, if they would not come in conflict with the occupation forces and they were not likely to be “war criminals”. One of the lieutenants was a half- Jew, whose father, a German dentist, visited us one time. The other lieutenant I recall being named Weil and having distinctly Semitic features and graduate degrees in psychology. Most of the men in the detachment were Jewish. The Jews did most of the interviewing. An Aryan comrade and I worked on the big files on the internees, of whom there must have been at least several hundred in the facility. It was only later that I was assigned to interviewing internees. I learned that one internee had asked for compassion for the internees since Germans had not had enough to eat for thirty years. One day some Soviet officers came to stay with us for a short time, perhaps, in February 1946. They seemed to know little English or German, but were assigned to “extraditing” men suspected of crimes against the Soviet Union. I recall that they took several.[2]

On a beautiful spring day, 13 April 1946, I was discharged from the army at Seventh Army Headquarters in Heidelberg, one of the few German cities of any size to have escaped heavy bomb damage. To celebrate my new freedom, I went rowing on the Neckar river. Before my discharge I had arranged to take a position in Frankfurt as a War Department Employee in the Civil Censorship Division, which censored German postal and telegraphic communications. I was involved in the censorship of telegrams. We worked in a damaged building next to the old Palace of the House of Turn und Taxis, which had been involved in the postal system of earlier centuries. This palace was in ruins, like so much of the center of Frankfurt. Many of my co-workers were trilingual, well-educated Danes. The work was pretty dull and consisted of going through stacks of telegrams looking for violations of regulations of the occupation authorities, notably in manufacturing and commerce, as well as checking names against watch lists of persons under some sort of surveillance or another. After about ten months with the CCD I found a far more interesting position with an historical unit, located in Höchst and later near the I.G. Farben building in Frankfurt am Main. The unit was engaged in translating into English accounts of the German military units which had been engaged in action against the western Allied forces. These histories were written for the most part by former members of the German general staff, but in one instance that I recall well I was given a long paper on the civilian German bombing losses written by Prof. Percy Schramm of the University of Göttingen. As I recall, official Allied estimates placed the number of deaths at something like 300,000, but Prof. Schramm presented evidence that the total must have been more like 800,000. A friend of mine told me recently that some of my translations are still on file in Washington archives. One of the generals who wrote for our historical research, General Günther Blumentritt, wrote so much for us that we joked about his having a case of “literary diarrhoea.” In the historical unit I had the pleasure of working under and learning from two fine civilian gentlemen, a wise, witty and well- educated Englishman by the name of Rose and later a sophisticated South African by the name of Helmut Heitman. He had spent the war in Germany, to which he had come for treatments of a tropical disease just before the outbreak of the war. He was a good practical linguist who had been a court interpreter in South Africa. He seemed cynical about the flood of anti-German propaganda, even though he had been interned during the war. In the late spring of 1948 I was declared surplus from my position in the historical unit. I made some attempts to find another position, but my desire to remain in Europe was diminished by the growing and even ominous tensions between the United States and the Soviet Union. I did, however, make a trip to Berlin to be interviewed for a position there.

On 20 June 1948 the western Allies permitted German authorities to introduce a new currency in their zones of occupation to replace the old Reichsmark notes. This currency reform seemed to symbolize a new attitude toward Germany on the part of the British and Americans, but it was the pretext for the beginning of the Soviet blockade of Berlin. This cynically ruthless blockade, which continued for nearly a year, demonstrated to the world just how unscrupulous Stalin’s regime was.

In Part II of this article I shall present my observations on a wide range of subjects which I could observe during 1945-1948 and on which I formed opinions and value judgements, either at the time or in later years on the basis of more information.

PART II

As a young American, during the years 1945-1948, I witnessed with sadness, anxiety and incomplete comprehension what I considered and still consider to be the greatest tragedy which has ever befallen Western Civilization, at least since the Thirty Years War (1618-1648). This tragedy of the wartime damage to Europe, as well as damage inflicted on Europe, especially Germany and eastern Europe, after the war has seriously impaired what might be called “the might of the West,” to use a phrase employed by Lawrence R. Brown as the title of his important book (1963). The psychological and economic damage to Western Civilization, including the United States, continues to this day, as I observed in Bulletin 19 (republished in Liberty Bell of January 1988). Although I was young in 1945, I was well aware of the contributions of the German-speaking areas of Europe to the “might of the West” in such diverse fields as music, art, printing, theological thought, technology and the natural sciences.

In Part I gave an autobiographical account of my involvement in the Second World War, mainly my assignments in military service in Europe (1945-1946) and as a War Department Employee (1946-1948). I now turn to observations which I made in Europe during that time and my reflections on them, based not only on what I observed during 1945-1948, but also on a great deal of information which I have acquired during the ensuing years, information which was not available to me at the time. I also spent time in Germany during 1951, 1954, 1955, 1970, 1983 and 1986. During 1986 I interviewed a number of German historians and commenced correspondence with them.

In my perception, the conduct of the war and the occupation policies in Germany after the collapse of the German defense forces provide insights on the real motivations for the British and French declarations of war against Germany on 3 September 1939, declarations which converted the German-Polish War into a global War. In my view, these motivations were primarily economic. Even as of this writing, when there is more than empty rhetoric about German reunification, many a British voice has been expressing fears that a united Germany would strongly dominate the European economy. Let us summarize the evidence that the primary objectives of the War declared in 1939 were the economic elimination of Germany as a strong economic competitor, notably in the struggle for export markets, an intense struggle in the 1930s.

The war provided the opportunity to destroy German shipping and German factories, as well as the homes of those who worked in the German economy. (We might note here, however, that production for the German armed forces reached its zenith during the course of l944, when it was becoming ever more apparent that Germany would be treated very harshly in case of its defeat.) Then there were the dismantlings of German factories and subsequent shipments of the machinery to the USSR, where it frequently rusted on the railroad cars by which it had been transported. These dismantlings took place for several years after the surrender of Germany in keeping with the spirit of the Morgenthau Plan. Perhaps even more important is the fact that the Allied authorities continued the principles of economic controls that had been in effect during the war when there was far less currency in circulation. During 1945-1948 I was a day-to-day observer of the results of the Allied control of the German economy. Frankly, I am not certain whether the economic policies of the Allied occupation authorities were a product of stupidity or were calculated to paralyze the German economy, but I strongly suspect that they were mainly the latter, from what I could observe.

As I recall, the prewar circulation of the Reichsmark currency totaled around RM 6,000,000,000., a rather modest amount for the size of the German economy. By the end of the war that circulation had been increased to about ten times that amount and within a rather short time the Allied occupation authorities had just about doubled that circulation by the issuing of the “M” series of notes that they put into circulation. A Jew of Lithuanian origin, Harry Dexter White, an official of the U.S. Treasury Department, saw to it that Russian authorities received the printing plates for the currency, which circulated throughout the four zones. (White later committed suicide when his loyalty to the USSR was revealed.) The Russian issues were, as I recall, distinguished from ours only by a small dash in front of the serial number.

In the face of this huge note circulation the old laws pertaining to wage and price controls were retained, at least in principle and largely in practice. This monetary situation resulted in a severe paralysis of the German economy. People had to stand in long lines in the hope of obtaining even just loaves of bread on the basis of ration coupons, which thus became the “money” that really counted. Such conditions wasted whatever economic strength that Germany had. Many desperately hungry Germans who had justifiably lost their confidence in the Reichsmark did what they could to obtain food, soap and clothing on the black market. This activity absorbed a great deal of time on the part of the civilian population, time and energy that could have been used to produce badly needed food and goods. The black market activity involved German city dwellers and peasants and American military personnel [as well as plenty of – as we now know, “gassed” and “resurrected” – Jews domiciled in U.N.R.R.A. Camps, who set up their “trading posts” at city street corners peddling American chocolate bars, Chesterfields, Luckies, and what-have-ye to us (nicotine)-“starved” youngsters at horrendous prices! – Editor, Liberty Bell]. It was bitterly claimed that German peasants were getting so rich that their only lack was Persian rugs for their stables, but this was rhetorical exaggeration in most cases. After some time the Americans were able to import privately items which had become the “currency” of the black market, such as cigarettes, coffee and cooking fats. They traded these favorably for jewelry, cameras, ornate beer mugs and the like. Packs of 20 cigarettes sold for as much as 100 Reichsmark or more, and the Allied notes could be exchanged at a rate of 10 cents for a Reichsmark, a gross overevaluation under the circumstances. While it is true that many Germans whose houses and personal effects survived the bombings used the black market to keep themselves from starving, they were living on their substance in an economy that was largely paralyzed by a lack of a realistically valued currency. It was not until the currency reform of 20 June 1948 that the conditions brought about by the enforced, continued circulation of the Reichsmark really changed, although its replacement, the Deutsche Mark, got off to a rather shaky start as a result of continued rationing and an understandable pessimism about the future value of the new currency. As I recall, the new “German” currency in the western zones traded as low as about ten to the dollar in Switzerland during the summer of 1948. The chaos of the German currency system was vividly impressed on me on a streetcar one day. An elderly German woman was crying when she complained to a fellow passenger how she had saved her money over the years and was now experiencing its almost complete devaluation. Streetcars and trains were greatly overcrowded as a result of the fares, which were low in relation to the real value of the currency.

Since about 1870 the population of Germany expanded so much that it had to import food from overseas, as was the case with England and some other parts of Europe. During 1945-1948, for most German civilians the main economic problem was trying to live on the small amounts of food available on ration coupons. These amounts varied from time to time, from zone to zone, and from consumer to consumer, depending on occupation and ration class. Typically, during the first years of the occupation the ration coupons supplied only about 1000 to 1200 calories per day, and the quality of food was also not always especially good. American authorities eventually got around to sending a great deal of corn (in the American sense) into their zone. To Germans, “Korn” meant grain in general and they were not familiar with recipes for cooking corn, since very little corn is grown in a country as far north as Germany. I have seen some corn growing in little patches in Germany, but it is grown for fodder. I heard of some cases of German men who died from starvation in the American zone, but I believe that there were very few instances in which deaths could be directly attributed to starvation, as far as the civilian population was concerned, in contrast to deaths which occurred in considerable numbers amongst Germans in Allied prisoner of war camps, as the recent book by the Canadian author James Bacque, Other Losses has shown. (Other Losses was reviewed by Ernst Zündel in the November 1988 Liberty Bell and is available from Liberty Bell Publications, $30.00 postage paid.) The lack of food, fuel and soap increased the susceptibility to various diseases, of course, but with a notable exception. The food available on ration coupons included so little milk, butter, cheese, eggs and meat that the lowered fat intake is reputed to have reduced considerably the incidence of heart disease. Many Germans, it is true, supplemented what little food could be bought for very small amounts of money (as it should have been realistically valued) and ration coupons by some sort of black market activity or another, but black market activities were time-consuming and wasteful from the point of view of the economy as a whole.

A large number of Jews were living in Zeilsheim, a suburb of Frankfurt. Zeilsheim became well-known for large scale black market activity involving gold and jewelry.

While roaming around ruined German cities and witnessing the misery, poverty and humiliation of the German population, I frequently asked myself why Germany had fought on long after it was apparently doomed to defeat. The last eight months of the war had been especially destructive. No later than the liberation of France during the summer of 1944, if not long before that, perhaps as early as the conduct of American naval operations against Germany during 1941, quite some time before the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor, it had become obvious that Germany was doomed to defeat. Most Germans themselves with whom I talked did not seem to have a clear grasp of this matter and those who opposed National Socialism were all too ready to ascribe the costly continuation of the war to a selfish desire on the part of leading National Socialists to save their own lives as long as possible. As the years passed, however, I began to piece together what I had witnessed and what I later learned. The main motivations for the continued resistance would seem to have been the following:

  1. By the autumn of 1944 Soviet troops were beginning to push into East Prussia, where they committed mass atrocities against German civilians, as they had been urged to do by the Soviet Jewish propagandist, Ilya Ehrenburg. A notable example was the East Prussian village of Nemmersdorf. The German army temporarily recaptured Nemmersdorf and reported what it had found there. Of course, such atrocities stiffened the German will to fight on, thus increasing the mortality of Soviet soldiers.
  2. Many German officers thought that the western Allies would never permit the Soviet domination of Europe and hoped that they would continue to advance to the east after occupying Germany if German forces could hold out along the eastern front. This illusory hope was founded on false assumptions. The USSR had a backward economy that was incapable of competing on world markets.
  3. There was a desperate hope that new weapons might turn the tide.
  4. Wars have a tendency to continue by their own momentum as a result of national pride and other factors.
  5. The unconditional surrender demand made in January 1943 by Roosevelt frightened Germans who remembered what had happened to Germany in 1919 ff.
  6. At Yalta Roosevelt & Co. promised harsh punishment or even death to Germans in high governmental positions.
  7. The Morgenthau Plan, which was initialed by the incredibly irresponsible Roosevelt in September 1944 and which would have brought about an at least partial genocide of the German nation, became known to the German government, which quite understandably publicized the information, just as it had earlier publicized the book by the Jew Theodore Kaufman, Germany Must Perish (1941) [available from Liberty Bell Publications, $4.00 + postage], which brought forth a plan for the genocide of the entire German nation by means of mass sterilization. (See the important article on the Morgenthau Plan by A. Kubek in The Journal of Historical Review, Fall 1989.)

The last three of these factors were political decisions on the part of the Roosevelt administration. They could hardly have been better calculated for the purpose of prolonging the war.

After the war there were still reminders of the last desperate defense efforts in the form of inscriptions that encouraged the war effort. There were stickers with the inscription, “Totaler Krieg – kürzester Krieg” (Total War – shortest war). Destroyed locomotives rusting on side tracks still bore the inscription, “Alle Räder müssen rollen für den Sieg” (All wheels must roll for victory) or “Erst siegen, dann reisen” (First attain victory, then travel). On a bombed house I saw the inscription, “Nur ein siegreicher Friede kann diesen Schaden beheben” (Only a victorious peace can alleviate this damage). On a wall in Frankfurt I saw “Frankfurt bleibt fest” (Frankfurt is going to remain firm).

Any American who saw Germany in 1945 was overwhelmed by the results of the Allied bombings, largely results of fires started by phosphorus bombs. Not only buildings were bombed, but railway installations and bridges were especially hard hit in an effort to paralyze the movement of goods. It is easy to understand how conditions in German concentration camps deteriorated under the circumstances. After all, the bombings created bad conditions for friend and foe alike. Amidst the ruins of many towns there were still huge air raid shelters with very thick concrete walls. I remember a particularly tall one in Mannheim and one camouflaged to look like a ruined building near the main railway station in Frankfurt. Even today, many of these huge concrete shelters are still standing as grim reminders of a desperate defense effort made nearly a half century ago. Something like one-fifth of the dwelling space in Germany had been destroyed and some towns (e.g., Düren) were almost completely destroyed.

PART III

In what happened to Germany and Japan after they laid down their arms there lies a striking anomaly. Germany was a nation with Christian traditions and a European intellectual development. It was racially similar to its adversaries, at least its western adversaries. Japan was not only different in these respects but had attacked the United States in a manner which could hardly have been better calculated to provoke a desire for revenge. Japan, however, received far more lenient treatment after it laid down its arms. It was not divided into four zones of occupation nor its territory (as of 1930) greatly reduced, nor a large number of its people killed during massive expulsions of its populations. Even its soldiers who surrendered probably received better treatment than disarmed German soldiers on the whole. The Japanese head of state, Emperor Hirohito, was allowed to continue his reign.

How did this anomaly come about? Were these differences a result of different attitudes on the part of Generals Eisenhower and McArthur toward their defeated enemies or were directives for Germany and Japan from Washington of a different nature? If so, was Germany considered at that time a greater economic threat, so that German productive capacities had to be severely limited? The status of Austria was still another matter. Austria was considered to have been a victim of “aggression” and received milder treatment, even though it was also divided into four zones of occupation, like Germany. The Germans had a bitter joke about this situation: The Austrians had only one Nazi and they sent him to us. (On attitudes of Austrians toward National Socialism, see John M. Ries’ review of the book by E.B. Buckley, Hitler’s Hometown: Linz, Austria, 1908-1945 in the Journal of Historical Review, Fall, 1989, pages 380-383.)

After the end of hostilities General Eisenhower continued to command American occupation forces in Germany for several months. Eisenhower showed little compassion for the defeated German nation and was no doubt responsible for at least some of the decisions on handing over German soldiers and others who had fought against Communism to the Russians, the infamous “Operation Keelhaul,” one of the most stupid acts (if not one actually disdainful of American interests) done by American authorities in Germany. Eisenhower’s attitudes toward Germans were in spite of his German name with an Anglicized spelling, or perhaps even a result of it. As is well known, General Patton, the great American commander of armed forces, became much more sympathetic with the German population, but he was killed in the American Zone in an automobile “accident” on 21 December 1945. There is evidence that General Eisenhower had a personal hatred of Germans, but I do not rule out the possibility that this hatred was feigned for the purpose of furthering his career and to have earned the amazingly rapid promotions which he had been given. These rapid promotions were pointed out by Robert Welsh in his bitterly critical book on Eisenhower published in 1963, The Politician. After all, much of Eisenhower’s career had extended through the years of the Roosevelt administration. (As to the question of Eisenhower’s merits as a military officer, see US. News & World Report of 1 September 1986, pp. 28-41, “Ike: Overrated Warrior?” (Reviewed in our Bulletin No. 6.)

For some time after the war American soldiers were forbidden to “fraternize” with the German population, although there could hardly have been any real military danger from their doing so, since there was virtually no underground resistance to the Allied occupation after the organized German armed forces had laid down their arms. The real reason for the prohibition was more likely the fear that “fraternization” would have given Germans the opportunity to neutralize some of the anti-German indoctrination and propaganda to which American military personnel had been subjected. A few weeks after the war in Europe, American forces evacuated Saxony and Thuringia, of which Saxony had particularly important mining and industrial resources. These areas were served on a silver platter to the Communists, with whom Eisenhower had been so sweetly fraternizing. Approximately one half of the area of Germany (as of 1937) came under Soviet control.

On the whole, the behavior of the American soldiers toward the German civilian population was pretty decent and in some cases even chivalrous, and that in spite of the fact that American military personnel had been subjected to rather energetic anti-German indoctrination and propaganda in various forms, including indoctrination and training films. In addition, the American media – especially the film industry – gave very effective support to the war effort against Germany, quite in contrast to the role of the American media during the American participation in the war in Vietnam.

There were, however, distressing exceptions to the general behavior of American soldiers in Germany during the months following the surrender of the German armed forces. I recall that during the time when I was stationed in Kornwestheim I encountered a crude, stupid truck driver who boasted that he had killed Germans with his truck. In fact, the incidence of automobile accidents was very high on the part of American military personnel and I was myself almost killed by poorly disciplined American drivers. After the war (!) some 90% of the sculptures by the famous artist, Arno Breker, were destroyed by American soldiers.[3] On 13 September 1945 the distinguished composer, Anton Webern, was shot by an American soldier near Salzburg.

I had the impression that attitudes of American soldiers toward the German population varied considerably with educational and social levels of their family backgrounds. In well educated families there was usually an awareness of German cultural and scientific achievements, a factor which no doubt moderated the attitudes of soldiers from such families toward the defeated Germans. Many American soldiers from humbler backgrounds felt that Germany was, at least in a material sense, closer to the United States than any other country in which they had been previously on duty, most notably England and France. It has been observed, probably correctly, that American soldiers from the southern states were the most sympathetic with the plight of the Germans and it has been suggested that this was a result of historical circumstances, namely the fact that areas from which they had come had been subjected to a harsh occupation (“Reconstruction”) after the surrender of the Confederacy in 1865.

The harsh conditions imposed on the German civilian population (not to mention the German prisoners of war who were detained for long periods in camps), especially during 1945-1948, were essentially the result of directives from Washington and the resultant continuation of the very harsh policies toward Germany that developed under the Roosevelt administration. These policies included the demand for unconditional surrender of Germany which Roosevelt made as early as January 1943, an irresponsible act which was bound to strengthen the German will to resist and thus to increase the danger to lives of American soldiers like myself. Roosevelt’s readiness to sacrifice American soldiers for political aims was not only manifested in the demand for unconditional surrender. It has been claimed, I believe correctly, that Roosevelt could have saved lives of many soldiers and sailors by providing them promptly with information available to him on the coming attack on Pearl Harbor, but that he deliberately allowed an even greater toll of American military personnel in order to set the stage for a vigorous war effort and to justify his previous policies toward Japan, as well as to open a “back door” to war in Europe. I am strongly inclined to agree with Prof. Revilo Oliver’s assessment of Roosevelt and his designating Roosevelt as the “Great War Criminal.” During 1943-1946 I served in the armed forces of the United States and followed orders, but I had no enthusiasm for the war and distrusted the conduct and objectives of the war, so much so that I was interrogated on this matter when I was in intelligence training camp in Camp Ritchie. My doubts about the conduct and objectives of the war did not distinguish me from many American soldiers, however. Even Roosevelt’s chief military lackey, Eisenhower, complained that many of the American soldiers to whom he talked had no real conception of the aims of the American involvement in Europe.

Attitudes of Germans toward National Socialism, even during its most successful years, when it was undoubtedly very popular, had never been especially simple and unvaried. (See my comments in Bulletin No. 33 on Phillip Jenninger’s famous speech before the Bundestag in November 1988.) Attitudes on the part of various components of the population also varied, on average. (See my review of O.E. Remer’s Verschwörung und Verrat um Hitler in Bulletin No. 11, page 4.) The central factor in the attitudes of Germans toward National Socialism after the war was undoubtedly the fact that Germany had suffered a terrible, indeed catastrophic, defeat under the National Socialist government after desperate and costly defense measures which demanded great sacrifices.

The western Allies undertook a vigorous program of “Denazification” in the form of trials for “war crimes,” compelling all adult Germans to fill out lengthy questionnaires under the penalty of perjury, automatic arrest categories, dismissal of former members of the NSDAP from their employment and having German authorities examine former NSDAP members for the purpose of putting them into specific categories of “guilt” by special courts (“Spruchkammern”). “Denazification,” after all, was based on a cynical disregard of an important legal principle going back to ancient times and embodied in our own Constitution, Article I, Section 9, where ex post facto laws are prohibited.

This process of political reeducation caused bitter divisiveness amongst Germans. Defeat is an orphan. The terrible horrors of the final months of the war caused many a German to remark with resignation, “Lieber ein Ende mit Schrecken als ein Schrecken ohne Ende.” (Rather an end with terror than a terror without end.) I recall a sort of joke which was making the rounds and which went something like this: Who is hardest on former National Socialists? The Russians? No. The British? No. The French? No. The Americans? No. Well, who then? The Germans themselves!

An ironic poem also made the rounds amongst those who had disliked National Socialism or who claimed that they had. It went something like this:

Wir waren alle in der Partei,
Wir waren überall dabei,
Wir schrien stets und laut “Heil Hitler!”
Wir waren alle große Profitler,
Wir nannten den Führer ein höheres Wesen,
Doch Nazis sind wir nie gewesen.

(We were all in the Party, we were with it everywhere, we cried steadily and loudly, “Heil Hitler!”, we were all great profiteers, we called the Führer a higher being, but Nazis we never were.)

When former members of the NSDAP were tried by the Spruchkammern they frequently presented what became known as “Persilscheine.” Persil is the brand name of a widely sold laundry detergent, so “Persil coupons” were attestations that the defendants in question had not been such bad people in spite of their membership in the NSDAP and that they were “clean.” Obviously, too, the “Denazification” process also presented opportunities for personal vindictiveness and other abuses.

Although I was myself involved in the “Denazification” process during my military service, notably when I worked in Internierungslager 75 in Kornwestheim during 1945-1946, I found myself tormented by the question of whether or not I would have joined the NSDAP if I had been a German man born in the early years of the century. If I had been, I would have witnessed the defeat of my homeland, the humiliating loss of German territory and overseas colonies, the partial Allied occupation (mostly west of the Rhine), the severe limitation of German defense forces and the economic chaos during the time of the Weimar Republic, namely the hyperinflation of 1922-1923, and the massive unemployment during 1930 ff. Many Germans saw in National Socialism the only possible path to a restoration of decent economic conditions and a restoration of national dignity by overcoming the conditions created by the Versailles Treaty. Then, too, many foreigners were favorably impressed with Germany when they came to see the Olympic Games in 1936. No less a person than the Prince of Wales, the future King Edward VIII, manifested admiration for developments in Germany. The Munich agreement on the Sudetenland in 1938 even gave foreign recognition to a need to revise the terms of the Versailles Treaty.

The war which England and a somewhat hesitant France declared against Germany on 3 September 1939 left Europe physically deeply scarred, psychologically demoralized, economically depressed and politically largely enslaved to brutal Communist governments. During the course of the following years England, France, the Netherlands, and Belgium lost their overseas empires except for remnants. Militarily, National Socialist Germany had been entirely crushed by overwhelming numbers and resources in spite of its determined defense. Today it seems that the most significant heritage that could be derived from National Socialism would be the will of the Aryan nations to survive culturally and racially. It is reasonable to assume that the besieged Aryan component of the population of the United States will become ever more aware of the National Socialist heritage as it struggles against ever greater forces aligned against it, forces which will severely test its capacity to survive in any sort of meaningful way. Furthermore, it is also reasonable to assume that National Socialist Germany will be reevaluated by future generations of Aryan Americans in spite of all the shrewd, well financed efforts to denigrate it.

* * *

I have in my reference library a rather large book (247 pages, 23 1/2 x 17 cm), So lebten wir… Ein Querschnitt durch 1947 (That is the way we lived… a cross section through 1947). The book was published with the permission of the Military Government in December 1947 by the Scherer-Verlag in Württemberg in a printing of only 5000 copies. This book was written by a number of German authors on such topics as the status of the Saar area, the Soviet Zone, Berlin, the black market, student life, the attitudes toward the National Socialist past, prisoners of war still in Allied camps, refugees, the status of German medicine, and the currency question. The chapter on the status of German prisoners of war, of whom there were still many in captivity as late as December 1947 (pages 144- 152) [my elder brother, captured in April of 1945, was not released from a Soviet prisoner of war/slave camp until November 1949! – Editor], is of renewed interest in view of the revelations by the Canadian author James Bacque in his recent book, Other Losses [available from Liberty Bell Publications, $30 postpaid], which has caused a sensation in Canada. Thus far we have encountered reviews of Other Losses in Christian News (4 December 1989), GANPAC Brief of November-December, Instauration of January 1990, Liberty Bell of November 1989, and Unabhängige Nachrichten of November 1989, where it is stated that a German edition has already appeared under the title, Der geplante Tod.

Footnotes

[1] Born in Cincinnati, Ohio, Dr: Charles E. Weber served In the U.S. Army during the Second World War. He worked in various intelligence assignments, including examination of the records of the German Army Supreme Command (OKW=Oberkommando der Wehrmacht) in the Fechenheim Document Center in connection with the Nuremberg Trials. He earned his Ph.D. from the University of Cincinnati in 1954 and has taught at the University of Cincinnati, the University of Missouri, Lousiana State University, and the University of Tulsa, where he served as the Head of the Department of Modern Languages.

[2] On conditions in Internierungslager 75, see, Alliierte Kriegsverbrechen (Buenos Aires, 1953). On page 150 of the new edition published by Samisdat in Toronto, 1977 (available from Liberty Bell Publications, $15.00 + $2.25 postage), it is noted that conditions improved in the facility beginning in October 1945.

[3] Letter dated 23 January 1990 from B. John Zavrel, President of the Amo Breker Society International, Inc. During recent years Mr. Zavrel has made repeated attempts to learn about the circumstances of this incomprehensible destruction of important works of art. In extensive correspondence with the Central Intelligence Agency Mr. Zavrel appealed for the release of a report dated 8 April 1947 concerning the matter. He cited the Freedom of Information Act but thus far the CIA has withheld the information sought by Mr. Zavrel, as if great secrets vital to the defense of the United States could be contained in the report.

SOURCE: Liberty Bell, March 1990

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