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Donnerstag, Oktober 16, 2003
Germans as Victims
Finally, I can't resist. I've read about the "new trend" in germany in a few blogs over the weeks, but resisted commenting all the time, because I'm not sure, I could reflect about this in an appropriate way, but now I'll try. Melissa shows us this citation in her entry Germans as Victims which she got from Anne Applebaum:
The first is that there are many conspiracy theory books about 9/11, blaming the Bush administration for the attack. "Unlike those [books] in the United States, many of them also argue that the Bush administration was responsible for Sept. 11. One book, by a former German government minister, argues that the planes that hit the World Trade Center may have been secretly steered from the ground. Another — translated from the French and titled "The Appalling Lie" — says that the Pentagon was never hit by a plane at all but was instead deliberately blown up with a bomb. Germany's establishment press has studiously debunked these theories, to little avail: Recently, an opinion poll showed that one in five Germans believe them."
The other book trend is for Germans to see themselves as the victims in World War II. "Not one but two books have become popular through their descriptions of the Allied bombing of Dresden in 1945, which resulted in fires that caused tens of thousands of deaths. One of the authors used the word "crematoria" to describe the burning buildings, described the Allied bomber pilots as the equivalents of Nazi police units that murdered Jews and concluded by wondering whether Winston Churchill, who ordered the bombings, ought to have been condemned as a war criminal. These books have also been effective: According to another opinion poll, more than a third of the Germans now think of themselves as "victims" of the Second World War — just like the Jews."
Melissa then comments it the following:
Those silly Germans, rewriting history. I don't think it's so odd that there are a few books like this out there. We certainly get our share of conspiracy theory books here. But the fact that polls show so many people believing them is what is scary. I'm curious to see what Lilli Marlene has to say.
Okay, first - the conspiracy books. I've written about this some time before and to repeat myself - sure, many people who read the books believe in what they say but most of big german magazines (including left Der Spiegel) call most of the authors idiots. Of course they don't do it that clear, but it's obvious that all they're missing are the tinfoil-hats. They (the magazines) also showed up that many of the authors didn't do their research in a proper way and referred to Internet-sites with dubious authors. So, thinking germans don't believe all they read in a book.
Now, the second point, the german victims.
It's pretty simple. Many germans have been or did support Nazis. They are not the victims. Many others didn't support the Nazis, they did hide Jews and helped them or they lived without a clue in a very rural areas or they were on the flight from the eastern parts of germany (nowadays Poland and Russia). They never harmed any person, no Russian, no Polish and no Jewish person. But they got killed.
Let's for example look at Hamburg (an often called example for german victims). I'd say Hamburg had its average share of Nazis, idiots, supporters, anti-Nazis, weasels and whatever. But the bombing of Hamburg was extraordinnaire, even when there was no military goal to hit. Most of the people in Hamburg also never before had harmed a soul, but they got killed by that bombings because the Brits wanted revenge for what german pilots had done to the UK.
Let's for example look at the ship "Wilhelm Gustlof". It was a huge ship and this ship was full of refugees from the ex-german eastern part who wanted to come back to central germany. Thousands of women and children, a few men were on the ship. It was bombed by a soviet submarine. The Soviets knew who was on the ship:
918 naval officers and personel
373 female auxiliaries
162 wounded (I'd guess soldiers, but I'm not sure)
something between 4.400 and 8.000 refugees - the official numbers say about 4.400 but people on the ship say it were many, many more, because it was the last possibility to come away from that area.
People saved after bombing: less than 1.000, so there are something between 5.000 and 7.000 people who died by that bombing or later in the cold water.
Did all these people deserve to die there and then?
We just can seriously doubt it, if we will not climb down the ladder and claim "All germans deserve dead".
Sure - this is nothing compared to 6.000.000 killed jewish people by the Nazis, but can suffering be compared?
The dead of all the innocent Jews doesn't justify the dead of a few thousand innocent germans.
The war didn't end a minute earlier because of these bombings. I'd say people who died there are also victims. In germany it was a No-No for a long time, to talk or even think about germans in another way than in either Nazis or people who were also guilty because of not having dona anything against it.
It's just the last few years that here in germany there is a process starting where people who lost their grandparents research how they died and found out about their death in situations like this ship I mentioned above.
As you might have guessed, when you read my blog a bit, I don't accept war at all. But if a war happens, I can somehow understand it, to bomb and attack military targets. But I'll never understand the attacking of civilan targets, especially fugitives, children and women.
So, I call civilians who died in a war, victims.
This whole discussion is in germany never done with denial about jewish deaths and I can understand that jewish newspapers and people do look very carefully about what will come out of this discussion. I'd do it the same if I were jewish and some friends of mine who happen to be jewish, do so, also.
We do not rewrite history, Melissa. We just add another side, noone dared to talk about in public the last 50 years. It's just one side more, showing up what we all know - there never is something like just black or white.