Yesterday I was looking at pictures of my grandfathers in their World War Two era uniforms. These two handsome fellows barely survived, but they came home and here I am almost eighty years later trying to make sense of a war that offers posterity far more propaganda than genuine history, but the story spinners began weaving their tall tales before the war began. What did they say to get our grandfathers to don those stylish uniforms only to wade through the mud and the blood of our ancestors’ homelands?
They surely thought they were doing right by their country, the way the propaganda pushers told it, but the spinners spun it the way they needed to in order to get public opinion on their side and firmly against the Germans. It worked. The Germans are roasting babies. The Germans are raping women. The Germans are killing all the Jews. And one must remember that the notorious “six million” number was bandied about decades before Hitler’s rise to power.*
I have spoken with a few survivors of this war, and what they told me will not appear in the average history textbook. Here is one short response:
You know what I saw in Germany at the end of that war? I saw German babies with their brains beat out of ‘em. I saw German women raped, even crucified and raped to death and then some. I saw Jewish commissars smiling down on the whole damn mess. Now I know that ain’t the whole story, but that’s what I saw and the other version of events has been told to death. We need to hear it all before we smugly tell the Germans they got what they deserved. No one deserves what happened there at the end of that war. No one. **
History is certainly more complicated than most books will tell you, but that’s what readers want ~ obvious villains, innocent victims, and heroes in flowing capes. Even comic books are not that simple. The people condemning Germany before, during, and after the war did not fight in it, but they sure had political and financial stakes in making Germany look bad; that alone ought to make anyone pause for thought, particularly when one considers the body count, a number that continued to soar even after the war in Eisenhower’s “POW” camps, which takes us to the Rhine Meadows and another chapter often admitted from standard textbooks.
Of course, clever Eisenhower did not call them POW’s. He called them DEF’s, Disarmed Enemy Forces; a new category not mentioned in the Geneva Convention which meant ol’ Dwight didn’t have to abide by the Convention’s rules and the Germans starved by the thousands, and all of this after the war. Of course there was disease and outright murder as well. Estimates for the death toll in these camps is over one million.
This war was a travesty beyond words, but we must try to express the horrors for the sake of the truth. One of my survivors recalled seeing boys,
maybe thirteen, marching in men’s uniforms carrying little packs their mothers gave ‘em with extra food and clothes, like they were just going to school. It was the saddest thing I’ve ever seen. And Berlin after the war? Children popping up here and there from the ruins trying to make a life for themselves out of what was left. They were tiny combat veterans, missing an eye, a leg, an arm. And they were children! Were these battered babes the beastly German I was supposed to hate? That’s when I knew without a doubt that we’d all been lied to.
My fellow Americans, we are still being fed lies.
* There are numerous sources on this. Here is one site listing 256 occurrences: https://archive.org/stream/256ReferencesTo6000000JewsPriorToTheNurembergTrialAnnouncement/256ReferencesTo6000000JewsPriorToTheNurembergTrialAnnouncement_djvu.txt
** For the full conversation see Summers’ novel, The Forgetting available at: https://www.amazon.com/Forgetting-Mission-Maligned-4/dp/1976412994/ref=asap_bc?ie=UTF8