Decorations being taken away as German soldiers surrendered?

Discussions on the German POWs, both during the war and post war, and the occupation and denazification of Germany and Austria 1944-1957.
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ReinhardH
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Re: Decorations being taken away as German soldiers surrende

Postby ReinhardH » 12 Feb 2012 08:07

Dad sent every one of his decorations w/paperwork home to his parents asap after receiving them. At one point he nearly got into trouble for removing from his uniform and pocketing an award right after the end of the ceremony … the officer in charge of the ceremony noticed the move, immediately approached him, and discretely asked him to at least wear it for 24 hrs in honor of the guys who witnessed him earn it.
Bottom line is that it was not wise to wear awards on one's uniform, especially near the end of the war, because of the known reputation of allied 'souvenir' hunters. More importantly, it was also a matter of personal survival :wink:

LetsRock
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Re: Decorations being taken away as German soldiers surrende

Postby LetsRock » 15 Feb 2013 19:11

So what if allied soldiers took the decorations and medals from German soldiers? The award is part of their permanent service record and could be replaced if needed.

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ReinhardH
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Re: Decorations being taken away as German soldiers surrende

Postby ReinhardH » 17 Feb 2013 10:48

Pretty much a win-win situation, isn't it? .. collectors attempt to get great big bucks for their 'war booty' trinkets ... while German vet immigrants have all the while been welcomed to, and have prospered here in Nord Amerika. :P

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Annelie
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Re: Decorations being taken away as German soldiers surrende

Postby Annelie » 17 Feb 2013 17:12

Pretty much a win-win situation, isn't it? .. collectors attempt to get great big bucks for their 'war booty' trinkets ... while German vet immigrants have all the while been welcomed to, and have prospered here in Nord Amerika.


I am sure when the decoration were taken it wasn't with the thought espressed above.
Many were taken from the dead.

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BillHermann
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Re: Decorations being taken away as German soldiers surrende

Postby BillHermann » 19 Feb 2013 10:29

Why not, money was money. The black market was thriving, items taken from the dead on all sides were taken both as booty and for resale during that time period and into the future.

Scrounging has been a part of war.

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ReinhardH
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Re: Decorations being taken away as German soldiers surrende

Postby ReinhardH » 24 Feb 2013 09:04

souvenier scroungers are also pretty much prime booby trap targets, right? 8O

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Re: Decorations being taken away as German soldiers surrende

Postby eldar1 » 01 Mar 2013 06:56

I have been followimg your discussion on decoration removal. The simple question was why.Tearing all the layers away of reasons for this practice,left me with this.Like war thier are no simple answers.The reasons why have dozens of answers and each has a certain reilivance to it's author.Just because we don't agree with the author's opinion dosn't give anyone the right to beliitte them.Understandig with out bias is the best way to honor all vets .

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BillHermann
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Re: Decorations being taken away as German soldiers surrende

Postby BillHermann » 01 Mar 2013 16:24

Yes but greeting wrapped up in the emotion of an activity that in war is trivial compared to the horrors is a valid point. When the destruction of a city, the forced relocation of civilians and the trauma of soldiers and civilians the loss of a medal or citation is trivial. War does awful things to people and makes regular people do questionable things. In war lines are blurry, it is not saying it is right but it is a fact. Getting horrified with an iron cross being taken when people's lives were ruined is superficial.

Any veteran who I have ever talked to has said that during combat or war there are far more important things to worry about like surviving and dealing with the horror than the theft of a medal.

Theft even happens on the same side for various reasons, boots, watches personal items.

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Marcus Wendel
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Re: Decorations being taken away as German soldiers surrende

Postby Marcus Wendel » 08 Mar 2013 14:46

A nonsense post from British Sapper was removed along with a now unnecessary reply. We don't allow that kind of negative generalizations, no matter if it is based on nationality, religion or something else.

/Marcus

Edmund
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Re: Decorations being taken away as German soldiers surrende

Postby Edmund » 17 Mar 2013 23:46

The photo on the first page is disgraceful. Depending on the time of release (or escape) would the POWs still be able to apply to the war department for a replacement medal? I would imagine that if this happened late in the war the Soldat would be out of luck. What was the policy regarding MIA or KIA Soldats? Were their medals (or copies) sent to the family?

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BillHermann
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Re: Decorations being taken away as German soldiers surrende

Postby BillHermann » 19 Mar 2013 09:08

There is nothing disgraceful with the photo when you compare the horrors of war. To most veterans those are just things, losing a leg, buddy, family, home, or dignity is far worse. There are many other photos I can think of that are far more disgraceful than some soldier showing of medals, some of which are obviously political in nature.

The images of the "lost german girl" are disgraceful. The photo here in question is superficial.

Edmund
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Re: Decorations being taken away as German soldiers surrende

Postby Edmund » 19 Mar 2013 22:45

BillHermann - You know, now that you've brought up the horrors of war I see that you're absolutely correct. Medals are just things. I guess a more correct comment would have been that I find what is shown in that photo to be very disrespectful to the soldiers who went through God knows what to earn those decorations.

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Annelie
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Re: Decorations being taken away as German soldiers surrende

Postby Annelie » 19 Mar 2013 23:00

Edmund,

We who are reading this thread knew exactly what you meant.
I assumed from your statement that you knew exactly what one
went through to earn some of those medals and that is why you
were aghast at the photo.

You are allowed your opinion just has Hermann is allowed his.

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BillHermann
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Re: Decorations being taken away as German soldiers surrende

Postby BillHermann » 21 Mar 2013 07:04

Disrespectful maybe, disgraceful no, he had his picture taken what about the thousands on all sides that did this with no photographic record including the theft of civilian personal items. I would also like to add being a soldier myself that after years of war the stresses has impacts on reasonable honourable / behaviour. Clearly this man is happy for it to be over.

Finally no one can take away the heroic action of a soldier, history keeps a record. The medal is a symbol.

I would also like to add that that because of the denazification of Germany many medals were considered political, like flags and other political items so to the allies much of these items were legally fair game. You may not agree with this but it is a fact, further to this if it were not for some of the allied collectors many of the items bought and sold by collectors would nor be in circulation, again you may not like that but it is a reality.

The photo may bother you but there is such thing a context and without knowing the detailed complete story we are jumping to conclusions. Finally I can say that while I don't agree with the taking of medals and current trends of people digging up battlefields for loot, unless its archival purposes. Even though like you I don't like the behaviour I don't go to great lengths to get put of by a photo like this.

I'm not going to get emotional as there are varying degrees of disrespect, and as I have said before in context this is minor.

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Re: Decorations being taken away as German soldiers surrende

Postby Larry D. » 22 Mar 2013 13:38

Bill H. - I think you are being waaaaaaaaay too easy on the touchy, feely, squeezy violin-playing, hanky-wavers in this thread who have never been there and done that. The possessions of the enemy fallen belong to the soldiers of the victor. That's an unwritten rule of war since the dawn of time. There are some lines that should not be crossed, such as the U.S. Marines in the Pacific who carried pliers to pull the gold teeth out of the mouths of dead (and occasionally still living) Japanese soldiers, but relieving an enemy carrying a weapon of his "stuff" has been an age-old tradition until just recently. It was just 500 years ago that the fallen wounded were slaughtered on the battlefield and captives taken back to the victor's camp for torture. I mean, we've got to give mankind credit for making at least a little progress over the past half-millennium.

Larry
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