Did the Generals know?

Discussions on the Holocaust and 20th Century War Crimes. Note that Holocaust denial is not allowed. Hosted by David Thompson.
Andreas
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Post by Andreas » 22 Jul 2007 19:47

tonyh wrote: But. any way it's cut, it's ridiculous to present the "everyone knew / everyone agreed" stance as it just doesn't stand up.

Tony


Has anyone done this in this thread? If not, why the rant? This is about a very specific, and very small group of Germans who after the war pretended to be clueless. The transcripts deal with this specific group - there is no intent to extend this to "everyone".

So kindly take your OT strawman rant elsewhere - it is derailing what could be a good discussion. If you don't have anything meaningful to contribute to it other than rants and strawmen, don't post in it.

Thanks.

Andreas

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Post by Andreas » 22 Jul 2007 20:01

nickterry wrote:
steve248 wrote:Thirdly, a lot of the information is boasting. One example is von Choltitz mentioned in the article as making remarks about the mass executions in the Crimea. I have yet to see any evidence that von Choltitz ever visited the Crimea when his station was 1000 kms north in a different Army Group.


Choltitz served with 22nd Infantry Division at some point in the 1941-2 campaign. He's so mentioned in Carell and a few other places. Since the Crimea is a bit far south for me I haven't double-checked the details. The references are vague; Choltitz also rants about having to do the same in Antwerp.


I find the term "boasting" odd, but nevertheless, as Nick quite rightly points out, von Choltitz is a bad example for this, since he was in Crimea up to 1942, as officer commanding IR 16, 22.ID. If, as you say, "a lot of this" is boasting, do you have examples?

All the best

Andreas

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Post by Ship of Fools » 22 Jul 2007 21:14

I maintain you could make a very good theatre or radio play out of some of these transcripts.


It has already been done, or something very similiar. Its called Licking Hitler by David Hare.

A good read too, although personally a find his stock character of the self-sacrificing female lead a bit wearing. Lars von Trier is far too fond of the same cliched type as well.

Regarding the photo, its been said before, but the Germans really did have the best uniforms and these arent even SS.

Andreas
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Post by Andreas » 22 Jul 2007 21:22

A post by AHF was split out into a new thread: viewtopic.php?t=124509

All the best

Andreas

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Post by David Thompson » 22 Jul 2007 22:00

Ship of Fools -- You wrote:
It has already been done, or something very similiar. Its called Licking Hitler by David Hare.

A good read too, although personally a find his stock character of the self-sacrificing female lead a bit wearing. Lars von Trier is far too fond of the same cliched type as well.

Regarding the photo, its been said before, but the Germans really did have the best uniforms and these arent even SS.

The research sections of the forum are set up for informed, sourced discussions of historical issues, not scripts for stage or screen plays. Please stay on topic.

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Post by tonyh » 22 Jul 2007 23:31

Andreas wrote:
tonyh wrote: But. any way it's cut, it's ridiculous to present the "everyone knew / everyone agreed" stance as it just doesn't stand up.

Tony


Has anyone done this in this thread? If not, why the rant? This is about a very specific, and very small group of Germans who after the war pretended to be clueless. The transcripts deal with this specific group - there is no intent to extend this to "everyone".

So kindly take your OT strawman rant elsewhere - it is derailing what could be a good discussion. If you don't have anything meaningful to contribute to it other than rants and strawmen, don't post in it.

Thanks.

Andreas


Well...actually Andreas, it's about the "the German Generals" and how they "knew" all about the "holocaust".

And these arguments are usually offered up in total "proving" that it was the majority that took part in the holocaust and not the minority.

And I didn't say that anyone did anything in this thread.

Tony

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Post by Andreas » 23 Jul 2007 07:57

tonyh wrote: And these arguments are usually offered up in total "proving" that it was the majority that took part in the holocaust and not the minority.


That's your personal pet theory, which has zero relation to this thread. Stop wasting our time with it here.

Thanks.

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Post by tonyh » 23 Jul 2007 11:14

It's not a "personal pet theory"...the very title of the article says it all...

"The Genocide Generals: secret recordings explode the myth they knew nothing about the Holocaust"

If that's not something put forward in the total, I don't know what is. The "genocide" Generals indeed.

Below is a rare picture of Hitler briefing his top brass. For years they claimed to know nothing about the Holocaust. But now extraordinary secret recordings - made by the British - explode that myth for ever ...


they also explode the post-war claim of the Wehrmacht that they did not know what the SS were doing to the Jews, Slavs, mentally disabled and others among what they termed "untermensch" (sub-humans).


Attempts to suggest that genocide was solely the responsibility of the SS and Nazi fanatics, and not widespread across the whole Wehrmacht, completely collapse before the evidence of these recordings.


it is clear they knew perfectly well what was happening throughout the Third Reich and its occupied territories.



Tony

Andreas
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Post by Andreas » 23 Jul 2007 11:17

I can only ask again tony - do you have anything, anything at all, of substance to add, or are you content to continue to violate the rules of this forum in the manner you do at the moment?

3. Opinions

Since the purpose of this section of the forum is to exchange information and hold informed discussions about historical problems, posts which express unsolicited opinions without supporting facts and sources do not promote the purposes of the forum. Consequently, such posts are subject to deletion after a warning to the poster.

The same reasoning applies to opinion threads.


Thank you.

Andreas

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Post by Penn44 » 23 Jul 2007 11:29

Given the cumulative evidence available on the subject it is fairly evident that the German generals on the Eastern front as a group knew that the Einsatzgruppen were murdering Jews there.

Has any reliable historian ever claimed that German generals on the Eastern Front as a group did not know about the German murder of Jews there?

Penn44

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Post by tonyh » 23 Jul 2007 11:40

Penn44 wrote:Given the cumulative evidence available on the subject it is fairly evident that the German generals on the Eastern front as a group knew that the Einsatzgruppen were murdering Jews there.

Has any reliable historian ever claimed that German generals on the Eastern Front as a group did not know about the German murder of Jews there?

Penn44

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Well, no it's not. It's evident that some knew...and that can be reduced further to what they actually knew, heard, saw, gossiped about or actively took part in.

These "that group knew" arguments are bunkum.

Stories of atrocity were rife during the war (they're rife now in the Iraq war), but it doesn't PROVE what people as a group knew about a given subject.

It's just bad reasoning to suggest that because some German Generals gossiped about some atrocity they heard about in the East, it therefore results that they all knew as a group.

Even more so, when it's put in a phrase like "they knew about the holocaust"

Knowing or hearing about an atrocity doesn't and cannot equate to "knowing" about the holocaust.


Tony

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Post by nickterry » 23 Jul 2007 13:42

Penn44 wrote:Given the cumulative evidence available on the subject it is fairly evident that the German generals on the Eastern front as a group knew that the Einsatzgruppen were murdering Jews there.

Has any reliable historian ever claimed that German generals on the Eastern Front as a group did not know about the German murder of Jews there?

Penn44

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It's patently obvious from contemporary documents that the German officer corps (generals and staff officers) knew a considerable amount.

Lieutenant-Colonel Rudolf von Gersdorff filed this well known note in December 1941:

IV. Bei allen längeren Gesprächen mit Offizieren wurde ich, ohne darauf hingedeutet zu haben, nach den Judenerschiessungen gefragt. Ich habe den Eindruck gewonnen, dass die Erschiessungen der Juden, der Gefangenen und auch der Kommissare fast allgemein im Offizierskorps abgelehnt wird, die Erschiessung der Kommisare vor allem auch deswegen, weil dadurch der Feindwiderstand besonders gestärkt wird. Die Erschiessungen werden als eine Verletzung der Ehre der Deutschen Armee, in Sonderheit des Deutschen Offizierkorps betrachtet. Je nach Temperament und Veranlagung der Betreffenden wurde in mehr oder weniger starker Form die Frage der Verantwortung hierfür zur Sprache gebracht. Es ist hierzu festzustellen, dass die vorhandenen Tatsachen in vollem Umfang bekannt geworden sind und dass im Offizierkorps der Front weit mehr darüber gesprochen wird, als anzunehmen war.


There are dozens more examples from across the 12 armies on the Eastern Front.

Knowledge was widespread; I would say among divisions actually taking part in the Barbarossa attack it was fairly complete.

It is likely that some divisions transferred in late 1941 or early 1942, or subsequently did not have direct knowledge of atrocities against _Jews_ because they were sent direct to sectors along the frontline in the RSFSR where the Jewish population was thinner, already dead, or had fled. That said, many would have passed back through rear-area towns where ghettos remained; Warsaw and Brest were among two of the largest railway transfer points for troop transports travelling in either direction.

The strawman that is being attacked in this thread by some of the posters is to equate the contemporary perception of 'the Holocaust' with the knowledge of atrocities that these men actually possessed.

The transcripts show a considerably *greater* knowledge of the maltreatment of Soviet POWs on the part of many of the generals; this the generals talked about much more because they knew that they were institutionally responsible for the care of Soviet POWs. By contrast, the extermination of the Jews in the 'east' was the affair of the SS-Police, and some commanders could wash their hands of it, and erase the memory from their brains as a result.

These generals, as recorded in these transcripts, are often haunted by the extermination of the Jews, but they are just as if not more haunted by the mass starvation and death-marches of the Soviet POWs.

What these transcripts reconfirm is that any postwar protest of ignorance from a German general has to be regarded with scepticism; the fact is that most of the senior commanders who claimed after 1945 not to have passed on the commissar order, not to have assisted the Einsatzgruppen, etc, are liars. Guderian lied in his memoirs about how Panzer Group 2 did not pass on the commissar order; Manstein lied in his memoirs too. Contemporary documents from their staffs show a very different story.

This is not to say that there were not some generals who resisted, protested, or were simply lucky enough to arrive on the Eastern Front at a time when the worst of the atrocities had ceased. I can well imagine also that the majority of regiments were lucky enough to avoid passing through certain towns at certain times, and did not 'see' anything.

Yet the fact is that over 20 frontline divisions were pulled out for rear-area duty in 1941-42, and all of them were forced to cooperate with the SS; many handed Jews over to the Einsatzgruppen; many executed Jews on their own initiative; they were garrisoned in the same towns as the ghettos; some were assigned to escort the masses of POWs back from Vyazma-Bryansk and Kiev and behaved little better than the SS on the 1945 death marches.

The postwar protest that "we didn't know" was near-universal, and it is that universal chorus that is a lie. A psychologically necessary lie, perhaps, but a lie nonetheless.

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Post by Penn44 » 23 Jul 2007 16:07

One also has to take into consideration that the Germans went into the war against the Soviet Union with a very different mindset than they had against the French or British. From its very inception as an operation, Barbarossa was conceived as a very different type of war, a racial-ideological conflict, one that the Germans intended to fight without mercy towards its racial-ideological enemy, the "Jewish-Bolshevik." From this mindset spewed forth all forms of atrocities against enemy POWs and civilians accompanied by attendent rationalizations.

See for example the attitude expressed in the Barbarossa Decree of 13 May 1941 that greatly loosened German policy towards the punishment of crimes against Soviet civilians.

http://www.ess.uwe.ac.uk/genocide/USSR5.htm

Penn44

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tonyh
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Post by tonyh » 23 Jul 2007 21:51

The nazis went to war with the Soviet Union with such policies. This doesn't mean that everyone in the German armed forces signed up to that method of warfare or that idealology by any stretch of the imagination, even if they were anti-Bolshevik...or even anti-Jewish for that matter.

And as pointed out before...the "Kommissarbefehl" had to be abandoned because it wasn't being carried out.

I'll try and dig out the quote on that.

Tony

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Post by nickterry » 23 Jul 2007 22:02

And as pointed out before...the "Kommissarbefehl" had to be abandoned because it wasn't being carried out


Because the commanders in the field came to the realisation that it was actively counterproductive, as it gave no quarter to political officers and thus gave them every reason to exhort their units to fight to the last man.

The reporting of executions shows a high level initially dropping over the course of the summer of 1941, then relative silence by the autumn, as the Army became aware - and OKH agreed to the policy - that the Einsatzgruppen would do the dirty work for them.

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