Did the Generals know?

Discussions on the Holocaust and 20th Century War Crimes. Note that Holocaust denial is not allowed. Hosted by David Thompson.
nickterry
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Post by nickterry » 24 Jul 2007 13:59

Penn44 wrote:
nickterry wrote: In all cases, we are talking a couple of hundred executions for the summer of 1941 across an entire army. Participation cannot have been total, since 1000s were executed in the rear areas by the _Wehrmacht_ and at least 40,000 remained undetected even as far back as the Reich, judging by the numbers selected for execution by the SS in the camps during 1941-2.


Under the Kommissarbefehl, the Germans also screened for Jews among Soviet POWs and turned these POWs over to the Einsatzkommandos for "special action." Could some of the 40,000 you cited above been Jewish POWs or was that a separate figure? The Germans screened for Jewish POWs at Division and Army-level POW pens as well as in the Stalags.

Penn44

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A great many were undoubtedly Jews.

Polian, Pavel, ‘First Victims of the Holocaust. Soviet-Jewish Prisoners of War in German Captivity’, Kritika 6/4, 2005, pp.763-787

Cf also Shneer, A., Plen. Jerusalem, 2003

available online here:
http://www.jewniverse.ru/RED/Shneyer/index.htm

(in Russian, natch...)

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Post by Penn44 » 24 Jul 2007 14:13

Thanks Nick.

BTW, the USHMM's still photo library has several photos of segregated Jewish-Soviet POWs some of who are marked with a painted star of David.

Penn44

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ChristopherPerrien
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Post by ChristopherPerrien » 24 Jul 2007 21:43

Andreas wrote:Some more context on Prof. Neitzel: the university where he teaches is a good quality university with a long tradition.
All the best

Andreas



It should also be realized for context, that this University and Prof. Neitzel are located in Germany. Anything written today in Germany by a German citizen dealing with such WWII aspects as German General's collective responsibility for, or knowledge of, the Holocaust/Final Solution, is written under a "tinge" of government duress and fear. There is both an enforced and a subliminal biasness implicit to any WWII historical work that comes out of Germany today.

Chris

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Post by Andreas » 24 Jul 2007 21:58

ChristopherPerrien wrote:
Andreas wrote:Some more context on Prof. Neitzel: the university where he teaches is a good quality university with a long tradition.
All the best

Andreas



It should also be realized for context, that this University and Prof. Neitzel are located in Germany. Anything written today in Germany by a German citizen dealing with such WWII aspects as German General's collective responsibility for, or knowledge of, the Holocaust/Final Solution, is written under a "tinge" of government duress and fear. There is both an enforced and a subliminal biasness implicit to any WWII historical work that comes out of Germany today.

Chris


Government duress? Enforced bias? Are you making this up to make you feel better? Quite frankly, it is sad that you have to reach that far to dismiss research that throws doubt on your beliefs. But not surprising.

For the record, you can say anything you want about the collective responsibility of the German generals without falling foul of the relevant laws on Holocaust denial. Until you get to the point where you are denying the Holocaust happened at all, which is not an issue of discussion in Prof. Neitzel's work. Talking about the responsibility of individuals one way or the other does not equal denying that the event happened.

All the best

Andreas

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Post by David Thompson » 24 Jul 2007 22:53

Let's stick to discussing sourced evidence on the subject.

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Re: Did the Generals knew?

Post by ChristopherPerrien » 25 Jul 2007 00:32

Is the topic not about a discussion of a book that is proported by some Newpaper(s) journalist(s) to support the idea of collective responsibility for the Holocaust can be attributed to all German generals in WWII?

marino46 wrote:A book titled Tapping Hitler's Generals: Transcripts of Secret Conversations 1942-45 edited by Sonke Neitzel with an introduction by Ian Kershaw, by Greenhill Books is going to be on sale on August 31 at £30.
There is a collection of 167 conversations secretly recorded by the CSDIC in Trent Park and extracts are published today (July 21) in the Daily Mail. Accordingly to the newspaper "...the alibi of the German High Command – that they didn't know what the SS were up to, and anyhow they were, as Heims put it, 'only carrying out orders' – is shown to be demonstrably false."


Has the topic been hijacked permanently to just affirm a mantra of collective responsibility, in effect dismissing the actual basis for the topic in the first place?
There are tons of topics on "collective responsibility" already. Here is another one I guess.

At the beginning of this topic I considering adivising that this topic should be moved to wherever "book reviews" go. My mistake for not doing so.


Government duress? Enforced bias? Are you making this up to make you feel better? Quite frankly, it is sad that you have to reach that far to dismiss research that throws doubt on your beliefs. But not surprising.


No I am not affiliated with the German government present or past.
Attack the messenger instead of the message 8-) . And yes my beliefs on the statistical probability of a singular work using some figure, less than 167 out 16427, as not being an accurate indicator of some group consensus/responsibilty/guilt/etc. will not change. Moreso when it is a simple fact, that I have not made up, if such work is done in a country where it is dangerous to your career and freedom to even "lean" in the wrong direction while doing so. Besides being brought up/raised/taught/teaching in a such place in the first place. We don't assign much validity to many books that were produced in the Soviet Union about some topics, do we?

For the record, you can say anything you want about the collective responsibility of the German generals without falling foul of the relevant laws on Holocaust denial. Until you get to the point where you are denying the Holocaust happened at all, which is not an issue of discussion in Prof. Neitzel's work.


Sure you can :wink: . And I think Prof . Neitzel is surely smart enough to realize this, as otherwise the book would never have been published in Germany in the first.

Y'all have a good debate. I'll try to stay out of H+WC.
Chris

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Post by David Thompson » 25 Jul 2007 02:16

Is the topic not about a discussion of a book that is proported by some Newpaper(s) journalist(s) to support the idea of collective responsibility for the Holocaust can be attributed to all German generals in WWII?

(1) Since this is a research area of the forum, the opinion of some journalist from the Daily Mail doesn't really cut much of a figure with our readers. The more interesting question is what the German generals who were audiotaped knew, and how.

(2) The journalist's extrapolation from these sample tapes about what the larger group of several thousand German general officers -- persons disparate in age, background, assignments, responsibilities, fields of expertise, and located in different geographical regions -- "knew", and about what, seems reckless to me. I think the reliability of such a generalization needs to be established for the journalist's speculation -- and the discussion -- to be taken seriously. Otherwise, it's just another poorly thought-out notion trying to pass for historical fact.

(3) If the subject of the supposed collective knowledge of this group is going to be discussed, the information should be sourced per our rules. The discussion could also use some definition of the claim or proposition, as in, "the German generals collectively knew . . . what?"

Do general officers serving as supply or transportation chiefs, equipment or armaments inspectors, military government administrators, etc. have the same collective knowledge as other generals serving as army group, army or corps commanders, or smaller combat unit commanders in wartime? Did they all know about "Aktion Reinhard(t)" and/or homicidal gas chambers administered by small groups of SS men acting under secret orders? Some did, but what is the evidence that the answer is "yes" for all or even most of them?

I think a good case could be made that the knowledge of slave labor programs, economic plundering, mistreatment of POWs and illegal reprisals was probably widespread among Germany's general officers, but that doesn't get us to the collective knowledge of the deliberate murder of several million civilians in an organized ethnic extermination program.

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Post by ChristopherPerrien » 25 Jul 2007 04:27

The more interesting question is what the German generals who were audiotaped knew, and how.


Straight up, I totally agree.

The problems, though, start right there. Most of us will never have a chance to listen to these tapes(all of them). Most of us don't know German. The transcripts besides being written down, go through a translation process that effectively removes alot of emotion in them. Then we only get what conversations were "chosen" for the contents of this book, for whatever the reasons.

And the one BIG thing that cannot occur to us, since we weren't there or were not a part of this group of people, is the context in which these conversations were made. Have you ever been in Jail? I can only imagine the weird thoughts that were flying through the heads of these imprisoned men, wondering, as the Nuremberg trials were going on at the time, if their heads were going to roll next. Not an irrational fear at the time. Secret recordings of such times and events should display all manner of wild thoughts and accusations and defenses in such matters. The sheer limited number of conversation transcripts made light of, precludes gaining an accurate feel for the "mindset" of the group in question.

I would not mind so much a work that publishes certain conversations if it provides a sound statistical basis in the accepted form of scientific proof/method, that the explurgated conversations are in some sort of agreement with the published ones. It can be easily done. Perhaps Dr. Neiztel's book does , I don't know as I haven't seen it on the shelves. Yet no one here who has read the book in German has broached these issues or posted them here, in English no less. From the lack of replys I can only judge that a statistical study in this work that accounts for the missing data, is missing :idea: .

I don't give a "Tinker's dam" if all the German Generals knew of the Holocaust and that they did nothing to stop it. And by, "silence is consent", they are guilty of it too. But if this is true, it should not be difficult to prove it "scientifically/statistically", as being TRUE, given the vast and indept content that 16427 post-war conversations of imprisoned German generals must contain. My hunch is that like many studies/books that attempt to prove something, that perhaps this book, or supporters of this theory, miss using accepted statistical/scientific methods to prove it or to analyze/quantify the human behavior behind it. It is a fault of many liberal arts/historical studies/books. Not all , but many. I particularly like as example of scholarship in this type of work, the original sociological study of the Yanomani Indians in South America since , AS A CLINCHER, it includes a statistical study(i.e. a proof) of behavior of the group. The dude, Napoleon A. Chagnon, who did it, lived with these people for years and then he did the "math", too.

Regards to all,
Chris

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Post by RFPB » 25 Jul 2007 06:25

I hope you all question the credibility of that article. They talk about Hitler's top brass and his generals and whatnot, but it's obvious everyone in that photo is in the Luftwaffe.

Doubt the writers would figure that.

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Re: Did the Generals knew?

Post by Andreas » 25 Jul 2007 09:48

ChristopherPerrien wrote:Attack the messenger instead of the message 8-) .


Irony is obviously not your strong suit.

ChristopherPerrien wrote:Anything written today in Germany by a German citizen dealing with such WWII aspects as German General's collective responsibility for, or knowledge of, the Holocaust/Final Solution, is written under a "tinge" of government duress and fear. There is both an enforced and a subliminal biasness implicit to any WWII historical work that comes out of Germany today.


Or how would you describe what you wrote above other than attacking the messenger, instead of the message. If it comes from Germany, no matter what it is, it is suspect. How about dealing with the content first, before moving on to summary dismissal of the message just because it was written by a German and published in Germany. I notice also that you repeat this opinion but you are obviously unwilling or incapable of providing any support for it. As I said, sad.

Back on topic. I would not get too hung up about the newspaper article - my views are pretty much in the same line as David's. I see the article as a useful starter to the debate, but the debate itself should focus on actual evidence, such as the orders I have provided, or the transcripts Nick has provided, or indeed on what is written in the book. FWIW, I do not think anybody here buys the idea that German generals collectively knew the extent of the Holocaust. Otherwise some of the transcript excerpts here would not make sense. If they all knew it, why would they discuss it in the way they did?

For me this discussion is not about collective knowledge, it is about the fact that the Wehrmacht generals for 50 years and with quite a few of the public to this day, more or less got away with "we did not know anything". A lie used by Manstein in Nuremberg, and others elsewhere. The evidence is there that it is a lie, it is in the transcripts, it is in the orders signed by these generals. To point out that it is a lie and that some of them knew something, and some may have known quite a lot, and that some were actively involved in it, promoting it, is by far not the same as claiming that everybody knew everything and was responsible. I think collective responsibility is a non-issue, except for tonyh and CP, who both need this particular canard so that they have something to rail against.

As for the idea that only numbers prove things, that is not one shared by a vast number of researchers all over the world, including me when I did that kind of work. If that is your personal preference, good on you. But do not expect that this means it is a law of nature that only numerical analysis can provide final proof of things.

All the best

Andreas

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Post by nickterry » 25 Jul 2007 10:55

For me this discussion is not about collective knowledge, it is about the fact that the Wehrmacht generals for 50 years and with quite a few of the public to this day, more or less got away with "we did not know anything". A lie used by Manstein in Nuremberg, and others elsewhere. The evidence is there that it is a lie, it is in the transcripts, it is in the orders signed by these generals. To point out that it is a lie and that some of them knew something, and some may have known quite a lot, and that some were actively involved in it, promoting it, is by far not the same as claiming that everybody knew everything and was responsible. I think collective responsibility is a non-issue, except for tonyh and CP, who both need this particular canard so that they have something to rail against.


This is the key. It has long been accepted that the resistance circles knew something, because the survivors of the Army Group Centre circle as well as the Berlin circles left memoirs and diaries showing they did in fact know about the mass extermination of the Jews.

Indeed it has been persuasively argued that Tresckow assigned a subordinate to inform the Swedish government via their consul in Stettin, a document which Josef Lewandowski uncovered in the Swedish Foreign Office files.

What makes these transcripts interesting methodologically is that these were generals captured in the Mediterreanean and on the Western Front, so they represent a fraction of the total number of generals in the Wehrmacht. Yet because of transfers, even the 'westerners' still knew a surprising amount about events in Eastern Europe.

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Post by Penn44 » 25 Jul 2007 11:30

ChristopherPerrien wrote:Has the topic been hijacked permanently to just affirm a mantra of collective responsibility, in effect dismissing the actual basis for the topic in the first place?

There are tons of topics on "collective responsibility" already. Here is another one I guess.


Here again, we have another strawman. No one except you has claimed this discussion was on the issue of "collective responsibility." The focus has been and still remains the extent of knowledge of German general officers regarding the Holocaust.

ChristopherPerrien wrote:At the beginning of this topic I considering adivising that this topic should be moved to wherever "book reviews" go. My mistake for not doing so.


I would venture to guess that you prefer to have this subject buried in that section.

ChristopherPerrien wrote:And yes my beliefs on the statistical probability of a singular work using some figure, less than 167 out 16427, as not being an accurate indicator of some group consensus/responsibilty/guilt/etc. will not change.


Overall, if the 167 recordings was all that we had, I would perhaps agree with your assessment (final agreement pending my reading of the book and discovering what the 167 recordings contain). For example, in his book, Hitler's Army, the historian Omar Bartov's citation of excerpts from letters of a few German soldiers does not prove some of his claims or suggestions regarding the common German soldiers. Without more evidence, you cannot generalize from a insufficent (too small) sample to a larger population, and retain much external validity. The most you can say is that the evidence is perhaps "suggestive." However, the case of the German generals on the Eastern Front is a different story. There is other evidence available. Given the advantage points of their positions, the directives they received, the frequency and distribution of atrocities, for the German generals on the Eastern Front as a group to claim they had no knowledge of the Holocaust whatsoever is incredulous.

For the record, you can say anything you want about the collective responsibility of the German generals without falling foul of the relevant laws on Holocaust denial. Until you get to the point where you are denying the Holocaust happened at all, which is not an issue of discussion in Prof. Neitzel's work.


ChristopherPerrien wrote:Sure you can :wink: . And I think Prof . Neitzel is surely smart enough to realize this, as otherwise the book would never have been published in Germany in the first.


I do not think you understand. Again, Neitzel never made a claim that constituted Holocaust denial, therefore, he never violated German laws against denying the Holocaust. So, he was never under any pressure or "duress" from the German government. How can his work be shaped by "duress" when there was no reason for "duress"?

ChristopherPerrien wrote:Y'all have a good debate. I'll try to stay out of H+WC.
Chris


You became emotional once before IIRC during a discussion of German compensation for Holocaust survivors, and with great drama quit AHF and became a "former member." Is this a repeat of that performance?

Penn44

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Post by Penn44 » 25 Jul 2007 12:12

ChristopherPerrien wrote: And the one BIG thing that cannot occur to us, since we weren't there or were not a part of this group of people, is the context in which these conversations were made. Have you ever been in Jail? I can only imagine the weird thoughts that were flying through the heads of these imprisoned men, wondering, as the Nuremberg trials were going on at the time, if their heads were going to roll next. Not an irrational fear at the time. Secret recordings of such times and events should display all manner of wild thoughts and accusations and defenses in such matters. The sheer limited number of conversation transcripts made light of, precludes gaining an accurate feel for the "mindset" of the group in question.


You are incorrect. The said recordings were made from 1942-45. The Nuremberg trial of major war criminals was held in 1946, and the High Command trial was in 1948.

Penn44

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Post by David Thompson » 25 Jul 2007 13:37

Let's avoid personal references in this discussion. Our readers are interested in sourced history.

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Post by Andreas » 25 Jul 2007 13:53

At the moment there appear to be two parallel discussions going on here. It would be helpful if we could actually frame the discussion and reduce it to one, in order to avoid wasting time and effort.

All the best

Andreas

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