American GIs and German Soldiers in World War II ~~~ I

Source

GIs Had Positive Impressions of German Soldiers - Part I of III


Considering that America was engaged in a war against Germany, American soldiers, with few exceptions, entertained fairly positive, even sympathetic feelings for German soldiers and civilians. After the war veterans were asked to name their favorite European country. It is illustrative that four out of five GIs named Germany as their favorite, meanwhile making negative and critical comments about the French and the British.[i]

American military personnel were impressed with the cleanliness and orderliness of the German countryside. What disposed them favorably to the Germans were picturesque villages, reminiscent of many of their hometowns in America, peopled with "polite citizens."[ii] American soldiers felt at ease with and had respect for Germans, for they were cheerful, co-operative, diligent, and hardworking. They were in fact declared to be "a fine race."[iii]

Sergeant Hanson assigned to the 42nd Infantry Division upon entering the Dachau concentration camp was moved to say, "We couldn't figure what kind of people they were. We couldn't believe it. The German people that we had come in contact with were very normal people. Exactly like us!"[iv]

Both during the war and afterwards Americans struggled to correlate their knowledge of atrocities committed on such an overwhelming scale during the war, with their perceptions and assumptions about German culture and civilization. Many regions of the United States had been heavily settled by good, industrious German immigrants who were committed to home, church, and nation. Beyond that Germany was believed to be an advanced society; Germans shared many "racial, religious, and ethnic attitudes" with American and the West.[v]

After the war well-documented atrocity films and newsreels were shown by the United States government and the full scope of the concentration camp system became widely known. Never-the-less, the positive associations that many Americans had with the German culture and people were so strongly entrenched that James Agee writing in The Nation, May 19, 1945, could argue that Americans should take care not "to confuse the German people with a few criminals who perpetrated these crimes."[vi]

Agee chose to entertain this argument despite extensive and multiple proofs of the abuse, false imprisonment, torture, starvation, and death of millions of innocent civilians. The need to believe that they are like us, and we like them, and that we could never commit such crimes, produced unrealistic assumptions and conclusions as to the participation or guilt of the average German.


Source
Source

Battle Hardened Veterans Enter the Camps


As if to emphasize how truly dreadful conditions inside the camps were, some GIs pointed out that they were experienced, battle-hardened veterans long before they approached the camps.[xii]

The testimony of American soldiers is replete with statements concerning their changing feelings and attitudes toward their German counterparts. One of the most common reactions was intense anger coupled with hatred of the perpetrators.[xiii]

GIs struggled with a variety of reactions. Corporal Laughlin expressed an "outright horror, distaste for anything German." Henry Birnbrey had "hostile feelings" which intensified when he was instructed to interrogate German prisoners.[xiv]

Corporal Paul noted the demeanor of U.S. soldiers guarding captured members of the Wehrmacht and was "struck by the absolute menace and hostility emanating from these U.S. infantrymen. They seemed to be wanting an excuse for wreaking out some sort of vengeance...."[xv] In fact, an overpowering desire for revenge or vengeance was an often repeated theme.[xvi]

The second feeling most frequently expressed was a desire and a willingness to kill the enemy soldiers responsible for the atrocities and conditions inside the concentration camps.[xvii] Robert Gravlin recalled that, "after seeing the atrocities at Nordhausen, we were mad and determined to wipe out the Krauts."

Lieutenant Seed noted that "It was a very sickening sight and made you want to wipe out the enemy completely." Captain Campbell firmly believed that "had they caught the perpetrators...they would have killed them outright."[xviii]

These GIs do not claim that they personally executed or murdered captive German soldiers. They do, however, describe the general inclinations of many Americans inclinations that a substantial number did act upon.[xix] To Be Continued



Source
Germany, Europe, the Mediterranean World
Germany, Europe, the Mediterranean World | Source

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55 comments

ThoughtSandwiches profile image

ThoughtSandwiches 5 years ago from Reno, Nevada

Hi phdast7...

Excellent look at this question. The majority of Americans did have a favorable notion of Germans in the United States and they were the first successful hyphenated American...German-Americans. Although the community took an identity hit in the xenophobia of World War One...they survived and continued o be held in wide esteem. It must have been a shock to those GI's to reconcile these two realities. I look forward to more of your work!


phdast7 5 years ago

Thanks for the thoughtful and encouraging comments. And you are absolutely right it was a terrible shock for the GI's. Even during the war, they liked the Germans as people way better than the French and even better that the British, our staunch allies. I just posted Part II and I hope to get Part III up next weekend.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 5 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

phdast7, GREAT read. Very thorough and precise. This comes through in your writing. I voted up, and all but funny. YOU are a natural talent in writing. Love your style. I had an uncle who saw action in Germany. He brought back several photos of POWs that made me cry each time I would look at them. I am so glad that I met you on hubs. And I am now a fan and an HONORED FOLLOWER. Thanks for sharing your talent. Sincerely, Kenneth Avery.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thanks for your comments on this Hub and for your welcoming email. As for being through and precise, I have to give a lot of credit to my professors at Emory University (Atlanta, Georgia). They were difficult taskmasters, but they insisted on thorough research and precise writing and in the long run their tutelage benefited me greatly. I really appreciate your comments and encouragement.

I spent a couple of summers doing research in the National Archives in DC and I saw a lot of photographs like the ones your uncle brought back. So sad and so tragic - very hard to deal with. Did your uncle ever write about his experiences? I ask because we have discovered that a lot of GI's came home after WW II and didn't really talk about their experiences...but as they approached their mid-sixties or seventies they began to share both verbally and in writing...often with their grandchildren and then later with their children. The psychologists call it an approaching end of life phenomenon.

Its funny about the cute or catchy name thing. The friend that introduced me to HubPages had one, so I assumed we were supposed to use one. Only later did I realize that some people went by their real names. :) So, Kenneth, I look forward to reading some of your Hubs in the near future (I would read them right now, but I teach college history and there is a huge pile of ungraded papers waiting for me in the other room). All the best, Theresa


ROBERTHEWETTSR profile image

ROBERTHEWETTSR 5 years ago from Louisville, Kentucky

Excellent account of the American GIs and their initial

feelings toward the German people and the rank and file

military members. I'm off to read the next part. Robert


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 5 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

10-31-2011/9:34 p.m./cst

phdast7..."You are most-welcome. I am sincere with you. I LOVE your work. Makes me wish now that in 1972, my family could have sent me to college..instead of going to work to help with the bills." "I dont know if my uncle EVER told anyone about his time in the war. I do know that he had a German knife with a Swastika on it..genuine Nazi stuff too. He never told us where or how he got these items. And for the years I knew him...he loved to drink homebrew. In all honesty, my uncle has a big heart, helped everyone, but was very sinical about judgement after life. He died a very-wealthy man. Never had any kids. His wife could have had the BEST home in our town..and it paid for, but they SAVED every penny. And for whom? Two nephews that drank all of their share up. And all that work. Gone. I loved my uncle though. I am not implying where he is now, or what his reward was. And I admire you for your talent, phdast7! My hubs are what they are--not fanciful, just "me." YOUR FRIEND FOR LIFE....KENNETH


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thank you for your comments Robert. Encouraging words are always appreciated. I have six or seven more sections on various aspects of the American Liberation of the concentration camps. However, I am a college professor and the grading of exams and papers never seems to end, so my goal is to post several more sections before the end of the year.....now if I could find a teaching job that was really "only" teaching, that would be heaven. :) Theresa


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thank you for the kind and oh so encouraging comments, Kenneth. It would not be surprising at all if your uncle never talked to anyone about his experiences...a lot of the veterans didn't. That was after all the forties and fifties when few people got counseling or made their inner demons public, especially not men. We live in a changed culture now and everyone is encouraged to share everything and quickly seek help when life is stressful or traumatic situations occur. Not so back then, of course. A lot of the veterans I talked to also mentioned having German artifacts and war memorabilia, just like your uncle did.

Sad about how he dealt with money. Too bad that they couldn't have enjoyed life a little more before it was too late. I guess we are all different and it takes all kinds. My grandfather was very tight with money and didn't seem to enjoy life much, but I loved him like you loved your uncle. Take care friend.


kenneth avery profile image

kenneth avery 5 years ago from Hamilton, Alabama

Hello, Dear Phdast7, you are very welcome for my truthful comments about your work and what you do, which is a vitally-important service that you are doing and probably without any gratification. Or a thank you. So I am "thanking YOU," personally, for all of the work you have done for our brave vets. I couldn't handle your job. I am not an emotional superman. I am still a piece of broken pottery in the process of being fixed on a dialy basis. Please keep in touch with me. Thanks. KENNETH


Kathleen Cochran profile image

Kathleen Cochran 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia

Not to say "I told you so" but even I am moved by the response to you posting some of your work. I'm glad those of us outside of academia are getting a chanch to enjoy the work you have so deligently done!


epigramman profile image

epigramman 5 years ago

...great writer you are with a pedigree for world class reseach and a first class presentation - my dad would have loved this three part series - he was a Canadian soldier in World War II for six years and landed on the Omaha beach with Tom Hanks .....


epigramman profile image

epigramman 5 years ago

....just kidding - lol - about the beach name - actually my dad landed on Juno beach ....and in civilian life he wrote 69 novels as a hobby - none were ever published - but his first book were memoirs of his experiences in the war - In civilian life he was quite a history buff.

lake erie time ontario canada 9:32pm

p.s. - Our 'Remembrance Day' here in Canada is on Nov. 11


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thank you for your encouraging words. It is time consuming work and it is wonderful to be appreciated. So your father was army and landed on Juno Beach. Mine was career US Air Force, he was born in 34 in Poland, lived through WW II, and then participated in the Vietnam War as a loadmaster for C-130's.

Novels for a hobby? And 69 of them, wow. He puts the rest of us dabblers to shame. Did he, or have you, ever donated a copy of hiis memoir to a library or history archive. I couldn't have done my research without the generosity of so many veterans.

Thank you for mentioning Rememberance Day. I did not know it was tomorrow, November 11th. Hopefully, I will be posting a few more WW II Hubs during November and December. Thanks again for the comments


SusieQ42 5 years ago

Wow, you sure did your research! My husband's dad was a fighter pilot in Germany. Great info and interesting. Voted up and awesome.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thank you SusieQ42 - I had to do this kind of research in graduate school whether I wanted to or not. :) Not all of my Hubs will be based on this kind of research, but whenever I focus on the Holocaust or Nazi Germany I return to my earlier training. Thanks for visiting and for the encouraging comments. :)


suzettenaples profile image

suzettenaples 5 years ago from Taos, NM

Great series on the soldiers of WWII! Many accolates for this. We have a very good and interesting Holocaust Museum here in Naples, FL, begun by middle school students as a classroom project. If you are ever here in Naples, do not miss it. It also has on its staff, some survivors from Germany who survived the work camps in Germany. I have spoken with them and their stories are chilling.

You have contributed a great piece of work and research in this series on WWII and its soldiers. This is necessary for a true discourse of this time in history. It is so good to know you here on hub pages and read such interesting hubs.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 5 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thank you very much, for taking the time to read and for making detailed and encouraging comments. If I am ever in Naples I will certainly visit the Holocaust Museum.

I hope to continue with this series for awhile and it is good to know there are people interested in knowing more about that period in history and in reading what I write.


James A Watkins profile image

James A Watkins 4 years ago from Chicago

Fascinating look at the psychology of American soldiers at various stages of this horrific war. Your writing is first class. Thank you very much for publishing this illuminating piece of work.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

The psychological changes are fascinating and tell us a great deal about the level of atrocities they witnessed. Only Part IV left to finish on this topic.

I try to make sure my writing is first class and my research high quality (which means my Hubs are few and far between, but that's OK)...thank you for for your comments. Compliments mean a great deal coming from you as you are among the better writers. Theresa


WD Curry 111 profile image

WD Curry 111 4 years ago from Space Coast

What are those numbers at the end of the article? Footnotes? Are we supposed to use footnotes? No one told me about footnotes. Wait a minute . . . I just remembered . . . scholars . . . scholars use footnotes.

What's a nice scholar like you doing in a place like this? I will be back to read more and, maybe, learn how to write in English.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

You have a great sense of humor. I laughed out loud when I read this...and thank you for the positive and generous comments in the fan mail. Crashing now, I will manage a better response soon.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

WD- A nice scholar like me is here because I was enticed by one of tour fellow Hubbers, Kathleen Cochran, to come check it out. I did check it our, but I stay pretty busy teaching full-time, doing faculty governance stuff at the university...and then there are three grown sons (with wives and children) and four cats who vy for my time and attention.

I so do not have time for Facebook or any other "social" networking site. Kathleen convinced me this was not a FB clone and that some seriously good writing and commentary could be found her (and it can). She persuaded me to put a couple of Hubs out and selectively stroll through some Hubs myself. So I have and its been good.

I will never write hundreds of Hubs and I cannot give it the kind of time that many others do, but my limited participation so far has been encouraging to me, and I hope for a few others as well.

Anyway thanks for the comments above and for your generous and encouraging fan mail comments. Speaking of English...you obviously write quite well (Level VI) and wasn't one of your degrees in English? Looking forward to good exchanges with you.


Credence2 profile image

Credence2 4 years ago from Florida (Space Coast)

phdast7 This is a scholarly work. To try to relate to your written account in my own words, I went through West Germany during the late 1970's as part of militaryleave.I found the Germans to be the friendliest nation on my 9 western European nation tour, They are clean, organized and meticulous so much different from what i found in much of France and Belgium. The were gracious hosts, no one else would be able to tolerate so many troublsome GI's that wouldnot learn the language and culture on their soil for so long a time. i was quite embarrassed, not wanting to be around them, the GI's.

My interests were in the area of German prisoners of war on American soil and how they were treated relatively well. I will see what else you have going..... Cred2


Sembj profile image

Sembj 4 years ago

I look forward to reading the next articles in the series. I think you've set the stage well for some even more interesting reading. Sem


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thanks for commenting. I hope the following parts do not disappoint. I have a houseful of family tonight, but I will try and respond to your other comments tomorrow.

Have a good evening.


Alastar Packer profile image

Alastar Packer 4 years ago from North Carolina

Theresa, to start off my uncle was in the 42nd and was the only survivor in his squad after they were shot down by snipers on the Rhine. He was captured, shot through both legs and barely survived near starvation in the stalag. Its really not a surprise that the GIs often looked favorably on the civilians, since like you wrote, they were an orderly and clean people when circumstances allowed. Probably didn't hurt that a lot of them had Germanic surnames either. As far as soldiers go, they DID generally differentiate between the Wehrmacht and SS soldiers. The revulsion many GIs experienced by the horrors of the concentration camps caused many to feel a keen sense of revenge well up and on occasion was acted upon. You've got a good series here Theresa and I'll be reading the rest of the series.


Alastar Packer profile image

Alastar Packer 4 years ago from North Carolina

Theresa I want to leave you some fan mail but forgotten how to go back to post it after your already following someone. Help please!


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Your uncle was in the 42nd? It amazes me how interconnected the world is. If he hadn't been shot and interned in the stalag, he might well have been one of the Dachau liberators I wrote about. Amazing.

They were orderly and clean and I think the German surnames did help. After all industrious, likable German people had settled through out the Midwest and Northeast in the 75 years prior to WW II.

My research found that generally our GI's made clear distinctions between the Wehrmacht and the SS. And the revulsion and anger that went with viewing the atrocities comes up in one of the next sections.

Thanks for reading and thanks so much for commenting.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Alastar- Talk about a question that makes me want to be helpful. :)

I had noticed that sometimes I could find a "leave Fan Mail" box and other times I couldn't. Did a little digging and discovered that if I am already following someone I can go to their profile page and the Fan Mail Box is right below the list of Hubs. But if I click on the Profile page of someone I am not following, then there is no little box. Hope that helps. And thanks. Theresa


Alastar Packer profile image

Alastar Packer 4 years ago from North Carolina

Theresa thank you a mil for the congrats, very thoughtful and very appreciated. Yea, noticed that with the fan mail too except the box isn't always there on someone I follow. Will try again!:)


Alastar Packer profile image

Alastar Packer 4 years ago from North Carolina

Oh, there was something else: One evening not long after returning home he came up on his baby sister peeling potatoes on the thick side. He stared at the pile a bit and when she looked up at him he told there was a time when there wasn't much he wouldn't have done for those scraps, and then he walked off into the field to by himself for awhile. That baby sister was my mother and since that day she's never, ever, peeled her potatoes thick again.:)


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

It is amazing what hunger and deprivation will do. It changes you forever. And for his comment to impact your mother like that?

Did he leave any letters or diaries behind? Did he talk much to his family? Have you organized his papers, maybe written about his experiences?

I will have to check your Hubs list for starters. Thanks.


Alastar Packer profile image

Alastar Packer 4 years ago from North Carolina

His son is the family archivist and has any correspondence and such. He did leave a final testament I think you would like to read though, its not very long but is quite powerful. Just let me know Theresa.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Alastar- I am glad there is a family archivist. Sometimes there isn't one. Absolutely, I would love to read it. Thanks. Theresa


RTalloni profile image

RTalloni 4 years ago from the short journey

First of all, a huge "Thank you" to Kathleen Chochran. Next, thank you phdast7 for posting your writing.

Your picture of the reaction of American GIs to the horrors they saw is their cry for justice. What an impossible conflict of emotions it stirred to have enjoyed the Germans as well as their way of life and then to see those camps.

You've given a lot to chew on in sharing, "The need to believe that they are like us, and we like them, and that we could never commit such crimes, produced unrealistic assumptions and conclusions as to the participation or guilt of the average German."

Voted up.


Wayne Riley 4 years ago

My Dad was in the 89th, On 4 April 1945, the 89th overran Ohrdruf, a subcamp of the Buchenwald concentration camp. Ohrdruf was the first Nazi concentration camp liberated by U.S. troops in Germany. He said that the US troops stood by, while the healthiest of the prisoners did gruesome things to a camp officer and some guards that were still there. It took him over 50 years before he could even talk about what he saw.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thank you for your comments R- And Kathleen Cochran does deserve a huge thank you. Without her encouragement I wouldn't be on HP at all.

It was indeed a terrible conflict...to have liked the Germans better than all other Europeans...and then to stumble upon the camps. It was very hard to reconcile. That conflict was one of the most interesting things I discovered in my research. Thanks again.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Wayne- I don't doubt that it took your father over 50 years to talk about his experiences Most GI liberators said very little until near the end of their lives.

A few wrote letters, a few had mental breakdowns (of course that was unacceptable back them, there was no understanding of PTSD, "MEN" didn't get emotional or need counseling)most kept it to themselves so as not to shock and burden their families.

I did find reports and even interviewed a couple of veterans who mentioned handing over weapons to camp inmates and then turning their backs, so-to-speak, for the duration.

I hope you will continue reading and let me know if my compilation and interpretation of the GI's testimony rings true. Thank you.


alocsin profile image

alocsin 4 years ago from Orange County, CA

I like this historical account of the GIs. Voting this Up and Interesting.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thank you for your votes. Its part of the longest, most extensive research project I ever tackled. I have posted 7 Hubs and I am envisioning another 6 or 7 in the next few months. Thanks again.


Spirit Whisperer profile image

Spirit Whisperer 4 years ago from Isle of Man

A very interesting and thought provoking read. The GIs in WWII on the whole were honourable warriors who had the self discipline to remain true to a code of conduct that exemplified the soldier of that time. More and more US soldiers in subsequent conflicts did not have the same self discipline and uphold the same code of honour I think that may have been one of the reasons why Vietnam veterans were all tarred with the same brush by the American people and shunned on their return. People of a defeated army tend to feel guilt more acutely especially when atrocities are brought to light. Though US soldiers in the Afghanistan conflict committed atrocities by torturing and abusing prisoners the US people did not abandon them and the main reason for this being , in my opinion, is that they are not a vanquished army. Thank you.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thank you for your thoughtful and detailed comment. I appreciate the time you take to respond to what you have read.

They were on the whole quite honorable warriors. Interesting comments and analysis. Not sure I entirely agree. I find your analysis of how the US has responded to atrocity reports from the war in Afghanistan quite intriguing.

However, it may be true that in subsequent conflicts, more and more soldiers did not uphold the code or act according to the standards of the Geneva Convention and American civilian response to their army's defeat, to a failed war may play a role...

But I would suggest (part III of this series) that part of what changed is not the behavior of the GI's, but our "knowledge of their behavior." Media's access to the front-lines of a war improved even during the Korean conflict, but Vietnam was splashed across the nightly news and with Desert Storm we had "embedded journalists" (book and film series - Generation Kill).

So not only did journalists have far greater access to events that might have gone unreported in previous conflicts and generation, I also think "the standards, the code" of journalism changed. Everything is fair game now, nothing needs to be protected or concealed.

We know this shift occurred...we have only to look at how the media and journalists handled John Kennedy's and Bill Clinton's extra-marital encounters. Our country and our values have changed. And it may be that the ability or desire of our soldiers to be honorable have changed.

But do we honestly think that no WW II GI ever urinated on the bodies of dead SS officers. And if they did, who would have been there to report it or leak it? In other words, how would we know?

Thanks for your comments, as always.


Mr. Happy profile image

Mr. Happy 4 years ago from Toronto, Canada

Very few warriors are honorable, in my opinion.

I can think perhaps of the Samurai Warrior and the Warriors of the Light or Paladines.

It is nearly impossible to remain honorable when one fights for profit or when one is paid to fight.

An honorable soldier goes to battle because it is the right thing to do and does not ask for money and wealth in return. He/she fights in the honor of the Warriors of the Light and are guided by Wakan Tanka/The Great Spirit.

There is no honor in the wars fought nowadays. Honor placed in them is misplaced, in my opinion.

Great article. Very well written.

Cheers!


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Interesting commentary about warriors and honor. We think far too little about the nature and meaning and practice of honow in modern western society.

Thank you for the compliments. I try to write well whether it is academic research based topics, or art, science, nature related topics. I don't want to seem a snob or an anti-technogy Luddite, but with all the benefits that computers and the internet have given us, they have also contributed to a deluge of poor and substadar quality writing.

Somehow I think we are diminished when we sink to and accept the lowest common denominator as the norm.... I think these tools should be used to enrich, enlighten, and invigorate us. My hope and my wish.


Spirit Whisperer profile image

Spirit Whisperer 4 years ago from Isle of Man

After reading Mr Happy's comment I had to add this ...

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gr_OpFxCx-A


Mr. Happy profile image

Mr. Happy 4 years ago from Toronto, Canada

"My honor is my life" - I like that motto.

I am of the opinion that I can lose many things in life: wealth, health, even limbs or what not but honor cannot be lost unless it is given-up.

Regarding the internet and the vast material which can be considered as substandard quality writing, I would like to say that knowing how to do research is important.

Knowing what a scholarly source is and how to find one, is critical. Critical thinking is also critical ... lol

I think university can help in learning how to think and then, one's work remains to sift through the endless material on the web, in order to find something worth ... something ...

I can also look at the internet from the perspective of the pro-guns clubs: "it's what you do with it". One can use the internet to gamble online or to read great articles like yours. (That just fit lol)

Thank you for the conversation.

@ Mr. Spirit Whisperer: One day maybe I'll watch that movie - I enjoyed the clip though. Thank You - cheers!


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

White Wolf - (Sorry, but Mr. Happy reminds me of hours of Sesmae Street and other such shows from when my children were little.)

I am enjoying the conversation. I like the motto as well and after I do a little reading about the Dacians, perhaps we can have a conversation about that as well.

I do agree with you, the internet has such vast potential and we must choose how we use it and to what extent and in what ways we let it affect our lives; the same could be said of television, film, or even literature.

“Critical thinking is critical….lol” OK, clever, I laughed too. :)

I am glad you find merit in what I write. Thank you for your time and comments. The conversation continues…


xstatic profile image

xstatic 4 years ago from Eugene, Oregon

Great hsitorical perspective here. I am reminded of Hannah Arendt's book about "the banality of evil" in your descriptions of the GI opinions of the German troops and people before liberating the death camps.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Hi xstatic - Glad you stopped by to read and and thank you for the comment. Your comment about the banality of evil is right on the mark. Several of us have already discussed the the similarities of attitude on the part of the Germans, that the GIs discovered. It was a terrible time.


Alastar Packer profile image

Alastar Packer 4 years ago from North Carolina

Theresa, it's a pleasure to share this most erudite three-part story on the GIs and German soldiers in WW2. Do hope some followers will find these as fascinating and enlightening as I did.


Richawriter profile image

Richawriter 4 years ago from On Top of the World

As Alastar said above, this is a most fascinating read and I thoroughly enjoyed the way you laid it out.

It's interesting that American GIs still named Germany as their favorite European country despite the things they saw in the war, but as was pointed out in the article, the crimes of a few should not be blamed on the whole.

I see this was written quite a while back which means I can get the other two parts as well. Yippeee! My eyes are blinking with happiness!

Interesting and up! Good job.


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Thank you Alastar. You are both kind and thoughtful. And you used one of my favorite words, "erudite." And you used it about my essays --- you have made my day. Compliments from excellent writers carry a great deal of weight and are truly appreciated. :) I hope you have a wonderful weekend. Theresa


phdast7 profile image

phdast7 4 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

Good Morning Rich - I am so glad it was a fascinating read for you and I trust that the two additional pats will be equally interesting. I found it very surprising, that GI's generally had favorable opinions of the German soldiers...they seemed to be able to make a distinction between the Nazis and the Wehrmacht / regular soldiers. And as you pointed out, GIs did not seem to blame everyone for the dreadful crimes of a portion of the population.

Assuming you don't get tired of the topic, there is plenty more to read. I did two three-part series and one four-part series -- ten hubs about the Nazis, the concentration camps and the GIs. They were the very first hubs I wrote when I joined Hub pages 10 months ago. Since then I have branched out to other topics, but I often return to the Holocaust.

Thank you for your generous comments via fan mail. I appreciate them. Living in Thailand must be quite an experience. I look forward to reading some of your work. Have a great weekend. :)


cheaptrick profile image

cheaptrick 3 years ago from the bridge of sighs

My father was blooded in one war, I in another. He spent the last two and a half years of his war in a concentration not POW camp. We shared experiences that only combat vets can share...until we got to that damn camp.Not once in all our conversations could I get him to cross that line. He would 'remember' something he hadn't done in his garden or some such and the conversation would end. To this day I do not know which camp he was in...even with exhaustive research.After his death my mother told us how blank his face was and what a shell of a human being he was when he returned home.He did not confide in her either. When I was a child I often wondered why my father allowed all condiments at the dinner table with the exception of Ketchup...he later told me it reminded him of blood. I believe it was Neitchie who said"What doesn't kill me makes me stronger".He was wrong...my father was dead long before his body went into the ground.


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phdast7 3 years ago from Atlanta, Georgia Author

cheaptrick - Your description of your father is very sad, but it does not surprise me. One thing I discovered while doing a lot of research with WW II veterans 20 years ago, was that it was extremely difficult for them to talk about their experiences -- and they were not imprisoned in a camp like your father was! They simply entered one in the last month or two of the war. Most reported they had said very little to their families and that it was only near the end of their life (in their sixties, seventies and eighties) that they had become willing to talk to a historian or interviewer like me.

Many of them told me that for every WW II vet who talked about his experiences, they knew two who couldn't and wouldn't talk about them at all. I think we forget that all this took place before there was any real understanding of PTSD. I am sorry for your whole family, especially your father. I agree with your observation -- I have often thought that Nietzsche was wrong. Thank you for sharing about your father.

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