Re: [MV] Something to remember

From: Steve Grammont (
Date: Mon Feb 03 2003 - 21:13:50 PST

>I'm gonna argue that one with you, Ken.

And I gotta argue with you Joe :-)

>In 1943 the commanders would definitely have been

Not true. Only someone officially belonging to the NSDAP (what we call
the Nazi Party) can be considered a Nazi. If one broadens the definition
to include non-members who happen to share the same ideals as the NSDAP,
then large amounts of European, Soviet, and American populations would
fall into that definition.

Officers in the Army (Heer) were not required to be members of the NSDAP,
although it helped for promotions and assignments (especially if under
qualified). Even up until the fall of Berlin the Army tried very hard to
maintain its traditional apolitical role. The Airforce (Luftwaffe) and
Navy (Kriegsmarine) were similar, but were well known to be far more
political than the Army. Interestingly enough, one could be a member of
the Armed SS (Waffen SS) and not be in the Nazi Party. In fact, many
Waffen SS members from 1943 on were conscripts and from 1944 many new
"recruits" were forcibly Luftwaffe personnel or "non-Ayran" nationalities.

OK... I know many of you reading this say "what's the difference, they
fought for Hitler therefore they are Nazis". Well, if someone wishes to
boil things down to that, then I guess we Americans are all hypocritical,
big corporate, war mongering, mass murderers in pursuit of oil at the
behest of George Bush. That is a very popular view of Americans right
now, as I just witnessed in Quebec this weekend. Lesson here is to not
paint with a broad brush unless you don't care about the quality of your work.

>Especially after Hitler's purges of the
>military after Capt. Langsdorf failed to return with
>his battleship from S. America in 1939. Remember
>Langsdorf had 62 prisoners on his ship when he took on
>the British, they were the crews of the ships he'd
>sunk AFTER removing them to his ship. That infuriated
>Hitler!! He didn't want the crews taken off he wanted
>them dead. That wasn't the way the GERMANS were
>taught to fight, especially the navy.

The Kriegsmarine routinely risked the lives of their own sailors in order
to save those of the ships they sunk WHEN IT WAS at least practical. In
one case of several U-Boats off of Africa, even when it wasn't. For days
German U-Boats remained on the surface with as many survivors as they
could carry. I forget the details but it is one of the most bizarre
stories on the high seas of WWII because it flies in the face of every
single stereotype the victors piled on the Germans.

BTW, the only known documented case of a sub machinegunning survivors in
the water was that of a British sub and a Japanese merchant ship crew. I
guess this was because Churchill wanted all Japanese dead?

>The first attempt on Hitler's life was in '38, the
>purges started in '40 and they were pretty ugly.

There were no purges in 1940. There was a rather brutal purge after the
July 1944 attempt on Hitler's life, but it was a mild event and
proportionally small event, especially when compared to what Stalin did
during the 1930s. The German Army was much more reluctant to disobey
Hitler after this time, but it did not become "Nazi" to anywhere near the
extent Hitler wanted it to be. The German Army might have been more
"Nazi" after 1944, but it Hitler's own eyes they were still a bunch of
aristocrats who were not imbedded with the true ideals of the Nazi state.

>I think the large German population of S. America told
>Hitler that they weren't going to play his game, that
>there was nothing he could do about it because they
>knew who his people there were and they were not only
>NOT going to enter the war they were going to be sat
>upon for the duration. And as a consequence Hitler
>was NOT going to get his battleship back either.

No, it was because these nations were officially neutral and harboring a
ship of war would have violated their international rights. The British
also had the ship pinned, so there was no sense getting on the bad side
of their traditional economic partners (i.e. GB/US) for a lost cause.
 The Graf Spee was a goner one way or the other. Or so the Germans
thought due to faulty intelligence. They thought the British had
more/bigger ships within striking distance than they in fact did.

>The British didn't have many ships in the area, the
>Graf Spee's gun crews were good enough to make solid
>hits on their first volleys, they had had lots of
>practice,........ speculation abounds!! It was the
>biggest event of the century before WWII!

But the Germans also had crappy intelligence. This was a MAJOR problem
that plagued all branches of service and the political heads throughout
the war. The Germans made more strategic blunders based on bad
information than any other major combatant in WWII. The Graf Spee was
but a tiny example of the colossal problems Germany would face during the
rest of the war.

To sum up... Ken had wrote:

"Chances are none of the U-Boat crew were members of the Nazi Party, just
good old boys doing their duty."

Quite true. While U-Boat crews were known to be more political and
supportive of the Third Reich than Army and later war Airforce
counterparts (who saw their pending defeat much more clearly), for the
most part they were conscripts who were doing what they were told to do.
 This does not, of course, excuse them for fighting on behalf of a
madman. Every person (German or otherwise) that did not actively support
some level of activity which opposed the Third Reich shared some degree
of responsibility for the horrors it unleashed upon the world. The same
is true for all nations fighting unjust wars. Apathy and/or duty are not
valid excuses.


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