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 (1939-1945) WWII
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Brian Grafton
Victoria BC Canada
Posts: 3673
Joined: 2004
Some German photos
6/5/2021 9:20:14 PM
Stumbled across these shots from “The Guardian” today, and thought – since it’s D-Day weekend – folks might enjoy them.

I note that these are truly random shots, both as to time and front. I also notice in particular that in the first of two shots of Dolfo Galland, both his Mickey Mouse marker and his verboten stogie are in evidence. These seem incredibly human photos of an ugly war.
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Cheers. And continue to stay safe.
Brian G

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"We have met the enemy, and he is us." Walt Kelly. "The Best Things in Life Aren't Things" Bumper sticker.
Lightning
Glasgow  UK
Posts: 710
Joined: 2005
Some German photos
6/6/2021 7:08:02 AM
Thanks for sharing, Brian. It’s easy to forget the regular German soldiery was little different from those on the Allied side.

Cheers,

Colin
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"There is no course open to us but to fight it out. Every position must be held to the last man: there must be no retirement. With our backs to the wall and believing in the justice of our cause, each one of us must fight to the end."
George
Centre Hastings ON Canada
Posts: 11658
Joined: 2009
Some German photos
6/6/2021 10:54:54 AM
Yes, those photos could have been taken by regular soldiers on the allied side. But I cannot help but think of the SS soldiers who were involved in many atrocities including the execution of allied troops on June 7 and 8 and at later dates.

Cheers,

George
Phil Andrade
London  UK
Posts: 4969
Joined: 2004
Some German photos
6/6/2021 3:31:51 PM
Quote:
Yes, those photos could have been taken by regular soldiers on the allied side. But I cannot help but think of the SS soldiers who were involved in many atrocities including the execution of allied troops on June 7 and 8 and at later dates.

Cheers,

George


And not just SS troops, I regret to say.


Regards, Phil


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"Egad, sir, I do not know whether you will die on the gallows or of the pox!" "That will depend, my Lord, on whether I embrace your principles or your mistress." Earl of Sandwich and John Wilkes
Lightning
Glasgow  UK
Posts: 710
Joined: 2005
Some German photos
6/7/2021 9:07:50 AM
I of course reserve special indignation for the SS troops, but the regular soldiers on all sides seem to have been capable of atrocities also. I wonder how many surrendering German troops were silently dispatched by Allied or Soviet troops with little time or resources to properly arrange their captivity.

Cheers,

Colin
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"There is no course open to us but to fight it out. Every position must be held to the last man: there must be no retirement. With our backs to the wall and believing in the justice of our cause, each one of us must fight to the end."
Brian Grafton
Victoria BC Canada
Posts: 3673
Joined: 2004
Some German photos
6/8/2021 7:35:55 PM
Some 30+ years ago, Stoddart Press published a book by James Bacque, titled Other Losses: An Investigation into the Mass Deaths of German Prisoners at the Hands of the French and Americans after World War II. It studies what the author argues was deliberate starvation policies against PoWs in the lean year(s) immediately after the war. At the time, the book was well-received, and even received accolades in some reviews from figures such as Stephen Ambrose. I have heard, but cannot pinpoint subsequent argument that much of Bacque’s interpretation of events is questionable.

In some of Paul Fussell’s books and essays on war, Fussell (who served from late 1944 until he was wounded) is matter-of-fact about prisoners “shot while attempting to escape”, on no other grounds than the unit did not have sufficient troops to guard or transport them. And I’m pretty damed sure examples exist of similar actions by regular and irregular troops of every nation active in the war. Give a kid a weapon and a target to use it against, and you can’t expect Roberts’ Rules of Order.

Have we tried to “civilize” war? That’s nonsense: war is barbaric. Have we tried to “civilize” it? To “sanitize” it? To “Westernize” it? Perhaps closer to the point, are we victims of our own press releases? Can we not see that SS activities such as those by SS Das Reich moving towards Normandy in 1944 (it’s just a different scale to SS troops executing Canadian troops) might be the equivalent of one bomb run by RAF Bomber Command in terms of deaths, impact, suppression and introduction of terror.

I still like the photos. I wasn’t thinking atrocities; I was thinking “fascinating shots”. I was, perhaps, thinking about “decency” and “normality”. I liked the feeling I had when I posted them.

Cheers. And stay safe.
Brian G

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"We have met the enemy, and he is us." Walt Kelly. "The Best Things in Life Aren't Things" Bumper sticker.
GaryNJ
Cumberland NJ USA
Posts: 106
Joined: 2010
Some German photos
6/8/2021 10:37:26 PM
Brian,

Thanks for the pictures. War does bring out the worst in people. All sides have been guilty of some horrific acts. If I remember correctly that book by James Bacque that you mentioned was controversial from the beginning.

Before the Internet I use to listen to shortwave radio and one of the stations I listened to was Radio Canada International. It was on one of their broadcasts that I first learned about Bacque's book. Bacque is a Canadian and that is why they were talking about it.

The fact that Stephen Ambrose at first praised the book, but later completely changed his view is a story in itself. A few years after the book was out I was told that Ambrose had never even seen the book when he praised it. He based his opinion on what he had been told by a retired US army officer and historian by the name of Ernest Fisher. Fisher had some connection to the book and apparently told Ambrose how good it was, but did not tell the detailed content. After Ambrose learned what the book actually stated he was highly critical of it and more than a little angry with Fisher. Ambrose made a fool of himself, and even if Fisher had been less than candid about the book, he had no one to blame but himself.

This is all from my less than stellar memory.

edit:
As I give this more thought I don't believe it was Fisher who gave misleading info, but that the manuscript that Ambrose had read was not what ended up in the book. This was all very controversial and Bacque was accused of misrepresenting evidence.

Gary
Brian Grafton
Victoria BC Canada
Posts: 3673
Joined: 2004
Some German photos
6/9/2021 7:56:20 PM
Gary, thanks for the comments on Ambrose’s blurb, which appears on the back dust jacket of Other Losses, along with a blurb (taken from the Foreword to the volume) from Ernest F. Fisher, former Senior Historian, United States Army. I assume this is the same Fisher to whom you refer. Whatever advice was offered Ambrose, it is clear Fisher was not a disinterested peer reviewer. But Ambrose should have shown more respect for the discipline than he did. And Ambrose’s comment is a whole-hearted endorsement: it reads “You really have made a major historical discovery, the full impact of which neither you nor I can fully imagine . . . (this) will span the ocean and have reverberations for decades, yes centuries, to come.” There is nothing tentative in that statement that I can see, though of course I have no idea what was deleted by the elision.

Some day, I should sit down and scan some of the amateur photos of Danzig in the days before Sept 1, 1939. Shot by a a young British traveller, they also show a different side of a story than we have become comfortable.

Cheers. And stay safe.
Brian G
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"We have met the enemy, and he is us." Walt Kelly. "The Best Things in Life Aren't Things" Bumper sticker.
RichTO90
Bremerton WA USA
Posts: 582
Joined: 2004
Some German photos
6/10/2021 2:19:53 PM
Quote:
Gary, thanks for the comments on Ambrose’s blurb, which appears on the back dust jacket of Other Losses, along with a blurb (taken from the Foreword to the volume) from Ernest F. Fisher, former Senior Historian, United States Army. I assume this is the same Fisher to whom you refer. Whatever advice was offered Ambrose, it is clear Fisher was not a disinterested peer reviewer. But Ambrose should have shown more respect for the discipline than he did. And Ambrose’s comment is a whole-hearted endorsement: it reads “You really have made a major historical discovery, the full impact of which neither you nor I can fully imagine . . . (this) will span the ocean and have reverberations for decades, yes centuries, to come.” There is nothing tentative in that statement that I can see, though of course I have no idea what was deleted by the elision.


I'm not sure how Bacque hoodwinked Ambrose, but considering how fast and loose Ambrose played it is unsurprising. What is surprising is that Bacque could ever mistake what the column "other losses" meant, since it was explained to him in some detail. Rich Boylan, an archivist at the Modern Military Branch, NARA II, told me the story personally when we somehow strayed into the subject when he was helping me find documents for Cracking Hitler's Atlantic Wall. Rich carefully explained what the meanings were, pointing out the detailed explanation in the footnotes of the COMZ documents he was looking at, and further explained to him that since COMZ was a subordinate to ETOUSA, the total of prisoners found in the document only pertained to those fed by COMZ directly and did not include those held and fed through First, Third, Seventh, Ninth, and Fifteenth Army. When compared to later reporting from COMZ the mysterious "missing million" actually matches precisely with the previous accounting...a simple fact also noted by Albert Crowdey when he said "[to judge by these documents, there was no Missing Million. There was not even a missing one." and "it is unclear how Bacque could have failed either to see these documents or, if he saw them, to understand their significance to the book he was writing."

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