The German War, A Nation Under Arms, 1939 – 1945. Nicholas Stargardt

by Daniel Russ on August 26, 2017

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I am reading this book.


I am still in the introduction and the discussion is really interesting. When the Germans began an official genocidal campaign to destroy Jews, the zeitgeist, the underlying exculpating factor was simply that people did not know what was going on behind their backs.


When US and RAF bombers began leveling German cities, there was of course an official public face put on the tragedy from the point of view of the Germans and that was that the German people were no intimidated, and that these are the criminals that Germany has tried to mundify with war to begin with.


Factually, the undercurrent was that this was retribution, possibly divine, for what they did to the Jews. Some even called it the Jewish Terror Bombing. So Germans were beginning to see that they were victims perhaps for a reason, and they worried that the bombing of their cities would not be mitigated even with a surrender.


The bombing of Dresden probably killed 25,000 people over night. The six-day bombing of Hamburg from July 25th to the 2nd of August probably killed 35,000 people. These horrific raids were beginning to really panic the Germans. They saw that their war was beginning to affect the homeland in ways the blustering German high command couldn’t address. Not long after the Hamburg raids, Benito Mussolini was deposed and hanged. The citizens of the Third Reich saw the two incidents as connected.


Remember also that only a few months earlier, an entire German Army Corps surrendered in Stalingrad. This is when even the most repressive government in the world could not hide the fact that Germany had faced an epic defeat. Followed then by massive Allied bombing raids, the mood in Germany was lugubrious. But neither Hamburg, nor Dresden nor Stalingrad caused the German people to give up on the cause of Naziism, only an understanding that the war would not end well. They German people as a whole also did not give up on Hitler. Some did, but many more doubled down on the Devil. The hardships of the Allied bombing, the relentless bad news from the eastern front, shortages and dead tolls only hardened the hearts of the Germans.


Many of the Germans who held out remembered the cruel vagaries of the Treaty of Versailles: 1.8 million German dead. The Turnip Winter. The Spanish Flu. Life for Germans had sucked for decades. No wonder the fought to the bitter end. They had already seen what happened when they gave in.



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