Advertisement

Soldiers and War Criminals: The Ongoing Debate about the Wehrmacht in the Second World War

  • Theo J. Schulte
Part of the Studies in Russia and East Europe book series (SREE)

Abstract

In March 1995, the Hamburg Institute for Social Research opened an exhibition to the general public entitled War of Extermination: The Crimes of the Wehrmacht 1941–1944. An accompanying edited collection of some thirty articles by international historians soon followed. The exhibition, which received extensive press attention both at home and abroad, embarked on a tour of the Federal Republic and Austria that was scheduled to finish in Marburg in October 1997.1 The didactic purpose of the entire venture was readily apparent. In a now unified Germany, some fifty years after the end of the Second World War, there was a pressing need to lay to rest a powerful apologist myth. Disturbingly large numbers of the ‘ordinary men’ who formed ‘Hitler’s army’ had not distanced themselves from the most sinister and perverse racial aspects of the war in the east. On the contrary, as with their comrades in the police battalions, they had been ‘willing executioners’ in a war directed against civilians in the ‘killing fields’ behind the front lines.2 Evidence had, in fact, been available for decades which deeply implicated the German army, as an institution, in the systematic murder and abuse of captured Red Army soldiers and the terrorizing of the civilian population of the occupied Soviet Union.3

Keywords

Occupied Territory Killing Field Fiftieth Anniversary German Army Terror Bombing 
These keywords were added by machine and not by the authors. This process is experimental and the keywords may be updated as the learning algorithm improves.

Preview

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Unable to display preview. Download preview PDF.

Notes

  1. 1.
    C. Browning,Ordinary Men: Reserve Police Bataillon 101 and the Final Solution in Poland, New York, 1992 (hereafter Ordinary Men).Google Scholar
  2. 2.
    O. Bartov,Hitler’s Army: Soldiers, Nazis and War in the Third Reich, Oxford, 1991 (hereafter Hitler’s Army).Google Scholar
  3. 3a.
    D.J. Goldhagen,Hitler’s Willing Executioners: Ordinary Germans and the Holocaust, London, 1996 (hereafter Willing Executioners).Google Scholar
  4. 3.
    T.J. Schulte, The German Army and Nazi Policies in Occupied Russia Oxford, 1989 (hereafter German Army) pp. 1–27.Google Scholar
  5. 4.
    C. Browning, ‘Hitler and the Euphoria of Victory’ in D. Cesarani (ed.),The Final Solution: Origins and Implementation, London, 1994 (hereafter Final Solution), pp. 137–58.Google Scholar
  6. 6.
    See J. Thies, ‘Germany and Eastern Europe between Past and Future’ in A. Baring (ed.) Germany’s New Position in Europe: Problems and Perspectives(hereafter Germany’s New Position), Oxford, 1994, pp. 65–78 (75).Google Scholar
  7. 7.
    H. Heer, ‘Killing Fields: Die Wehrmacht und der Holocaust’ (hereafter ‘Killing Fields’) in Heer and Naumann (eds) Vernichtungskrieg, pp. 57–77 (74–5), and Bartov, Hitler’s Army, pp. 146–7.Google Scholar
  8. 8.
    See, for example, A. Owings, Frauen: German Women Recall the Third Reich, London, 1995, p. xxiv: ‘The argument could be made that the Nazis tried to keep the majority of drafted German soldiers away from both camps and pogroms’.Google Scholar
  9. 9.
    W. Benz, ‘ Der Nationalsozialismus als Problem der politischen Kultur der Bundesrepublik’ in I. Hanke and H. Keidel (eds), Unruhe ist die erste Bürgerpflicht: Politik und Politikvermittlung in den 80er Jahren, Baden-Baden, 1988, pp. 55–73.Google Scholar
  10. 10a.
    A. Hillgruber,‘Der Zusammenbruch im Osten 1944–45 als Problem der deutschen Nationalgeschichte und der europäischen Geschichte’ in A. Hillgruber, Zweierlei Untergang: Die Zerschlagung des Deutschen Reiches und das Ende des europäischen Judentums, Berlin, 1986.Google Scholar
  11. 10b.
    O. Bartov, ‘Historians on the Eastern Front’ Tel Aviver Jahrbuch für deutsche Geschichte, 16, 1987, pp. 325–45.Google Scholar
  12. 10c.
    For the revival of the preventative war thesis, see J. Hoffmann, Stalins Vernichtungskrieg 1941–1945 Munich, 1995.Google Scholar
  13. 10d.
    W. Post, Unternehmen Barbarossa: Deutsche und sowjetische Angriffspläne 1940/41 Hamburg, 1995.Google Scholar
  14. 11a.
    B. Wegner (ed.), Germany, Soviet Russia and the World, Oxford, 1996 (translation of 1991 German original).Google Scholar
  15. 11b.
    R.G. Foerster (ed.),Unternehmen Barbarossa: Zum historischen Ort der deutschsow jetischen Beziehungen von 1933 bis Herbst 1941, Munich, 1993.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  16. 11c.
    G.R. Ueberschär and W. Wette (eds), Der deutsche Oberfall auf die Sowjetunion: Unternehmen Barbarossa 1941, Frankfurt, second (abridged) edn, 1991.Google Scholar
  17. 11d.
    R. Rürup (ed.), Der Krieg gegen die Sowjetunion 1941–1945, Berlin, 1991.Google Scholar
  18. 12.
    G. Schöllgen, ‘National Interest and International Responsibility: Germany’s Role in World Affairs’ in Baring (ed.), Germany’s New Position, pp. 35–49 (40–3).Google Scholar
  19. 19.
    J. Förster, ‘The Relation between Operation Barbarossa as a War of Extermination and the Final Solution’ in Cesarani (ed.), Final Solution pp. 85–102 (97).Google Scholar
  20. 22.
    M. Geyer, ‘Nation, Klasse, Macht’, Archiv für Sozialgeschichte 26, 1986, pp. 27–48 (48).Google Scholar
  21. 23a.
    M. Messerschmidt, Die Wehrmacht im NS-Staat: Zeit der Indoktrination, Hamburg, 1969.Google Scholar
  22. 23b.
    W. Stang,‘ Richtlinien für die Meinungsmanipulierung der deutschen Soldaten der Heeres 1939–1943’ Zeitschrift für Geschichtswissenschaft, 41, 1993, pp. 513–31.Google Scholar
  23. 24.
    B. Wegner, ‘The Tottering Giant: German Perceptions of Soviet Military and Economic Strength in Preparation for Operation Blau’ in C. Andrew and J. Noakes (eds), Intelligence and International Relations 1900–1945, Exeter, 1987, pp. 293–312.Google Scholar
  24. 25.
    R. Lukas, Forgotten Holocaust: The Poles under German Occupation, 1939–1944, Lexington, KY, 1986.Google Scholar
  25. 28.
    T.J. Schulte, ‘Living Standards in the Occupied Soviet Union’ in J. Houwink Ten Cate and R.J. Overy (eds), Economic Life under National Socialist Occupation, Berlin, 1998.Google Scholar
  26. 30.
    O. Bartov, ‘The Missing Years: German Workers, German Soldiers’ in D.F. Crew (ed.),Nazism and German Society 1933–1945, London, 1994, pp. 41–66.Google Scholar
  27. 31a.
    E. Klee et al. (eds), The Good Old Days: The Holocaust as Seen by its Perpetrators and Bystanders New York, 1991.Google Scholar
  28. 31b.
    K. Latzel, ‘Tourismus und Gewalt: Kriegswahrnehmungen in Feldpostbriefen’ in Heer and Naumann (eds), Vernichtungskrieg pp. 447–59.Google Scholar
  29. 36.
    T.J Schulte, ‘The German Soldier in Occupied Russia’ in P. Addison and A. Calder (eds), The Soldier’s Experience of War 1939–1945 London, 1997.Google Scholar
  30. 40.
    C. Streit, Keine Kameraden: Die Wehrmacht und die sowjetischen Kriegsgefangenen,1941–1945, Bonn, 1991, pp. 17–19.Google Scholar
  31. 41.
    M. Mazower, ‘Military Violence and National Socialist Values: The Wehrmacht in Greece 1941–1944’ (hereafter ‘Military Violence’) Past and Present, 134, 1992, pp. 129–58 (135).CrossRefGoogle Scholar
  32. 48.
    See T.J. Schulte, Nazi War Crimes and War Crimes Trials: 1945–1996, Oxford, forthcoming 1998.Google Scholar

Copyright information

© Palgrave Macmillan, a division of Macmillan Publishers Limited 1999

Authors and Affiliations

  • Theo J. Schulte

There are no affiliations available

Personalised recommendations