Were the Germans Too Nice?

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There are tens of thousands of books, articles, TV documentaries that claim to offer objective analysis of the Reich. In fact, attention is focused on only a very small fragment of the period.

Ralph Franklin Keeling, Institute of American Economics, Chicago, 1970 writes;

It must be brought home to the American people that much of what they have been led to believe was born of propaganda. That the Germany Army, for example, actually behaved itself very correctly toward the people of occupied territories whose governments were signatories to the Hague and Geneva Conventions. The facts are now well known, and are beyond dispute, despite the opposite picture painted in the Press as part of the horrendous business of war.

Rape was virtually unheard of in the German Armed Forces and was punishable by death. The venerable Sudeten academic, Dr. A J P App with whom I shared a great friendship:

In their behavior toward the women of conquered territories, the German troops seem actually to have been the most correct and decent in the whole history of warfare.

William L Shirer was author of the heavily marketed Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. The title achieved notoriety for its spin and blatant falsehoods. This Jewish journalist was forced to concede how on June 17 1940, in the first flush of German occupation, women had fled Paris in fear of the Germans.

It seems the Parisians actually believed the Germans would rape the women and do worse to the men. The ones who stayed are all the more amazed at the very correct behavior of the troops.

4. German soldiers in Paris
German soldiers in Paris

President of Thompson Products Frederick C. Crawford was a member of a delegation organized by the U.S War Department. His report concluded:

After four years of German occupation, the Germans tried to be careful in their dealings with the people. We were told that if a citizen attended strictly to business and took no political or underground action against the occupying army, he was treated with correctness.

Britain prides itself on not having fallen to the Reich. The forces of the Reich in fact overran Britain’s Channel Islands. Of that occupation author Charles Cruickshank writes:

The German behavior was correct; that they were quite amiably received by most people; there was no real sabotage and no real resistance movement. That as long as there was food, the civilians had their fair share and the conditions for the islanders were a good deal better than it was for the Wehrmacht in May 1945.

German troops occupying Channel Islands
German troops occupying Channel Islands

Generally speaking the heads of all the armed forces involved in the conflict conceded that the German Armed forces rarely breached international rules of warfare. Major General Robert W. Grow, U.S. Commander 6th Armored Division in Europe:

My service during World War Two was in command of an armored division throughout the European campaign, from Normandy to Saxony. My division lost quite a number of officers and men captured between July 1944 and April 1945.

In no instance did I hear of personnel from our division receiving treatment other than proper under the ‘Rules of Land Warfare’. As far as the 6th Armored Division was concerned in its 280 days of front line contact, there was no ‘atrocity problem.

Frankly, I was aghast, as were many of my contemporaries, when we learned of the proposed ‘war crimes’ trials and the fact that military commanders were among the accused. I know of no general officer who approved of them.

Little has been written or documented about the Germans use of slave labor, as did all warring participants. Ralph Keeling:

It is true that the Reich exacted forced labor from foreign workers, but it is also true that, they were for the most part paid and fed well.

Cabinet Minister Lord Mulley
Cabinet Minister Lord Mulley

Many captured allied servicemen were far better educated at German educational facilities than they had been in their own countries. Captured in June 1940, British lance-corporal Fred Mulley spent five years as a prisoner of war in Germany and Poland. During this time he obtained a BSc in economics and became a chartered secretary. He was later to become a British Cabinet Minister and held various government posts.

Recommended Reading

Witness to History: The Adolf Hitler and Reich Odyssey – Catastrophe (Available on Amazon)

A Complete List of Mike Walsh’s Books

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