Monday, December 08, 2003

Cronaca: More German WW2 revisionism

Cronaca has a very informative post up about a German tendency towards self-pitying revisionism that has been bothering me for about a year now.

Back in January we posted on the recent shift in German attitudes towards the bombardment of their country during WW2, exemplified in Jörg Friedrich's bestselling Der Brand. Deutschland im Bombenkrieg 1940-1945 (The Fire: Germany Under Bombardment, 1940-45).

Now Friedrich has come out with a book of photographs on the same theme: Brandstätten (Places of Fire), the subject of an essay by Michael Kimmelman in today's NY Times

I suggest reading the whole thing: let it suffice for me to say that I have absolutely no sympathy for any attempts to portray Germans as somehow being victims of a war whose instigator was accorded popular acclaim on so massive a scale as Hitler was, right up until the tide turned in 1942. Had Hitler's gamble succeeded in 1941, it is safe to say that hardly any Germans would have regretted the suffering they would then have meted out to the unfortunate Slavs and Jews falling within their purview: going by the Generalplan Ost, at least 30 million more Slavs would have lost their lives in the New Order, on top of the many millions who did die in the course of the fighting between Nazi Germany and Soviet Russia. No, the more one thinks about the alternative to the sort of all-out war waged by the allies on Germany, the less inclined one is to tolerate or excuse this ridiculously self-pitying tendency that is discernable in German culture today.

As the old saying goes, "he who sows the wind will reap the whirlwind", and what the Germans reaped was, if anything, far less than they deserved in light of the heinous crimes they collectively (and not just Hitler, as they sometimes like to make out) committed. I have nothing against the Germans in particular, as I am equally unmoved whenever I hear Japanese people moan and groan about Hiroshima and Nagasaki.