Should Old Veterans Forgive Their Former Enemies?

Discussion in 'General' started by sapper, Jul 25, 2005.

  1. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    removed
     
  2. angie999

    angie999 Very Senior Member

    I don't think that the perpetrators of Oradour and many other atrocities can ever be forgiven, but I also don't think that we can expect every German of the wartime generation to share in the collective guilt either.

    And above all, we must never forget.
     
  3. Wise1

    Wise1 There We Are Then

    It opens up the whole issue of who was guilty? Who would you forgive? The individual SS men and women carried out the orders to do what they did, they got the orders from someone else and so leads you back to the man in charge so are you forgiving Hitler? Or is it simply easy to say that the SS men and women did the dirty work and nobody forced them to do it, after all how could any human being kill women and children in such a horrific way.

    I dont think its that simple and its a question that will be continued to ask for a long time to come.

    It leads to far too many avenues of possibility when you get right down to it. However the decision to forgive anyone for their actions in life lies with each and every one of us and the reasons for forgiving should not because the many think its the right thing to do, it should be because you know its the right thing to do.
     
  4. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    removed
     
  5. Gerard

    Gerard Seelow/Prora

    I think its very much an individual thing and is not open to generalisations, sapper. As Angie said should the perpetrators of atrocities ever be forgiven? I dont think so. It could also be said of the German Veterans against the Russians or indeed the Russians against the Germans. In the case of combat veterans there is the common bond of "being in action" which seems to have brought former enemies together. But its a difficult one to call
     
  6. BrianP

    BrianP Member

    I still visit my old neighbor from time to time, who was in the Navy on the U.S.S. Mississippi. He, for one, has not forgiven the Japanese. Recently, he was invited to attend a conference at the D-Day Museum in New Orleans, Louisiana. Also attending were German, British, Japanese, Russian, and other veterans from various countries. He told me that he wasn't orginally planning to go, but decided to because it might be his last time to "slap a Jap."

    My wife's grandmother was a concentration camp survivor. After the war, she distrusted any and all Germans, which was ironic because she was German herself. She immigrated to Australia and said she was no longer a German. From that time on, she hated anything and everything related to Germany. She probably wouldn't have like me because of my German ancestory, even though my family had been in America since before the Civil War!

    I guess it is up to the individual.
     
  7. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER Patron

    Originally posted by sapper@Jul 26 2005, 02:57 AM
    Knowing the dreadful things that the SS got up to. The murder of innocent men, women and little children. Such as at "Orador sur glan" where they murdered the men. put the women and children in the church, and burned them alive...Then burnt the town down, Should I forgive these men? after 60 years plus?

    If I do, will the screams of those women and children, as they were being burned alive be heard somewhere out there in space, echo even louder?

    What do you think?
    Sapper
    [post=36884]Quoted post[/post]


    I can only relate the experiences of my father in North Africa. He did not hate the Italians however he had no respect for them. (The old tank saying - One forward and four reverse)

    He had respect for the Afrika Corps as they fought hard and "fair".

    Although he never fought the Japanese, as he was wounded at Tobruk, his mates did in New Guinea and many others spent time in Changi and were never the same again. He could not forgive them for that.

    He did say to me once: "You cannot respect a man who doesn't respect his own life or that of his foe". The saying for a lot of these guys to their mates when they were going to New Guinea was "Give the Jap what he wants....a quick death with no mercy"
     
  8. angie999

    angie999 Very Senior Member

    Several years after the war, the French did put some of the perpatrators of the massacre at Oradour-sur-Glane on trial, including several young Alsacians who had been drafted into the SS.

    Noticably, the French enthusaism for revenge had, by that time, subsided. Compared to the Germans on trial, the Alsacians got off quite lightly and the Germans themselves were treated much more leinently than they would have been in the immediate aftermath of the war. On the other hand, several officers of 2 SS Panzer, who were still either missing in action or gone to ground, were sentenced to death in absentia.
     
  9. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    removed
     
  10. Kiwiwriter

    Kiwiwriter Very Senior Member

    I don't know. It depends on the man and the battle.

    I've met British convoy escort crews, members of the "Johnnie Walker Old Boys' Association," who have reunions with their "opponents" in the U-Boats.

    On the other hand, Charles Hazlitt Upham, VC and Bar, would not allow anyone driving a German or Japanese car onto his farm near Christchurch. And when Japanese cherry trees were planted on Memorial Avenue -- named in honor of WW2 warriors who died in battle -- over protests from the local branch of the Returned Services' Association, the RSA chopped all four down. They were not replaced.

    British and Australian POWs who went to Kanchanaburi for a 50th anniversary ceremony at the cemetery on the Kwai were asked if they wanted to meet their former guards, having lunch at a nearby table. The ex-POWs said that if one of the guards came near them, he'd get a boot up his backside. The ex-guards sensibly stayed away.

    Some can forgive. Some cannot. Some can be forgiven. Some cannot. There are no hard and fast rules on this subject. It is a subject for each individual and his or her own conscience.

    My own conscience is muddled. I have rarely, if ever, been forgiven for far lesser deeds and misdeeds than butchering whole villages and populations, but I have been expected to grant absolution to those who have harmed me, as if they did nothing at all. I find the term to be just a politician's word, to be used when a politician gets caught in a wringer of his own making, and he seeks a path of least resistance away from accountability and responsibility for his actions. And to me, accountability and responsibility are two-thirds of everything. The third is "gravitas."
     
  11. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER Patron

    Originally posted by Kiwiwriter@Jul 26 2005, 11:57 PM
    I don't know. It depends on the man and the battle.

    I've met British convoy escort crews, members of the "Johnnie Walker Old Boys' Association," who have reunions with their "opponents" in the U-Boats.

    On the other hand, Charles Hazlitt Upham, VC and Bar, would not allow anyone driving a German or Japanese car onto his farm near Christchurch. And when Japanese cherry trees were planted on Memorial Avenue -- named in honor of WW2 warriors who died in battle -- over protests from the local branch of the Returned Services' Association, the RSA chopped all four down. They were not replaced.

    British and Australian POWs who went to Kanchanaburi for a 50th anniversary ceremony at the cemetery on the Kwai were asked if they wanted to meet their former guards, having lunch at a nearby table. The ex-POWs said that if one of the guards came near them, he'd get a boot up his backside. The ex-guards sensibly stayed away.

    Some can forgive. Some cannot. Some can be forgiven. Some cannot. There are no hard and fast rules on this subject. It is a subject for each individual and his or her own conscience.

    My own conscience is muddled. I have rarely, if ever, been forgiven for far lesser deeds and misdeeds than butchering whole villages and populations, but I have been expected to grant absolution to those who have harmed me, as if they did nothing at all. I find the term to be just a politician's word, to be used when a politician gets caught in a wringer of his own making, and he seeks a path of least resistance away from accountability and responsibility for his actions. And to me, accountability and responsibility are two-thirds of everything. The third is "gravitas."
    [post=36911]Quoted post[/post]


    Well said Kiwiwriter, it is personal. Most of us "younger" ones do not have to face that terrible time in their dreams.
     
  12. angie999

    angie999 Very Senior Member

    From what you are saying Kiwiwriter, I conclude that you see forgiveness as a personal matter.

    I don't think societies necessarily forgive, but they sometimes condone or pardon, in which case I say that society should not condone or pardon the actions of those Germans or Japanese who committed war crimes or took an active part in the Holocaust. That does not mean that I think, over 60 years later, they should all be strung up. Some should be, but many who are still alive were young and impressionable and came under the influence of those who are now beyond justice.

    But is was certainly a just thing to put the likes of Klaus Barbie on trial, no matter how many years later.
     
  13. adrian roberts

    adrian roberts Senior Member

    ...If the cause be wrong, our obedience to the King writes the crime of it out of us/
    But if the cause be not good the King himself hath a heavy reckoning to make......
    ......Every subject's duty is the King's, but every subject's soul is his own

    Shakespeare, Henry V, Act IV Scene I (the night before Agincourt)

    Discuss (I'm not saying Will S has to be right)

    Adrian
     
  14. lionboxer

    lionboxer Member

    It is indeed a personal choice. Who are we that have never faced direct combat to tell these veterans to forgive their enemy? A former Jap POW friend of my father couldn't even bear to look at any Japanese and ended his days in a mental hospital. How and why should he forgive? During the course of my research of a battle my father was involved in I managed to contact the last known surviving Japanese soldier that fought there. He may have been shooting at my father (vice versa), who knows?!! I explained to him, he was not my enemy though he was my fathers, and I didn't hold any malice towards him. But had this man been one of my fathers captors and tortured him would I have held the same feelings? Sadly I never discussed this with my father but I'm sure he knew the difference between fighting as soldiers in desperate circumstances and that of callously and cruelly treating prisoners.
    One thing is for certain though and that is the world and life goes on. Forgiving...maybe. Forgetting...NEVER.
    Lionboxer
     
  15. spidge

    spidge RAAF RESEARCHER Patron

    Originally posted by lionboxer@Jul 27 2005, 07:04 PM

    It is indeed a personal choice. Who are we that have never faced direct combat to tell these veterans to forgive their enemy? A former Jap POW friend of my father couldn't even bear to look at any Japanese and ended his days in a mental hospital. How and why should he forgive? During the course of my research of a battle my father was involved in I managed to contact the last known surviving Japanese soldier that fought there. He may have been shooting at my father (vice versa), who knows?!! I explained to him, he was not my enemy though he was my fathers, and I didn't hold any malice towards him. But had this man been one of my fathers captors and tortured him would I have held the same feelings? Sadly I never discussed this with my father but I'm sure he knew the difference between fighting as soldiers in desperate circumstances and that of callously and cruelly treating prisoners.
    One thing is for certain though and that is the world and life goes on. Forgiving...maybe. Forgetting...NEVER.
    Lionboxer
    [post=36947]Quoted post[/post]




    With respect to the brutality of the three major AXIS powers you have differing points of view:

    Italians: "Some" very hard fighting units however most did not believe in the cause and did not have their heart in it! Allied POW's were "generally" treated well.

    Germans: A war machine full of brave and capable fighting numbers with a bad lot who loved to mete out horrific examples of butchery to ethic peoples. The germans generally treated allied POW's fairly well with a number I have read of 1% dying in concentration camps.

    Japanese:

    Very efficient fighting army who had no respect for any race other than the Japanese. Their "overall" inhumane treatment of all prisoners of war and non combatant citizens has left an indelible scar on most people involved with them in the Asian theatre of war.

    Deaths from incarceration with the Japanese was not far under 50% of the total which in itself is plainly evident why they are remembered with such fervent hatred by their opposing numbers.

    Those expecting or preaching overall forgiveness are asking too much of their "fathers & mothers" even though it was over 60 years ago. A minority have forgiven while the majority of the "few" who are left will never forget or forgive.
     
  16. morse1001

    morse1001 Very Senior Member

    Originally posted by adrian roberts@Jul 26 2005, 11:07 PM
    ...If the cause be wrong, our obedience to the King writes the crime of it out of us/
    But if the cause be not good the King himself hath a heavy reckoning to make......
    ......Every subject's duty is the King's, but every subject's soul is his own

    Shakespeare, Henry V, Act IV Scene I (the night before Agincourt)

    Discuss (I'm not saying Will S has to be right)

    Adrian
    [post=36938]Quoted post[/post]

    I'll need an extension before i can submit my essay on the subject! :( :( :(

    Note to self, must dig out dvd of Henry V
     
  17. Kiwiwriter

    Kiwiwriter Very Senior Member

    Originally posted by angie999@Jul 26 2005, 11:54 AM
    From what you are saying Kiwiwriter, I conclude that you see forgiveness as a personal matter.

    I don't think societies necessarily forgive, but they sometimes condone or pardon, in which case I say that society should not condone or pardon the actions of those Germans or Japanese who committed war crimes or took an active part in the Holocaust. That does not mean that I think, over 60 years later, they should all be strung up. Some should be, but many who are still alive were young and impressionable and came under the influence of those who are now beyond justice.

    But is was certainly a just thing to put the likes of Klaus Barbie on trial, no matter how many years later.
    [post=36922]Quoted post[/post]

    Pretty much.

    Societies, governments, organizations, hierarches, cannot "forgive." Foregiveness must come from the soul and heart, and organizations are by definition soulless and heartless, despite their best intentions.

    Go through any personnel file or permanent record card at any business, school, or military service. See if you can find the line item marked "forgiveness." You won't find it. You'll find every complaint known to man, but no forgiveness.

    I'm always amused when businesses and organizations call themselves "a family." They usually do that when the boss is in trouble, and they need the employees to rally around the boss.

    However, I rarely hear of families sitting down at the dinner table, and the father getting up to tell the youngest son or daughter, "Times have been tough this year, so we have to let you go. Please clean out your room, pack your bags, and leave. You've been laid off."

    I know that must sound harsh, but that's my analysis. It's colored by the fact that I have been expected to forgive and forget all kinds of heinous attacks on me, but am never granted absolution myself...instead my mistakes and weaknesses are hurled against me for years and decades, to humiliate me and amuse my abusers.
     
  18. morse1001

    morse1001 Very Senior Member

    Forgiveness can only be a personal thing. However, we cannot nor should we ever foget the attoricities that have been committed inthe past, because if we do then may be faced with the same situations in the future.
     
  19. Dac

    Dac Senior Member

    The young men that did most of the fighting in WW II were forced to develope the mental armor to allow them to survive on the battlefield. The more fanatical the enemy the stronger, and longer lasting that armor would be. The men I knew that faced the Japanese in WW II still held a deep resentment towards them decades later, some refused to buy anything made in Japan.

    I think the veterans are the only ones who can decide to let go of a feeling that at the time it originated, might have saved their lives.
     
  20. laufer

    laufer Senior Member

    In my opinion politicians made the great act of forgiving into another empty gesture.
     

Share This Page