Should Old Veterans Forgive Their Former Enemies?

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

  1. 4th wilts

    4th wilts Discharged

    cant put down how i feel.
     
  2. soldierboy_425

    soldierboy_425 Junior Member

    my opinion on the matter ( from a historian and soldier ) is that once one sets out to point the finger one will find the answer is much more complex than to simply point the finger at germany. russia had the forced labor camps wich were larger in numbers of camps , numbers of dead and were in opporation long before and long after ww2 . and we fought with the russians. further more we as americans are not as honorable, and just as historical propiganda would have you beleave. the A bombs for example were dropped in civilian locations with high surounding mountains to maximize the bombs effect... instead of a military base/fort. look back furthere with the buffelo, Ive seen a photo of a stack of buffelo hids 6 feet tall and Id say 3/4 of a mile long this extensive hunting killed a huge number of native americans, were talkin borderline geniside. and even further back with the trail of tears. rip thousands of people out of there home make them walk a thousand miles to a reservation in the desert.
    all and all in my oppinion, shit happens. you can dwell on it or you can lern from it, and help make a better future for us all. to finish up my little novel, if you hate a man for hating than you are not better than he.
     
  3. soldierboy_425

    soldierboy_425 Junior Member

    my opinion on the matter ( from a historian and soldier ) is that once one sets out to point the finger one will find the answer is much more complex than to simply point the finger at germany. russia had the forced labor camps wich were larger in numbers of camps , numbers of dead and were in opporation long before and long after ww2 . and we fought with the russians. further more we as americans are not as honorable, and just as historical propiganda would have you beleave. the A bombs for example were dropped in civilian locations with high surounding mountains to maximize the bombs effect... instead of a military base/fort. look back furthere with the buffalo, Ive seen a photo of a stack of buffalo hids 6 feet tall and Id say 3/4 of a mile long this extensive hunting killed a huge number of native americans who relied on buffalo hides, meat and bones , were talkin borderline geniside. and even further back with the trail of tears. rip thousands of people out of there home make them walk a thousand miles to a reservation in the desert, were the was no shelter, no water, and no food
    all and all in my oppinion, sh*t happens. you can dwell on it or you can lern from it, and help make a better future for us all. to finish up my little novel, if you hate a man for hating than you are not better than he.
     
  4. jason taylor

    jason taylor Junior Member

    Several things must be said.

    One is I did not live then so I cannot forgive them for anything except an insult. I am a Philo-semite and a Christian and the Nazis are in the first case insulting my aesthetic judgement and in the second place my religion as it was founded by a Jewish carpenter's son. They were also loathsome bullies and there are few vices I dislike more. Calling my forgiveness cheap is going to far-it would certainly be a serious matter if I did not possess it(for reasons I will give). However it is easier.

    I think forgiveness is mandatory and I am religiously obligated to believe that. However it is easier for some and for me to make a bother about it in people who have been in worse situations then me would be garrittrooperish.

    One must recognise what forgiveness is. Forgiveness is not denial of justice, it is the trancendance of it. To forgive a Nazi because you really don't think he was all that bad a chap, is not forgiveness it is lack of moral seriousness. Nor is forgiveness in the perogative of the state as the state is there for the purpose of enforcing justice. The state can show magnanimity at times but not forgiveness(I shall have to think more about the difference, but I think there is a difference). To forgive is to deny one's own desire for vengeance. Also to remember that the fact that someone becomes evil is itself a tragedy independant of what he did in the process.

    It is sometimes said that it is impudant to forgive what has been done to another. The problem is that no crime is really done to one single person. World War II was not one hundred million random muggings. Every bit of evil done specifically to someone rippled out. Especially as those crimes were often done to people as representatives of a group. It is odd for people to claim that they can feel hatred on behalf of people but not to forgive. And I certainly have the right to forgive what was done to me by reflection.

    As I said I am not a veteran, though I have known several. Indeed several I am related to even though I don't really think of my family as a Southern-style "warrior dynasty". But that has left me curiously untouched. Perhaps because I have always considered it rude to open conversation with a vet who hadn't initiated it. Most of what I know about the war has come to me from what I read and that has affected me quite a bit vicariously.
    In any case this is a different perspective, and I hope none find it presumptuous. But my main point is that while I theoretically think every individual is obligated to forgive, I stress that that is an abstraction. Going beyond saying that is an individual's concern.
     
  5. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    Should old veterans forgive their enemies?

    On stumbling across this old thread I made the initial mistake of thinking that its purpose was to actually ask only the veterans themselves what they felt about “forgiveness”.

    As actual veterans on this site can be counted on the fingers of one hand I then thought “this is going to be a short thread !”.

    Eventually I realised the thread had developed into a general free for all in which all categories of members were being invited to give their views on the subject and so I now think I should also put in my two-pennies worth.

    Forgiveness ? ….. we need to define terms and so I went to Wipikedia for the “common man’s” understanding of “Forgiveness” which goes as follows.

    “Forgiveness is the mental, and/or spiritual process of ceasing to feel resentment indignation, anger against another person for a perceived offense, difference or mistake, or ceasing to demand “

    Fair enough, that’s as good a definition as any.

    I then moved on to GOOGLE and asked a more specific question
    “ Can a Jew forgive the Nazis?” for which I received 27,800 hits.
    I will need to come back to these links.

    I then looked at Sapper’s emotive responses (those that are still there!) no ambiguity there, Brian will never forgive those who chose to burn the church at Oradour-Sur-Glane and I for one cannot blame him.
    The characters that were responsible for this particular atrocity, at any level, can and should never be forgiven.

    I finally went to my library shelves and re-looked at Len Baynes “Kept-The Other Side of Tenko” which is all about his shocking existence as a wartime prisoner of the Japanese.

    In the e-mail correspondence I have had with him over the years he has been at great pains to try to explain, to an un-comprehending me, why he has completely forgiven his enemies, this from a man who was near death many a time in those terrible years.

    So, there are lot’s of opinions as to whether or nor we should forgive our enemies and I’ve kept my own feelings till last.

    I cannot, and never will , forgive anyone who knowingly caused to suffer or took the lives of innocent people, for whatever reason.

    That’s simple enough for me.

    Ron Goldstein

    An old veteran
     
    Slipdigit likes this.
  6. Gage

    Gage The Battle of Barking Creek MOD

    This is so subjective. It depends on the person and what they've experienced.
    How could anybody forgive the Russians for the rape of so many German women?
    How can you forgive the Holocaust?
    How can you forgive the Goebbels for infanticide?
    The list is endless....................................................................
    Nobody wins in war.
     
  7. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Thanks for that Ron my old mate!
    I find it difficult to conjure with the idea of forgiving a nation that was responsible for the deaths of 60 million souls! The murders, the tortures.,The gratuitous violence just for the sake of it.

    The Concentration camps, and death camps. The murder in cold blood of our men when they captured them in Normandy. Unforgivable. the almost never ending atrocities Orador, Lidisce (Spelling) Tule (again) the names are endless. And so are the atrocities...
    All that I hope for? is what I posted before, that those responsible for burning women and little children alive will have to listen to the pitiful screams of little children in agony as their flesh melted. That they will be forced to listen to those sounds... for all eternity. For they were EVIL.
    Sapper
     
  8. BulgarianSoldier

    BulgarianSoldier Senior Member

    I don't think that the germans pray for forgivness anyway.They are on the other side of the front, for them you were the one who are bad.They just done the thing that they are ordered to do, fight for the fatherland, and kill for the fatherland, war is a bad thing.

    Dani
     
  9. Trincomalee

    Trincomalee Senior Member

    When my father revisited the Kwai bridge in 1989 he was asked why he didn't hate the Japanese who were also visiting . He said that they were the grandchildren of the men he had encountered .
    He seemed to differentiate between Japanese soldiers who were "fair" in their treatment , and those who were vicious and dangerous .
    It was as though , after the war , he ddn't want to waste any more of his life on these experiences .
    I don't know whether he forgave . He certainly read and watched anything available on the subject . He drove Japanese cars . He seemed in some way to have detached from bitterness , which was probably healthier for him , but whether that amounted to forgieness ...
     
  10. jason taylor

    jason taylor Junior 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

    This has to be short as I have to get ready to go. Hopefully I can do better latter.

    I would say a soldier is responsible for what he has an ability to be responsible for.
    It is in the nature of every state that it needs coercive power. As even a tyrannical regime serves the necessary purpose of doing justice and protecting the weak("the police of this land are theives but at least they allow no competition"-Kim, Rudyard Kipling), it is not necessarily wrong to serve such a regime in this capacity. But it can become so. And it is often safest to avoid what one can in such circumstances.
    A soldier is seldom told blatantly that he is fighting unjustly. And his limited knowledge of the situation allows him no way of judging it. And in most circumstances it is better to obey as the obedience of those who bear arms to society is usually more important then the possibility that he might be fighting unjustly. However a soldier can tell if a specific order is wrong. For instance a German soldier may not be able to tell that it is wrong to attack Russia. He should know at least that it is wrong to shoot Russian children out of hand.
    Being a soldier is like being a lawyer. A lawyer is obliged to assume his client is right in the absence of proof to the contrary. However if such proof does arrive problems do arrive. As that seldom happens, Shakespeare was partially right-but only partially.
     
  11. jason taylor

    jason taylor Junior Member

    This has to be short as I have to get ready to go. Hopefully I can do better latter.

    I would say a soldier is responsible for what he has an ability to be responsible for.
    It is in the nature of every state that it needs coercive power. As even a tyrannical regime serves the necessary purpose of doing justice and protecting the weak("the police of this land are theives but at least they allow no competition"-Kim, Rudyard Kipling), it is not necessarily wrong to serve such a regime in this capacity. But it can become so. And it is often safest to avoid what one can in such circumstances.
    A soldier is seldom told blatantly that he is fighting unjustly. And his limited knowledge of the situation allows him no way of judging it. And in most circumstances it is better to obey as the obedience of those who bear arms to society is usually more important then the possibility that he might be fighting unjustly. However a soldier can tell if a specific order is wrong. For instance a German soldier may not be able to tell that it is wrong to attack Russia. He should know at least that it is wrong to shoot Russian children out of hand.
    Being a soldier is like being a lawyer. A lawyer is obliged to assume his client is right in the absence of proof to the contrary. However if such proof does arrive problems do arrive. As that seldom happens, Shakespeare was partially right-but only partially.

    As an addition, St. Thomas Aquinas once pointed out that the right attitude toward authority was to think of it as "for want of something better". That is if you have no way of knowing it might be better to obey as you cannot rebuild civilization every generation. But when more evidence comes the situation changes. In other words authority should be a springboard not a prison.
    This is of course regarding philosophy. But it has adaptations to what I said. The need for soldiers to obey is pressing. Therefore soldiers should obey until there is a greater reason to disobey.
     
  12. 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."

    By God Kiwi you always get right to the chorus matey,
    The business moto of today is that of Captain Jack Sparrow minus the humor "take all you can, give nothing back."
    You just gave me a great idea for a cartoon.
    As everyone seems to end up saying, it's up to the vets.
    I would never tell anyone who served in combat wha to feel about their opponents, though I may disagree. The veterans who are willing to sit and break bread with thier brothers in arms are usually the ones who felt they were engaged in a "fair" fight. I don't think allied seaman who saw their comrades machine gunned by U-boats while they floated helpless in the sea are as forgiving as those who were "just" torpedoed. I don't think there is a whole lot of forgiveness by german and japanese civilians who lost loved ones in terror bombings. POW's can be "forgiven" for not forgiven. That and all victims of war crimes are in a very different category. The biblical concept of forgiveness isn't just about the forgiven, but about the release from the terrible weight of pain and anger that can embitter the life of the unforgiving. As Kiwi says forgiving small trespasses is one thing, forgiving the ones who killed your loved ones and tortured you, they don't deserve it.
    Regard GM
     
  13. A Potts

    A Potts Member

    As an Australian grandson of a WW2 veteran, I can say that all is forgiven!

    Anything else is about ultimatly politics!
     
  14. Snowie

    Snowie WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    There is no way in which a blanket condemnation (or praise) can be applied to our old enemies. Anyway our troops have also carried out atrocities, such as: in the Boer War, in which we invented concentrationn camps, where thousands of civilian women and children were starved to death; and there's the behaviour of some allied troops in Iraq, in modern times. More on this theme later. Snowie.
     
  15. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    The trouble with forgiving your enemies, is not just one or two atrocities....But thousands of them..On top of that, add the Concentration and death camps. Plus what they did in Russia, when they thought there would be no come back..

    AS to the German nation? Not supporting Hitler...Then go back and have a look at the screaming adoring crowds, that turned out to worship him, as some sort of Aryan hero...Orador, Tule, Lidice, Belson, Auswitch, and a couple of hundred other places of starvation and death. Forgive? Hitlers war cost 60 million innocent lives.

    Not to mention that death and injuries that we suffered in putting down the mad dog and his minions.
    OK I will forgive, if the millions that they murdered, could be brought back to life.

    All my life I have.. In company of many others.. had to live with the results of the war. A life time of pain and discomfort. At the age of 85 I will put up with them, where I have to, But forgive?

    Would you? in my shoes, A man that has seen what they did.... Forgive them?
    I said it before.... a great many of the enemy we slaughtered in the Falaise pocket.......JUSTICE.

    By forgivbing them.. Thus casting aside the memory of those they killed and tortured... The poor devils would turn in their graves Surely?
    Sapper
     
  16. ranville

    ranville Senior Member

    The trouble with forgiving your enemies, is not just one or two atrocities....But thousands of them..On top of that, add the Concentration and death camps. Plus what they did in Russia, when they thought there would be no come back..

    AS to the German nation? Not supporting Hitler...Then go back and have a look at the screaming adoring crowds, that turned out to worship him, as some sort of Aryan hero...Orador, Tule, Lidice, Belson, Auswitch, and a couple of hundred other places of starvation and death. Forgive? Hitlers war cost 60 million innocent lives.

    Not to mention that death and injuries that we suffered in putting down the mad dog and his minions.
    OK I will forgive, if the millions that they murdered, could be brought back to life.

    All my life I have.. In company of many others.. had to live with the results of the war. A life time of pain and discomfort. At the age of 85 I will put up with them, where I have to, But forgive?

    Would you? in my shoes, A man that has seen what they did.... Forgive them?
    I said it before.... a great many of the enemy we slaughtered in the Falaise pocket.......JUSTICE.

    By forgivbing them.. Thus casting aside the memory of those they killed and tortured... The poor devils would turn in their graves Surely?
    Sapper

    I'm with you Sapper on this issue.
     
  17. canuck

    canuck Token Colonial Patron

    Simon Wiesenthal had some interesting thoughts on forgiveness:

    “What people have done to you yourself, you can, if you like, forgive and forget. That is your own affair. But it would have been a terrible sin to burden your conscience with other people’s sufferings.”

    “I don’t think that the attitude of the great religions to the question of forgiveness differs to any great extent. If there is any difference, then it is more in practice than in principle. One thing is certain: you can only forgive a wrong that has been done to yourself.”

    “Forgetting is something that time alone takes care of, but forgiveness is an act of volition, and only the sufferer is qualified to make the decision.”

    By his reasoning, maybe this is a question to be answered only by the 60 million!
     
  18. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    I have posted this before. Sounds never vanish, they just get fainter. When the dreadful screams of the women and little children being burned alive, Forced to watch as their own flesh dropped off their bodies in the searing flames..... If that faint sound somewhere out there in the universe dies away..... Not even then...

    Those responsible should be made to listen to those screams for all eternity.
    The odd thing about this is. IF we had a mass murderer... Should we later say OH I forgive him... We have them in prison here, would we let them out?
    Sapper
     
  19. Drew5233

    Drew5233 #FuturePilot Patron 1940 Obsessive

    I was a gunner in the Royal Artillery when I was captured at Wormhout after being seriously wounded in the left leg. I received this wound as I tried to climb aboard a retreating British vehicle as it went past. It was a three tonner. It was full of soldiers. I was trying to haul myself up somehow on to this moving vehicle when it was hit by a burst of fire and I was wounded in my leg. On board the damaged vehicle , there were several dead and wounded, and the lorry caught fire. The ammunition we were carrying exploded. I took refuge in the ditch with the other survivors who were from the Royal Warwickshires.

    The Germans arrived in no time; they had with them prisoners which they must have captured in the village. Those that were escorting us to the rear were SS, but I did not realise it at the time.

    They made us run for more than a kilometre across the fields towards Esquelbecq killing those who were to weak to go further. Wounded as I was, I was helped by two other British, who supported me shoulder to shoulder to stop me falling.

    It was begining to rain; it was the first rain to fall since May 10th. I was so naive at that point that when I saw the barn, I thought the Germans were taking us there to shelter.

    With about a hundred of us squeezed together as we were in this dilapidated barn, the Germans lost no time and threw i stick grenades. It was pretty clear that they were trying to wipe us out.

    Then I remember a German NCO shouting "Five men outside!" and every one of us knew what was going to happen. Outside the barn we could hear the SS counting the prisoners: One,Two, Three, Four, Five.

    There was a shot after each of the numbers and I saw my countrymen falling one by one.......

    Then the SS came back to the barn and ordered five more to come out to die.

    I volunteered, because I knew we would all have to go through it, and it was no use prolonging our last moments of life. I thought at that time this was what happened when you were taken prisoner: the lad next to me who was very young shook my hand and spoke to me, saying, "I don't know who you are, but I need to shake hands with you." That was when I thought about my mother and I was so sorry for her. As I marched along to the spot they chose, I also thought that the war would soon be over for me......

    The Nazi NCO lined us up facing his men. There were five of them, each one with a rifle. Facing the executioners, I was number five, and I heard the first four members called out, the shot followed, and my comrades falling, one by one beside me. I began to think about the futility of war, and to wonder why this was happening to young men like us, for no reason.....

    The SS shouted "Five!" and I heard the shot, felt the bullet strike, pierce my back and pass through my chest. I fell down instantly and felt my blood spouting; then I passed out.

    When I came to, the SS had gone. I had terrible pain in my leg and realised I was not dead. I felt around for my glasses. My tunic and shirt soaked with blood, I began to crawl towards the barn, using the limbs that were not injured: My left knee and my right arm. It took me a good three hours to do the twenty or so yards between me and the barn where the dead lay with the dying. With my head propped on a lifeless body, I finally fainted.

    All this happened on Tuesday evening. We stayed there all Wednesday, all Thursday. During all this time, the wounded were continuing to die. I remember one of them who had managed to sit up against the wall of the barn and had found two cartridges in his jacket. He was trying to kill himself by holding one against his forehead and trying to trigger it with the other. I think that by then we all wanted to die. One of the worst things I can remember was the first which tormented us. For me it was worse even than my wounds......

    On Friday morning we heard sounds and thought the Germans who were coming were there to finish us off. Instead, they spoke to us, but we could not understand. One of them spoke in French, and summoning up memories from my schooldays, I was able to manage a conversation.

    He was dumbfounded!

    "Why are there no weapons, or helmets or guns here?" He asked as he looked at the number of dead. Then he gave his own answer:

    "You were captured by the SS: They don't take prisoners!"

    They moved us out of the barn, took of their jackets and put them under our heads. In my case one of them took off his shirt and made a compress to put on my chest. I was given morphine at Camiers near to le Touquet, and spent the whole of the war in a POW camp making two attempts to escape.

    What the SS committed here was an atrocity. We were docile prisoners; they massacred frightened young men, for no good reason, in cold blood.

    I have no feelings of hate for the SS who comitted these crimes. Their commanding officer should be quite simply ashamed of giving the order, for it was a shameful thing......

    If I were to meet this man, I would do nothing more today than show him my six children and my nine grandchildren.

    I would play him the music that I have composed, and ask him: "Just imagine all the possibilities you destroyed when you killed those ninety youngsters" I think if I were to say all that he would surely feel remorse......

    ..... Future generations ought to know what happened, so that such a thing could never happen again."


    Brian Fahey, Musician, Composer and Retired Orchestral Conductor.
     
  20. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    AMEN
    Sapper
     

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