Should Old Veterans Forgive Their Former Enemies?

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

  1. Snowie

    Snowie WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Of course we should forgive. What the enemy did to us, does not not compare with what we did to the Dutch farmers (boers), their wives and children less than half a century earlier. Within a few years the dutch were our firm allies.
    Len (Snowie) Baynes
  2. Stig O'Tracy

    Stig O'Tracy Senior Member

    I think that more people would have been inclined to forgive the Germans if they had completely admitted to what they had done in the war. From what I've read, so many claimed that they had not supported Hitler, or they didn't know what was happening to the Jews and others. I'm re-reading a book by a former SS officer called "Gods of War, the Memories of a German Soldier". I find the book interesting and yet repugnant as the author neatly avoids these taboo subjects but manages to remember and relate the anti-Semitic comments of an Englishman. He attempts to perpetuate the myth of the impending Soviet attack, implying that Barbarossa was ultimately a defensive assault. When presented with this type of attitude, I think it's very easy to feel unforgiving.

    I've read quite a number of memoirs by Germans about their WW2 experiences and very few are candid.

    Conversely, I've also read many books by Allied servicemen and they can be extremely candid.
  3. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    If the Vets forget the atrocities.. WHO then is to remember those that were tortured and murdered and burned to death to satisfy the German Sadism?
  4. Ranger6

    Ranger6 Liar

    Well from my war i forgive the Muslims. I just wont get on a plane with em
  5. Ron Goldstein

    Ron Goldstein WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran Patron

    An old subject this, but I, for one, think it warrants further comment.

    Len says:
    Of course we should forgive. What the enemy did to us, does not not compare with what we did to the Dutch farmers (boers), their wives and children less than half a century earlier. Within a few years the dutch were our firm allies.
    Len (Snowie) Baynes
    I would remind fellow members that Len went through appaling conditions whilst in Japanese hands and yet, if my memory serves me rightly, has gone on record as saying that he forgives his enemies. This I have always found difficult to understand.

    Brian says:
    If the Vets forget the atrocities.. WHO then is to remember those that were tortured and murdered and burned to death to satisfy the German Sadism?

    Brian will never forget and equally will never forgive and this I find easy to understand particularly when one thinks of his experiences during his wartime years and the grievous injuries that he sustained that have affected him even unto this day.

    In some respects they are both right because, in my humble opinion, they have both suffered immensely from the activities of others , Brian by the Germans and Len by the Japanese although, with much respect to Len, I question his implied comparison of the German involvement in the Shoah to the British participation in what became known as the Boer War.

    I still firmly believe that none of us should forget any of man's inhumanity to man but that forgiveness is the sole right of those who were sinned against.

  6. Roxy

    Roxy Senior Member

    There is a noticeable difference between forgiving and forgetting. We should not forget but, I think, that we probably should forgive. Whether or not I, personally, would be able to do so is another matter: I suspect not.

  7. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    As always - many facets to this question of forgiveness - and forgetting of the atrocities - it's not too popular to-day to think in terms of the tenets of Christianity when that particular religion is undergoing another crucifixion - especially at the anniversary of the first one - yes - Easter ....

    it's always different with the jewish religion as their tenets are based on an "eye for an eye" -as Passover continues - and they uphold this 100%

    whereas we Christians tend to forget the basics - which have not changed either....

    " Give us this day - our daily bread, and forgive us our trespasses, as we FORGIVE those who trespass against us, and lead us not into temptation - BUT deliver us from evil"..... can't have it just our one way......

    as I said - not too popular these days...we might forget but I 'll bet that God doesn't
    - what seems to be more popular to-day is that most think there is NO problem and we shall all finish up in Heaven...dream on kids.....

    It was Teilhard de Chardin who claimed that there was NO hell....and when he was challenged and lost that arguement - he then claimed that God was too merciful to send anyone there - this was the twisted thinking of the man who "discovered" Piltdown man - then when he was sent to China he "discovered" Peking man !!!

    Consequently I am betting that Hell is pretty full of Sappers Nazi's -Snowies Japs - not a bad result....!
  8. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    I like it Tom. I like it....

    When well meaning folk here call for forgiveness. I am reminded it is not for me, that I loath these folks. All is fair in love and war, And there are 35,000 Germans buried where my war ended.

    My loathing is for the atrocities they committed against innocent women and children All over Europe and the East.

    How can anyone come to terms with a people... that took pleasure in burning to death all the women and children of a complete town

    How the hell can you forget that HOW? How can you forget the death camps and the grotesque behaviour of the enemy......HOW???

    I suppose what will happen, is that the memory will die out with the passing of the war Veterans. Then the cries and terrified screams, of little children being burned to death, for the pleasure of the enemy. will subside and vanish....

    Not me.
  9. marcus69x

    marcus69x I love WW2 meah!!!

    Pretty deep lads!

    As Ron said, forgiveness is the sole right of those who were sinned against.
    You do or you don't. Personally I don't think I would.

    There may be some German Vet out there who honestly never saw or heard of such crimes being committed? Perhaps he really believed he was fighting for a 'just cause' to save his beloved Fatherland from the evil invaders?

    If there is such a man out there, I'm sure God - if he exists - wouldn't deny him a place in Heaven.

    As for the rest, they're going to Hell.
  10. Tom Canning

    Tom Canning WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    Marcus -
    The German Vet whom you quote will see heaven as this is the one exception to the Catholic Dogma of "Extra Ecclesia Nulla Salus" - which is that if a man lives his life honestly and without sin - God will recognise THAT is deep !

  11. marcus69x

    marcus69x I love WW2 meah!!!

    Well said Tom, deep indeed mate!

    I've never seen combat so I couldn't even imagine what it would be like to entertain the idea of forgiving someone who killed my best mate. It's tough man!

    Each to their own though, and respect to those vets that do. :poppy:
  12. dbf

    dbf Moderatrix MOD

    Should Old Veterans Forgive Their Former Enemies?

    I know that this is an old thread but ever since I first saw the title of this thread, I've hated it.

    Why should anybody do anything that's not the law? Forgiveness being such a very personal issue, why should anyone else's opinion on the matter have any bearing ... Perhaps "why veterans chose not to forgive" might have been more appropriate and interesting. I think this is for veterans only as it's clearly not any one else's business.

    It's a great pity that the very first lead post is empty and can now no longer provide any direction to the thread.
  13. Wills

    Wills Very Senior Member

    Kanchanaburi - Serjeant Robert, Easton Duthie of Glenbervie Kincardinshire. My late uncle. Cremated on the orders of the British MO. The names on this list have no known grave, their ashes are at Kanchanburi War cemetery

    Attached Files:

  14. sapper

    sapper WW2 Veteran WW2 Veteran

    The real answer to this question, is that Time will cure the problem. When the WW2 Vets, who are only too aware of the shocking record of the Germans, have passed on.

    I find it difficult, having seen what that nation got up to. Not to mention the colossal casualties of war the enemy caused. And the thousands of atrocities committed in their name..... I cannot forget. Nor can I, when I recall the good friends I left behind. Or of this Nations sacrifices in fighting the scourge of Nazism.

    Our passing will no doubt help.
  15. Steve Mac

    Steve Mac Very Senior Member

    I think you'll find a copy
    dbf likes this.
  16. Wills

    Wills Very Senior Member

    My late father RAF 1935 - 49, Battle of France, Britain,Desert Air Force. Malta and the Italian campaign, during the late 1950s had a good friend, he was a German airman shot down and made POW here, (my father looked upon him as a fellow airman) later marrying a local girl. I as a young lad knew him as Fritz. Some were wary but in time he was accepted - becoming managing director of a cleaning product company. Extremely well mannered and educated, he would spend hours turning my schoolboy German into the real thing! He enjoyed several evenings at my fathers RAF Association dinners a welcome guest.
  17. PA. Dutchman

    PA. Dutchman Senior Member

    Another issue to consider is can a Veteran forgive himself. I have a friend in Texas whose father fought in Europe has this problem.

    Towards the end Hitler was throwing the youth of Germany into the worse of the fighting. This Veterans position was being attacked and in danger of being over taken.

    My friends' father like all the other GIs fought back. Then suddenly a young German boy in a German Uniform was in front of them shooting as he ran towards them. This friends' father shot the German and saved their group.

    However he has been struggling with the fact the German was a younger person, a teenager, and yet he had to shoot the kid or they would all be dead themselves.

    The father still sees the face of the youngster he had to shoot to save himself and his friends. He can not forgive himself, yet what he did he had to do, and he has struggled with this for decades.
  18. PA. Dutchman

    PA. Dutchman Senior Member


    This was the case with a dear friend of mine when he visited a town in Belgium his Unit liberated. The Inn Keeper refused payment when he learned Bob was in the very unit that freed their town.

    On the tour Bob ran into the German Unit he was fighting. In a few days they invited Bob to the German Units Reunion the following year.

    He attended and a number of Germans asked him to try to return GIs personal items to the GIs families. He has written about this in his book.

    The Replacement - By Robert F. Kauffman [Bob Kauffman]

    Attached Files:

  19. PA. Dutchman

    PA. Dutchman Senior Member

    Both of these American Airmen were prisoners of the Japanese under the worse of conditions and they found forgiveness through their God and His Son.

    DeShazer was a member of the Doolittle Mission and spent the entire war in a POW camp, Louis Zamperini was in the 1936 Olympics. He floated in a boat for days after his plane went down in the Pacific.

    Attached Files:

  20. John Lawson

    John Lawson Arte et Marte

    "If you forget your past, you are condemned to relive it".

    Not my words, a Spaniard I think, but how true. Once the memory and the pain that affects those who were part of it has gone, who is to remember it, and warn against it?

    Not the politicians.

    No soldier starts a war, they just become the extension of policy when the politician runs out of arguments. And they then become the custodians of the experiences, sights and memories that they cannot always bring to words to discuss in their lifetime.

    Forgivness runs through all religions, but we're not all saints, we're only human, we do what we believe is right by our culture, creed etc. After all the Germans had "Gott mit uns" on their belt buckles, so they thought he was on their side! And we knew he was on ours. Truth be known, he's not on anybodies side, or maybe he's on the winners side! Sort of hedging his bet, or maybe having an each way bet until the race is run.

    When you look at the catalouge of horrors the Germans and Japanese carried out it appears forgiveness could never be contemplated or given; you could be like my uncle, who ensures his family don't by anything Geman or Japanese, but where would the rest of us be, without the VW, BMW, Fiat, Hitachi, Komatsu, Honda, JVC etc, I could go on. However, as Chiam Herzog says, "I do not bring forgiveness with me, nor forgetfulness. The only ones who can forgive are dead; the living have no right to forget".

    So the short endof this is, whilst we should endevour to forgive, we should never forget. We don't want our children and grandchildren to go through the same valley again and again.

    Forgive your enemies, but never forget their names.
    John F. Kennedy

Share This Page