Should Old Veterans Forgive Their Former Enemies?

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

  1. PA. Dutchman

    PA. Dutchman Senior Member

    I agree with you completely. My first year out of work after 36 years for one employer I volunteered at our local Elementary School. Believe me American children ARE NOT GETTING the History we got. I learned in a History Class in 3 RD grade my father was at the Attack at HICKAM on 12/7/1941 when our teacher read his interview on 12/7/1956.

    The teacher left his name out and then announced to us 3RD graders, "that young airman's son is in our class today and it is you Gregg!"

    That night at supper I carefully asked him if it was true. He was as surprised as I was and asked me "who told you this?" I told him and he admitted yes he had been there. He lost several long time and dear friends moments into the Attack.

    We got a Christmas Card every year from his closest friends parents until one day they joined their son in Glory.

    The children I worked with never heard or learned anything of our countries past or conflicts. Unless they know and understand as you said we may find ourselves in another war. Many of the WWII Veterans are leaving us and soon we their children will be gone. Then we will have a generation of Obamas who never even joined the Boy Scouts.

    I offered to give the original 1956 interview to republish this year to our local newspaper. The editor after reading my letter asked me to write my story as well. That day several Veterans called me I never met to say THANK YOU, THANK YOU FOR REMINDING OUR COMMUNITY and remembering us.

    I have included his two closest friends killed almost immediately. Garrett's parents sent my parents the Christmas Card.

    Attached Files:

  2. Ray Hanson

    Ray Hanson Member

    Another issue to consider is can a Veteran forgive himself. ...................

    .......................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.

    My father fought through the Normandy campaign as an infantryman and experienced many of the horrors so eloquently related by Sapper and others. He and a comrade assaulted a house. As they burst in a German soldier appeared and they shot him. After clearing the house they realised that the German was not carrying a weapon and, they surmised, had been trying to surrender. My father regretted the action but never felt guilty, in his mind when he pulled the trigger it was kill or be killed. His comrade however broke down and was unable to continue.

    He also told me that on two occasions he saw clear evidence of prisoners having been murdered by allied troops. He told me these stories in response to a TV programme about the murder of prisoners by German troops. His point was that all armies have men capable of such things. The only difference being that such things were sanctioned, even encouraged, by the Nazi chain of command and their ideology in a way which never was by any of the western allies. One of the reasons he hated war was not just because of the horrors of battle, but because it can turn some otherwise decent men into brutes.

    So we should never forgive those chains of command, or the cultures that sanction such things, but that is not the same as hating individuals. Hate takes us down a very slippery slope so nor should we forget or forgive our own transgressions, otherwise we become as bad as 'them'.
    Heimbrent and Za Rodinu like this.
  3. Jedburgh22

    Jedburgh22 Very Senior Member

    I think it was Churchill who said that those that forget their history are doomed to relive it, it is important that our children are taught what happened and why it happened.
  4. PA. Dutchman

    PA. Dutchman Senior Member

    Ray your father really put it all together very well, all armies had individuals capable of such crimes. A friend of ours is German and told us how the American and Allied troops allowed thousands of German POWs to be exposed to rain and cold and provided a minimum of food and water. Many died. I had not heard of this and yet I found the event, it was toward the end of the war and Americans authorities had done this.

    I haven't had to deal with an enemy soldier but our immediate family was the victim of a serious crime, a 1 ST Degree Felony.

    I hated the individual until it nearly destroyed me and our family. I had to forgive the individual, however I will never forget the experience or the crime. Those memories sometimes help me to help others to deal with similar experiences.

    No forgiving was the right thing and remembering to the extent you can help others worked for me.

    This link, if you take your time, will provide information of Allied and Axis Forces committing all kinds of questionable things during the war in all the theaters of the war.

    George Duncan's Historical Facts of WWII
  5. Tab

    Tab Senior Member

    The Germans have put up there hands and said that what was done in our name was wrong. The Japanese on the other hand still go around blaming every one else for what happened in their name. Now I have met many a Japanese person and they are nice people, but until they can admit they were wrong I will still avoid buying Japanese goods as much as possible.
  6. PA. Dutchman

    PA. Dutchman Senior Member

    There is enough blame to go around. I have read many times how many German were taken captive at Stalingrad and only 5,000 returned to Germany. No seems to remember that more than 3 MILLION Russians died in German POW camps. One camp had a German guard disappear when he was eaten by the Russian POWs. The Japanese had the WORSE RECORDS OF ANY MILITARY FORCE in the treatment of POWs. Yet they seemed to have gotten off with the less punishment.

    This is the story our German friend told us about, I only meant that all the Allied and American forces were capable of such cruelties
  7. John Lawson

    John Lawson Arte et Marte

    Hi PA Dutchman,

    I see you must have some sympathy, or empathy or forgiveness for the Germans of that period; well that's probably not a bad thing after all these years or maybe you are just reporting the information contained in the documentation which you have found.

    I too know of a desperate, tenacious formation of men who, outflanked, outmanuvoured, dirty, hungry, running low on everything but a dogged belief in themselves, were herded back into a cauldron where everything was crushed out of them but their indominitable spirit.

    They were searched and stripped of all personal posessions treated in a demeaning and degrading manner; they were run until they dropped and some we executed at the side of the road, where the local population had left water and bread, which their captors kicked over and stamped on, in front of them, in order to demoralise them even further.

    At night they 'slept' in fields in the rain, huddled together for safety and warmth, where if lucky, they could scrounge vegetables to eat raw.

    With clothes falling of them, so some had to run/march naked through enemy towns/streets, where the population turned out to throw shit - yes shit - and rubbish at them until they reached the POW camps laid out for them.

    This was the fate of my grandfather and his comrades who fought with the 51 Highland Division in 1940.

    I too took prisoners during Gulf War 1. I was there to do a job, and I did it, but when the job's done, you don't have to treat people like shit. You show them that you are greater, not lesser, than they; as we all knew what would have happened to us if the boot had been on the other foot.

    Captives always appear to be supplicant pathetic people but as W.S Churchill said - "a prisoner is a person who was trying to kill you but when he can't, he puts his hands up and asks you to look after him" or something to that effect.

    We're only human and a product of the society in which we are raised with beliefs and loyalties bred into us by our family, friends and country and therefore you do what's best, as you see it, at that time.

    I lived in West Germany for 18 years and made many friends with Gemans who worked in our workshops and understand what the have tried to atone for. But look at what was East Germany, and in particular the Balkans and East Europe, scratch the surface and you see ethnic/clan hatereds all over the place.
  8. Wills

    Wills Very Senior Member

    Churchill could speak with authority on prisoners of war - having himself been a POW. 'A POW is a man who tries to kill you and fails, he then asks you not to kill him' (WSC)

    Some met justice swiftly:


    General Anton Dostler faces firing squad 1 December 1944 Alversa, Italy.
  9. John Lawson

    John Lawson Arte et Marte

    Hi PA Dutchman,:poppy:

    Having read your #306 again - well it doesn't put Ike in the good books, if true, it's the first time I've heard of this.:unsure:

    Him being a Jew and all that. I've just read another thread that included what the Zionists did to the Palestinians and British forces during their expanionist, terrorist, activities to secure Palaestine for themselves.:confused:

    The Jewish peoples of Europe had a horrific time under the Germans, directed by the Nazis's. However, does that mean it exempts the Jews and gives them carte blanche to have a go at anyone and everyone that disagrees with them or their policies.

    I mention this as an Englishman, whose country, and people, seem to be continuously assailed by people giving us a hard time and laying the blame at our door for everything from slavery (black Africans to America), subjegation & taxation of free peoples (War of Independance), the economic rape of India and Africa, rasicsm against anyone who turns up at our borders to gain access (including international terrorists rom the Middle East and the sub-continent or mass murderers from Africa), the list could go on forever and proably does!

    At what point do we call an end to the flagellation of countries who we have warred against. Speaking as an Englishman, I'd better watch out as we seem to have had a war with most, if not all, the countries of the world a one time or another.

    If Ikes' thing is about holding a grudge then, not on the same scale though, Edward I, I believe, found he could not repay the loans he had taken out with the English Jewish community, to fund his Scottish wars, so he invited the ones he had borrowed off to York, and killed them! Is that the way to write off foreign debt? I don't think so. Ah, yes the Scots, they were always inviting each other to parties and then stabbing whole clans to death.

    Perhaps Ike just wanted revenge, I can understand that, after a war such as that generation had been through, it might not be commendable, but it is understandable.

    The memory of an atrocity can last for generations, and quite rightly so, but the requirement to exact a never ending and excessive toll for it is wrong, 'cos where would it stop!

    Quite dissappointed with ole Ike after reading all that.:(
  10. Jen'sHusband

    Jen'sHusband Punchbag

    Quite simply, I don't think it's up to non-veterans to decide whether they should or should not forgive their former enemies. It's their choice (after all, they fought for choice!).

    If they choose to forgive, good on them.
    If they don't then fine. I can see why not.
  11. PA. Dutchman

    PA. Dutchman Senior Member

    People are people and you find all kinds among all the people groups or tribes.

    My father was at Hickam on 12/7/1941 and fought in the Pacific. Within moments of the first planes coming over Hickam he lost two close friends and many more the next few years.

    When my wife and I married my Best Mans wife is Japanese and I thought I better mention that to him.

    He said "There comes a time you have to put this behind you and go on with your life".

    The two of them got along wonderfully at the wedding.

    That is not to say there are still some people who don't even think or realize what they did is and will always be wrong. God will have to deal with those individuals.
  12. John Lawson

    John Lawson Arte et Marte

    Hello Fruitcake,

    True, I'm not a veteran of WW2 but I am a veteran 22 year regular and, as I have said on another thread, I've seen some shit during my service.

    Perhaps as a regular professional soldier, I may view things differently to people called up for service in WW2, but I can still understand the hurt and grief they carry inside of them, but you do your job, face front and carry on, 'cos you never know where Her Majesties Government will send you next or who you will face, maybe an ex-ally (e.g. the Balkans/Yugoslavia).

    But you are quite correct Fruitcake, it is up to those who served and suffered at that time and in that conflict to make their choice, my conflicts were different, as all conflicts are.
  13. Son of POW-Escaper

    Son of POW-Escaper Senior Member

    Re-posting this message from another thread.

    The photo below shows my father (on the right), arm-in-arm with Oberfeldwebel (Sgt Major) Hermann Glemnitz, at our Toronto home in 1970. Glemnitz had been the chief guard at Stalag Luft 3, home of The Great Escape. He had been a hero in WW1, and was too old to fight during WW2. The Kriegies (Allied POW's) knew and respected Glemnitz as a man who was honest beyond reproach, a fair man to be reckoned with, but most definitely not a Nazi. On the occasion of the 25th reunion of the Ex-RCAF POW Association, it was decided that Glemnitz would be the guest of honor, and he was sent a free plane ticket to fly from his home in Germany to join the event in Toronto. He stayed as a guest in my home for 3 days, and a nicer old gent you could not hope to meet.

    There WERE some good ones.


    P.S. Yes, that is me on the ground in front, age 13.
    Attached Thumbnails
  14. Michael Z

    Michael Z Member

    I wrote this for all the young men that fell....It has been read at remembrance services. Sapper

    Les Fleurs de Normandie.
    On Norman soil, they fought and died.
    Now young men's graves in rows abound.
    In Mother Earth's arms, now sanctified,
    The fragrant flowers of our youth are found.
    And yet, to rise again, as in a distant song.
    Small voices that call, in dead of night.
    Fleeting figures only in our dreams belong.
    Alas, they fade, in dawn's bright light.
    I see them yet, a sad, forgotten throng.
    Shadowed, lost faces, marching on.
    Over dusty roads, and high golden corn.
    The call of long lost friends are borne.
    We must not forget, the flowers of our days,
    Lest they lay unquiet, in numbered graves.
    For we lived, and loved, and life was sweet.
    Still yet, for us, awaits our last retreat.
    Flowers of our youth, now long since past.
    Our sweet autumn days are fading fast.
    We, who are left, flowered in our prime.
    Enjoyed golden moments, on borrowed time.
    Remember our friends, who passed this way.
    For all our tomorrow's, they gave their today's,
    On Utah and Omaha, Juno, Sword and Gold.
    Oh! Dear Lord! See that they grow not old.

    Sapper, that is so beautiful! It brought tears to my eyes.
  15. PA. Dutchman

    PA. Dutchman Senior Member

    Dear Son of a POW,

    My friend Bob Kauffman returned to Europe on the 50 Anniversary of D Day. He met some of the Germans he was fighting in Belgium was invited by their Captain to their Units reunion the following year.

    Bob was a Post Office Employee who did not have the money to make a trip again so soon. His wife lost TWO brothers in the Pacific. One was in a gun position on a ship hit by a suicide bomber. There was NOTHING left to bury or send home.

    He thanked her for allowing him to go back the one time, but she felt too that the money just wasn't there for Bob to go back again so soon.

    Bob explained this to the German Captain and he insisted on paying for Bob's ticket and Bob stayed with their family.

    He has said on several occasions not all the German soldiers were Nazis, some where like American GIs but they were German GIs.

    Several Germans shared that they treated a badly wounded American GI, but he died and they buried him. One German had personal items from the GI and he asked Bob to try them return to the American's family. Bob was able to do this but the family was not real forgiving at this point yet.

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

    Attached Files:

Share This Page