This is my personal thoughts, opinions and musings place. I will also rant about things, especially politically-correct things that irritate me. And sci-fi. Did I mention sci-fi? There'll be lots of sci-fi stuff here. And movies, too. Mmmmm... Movies

Monday, May 09, 2005

Heartless history

There was, what I thought, an excellent program showing on the yesterday, about the last ten days of , focusing on ten people who lived through it, and survived, complete with interviews and historical footage, though not of the people showcased. There were no camcorders in those days, after all. One of the people shown was a young German woman living in Berlin during the final days, and especially during the assault on the city. This is the 60th anniversary of the end of that war, after all.

In general, I find it hard to sympasize with the during those last few day. Of course, I understand that life was horrible for them. The constant bombing runs they couldn't even defend against, looting and raping by the rampaging Red Army troops, the lack of basic staples and water, etc, etc, etc. It was terrible, to be sure, especially for those sublimely convinced of the superiority of their own race. Apparently, some German generals wanted to surrender to the even though they were fighting the in the , because they considered the Russians to be their inferiors. I'm sure the irony was lost on them.

But there have to be repercussions when you start a war with those who meant you no ill and kill over seventy million people in the process, including attempts at and classes from the face of the world. And sometimes those repercussions are pretty damn severe. Sublimely convinced of their superiority, the Germans embarked on a program of invasion and extermination across their entire continent, and even into . In those countries they conquered, they brought into power the most corrupt and brutal regimes ever to set foot into the halls of power. Wherever they could, they demanded that be turned over to them, and some regimes balked at that, they simply replaced them with more tractable ones.

It was a terrible war, full of actions and ideas and beliefs that stained entire generations with shame. It had major repercussions on continental politics for 50 years afterwards, and enslaved countless millions under the . One of the problems of communist occupation was that the local communists, the ones enslaving their own countries, were often far worse than the Russian ones. But I digress.

One of the emotions that shows like this always encourage in the viewers is one of feeling sorry for the Germans who endured the last weeks of the war. Somehow, that's not the way it works out for me. I don't feel sorry for them, I feel a sense of vindication, that payback's a bitch. Feel sorry for the Germans? What about the Dutch systematically starved to death by the Germans? What about the Jews and the and the gays and the twins and the weak and the (although I'm of two minds about them) and the Poles and the feebleminded and the countless others who had done absolutely nothing to the Germans. According to show, many of the Germans in wanted to surrender to the or the , not to the Russians. How much of that was knowledge of what the Germans had done in the USSR versus delusions of superiority towards the Russians I don't know.

Having said that, I must admit that I'm ashamed of what the Red Army troops had done in Germany, and especially in Berlin. Of course, what the Germans had done in their country went beyond the pale, but this was a chance for the Russians to show that they're above all that, that they're human beings after all, especially after what they themselves had just done, and continued to do, in their own country. Of course, nobody worried about “” in those days, and specifically targetted civilian centres for demolition through carpet bombing compaigns and rocket attacks.

What the Soviets went on to do in countries they themselves now occupied, and especially targetting those who had fought against the Nazis, was sick, disgusting and more than a little perverted. And all this because one crazy country with delusions of grandeur invaded another country with delusions of adequacy. If it weren't so sad, it would be quite funny.

So who do I feel sorry for in all this mess? I have pity for those who got abandoned in the vile clutches of communism in Eastern Europe, and I feel pity for the generations of West Germans born into shame over something they had nothing to do with. Not too much shame, as it happens: Germany was never asked to appologize, as far as I know. I feel pity for the Russians alive today who still believe they fought for communism(a regime whose attrocities during the Revolution, the civil war that followed it and the purges that came afterwards were so massive and horrible they still to this day hadn't entirely been accounted for), rather than for their country.

But pity for the Germans of that era? Never.

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