Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Repeat after me, Nazis are bad

I read this review regarding alien invasion novel Watch on the Rhine with bemusement. In 2005, with the invasion of the earth by evil aliens, the German governments uses high tech to resurrect or make young again....the Waffen SS. Before getting to moral issues, the Nazis did LOSE the war. If you planned to win how about the US Army or the Red Army since, they you know, won. The moral problem is that the Waffen SS were the Nazi's Nazis. Real racist killers. I thought maybe the reviewer was exaggerating about the book being an attempt to rehabilitate bad guys until I read the Amazon reviews. These kids seem to be buying the misunderstood soldiers line. There is also lots of "in war you must do terrible things," which is a convenient dodge. Down that path lies Abu Ghraib, so no thanks. All those fellows need to pick up Masters of Death which details the role of the SS in the programmatic murder of millions.

In military geek circles, there is a wierd fascination with supposedly superior forces that lost out to "mongrel" forces. The Germans in WW2, the Confederate Army and the Imperial Japanese Navy get lavish attention in military history while the opposing side is often ignored. There are a variety of reasons for this, but I suspect that one is that these armies are perceived as somehow more martial and virtuous. All I know is they lost, so in addition to being on the wrong side morally, they are failed models for military success.


Brack said...

From what little I understand (an amount not likely to increqase in the near future since I gave you my only book on the topic without reading it first), some of the very attributes (discipline, devotion to order and hierarchy) that made the German General Staff such a tremendously potent institution in some respects ultimately led to its downfall, since (1) the organization eschewed the best interests of the nation or even reasoned self-interest in favor of "oaths" and "duty" to A. Schickelgruber, and (2) it was unable to adapt to the evolving nature of warfare. Perhaps the oath-worship has something to do with the Prussian origins of the General Staff. The institutional rigidity seems to have cost them both WW1 and 2, although I have read somewhere that the WW1 armistice was really driven more by the Brits punching through the Balkans than anything that happened on the Western front.

Anyway, not that I'm drawing any comparisons between CENTCOM and the GS, much less between B43 and the failed Austrian painter, but one need look no further than the confluence of the Tigris and Euphrates to see how difficult it can be to allow military doctrine to evolve.

Tripp said...

Ernest May in Strange Victory presented three models for the German military, all involving increasing control over policy. His point was to show how Hitler came to dominate the military and move out elements that might try to shape his policy. Interesting reading.