entrenched state of denial
Thank you for your contribution.
I would like to pick up on your point that you have "sensed an entrenched state of denial" in some of the postings on this thread. You are absolutely correct. PBI, Salesie, Desdichado and I have tried to influence the perceptions of one particular Forum pal who appears to reside permanently in the mental state you describe. So far, we've failed miserably so I thought I would give it "another go" by extending the analysis slightly.
It seems to me that despite this gentleman's reluctance to accept the facts, German atrocities committed in Belgium and France during The Great War did occur and relatively frequently. This should not surprise anyone . The invasion of Belgium, a small, neutral and peace loving country was in itself an act of great brutality and as such, merely continued a process that began mid way through the 19th century when Chancellor Otto von Bismarck decided that “force not argument” was “the most useful catalyst of change.” (Robin Neillands: The Old Contemptibles”
It began in 1864 with Prussia’s violent settlement of the Schleswig-Holstein controversy, continued with the annexation of Austria and the forceful occupation of Austria’s east German allies: Saxony, Hanover and Hesse-Cassel, before the new “united Germany” turned its attention on France in the shape of the Franco- Prussian War of 1870 –71.
An interesting and highly relevant trait that emerged during this period of German aggression was racism. As Neillands points out, “the Prussians were very intent on excluding non-Germans from their new creation.”
This racist imperative, based on the questionable notion that the German race was superior to all others, was also a dominant force in the thirties when groups like the jews, gypsies and even those who were physically or mentally handicapped were treated as inferior or even subhuman and disposed of in their millions.
The scenes that confronted allied units who freed the inmates of concentration camps like Buchenwald and Belsen were not the figments of someone’s vivid imagination, they were the actions of a nation state whose history is besmirched by periods of extreme violence directed against its neighbours.
Despite all the evidence, however, some have claimed that this didn’t happen, that the allies simply imagined it and used “the lies” as a propaganda tool. The Supreme Allied Commander in WW2 anticipated that this would indeed be the case and insisted that the horror that was the German death camps be recorded because “ somewhere down the track of history, some b-----d will get up and say that this never happened”.
Well, it did happen. It’s historical fact just like the German excesses in places like Dinant and Louvain duringThe Great War. If Germans were capable of "the holocaust" during WW2, its soldiers were certainly capable of killing non-combatants in Belgium or injured allied soldiers on the battlefields of France and Belgium and relieving them of their personal possessions.
This thread began as a study of the practice of stealing the personal possessions of those who had died in battle. In more than four hundred and fifty postings it has meandered somewhat but its continued existence suggests it is still interesting those of us who find a study of human behaviour sometimes depressing but always fascinating.
It is my belief that to shut one's eyes to historical fact renders one's judgements highly questionable or even dismissive.