In 1944 no chance was left at sea for the Germans, and the successful blows of the submarine warfare were further reduced. The air war in 1944 put German in an even more distressed condition than the year before.
The decisive problem of the land warfare was the fact that the territory held by the armed forces could now be attacked from all sides. The slogan “fortress Europe”, which Goebbels made use of, hit the mark in the negative sense: the besieged can merely strike blows against the enemies without hitting them decisively; whereas the besiegers can force an issue in their favour as soon as they can diminish the mobility of their enemy from the air and enter the “fortress” at one point.
The situation of Germany in 1944 was made even worse by the desertion of her allies. Considering the reinforcement of the opposite side, the reserves of manpower proved too small; the fuel supply in Rumania as well as in the homeland received such blows in April/March, 1944, that the arising deficiency as such sufficed to lead to the catastrophe. The same applies to the breakdown of war economy after the loss of Upper Silesia (January, 1945).
Resistance continued until May, 1945, which is partly explained by the fact that all branches of the armed forces fought to the last in their conviction that resistance was still sensible, and partly by the strategy of able generals who prevented defeats like that of Stalingrad (e.g. retreat from Finland and from the Balkan, encirclement of Falaise etc.); after these achievements, they could deem to have served the nation, but they had only given Hitler the opportunity to pursue a war that was de facto lost a long while ago. This is the real tragedy both of the soldiers and of the generals.
It is certain that Hitler received detailed information about everything. If he drew false conclusions, he alone is to blame; for no one existed any more to whose advice or warnings he would have been prepared to listen. His will had turned to stubbornness seeking an outlet in fits of rage. The testimony of colonel general Jodl shows that Hitler’s confidence in the final victory was already shaken in 1942 and that he faced the possibility of a total defeat from 1943 on. By one or the other plane of consciousness at the same time, however, he inhibited this knowledge and clung “fanatically” to the idea that there might still be an unforeseen turn. Through this Hitler became a “prolonger of war” whose rigidity dragged millions of people to death, in a war which was, as his own deeper insight also told him, already lost. This is perhaps the most serious and aggravating among the charges that history has to put against him.

English summary taken from
Schramm, Percy Ernst: Das Ende des Krieges
in: Die deutsche militärische Führung in der Kriegswende. - Köln [et al.]: Westdeutscher Verl., 1964

highlights by me
Soldat français!

Tu as gagné la guerre, il faut gagner la paix. De ton comportement actuel dépend le sort de tes enfants.

Tout Allemand, de tout âge, de tout sexe, est un ennemi, auquel toud les moyens sont bons.
- L’enfant, la femme, le vieillard qui implore ta pitiésont les agents de Nazis.
- Les Antifascistes incarcérés dans des prisons sont les cadres du Parti, camouflés es mis à l’abri pour la revanche.

L’Allemand a organisé la résistance depuis de longs mois.
- Méfie-toi du terrain où tu mets le pied.
- De’eau que tu bois,
- De la femme qui te sourit.
- De l’Etranger soi-disant ami, c’est un agent Nazi.

C’est pourquoi tout contact avec un Allemand t’est interdit et des mesures de sécurité te sont imposées.
- Ne te laisse pas attirer dans leur maisons
- Tous les établissements allemands sont consignés. N’y va pas, ta vie en dépend.
- Ne circule jamais sel et toujours en armes.
- Agent des Transmissions, estafette, méfie-toi, tu est spécialement ménacé du fait de ta mission
- Surveille tes paroles, garde tes armes.
- Soit toujours porteur de tes pièces d’identité.

Okay, I can understand being careful in an enemy country, but please!

Besides, I could write whole pages about this "You have won the war..." Yeah sure, the French were very successful in WW2. And in WW1. And in every war France and Germany fought against each other ever since 1870...
Don't get me wrong, I admire the French. It takes a lot of talent to lose all kinds of wars and still be on the winning side in the end. ;-)
I'm always surprised to see how much I don't know about German history.
For example, The night of the long knives was unknown to me until I found a book about it today.
I just wrote myself into the school history.
All my predecessors are in there, mentioned on the date when they started to work here or left, so I don't see why I can't do it. But it's weird.

My coworker who sells computers gave me three options. I have one I favor, but I'll just give you the details and see what you say. (Without prices because they're all within my range, and I don't think it makes sense to buy something cheap and realise half a year later it'd have been better to spend a bit more.)

Here goes:
three notebooks behind cut )
Oh my, I can't believe I typed this all up. Anyway. So that's the choice. I know there are a million notebooks out there, but if you know and work with somebody who sells the stuff it's kind of natural to ask them and then it's only fair to buy from them, too. Especially as this is a good way to get all kinds of software, and of course good service.

I watched "Anna and the King" yesterday. *sigh* I saw it in the movie theatre before, but isn't it just lovely? And it isn't a totally unrealistic romantic movie with everything falling into little Anna Leonowens' lap and a royal marriage in the end. The girl who was given to the king as a present by her parents did get killed when she ran away to her former lover. (who got killed as well, which is kinda sad for him as he was in a cloister and she had joined him dressed as a monk, so he apparently never knew who she was so it isn't as if he had any advantage out of it.) The king saves his face, despite his personal wishes.

It was interesting to see it again, and it made me think.
Back then, the Europeans were so sure about how their way of life is right and the only one.
And the foreign customs, especially polygamy, is bad and barbaric and whatnot.
But if you are king in a country where many children die, and where you always have to beware of people trying to kill you, well, having many children is a way to ensure your line will continue. And also, in Europe as well as elsewhere marriage has been considered a good way to strenghten alliances. And if your religion allows polygamy (it's the same with muslims, Muhammed had lots of wives for the same reason), people who want to get on your good side might just have an attractive daughter to marry off to you. And if you'd say no, that'd be breaking the alliance and probably gaining an enemy.
And also, if you come from a poor family and just happen to be very attractive, maybe becoming the king's 30th wife might not be the greatest fate on earth, but it provides food on a regular basis and a pretty nice place to sleep.
And if the king is a bastard, at least you don't have his full attention. And the responsibility of producing an heir is not all on your shoulders. That's an advantage the European princesses didn't have.
Also, to be considered god-like isn't all fun. If you're god-like, then you're personally responsible for any failing crop, bad weather or evil omens. And you can't make mistakes.

It's a pity some colonial empires didn't really try to work with the cultures they found. The British weren't bad, actually. Or at least not bad everywhere and all the time. If you're expanding by ways of trade, you usually get along much better if you can work with stable local governments, and as long as their ways allow what you need, there's no reason to make them change. As far as I can see, the Spanish were quite different. But then they were much more religiously motivated (or pretended to be), and didn't have the educate-to-a-modern-society-and-let-become-independed approach the British had in many colonies. (How they felt about coming to that aim is a different matter, but the British did start with the idea that their task is to make their colonies work as modern nations in their own right.)

Anyway. I'm hungry, need to go shopping.


Aug. 13th, 2004 11:25 pm
The Olympian torch is burning again. In former times, whole Hellas would have kept peace for the time of the Olympic games. To demand world peace while the torch is burning would be too much to ask. But watching the opening ceremonies gave me the idea that there might be hope yet.
202 teams were gathered there. I didn't say 202 nations, as there were some teams without an officially acknowledged state.
Palestine has an own team, as has Taiwan. (It's called Chinese Taipei, and they aren't allowed to use their flag an anthem, but they are still there.)
Corea, again, has come with only one team for both states. Hongkong still has an own team, which surprised me quite a bit.
Serbia and Montenegro were, for the first time, one team.
Apart from Greece, I think the most applause and standing ovations were given to Iraq, finally being allowed at the Olympic Games again.
It is also interesting to see all these small states. Have you ever heard of Nauru? Or Timor-Leste? Some teams had only one athlete, but several officials. Looks really interesting walking in.
The event was great. They had a lot of fireworks, starting with the 5 rings burning. They had the stadium filled with water for a while. The coreography was very interesting, bridging the antique Olympia to today and remembering what Greece gave to the world, from sciences to politics.
It was definitely worth watching. Even for people who don't care much about sports.
This has been an interesting day.
I have spent most of the morning on the computer, trying to catch up with everything I missed yesterday. I read a [ profile] theferrett's account of his trip to Washington with his daughter and the discussion about the Holocaust he and [ profile] zoethe had with her. That was great and I had to give some comments. Of course, whenever the topic of Germany comes up I feel I have the right to put in my two cents. The discussion reminded me of things that made me go crazy in school. Like in Latin, we were not supposed to translate the word dux with the German word Führer, even though both mean leader. When spelling, we are supposed to say "double s" instead of "ss". The province I live in, Sachsen-Anhalt, would be best abbreviated SA (as Schleswig-Holstein has SH, Rheinland-Pfalz has RP and Nordrhein-Westfalen has NW). BUt because the combination SA has been used before, Sachsen-Anhalt is ST.
This is no sensible way of dealing with the problem. It trivialises the things that happened, and it blocks the way to an open discussion that is more than the Germans on their knees begging for forgiveness and writing "We are the bad guys" on the blackboard a few hundred times. Forgiveness might not be possible, but hatred and revenge is no way of living, either. The posts of today proved to me that many people outside of Germany don't see the Germans in the light of Bad Guys anymore. It's the Germans who can't grow out of it. And the East Germans are especially bad, because of the different way they dealt with Nazi times in GDR schools.
Sorry, I know I have posted about this several time sbefore, but it just seems to come up again and again.

Anyway, this afternoon I decided to go to a museum in another town, about 10 kilometers from here. As it looked like another thunderstorm was brewing, I wanted to take the car. But it was gone. My brother apparently went on a day trip with my car without even telling me. I love my family! So I went by bike. I took my walkman, and decided with that noise in my ears it was better to take the back roads. There is a path for hiking, and I thought that might be possible by bike, too. Well, at some places, it would have been hard on foot, too. There were weeds growing over it that almost reached my head. Especially stinging nettles, my absolute favorites... Can't be worse than the gnat bites, though. I reached the museum before the rain and was allowed to put the bike inside. Which was also good because I didn't bring my lock. I was just inside when the rain started. Lucky me! Hail to Friday the 13th. I always knew that was a good day for me. And it stayed that way, because by the time I left the museum, it had stopped raining and I came back home dry. Taking a different way, to avoid the weeds. It was hard enough to pull them out of the wheels and everything once. That meant I had to go a longer distance, but mostly on asphalt. I suppose I was faster, also because it was downhill. The museum, unfortunately, is up on a hill.
The exhibition was interesting. They had toys from somewhere late 19th century until the 1960s. Plus, there was the regular exhibit about the history of the area. To go from Slavic cups to dollhouses is quite an experience.
So I feel really good today. I had some exercise, some education, I even did some stitching on this picture I'm making. It's a cat lying in a bookshelf, and I got it for christmas like 2 years ago and never dared to start, it looked so complicated. It is, but I'm doing it bit by bit, and it starts looking like a picture by now.
And now I'm tired. But no sleep anytime soon. Tonight there is the opening celebration for Olympia, and I'm definitely going to watch that. I saw the one from Sydney, too, and that was great. But it's three hours or something, and it starts around eight. Oh, anyway. Tomorrow's weekend. Not that I would have to get up early if it wasn't, though.
I figured it out. It's definitely her annoying style of writing, not the translation. I'm in the 12th chapter now, that means I have fought my way through 248 pages of name dropping, gossip and hurt feelings. But I intend to stick to it until the end. Even though it is a little hard sometimes on such a prudish little girl as I am. The whole book seems to be a huge justification for everything she ever did, making her look as good as possible while putting all the blame on David Bowie. Maybe that was to be expected. But I sit in silent wonder at this lack of self-critizism.

Something completely else:
60 years ago today, Anne Frank and her family were found and deported to German concentration camps.
I suppose just about evrybody has read her diary. We did in school. It was quite annoying, as most of the kids in my class were too immature to really understand what she wrote about. To me, the most striking feature of the book was how similar it was to any average girl's diary, how much Anne Frank tried to live a normal life in that back house in Amsterdam, even though she could never leave it and her life wasn't at all like that of her peers. This strong will to survive made the book special to me.
The general intention with our teachers was of course another lesson in "We bad Germans" and in the question of responsibility. I wrote my opinion about that several times before, I'm not going there again.
Anne Frank is the best way to learn that the victims of the Nazis were humans, with all good and bad sides. They weren't some kind of saints or angels. That doesn't make their lives and deaths less terrible. I'd rather say it makes it more easier to relate to them. They were people just as I am. Anne Frank gave a face and, more importantly, a mind and feelings to one of the many names of victims. That made the terrors of the time between 1933 and 1945 more real for me than anything I could read in history books.
In Paraguay, over 280 people were killed in a supermarket. A fire broke out and the owner, afraid of plundering , closed all entrances. (edit: not plundering, but looting. [ profile] angharad was so nice to correct me. I really appreciate that.) There weren't any fire extinguishers, apparently, so there was no way people could save themselves. The owner is imprisoned now. What kind of person is that? Did he think at all about what would become of the people locked in there? Anything people might have stolen were just things! And what is the difference in getting stuff stolen or burned, anyway? It just doesn't make sense to me.
Going into town today, I saw a car on the other side of the road. At first it looked just like any other accident, but then I saw hat the car had been burning. I wonder whether the driver got out on time. As far as I know, cars don't catch fire that easily. Not like in the action movies. So this is even more strange, as there was no other car in sight that could have been involved in the accident. The road was pretty straight there, too. Nothing special, in good condition, no heavy rain or any other kind of bad weather. It is scary to see that and not knowing what caused it.

This morning I was really upset hearing what our so dear chancellor said on his trip to Poland. He basically said that we were responsible for the war, and that all the other people were victims. OK, first, I don't agree on that question of responsibility. The way the first WW ended, it is pretty obvious from today's point of view that peace couldn't last long. Yes, the Germans did elect Hitler and yes, Hitler decided to attack Poland. But there were other things happening before that, leading to the situation. The Germans didn't just vote for Hitler becasue they didn't have anyhting else to do on a nice Sunday afternoon. They were desperate and humiliated. Hitler promised them a solution for all their problems, and such simple things as work and food. He used the basic fears of humans to reach his aim, and there are politicians today who do just the same. I'm not going to mention names, the former German minister of Justice lost her job because she did. And we don't know how many people read this. *Waving hello to everybody at the CIA*
The other thing: is a dead Polish citizen worth more than a dead German? To me, no matter what their nationality is, they are all humans. They probably had a family, they had friends and people who cared about them. Having the German chancellor say something like this is an insult to all who survived the war and have lost loved ones. The civilians who died in Dresden in 1945, was their death not that bad as that of people in Warsaw, or maybe Hiroshima and Nagasaki?
Then Schröder said he'd give up all claims of restitution of property of the Germans who have been driven out of the former East German territories at the end of the war. Who is he to do that? How nice of him to give up on rights that aren't his anyway. It's not his property he's giving away there. And don't tell me that that Polish and the Russians have put the farms to good use and it would be mean to ask them back, because they didn't. Most of the farms that have been in very good condition in 1945 are mere ruins now. And the people there just go "Oh well, it was all very nice when the Germans were here, but for some reason it all fell apart later. You German, would you like to come back?" whenever a German journalist travels that area.
Let's pretend for a moment that all the Germans living in what is now Poland and Russia were indeed big Nazis and killed every Jew, Sinti, Roma, homosexual, Russian, Polish... they could find. A convicted criminal does not lose his property. He is imprisoned and serves his sentence, and when he is set free again he can come back to his house and his land. Or if he's sentenced to death, his property falls to his heirs. So even if the landowners in East Prussia were all murderers, that still doesn't give anybody the right to take away what is theirs.
There are organizations trying to get some of the land back, land that isn't used by the current owners. But these people don't want to give it up, they are content to just own it. And politics get in the way, too.
I'm sick and tired of hearing the Germans apologize over and over again. That way, we'll never be able to start an open discussion about the war, the Nazis and what led to both. We'll just keep saying the phrases we learned, without really meaning them. And that way, we might likely end up where we've been before.
60 years ago today, a group of officers in the German army tried to kill Adolf Hitler. As many others who tried before, they failed and were executed.
Our newly elected president (yeah, Germany has a president, too, even though the head of the executive part of the government is our chancellor) said a few very interesting things in his speech about that event. He considers these men to be patriots, and I agree.
They were well educated men who loved their country. Some of them had agreed with Hitler for quite some time before deciding against him. Their actions were based on their moral values and ethics, telling them that what Hitler was doing was wrong. Still they felt bad about killing a person, even though they were soldiers and you'd think that wasn't a problem for them.
There are voice recordings of the trials that tells all there is to know about the officers and about the nazis. The judge, Freissler, was accusing them of high treason, and these men tried to explain what had brought them to their decision, unable to understand that this so-called judge didn't care, that it didn't matter what they said as they had been sentenced to death long before the trial started anyway.
The officers were brave men, but I think they lacked something all these suicide bombers in Israel have. Not the will to die for what they thought was right, but a certain ruthlessness and the disregard of other people's lives. They wanted to get rid of Hitler, and to kill as few other people as possible.
The other thing that comes into my mind is this: what kind of guardian angel does a man like Hitler have to survive all the attempts to kill him? Sometimes he leaves a room just minutes before the bomb blows it up, sometimes he's there but doesn't get hurt. There is no logical explanation for it. It doesn't make any sense at all.
But then again, it kept people from making a martyr out of him. And the fact that he killed himself in the end, leaving the mess he had created behind for others to clean up, not giving a damn about the country he had lead to destruction, says it all. I just found a line in an article in the "Zeit", I've tried to translate it as best as I could:
Hitler was - by the criminal code - the biggest criminal, his state a state of injustice. And there is no high treason possible against a state of injustice.
Warning: the following entry might be considered racist, even though it is not meant that way.

I just finished Segu by Maryse Conde (Original French title: Segou: les murailles de terre).
Basically it is the story of two generations of an African family living in Segu in the nineteenth century. Segu is a real town, on the Niger river.
The thing that is so interesting about the story is the tension between the different cultures clashing in Africa at this time. There were the Christian Europeans, Spanish,French, Portuguese, English, whose religious beliefs didn't keep them from buying and selling slaves, and whose contempt of the black people didn't keep them from impregnating slave women. Then there are the Arabs and Islamic Africans, who try to win over other nations to Muslim belief by any means necessary, just as the Christians babtize anybody they get their hands on (apart from the people they want to sell as slaves, as you can't sell a Christian, of course...). And then, of course, the African nations with their own religions, languages and cultures. I had no idea there were that many different African people in a rather small area. To say the truth, I didn't know much about Africa at all. That's why I like historical novels, you learn something from them.
Anyway, some things in the story really got me thinking. I knew before that some Africans tried to profit from the slave trade, selling their prisoners of war or kidnapping people to sell them. I didn't know that slaves were no invention of the whites coming to Africa. There had been some forms of slavery even before that. I didn't know how carefully some people counted the white and the black ancestors of everybody, denying their own African roots and being just as racist as the Europeans, or even more so.
It was no surprise to me to read about how religion was used in political matters. To find an ally, you just change to their religion, and keep your old gods stored away until you can get them out again. That's similar to the Christianization of Europe. There is a story of one monk who gave a new shirt to every person who would get babtized, and only several hundred shirts later realized that people would go right back to the end of the queue after being babtized to get another shirt. For the Germanic people, being dumped into some river had no religious meaning, so it was just a nice way of getting to some new clothes.
But reading that book made me wonder what exactly was wrong in Africa, and how it could be solved. I used to think that the main problem were the borders set up by the colonisation powers, paying no heed to the real borders between different people - see Hutu and Tutsi. Now I think that a main problem is simply development. When the Europeans and the Arabs came, Africa was for the most part on a level close to Stone Age, or maybe Bronze or Iron Age. And from there, they jumped right into industrialization, skipping everything in between. So the minds of the people could not keep up with the rapid changes in their environment. The changes in the minds of the white people didn't make it easier. For a while, the English traded slaves, then they abolished slavery in Great Britain, but kept it up in the colonies. And even while slavery was abolished, it just depended on how much money a slave trader was able to pay to bribe any officer.
The French were similar, first abolishing slavery and then putting it back just when the news of the abolishment had reached the colonies.
So while Africa always seemed like on big mass of land somewhere down there on the map, I now begin to really understand how diverse the continent is. It's not that I didn't know that before. Somewhere in my brain the information did stick. But I never really thought about it until now.
I didn't know either that there were several former slaves from America who managed to get back, bringing yet another influence to that strange mass of thoughts and ideas.
So why did I put that warning in the beginning of this entr, when in truth the only thing it reveals is my complete lack of knowledge of quite a bit of world history and geography? Mainly because of that "Stone/Bronze/Iron Age" comparison. I don't see myself as racist. I don't think I really care about the color of somebody's skin. So this is just stating my perception of the situation. But it might seem like I believe that Africans are a bunch of black morons who are unable to read and write and just communicate by beating a drum. Now for one thing, I never even gt around to understand Morse alphabet, so communicating long distance with drums is pretty cool to me. Also, somebody who is able to survive in Africa must be able to adapt to weird and often bad climatic and environmental situations. Without the European influence, I guess Africa would have developed into an industrial continent, too. But as the initial situation is very different from Europe, that development would have been quite different, too. We're not going to see how it might be. Even if every single person of European origin left Africa right now, you can't just undo several hundred years of interaction and influence.
I need to learn much more about Africa before I'll be able to see the problem from all sides. I only know that there is a problem, when people run amok killing their neighbors, no matter whether one civilian kills another or one army another or an army civilians or whatever. Somehow I don't believe that the development aid from Germany and other European countries really get to the root of the problem. It's just a way to try and fight the symptoms.
But I have no real solution, so I should stop talking nonsense. I'm not sure whether anything of this makes sense, it's just what came into my mind tonight, in no particular order and most likely contradicting myself.
Bear with me, it's getting late, it's terribly sultry and I didn't have much sleep last night.
There are so many different things on my mind today that I couldn't even create a title for them.
For one thing, Apartheid officially ended in South Africa ten years ago.
Yeah right. Just change some laws and people won't think what they have thought for decades. So maybe there isn't a law saying that black people are not allowed to sit in the park, or ride the bus or whatever. But that doesn't mean that white South Africans stopped believing in that. It will take generations to really change. Kids have to grow up without hearing that they are more important thansomebody else just because of the color of their skin. That means that their parents and grandparents have to believe in the equality of the races, too. And that means the kids born in the last ten years most likely have to be grandparents before the end of Apartheid can be seen. And even then there will be some people who still believe that segregation is a good idea.
I can see something similar in Germany. It has been almost 50 years since the end of WWII, but there are so many people around who actually believe that Hitler was not that bad after all. That's a minority, but they still exist. Most people, though, are very careful to be politically correct. That means that in Germany, you should not say aloud that you don't like a person if that person happens to be of foreign origin. It also means that you can't critizise the politics of Israel without being called anti-Semitic.
Germans are so eager in blaming themselves for anything bad going on in the world, it would be ridiculous if it wasn't so sad. I think that habit, which also goes along with trying to be as unpatriotic as possible (some Germans are actually proud of not knowing our National Anthem), has led many young people to rebel against this way of life. Leading them closer to some old admirers of Adolf Hitler.
I guess as long as we don't start talking about Nazi times opnely and get a real discussion going, we will never be able to move on.
Maybe I just don't know about it, but I don't see a huge discussion in the USA about slavery, or in Great Britain about colonial times. So why is it that the Germans always apologize without anybody asking them to? That is no way to live in a nation. You need to develop some kind of patriotism. And German history really is much more than 1933 to 1945.

The other thing that really bothers me this morning is much less solemn.
It's a library thing again. I'm trying to search the Online Catalogue of a large public library. But I can't. Because they allow only a certain number of WWW-access at the same time. And that number is - 10.
Now how ridiculous is that? You don't allow more than 10 people to search your catalogue at the same time???
And this is the town that wanted to get the Olympic Games 2012 for Germany. Maybe it was good we lost. I guess this town would have never been able to manage that amount of people to come and visit. (Michael, I know we talked about that - now don't tell me 'Told ya so...')

I should be learning. But I don't feel like it.
I should be practicing the piece of music I want to play at my sister's wedding. But I don't feel like it.
I should do some housework. But - you might have guessed - I don't feel like it.
Oh, well, get going! Switch off the Computer and do something. Anything.
I guess I'll take my own advice for once.
I don't feel like writing anything else anyway, so it really doesn't matter.



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