Did a Nazi war criminal become an American folk hero?
Posted: 14 November 2008 11:11 AM   [ Ignore ]  
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Last night I watched NOVA on PBS re. Sputnik and the beginning of the U.S. space program.  There was footage of Wernher von Braun, scientist, SS officer, and member of the Nazi party working with collegues to produce Hitler’s V-2 rocket during WW II.

After the war, von Braun and other members of his team came to the U.S. to continue their work.  Eventually he was on the cover of Time Magazine - the father of the U.S. space program and a national hero.

I thought of the Spielberg’s movie, ‘Schindler’s List’ and wondered if that kind of film could be made about von Braun.

Without doubt he must have toured the facility where the V-2’s were being mass produced - the Dora V-2 cave complex.  He would have been accompanied by an entourage of Hitler’s top brass.  He must have seen the thousands of slave laborers there, and how they were being treated.  I can envision a scene where he is chatting with plant managers, while starving prisoners show him how they are tooling components.  Perhaps while he is there, a prisoner is shot for fumbling, or not working fast enough.  Maybe he sees someone being beaten for daring to speak on behalf of a seriously ill fellow prisoner.

The ‘V’ in V-2 doesn’t stand for ‘victory’.  It stands for vengeance.  When finally these guided missiles were ready toward the end of the war, they were rained down on the civilian populations of Paris, London, and Antwerp.  About 20,000 prisoners died manufacturing the V-2’s, and about 5,000 died from their use on target cities. 

Just as America’s use of the A-bomb against Japan is justified because ‘it hastened Japan’s surrender and thus saved lives,’ some historians, maybe including Churchill, point out that Hitler’s V-2 program drained resources away from the Nazi production of war planes and other more effective weapons - tried and true weapons that would have enabled Germany to hold out longer.

We hear a lot about Auschwitz and other death camps, but not much about the Dora V-2 Cave Complex where 20,000 people were starved, beaten, worked to death, and buried in mass graves.

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/User:Motorfix/Sandbox

[ Edited: 14 November 2008 11:16 AM by unsmoked]
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Posted: 14 November 2008 01:51 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 1 ]  
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War-criminal is such an unreliable term, mainly because it is only allowed to be used by the victors.

That smiling, congenial B actor who once inhabited the White House, who is adored by most on the right, was a war-criminal as is the current retard-in-charge of our shiny nation, as were Roosevelt and Truman and Churchill for incinerating civilians by the millions, as was Jackson for slaughtering the native Americans, as was…. need I go on?

That little, and little-dicked, French prick who so loved to wage war on France’s allies and foes made a good point when he said that history is a pack of lies we all agree upon.

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Posted: 15 November 2008 06:34 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 2 ]  
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Many Nazis were simply too useful for the US and USSR to not employ after the war. America protected Klaus Barbie, one of the worst of the worst, for decades after the war. Incidentally, the defense at Barbie’s trial made a similar argument to Sander’s, that of equivalency to other colonialists, which I think doesn’t wash. I don’t want to excuse the excesses of the allies in World War Two but nothing was as dangerous or destructive as fascism, and as much as we should never repeat Dresden, Nagasaki, internment, etc., we should also never allow fascism to gain a serious foothold in the world again.

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Posted: 15 November 2008 07:33 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 3 ]  
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Abu Sayf Al-Naziri - 15 November 2008 11:34 AM

the defense at Barbie’s trial made a similar argument to Sander’s, that of equivalency to other colonialists, which I think doesn’t wash.

Abu, that wasn’t my point.
I don’t equate fascism with liberal democracy.
My beef is with the selective use of the term war-criminal and the curious way that people re-write their own history.

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Posted: 15 November 2008 12:20 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 4 ]  
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Sander - 14 November 2008 06:51 PM

War-criminal is such an unreliable term, mainly because it is only allowed to be used by the victors.

That smiling, congenial B actor who once inhabited the White House, who is adored by most on the right, was a war-criminal as is the current retard-in-charge of our shiny nation, as were Roosevelt and Truman and Churchill for incinerating civilians by the millions, as was Jackson for slaughtering the native Americans, as was…. need I go on?

That little, and little-dicked, French prick who so loved to wage war on France’s allies and foes made a good point when he said that history is a pack of lies we all agree upon.

Christians say that the Bible is a historical record.  The Book of Numbers, chapter 31, makes it clear, in anyone’s language, that Moses was a war criminal.  Wherever the Ten Commandments are posted, or engraved in stone as a public monument, Numbers 31 should be posted there too.

http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/num/31.html

Hitler’s architect, Albert Speer, visited the Dora Cave Complex where the V-2’s were being mass-produced and described the conditions for the prisoners as “barbarous” and said his men “were so affected that they had to be forcibly sent off on vacations to restore their nerves.”

“Children who arrived with the groups of prisoners were beaten to death in the camp yard because they were too young to work.”  When prisoners at Buchenwald heard that they were to be sent to Dora, many committed suicide.  They had heard what it was like.  Wernher von Braun visited Dora a number of times to tour V-2 production, and was fully aware of conditions.

There is a quote by Carl Sagen at this WEB site:

http://cndyorks.gn.apc.org/yspace/articles/nazis.htm

Note on Sander’s comments: Ronald Reagan played a part in the torture and murder of untold thousands of Mayan peasants in Guatamala.  During his watch, the CIA provided training and funds for the military junta there.  Europeans had destroyed the jungle homeland of these peasants, replacing the forest with vast coffee plantations.  They used the disenfranchised native people like indentured farm workers.  The Mayans were trying to organize, asking for a small garden plot of their own to help feed their families.  Communism!  Castro’s influence!  Freedom!  Democracy!

http://silenceonthemountain.com  (an investigative, low-keyed award-winning book - not Marxist)

[ Edited: 15 November 2008 12:29 PM by unsmoked]
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Posted: 16 November 2008 06:52 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 5 ]  
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‘War-criminal is such an unreliable term, mainly because it is only allowed to be used by the victors’

THE point. Whoever wins writes the history books and defines everybody else how they want to on the losing side. The guy that won is a liberator, but the guy that lost is a war criminal.

If one is to call Von Braun or Speer war criminals how is Oppenheimer not? Macnamara and Johnson?

Death of civilians is collateral damage to the victors but considered terrorism when involked by the losers.

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Posted: 16 November 2008 08:10 AM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 6 ]  
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Whoa, this is a heavy thread.  gulp

Can the war criminal be separated from his good deeds? Can the history books make note of both their human accomplishments and their atrocities? The American history books gloss over the war crimes by putting them in an ethnocentric perspective. Ronald Reagan did this and that because it was for the best interest of the country…

As for Moses, I read the link to Numbers. Wow!

check this out.

http://thinkprogress.org/2008/07/23/lieberman-hagee/

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Posted: 16 November 2008 12:18 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 7 ]  
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unsmoked - 15 November 2008 05:20 PM

Christians say that the Bible is a historical record.  The Book of Numbers, chapter 31, makes it clear, in anyone’s language, that Moses was a war criminal.  Wherever the Ten Commandments are posted, or engraved in stone as a public monument, Numbers 31 should be posted there too.

http://skepticsannotatedbible.com/num/31.html

Hitler’s architect, Albert Speer, visited the Dora Cave Complex where the V-2’s were being mass-produced and described the conditions for the prisoners as “barbarous” and said his men “were so affected that they had to be forcibly sent off on vacations to restore their nerves.”

“Children who arrived with the groups of prisoners were beaten to death in the camp yard because they were too young to work.”  When prisoners at Buchenwald heard that they were to be sent to Dora, many committed suicide.  They had heard what it was like.  Wernher von Braun visited Dora a number of times to tour V-2 production, and was fully aware of conditions.

In the Book of Numbers, chapter 31, we learn that Moses had his soldiers slaughter thousands of women and children who had been taken captive during the war with Midian.  (The men had already been slaughtered before the long march).  Apparently over a hundred thousand married women and their boy children of any age were all hacked to death with swords.  The remaining 32 thousand virgin girls were spared and divided among the soldiers, with a few being ‘reserved for God.’  (?)

Could Moses’ massacre of civilian prisoners described in Numbers 31 be unlike the death of the children beaten to death in the Nazi prison yard at Dora - the V-2 Cave Complex?

On the other hand, the countless Guatamalans who were seized by the military junta during the Reagan era were slowly tortured to death - finished off when they had no more ‘land reform suspects’ (sympathetic friends and relatives) to name, after which the bodies ‘disappeared’.  Those who had been named were rounded up for torture and death. 

If Moses was put on trial, would his defense counsel argue that at least he killed his victims quickly?  Reagan’s defense was that he didn’t know about the torture in Guatamala; or, “I can’t remember.”

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Posted: 16 November 2008 01:34 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 8 ]  
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America doesn’t need to import war criminals, it has it’s own.  As late as the summer of 1945 IBM was doing business (in neutral Switzerland) with the SS. IBM was paid for coding technology which was the precursor of the bar code. The numeric tattoos on the forearms of those in the infamous camps were being deciphered by IBM. Well, war has always been big business right? I guess that makes it big blue business. 

IBM knowingly and willingly provided this tracking technology to an enemy of the USA.  The SS could then sort the gays, the communists, the Jews, the Gypsies, etcetera in the camps before the work camps, killings and incinerations.  A treasonable offence surely, or even a war crime?  Nope just perfectly rational ‘business as usual’.

But history belongs to those who write it - can’t remember who said that, was it George Santayana? George did say “Those who do not study history are condemned to repeat it.”

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Posted: 16 November 2008 03:15 PM   [ Ignore ]   [ # 9 ]  
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McCreason - 16 November 2008 11:52 AM

Whoever wins writes the history books . . . The guy that won is a liberator, but the guy that lost is a war criminal.

When George W. Bush gets around to building his ‘memorial library’, it isn’t hard to imagine all his ‘glorious accomplishments’ that will be on display. 

Imagine what early U.S. history books would look like if the Royalists had some hand in their authorship!  Most historians agree that about 20 percent of the white male population in the 13 colonies was Royalist.  If we take into account their wives and children, all those who were neutral, all the Quakers, the slaves, this could be half the population of the 13 colonies.

Where the Patriots had the upper hand, the Royalists were disenfranchised, tarred and feathered or worse.  No doubt, war crimes against them were rampant, but in U.S. schools there is hardly a word spoken in history class about that huge portion of the colonial population.  I, for one, didn’t even know there was such a thing as a Royalist population.  I heard about a few treasonable Tories maybe, but that was it. 

After the American/French victory over the British, many black slaves who had fought with the British got passage to the Bahamas and other parts of the Empire, such as Canada, in order to keep their freedom.  Most of those who remained in the fledgling U.S. were reclaimed by their owners and returned to slavery.  (One hates to imagine how they were treated in such cases).  Many white Royalists fled to Nova Scotia and other parts of Canada - no doubt painfully harassed by Patriots while enroute.

Since many Royalists had prosperous farms and businesses,  it’s not hard to imagine their property being quickly confiscated by the victors - not much to go home to, if they tried, except persecution.  Remind you of anything?

http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Loyalist_(American_Revolution)

(if above WEB page doesn’t come up, Google ‘Royalists during the American Revolution’)

[ Edited: 17 November 2008 10:42 AM by unsmoked]
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