Blog on the Run: Reloaded

Wednesday, May 8, 2013 6:56 am

Tradition Projection, plus a footnote

Berkeley economist Brad DeLong includes in his blog a valuable daily feature, “Liveblogging World War II.” This is the installment from May 8, 1943 — two years to the day before the war in Europe ended — written by the Nazis’ propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels. The level of projection is mind-boggling, as if Goebbels had consumed magic mushrooms, but it’s also a reminder that there’s a boatload of projection, differing only in scale but not in type, in today’s political dialogue, and that, no, both sides don’t do it.

The War and the Jews

The naivete, not to mention ignorance, with which certain European circles see the Jewish Question in the fourth year of this gigantic struggle is astonishing. They cannot or will not see that this war is a war of the Jewish race and its subject people against Western culture and civilization. Everything that we Germans and Europeans, defenders of the principle of a moral world order, hold dear is at risk. The above-mentioned circles are too inclined to see the Jewish Question as a humanitarian issue. They make their judgments on the feelings of the moment rather than on the knowledge and insight resulting from clear and calm reason.

It is clear that if during this war we show the least weakening of our determination to resolve the Jewish Question, the result will be the gravest danger to our people and Reich and all of Europe.

Jewry wanted this war. Whether one looks to the plutocratic or the bolshevist side of the enemy camp, one sees Jews standing in the foreground as instigators, rabble-rousers and slave drivers. They organize the enemy’s war economy and encourage plans to exterminate and destroy the Axis powers. England and the USA recruit from among them bloodthirsty and vengeful agitators and political lunatics, and they are the source of the terror commissars of the GPU. They are the mortar that holds the enemy coalition together.

In the National Socialist Reich, they see a power that resists their drive for world domination both militarily and intellectually. That explains their rage and deep hatred. Do not think that the Old Testament tirades of their newspapers and radio are merely political propaganda. They would carry it all out to the letter, should they have the opportunity.

Our state’s security requires that we take whatever measures seem necessary to protect the German community from their threat. That leads to some difficult decisions, but they are unavoidable if we are to deal with the threat. This war is a racial war. The Jews started it and they direct it. Their goal to destroy and exterminate our people. We are the only force standing between Jewry and world domination. If the Axis powers lose the war in Europe, no power on earth could save Europe from the Jewish-Bolshevist flood.

It may seem surprising that such a small minority possesses such great power and is such a deadly danger. But it is so. International Jewry uses certain criminal methods to gain world domination that are not evident to uneducated nations. The same is true in private life. The Jews do not enjoy economic success because they are more intelligent than non-Jews, but rather because they follow a different moral code. They attempt to conceal their methods for as long as possible, until it is too late for the affected nation to defend itself. Then it takes a revolution to dislodge them. We know how difficult and tiresome that is.

We constantly hear news that anti-Semitism is increasing in enemy nations. The charges being made against the Jews are the same ones that were made here. Anti-Semitism in enemy nations is not the result of anti-Semitic propaganda, since Jewry fights that strongly. In the Soviet Union, it receives the death penalty. Jewry does all it can to oppose anti-Semitism. The word Jew itself, for example, is hardly to be found in the otherwise so talkative English and USA newspapers, not to mention the Bolshevist press. Still, anti-Jewish attitudes are growing among the enemy public. This is an entirely natural reaction to the Jewish danger on the part of the affected peoples. In the long run, it does the Jews no good to plead in parliament and the newspapers for tougher laws against anti-Semitism, or to haul out the highest secular and spiritual dignitaries, among them naturally the Archbishop of Canterbury, to say a good word for the poor innocent persecuted Jews. They did that in Germany before 1933 too, but the National Socialist revolution took place nonetheless.

None of the Führer’s prophetic words has come so inevitably true as his prediction that if Jewry succeeded in provoking a second world war, the result would be not the destruction of the Aryan race, but rather the wiping out of the Jewish race. This process is of vast importance, and will have unforeseeable consequences that will require time. But it can no longer be halted. It must only be guided in the right direction. One must also be sure to strike the weapon of public deception from Jewry’s hands, which it is desperately using to save its skin. One can already see that in the face of approaching catastrophe the Jews are shrinking into the background. They send their pet Goy to the fore. It will not be long before they will not want to do it any longer, and wash their hands in innocence.

As one has to grant, we have some experience in these matters, and are taking action to be sure they do not succeed. The Jews will have to answer for their countless crimes against the happiness and peace of mankind, and one day the whole world will give them the penalty that they are suffering today in Germany. We speak without resentment. The time is too grave to spin naive plans of revenge. This is a world problem of the first order that can be solved by the present generation, and must be solved by them. Sentimental considerations have no part here. We see Jewry as the embodiment of a general world decline. Either we will break this danger, or the peoples of the world will break under it.

No one should say that winners are boastful. At present, we are the victors only in our own nation. Our victory at home, however, drew upon us the diabolic hatred of World Jewry, whose advance members the Jews still with us see themselves as. They want to see the Axis powers defeated, for that is the only way for them to regain their old privileges. It makes sense for us to secure our rear so that we can continue the battle before us with full energy and enthusiasm.

When dealing with the Jews there are only two choices: to surrender to them or to fight them. We have chosen the latter. As our enemy attacks without mercy, so do we. The future will prove who is right. Developments to far, however, seem to be more in our favor than the enemy’s. Opposition to the Jews, not friendship with them, is growing around the world. We are convinced that at the end of the war, Jewry will face a humanity that fully understands the Jewish Question.

Recently a leading London newspaper, which is wholly under Jewish control, printed an article that wondered at the alarming increase in anti-Semitism. It received many letters in response, and had to admit that only a tiny percentage took the Jewish side. The pro-Semitic letters, though the newspaper did not say this, probably were written by the Jews themselves. The others made the strongest attacks on Jewry, and the readership forced the paper to print some of them. They included all the insults one could hope for. This anti-Semitism is not racially grounded, and its roots are not at all clear, but one may still establish with some satisfaction that healthy popular instincts are beginning to manifest themselves even in enemy nations, Things are not much different in the United States. One of the letters encouraged the newspaper to send reporters to streetcars and trains. There they would hear numerous opinions about the Jews that deserved more than ironic dismissal.

That is the way it normally begins. The Jews in England are reacting in the usual ways. First they look injured and unjustly persecuted. In the synagogues, the rabbis encourage people to be more careful in public, and to avoid provocative behavior. Then they rent a few respected, but buyable leaders from society, business or religious life to make their case. Their well-paid job is to condemn anti-Semitism as a cultural disgrace that is the result of enemy propaganda. They call for stronger laws against it. The poor Jews whine in public about everything they have done for the country, what wonderful and patriotic citizens they have always been and will continue to be, the important offices they hold, etc. The innocent citizen is persuaded by a flood of words that he must have been mistaken in always seeing Jews behind all major political or economic crimes. Soon they find some high church leader who is ready to condemn anti-Semitism as anti-Christian. By the end, not the Jews, but their enemies are responsible for every national misfortune. Then the game starts all over again.

One has to grant that extraordinarily clever tactics are being used, and that it takes some intelligence or sound instincts to see behind the Jewish facade. But here, too, the jug carries water until it breaks. International Jewry’s attack on the culture and moral order of the world is cleverly concealed, but not cleverly enough so that it cannot be seen through. One must keep at their heels, and give them no rest when they begin to tire. They are virtuosos at the art of transformation. They can appear in a thousand forms, yet are always the same. If one has caught them, they claim injured innocence and send their guard of pity on ahead to beg for mercy. But if one extends them even a finger of pity, they chop the whole hand off. They must therefore be kept in the fear of the Lord.

We know that they hate us from the depths of their souls. We take pleasure in their hatred. There is nothing that they would not do to us if they had the power. We cannot therefore give them even the slightest bit of power. More than that, it is our duty to tell the world of their nature and their depravity. We must again and again prove their sick role in beginning and carry on this war. We must attack them incessantly, accuse them without pity of the crimes of which they are guilty, until the nations begin to wake up. That may take a long time, but it is worth it. We are dealing with the most dangerous enemy that ever threatened the life, freedom, and dignity of humanity. There can be no mercy. We have pity only for the countless millions of our own people and those of other European nations who will be given over to the hate and destructive will of this devilish race if we become weak and give up the battle. Those Philistines who today are so eager to protect the Jews would be their first victims.

We must all keep alert. We must be on guard against the insidious cleverness of the international world enemy. In the depths of his soul, he realizes that this war that he so frivolously began, expecting it to be the last step to world domination, has instead become a war for his racial existence. He desperately seeks to stop the inevitable march of events. It will do him no good. We will keep at him. In the end, the Führer’s prophecy about World Jewry in 1939, which they laughed at then, will come true.

The Jews laughed in Germany too when they first saw us. They are not laughing any longer. They chose to wage war against us. But that war is turning against them. When they planned a war to totally destroy the German nation, they signed their own death warrant.

Here, too, world history will be the world court.

A footnote: My Uncle Frank, who, as a 19-year-old Army lieutenant in Germany, witnessed some of the camps and attended some of the Nuremberg trials, lies in hospital this morning after removal yesterday of what the pathologist called a “big, ugly” Stage III tumor. He’s an atheist — probably not the only one who experienced what he did — but I’m sure his family would appreciate your prayers.

Monday, November 19, 2012 6:15 am

Freedom came from Uranus; or, Eastern D-Day

Berkeley economist and World War II student J. Bradford DeLong:

And so, 70 years ago [today], the million-soldier reserve of the Red Army was transferred to General Nikolai Vatutin’s Southwestern Front, Marshal Konstantin Rokossovsky’s Don Front, and Marshal Andrei Yeremenko’s Stalingrad Front. They went on to spring the trap of Operation Uranus, the code name for the planned encirclement and annihilation of the German Sixth Army and Fourth Panzer Army. They would fight, die, win, and thus destroy the Nazi hope of dominating Eurasia for even one more year – let alone of establishing Hitler’s 1,000-year Reich.

Together, these 1.2 million Red Army soldiers, the workers who armed them, and the peasants who fed them turned the Battle of Stalingrad into the fight that, of any battle in human history, has made the greatest positive difference for humanity.

The Allies probably would have eventually won World War II even had the Nazis conquered Stalingrad, redistributed their spearhead forces as mobile reserves, repelled the Red Army’s subsequent winter 1942 offensive, and seized the Caucasus oil fields, thus depriving the Red Army of 90% of its motor fuel. But any Allied victory would have required the large-scale use of nuclear weapons, and a death toll in Europe that would most likely have been twice the actual World War II death toll of perhaps 40 million.

May there never be another such battle. May we never need another one.

The battle had been engaged a month previously, when 200,000 Red Army soldiers crossed the Volga River at Stalingrad under heavy artillery and aircraft attack (a scene rendered quite faithfully in the movie “Enemy at the Gate”) and met the Wehrmacht head-on. Of those initial 200,000, more than 80 percent died. (In fact, of the roughly 40 million who died in the European theater during World War II, 20 million were Soviet. For comparison, perhaps 450,000 U.S. service members were killed in action in all theaters in the entire war.) The fighting wasn’t just house-to-house, it was room-to-room, with houses and rooms frequently changing hands multiple times. One Soviet regimental commander, finding his unit surrounded by the Germans, fought until his unit ran out of ammunition, then called in artillery fire on his own position.

From the standpoint of today, knowing as we do what transpired in the Soviet Union under 70 years of Communist rule and knowing as we do (thanks in part to my sister-in-law) what transpired on the Eastern Front during World War II, it is easy to say there were no good guys. But much of the good we and millions of other people on every continent of the world enjoy today was made possible by some of the bad guys at Stalingrad. Such are the ironies of history.

Thursday, October 11, 2012 8:21 pm

It took two years, but “Eastern Inferno” is now officially a WSJ best-seller!

Two years ago, my sister-in-law Christine Alexander and her brother Mason Kunze published in book form the journals kept by their grandfather, a Wehrmacht infantryman who had fought on the Russian front during World War II. The hardcover version of the journals, which began just before the June 1941 German invasion and continued through mid-1943, sank without a trace,. That didn’t surprise me — small publisher, labor of love and all — but it did disappoint me because the book was compelling enough to appeal to a wide audience, even people without any particular interest in World War II. The writer wrote simply, from a grunt’s-eye view, and he wrote without flinching about what he witnessed. As the kids say, it was about as real as sh*t gets.

However, the Kindle version did better. Much better. In fact, unbeknownst to any of us until earlier today, back in mid-August the Kindle version hit No. 8 on the Wall Street Journal list of best-selling nonfiction e-books.

If you’ve got a Kindle and 10 bucks, download it. I’m not going to swear that you’ll enjoy it, but I promise you you’ll have a hard time putting it down. And when you’re done, take a minute and think about the fact that sterile terms like “pre-emptive strike” and “collateral damage” boil down, in real life, to the savagery you’ve just read about.

Wednesday, December 14, 2011 8:53 pm

A season in hell

Seventy years ago this month …

The cruelty of the winter, its savagery towards German and Russian alike, was gruesomely illustrated for a rearguard of 3rd Rifle Regiment on the fourth Sunday in Advent of 1941. It happened at Ozarovo. Through his binoculars the second lieutenant spotted a group of horses and troops standing on a gentle slope in the deep snow. Cautiously the German troops approached. There was a strange silence. The Soviet group seemed terrifyingly motionless in the flickering light of the snowy waste. And suddenly the lieutenant grasped the incredible-horses and men, pressed closely together and standing waist-deep in the snow, were dead. They were standing there, just as they had been ordered to halt for a rest, frozen to death and stiff, a shocking monument to the war.

Over on one side was a soldier, leaning against the flank of his horse. Next to him a wounded man in the saddle, one leg in a splint, his eyes wide open under iced-up eyebrows, his right hand still gripping the dishevelled mane of his mount. The second lieutenant and the sergeant slumped forward in their saddles, their clenched fists still gripping their reins. Wedged in between two horses were three soldiers: evidently they had tried to keep warm against the animals’ bodies. The horses themselves were like the horses on the plinths of equestrian statues-heads held high, eyes closed, their skin covered with ice, their tails whipped by the wind, but frozen into immobility. The frozen breath of eternity.

When Lance-corporal Tietz tried to photograph the shocking monument the view-finder froze over with his tears, and the shutter refused to work. The shutter release was frozen up. The god of war was holding his hand over the infernal picture: it was not to become a memento for others. …

On 20th December 1941 a very worried Guderian flew to East Prussia to see Hitler at his headquarters. He wanted to persuade him to take the German front line back to more favourable positions, if necessary over a considerable distance.

The five-hour interview was of historic importance. It showed the Fuehrer irritable, tormented by anxiety, but resolved to fight fanatically; it revealed a powerless and obsequious High Command, resembling courtiers in uniforms; and it showed Guderian, alone but courageous, passionately arguing his case and fearlessly giving Hitler his frank opinion on the situation at the front.

The first time the word retreat was mentioned Hitler exploded. The word seemed to sting him like the bite of an adder. It conjured up for him the spectre of the Napoleonic disaster of 1812. Anything but retreat!

Passionately Hitler tried to convince Guderian: “Once I’ve authorized a retreat there won’t be any holding them. The troops will just run. And with the frost and the deep snow and the icy roads that means that the heavy weapons will be the first to be abandoned, and the light ones next, and then the rifles will be thrown away, and in the end there’ll be nothing left. No. The defensive positions must be held. Transport junctions and supply centres must be defended like fortresses. The troops must dig their nails into the ground; they must dig in, and not yield an inch.”

Guderian rejoined: “My Fuehrer, the ground in Russia at present is frozen solid to a depth of four feet. No one can dig in there.”

“Then you must get the mortars to fire at the ground to make shell-craters,” Hitler retorted. “That’s what we did in Flanders in the first war.”

Guderian again had to put Hitler right on his facts. “In Flanders the ground was soft. But in Russia the shells now produce holes no more than four inches deep and the size of a wash-basin-the soil is as hard as iron. Besides, the divisions have neither enough mortars nor, what’s more important, any shells to spare for that kind of experiment. I myself have only four heavy howitzers left to each division, and none of them has more than 50 rounds. And that is for a front sector of 20 miles.”

Before Hitler could interrupt him Guderian continued: “Positional warfare in this unsuitable terrain will lead to battles of material as in the First World War. We shall lose the flower of our Officers Corps and NCOs Corps; we shall suffer gigantic losses without gaining any advantage. And these losses will be irreplaceable.”

There was deathly silence in the Fuehrer’s bunker at the Wolfsschanze. Hitler too was silent. Then he stepped up close to Guderian and in an imploring voice said, “Do you believe Frederick the Great’s grenadiers died gladly? And yet the King was justified in demanding of them the sacrifice of their lives. I too consider myself justified in demanding of each German soldier that he should sacrifice his life.”

Guderian realized at once that with this bombastic comparison Hitler was merely trying to evade the issue. What Guderian was talking about was not sacrifice as such, but useless sacrifice. He therefore said calmly, “Our soldiers have proved that they are prepared to sacrifice their lives. But this sacrifice ought only to be demanded when the end justifies it. And I see no such justification, my Fuehrer!”

From the horrified expressions on the faces of the officers present it was clear that they expected Hitler to explode. But he did not. He said almost softly, “I know all about your personal effort, and how you lead your troops from in front. But for this reason you are in danger of seeing things too much at close quarters. You are hamstrung by too much compassion for your men. Things look clearer from a greater distance. In order to hold the front no sacrifice can be too great. For if we do not hold it the Armies of Army Group Centre are lost.”

The argument continued for several hours. When Guderian left the situation room in the Fuehrer’s bunker late at night he overheard Hitler saying to Keitel, “There goes a man whom I have not been able to convince.”

Thursday, July 7, 2011 8:18 pm

Stupid push-polling wasn’t invented yesterday …

Filed under: Aiee! Teh stoopid! It burns! — Lex @ 8:18 pm
Tags: ,

… as Eleanor Roosevelt (via Brad DeLong) informs us.

Saturday, May 8, 2010 9:19 am

Eastern Inferno

Filed under: Woohoo! — Lex @ 9:19 am
Tags: ,

My search did not match any products. But soon it will.

I wrote last year about my brother Frank’s wife’s grandfather, who kept a journal as he fought in the Wehrmacht on the Soviet front during World War II (and, who, being a cartographer in additiont to a rifleman, included a number of hand-drawn maps).

Her brother has gotten the journal translated, and it’s an interesting coincidence that I’m able to tell you on the 65th anniversary of the Nazi surrender that the journal will be published in October as Eastern Inferno: The Journals of a German Panzerjäger ["tank-hunter," soldier who uses anti-tank weapons] on the Eastern Front, 1941–43.

I hope the book becomes a resource for both amateur and professional historians of that campaign, which stood out even in a war unprecedented in its savagery.

Monday, November 16, 2009 2:41 am

“Everybody is very quiet for the rest of the afternoon.”

My brother Frank’s wife, Christine, is the granddaughter of a man who fought in the German Army against the Soviet Union during World War II. He kept a journal, which one of Christine’s brothers is having translated and is trying to find a publisher for. I learned about this at Frank and Christine’s wedding, and being a huge WWII history buff, I asked to read some of the journal.

It’s what I expected: appalling.

The combat on Germany’s Eastern Front was some of the most savage in a war unprecedented in its savagery. And while history has (correctly) placed the lion’s share of guilt and blame on Nazi Germany for what happened in Europe during that war, it’s worth remembering that, their propaganda to the contrary, the Soviets committed great evil as well. Two examples, both from near the end of the second month of the German invasion:

15. August [1941]

The entire division went out of the battle. The brave regiments march past us on the street. You brave and incomparable lads, where are all the comrades that went shoulder on shoulder with you towards the front when you used the street the last time? One approaches me on my stretcher to shake my hand. Why not? We have both bled in the drumfire of Kiev. Exhausted, he sits down next to me, drinks from my bottle, eats my ration, and has ten draws from my last cigarette. He then told me something from the last hours before they were retired from the front:

“Before we retreated we laid minefields. The Russians somehow found out. They then collected the sick and disabled from the mental and care homes. The infantry herded them then over the minefields before they followed. It was a great picture: naked as they had been when getting them our of their beds, they ran in lines toward our positions. Hundreds were torn apart by the mines.” Only these beasts could think of something so evil. And something like that is our opponent.

The numbers of losses slowly find their way to us. The I.R. 530 [infantry regiment] was almost completely annihilated and will be filled with the remainder of I.R. 529 and 529.

And, a few days later:

18. August [1941]:

I am without pain for the first day [since suffering a bad leg wound on 11 August] and leave my stretcher for the first attempts of walking. I witness the first interrogation of Partisans on the meadow. A troop of scouts arrested a group of people which they now interrogate. They are three young girls in the age between 18 and 20 and one lad around 17. They say they were workers of a textile factory which were let go due to the lack of work. Their passports are too new and the amounts of money they carry are too large for workers. They cave in after two hours of interrogation and confess to be Partisans.

Their mission is [from] the infamous [Soviet] Major Friedmann. They have the following orders: They should join a second group of Partisans near Wassilkow in the night to the 08/19. The second group will bring highly sensitive explosives. The girls shall find out the location of the headquarters here in Barachty and in Wassilkow. They are supposed to be blown up August 20. Wow, we are really surprised. We were going to be attacked. We also learn something about the hierarchy of their group. They work in mixed groups of boys and girls, mostly students. These groups are not larger than 5. Their tasks include the destruction of gasoline and ammunition depots, bridges, and roads. They lay out signs for the air force. They kill single outposts and motorcycle messengers (that means butcher, because even the girls are trained on the knife).

In order to ensure effectiveness, they have long established a wide ranged communication network. When the German troops moved in, competent Red soldiers, mostly commissars, stayed behind disguised as normal farmers in order to coordinate the work of the Partisan units. They work now hand in hand with these terror groups. The mess that has formed behind the front will give us headaches for a long time. Finally, the translator ask the girls how they got to the Partisans. What I hear deeply moved me. The murderer Friedmann summoned them one day and gave them the choice to either go with these orders through the German lines or witness their parents and siblings lined up at a wall and shot. Also, if they do not return, their relatives are going to be killed.

Nevertheless, the commander decides that the four have to be executed immediately. I can see how difficult it is for him to give this order. But it has to be!

The four are led away. Three young and fresh girls will die for these blood hyenas in Kiev. A group of soldiers with rifles lines up and the girls are blindfolded. That is nothing for us old guys who are used to fight with devil and death. But there are three girls of great beauty for whom we feel compassion. However, they are ordered to shoot iron projectiles into these young bodies. I cannot witness this. I retreat in the most remote corner. Finally after what seems an eternity, I hear the rifle salvo.

The war against civil[ians] is not for us ‘front hogs’. Everybody is very quiet for the rest of the afternoon.

I hope Christine’s brother is able to find a publisher. This kind of primary source material is invaluable, the moreso for coming as it does from a part of the war where the body count was so high.

And every politician, pundit and jackass blogger who is so eager to take this country to war, or to expand a questionable war in which it already is involved, ought to be required to read this stuff.

Saturday, September 19, 2009 1:35 am

Just when you think there are no more cool stories left about WWII and Monopoly …

Filed under: Salute! — Lex @ 1:35 am
Tags: , , ,

… they come up with another cool story about WWII and Monopoly.

(h/t: Ann G. on Facebook)

Tuesday, June 9, 2009 9:28 pm

“Losing the War”

Filed under: Y'all go read this — Lex @ 9:28 pm
Tags: , ,

The major campaign [Marine Eugene B.] Sledge fought in was Okinawa, which took place toward the end of the war. It was expected to be quick: one more island recaptured from a defeated enemy. But the Japanese withdrew deep into Okinawa’s lush interior, where the rains and the dense foliage made the few roads impassable. The marines had to bring their supplies in on foot — carrying mortars and shells, water and food on their backs across miles of ravine-cut hills. Often they were so exhausted they couldn’t move when the enemy attacked. The battle lines, as so often happened in the war, soon froze in place. The quick campaign lasted for months.

Conditions on the front rapidly deteriorated. Soldiers were trapped in their foxholes by barrages that went on for days at a time. They were stupefied by the unbroken roar of the explosions and reduced to sick misery by the incessant rain and deepening mud. They had to use discarded grenade cans for latrines, then empty the contents into the mud outside their foxholes. The rain washed everything into the ravines; the urine and feces mixed with the blood and the shreds of rotting flesh blown by the shell bursts from the hundreds of unburied bodies scattered everywhere. The smell was so intolerable it took an act of supreme will for the soldiers to choke down their rations each day. Sledge calls it “an environment so degrading I believed we had been flung into hell’s own cesspool.”

He writes, “If a Marine slipped and slid down the back slope of the muddy ridge, he was apt to reach the bottom vomiting. I saw more than one man lose his footing and slip and slide all the way to the bottom only to stand up horror-stricken as he watched in disbelief while fat maggots tumbled out of his muddy dungaree pockets, cartridge belt, legging lacings, and the like. Then he and a buddy would shake or scrape them away with a piece of ammo box or a knife blade.”

The soldiers began to crack. As Sledge writes, “It is too preposterous to think that men could actually live and fight for days and nights on end under such terrible conditions and not be driven insane.” He catalogs the forms the insanity took: “from a state of dull detachment seemingly unaware of their surroundings, to quiet sobbing, or all the way to wild screaming and shouting.” Sledge himself began having hallucinations that the dead bodies were rising at night. “They got up slowly out of their waterlogged craters or off the mud and, with stooped shoulders and dragging feet, wandered around aimlessly, their lips moving as though trying to tell me something.” It was a relief to shake himself alert and find the corpses decomposing in their accustomed spots.

As we mark the 65th anniversary of the Allied invasion of Normandy, here’s a remarkable 1997 essay by Lee Sandlin on the meaning of World War II in particular and war in general. Set aside some time for this. It’s good.

(h/t: commenter whet moser at First Draft)

Friday, October 3, 2008 8:17 pm

RIP: U.S.S. Grunion

Filed under: Sad,Salute! — Lex @ 8:17 pm
Tags: , ,

The U.S. submarine Grunion, last heard from in the Aleutian Islands on 30 July 1942, has been found.

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