As I stated in an earlier post, I am currently rereading Antony Beevor’s brilliant history of the Battle of Stalingrad. On page 67, Field Marshal Paulus receives a letter from Major Count Claus von Stauffenberg, who usually served on the general staff but had recently been serving on the Russian Front. He writes:
How refreshing it is to get away from this atmosphere to surroundings where men give of their best without a thought, and give their lives too, without a murmur of complaint, while the leaders and those who should set an example quarrel and quibble about their own prestige, or haven’t the courage to speak their minds on a question which affects the lives of thousands of their fellow men.
You can see our problem. This is obviously two Nazis having a conversation. It is also, obviously, very poignant. Beyond that, it is also, again obviously, relevant. One Nazi making an accurate observation to another Nazi that provides us with an insight that can be relevant to us today, is that something that we should pretend not to notice?
Hitler’s big problem is that he was a genocidal maniac who exterminated people by the millions. He had lots of other problems. One of them pertained to his abilities as a military commander. As implied by von Stauffenberg’s letter above, Hitler had intimidated people away from commenting on his mistakes. Further, as can be evidenced in Beevor’s superb book, he was content only with yes men who would provide him with information that related to the reality he desired to believe. People who brought him the truth were quickly upbraided and filtered out. This factor played a great role in the disaster at
We, however, are not supposed to discuss this. You see, using names like Paulus and von Stauffenberg are too subtle. We can only say ‘Nazi’ and then think how wrong it is to think along those lines. What other military figures are we not allowed to discuss? Stalin? The name has a pretty big shadow over it, but people use it. Shaka Zulu? Kamehameha the Great? Sitting Bull? Vo Nguyen Giap?
When someone presents their self as the military leader of a country, they deserve to be judged by those standards. One of the most influential and well documented figures in that coterie was Hitler. We can look at his record and analyze what was wrong. Now, it is obvious that the comparison being made in this piece is to
I have a unifying theory about life here in