Monday, April 25, 2016

The Liberator Is Never Free

the Liberator is Never Free

One of the most enthralling pieces I have read recently.  Letters written to his wife from an American soldier (I think he was medical and could have been a doctor) focusing on the letters written from Dachau and about its liberation.

"The Wilsey cache of letters is invaluable, and perhaps even unprecedented, because of its volume—hundreds of letters, sent over a span of nearly five years—and the bluntness of its depictions of the war. Along with the executions of SS soldiers, the letters described instances of heroism (“trying to save a good-looking German eight-year-old who had stepped on a mine with resultant nine holes in his intestines, half a foot off, and hundreds of minor fragments in his upper legs, arms and face”); withering criticism of Wilsey’s commanding officers (“such incompetent, unqualified, mentally inferior people”); racial bigotry (“the colored boys have been accepted ‘whole-heartedly’ (if not ravenously) by women-­across-the-Atlantic”); and widespread looting of Nazi possessions, much of it, in all likelihood, previously looted by the Germans from their Untermensch victims across the continent."
A captured escapist was tied by the SS naked to a post, and three of these huge Dobermans (after four days of being starved) were turned loose on him while thousands of internees witnessed it all standing at attention. Hans withstood the calves torn off, withstood the thighs torn off, withstood the guts (yes, guts) turned out. But he turned his head and vomited when the Dobermans had torn the lungs and heart out. The first thing the liberated internees did was to shoot the Dobermans and their horrid handler.
One reads stories of veterans who never talk about their war experiences and can only imagine what horror did they see that would prompt such a response. 
It also puts our WWII boys in a different light.   Some of their behaviour goes against all we have been taught.
And it definitely gives pause to sober thinking.  I would like to read them all.

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