I was reading an article in the current issue of the Journal of Military History and it hit me once again that there are no memoirs from Germans in World War II that are really honest about what they thought. The article in question is Hagermann, Karen. Mobilizing Women for War: The History, Historiography, and Memory of German Women’s War Service in the Two World Wars Journal of Military History, Vol. 75 no. 4 (October 2011), 1055-1094. I actually don’t have a problem with the article itself, it is written well although I don’t necessarily agree with the vaguely feminist premise of the article itself, it is pretty interesting.
What struck me is that the memoir described in the article detailed a familiar theme of German WWII memoirs. Namely, that of the idealistic German marching off to war to defend the Fatherland and becoming increasingly disillusioned as the war goes on by the atrocities they witness but being too scared, afraid, duty-bound, obliged, or cowardly to do or say anything about it. What you never hear about except when others are described in these memoirs is the Nazi who not only enjoyed, but positively relished, killing people, especially people considered racial enemies and demonized by the state.
Where are they all?Â I don’t recall ever hearing of a memoir published by a German, even under a pseudonym, that describes someone like this. Given the number out there that talk about how disgusted they were and the sheer numbers killed in the Holocaust alone, never mind in reprisals, I would assume that there had to be some Germans that liked killing people, but who?
Does anybody know of a WWII German memoir written by someone who even admits participation in atrocities, much less enjoying it?Â I can’t think of any.