While doing research for a post on German tank design as a complement to my post on post on US tank design I ran into this archive of photos from the Bundesarchive.
This is a view of WW2 as the people living Germany would have seen it. It’s a false narrative, for the most part. A lot pictures of heroic German soldiers, surrendering enemy soldiers and happy peasants. No pictures of burning villages and genocide. More than a little shading of the truth and reality. To be expected of course. And not unusual when you see German stuff from WW2. As I’ve seen before.
A while back, when I was trying to make an Ebay business work, I bought some books to sell. Two of them were 1970’s reprint books from Signal the magazine the Wehrmacht published to “sell” the war to the people outside Germany. As you might imagine it’s a rather strange thing to read.
The Stories in the two book collections seemed to be grouped into themes. One was fairly obvious, the stalwart German soldier, considering that the magazine was published by the Wehrmacht. These two pictures are from the beginning and later in the war.
Of course triumph over the enemy and how weak and degenerate the enemy was, at least in the beginning.
And how normal things were during the occupation.
The advances through Norway, Denmark, Holland and Belgium were justified as thwarting the Evil British plans.
Which you would consider strange when supposedly the British were degenerate and diluted by their culture. That is after they pillaged the world.
Of course the bold Reich was secure because it could draw resources from half the world.
The flaws in that thinking should be obvious considering where that access went through and who the Reich was buying all those resources from. The next aggressor the Reich had to defend Europe from of course. The big bad bear in the East.
And there was a new monster from the West.
The Even more degenerate and terrible Americans led by Roosevelt with his dark plans to take over the world through Civil War strategies.
Of course the Reich could be confident that the peoples of Europe were behind them and even willing to join the fight.
Of course by this time the bombs had started to fall, which meant that the people needed to be reassured that the Reich was dealing with the problem or that the it logistically impossible for the campaign to continue. At the very least buck up the bombed citizenry and convince them that if the bombs didn’t fall on their heads that life goes on and normalcy will be restored.
Perhaps in a twisted way the most interesting section is how the war was justified. How did they believe that Germany was fighting to end the constant wars of Europe and bring better future. I have no clue, but apparently the belief held up almost to the end. Because that’s how Signal spent it’s last days. Along with many pages through the war. It might even make sense if you didn’t know the horrors perpetrated by the Nazi regime throughout it’s time.
The fact that the German people could not tear themselves from the terrible ideological trap they were in is one of the truly great tragedies. Yet some, to this day, still believe that, in spite of all the horrors that went on, that they were doing the right thing. See the video below.
That tragedy is why we must all be vigilant against the powerful pull of ideology and the power of the personality cult. We don’t need a repeat of the age of monsters.
Here’s some Amazon links for the books: