Allied Atrocities: "Intelligence Reports indicate clearly that all of our propaganda efforts to instill a sense of collective guilt have fallen flat."
[About the expulsion of the Germans from the East]
A flight of bad conscience?
Another argument which is frequently heard is that Germans fled out of feelings of guilt, anticipating Red Army vengeance for the crimes committed by the Nazis in the Soviet Union. Of course, a number of functionaries knew about the crimes of the political SS and the Einsatzgruppen inside Russia and decided that it would be healthier for them to disappear before the arrival of the Red Army. The number of these Nazi functionaries, however, was limited. To generalize from these few to impute guilt upon millions of German civilians who fled for entirely different reasons would be tantamount to falsifying history. Quite to the contrary, the occupying Powers were frequently perplexed by the almost total lack of a sense of guilt among the German people. In this report to President Truman dated 9 November 1945, Bryon Price complained that
Notwithstanding the punishments Germans now suffer and those still before them, there is no apparent realization of collective guilt for the unspeakable crimes committed by the German nation… Intelligence reports indicate clearly that all of our propaganda efforts to instill a sense of collective guilt have fallen flat.
Thus, the principal motivation for the great flight of the Germans should not be sought in the bad conscience of the Germans nor in an unfounded and 'psychotic' fear of the Red Army. Other reasons were determinative of this movement.
Field Marshal Montgomery, who did much to help the German refugees, and who, unlike General Eisenhower, permitted all refugees to find safety within his lines, observed in his Memoirs,
From their behavior it soon became clear that the Russians, though a fine fighting race, were in fact barbarous Asiatics who had never enjoyed a civilisation comparable to that of the rest of Europe. Their approach to every problem was utterly different from ours and their behavior, especially in their treatment of women, was abhorrent to us. In certain sectors of the Russian zone there were practically no Germans left; they all had fled before the onward march of the barbarians, with the result that in the western zones the crowd of refugees was so great that the problems of food and housing seemed almost insoluble.
Alfred M. deZayas, Nemesis at Potsdam. Third Edition, Revised University of Nebraska Press, 1988, Pages 71-72
Additional information about this document
|Author(s):||Alfred M. De Zayas|
|Title:||Allied Atrocities: "Intelligence Reports indicate clearly that all of our propaganda efforts to instill a sense of collective guilt have fallen flat."|
|Sources:||Alfred M. de Zayas. "Nemesis at Potsdam". Third Edition, University of Nebraska Press, 1988, Pages 71f.|
|First posted on CODOH:||June 29, 1995, 7 p.m.|