Rommel, Germans, and Jews by Yair Davidiy (24 June 2016, 18 Sivan, 5776)
Some time ago I saw a relatively recent German language film ("Rommel," 2012) with English sub-titles about the last days of Rommel, the German military commander in the west.
There is one scene where Rommel rescues a British commando who is being tortured by the Gestapo.
Rommel says that the Allies and Germans should be fighting together against the Russians.
The British Officer replies: "But you are killing Jews!"
Whether or not such a conversation ever took place is doubtful but it is has allegorical value.
In the eyes of the Germans the Allies were fighting against them because of the Jews.
In hindsight we may say that in the last days of Germany in WW2 there is nothing much most Germans could have done.
The Nazis controlled the SS, the police, much of the army, and had fanatical adherents among the general populace. This is despite the fact that by then they were probably a minority.
Most Germans would have been more than ready to make peace much earlier than they did. The Nazis however were prepared to kill anyone who showed weakness or vacillation.Â Many Germans were indeed killed. Many others deserted or went into hiding rather than keep fighting. In the course of the war German military courts carried out about 30,000 death penalties. Some were executed for trying to help Jews escape death. In the last days of the war Nazi vigilantes murdered many more Germans including alleged deserters.
That in practice nothing much could probably have been done is one thing.
How the past is described or explained is another.
In theory in the last stages of WW2 the Germans could have taken all their forces in the west and placed them in the east. They could have held back the Russian advance. This would have stopped the Russian from occupying east Germany and the mass rape of German women that accompanied it. The Russians had already occupied part of what was then Germany in the east. The Russian forces had raped and killed in those areas. The Germans knew what was coming. They could have stopped it by fighting the Russians only and not resisting the Allied advance.Â Instead they chose to fight against the Allies, kill many and inflict losses, prolong the war, and let the Russians have free reign in those part of Germany they were conquering.
For every day the Germans kept fighting more Jews were killed right up to the end.
It was not so much that the Allies were fighting against the Germans because the Germans were killing Jews.
It was rather the Germans continuing to fight the Allies in order to keep killing Jews as long as they possibly could.
Only a small number of Germans may have been culpable but they were in control.
By consciously or subconsciously mitigating the guilt and malevolent motivation of this minority the majority must share the blame.