“Ninety-Three” is the title of the last novel written by Victor Hugo – one of the greatest and well-known French (and not just French) writers. The novel concerns the Revolt in the Vendée and Chouannerie – the counter-revolutionary revolts in 1793 during the French Revolution.
In the prologue to the novel, there is a story that I believe presents a perfect paradigm (which I called the “Ninety-Three” Paradigm) for understanding and judging decisions and actions of the Nazis.
The novel begins with a group of Royalist “Whites” planning to land one Marquis de Lantenac, a Breton aristocrat (and commander of the expedition) whose leadership could transform the fortunes of the rebellion.
While at sea, a sailor commits both an act of an incredible bravery, essentially saving the ship and a crew and a terrible blunder that ultimately doomed the ship (it was subsequently destroyed and sunk by the enemy ships).
Marquis de Lantenac awarded the sailor the Cross of the Order of Saint Louis (a predecessor of the contemporary Legion of Honor) and then… ordered his execution by the firing squad.
And that’s exactly how the Nazis should be viewed and judged. They made a miraculous quantum leap that transformed a defeated, robbed, humiliated and depressed nation into a political, economic and military superpower – and into a genuinely happy nation.
They won the existential war and saved Germany, Europe and the whole Western civilization from being conquered and destroyed by the Bolsheviks. For these heroic and noble achievements they definitely deserve to be praised, admired, respected and decorated.
However, they also committed enormous and horrific war crimes and crimes against humanity which resulted in mass murder of millions of people and in a wholesale and unprecedented destruction of Germany and Europe. These deeds, obviously deserve severe punishment and for those directly guilty of mass murder – a well-deserved death sentence.