Everybody (well, almost everybody) knows that the Nazis and their accomplices killed six million Jews. But few know that the Jews almost killed six million Germans in September 1945 – right after the end of World War II. And two months before the Nazi leaders were to be tried for exactly the same crime.
The idea was as simple as it was horrible: to poison water supplies of four major German cities, including Nuremberg – the ‘Nazi cradle’ – with enough toxic substance to kill six million Germans. An eye for an eye. The other three cities to be attacked were Hamburg, Frankfurt and Munich.
The simple thought that thousands and thousands of Allied troops (who earlier that year saved European Jews from complete annihilation) were stationed in these cities apparently did not bother the conspirators at the slightest.
This ‘brilliant’ idea belonged to a certain Abba Kovner – somewhat of a legend of Jewish wartime armed resistance. A poet, writer and Jewish political activist, he put together and became a leader of one of the few Jewish guerilla groups that actively fought the Nazis.
From September 1943 until the arrival of the Soviet army in July 1944, Kovner commanded a guerilla force called the Avengers (“Nokmim”) in the forests near Vilnius (Lithuania) and engaged in sabotage and guerrilla attacks against the Germans and their local collaborators.
At the end of the war, Kovner became obsessed with the idea of avenging the deaths of all Jews murdered by the Nazis according to the Old Testament principle “an eye for an eye”. For this purpose, he formed a secret organization he called Nakam (revenge), also known as Dam Yisrael Noter (“the blood of Israel avenges”, with the acronym DIN meaning “judgement”).
Its primary plan was to kill exactly six million Germans (one for each Jewish victim of the Holocaust) by poisoning the water supplies of Hamburg, Frankfurt, Munich, and Nuremberg. In pursuit of this plan, Nakam members were infiltrated into water and sewage plants in these cities, while Kovner went to Palestine in search of a sufficient quantities of a suitable poison.
According to Kovner’s own account, Chaim Weizmann (later the first president of an independent Israel) approved the idea and put Kovner in touch with the scientist Ernst Bergmann, who gave the job of preparing poison to Ephraim Katzir (later president of Israel) and his brother Aharon.
After sufficient quantities of poison were manufactured, the substance was concealed in the cargo of condensed milk cans and put on the British ship bound for Germany.
However, the revenge did not happen. Apparently, Jewish leaders in Palestine who knew of this plan got (rightfully) horrified by the inevitable consequences of the plan and tipped off the British military police. Kovner was arrested on board the ship but at the last moment managed to throw the whole deadly cargo overboard, leaving the British with no hard evidence. The British reluctantly had to let him go.
Jewish leaders (specifically David Ben-Gurion, then head of the Jewish Agency and later Israel’s first prime minister) got terrified not because they cared about the lives of German civilians. They didn’t.
They were scared to death because they knew for a fact that Judeophobia in Europe and elsewhere was so rampant that the terrorist act (let’s call a spade a spade) of such magnitude committed by the Jews would have meant a certain death sentence for the latter. For all of them. Worldwide.
All major nations would have quickly and efficiently finished what the Nazis had started. Abba Kovner and his co-conspirators, blinded by the idea of revenge (the deadly sin of hatred) simply did not understand it. And were obviously unaware of the saying “Before embarking on a journey of revenge first dig two graves” (traditionally attributed to Confucius).
Nakim still managed to commit one (unsuccessful) act of revenge – on a much smaller scale. In April 1946, members of Nakam broke into a bakery used to supply bread for the Langwasser internment camp near Nuremberg, where many German POWs (mostly Waffen SS who had nothing to do whatsoever with the Holocaust) were being held.
Nakam members attempted to coat all bread loaves with arsenic but were disturbed and fled before finishing their work. More than 2,200 of the German POWs fell ill and 207 were hospitalized, but no deaths were reported.
Interestingly enough, Abba Kovner is considered a hero in Israel to this day. Apparently, no one there is bothered by the fact that this character was a madman with a mentality of a mass murderer. Which made him no different than Himmler or Heydrich. The only difference was that he failed (through no fault of his own) and they succeeded.
This incident also proves that the idea of killing millions of innocent civilians as a reprisal for crimes committed by a few thousand is still very much alive and well. And that the Nazis by no means had a monopoly on such unspeakably horrible ideas.
Long before the end of the war, it became very painfully obvious that Nazis committed horrific crimes against humanity – crimes that cried for justice. In other words, for the proper punishment of perpetrators.
So it is no surprise that Allies quickly went to work identifying, arresting, prosecuting and trying Nazi war criminals. Starting with the (in)famous trial of main Nazi criminals held in Nuremberg before the International Military Tribunal (a highly controversial legal event, to put it mildly – it was in fact a political, not criminal trial).
Following this trial, US military tribunals conducted (also in Nuremberg) 12 further trials of high-ranking German officials at Nuremberg. Between December 1946 and April 1949, US prosecutors tried 177 persons and won convictions of 97 defendants.
Leading physicians, Einsatzgruppen (mass-killing squads) members, members of the German justice administration and German Foreign Office, members of the German High Command and leading German industrialists were among the groups who stood trial.
Hundreds more trials followed – in occupied Germany as well as in the other nations (Soviet Union, Poland, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, etc. – even in Israel). Only in West Germany a whopping 925 trials were held.
Thousands of Nazi war criminals were convicted, although most of them got off with relatively light sentences. Unfortunately, most of perpetrators either got a slap on the wrist – or completely escaped punishment.
As did the Allied war criminals – although both the Soviets and their Western Allies also committed horrible crimes and crimes against humanity, none of these criminals was ever prosecuted (let alone tried or convicted).
Worse than that, right when the Allies tried Nazi war criminals, exactly the same crimes (e.g. brutal expulsion of 14 million of ethnic Germans from Eastern Europe and murder of 2.5 million in the process) was taking place. No one was ever prosecuted for those crimes.
Few (if any) Nazis wanted to stand trial for their heinous crimes. Consequently, all those who could, did everything possible (and even seemingly impossible) to escape punishment.
In this vital endeavor, they were greatly assisted by so-called “Ratlines” – an extensive system of escape routes (set up mostly by pro-Nazi Catholic priests, including some high-ranking ones).
Ratlines mainly led toward havens in Latin America, particularly Argentina, Chile, Paraguay, Colombia, Brazil, Uruguay, Mexico, Guatemala, Ecuador, and Bolivia, as well as the USA and Switzerland. And helped literally thousands of Nazi war criminals escape justice.
There were two primary paths to freedom for the Nazis: the first went from Germany to Spain, then Argentina; the second from Germany to Rome to Genoa, then South America. All these countries were deeply and fundamentally Catholic.
It is no secret that German scientists and engineers achieved very impressive successes during the war, developing and deploying more revolutionary weapons than all other belligerents combined.
Consequently, it is no surprise that victorious Allies commenced an extensive and intensive hunt for Nazi weapons and other technologies almost as soon as the Allied forces landed in Normandy on June 6th, 1944.
U.S. Army Air Forces Intelligence Service (the most technologically advanced branch) sent teams to Europe to gain access to enemy aircraft, technical and scientific reports, research facilities, and weapons for study in the United States.
On 22 April 1945, the USAAF combined these efforts into one project codenamed Operation Lusty – with the aim of exploiting captured German scientific documents, research facilities, and especially aircraft.
Operation Lusty investigators had acquired 16,280 items (6,200 tons) to be examined by intelligence personnel who selected 2,398 separate items for technical analysis. Which yielded very valuable results and allowed to achieve genuine breakthroughs in development of military technology vital to fight and win the Cold War.
But without brains of its developers, even the most advanced military hardware has very limited value. Realizing that (US government officials were no fools), commenced the (in)famous Operation Paperclip.
More than 1,600 German scientists, engineers, and technicians, such as Wernher von Braun and his V-2 rocket team, were taken from Germany to America for U.S. government employment, primarily between 1945 and 1959. Their involvement in Nazi war crimes (if any) was, of coursed ignored.
Soviets were no fools either, so they conducted their own versions of Lusty and Paperclip, although they made their breakthroughs in military hardware either by purchasing (e.g. British Nene jet engine), reverse-engineering (B-29 Superfortress) or outright stealing (atomic bomb) Western weapons.
Soviet equivalent of Paperclip – Operation Osoaviakhim – was even more extensive. More than 2,200 German scientists and engineers (more than 6,000 including family members) were arrested and shipped to the Soviet Union where they were forced to work for the victorious Russians (mostly on aircraft, missiles and the nuclear bomb)
Parallel to Operation Lusty, the US occupation authorities conducted the now-famous Alsos Mission was an organized effort by a team of United States military, scientific, and intelligence personnel to discover enemy scientific developments during World War II. Its chief focus was on the German nuclear energy project, but it also investigated both chemical and biological weapons and the means to deliver them.
Obviously, the Soviet Union conducted a similar mission (dubbed “Russian Alsos” by U.S. intelligence). This (somewhat successful) operation took place during 1945–1946 in Germany, Austria, and Czechoslovakia, and whose objectives were the exploitation of German atomic related facilities, intellectual materials, materiel resources, and scientific personnel for the benefit of the Soviet atomic bomb project.
After the end of World War II, Germany was in a far, far worse shape than it was after the end of the previous war. To put it bluntly, it lay in ruins. Over six million Germans died; millions more were injured.
Its leaders were arrested; many of them went to trial for war crimes and crimes against humanity. Dozens were sentenced to death, thousands more to (often long) prison terms.
All of its military personnel became prisoners-of-war. Those who had the misfortune of surrendering to (or being captured by) the Red Army, were deported to the Soviet Union and for ten long years were used as slave labor by the victorious Russians.
During World War II, carpet-bombing by Allied forces leveled up to 80 percent of the historic buildings in Germany’s main cities in an unprecedented wave of destruction (which had nothing to do with unprecedented barbarity of the Nazis). It was a war crimes of enormous proportions – but no one was ever prosecuted for it.
American and British air raids destroyed or heavily damaged 3,600,000 dwelling units – approximately 20% of the total housing stock nationwide and 45% of the housing stock in large cities.
In a seemingly endless catalogue of annihilation, Berlin, Cologne, Leipzig, Magdeburg, Hamburg, Kiel, Lübeck, Münster, Munich, Frankfurt, Würzburg, Mainz, Nuremberg, Xanten, Worms, Brunswick, Hanover, Freiburg and Dresden were all devastated. In Wurzburg 89% of built-up area was destroyed, in Hamburg and Wuppertal 75%, in Paderborn – 85%.
In West Germany alone, some 400 million cubic meters (14 billion cubic feet) of rubble was piled up after the war – enough to build a wall two meters thick and seven meters high all the way around the western half of the divided country.
Thousands of best German scientists and engineers emigrated (mostly to the USA and Great Britain) or were taken by force (to the Soviet Union) to work for their victorious enemies.
Over two million of German women were raped (mostly by the Red Army military personnel and the foreign laborers). Often gang-raped. Many of these women were subsequently murdered (or at least beaten) by their rapists. Over seven million German civilians were left homeless.
Enormous amounts of valuables were plundered, looted and taken away by the Allies, never to be seen again. Advanced machinery (often the whole factories) were dismantled and shipped to the East (or to the West).
In short, both civilian and military infrastructure were almost completely destroyed, Germany was almost literally “bombed into the Stone Age”. Germany lost even more lands (almost a quarter of the territory of Weimar republic) than it did after World War I.
In 1945-50 fourteen million ethnic Germans were deported to Germany from Eastern Europe by the puppets of the Soviet Union. 2.5 million were brutally murdered (500,000 more than the number of victims of the infamous Operation Reinhard).
This enormous crime against humanity happened right when German leaders, officers, generals and SS personnel were being tried for exactly the same crimes. But in this case, no one was ever prosecuted for these horrific mass murders and ethnic cleansings.
This data leads to one and only one conclusion – 12-year Nazi rule in Germany, obviously, led to one of the worst disasters in human history. However, in the corresponding chapter of this book, I will prove beyond the reasonable doubt that even this horrific outcome was still better than being conquered and destroyed (as we know it) by the Bolshevist Soviet Union.
Germany was predictably divided between the Soviet Union and the Western Allies. The Eastern part was promptly “Sovietized” and became a Soviet-style totalitarian state (“German Democratic Republic”).
Berlin was also divided (into East and West Berlin). The latter became essentially a separate semi-independent nation. On August 13th, 1961 (essentially in one day), the East German authorities erected an impenetrable barrier which a few days later was transformed into an infamous Berlin Wall.
The Western part of the divided Germany soon became Bundesrepublik Deutschland (Federal Republic of Germany) – a much improved reincarnation of Weimar Republic. It went through a thorough (and largely successful) process of denazification aimed at cleansing German and Austrian society, culture, press, economy, judiciary, and politics of the National Socialist ideology.
It was carried out mostly by removing those individuals who had been Nazi Party and/or SS members from positions of power and influence and by disbanding or rendering impotent the organizations associated with Nazism.
Both West and East Germany were quickly rebuilt (by the Western Allies and the Soviet Union respectively). Not out of deep love for the Germans (nonexistent in any Allied nation) but of practical necessity – Germany was far too important tool in the Cold War to be left in ruins.
Even without its Eastern part, Germany quickly became one of the most powerful (politically, economically and financially) nations in Europe – a de-facto leader of the European Union (established to make sure that there will be no more wars in Europe).
In 1989, Communists regimes fell all over Europe. The infamous Berlin Wall was demolished, Germany was finally reunited – and predictably became the most powerful nation in Europe (which strengthened its position of the leader of the EU).
And very possibly the future leader of the whole world.
Third Reich ceased to exist de-facto on May 8th, 1945 when the unconditional surrender of German Armed Forces went into effect and de-jure on May 23rd, 1945 when the so-called “Flensburg Government” (headed by Großadmiral Karl Dönitz as the Reichspräsident and Lutz Graf Schwerin von Krosigk as the Prime Minister) was dissolved and arrested by the British occupational authorities.
However, I believe it important (very important) to cover a number of key post-war events (related to the main subject of this book, of course) that form something like an epilogue to the story of Nazi Germany. I will cover them in sufficient detail in one of the last chapters of the book (of course); in this section I will provide only a very brief assessment.
By far the most important post-war event took place on July 16th, 1945. On that day, at 5:29 AM, the United States Army detonated the first atomic bomb in human history thus ushering in the Nuclear Age.
Its destructive power (“yield”) was equal to 18,600 tons of high explosive (TNT) – the bomb load of 9,300 Flying Fortresses (B-17 strategic bombers) on a long-range mission. Or 8,000 B-29 Superfortress strategic bombers on a high-altitude, long-range mission. Or 8,000 B-24 Liberators. You get the picture.
The bomb was affectionately nicknamed “The Fat Man” (due to its unusual wide round shape). The test itself was codenamed “Trinity” (Christian Trinity, of course), which turned out to be the perfect name as it put an end to Stalin’s dreams of conquering and destroying the Christian civilization.
Less than a month later, two more landmark events happened. On August 6th, for the first time in human history, a nuclear bomb (nicknamed the “Little Boy”) was dropped by a specially modified B-29 (named “Enola Gay” after the mother of its commander – Colonel Paul W. Tibbets, Jr.) on the Japanese city of Hiroshima.
Its 15-kiloton blast essentially obliterated the city, killing over 140,000 soldiers and civilians (including those who died by the end of 1945 from injuries and radiation poisoning). In a single blast, US airmen killed roughly twice as many victims as the Nazis in Majdanek death camp in 2.5 years.
Three days later, another B-29 strategic bomber (“Bockscar” piloted by Major Charles W. Sweeney) dropped another atomic bomb (“Fat Man” – an exact copy of the bomb detonated on July 16th) on another Japanese city – Nagasaki.
Its 21-kiloton blast instantly killed over 40,000 (mostly civilians). About the same number died by the end of the yeas – from injuries, burns and radiation poisoning. Bringing the total number of victims to 80,000 – roughly equal to the number of Nazi victims at Majdanek.
Like in many other instances, the whole development, testing and actual battlefield use of atomic bomb was driven by two gross misconceptions. It was developed because the U.S. government and its military command sincerely (and erroneously) believed that the Nazis were on the brink of creating, testing and using their own nuclear bomb (they were not – by a long shot).
And it was used (twice) because the U.S. government and its military command sincerely (and erroneously) believed that the very fact that the US Armed Forces possess the weapon capable of annihilating entire city in one blast, will force the armed forces of Imperial Japan to surrender immediately and unconditionally.
They were wrong. Dead wrong. For a very simple reason – the US Armed Forces already had the capability (way before the Trinity test) to obliterate the whole city in one night, using hundreds of B-29s armed with “conventional” high-explosive and incendiary bomb. So, in fact, a nuclear bomb made no strategic difference at all.
Contrary to a popular misconception, Imperial Japan surrendered not because the U.S. Army Air Forces dropped two nuclear bombs on Japanese cities (thus making it a total waste of human life, in addition to a monstrous crime against humanity), but only because on August 9th (on the same day the Fat Man was dropped on Nagasaki), the Soviet Union declared war on Japan – and hit it with all its colossal military might.
Faced with the reality of the war on two fronts (and having no intermediary that could be use in peace negotiations), Japan had no other choice but to surrender unconditionally.
However, these three events – Trinity test and especially the nuclear bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki still created enormous political and military value.
By putting an end to Stalin’s dream of conquering the whole world, destroying the Western Christian civilization and transforming it into a totalitarian Bolshevist state – the global Union of Soviet Socialist Republics.
One of the key psychological tools that the victorious Western Allies very successfully used in their denazification project (very successful as well) was the “German Guilt”.
Every German in the Western occupation zone was programmed (brainwashed – let’s be honest) into believing that he or she is personally responsible for Nazi crimes and thus must make amends (do one’s penance, if you will). First and foremost, by making the maximum possible contribution to reengineering of Nazi Germany.
In other words, to its transformation into Bundesrepublik Deutschland – the Western-style liberal democracy and, in a way, a reincarnation of Weimar Republic (new Germany even had the same flag and coat of arms).
This “guilt trap” was a blatant lie, of course (I will explain why in a minute), but a “white lie” (albeit a gargantuan one, like just about all anti-Nazi propaganda – and the core of the “mainstream” history of Nazi Germany).
A “white lie” because it did help (and helped significantly) to transform Germany into a free, liberal, democratic state – and the most economically and politically powerful nation in Europe (the de-facto leader of the European Union).
Interestingly enough, the Soviets preached exactly the opposite message based of the famous saying by Stalin: “Hitlers come and go, but the German people remains”. Although the Soviet occupation authorities used brutal tools and methods in their project of Sovietization of Nazi Germany, “German guilt” brainwashing was not one of them.
Here are 12 reasons why the idea of “German guilt” and “German responsibility” for Nazi crimes is a bunch of bull (pardon my French).
- It makes no sense, absolutely no sense whatsoever to feel guilty for crimes (no matter how horrifying) committed by a relatively small number of Germans (less than 1% of the population) eighty years ago
- Ordinary Germans could not have stopped the Holocaust. For one very simply reason – they had no idea the mass murder of millions of Jews was happening. Nazis (Holocaust perpetrators, to be more precise as few Nazis were aware of what was going on) were so good at keeping Holocaust secret that ordinary Germans were sure that Jews were moved to detention centers because they posed a major security risk. But Americans and British did the same with some of their residents – so Nazis seemingly did nothing of the ordinary. There was no indication whatsoever that Jews were taken away to be murdered.
- For the same reasons ordinary Germans could not have stopped other Nazi war crimes. They had no idea what was happening on the occupied territories (due to very efficient system of keeping these events secret).
- Ordinary Germans could not have stopped persecution of Jews either. First, in the 1930’s Germany one had to be a genuine saint to openly protest against the persecution of Jews. And it would be highly unreasonable (and very unfair) to demand genuine sainthood from ordinary Germans (or from any other nation, for that matter). Second, persecution of Jews (and their subsequent elimination from Europe one way or the other) was so fundamentally important to Nazis that they would have ruthlessly and brutally suppressed any protest – no matter how large-scale.
- Nazi Germany was not the only country that committed war crimes and/or crimes against humanity in the XX century. This ‘genocide age’ witnessed around twenty (!) genocides, democides and mass murders, some of which were worse than the ones committed by Nazi Germany
- Nazi Germany was not the most murderous or destructive ideology in the XX century (or in human history). Bolshevism was (still is – in North Korea, Cuba and to a lesser extent in China).
- More than that, Bolshevism constituted an existential threat to Germany, Europe and the whole Western civilization. And the Nazi Germany removed this existential threat thus saving ‘all of the above’ from a complete destruction. It by no means justifies enormous Nazi crimes or makes them less horrible but it is a cold hard fact.
- Hitler and Nazis came to power in Germany not because of some inherent ‘wickedness’ of Germans (saying that would be Nazism – pure and simple). It happened because of the accumulation of a ‘critical mass’ of events over which all but a very few Germans had absolutely no control. And no one – not even the leaders of Germany – had control over a number of these events (outbreak of World War I, the Treaty of Versailles, existential threat of Bolshevism, the Great Depression, etc.)
- Germany did not start World War I. The Great War was a ‘joint venture’ between Russia and Serbia (with a more or less explicit or implicit consent of Britain and France). The latter two could have stopped the war but chose not to do it. Germany (and Austro-Hungarian Empire) were not perpetrators, but victims because when after shots in Sarajevo were fired, Austria had no choice but to declare war on Serbia. And because Russia made it crystal clear that it will join the war on the side of Serbia, Germany had no other choice but to go to war as well.
- Saying that Germany was solely responsible for the outbreak of World War II would be historically inaccurate. Although this time Germany was no victim, World War II was started by decisions and action of not one, but four powers – Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, Great Britain and France. Hence, ‘all of the above’ must share the blame for the outbreak of the most destructive and murderous war in the history of mankind
- The (in)famous Nuremberg Trial was a highly controversial legal event. Highly imperfect (to say the least) and of dubious legality. Some justice was, indeed, served (a few criminals received the appropriate punishment while several innocent defendants walked free), but there was also more than one case of a gross miscarriage of justice. In fact, the whole event was not so much about justice, as about politics and propaganda. Besides, while all sides in World War II committed war crimes, only German war criminals were tried for their offenses – a typical “victors’ justice”.
- Right during and after the Nuremberg Trial, a monstrous crime against humanity was taking place. Around 12 million (!) German citizens and people of German ancestry were expelled by the Soviets and their East European puppets from various Eastern and Central European countries and sent to Germany and Austria. At least 600,000 died (were murdered, actually) in the process – roughly equal to the number of Jews murdered in Treblinka. Perpetrators of that genocide (let’s call a spade a spade) were never charged with this horrible crime (let alone convicted). So much for justice.
Denazification project has been successfully completed decades ago. Chances for the reincarnation of the Third Reich are exactly zero. Consequently, there is no need for the “white lie” of “German guilt” and “German responsibility”.
Therefore, all Germans must get rid of this “guilt complex” (if they still have one – not every German does, thank God) and make personal and public (political, economic and social) decisions based on the genuine aggregate needs of Germans – financial, functional, emotional and spiritual.
Not forgetting horrendous Nazi crimes, of course – every citizen of every nation must know its history, including its most horrible events – but letting it go (completely and for good) and moving on. It is long, long overdue.