When will the breast beating and hair pulling ever end?
This year for the 75th anniversary of the end of World War II, the British Broadcasting Corp. issued a documentary it called “Germany–Justice and Memory. The piece is advertised as an exploration of “how Germany has tried to come to terms with the legacy of its Nazi past.”
If there is any country that has been crucified on its “memory,” it is Germany. The on-going mea culpa began with the Nuremberg Trials, was followed by reparation payments and continues today with the demand that it forever resurrect guilt for something some Germans did three quarters of a century ago.
The truth, though, is that Germany should not stand in the dock alone for what happened during the Second World War. There is blame to go around to all the participants, not the least to Britain itself. Where are the tragic stories of British fire bombings of civilians, stories that point the finger for those crimes against humanity to Winston Churchill, general Arthur “Bomber” Harris and an assorted clutch of other gangsters? Where is the gnashing of British teeth over the European “trail of tears” that followed the war when millions of Germans were forced to leave their homes, a journey that left hundreds of thousands in makeshift graves?
Or what about the fire bombing of Tokyo or the atomic bomb attacks on Japan? Why are they exempt from “memory” and accountability? And then, what about those guardians of all that was just and right: the Russians? Have we forgotten the thousands of bodies stacked in graves in the Katyn Forest? War guilt! Only for those who lost? That’s the narrative, BBC. You understand your audience.
War guilt? It does not belong to Germans alone. But then it’s always the “victors” who write approved histories!
Until next time . . .