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November 03, 2007

Greeted As Liberators

It's hard to tell, but these are pictures of ethnic Germans in western Poland, throwing flowers at the invading Nazi army in September, 1939. They're screengrabs from the BBC series The Nazis: A Warning From History.

I don't know who took this footage, but I would bet a lot of money it was the Nazis themselves, and that they rushed it back to the home front to demonstrate the extraordinary morality of their cause.

Supposedly many Ukrainians were also quite excited when Germany invaded them, shortly afterward. One odd fact of history is that in every invasion you could find someone in the invaded country who was thrilled about it. Thus, if you're in an invading country, you really shouldn't depend on this as a gauge of whether you're doing the right thing.

Posted at November 3, 2007 05:43 PM | TrackBack

Smile and wave at the nice man with the machinegun.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at November 3, 2007 06:37 PM

Arnold in "The Liberator"----"Come with me if you want to live."

Posted by: Mike Meyer at November 3, 2007 06:43 PM

Why the smiling girls and the flowers? That's because the Germans were very nice to the locals.

To give you just one example, if you go to Auschwitz today you have to buy an admission ticket. But when the Germans invaded, admission was free of charge.

Posted by: Bernard Chazelle at November 3, 2007 07:10 PM

It might be people from the German minority that lived in Poland at the time.

Posted by: Non Nato at November 3, 2007 07:41 PM

Yeah, I think that was denoted with the phrase "ethnic Germans in western Poland".

Posted by: Mayor McFleas at November 3, 2007 08:24 PM

This appears like ethnic Germans in Poland, feeling that they and theirs were back on top. However, the sad fact is that in every country that Germany invaded there were supporters. One reason that there were was that Germany made sure to establish fifth columns in these countries. Plus, the world is never short of people who admire fascism and see it as a means for filling their own pockets.

Posted by: Bob In Pacifica at November 3, 2007 08:32 PM

I'm sure if Germany had invaded this country they would have had their fans. Namely one Prescott Bush.

Posted by: Dee Loralei at November 3, 2007 11:04 PM

Bob in Pacifica:

To what extent do those ethnic Germans in the photo LOOK LIKE a "Fifth Column" or people who "admire Fascism"? Do they look like they even care? You can bet there will be a few who just felt that something momentous had happened and wanted to be a part of it. Not Hitler's plants nor collaborators. Anyway, it's a good bet they thought very differently of Hitler than we do now.

On the other end of the spectrum, there were some violent Hindus that thought they were following Gandhi as well, look up Chauri Chaura.

Posted by: En Ming Hee at November 4, 2007 12:04 AM

You have to remember that the poland of the Colonels was a "managed democracy" much like Pakistan nowadays that tended to oppress its (sizeable) minorities.

Posted by: IM at November 4, 2007 04:07 AM


I win!1!

A. Moran

Posted by: me at November 4, 2007 05:59 AM

Jesus, you fucking dumbass. You and Professor Harris love to opine about shit of which you know nothing. In Czecho-slovakia (the English translation of the 1939 entity), Yugoslavia, Poland and the Baltics, ethnic Germans did in fact welcome the German Army, and in many cases eagerly betrayed their own countries in order to facilitate the entrance of the Wehrmacht. And before the war, there were substantial ethnic German communities in all of these countries, ranging from 5% to 15% of the population.

Posted by: Milorad at November 4, 2007 08:02 AM

Milorad, I'm not sure at whom you were directing that comment. Mr. Schwarz does not indicate in his post that there were no ethnic Germans who welcomed the German Army. In fact, he states quite the opposite. There WERE ethnic Germans who welcomed the German Army. That doesn't make the Nazis good guys.

Posted by: David Grenier at November 4, 2007 08:45 AM

Must be a sign of increased traffic that people like milorad are showing up. This appears to be a mixed blessing.

Posted by: Donald Johnson at November 4, 2007 09:00 AM

"In short, while the 'final solution' was unmitakably German in design, it is impossible to overlook the enthusiasm with which many other European peoples joined in the killing...It did not take much to move some Poles from prejudice to discrimination to violent exclusion and finally, as in Jedwabne,extermination. Yet the point about Jedwabne...(is that it is a) well documented case of a European-wide phenomenon. Collaborators could be found not only in countries that allied themselves with Germany...but in countries the Germans invaded and occupied. Some were motivated by a hatred of the Jews...others were actuated by envy or base greed...
The Ukraine was perhaps the most blood-soaked place of all. In Volhynia and Eastern Galicia members of the organization of Ukranian Nationalists (OUN), egged on by Germans, massacred between 60,000 and 80,000 Poles. Whole villages were wiped out, men beaten to death, women raped and mutilated, babies bayoneted."

Niall Ferguson, "The War of the World," pp.454-455.
And there is much more, in this book and others.

Posted by: donescobar at November 4, 2007 09:10 AM


>> Milorad, I'm not sure at whom you were directing that comment.

Odd you should ask: Milorad makes it crystal clear. Little ambiguity there.

>> Jesus, you fucking dumbass.

Obviously, he's mad at Jesus.

Posted by: Bernard Chazelle at November 4, 2007 10:04 AM

I'm guessing the photo was taken by a Nazi photographer and an editor he never even met ran the photo in the newspaper in '38 as representing a joyous reaction, and that he never spoke to the woman.

In the early days of the invasion of Iraq the BBC had a guy surrounded by children chanting and he informed everyone they were praising President Bush. What they were saying was "God damn Bush, God damn Bush".

The odd thing about the flowers and sweets thing was that the people saying this had seen it before. People like Krauthammer covered the reaction of the Shia in Southern Lebanon to the Israeli invasion in the 80's and they did indeed have a short term positive reaction to the IDF running off the PLO. Of course, they were overjoyed because they were mainly Khomenists of a variety and quickly became Hezbollah so you'd think this would be a cautionary tale but nope. I don't know where they think their imaginary opportunity got screwed up there (although I can guess that it involved turning the bombing up somewhere) they weren't embarassed by cheerleading the first Lebanese invasion, they coughed out a replay of that disaster and predictably it's playing out exactly the same way.

Posted by: Ed Marshall at November 4, 2007 10:14 AM

Thank you, Bernard.

Posted by: Aunt Deb at November 4, 2007 10:52 AM

I would also like thank Bernard for the Auschwitz joke, which was choice.

Posted by: mathpants at November 4, 2007 05:50 PM

> In the early days of the invasion of Iraq the BBC had a guy surrounded by children chanting and he informed everyone they were praising President Bush. What they were saying was "God damn Bush, God damn Bush".

FWIW, this story was told by Hassan Ibrahim in the excellent 2004 documentary "Control Room" (about Al Jazeera and the US Army's "CentCom" Central Command office). IIRC, he mentions the reporter's name. I guess there might be a clip of it on the internet somewhere-- he doesn't strike me as the sort who would invent a story like that.

Posted by: me at November 5, 2007 08:11 AM

Hm. Milorad's point may have some substance, though not very much.

As I see it, Jonathan is drawing examples from history to examine if the Iraq invasion is as unique as seems to be have been popularly believed at one time or another by significant parts of the US population. In particular he's looking at the rhetoric.

Milorad seems to say that the Nazis were genuinely popular, in analogy to the supposed genuine popularity of the US in Iraq.

A few things to consider:
Is the popularity of an aggressor nation relevant to the validity of the invasion?
Is the moral quality of such a nation relevant?
Is the moral quality of such a nation readily assessed? If not, when and how can it be?

I hope to give these some consideration and post some thoughts later.

> Plus, the world is never short of people who admire fascism and see it as a means for filling their own pockets.
As well as assuaging their fears by promising certainty and stability through clear authority. A con, of course, as authoritarianism provides the precise opposite for the majority of people since that is the genesis of its power. This is sustained by the concoction of official enemies.

BTW, Niall Ferguson is a neocon of sorts, so mind how you go if you do read his books.

For instance, he suggests that "normal people" in the UK were not affected by the social movements of the 1960s; normal people, of course, being those unaffected by said social movements. AFAICR, the size of the population of such people was not discussed, nor why they remained unaffected save some kind of shield of eternal and undiminishable conservatism present in all good folk. To be fair, it was just a short clip I saw, so perhaps his books go into more detail, but that nothing was presented makes me think his arguments are tortuous.

Posted by: me at November 5, 2007 08:44 AM

1-202-225-0100 DEMAND IMPEACHMENT.

Posted by: Mike Meyer at November 5, 2007 09:06 AM

IT'S simple common courtesy, that when you see the nice man, with a machine gun driving his tank to YOUR town, YOU(and this means YOU) go out into the street(like a saturday parade) and smile and wave at the gentleman. (well, unless YOU have a machinegun too)

Posted by: Mike Meyer at November 5, 2007 09:14 AM

I know it's fun to invoke Nazis, and they documented their invasions so well that the History Channel will never run out of material. But Jonathan, you might find it easier to make the parallel with the Japanese invasions of Southeast Asia.

Independence movements of all kinds in those countries were genuinely thrilled that their "Asian brothers" were throwing off the yoke of western imperialism... until it was clear that the Japanese takeover was one of the greatest examples of "Meet the new boss; same as the old boss" in history, and independence leaders turned against the Japanese.

Surely there are also pictures or videos that the Japanese took that demonstrate their welcome by locals in the Philippines, Indonesia, etc.

Oh, and BTW: is there a corollary to Godwin's Law that applies to Imperial Japan?

Posted by: Whistler Blue at November 5, 2007 01:47 PM

NF also favors Imperialism, though it is some kind of magical academic-terminology non-Communist type of Imperialism, so that's OK.

"Peter Robinson: You do want to use the word empire?

Niall Ferguson: Oh, absolutely. I mean I certainly do as an academic. I wouldn't recommend an American politician to use it but it seems to me as an historian, I would regard this as one of the great empires. I mean, there have been many in history. One often forgets this because the discussion is rather constrained by the assumption that imperialism only refers to maybe the 19th and early 20th centuries. "

"David Kennedy: I thought it was a joke earlier: do you want to bring British imperialism back to Africa and India? But now you seem to be making a case for the reconstitution of the Austro-Hungarian Empire and the Soviet empire.

Niall Ferguson: Well, not for the Soviet empire, which was an authentically evil empire, the human cost of which is almost impossible to quantify. But the point I try to make is that there's a distinction between liberal empires and illiberal ones. And liberal empires or empires of liberty which have existed before Jefferson's time which existed in the British case throughout the nineteenth and early twentieth century are, in fact, a better recipe for global stability. And they're not something incompatible with international institutions of the sort that we know today."

Posted by: me at November 5, 2007 02:24 PM

54:36, chapter 10 on the DVD of "Control Room"

This morning, it was the funniest report ever.
[There it was on the] BBC: I mean he was surrounded by a bunch of Iraqi kids and they were saying... chanting against Bush, but he didn't-- they didn't know Arabic, so they hear the name Bush... [mock "reporter" voice] "And I'm surrounded by a bunch of children cheering President Bush" they weren't saying that! [laughs] They were basically cursing Bush! "Allah illah Bush! Allah illah Bush!" And he thought they were cheering Bush. "God damn Bush! God damn Bush!" [laughs]

Posted by: me at November 5, 2007 03:16 PM

Here's some lovely flowers. Please don't kill me.

Posted by: rebecca at November 5, 2007 10:19 PM