On balance, no, I don’t think so

Germany’s defence minister has called for the names of Nazi-era figures to be removed from military barracks.

“The armed forces have to make it clear, both internally and to the outside world, that they are not a continuation of the Nazi Wehrmacht,” Ursula von der Leyen said on Sunday.

Seems reasonable enough. But then:

The Marseille air force barracks in Appen is named after Capt Hans-Joachim Marseille, the “Star of Africa”, a fighter pilot who took part in the Battle of Britain and North Africa campaign, and shot down 158 Allied aircraft, more than any other Luftwaffe ace.

The Lent army barracks in Rotenburg is named after Col Helmut Lent, a “night-fighter” pilot who shot down 110 Allied aircaft, 102 of them at night.

The Schulz-Lutz army barracks in Munster is named after Maj-Gen Adelbert Schulz, commander of the 7th Panzer Division, who served in the invasion of Belgium and died on the eastern front.

Umm, actually, no. The cause was bad enough, yes, but then armies don’t get to decide the cause, do they? I’d be worried if they were still calling something Goebbels or Goering, sure, but brave men who fought as they were told?

Recast this to us. The various North West Frontier wars were obviously, clearly, a hateful abomination of colonialism in modern parlance. Brave men would have been those who fought against that extension of the British hegemony.

But Piper Findlater still keeps his VC, right?

12 comments on “On balance, no, I don’t think so

  1. Well, no. There were at least 20 German Aces who scored more “hits”.

    The Telegraph seemed to have forgotten that the Soviet Union was an ally at that point.

    Probably because the Telegraph has its head in its anus while trying to compose English, but still a strange error.

  2. I think it’s only a matter of time before the statues of Charles Napier and Henry Havelock at Trafalgar Square go from being “irrelevant, never heard of them, guffaw guffaw” to “racist imperialists must fall”.

  3. Another point of view is that by modern standards, Sir Arthur Harris was a mass murderer and war criminal, and apologies and removal of statues as well as a posthumous removal of ‘Sir’ would be required.

    Not going to happen due to victim hierarchy, of course.

  4. Um, aren’t we the victims in this one? So don’t we get to say whether such German WW2 servicemen should be honoured or not? Personally I haven’t got a problem with it, the men on the ground may or may not have been Nazi adherents, but either way they were still brave men, even if they were fighting on the ‘wrong’ side.

    I’ve far more problem with the likes of Martin Shulz, now there’s a German who’d we could do without hearing or seeing again.

  5. Didn’t the germans also name their units or divisions after famous people that seemed a bit wierd. And if they want to name their first panzer division after nelson mandela then i have no objection.

  6. > Um, aren’t we the victims in this one?

    I’m pretty sure the only victims of WWII were the millions in the concentration camps. Or at least that’s all we ever hear about these days. Actual military losses? Civilian casualties? They don’t stand a chance in this round of victim poker.

  7. ‘more than any other Luftwaffe ace’

    It’s so hard to check with this internet thingy.

    Great thing about the internet: if you don’t check, others will!

  8. In most accounts I have read members of the Wehrmacht come down to us as brave decent individuals by and large who conducted themselves with honour. Obviously there were exceptions.

    Nearly all the out and out obscenities were committed by SS units or Hitler youth (themselves victims).

    So I would have no problem with commemorating their names.

  9. It is the scum of Germany’s “defence” minister–a brainless EU-sucking CM bitch who would foul her knickers should she ever receive a call-up for war–who needs to be vapourised (as Orwell put it) into a forgotten non-person.

  10. @pjt

    It’s not just modern standards that have had issues with Sir Arthur Harris and the gentleman of Bomber Command. Lots of people tried to quietly forget them after WWII finished whilst Fighter Command was venerated. The memorial to those lost wasn’t completed until 2012.

  11. You can all be right dainty and sensitive. Till the bombs start to fall.
    or food rationing becomes very necessary. See how you are then.

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