Epilogue

The arrival of the Third Army on the frontiers of Czechoslovakia and Austria where the Roman Legions too had halted in the heyday of their power and the end of the fighting in Western Europe provide the climax to Patton's career. A later generation, however, will wish to know what happened to him afterwards.

VE-Day brought with it direct responsibility for the government of Bavaria, a task which called for the maximum possible diplomatic skill and knowledge of civil administration. In particular at a time when the overriding need was to get the German economy on its feet the Allied policy of de-Nazification demanded that all officials with Nazi affiliations should be removed from positions of authority including the running of the railways, the power stations and the hospitals. To saddle a great fighting soldier with political problems of this sort was unjust and, in view of his past record for outspoken and indiscreet comment, inexcusable. His soldierly instinct to treat his defeated enemy with generosity soon exposed him to hostile comment in the Press and his unrestrained criticism of his own government's policy damaged his own reputation with them beyond repair. In particular his blatantly hostile attitude to the Russians was widely reported. The climax came at a Press Conference on 22 September. To use his own words: 'This conference cost me the command of the Third Army, or rather of a group of soldiers, mostly recruits, who then rejoiced in that historic name; but I was intentionally direct, because I believed that it was time for people to know what was going on. My language was not particularly polite, but I have yet to find where politic language produces successful government.'

Three times his friend Eisenhower had saved him from the wrath of the politicians: now it was beyond his power. He had no alternative other than to order him to hand over his command to Truscott.

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Patton: As Military Commander
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