From the Ashes of Disgrace: A Journal from Germany, 1945-1955

From the Ashes of Disgrace: A Journal from Germany, 1945-1955

From the Ashes of Disgrace: A Journal from Germany, 1945-1955

From the Ashes of Disgrace: A Journal from Germany, 1945-1955

Excerpt

In October 1945, I was waiting at the airport near London for the departure of a military aircraft for Frankfurt am Main. A much-decorated American officer noticed my special uniform identifying me as an American civilian, and approached me to ask what I was going to do on the Continent. I told him that in connection with the forthcoming trial of major war criminals, I was going to the Information Control Division of OMGUS (Office of Military Government) located at Bad Homburg. Had I personally insulted the officer, my reply could not have caused a more explosive outburst. He was furiously indignant about American policy and, by association, about me either as its representative or as one of its appointed critics flagrantly derelict in the performance of his duty. He said that he had been a bomber pilot over Germany and he knew the war from personal experience, not from sitting behind a desk. He had lost friends and seen Americans killed by the Germans. He had killed hundreds, if not thousands, of German civilians on his bombing runs. The Germans had fought and lost the war. We had fought and won. Had Germany won the war, he would now be an American war criminal. "To hell with Nuremberg! The trial disgusts me." He did not wait for an answer but turned away as though I had a contagious disease.

I was stunned. I was not upset by the fact that I was evidently a convenient target for the officer's rage, nor did it help me to know that he was factually wrong, in that no German bomber pilots were to be tried at Nuremberg. What unnerved me was the unexpected assault on my sheltered hot-house feelings about American morality during World War II. I had regarded the British policy of using area bombing to force . . .

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