As I passed through Manchester Airport last week I picked up two titles which give you some idea as to my current state of mind. One is called DEFIANCE, written by Nechama Tec, published in 1993 by OUP. It describes a Jewish partisan group called The Bielski Otriad, which somehow survived in the forests of Belarus until the end of WW2.
The other is called RESISTANCE, written in French by Agnes Humbert, and published in English for the first time in 2008, published by Bloomsbury. This one describes the wartime experiences of the author as she helped set up the first resistance cell in Paris, was then betrayed and captured, and it catalogues her appalling experiences as a prisoner, at her trial, and then as a slave labourer in Nazi Germany through to the end of the war.
Both these books require a strong stomach to read, but they are impossible to put down, and are truly inspirational.
Agnes’ story ends with her returning to France, but not before she had become effectively the intelligence arm for the American forces which liberated the area where she was enslaved. This last part of the book has many amazing revelations which are still relevant to this day, in explaining her views as to how guilt should be apportioned for the horrors of the war, and as to why and how the guilty were allowed to escape.
The picture she gives of the Americans is one of naivety, trusting any German that could speak English, and having no way of knowing if their denials of a NAZI past were true or false. The only way to sniff out those implicated from the innocent was to delve into the local communities and find out the real histories of the individuals who lived there. This she was able to do with her friends, establishing where the SS were hiding out in many cases.
As regards the freed French prisoners and slave workers, however, they were forbidden by their own government from pointing out to the Americans liberating them any Germans who had treated them humanely. She writes on p265,’It is quite superfluous, I’m sure, to spell out the reasons that might induce Vichy officers to issue orders of such a perplexing nature.’
I had always been told previously that the Americans deliberately overlooked Nazi guilt to enable Germany to be rebuilt quickly. This appears not to be the case from Agnes’ experience. In her mind, they (Americans) simply didn’t have enough understanding of the real evil of war, as they were relatively untouched by it themselves.
The banding together of the French with the Germans at the end of the war was not carried out in a new spirit of virtuous cooperation, as it is often presented today, but from a joint need to hide their crimes from the British and particularly the Americans. The opportunity to pull the guilty down across France and Germany, and replace them with those who had not been involved with crimes, was lost.
That is the basis on which the new Europe has been built, which goes a long way to explaining why democracies are being crushed anew by the Brussels bureaucracies, and the EU is incapable of acting other than in the way it does, corrupt, criminal and dismissive of individuals and longstanding democratic institutions.
As for the individuals fighting in the SS, which is where David Miliband has tried to pin blame on Kaminski, the Polish leader of the ECR in the EP, for permitting them to commemorate their lost comrades, Agnes Humbert has this to say –
‘We now know with certainty that from January 1945 and perhaps earlier, raw recruits were assigned to the SS whether they were willing or not.’
What’s interesting, overall, is that little David Miliband, who wants to make a stand against those he believes are guilty of killing his own ancestors, who he strangely associates with David Cameron! is in fact allying strongly with them himself – by his uncritical support of the EU, by advocating the destruction of British and other democracies, and by his own association with people whose secrets are well hidden, and who should have been exposed long ago.
The current EU leadership is too young to be directly involved in war crimes, but the culture of the EU was established well before Merkel and Sarkozy took over effective leadership.
The majority of NAZIs went unpunished at the end of the war, and remained in powerful positions in Germany and France, and they were instrumental in forming the EU as a way to disguise and cover their tracks.
As regards the SS, Miliband’s chosen target to taunt the Conservatives with, Kaminski was right, and Miliabnd wrong. Many young men were press-ganged into joining the SS, as the war shredded the original SS membership, and the NAZIs needed replacements.