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For The Wwii Buffs


codeorama

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This summer, I joined a pool that I had been a member of up until I was 18. Wanted my son the get to swim every day and make some new friends.

When I was a kid, there was this guy that came to the pool daily at 5 pm and swam laps. He looked 50 ish and never talked to many people.

After all these years, he still has the same routine. By chance, one of the pool board members introduced me to him because I'm a history teacher. Turns out, he's the most fascinating guy I've ever met.

He's currently 85 years old. Doesn't look a day over 55. Swims about a mile daily. Runs 3. A model of physical fitness.

He is German. Grew up in the middle of Nazi Germany. Actually met Hitler as a first grader. His teacher took all the kids from the school to meet him when he visited ( this was before the war started ).

So, for the entire summer, I met with him daily. We talked about the world. I learned a great deal. His kids are prominent researchers at major universities. His outlook on the world is unique.

The cool thing is that he lives not far from me and jogs past my house every morning as my son and I are leaving for school.

I'll post more about his opinions and views later. Installing iOS 7 on my phone.

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Love to hear what the German people really knew about the concentration camps and what went on.

Recent article from Post about a woman who's father ran Auschwitz:

http://www.washingtonpost.com/lifestyle/magazine/hiding-in-n-virginia-a-daughter-of-auschwitz/2013/09/06/1314d648-04fd-11e3-a07f-49ddc7417125_story.html

I read this the other day too. The part where the store owners found out who she was was pretty touching.

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Ok, sorry for the delay.


I honestly don't know where to begin.

 

I guess I'll start with the war.

 

He said from what he remembers from his parents, Hitler was beloved.  Said he had what was perceived as a lot of good ideas that might have worked had he not been a racist (his words).  He pointed out that the schools in Germany, even today are what he calls better than ours.  He said Hitler (I'm sure it wasn't just him) had kids going to school longer but they were finished sooner and then it was determined if they were going to go to college or learn a trade. Said apprenticeships were huge over there and still are to a degree.  As a teacher, I agree that one of the failures of our system is that we are force fed this notion that every kid needs to go to college.  That's just not true and its causing us problems. We need trade schools. I agree with that part of it.

 

He said that his parents always maintained that the majority of people did not know about the holocaust. He lived in a more rural setting, but, after the war, he heard from others that they knew Jews had "disappeared" but most were too scared to ask what happened.  He said as much as Hitler was beloved before the war according to his parents, the Nazi's were feared after the war got going.  He said that there was a lot of patriotism and they felt they were doing the right thing.  He said that even up to the end, they never felt as if they were the "bad guys".  He admitted that many don't want to talk about the holocaust.  There's a lot of shame.

 

One thing that I picked up from him was that there was a lot less "compassion" from him.  I don't mean in regards to the holocaust, but I mean that he seems kind of jaded.  

 

He is very well off because of businesses that he invested in but he doesn't even own a computer.  No cell phone.  

 

He visits Germany and other European countries frequently. His son is in a very high position with a business and has the authority to make multimillion dollar decisions.  He says that Europeans in general view us (the US) as an Imperial nation. They feel that we are actively taking over the world right in front of their eyes. He says the justification is that you can look and see where US millitary bases are located.

 

He 100% believes that the US is run by a sort of shadow government.  He doesn't think presidents have any real power.  

 

On a personal level, he loves that his daughter is one of the most important people at a major university, but he says the job took the humanity out of her. They go on vacations and she never enjoys herself. Always on the phone. Has money but nothing to spend it on.

 

I wrote a lot of stuff down, I'm going to ask him to be a guest speaker in my class at some point. I don't agree with all that he says, but I just think its cool to have had the chance to spend a summer talking to a guy that has experienced so much.

 

very cool.

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There alot of Germans in the labs here ... of course this is a much younger generation so none of them remember WWII,  I think most don't even remember much about the Berlin wall coming down.   I never bring up WWII/Nazis/Hitler, and avoid making the flip jokes like comparing people to Nazis/Hitler, etc.

 

As to the US, I'm not too sure about the "shadow government" philosophy.   I think its more has to do, you don't go far in national politics here, if you don't agree with a sort of consensus regarding foreign policy. So to get the top levels of government, there is a sort of "filtering" going on.  I don't know how people are suprised over Obama's actions.  He has always supported the war in Afghanistan, at the core he is an interventionist much the same as Bush    Its simply a matter of degree.   In this way his politics are very similiar to Johnson/Carter/Clinton.  Yeah, you do have Rand/Ron Paul and some of the more liberal Democrats, that don't fall into the party line regarding foreign policy.   They are tolerated by their respective parties, mostly to avoid having the other party take their seat.  But those guys are never going to be able to get the funding necessary to make a run of the White House.

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code, get back to posting on a daily basis.

 

Thanks.

 

Thumbs up man.

Thank you. I miss being able to post here every day. I used to have a desk job that allowed me to browse ES constantly. With teaching, coaching HS baseball and being a single parent, it's hard to find time. I still check the site daily on my phone, wish I could post more.

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There alot of Germans in the labs here ... of course this is a much younger generation so none of them remember WWII,  I think most don't even remember much about the Berlin wall coming down.   I never bring up WWII/Nazis/Hitler, and avoid making the flip jokes like comparing people to Nazis/Hitler, etc.

 

As to the US, I'm not too sure about the "shadow government" philosophy.   I think its more has to do, you don't go far in national politics here, if you don't agree with a sort of consensus regarding foreign policy. So to get the top levels of government, there is a sort of "filtering" going on.  I don't know how people are suprised over Obama's actions.  He has always supported the war in Afghanistan, at the core he is an interventionist much the same as Bush    Its simply a matter of degree.   In this way his politics are very similiar to Johnson/Carter/Clinton.  Yeah, you do have Rand/Ron Paul and some of the more liberal Democrats, that don't fall into the party line regarding foreign policy.   They are tolerated by their respective parties, mostly to avoid having the other party take their seat.  But those guys are never going to be able to get the funding necessary to make a run of the White House.

Hes a fascinating guy. I asked him about Obama and he said there was no real difference between him, bush, clinton etc...

I liked listening to his opinions. I didn't agree with everything but he wasn't an ass about his opinion. Very smart guy that was careful to not hurt peoples feelings. He brought up Hitler many times. He has read Mien Kampf in German and says that some is lost in the translation. He also blamed the way the Germans were treated after WW1 for what happens next. I know that is a stereotypical view, but he said it was how his parents viewed the time and events. He views himself as an American though.

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Hes a fascinating guy. I asked him about Obama and he said there was no real difference between him, bush, clinton etc...

I liked listening to his opinions. I didn't agree with everything but he wasn't an ass about his opinion. Very smart guy that was careful to not hurt peoples feelings. He brought up Hitler many times. He has read Mien Kampf in German and says that some is lost in the translation. He also blamed the way the Germans were treated after WW1 for what happens next. I know that is a stereotypical view, but he said it was how his parents viewed the time and events. He views himself as an American though.

My history teacher back in high school also pointed to post WWI as the catalyst for WWII. Making Germany pay reparations for a war it didn't start when the world was in a depression was just kicking them while they were down. It's no wonder they turned to someone who wasn't gonna take **** from the world like that. Unfortunately, that kind of mentality can coincide with the kind of psychopath that would massacre a people.
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The "punitive" post WWI measures taken against Germany are/were vastly overstated. The Austro-Hungarian empire was completely disbanded, but all the Germans lost was the Danzig corridor back to Poland. The Weimar govt even managed to turn the economy around right up to getting crushed by the Smoot Hawley tariffs. Problem was, Germans were used to beating up France and gaining territory/booty and not the other way around (German exceptionalism). In essence, it was the scapegoat for economic problems much the same way people now try to blame employment problems on immigration.

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