Saturday, September 19, 2015

Book Review - Giles MacDonogh’s After the Reich

            Giles MacDonogh’s, After the Reich, covers the postwar period and reveals some information that has formerly bordered on the taboo.  That is the reason for his mandatory disclaimer, “I make no excuses for the crimes the Nazis committed.”  There is a fear that pointing out the crimes of the allied forces will somehow diminish to outrage against the crimes of the Nazis.  He reveals that it was occupation policy to restrict food distribution to the defeated Germans to include the destruction of kitchen waste. This was part of the engineered famine that led to the death of an undetermined but large number of people.  He also deal frankly with what can only be described as a massive slave trade organized by the victors.              
            I have only three criticisms of the book.  He makes three references to Ilse Koch’s collection of lampshades made of human skin (pp. 85, 343 and 462).  Isle Koch may, in fact, have had a collection of lampshades made of human skin.  But he should have pointed out that there is some controversy on this subject.  After she was convicted of war crimes General Clay reduced her sentence concluding, “It was absolutely proven that the lamp shades were made out of goat skin.”1   When an individual attempted to donate a lampshade to the United States Holocaust Memorial Museum in Washington, D.C., and the Yad Vashem museum in Jerusalem, he was told that the concentration camp lampshades were probably a myth.2   The Nazi committed countless barbarities and it should be unnecessary to embellish them.  Bogus claims only give ammunition to people who want to discredit legitimate claims.
            MacDonogh refers to the provision in JCS 1067 that states the allies would “help Germans only when it was necessary to avoid disease or unrest.”  This phrase is from the original Basic Handbook.  It was modified in JCS 1067 to read: “as would endanger the occupying forces.”  This modification was intended to allow disease and unrest as long as it did not endanger the occupying forces
            My other criticism is his statement about postwar conditions: “Stalin did not want a war, hot or cold: and it was the Western Allies . . . who pushed him into it” (p. 496).  Of course Stalin did not want war.  I suppose Hitler did not want war.  As long as your adversary is willing to agree to all of your objectives peacefully there is no need for war.  The idea that Stalin only wanted security is fantasy.  He would only feel completely “secure” when the entire world was ruled from Moscow.

1 Smith, Jean Edward, Lucius D. Clay: An American Life. (New York, NY: Macmillan, 1990). p. 301

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