Memories: Post-war Germany took a decade of occupation

posted at 10:20 am on April 7, 2008 by Ed Morrissey

Historian David Stafford conducts a lesson in today’s Washington Post on America’s last major post-war reconstruction effort in Germany. He compares the fitful progress in Iraq to that of Germany after World War II and reminds us that despite the stark differences between the two countries, we faced many of the same problems then that we do now. Stafford also points out that we didn’t end the explicit military occupation until a full decade had passed:

As for de-Nazification, it sounded good, and indeed was morally and politically necessary. But distinguishing between real and nominal Nazis often proved extremely difficult. Small officials who’d joined the party out of necessity were thrown out of office, while big businessmen who’d profited under Hitler were left alone. The policy generated growing hostility to the occupiers, and its implementation was soon handed over to the Germans themselves. This caused its own bitterness as the Germans were often seen as being too lenient.

Even so, despite this willingness to rethink and adjust, occupation policy floundered. Two years after Allied victory, Germany was in desperate straits, facing an economic crisis that threatened to nip democracy in the bud. Only the Marshall Plan, with its massive program of financial aid, saved the country from disaster. Self-government did not come until 1949, and Allied troops remained in West Germany as occupiers until 1955, a full decade after the defeat of the Third Reich. Unrepentant Nazis stayed active on the extreme fringes of West German politics for years, and a few ex-Nazis held high positions even in mainstream politics until the 1960s. The Christian Democratic politician Kurt Georg Kiesinger, who had joined the Nazi Party in 1933, was chancellor of the Federal Republic from 1966 to 1969.

Rebuilding a nation is possible. But even in the best of circumstances, it takes effort, time, patience and pragmatism. As 1945 confirms, liberation from a dictator in itself offers no easy path to peace or democracy. Battlefield victory is the easy bit. Building peace is a constant struggle — and it’s a matter of years, not weeks.

The same lessons could be gleaned from our occupation of Japan. It took seven years for Japan to emerge from occupation as an independent state once again, three years earlier than Germany. In both cases, the Cold War actually sped the end of occupation as both countries became bulwarks against the spread of communism. In both cases, starvation and forced repatriation of natives pushed the societal pressures of occupation to the breaking point. The economic collapse of both nations forced the US to heavily subsidize their reconstruction, which benefited the US as much as it did Japan and Germany.

We are at the five-year mark with Iraq, and many parallels can be seen. We implemented a native, representative government in Iraq far earlier than we did with Japan and Germany. Our initial de-Baathification efforts have had to be reformed by the Iraqis later than the Germans took over de-Nazification, but not much later. The complication of terrorism does not have a parallel, but armed insurgencies existed in Germany for several years; they never gained much traction with the general population, and the native insurgencies in Iraq have similarly failed to win political support.

Stafford points out that we should have learned lessons from the German occupation, such as using overwhelming force to bring law and order to Iraq in the early days. Politically, the Bush administration didn’t have the leverage nor the resources to keep 250,000 troops in Iraq, but it also didn’t try to find either in the event. Only after three years of light-footed futility did the US change direction and bolster its ground forces and its tactics, to dramatic effect.

At the same time as Stafford criticizes the Bush administration, he scolds its critics over their unreasonable and impatient expectations. It took time and effort to transform two fascist nations into functioning democracies. The beneficial results from both have lasted decades and continue to provide America with valuable alliances against extremism and tyranny. (image from Rush Limbaugh’s commentary on post-war defeatism in 1946)

Update: I had quite forgotten this, but Jessica’s Well first discovered the John Dos Passos commentaries in 1946 and blogged about it a few years ago in relation to Iraq. Please be sure to read that post in its entirety.

Also, Jessica’s Well’s Natalie sends this Tony Snow commentary, when Snow was still with Fox:


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But WW2 wasn’t about oil. Out of Iraq, out of our minds! Obama 2008!

… eugh.

In all seriousness, great link and analysis, Ed.

NeoconNews.com on April 7, 2008 at 10:23 AM

And Iraq has one big advantage over post-war Europe. Nearly all Iraqis still believe in religion.

RBMN on April 7, 2008 at 10:24 AM

Time? who has time for that?
In the modern world of instant communication and gratification people no longer have the patience for such projects. If its not in 10 minutes that its not worth it.

Maybe we should start teaching our kids about patience.

Wyrd on April 7, 2008 at 10:26 AM

And we are still there 60+ years later. Seems like it worked out pretty well.

farleyman on April 7, 2008 at 10:28 AM

These kinds of posts always embarrass me. Are you seriously trying to compare the backward, tribal, inbred society of Iraq with that of late 40′s Germany? Really??

See, also, Japan, a country that certainly had a strain of barbarism in it, but nonetheless had something in spades that Iraqis (and Arabs generally) have almost none of: the ability to cooperate socially on a national scale.

Muswell Hillbilly on April 7, 2008 at 10:29 AM

And Iraq has one big advantage over post-war Europe. Nearly all Iraqis still believe in religion.

RBMN on April 7, 2008 at 10:24 AM

.
Belief in Islam has not been a benefit to most societies, except when it collects plunder from the conquered and for the ruling elites.

Right_of_Attila on April 7, 2008 at 10:29 AM

The ideology “Nazism” was rooted out and suppressed in government and military, the religious ideology of Shintoism was rooted out and suppressed in government and military.

The ideology/religion of Islam is coddled and nurtured and enshrined in their constitution….see the difference?

BL@KBIRD on April 7, 2008 at 10:30 AM

And Iraq has one big advantage over post-war Europe. Nearly all Iraqis still believe in religion.

Cute line but its exactly why the Reconstruction will be an ultimate failure. First of all ask yourself what religion it is that the Iraqis believe in. Now there is no de-Islamification process going on, the obvious parallel to de-Nazification. Whether or not the Iraq war has created more terrorists is anyone’s guess but the Koran has and will continue to do so and nothing is happening in Iraq that will alter that.

aengus on April 7, 2008 at 10:31 AM

Clinton, Obama Question Bush’s European Missile Defense Plan
By Janine Zacharia

April 4 (Bloomberg) — Democratic presidential candidates Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton questioned the logic of deploying a missile-defense system in eastern Europe before the technology has been proven.

Their criticisms came a day after the North Atlantic Treaty Organization endorsed the Bush administration’s plan to build a radar station in the Czech Republic to track ballistic missiles that might be launched from Iran. The system also would include 10 interceptor missiles based in Poland.

“Senator Obama welcomes the progress on missile defense out of the NATO summit, and notes with appreciation the shared commitment among our allies to address this challenge,” Obama campaign spokesman Bill Burton said in an e-mail. “Now we must ensure we do not rush to deploy technology that is not proven.”

Poland still has to formally agree to the use of its territory, and construction of the station might not begin until after President George W. Bush leaves office, potentially leaving implementation of the plan to the next administration.

Clinton questioned whether such a system could protect U.S. allies in Europe against a missile threat and if the deal was worth the strains it put on the transatlantic alliance.

“Senator Clinton welcomes the fact that NATO has developed a unified position to help deter and prepare for threats to its security,” Clinton campaign national security director Lee Feinstein said in an e-mail. “Unfortunately, the agreement on missile defense reached at the Bucharest summit has come at significant — and unnecessary — cost to the harmony of the alliance, and has given Russia an opportunity to divide NATO.”

Approach Faulted

“The Bush administration’s approach on missile defense — buy before you try — has not strengthened our own security or that of our allies,” Feinstein added.

Both Obama and Clinton say the Bush administration did a poor job of consulting with NATO allies on the system.

Republican presidential nominee Senator John McCain “supports efforts to provide effective missile defense that will aid in defending our European allies from external threats” and believes the program deserves bipartisan support in the U.S., McCain’s director of foreign policy and national security, Randy Scheunemann, said in an e-mail.

Missile defense will be a subject of discussions between Bush and Russian President Vladimir Putin when they meet perhaps for their last time one-on-one in the Russian Black Sea resort of Sochi on April 6.

Putin told reporters in Bucharest today the U.S. has started to meet Russian concerns about the missile-defense system by offering to let Russian inspectors into the eastern European sites and to delay switching the shield on until an Iranian missile threat materializes.

“Our concerns with regard to our security have been heard,” Putin said, raising the prospects for an accord when he meets Bush.

To contact the reporter on this story: Janine Zacharia in Washington at jzacharia@bloomberg.net

Last Updated: April 4, 2008 18:40 EDT

It sounds to me like Hillary and Barack still believe that we are occupying Europe and that we have a right to veto their self defense plans. They sound kinda, er, patriarchal or condescending/imperialistic to me.

funky chicken on April 7, 2008 at 10:31 AM

There are two differences between Iraq and Germany/Japan. One, there was a very real fear of both of the latter countries succumbing to communism. Two, the nutroots of the time were not so nutty as today.

OldEnglish on April 7, 2008 at 10:33 AM

In the modern world of instant communication and gratification people no longer have the patience for such projects. If its not in 10 minutes that its not worth it.

Islam is an expansionist phase in Africa, Europe, Russia and Central Asia. There is no time for namby-pamby democracy building. Time is running out.

aengus on April 7, 2008 at 10:35 AM

OldEnglish,

Are you sure those are the only two differences?? They seem minor to me compared to the much more salient fact that Germans were Northern Eurpeans and the Japanese were Northeast Asians and the Iraqis are Arabs. Different kinds of people, different kinds of societies. It’s one of the insane pieties of our time that different peoples have no different average traits or propensities when it comes to social organization and macro-political behavior.

Muswell Hillbilly on April 7, 2008 at 10:37 AM

Islam is an expansionist phase in Africa, Europe, Russia and Central Asia. There is no time for namby-pamby democracy building. Time is running out.

aengus on April 7, 2008 at 10:35 AM

True, but what is the solution? Our current attempt involves the US playing the good guys, and trying to show the Middle east that their is a better way. What is the alternative? The US should declare war on Islam, and begin active bombing/killing anyone one that is a muslim?
That won’t work. In the war of ideas one has to convince the other pewrson that their way is better. Making martyrs out of people that live to die will not accomplish that. Plus the rest of the world would rise up to stop us.

Wyrd on April 7, 2008 at 10:40 AM

Legaly, it ended in the 90s. Berlin was still occupied by the four powers and there were MLMs in each sector of germany that had the right to go anywhere. The Medal for occupying Germany was issued until the 20 Soviet Divisions left east Germany and the Berlin brigade was disestablished…

As to being about oil, it was for Hitler in the east. That was the target for the 42 offensive. And the Polesti bombings was about denying Germany oil…

DJ Elliott on April 7, 2008 at 10:48 AM

I’ve been explaining this analogy to my best friend for years, but he always maintains that the parameters of the cultures are so different that the comparison is irrelevant. He even goes so far as to say that the occupation of Germany following WW2 was a failure, though I can never get him to reliably back up that opinion without platitudes.

MadisonConservative on April 7, 2008 at 10:49 AM

Cute line but its exactly why the Reconstruction will be an ultimate failure. First of all ask yourself what religion it is that the Iraqis believe in. Now there is no de-Islamification process going on, the obvious parallel to de-Nazification. Whether or not the Iraq war has created more terrorists is anyone’s guess but the Koran has and will continue to do so and nothing is happening in Iraq that will alter that.

aengus on April 7, 2008 at 10:31 AM

wasn’t there a recent report though that younger Iraqi’s are turning to secularism? not that atheism is any better than Islam, but some sort of change is going on.

My thing is what do you do if you do not push for a South Korea type of solution? Scorched Earth(sand to glass) is a no go for alot of reasons, from the geo-political, moral and realist(we need them to pump their oil out of the ground and sell it to the world), if they aren’t there then who does this?. A Full blown and true “Imperialist” type mission where we either rule directly or through a puppet a Strong Arm govt. isn’t politically possible. So what are you left with but to try a noble mission like we are engaged in and hope they are spiritually transformed? Somehow we have to get missionairies in there, but the Coulter solution by the Govt. also isn’t politically feasible.

jp on April 7, 2008 at 10:51 AM

Only the Marshall Plan, with its massive program of financial aid, saved the country from disaster.

When are they supposed to pay the bill for this?

Buddahpundit on April 7, 2008 at 10:51 AM

True, but what is the solution? Our current attempt involves the US playing the good guys, and trying to show the Middle east that their is a better way.

No. Won’t work.

What is the alternative? The US should declare war on Islam, and begin active bombing/killing anyone one that is a muslim? That won’t work.

Even if that would work I couldn’t support it. Its too savage. The alternative is to isolate Muslims from the West and indeed the entire non-Mulim world as much as possible, as if they were carriers of a plague (they are). The answer in quarantine. No Muslims in London, or Michigan, or Paris, or Minneapolis. A lot of people think deporting immigrants is fascist or unspeakably illiberal yet acknowledge the alternative is civil war or Islamisation.

Mass deportations were used after WWII and Churchill thought them a great moral endeavour because they would prevent future wars. This is why I feel it is the most moral course. It will save the lives of non-Muslims and Muslims. I also think the Islamic world needs to be gutted financially but that can wait. The immediate danger are the Muslims themselves. Remember that on 9/11 the hijackers boarded the planes from within the US, they didn’t fly in direct from Saudi Arabia.

In the war of ideas one has to convince the other pewrson that their way is better.

You also have to convince them their way is a failure. But they isn’t possible because its not a war of ideas in the sense that the Cold War was but a religious war. I think Americans have trouble understanding religious wars (no offence!) but they tend to go on for centuries and end inconclusively like in Northern Ireland.

Plus the rest of the world would rise up to stop us.

Oh don’t be so modest you’d kick the rest of the world’s asses and order up some more! :)

aengus on April 7, 2008 at 10:55 AM

MadisonConservative on April 7, 2008 at 10:49 AM

one point is to show how radical islam is directly related to Nazism, and Hitler was one of Saddam’s political idols. There are alot of connections there that are “politically incorrect” to touch.

however, one thing I think they are right about in the long term is trying to provide material solutions to a spiritual problem isn’t giong to work. It might lessen the radical islamist numbers some, but who knows.

jp on April 7, 2008 at 10:55 AM

yes! please don’t forget japan!

homesickamerican on April 7, 2008 at 10:59 AM

The alternative is to isolate Muslims from the West and indeed the entire non-Mulim world as much as possible, as if they were carriers of a plague (they are). The answer in quarantine. No Muslims in London, or Michigan, or Paris, or Minneapolis. A lot of people think deporting immigrants is fascist or unspeakably illiberal yet acknowledge the alternative is civil war or Islamisation.

this isn’t politically possible, not in the current state of the West and United States; intellectually, philosophically, culturally, etc. we are way to divided…unless our Caesar is about to take over and do the dirty work.

somethign like a new Patriot Act isn’t even politically possible right now after the years of rhetoric against it by the Left and so called “libertarians”…which that is nothing compared to what you are talking about. Trying to invoke the Alien and Seditions Act again is not possible politically. I think it would take another 9/11 and maybe a Dem president to get away with it.

on that note, I can’t wait to see how HBO portray’s the passage of the Alien and Seditions act in the John Adams mini-series coming up.

jp on April 7, 2008 at 11:01 AM

Blog Link Love Request:

The Life Magazine Article was orginally uncovered by the blog Jessica’s Well and we were also the ones who created the graphic (which was used without credit by Rush).

Also, see what may have been the first ‘Hat Tip’ ever to a blog from the MSM…in this case Tony Snow while at Fox at the time…in response to our posting the Dos Passos article.

The original blog post is here.

Natalie on April 7, 2008 at 11:04 AM

We are at the five-year mark with Iraq, and many parallels can be seen. We implemented a native, representative government in Iraq far earlier than we did with Japan and Germany. Our initial de-Baathification efforts have had to be reformed by the Iraqis later than the Germans took over de-Nazification, but not much later. The complication of terrorism does not have a parallel, but armed insurgencies existed in Germany for several years; they never gained much traction with the general population, and the native insurgencies in Iraq have similarly failed to win political support.

Comparing Iraq to post-war Germany and Japan is stretching things. The Phillipine insurrection is probably a more appropriate historical analogy. It was a bloody, bitter, and unpopular campaign that lasted over a decade.

Mike Honcho on April 7, 2008 at 11:04 AM

“… he scolds its critics over their unreasonable and impatient expectations.”

Libs don’t study history, they don’t care about history, and they don’t understand history … but they TEACH it in high school and college. No wonder kids are so ignorant of history.

Tony737 on April 7, 2008 at 11:05 AM

this isn’t politically possible

Well it will have to become so. I don’t plan on bringing up my future kids in a hedge school. The best anyone can do at the local level is tell the truth about Islam and hope the general population catches up in time. Geert Wilders’s Party, who is proposing what I have said for the Netherlands, will increase its vote share at the next Dutch election. Perhaps they will be of some use to the rest of us.

aengus on April 7, 2008 at 11:08 AM

Blood for bratwurst, blood for bratwurst!!!!!

Actual history is a bugger when applied Liberally.

Occupied Germany and Japan were tough places to be, as was the Middle East for the Brits. As Maverick pointed out, our troops are still there.

I used to have a cool set of binoculars that were stamped “Made In Occupied Japan” that I found at a yard sale.

Hening on April 7, 2008 at 11:10 AM

Ed,

Since the article didn’t mention the Werwolf, do you care to give a synopsis of our ‘treatment’ of them after WWII?

Hint: It was more brutal than our current response towards any guerilla/terrorist group, because they were so difficult to uproot.

Here’s a good articla for you:

http://thepatriotexchange.com/success1.htm

Women and minors as young as eight participated in the terror attacks. They attempted to build weapons of mass destruction, using chemical poisons. They assassinated officials of the occupation regime. They had a special obsession with torturing and murdering “collaborators.” They murdered hundreds of civilians, while thousands of the terrorists themselves were killed by the occupation armed forces. The occupiers responded to terror with brutality and force, sometimes using collective punishment.

The above does not refer to or describe the anti-American and anti-British terror in Iraq and Afghanistan. Nor does it describe Palestinian terrorism against Israel launched from the West Bank and Gaza. What it does refer to is the campaign of terrorism directed against Allied forces in Europe in the aftermath of the defeat of Nazi Germany. The terrorists were members of a number of underground “resistance” organizations attempting to punish the Allied “occupiers” and drive them out. The most important of the terror groups was known as Werwolf (German for werewolf).

Origins and Tactics

The technology of those terrorists was of course far more primitive than that used by modern Middle East terrorists, but some of the similarities in technique are striking. Beheadings were a common Werwolf tactic. Decades before the pilfering of the museums of Baghdad, the Werwolf were under orders to sabotage and destroy art galleries, museums and other cultural institutions. While Germany never produced a campaign of suicide bombers, Werwolf terrorists were equipped with cyanide tablets and expected to commit suicide rather than be taken captive.

In the campaign against the Werwolf, an estimated 3,000-5,500 terrorists were killed. Werwolf terrorism continued well after formal hostilities ended and Germany had surrendered. In the German area of Italy, South Tyrol, where a German separatist movement was active, sabotage, bombings and Werwolf guerilla violence continued into the 1960’s.

As part of the campaign of terrorism, German Red Cross ambulances routinely carried arms and munitions, long before the Palestinians perfected that technique. Buildings thought to be designated for use as Allied barracks were mined, especially in Lorraine (where the attacks were directed against the U.S. Third Army). Werwolf terrorists collected caches of poison gases and chemical weapons, most of which were discovered by Allied forces before they could be used.

The Werwolf used death squads and assassination hit teams, often against German civilians whom the terrorists suspected of collaboration or defeatism. Civil authorities in German towns under Allied occupation were favorite targets. Priests, public officials, and even German villagers flying white surrender flags were attacked.

Ferocious Response

How were those terrorists eventually defeated? With brutal military force and counter-terrorism combined with a long-term program of denazification of German civilians. The Soviets were by far the least squeamish of the Allies when it came to suppressing Werwolf terrorism. According to a Vatican report, “Russian reprisals…were terrible. Using flame-throwers the Russians destroyed entire blocks of houses causing the deaths of hundreds of the inhabitants.”

Soviet troops dealt with the threat through mass executions, mass arrests, marauding, and arson directed against German civilians. Hostages were grabbed from areas where any Werwolf sabotage took place and often were summarily executed. Any Germans – even hunters – possessing any weapons were shot on the spot as terrorists. Any German witnessing terror attacks who did not come forward to testify about them was shot. Those hiding terrorists or weapons were shot and their homes burned to the ground.

The French were second to the Soviets in the viciousness and ferocity of their suppression of Werwolf terrorism. French soldiers pillaged German areas as they fell under their control. Random beatings of Germans by the French were common. The French forcibly expelled all German civilians from numerous towns and villages in their area of control. General Le Clerc issued an edict on November 25, 1944 to shoot five Germans for every act of sniping near Strasbourg.

Following some Werwolf activity around Constance, French forces grabbed 400 hostages and executed two. Any building in the French zone with Werwolf graffiti on it was immediately demolished. Owners had at most an hour to remove such graffiti once it appeared in order to avoid such a fate. Collective fines were imposed on German civilians for sabotage activities in their area. Wholesale travel and curfew restrictions were imposed on the entire German population.

While American troops generally avoided the excesses of the Soviets and French, they were sharply criticized by the British for using excessive brutality and force in suppressing the Werwolf. General Eisenhower ordered the execution of all Werwolf fighters captured in civilian garb.

It was understood among U.S. troops that they had a green light for applying frontier justice to terrorists, with no lawyers or trials. The counterinsurgency manual issued by the Supreme Headquarters Allied Expedition Force (SHAEF) recommended that troops simply ignore Geneva Convention rules when dealing with the Werwolf.

SHAEF instructions allowed using captive Germans in forced labor; seizure of German civilians as hostages; collective punishment; shooting of hostages; and massive bombings of civilian areas containing terrorists. Threats to shoot all curfew violators were commonly made. At Lutzkampen, Allied troops threatened to burn down the village if there were any violations of curfew.

Miss_Anthrope on April 7, 2008 at 11:10 AM

My point:

There are terrorists/guerillas left over when you fight wars. Your choice is to fight until you win, or to pander until you lose.

I choose to win…more so since I believe in this fight. We have alot to lose in Iraq, and they’re finally choosing their country over their sect. This is a true turnaround moment for them, and I’m all in. Still. Have been since 2003. Why walk away now?

Miss_Anthrope on April 7, 2008 at 11:14 AM

Comparing Iraq to post-war Germany and Japan is stretching things. The Phillipine insurrection is probably a more appropriate historical analogy. It was a bloody, bitter, and unpopular campaign that lasted over a decade.

Mike Honcho on April 7, 2008 at 11:04 AM

How so? See this –

In the campaign against the Werwolf, an estimated 3,000-5,500 terrorists were killed. Werwolf terrorism continued well after formal hostilities ended and Germany had surrendered. In the German area of Italy, South Tyrol, where a German separatist movement was active, sabotage, bombings and Werwolf guerilla violence continued into the 1960’s.

Miss_Anthrope on April 7, 2008 at 11:17 AM

Legally, it ended in the 90s. Berlin was still occupied by the four powers and there were MLMs in each sector of germany that had the right to go anywhere. The Medal for occupying Germany was issued until the 20 Soviet Divisions left east Germany and the Berlin brigade was disestablished…

That’s the occupation of Berlin (ended in 1990). The occupation of WGER ended as specified.

baldilocks on April 7, 2008 at 11:18 AM

Miss_Anthrope on April 7, 2008 at 11:18 AM

One other key difference is that we made them create a Constitution that met our standards. In Iraq? we didn’t.

We should have IMPOSED Freedom of Religion, and a seperation of church and state… we didn’t. Sharia law is in their founding documents, which abrogates the highest law of the land, to what the Mullah’s say…

Big mistake on our part IMO…

But, because of our own imposed multicultural agenda, we no longer feel we have the right to tell folks that some things are just not acceptable…

Romeo13 on April 7, 2008 at 11:26 AM

Islam is really quite fragile, the only ace they hold is oil.

If all aid (tribute) were cut to all Islamic nations, they would have to buy bread rather than guns.

If you banned immigration and international travel to nonmuslim countries by Muslims, that would help.

If you expelled Muslims from non Muslim lands who choose to adhere rather than apostatize from Islam, that would help.

If your leaders, media and fellow citizens were familiar with the bare bones of Islam, (and stopped using Muslims for aides and mentors) that would help.

So far I haven’t fired a shot. These clowns have no ability in the face of western trained and equipped forces, they blow away like leaves as has been shown time after time. They will never face us that way. It is also ridiculous to say that we will “turn their lands to glass” with nukes, even if they set one off in Paris. Aint gonna happen.

The facts is , Muslims get no respect from the west, they are just crude little brown people who have no redeeming qualities, are just a nuisance and a group to be pitied and have aid thrown at. This especially is the view from the Left, who think so little of Islam that they are willing to ally themselves indirectly to use them as a foil to the right.

Islam can be handled adroitly but you need knowledgeable people leading to do it. We don’t have those people now nor are any visible on the horizon. Perhaps in another political generation we will.

BL@KBIRD on April 7, 2008 at 11:27 AM

baldilocks on April 7, 2008 at 11:18 AM

Just to clarify, no Army of Occupation medal was issued for occupying Germany if one was stationed WGER but not in Berlin during the time period between the end of the occupation of WGER and 1990. A tour at, say, Ramstein, wouldn’t do it.

Medal

baldilocks on April 7, 2008 at 11:28 AM

In the campaign against the Werwolf, an estimated 3,000-5,500 terrorists were killed. Werwolf terrorism continued well after formal hostilities ended and Germany had surrendered. In the German area of Italy, South Tyrol, where a German separatist movement was active, sabotage, bombings and Werwolf guerilla violence continued into the 1960’s.

The scale of the violence in post-war Germany is nowhere near the scale of violence in Iraq today. The Werewolves hardly constituted a national uprising. Perhaps post-war Germany was an appropriate historical analogy before the first battle of Fallujah, but it isn’t any more.

Mike Honcho on April 7, 2008 at 11:29 AM

I’ve been explaining this analogy to my best friend for years, but he always maintains that the parameters of the cultures are so different that the comparison is irrelevant. He even goes so far as to say that the occupation of Germany following WW2 was a failure, though I can never get him to reliably back up that opinion without platitudes.

MadisonConservative on April 7, 2008 at 10:49 AM

It was a failure because we pushed de-Nazification over free speech. With free speech disallowed for Nazis, the Germans and the rest of Europe were never allowed to have to the democratic conversation about why they shouldn’t allow their countries to be invaded by muslim immigrants. Free speech should be the one thing we push on the conquered–though I suppose there are times when it should wait five years. We of course made the same mistake in Iraq.

The ideology “Nazism” was rooted out and suppressed in government and military, the religious ideology of Shintoism was rooted out and suppressed in government and military.

The ideology/religion of Islam is coddled and nurtured and enshrined in their constitution….see the difference?

BL@KBIRD on April 7, 2008 at 10:30 AM

This is one of the three most important facts of our time. One of the others is environmental and I haven’t a clue what the third is.

thuja on April 7, 2008 at 11:32 AM

You cannot compare Werewolf with Jihadist. The first was a closed cult without popular support. It was like Baader-Meinhof……deadly but killable. Having 1.5billion potential Jihadists, or at least jihadist supporters, makes the killable part impossible. We were rebuilding a society that worked like us, prayed like us, laughed at the same jokes as us. In the ME we might as well be on Mars. It is going to take more then throwing money at it to get Islam to turn the corner.

Limerick on April 7, 2008 at 11:33 AM

We are at the five-year mark with Iraq, and many parallels can be seen.

That is so true. So many parallels.

Like how we let the Germans put Nazism into their constitution and let the Japanese put Shintoism into theirs. Very simular as to how we let Iraq put Islam into their constitution.

And of course in Germany the Catholics and Protestants were fighting and killing each other (beheading was the preferred Catholic method of killing Protestants and power drills was the preferred Protestant method of killing Catholics) each other, just like Sunnis and Shiites are in Iraq.

And then there were all those IED’s and suicide bombers going off all over the place in both Germany and Japan, and after 5 years (maybe it was even 50 years (make it a 100!), just like in Iraq.

And then after 4 years in both German and Japan we had to bring American troop levels back almost to invasion levels, just like in Iraq!

And of course there was a whole lot of “fraternizing” and marriage between American Soldiers and German frauleins, again just like in Iraq.

The list is so lengthy, but already, just from those few examples, you can see that the parallels are so close it is almost spooky.

MB4 on April 7, 2008 at 11:35 AM

In the ME we might as well be on Mars.

Limerick on April 7, 2008 at 11:33 AM

I have done the psychoanalysis of both Martians and Muslims and trust me when I say that Mars would be much easier. The Martians are actually much more like Germans, just a few shades greener, than they are like Muslims. Pretty good beer and cigars too.

Sigy on April 7, 2008 at 11:52 AM

“The complication of terrorism does not have a parallel, but armed insurgencies existed in Germany for several years; they never gained much traction with the general population.”

Two things about the ‘werewolves’ post WWII. 1. The military forbade any press coverage of werewolf attacks on allied personnel or installations. 2. Those werewolves captured alive were summarily executed by firing squad.

Neither of those tactics are politically correct today.

GarandFan on April 7, 2008 at 12:00 PM

Jessica’s Well first discovered the John Dos Passos commentaries in 1946 and blogged about it a few years ago in relation to Iraq

…at a time when they were more believable. While we can learn a bit about what’s going on now by what went on then, it’s a whole new ballgame. Heck, we even played it differently: We let Iraqis vote for their leadership faster than in countries formerly part of the German and Japanese empires, some of which remained U.S.-backed non-democracies for decades, our deciding in most cases that rebuilding the country was more important than giving citizens a vote. Perhaps we should have done that in Iraq. Perhaps we should have put more boots on the ground, as in WWII. Or perhaps these are completely different situations, and, although one huge mistake our leadership made was to refuse to learn from history, it would be a mistake to try to parallel vastly different situations now, the same mistake the Democrats are making by calling Iraq “Vietnam.”

calbear on April 7, 2008 at 12:05 PM

Muswell Hillbilly on April 7, 2008 at 10:37 AM

You are correct in the difference between the races mentioned, but my point concerned the fear of communism which drove the policies of the occupying powers in Germany and Japan – free of interference from the likes of the ACLU and other “bleeding hearts” which cause so much trouble today. Iraq is different in that a political wave is not apparent, but a fractured religious one is all to evident, and we cannot stop it without instituting a dictatorial empire upon them. Ultimately, it is up to the people of Iraq to find their own destiny – after doing away with the various contrary forces.
Of note, is the fact that the anti-Nazi law made even mention of Nazism a crime, but it only stifled opinion. Opinion remained in the minds of many Germans, and could well rise again if circumstances allowed.

OldEnglish on April 7, 2008 at 12:12 PM

Excellent post, Ed.

My Godfather was Ike’s G2 during the Great WWII. He would relate may stories of the difficulties that came after the fighting stopped.

I remember that Tony Snow clip from his Sunday show, good stuff. Thanks.

Zorro on April 7, 2008 at 12:13 PM

Miss_Anthrope on April 7, 2008 at 11:10 AM

I just want to thank you for bringing up the interesting subject of the werewolves and how we treated them. I believe you think that there was no better choice than brutality in some past situations, and that is no better choice than brutality in some situations today. If so, I agree with you. The world is harsher place than the fantasies of human rights activists.

thuja on April 7, 2008 at 12:20 PM

Someone may have already pointed this out (I didn’t have time to read all the comments), but I perceive a large part of this problem as being rooted in Bush’s terrible communication skills. He has failed to reframe the public’s perception of our current efforts in Iraq. When he stepped on that aircraft carrier with a “Mission Accomplished” sign behind him, the mission (deposing Saddam Hussein) HAD been accomplished, and a new phase of conflict had begun (one with the purpose of stabilizing and rebuilding Iraq while crushing those who would oppose a peaceful and democratic Iraq). But he has been mocked for that banner ever since because he never even tried, as far as I can tell, to explain to the American people that a second, longer-term mission had begun there. He has allowed the media, and even his own people, to continue referring to the current work in Iraq as “war,” when really it’s not. Though there is hot fighting, we’re not in a war with Iraq anymore and haven’t been for a long time. He’s allowing the media to shape the meme that the “war” is dragging on, when the story is that the occupation is going apace. It has been excruciating for me to watch Bush’s rhetorical failure. Seems like a few simple changes in the way he communicates about Iraq would have (and still could) make a huge difference in public support. How hard would it be for Bush or his representatives to give this little history lesson that the WaPo published today?

aero on April 7, 2008 at 12:37 PM

GarandFan on April 7, 2008 at 12:00 PM

Good point, but it went a bit deeper.

Remember, we had Nuked Japan (TWICE) and leveled cities such as Dresden. We had shown not just our power, but our willingness to use it to the populaces of both countries. We had also shown that we did not differentiate between the people of that country, and the country, as we do now.

Governments are made up of PEOPLE. The leaders of said governments won’t go to war, or get frisky, if the ones they love are at risk. By minimizing damage to our enemies, we make it MORE likely for the leaders to do things against us, as their “innocent” families are not threatened (as they threaten ours).

Same with movements. If you face an overwhelming force, but your opponent will not use it… why not attack?

German’s and Japanese Post WWII knew we both had the power, and the will to use it… Iraq/Iran is not convinced of such.

Romeo13 on April 7, 2008 at 12:44 PM

To date over 3,000 American troops have been killed by the enemy in Iraq since major military operations ended in May 2003. Does anybody know how many American troops were killed by the enemy in Germany in the corresponding period (May 1945 through April 1950)?

factoid on April 7, 2008 at 12:52 PM

My dad was a personnel officer (2nd Lt) with the USAF in 1952-53, during the occupation of Germany. Newly married before he left, and having no apologies for his virtue, he avoided for the most part the company of his fellows. To hear him tell it, even the married men among them took to chasing anything German wearing a skirt. While he attempted to learn the language, he fraternized little with the natives; less for any regulations on the matter, than for the embarrassment he felt for the behavior of his fellow countrymen.

He missed a chance to visit Paris on leave. He would have been the only officer on that transport. He knew he would be responsible for the behavior of every man there, who were unlikely to visit “the city of lights” for its monuments.

Fortunately, Dad found a sympathetic American couple, and he spent his leave time with them touring the German countryside, as well as that of Switzerland and the Netherlands. As I child I remember his slide shows, portraying beautiful color scenes of the mountains, the tulips, and the marketplaces, with life returning to normal. It was a rare opportunity for a young man to broaden his horizons, before returning to the States and starting a family. Now 82, he was never able to return. But he has his memories, and we have his slide show.

manwithblackhat on April 7, 2008 at 12:52 PM

Memories: Post-war Germany took a decade of occupation

A decade???????????

Aren’t we still there????????

ToddonCapeCod on April 7, 2008 at 1:22 PM

NO WAR FOR SAUERKRAUT!!!

Okay… I’d kill for sauerkraut, but I don’t know if I’d die for it.

I’m not certain how historically accurate the “Werwolf” meme is. I know that they existed, I’m just not clear on whether they were as active as some would have us believe. They have been discussed quite a bit in recent years and used as a way of showing that we faced the same problems in Germany after WWII that we are now in Iraq and emerged victorious. I’m afraid that the tales may have grown in the telling. For what it’s worth, here’s the Wikipedia article on them. It appears to be well sourced.

Now for my own Iraq War/post WWII comparison:

Post-war Japan wasn’t allowed to create it’s own government the way Iraq is doing now. To the best of my knowledge, General Douglas MacArthur was given unilateral control of Japan. He helped create and approved their new constitution and pretty much told them what kind of government they were going to have. He approved or wrote laws and pretty much acted as a benevolent dictator until he was replaced by General Ridgway who did much the same thing. Does anyone really think that it was Japan’s idea to ban itself from having a military?

There were no politics or power-playing to worry about. If there had been an “uprising,” MacArthur would have crushed it. Simple. We thrust democracy and civility on them and it stuck.

29Victor on April 7, 2008 at 1:38 PM

The difference being that the war was over during those ten years in Germany. Nazism, as an influential and powerful ideology, was defeated. Iraq on the other hand, is still embroiled in conflict, and will remain in that state as long as Islam dominates that region. And guess what folks — Islam isn’t going away any time soon.

You people just don’t get it.

2Brave2Bscared on April 7, 2008 at 1:40 PM

Post-war Japan wasn’t allowed to create it’s own government the way Iraq is doing now. To the best of my knowledge, General Douglas MacArthur was given unilateral control of Japan. He helped create and approved their new constitution and pretty much told them what kind of government they were going to have. He approved or wrote laws and pretty much acted as a benevolent dictator until he was replaced by General Ridgway who did much the same thing. Does anyone really think that it was Japan’s idea to ban itself from having a military?

There were no politics or power-playing to worry about. If there had been an “uprising,” MacArthur would have crushed it. Simple. We thrust democracy and civility on them and it stuck.

http://www.dianawest.net/BlogArchive/tabid/56/EntryID/138/Default.aspx

2Brave2Bscared on April 7, 2008 at 1:42 PM

BL@KBIRD on April 7, 2008 at 10:30 AM

Thank God. At least somebody on this site gets it.

2Brave2Bscared on April 7, 2008 at 1:45 PM

I heard a great quote some time ago: “Doing flows from being.”

If you believe that your nation is fundamentally evil and corrupt, you cannot believe that its endeavors will produce good results. Such is the case with the far left, and so they will never be persuaded.

It will be interesting to see what history has to say about this conflict.

TheUnrepentantGeek on April 7, 2008 at 1:53 PM

2Brave2Bscared on April 7, 2008 at 1:42 PM

yeah, that’s it.

But we can’t defeat Islam entirely. I like BL@KBIRD’s suggestions too, be we can’t stop buying oil from the Middle East without destroying our economy. Unless, of course, we begin to tap into our own resources, which it doesn’t look like we are going to do any time soon, at least not until we get serious about defeating terrorism.

I’m also not convinced that our Middle Eastern enemies would just “go quietly into that good night.” From Hell’s heart they would stab at us, with their dying breath they would spit at us. I hope we would be prepared to deal with whatever from that new and even more desperate threat took.

29Victor on April 7, 2008 at 1:56 PM

BL@KBIRD on April 7, 2008 at 10:30 AM

In order to pacify a conquered population one needs to take away whatever unifies and empowers them. National Socialism, Statism/State Shinto and Islam are ideologies which serve these purposes and it is sensible to target them.

The same goes for immigrant populations. Our atomized social structure, caused by individualist liberal democracy, does not respond well to a sizeable group of foreigners with superior social cohesion.

Two basic solutions:
1. Destroy their social cohesion, i.e. destroy Islam, and assimilate them
2. Increase our own social cohesion and expel the foreign population, which might not be possible within the confines of liberal democracy

GermanAtheist on April 7, 2008 at 2:51 PM

So if there is little progress in 5 more years, will anyone here begin to ask questions about why we are staying there? For the people on this blog, can that point ever be reached? Will it really be in 5 years from now? 20? 50? Let’s start a pool and we will all go on record saying when the war will be “won”. Sounds like fun.

dave742 on April 7, 2008 at 3:16 PM

It has been excruciating for me to watch Bush’s rhetorical failure.

Ditto here. And this rhetorical failure was present even before the invasion. I’m not sure how much of it was that the President doesn’t have the skill or patience for it, how much of it was that the faulty popular narrative (“Saddam knew”) suited his purposes, and how much of it was thinking that the press wouldn’t allow for a clear delineation of the reasons behind U.S. actions on Iraq. The way everything was handled, from Bush’s rhetorical incompetence to Rumsfeld’s horrid execution, made things much worse than they needed to be.

calbear on April 7, 2008 at 3:26 PM

My point:

There are terrorists/guerillas left over when you fight wars. Your choice is to fight until you win, or to pander until you lose.

I choose to win…more so since I believe in this fight. We have alot to lose in Iraq, and they’re finally choosing their country over their sect. This is a true turnaround moment for them, and I’m all in. Still. Have been since 2003. Why walk away now?

Miss_Anthrope on April 7, 2008 at 11:14 AM

Bush tried from 2003 to pander instead of fight, and let them have their Islam based constitution.

After the 2006 election drubbing he decided that it might be a good idea to fight rather than try to show the Iraqis how nice we are and how we are going to “stay the course” and sacrifice our best and brightest in some kind of good will campaign.

McCain was critical of the “kinder and gentler” Bush warfare all along, which earned him a lot of enmity from lots of quarters, but he was right.

It’s one reason I’m OK with his getting the GOP nomination even though I hate, hate, hate his immigration stance. McCain understands that you don’t send the US military somewhere to make a political statement…you send them to fight and accomplish something.

funky chicken on April 7, 2008 at 3:31 PM

Romeo13:

We had also shown that we did not differentiate between the people of that country

And what is your definition of terrorism?

dave742 on April 7, 2008 at 3:49 PM

Two basic solutions:
1. Destroy their social cohesion, i.e. destroy Islam, and assimilate them
2. Increase our own social cohesion and expel the foreign population, which might not be possible within the confines of liberal democracy

GermanAtheist on April 7, 2008 at 2:51 PM

Liberal Democracies have been capable of whatever brutality needed to be done to survive. Why can’t we now? I’ll just say point blank that I think we need more brutality, more cruelty, more evil in the Western Democracies if we are to survive. And even with our bruality, our cruelty, our evil the world will be overall much less brutal, much less cruel much less evil, than the alternative.

thuja on April 7, 2008 at 4:18 PM