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Then and Now ... the Wehrmachtausstellung

Author: Dr. Anthony J. Lomenzo

November 5, 1999


Reply-To: H-NET List for History of the Holocaust


I MUST agree with the assessment of Peter Witte in re the 'Wehrmachtsausstellung' fiasco in that the 'reaction [to fraud] was overdue' yet I'm not so sure the desired 'return to open scholarly debate' will necessarily follow because I seriously question the presence of any truly 'open' debate in Deutschland itself!

When I lived and worked in Germany 1969-72, one could still, within reason, 'openly' debate those critical issues and/or gray areas involving either German history [the so-termed 'NS Zeit' included] or the Holocaust. Although I defended the historical presence of the Holocaust, it was not without noted caveat that rarely is anything in history, and all its various facets therein, written in stone and thereby it logically remains subject to on-going study and research. Now however, the 'climate' for alleged 'open' historical debate in Germany, especially regarding the Holocaust, is so restrictive as to be in fact wholly proscribed!

I sometimes get the impression that the German youth today feel they must begin each day with a mea culpa in that they were in fact 'born' German and recite handed-down incantations that everything and anything to do with the 1933-45 era, including the Wehrmacht of the period, makes them almost genetically 'liable' themselves for the mantle of 'Verbrecher' [criminal] apparently in line with their of-the-era Volk.

So too, the knee-jerk reactions of the German government then finishes the job with chronic albeit subtle reminders [and analogous laws therein] that the alleged drum still sits patiently in the corner [of the 'Deutsche Seele'] and awaits usage for the equally alleged return of some unifying 'someone' to make things right and tell them that any pride of being born German is no longer a closet crime. And that their 'inherited' chanted mantra of 'Sauerei' and 'Verbrecher' when some Knights Cross holder or, conversely, 'Hans' the private who simply served and survived, when identified by the press, just may 'not' have de facto been a war criminal or murderer of innocents. It's this application of the constantly and chronically applied broad brush approach since 1945 onward against such perceived paranoia and latent 'Morgen, die Welt' fears that continues to grate. When comes the final closure?

Dr. Anthony J. Lomenzo
[der Stadt Darmstadt und Bad Nauheim in an era (60's and early 70's) when debate was still 'openly' possible. And thus 'true' freedom of speech and right of dissent protected 'before' latter day dissent 'clarifications' and 'qualifications.' ]


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