Accuracy in Media? Maybe. Accuracy in history? Eh. Maybe not so much.
Gary Larson (not the cartoonist although almost as goofy) writes at Accuracy in Media:
Stretches by mainstream media (MSM), such as likening the war in Iraq to one in Vietnam, rely on false premises. Only cranky “liberals,” plus a handful of confused conservatives, argue a quagmire faces the US-led coalition in Iraq.
First off, they’re too late. “Operation Iraqi Freedom” is all but over. Democracy won. A wobbly one, certainly; it will take time to bloom. Iraq is free from tyranny, but not yet from short-term terrorism, as daily headlines remind us.
Casualties still occur. Sadly, more will die. Fanatical killers do not submit easily. Mop-up operations are nasty. Just like after World War II. Roving bands of Nazi “werewolves” were hunted to ground after V-E Day. Mostly ex-Gestapo, they gunned down fellow Germans, whom they called “collaborators,” built bombs from leftover ordnance, and murdered allied forces trying to restore order. Sound familiar?
Well, actually no:
National Security Adviser Condoleezza Rice embellished the message with what former White House speechwriters immediately recognize as a greatest-generation pander. “There is an understandable tendency to look back on America’s experience in postwar Germany and see only the successes,” she told the Veterans of Foreign Wars in San Antonio, Texas, on Aug. 25. “But as some of you here today surely remember, the road we traveled was very difficult. 1945 through 1947 was an especially challenging period. Germany was not immediately stable or prosperous. SS officersâ€”called ‘werewolves’â€”engaged in sabotage and attacked both coalition forces and those locals cooperating with themâ€”much like today’s Baathist and Fedayeen remnants.”
Speaking to the same group on the same day, Secretary of Defense Donald Rumsfeld noted,
One group of those dead-enders was known as “werewolves.” They and other Nazi regime remnants targeted Allied soldiers, and they targeted Germans who cooperated with the Allied forces. Mayors were assassinated including the American-appointed mayor of Aachen, the first major German city to be liberated. Children as young as 10 were used as snipers, radio broadcasts, and leaflets warned Germans not to collaborate with the Allies. They plotted sabotage of factories, power plants, rail lines. They blew up police stations and government buildings, and they destroyed stocks of art and antiques that were stored by the Berlin Museum. Does this sound familiar?
Well, no, it doesn’t. The Rice-Rumsfeld depiction of the Allied occupation of Germany is a farrago of fiction and a few meager facts.
Werwolf tales have been a favorite of schlock novels, but the reality bore no resemblance to Iraq today. As Antony Beevor observes in The Fall of Berlin 1945, the Nazis began creating Werwolf as a resistance organization in September 1944. “In theory, the training programmes covered sabotage using tins of Heinz oxtail soup packed with plastic explosive and detonated with captured British time pencils,” Beevor writes. “â€¦ Werwolf recruits were taught to kill sentries with a slip-knotted garrotte about a metre long or a Walther pistol with silencer…”
In practice, Werwolf amounted to next to nothing. The mayor of Aachen was assassinated on March 25, 1945, on Himmler’s orders. This was not a nice thing to do, but it happened before the May 7 Nazi surrender at Reims. It’s hardly surprising that Berlin sought to undermine the American occupation before the war was over. And as the U.S. Army’s official history, The U.S. Army in the Occupation of Germany 1944-1946, points out, the killing was “probably the Werwolf’s most sensational achievement.”
The Army history records that while there were the occasional anti-occupation leaflets and graffiti, the GIs had reason to feel safe. When an officer in Hesse was asked to investigate rumors that troops were being attacked and castrated, he reported back that there had not been a single attack against an American soldier in four months of occupation. As the distinguished German historian Golo Mann summed it up in The History of Germany Since 1789, “The [Germans’] readiness to work with the victors, to carry out their orders, to accept their advice and their help was genuine; of the resistance which the Allies had expected in the way of ‘werewolf’ units and nocturnal guerrilla activities, there was no sign. â€¦”
Don’t you just hate it when your whole point collapses under the weight of a myth?