Mr. Hartman:

Your recent question about how to defeat ISIS and the equating of this fanatical movment to WWII Germany and Japan was spot on. No matter who or what actions are at fault today, I believe your comparison of ISIS with Nazi and Japanese death cults gets to the heart of the matter. I do not propose any solution to how you defeat ISIS. But I will give you an historical account of how we defeated the German will to carry on Nazi fanaticism after their surrender. We all remember Nuremburg. But I believe these trials to expose to the world the absolute inhumanity of Nazism and punish key players in this brutality was only the tip of the iceberg in breaking, as you call it, the trance of the death cult.

Towit the biggest part of the iceberg that the American public did not see and does not carry in its collective memory to any great extent today is soon to be a memory not remembered. My father was an airborne soldier in the German Theater. Like many fathers of his day, he did not talk much about the war and his efforts, save to say he was glad it was over. But around the early 70s, with the specter of the My Lai massacre and Captain Medina in the Vietnam War, my father opened the door ever so slightly to his past. He told me that Captain Ernest Medina would not be convicted of his most serious crimes. I, of course, asked why? My father's answer was enigmatic. He told me that there was too much institutional legacy with the military that stemmed from WWII. This legacy was best kept quite, and Medina's attorney, F. Lee Bailey, was most likely an intelligent enough man to know this legacy and use it with the military to help get his client off. But as to this legacy, my father said nothing.

My father died half way between the first Gulf War and the fiasco of the Iraq War. Shortly before his passing, he and I revisted, among other things, his observation about the My Lai massacre. He told me this (and this is very much paraphrased): War is an absolute. An enemy must lose all hope, Vanquished is no fancy word. In order to win a war you must totally obliterate what is in the hearts and minds of your enemy -- make all of that an anathma to him. He said that they did it in this spirit, this knowledge that Nazis were tough sonofabitches... but a scourge that absolutely must be taught a lesson that woul last though time.

This lesson was made very public in the run-up to the Iraq War one night televised on HBO at Harvard Law School. A professor at Harvard Law, a Jewish-American WWI veteran, spoke to then current students about his war experience working with U.S. Army JAG during the occupation of Germany. This professor had served in a combat unit and then transfered to JAG after Germnay surrendered. He told his students about his post-surrender duties. JAG would hook up with an airborne company. They would visit a town or village armed with intellignece on who had been most active and supportive in the Nazi Party. These people, along with the rest of the residents of town or village, would be herded to the town square.

Here, charges would be read against the local Nazis. Each and all would be given a chance to plead guilty or not guilty and lay out their defense in 20 minutes' time. After this alloted time, all were found guilty by the JAG "court" and executed by firing squad. This act of justice was repeated many times across Germany. The rest is history -- the trance was broken and, yes, I have spent time in Germany and you cannot find a people who are finer example of what citizens the world should aspire to.

I do believe that when watching that HBO broadcast, the message from an old soldier and adjuticator was a shock to the crop of Harvard Law in attendance. Nevertheless, Mr. Hartman, it is in the historical record and its presence and impact on our history cannot be denied.

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Palindromedary's picture
Palindromedary 4 years 46 weeks ago
#1

Thank you, Jake, for a very interesting story!

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