That Was War

From an account of a Nazi soldier, Henry Metelmann, born 12/25/1922 [exactly one year before Rene Girard was born in France], as reported in The Oldie Annual 2009:

Metelmann grew up in a part of town where people were too poor to buy footballs, but:

“then the Nazis came along and started sports clubs. The Hitler Youth provided us with gymnasiums, swimming pools, and you could go to camps in the summer by the mountains and the rivers.

“I used to come home singing Nazi songs. I sang a song ‘When Jewish blood springs from our knives’! My parents were aghast. Everything stupid inspired me. Everyone had a copy of Mein Kampf and I read it diligently. My father used to say, ‘You think you are pushing, but you are being pushed.’ … His words often come back to me. “

Metelmann fought in the war. He killed the enemy (in one case running over someone with a tank), he shot his injured comrade, and then he fell in love  with a Russian girl:

“Nothing happened but I saw her as a human being. The Russians were human beings, not Untermenschen. … I turned 180 degrees when I understood. I am now against most war. I took part in peace marches against the dreadful war in Iraq.

“After the war, they didn’t want to talk about it in Germany. ‘That was war,’ they used to say — Das war Krieg.”

More here (Life in the Third Reich: “PEOPLE OFTEN SAY TO ME that to have lived under the Nazi Dictatorship – the ‘Thousand Years Reich’ — during its entire 12 years’ period must have been terrible. In fact it wasn’t, at least not as I saw it. For me it was just life.”)


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