10 WAYS NAZI GERMANY SUCKED AT WAR: (10) THEY EXCELLED AT CRIMINALITY
For ‘wehraboo’ fanboys who tout Nazi Germany’s military ‘excellence’ in the Second World War, there was indeed one defining characteristic in which they excelled, exceeding every other combatant – criminality or atrocity. Not only did Nazi Germany lose in the most complete defeat in modern history, itself a powerful rebuttal for fans of its military, but it lost while fighting in such vile fashion as to leave its indelible stain in history. As I’ve said before, the Nazis were two-time losers, hopelessly fighting and predictably losing the same war Germany had lost twenty years previously, only worse – in every way.
Nazi Germany’s criminality or atrocity is too prolific for a simple summary, and besides, is well known to students of history – as is, or should be, the myth of the “clean Wehrmacht”, or that the Germany military was apolitical and largely innocent of Nazi Germany’s crimes (typically by emphasizing the role of the SS, party or civil administration). Indeed, the German military was highly politicized by the Nazi regime and deeply implicated in Nazi Germany’s crimes.
Naïve arguments for Nazi Germany’s military ‘excellence’ often focus on K/D ratios – or the ratio of casualties killed by Nazi Germany as opposed to their own losses. Setting aside that war is not won on points (and that Germany had the highest casualties in the European war after the Soviet Union), the majority of casualties killed by Nazi Germany were civilians and prisoners of war. That K/D ratio doesn’t look so impressive now, huh?
Of course, atrocity or criminality may have no impact on military proficiency. Indeed, the military proficiency of armies like the Mongols arguably were reinforced by terror or at least their reputation for it. However, military forces in modern history have tended to baulk at the wholesale elimination of civilian populations as counterproductive, because of the fundamental importance of civilian populations in modern economies (not to mention the propagation of modern media) – and it is a sign of the atavistic savagery of Nazi Germany that it attempted to do so on a strategic scale. And for Nazi Germany, it was a decisive factor for it losing the war, particularly where it counted most – on the Eastern Front:
“Since the end of the Second World War, it has been generally acknowledged that German brutality on the Eastern Front in 1941 was counter-productive, and in the long term, may have been the single most important factor in ensuring German failure”
Not only did the criminality of the Nazi regime unite its adversaries, both within themselves and their alliance with each other, it also deprived Nazi Germany of any means to consolidate its victories:
“In essence, this failure to tap the potential goodwill of various conquered peoples was the product of philosophies that offered subjected peoples nothing other than slavery and death…herein lay what was perhaps the supreme irony of the war: what made the German and Japanese forces so formidable in the assault – a moral advantage based on concepts of racial supremacy – ultimately prevented them from consolidating their initial success. Many factors contributed to the final defeat of the Axis powers, but this inability to build upon their initial successes was arguably the most important single ingredient in the defeat of Germany and Japan.”
And that, my friends, is what is called sweet poetic justice.