We are still learning more about World War II, and much of it is rather depressing. Recently German researchers have published the transcripts of conversations among German soldiers held as POW’s. The soldiers and airmen were secretly recorded by the Allies and their conversations offer a disturbingly honest glimpse of the war from the soldier’s perspective. You can read about the transcripts in a Der Spiegel Online article, “Nazi War Crimes Described by German Soldiers.” Here is an excerpt that caught my attention:
Men love technology, a subject that enables them to quickly find common ground. Many of the conversations revolve around equipment, weapons, calibers and many variations on how the men “whacked,” “picked off” or “took out” other human beings.
The victim is merely the target, to be shot and destroyed — be it a ship, a building, a train or even a cyclist, a pedestrian or a woman pushing a baby carriage. Only in very few cases do the soldiers show remorse over the fate of innocent civilians, while empathy is almost completely absent from their conversations. “The victim in an empathic sense doesn’t appear in the accounts,” the authors conclude.
Be advised the content of the article is at points graphic and disturbing.