Thursday, April 19, 2012


Recently I was reminded of the famous exchange that took place after World War II between prison psychologist G. M. Gilbert and the leading member of the Nazi party Hermann Goering during the Nuremberg trials.

It epitomizes for me the frustration and sadness that I feel when the subject of war is broached. Why is it that we, who detest war and speak out against it, are so often berated for being “unpatriotic”? Why can’t I hate it when our young men and women are led to slaughter without being told that I don’t have the best interests of our country at heart ? Our leaders have so much power and Goering’s words, spoken in 1945, ring eerily true today.

When asked if the people want war he said, “Why, of course, the people don't want war. Why would some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best that he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece? Naturally, the common people don't want war; neither in Russia, nor in England, nor in America, nor for that matter in Germany. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship.”

When Gilbert mentioned that in a democracy the people have some say in the matter and that in the United States only Congress can declare war, Goering answered: “Oh, that is all well and good, but, voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the pacifists for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same way in any country.”

Sound familiar??

(Goering was sentenced to die but committed suicide by cyanide poisoning before that could be carried out.)


Blogger Anvilcloud said...

It seems pretty true for a certain recent war.

2:37 PM  
Blogger NCmountainwoman said...

So true. And so depressing. When will we ever learn?

8:32 AM  
Blogger KGMom said...

Oh, Ginnie--how on the same wave length we are.
In our recent trip to Germany, we visited Nurnberg (or Nuremberg). We saw a museum with loads of information about how the Nazis controlled the media and twisted words, manipulated the facts. I gave me chills since I feel that is exactly what some of our news sources do--sometimes promoting certain politicians who are also twisting the facts.

4:11 PM  
Blogger Diana said...

War is never a good thing but I do believe it can be necessary at times. I am by no means saying that I condone it. It's just the way of the world. Love Di ♥

6:13 AM  
Blogger Syd said...

WWII was the last necessary war IMO. All else has fed the military industrial complex.

10:34 AM  
Anonymous schmidleysscribblins, said...

Finishing my history degree this year, which focuses on the nineteenth and twentieth centuries in Europe and by extension America as the two converge during this period, I can honestly say every war fought in the past 200 years or so was stupid and fought largely for economic reasons. Dianne

5:39 PM  
Blogger possum said...

For every one person these days who dies fighting in US wars around the world, 25 other soldiers kill themselves. Veterans are killing themselves at a rate of one every 80 minutes. There are more than 6,500 veteran suicides every year. That’s more than all the American soldiers killed in Afghanistan and Iraq in the last 10 years, according to a New York Times analysis. Being a veteran apparently doubles your risk of suicide.

What does that say?

9:10 AM  
Anonymous Big John said...

As one Englishman who would probably be speaking German now if it had not been for all those brave GIs who were "overpaid, oversexed and over here", I have to say thanks again 'Yanks', but I am reminded of Ambrose Bierce’s dictum that “War is God’s way of teaching Americans geography.”

7:44 AM  
Blogger ellen said...

Here, here, Ginnie.

10:33 AM  
Blogger troutbirder said...

Sad but true....

6:37 AM  
Blogger Steve Rugel said...

Yep. America is a totally self-deluding society. Just like all the rest. Only, since we actually have much freedom and access to information, we have no excuse but stupidity and cowardice to explain our national behavior. Sorry to say it, but honestly, this is now an unmanly bullying nation in need of much renewal.

4:37 AM  
Blogger Steve Rugel said...

P.S. you are a neat writer with a winning style.

4:39 AM  

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