War Crimes and the Wehrmacht

For those educated in post-Independence India, of whom many have evidently received very sadly ill-informed and biased views of modern European history and the 2ndWW - a view that sees little or no difference between the warring factions, esp. Britain and Germany, and for those who tolerate or even lend credence to ideas of the pro-Hitler Shiv Sena movement, or other proto-fascist Indian movements of nationalistic and the 'brown sahib' mentality, the maturing views of the German public on the Wehrmacht's past are far more accurate than those still lingering throughout India.

This attitude was expressed by some Sathya Sai Baba followers, including one of his VIP lecturers, the ex-Indian army officer, M.I. Chibber, in his book Sai Baba's Mahavakya on Leadership, Education in Human Values (M&M International Publishers, New Delhi, 1994). He considered the German General Staff in the 2nd WW to exhibit exemplary selfless excellence, apparently blind to the fact that the same High Command simply carried out the orders of a violent murderer and meglomaniacal madman.
Chibber’s slapdash book was much blessed by Sathya Sai Baba, not least with a foreword and an afterword, followed up by a world tour of workshops by Chibber. He projected a quasi-military mentality of the sort also known to be largely operative in Sai Baba colleges, ashrams and the Sai Organization.

The Frankfurter Allgemeine Zeitung's English supplement 'Culture and Society' of Nov. 29, 2001 (No. 278 page 7) contains a review of the newly-opened Exhibition in Berlin entitled "Crimes of the Wehrmacht. Dimensions of a War of Annihilation 1941-1944", as follows:-

"Should there remain any figment of a doubt that the Wehrmacht was a neutral military organisation that was not involved in Hitler's Nazi atrocities, this extensive and many-sided and deeply researched German exhibition will sweep aside all further traces of it. Excepts from the lengthy article follow:- "The most remarkable aspect of the occasion was the demonstrative general agreement. Whereas the first exhibition, which toured 28 German and six Austrian cities between 1995 and 1999, sparked polemic and outrage, the new one, which focuses on crimes the German military either tolerated or actually perpetrated on the eastern front, appears to allow only as much emotional response as is covered by the methodical prudence and circumspection of the historians.

the new exhibition goes out of its way to explain the exact circumstances of every photograph with scientific exactitude. "Each section of the exhibition calls for visitors who are prepared to delve deeper, to look into the issues of martial law and international conventions, of deportations, the execution of partisans and the genocide of the Jews. Great credit is due to the show's creators who made that kind of approach possible. They did not just label the exhibits. Rather, the images and texts have been linked in manifold ways and with great skill.

What becomes highly evident is that the Wehrmacht as a military organisation was structurally involved in the criminal war before the war against the Soviet Union began. In the eastern campaign, the army high command waged a war that ignored international law and military codes. Individual crimes, for instance, were not subject to court martial as long as they did not endanger troop discipline and were committed for ideological reasons. "The visitor sees and hears how an infamous mechanism of de-civilisation was set in motion - not everywhere, but systematically whenever circumstances, opportunity or so-called military necessity required it. This mechanism can be traced equally in the treatment of Soviet prisoners of war and, among other things, in the systematic starving of civilians during the "war of nutrition." Civilians were barely given a chance to survive in the 'defoliation zones.'

And Wehrmacht participation in the genocide of the Jews - providing both the structures and the personnel - falls right into this category."