Karl-Heinz Rosch-Hero without glory.

Hate is never good, it clouds judgement and mind. I am not only saying this to those who read this but more so to myself.

I have written so many pieces about World War 2,and although I have always been careful not to put all the blame on the Germans but more on the Nazis, for all the horrors. But because of the fact that my country was occupied by the Germans, and that my Grandfather was killed by them. Also only hearing bad thing about the Germans from my parents ,aunts and uncles, it is no wonder I developed a hate for the Germans.

However writing about the war and the Holocaust, and doing the research, has given me more balanced view. Over the years I have to come to admit that not all Germans were bad and not all Dutch were good.

Karl-Heinz Rosch was a young German soldier during World War II who saved the lives of two Dutch children.

Three days after Rosch’s turned 18, October 6 1944, the young German soldier, along with his platoon, was stationed in a farm in Goirle, near Tilburg in the Netherlands, when Allied forces took fire on them. He was about to hide in the basement along with his comrades when he noticed that the two children of the farmer who owned the land seemed oblivious of the danger that was on them and continued to play in the courtyard.

He ran to them, took each in his arms and brought them into the safety of the basement. He again ran outside to position himself on the other side of the courtyard when a grenade hit him right at the spot where the children were earlier. Rosch was killed instantly.

“His corpse was completely torn apart, there were body parts everywhere,” according to one who witnessed the appalling scene.

As so oft before after the war, hypocrisy ruled. There were no issues channeling Nazi war criminals to the US,UK and the USSR, under the guise of Operation Paperclip and other similar operations. Where many of them received great jobs and even had awards named after them.

However when it got to honoring this young man, who saved 2 children and as a result paid the ultimate price himself, it suddenly was a problem.

Because Rosch was a German soldier, and the enemy, his story was kept private after the war. The Dutch did not show any sympathy towards the German soldiers who had occupied their country during the war.

According to Herman van Rouwendaal, a former city councilor of the area, Karl-Heinz Rosch’s story was kept under wraps for 60 years due to the fact that he was an enemy.

“Because he was just a damn Kraut,” were his exact words.

Even his parents and grandparents did not know how Rosch died. It was not until when the rescued children gave their testimonies that the story of the young German soldier’s sacrifice was made known to the public.

But in 2008, change in how the Dutch treated the Germans became palpable that then 76-year-old Rouwendaal, along with his friends, decided to make a push that would make amends to the one-of-a-kind, historical image.

“Some Dutch are caught in a black-and-white way of thinking. The Germans were all Nazis, the Dutch were all good. That there were also unsavory characters among us, who for example betrayed Jews and robbed them, one does not like to hear,” he commented.

However the monument honoring young German soldier Karl-Heinz Rosch was not put up without a fight.

Those who supported a memorial for Karl-Heinz Rosch were met with opposition in every way.

They had to stand against the argument that it was not right to make a statue for the enemy when the five men who came from Goirle, tied in stakes and were killed by German troops as a warning to resistance fighters did not have any memorial honoring their unreasonable deaths.

They then suggested to put up a monument for the five men next to the stakes which were preserved by history museum in the locality and finally, put up Rosch’s statue nearby the five men’s monument. Through this, the two sides of the German occupation would be aptly represented – the all too common brutality and the scarcely evident show of humanity by some of the enemy soldiers.

However, after much discussion, the city council still turned down the making of Rosch’s monument saying that one in honor of a Wehrmacht soldier would still be “too socially sensitive”. Besides, they did not want to make Goirle a pilgrimage site to the German neo-Nazis. Not only was the state funding for the said statue refused, city council also refused to have the monument displayed in any public area – a resolution regarded wrong by many Dutch.

Being turned down by the government did not, however, dampen the desire of the monument’s supporters to see through to its success. They did a fundraising drive to have the needed funds for its erection.

Artist Riet van der Louw depicted Karl-Heinz Rosch as he was – a Wehrmacht soldier complete with the steel helmet many would instantly recognize and had come to hate. But it also showed the extent of compassion he extended to Jan and Toos Kilsdonk, the two children who were tucked in each of his arm as he carried them to safety.

“We will not be honoring the Wehrmacht, but rather the humanity of a young German soldier,” van Rouwendaal strongly pointed out during the drive for Karl-Heinz Rosch’s memorial.

On November 4, 2008 a bronze statue was erected on a private property in Goirle in memory of Karl-Heinz Rosch. The statue is considered to be the only monument in the world to a German World War II soldier who was part of an occupying force.

Just consider this, less then a week before saved the 2 children and was killed, Karl Heinz had still been a child himself.

Many thanks to my friend Norman Stone for drawing my attention to the story.

Source

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A Stranger to Myself: The Inhumanity of War: Russia, 1941-1944

The title of this blog is also the title of a book written by Willy Peter Reese.

He was born on born January 22, 1921 in Duisburg. It is not clear when he died but it estimated he more then likely died between June 22 and 27, 1944 near Wizebsk in the Soviet Union.

Willy Peter Reese was a German writer. During the Second World War , as a Wehrmacht soldier on the Eastern Front, he kept records of his experiences, which he edited into a manuscript. It was published in 2003 with the title “A Stranger to Myself: The Inhumanity of War: Russia, 1941-1944”

In the book he describes the things he sees on the battlefields and the crimes which are committed. He is clearly disgusted by it, but even more so because he is a participant in these horrific deeds because he was a soldier.

He was only twenty years old when he found himself marching through Russia with orders to take no prisoners. Three years later he was dead. Bearing witness to-and participating in-the atrocities of war, Reese recorded his reflections in his diary, leaving behind an intelligent, touching, and illuminating perspective on life on the eastern front. He documented the carnage perpetrated by both sides; the destruction that was exacerbated by the young soldiers’ hunger, frostbite, and exhaustion; and their daily struggle to survive. And he wrestled with his own sins, with the realisation that what he and his fellow soldiers had done to civilians and enemies alike was unforgivable, with his growing awareness of the Nazi policies toward Jews, and with his deep disillusionment with himself and his fellow men.

I have to be honest I have only read some of the book. In a way it is an easy read in the way it is written, but is extremely hard to read because if the descriptive narration of the horrors. I will however finish the book soon.

One thing that is very clear from the book is that it wasn’t only the SS committing atrocities, but also the regular German army, the Wehrmacht.

These are just two excerpts from the book.

“We are war. Because we are soldiers. I have burned all the cities, Strangled all the women, Brained all the children, Plundered all the land. I have shot a million enemies, Laid waste the fields, destroyed the churches, Ravaged the souls of the inhabitants, the blood and tears of all the mothers. I did it, all me.—I did. Nothing. But I was a soldier.”

“Our quarters were wrecked, and there were corpses littered about everywhere. We covered the German dead with tarpaulins; with the Cossacks we took off their felt boots and caps, as well as their pants and underpants, and put them on. We now moved closer together in the few houses still standing. One soldier had been unable to find any felt boots, which were an excellent protection against the cold. The next day he found a Red Army corpse frozen stiff. He tugged at his legs, but in vain. He grabbed an ax and took the man off at the thighs. Fragments of flesh flew everywhere. He bundled the two stumps together under his arm and set them down in the oven, next to our lunch. By the time the potatoes were done, the legs were thawed out, and he pulled on the bloody felt boots. Having the dead meat next to our food bothered us as little as if someone had wrapped his frostbite between meals or cracked lice.”

sources

https://www.nationalww2museum.org/war/articles/words-war-11

https://www.academia.edu/3420145/Sexual_Violence_in_Europe_in_World_War_II_1939_1945_in_Politics_and_Society_March_2009?email_work_card=view-paper

Evil recorded.

wEHRMACHT

Secret recordings made by British intelligence during World War II War have laid bare  the horrific atrocities carried out by everyday German soldiers.Not members of the SS, ‘regular’Wehrmacht soldiers.

Following is the transcript of one of those recordings, The only name related to the recording is Reimbold, his position I don’t know but that is really not relevant for the event he describes is truly shocking.

I have to warn you .some of the language is awful so I have made some alterations.

Reimbold: “In the first officers’ prison camp where I was being kept here, there was a really stupid guy from Frankfurt , a young lieutenant, a young upstart. There were eight of us sitting around a table and talking about Russia . And he said: ‘Oh, we caught this female spy who had been running around in the neighborhood. First we hit her in the tits with a stick and then we beat her rear end with a bare bayonet. Then we f*cked her, and then we threw her outside and shot at her. When she was lying there on her back, we threw grenades at her. Every time one of them landed near her body, she screamed.’ And just think, there were eight German officers sitting at that table with me, and they all broke out laughing. I couldn’t stand it anymore, so I got up and said: Gentlemen, this is too much.”

gRENADES

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Source

Der Spiegel

 

Michael Kitzelmann, his conscience got the better of him.

Michael Kitzelmann

It would be absurd to say that every German soldier was bad. There were some who saw what was happening and protested against it and paid the ultimate price for it.

Michael Kitzelmann had been a loyal soldier of the Wehrmacht. He was company commander at the age of  24,  and was awarded the Iron Cross,Second Class for bravery in battle. He was also a devout Catholic.  In letters to his parents and in talks with his fellow soldiers he would be critical  of war and destruction of those responsible,during Operation Barbarossa.Russland, Halbkettenfahrzeug mit Geschütz

Between January and May 1942 he was assigned  to a unit combating  partisans in Russia, where he witnessed  atrocities committed by  the Einsatzgruppen  on the Russian population and against the Jews.

Traumatized and shocked by these experiences he started to re-examine his conscience. He to detest the Nazis and openly criticize commands.

His attitude resulting from a Christian rejection of war and the Nazi leaders responsible became  apparent in his letters home and discussions with fellow soldiers.

A  comrade betrayed  him in March 1942, whilst he  was being treated for an injury in a hospital. Kitzelmann was subsequently arrested in April 1942.  On Good Friday 1942,he was  sentenced to death for undermining military force.

He  was executed  by firing squad on 11 June 1942 in Oryol prison.Before his execution, he forgave the sergeant who had betrayed him.

Orel_Tsentral-Prison_in_old

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