Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Don't Lose the Monocle! Nazi War Criminals Get Social Security and Jobs in Hollywood.

Outside in the corridor, someone was approaching. The door opened and General Strong stepped in. “General, we’re ready to begin,” he said.

Jodl nodded. He reached into his jacket’s inner pocket and took out something which he then fixed into his eye. A monocle! Jodl now looked like a Prussian played by Erich von Stroheim. What was he thinking? Did he somehow consider it vital that Germany be represented in her darkest hour by a walking caricature? Perhaps he was angling for a post-war career in Hollywood. From what Ziggy had heard, plenty of German and Austrian Jewish refugees had found lucrative careers playing Nazis in films. Jodl was the real thing. Why shouldn’t he get some of it?

"Ready?” asked Jodl. Seeing everyone nod, he said to them: “Gentlemen, this is a black day for Germany, but I promise you, we will survive!”

I wonder if Eisenhower will be there,” von Friedeburg mumbled aloud to himself.

They walked down the corridor in single file, past the staring soldiers, General Jodl first, followed by Major Oxenius, then Admiral von Friedeburg, then Ziggy.

They were brought into a crowded, map-filled room, at the far end of which, under the glaring light from a bank of movie-studio floodlights, was a large rectangular table. Sitting there facing them were nearly a dozen British, American, and Russian generals with Bedell Smith at the center. Ziggy examined the faces of the other Allied generals, but none of them looked anything like Eisenhower. On the other hand, he noticed Suslaparov glaring at him, this time not as though they were best friends.

They took chairs on the near side of the table. Bedell Smith gestured to an aide, who brought Jodl a document. Scowling, Jodl examined it perfunctorily and then scribbled his signature onto it before passing it to von Friedeburg, who did the same. The document then went to Bedell Smith, then to a British general, a French general, an American, and then Suslaparov, all of whom added their signatures to it. Then another copy of the surrender made the rounds, followed by another and another and another.

When all the copies had been signed, Jodl raised his hand. “General, I would like to say a word,” he said.

"Yes, of course,” said Bedell Smith, sounding nicer than he had in any of their previous encounters.

Jodl stood up and began addressing everyone in the room. “General, with this signature the German people and the German armed forces are, for better or worse, delivered into the victor’s hands. In this war, which has lasted more than five years, both have achieved and suffered perhaps more than any other people in the world. In this hour I can only express the hope that the victor will treat them with generosity.”

Then they were marched out. The war was over.

(Excerpt from Germania, Simon & Schuster, 2008, Kindle version available here).

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