I was going to write about Iraq and the American control of that tragic nation that has been, like many others, destroyed by the American war machine, but it is difficult to find out any real facts about anything in Iraq. All the news and reports are controlled, events are unexplained, the politics unclear, the American influence hidden in the dark shadows of their crimes, so I decided to write about the whitewashing of Nazis.
For while pondering what to write I watched a film on Netflix, a film that exposes just what the NATO countries are, the roots of their present foreign policies and treatment of their peoples. It’s a film that really excuses the barbarity of the US and NATO war machine, and their objective of revisiting World War II, which never ended for them and their Nazi friends, but was transformed into the Cold War, and the new Operation Barbarossa they are preparing against Russia, as the American withdrawal from the intermediate nuclear missile control treaty proves to be their intent.
The film bears the title, “My Honour Was My Glory.” It sounds like it could be the title of any war film, but it has a special meaning because that phrase was the motto of the Waffen SS unit, Der LiebstandarteSS-Adolf Hitler Panzergrenadier Division, the elite unit of the Waffen SS, the military formation of the Nazi Party of Germany and fascists from across Europe. It was this unit that was Hitler’s personal bodyguard.
So, is this film an expose of the many war crimes committed by that unit in World War Two? Does it show what they did in Russia, in Italy, in France? No. Instead, it is a portrayal designed to raise our sympathies, to see these criminals as heroes fighting for “home and hearth,” lost souls ultimately betrayed by their leaders, whose crimes are no worse than the crimes of other armies. Vivid battle scenes are connected by sad reflections of the SS men about their lives, their wives, their hopes, their fears. Hitler would have loved every second of it.
But what is the truth about this unit that the Italian director, Alessandro Pepe, now living in the USA, has turned into a group of lovable heroes? What did he erase from history?
The truth begins with the formation of the unit as Hitler’s personal bodyguard in the 1920s. In 1933, on the tenth anniversary of the Beer Hall Putsch, in which Hitler tried to seize power in a coup that failed, the men of the unit swore a personal oath of loyalty to Adolf Hitler and were made into a military formation. On swearing allegiance to Hitler the unit received the name Liebstandarte Adolf Hitler, or, personal bodyguard of Hitler. A year later the head of the SS, Heinrich Himmler, added the initials SS to the name of the unit to make it clear it was not part of the regular army or the still existing SA. Under its commander, Sepp Dietrich, it vaunted itself as a Nazi unit and then, in its first action, declared what it was going to be from then on, an organised gang of thugs and murderers.
On June 30 1934, Hitler ordered the unit to arrest the members of the SA organisation, led by Ernst Rohm, that was vying for power with him in the overall Nazi organisation. The arrests were carried out in Munich and that night men of the unit murdered several leaders of the SA including five generals and a colonel. Others were shot in Berlin. On July 1, 1934 on what is known as the Night of the Long Knives, Hitler ordered the unit to act as a death squad and its men murdered well over a hundred other people connected to the SA.
Having proved that it was willing to commit murder on his behalf, the unit was then expanded in size and became the honour guard at many of Hitler rallies and took part in the seizure of a number of lands Hitler desired, including the Saarland, and Sudetenland. In the invasion of Poland in 1939, the unit became famous for burning whole villages to terrorise the population, for murdering 50 Jews in the town of Blonie, for machine-gunning over 200 men, women and children at Zloczew, and for committing atrocities in a number of other towns.
During the operations in France in May 1940, in the fighting around Dunkirk, the unit murdered 80 prisoners of the Royal Warwickshire Regiment and some French soldiers in a barn at Wormhoudt.
In April 1941 they were the lead German unit in the invasion and occupation of Greece, then were transferred to join other units for the invasion of the USSR, in Operation Barbarossa. According to reports of its staff journalist, the unit murdered 4,000 Soviet prisoners of war on August 18, 1941. During the fighting around and in Kharkov in March 1943 it became notorious for murdering wounded Soviet soldiers found in a military hospital. Several hundred Soviet wounded were killed in that hospital and other prisoners were routinely executed during its operations.
On February 17, 1943 its men burned down the two villages of Yefremovka and Semyonovka, killing 872 men, women and children, with 240 of those burned alive in a church at Yefremovka. The battalion that committed this atrocity was given the name the “Blowtorch Battalion.” During this same period it and its reserve units in Germany rounded up Jews and took their property.
Transferred to Italy in September, 1943 the unit murdered 49 Jewish refugees near Lake Maggiore and killed 34 civilians in the village of Bove. Some victims at the lake were thrown into the water with their hands and feet tied. Then transferred to France in 1944 they murdered French civilians in the villages of Tavaux and Plomion. During the Ardennes fighting near Malmedy, the unit executed 84 American prisoners. They also captured eleven black US soldiers of the 333rd Artillery Battalion in another engagement. When their bodies were found, their fingers had been cut off and legs broken.
This is the unit that Alessandro Pepe wants us to connect with. The film references the Jews being massacred in the death camps, but the stories are dismissed by the men as unbelievable; quite a distortion since we know these men massacred Jews in Russia and Germany. Shooting of prisoners is excused because, well the Americans were worse and the Soviets deserved it. The killing of civilians is never mentioned. Instead we watch as these young men walk through beautiful fields in Ukraine and comment on how war scars the beauty of nature, or in Italy sigh at the beauty of the Tuscan landscape and in France the French countryside, rhapsodising like poets. But in Russia, what do we see? The Red Army soldiers are “Bolshevik scum” and prisoners are savagely beaten to death with rifle butts.
This is a film that makes heroes out of murderers, poets out of Nazis, a film designed to distort history, in fact to erase history and recreate it so that Nazis are lovable and even desirable to have around. Yet, in Germany and Austria it is illegal to use the motto of this unit and to use it to promote Nazism, But that is what Pepe does, what Netflix does.
But how is it possible that such a film could be financed and produced today and then shown on a major network? Because the governments of the NATO countries are composed of people who share the beliefs of the Nazis; anti-communist, anti-worker, anti-Semitic, despite their pretending otherwise so long as Israel does their bidding, sharing the same lust for world domination as Hitler, willing to use the same barbarism to terrorise and dominate the world.
We have seen the savagery of the Nazis, the same propaganda in the NATO attacks on Yugoslavia, on Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria, Iran, Venezuela, Russia and China; the same savagery, the same contempt for law and civilised behaviour. And for the same objectives, to make money by stealing and murdering.
The NATO countries installed and support a regime in Ukraine that is heavily infected with Nazis. Canada has a foreign minister who denies that her grandfather was a Nazi collaborator who helped the SS round up Jews in Ukraine. Nazi sympathisers are routinely discovered in Nato army units. Far right parties, fascist parties are gaining influence all over Europe. In Britain, France and the USA, right wing parties have been in control for a long time. And though there are fake expressions of dismay at this, these same governments encourage the rise of the far right by suppressing left parties, pushing people to essentially right wing social democratic parties, putting out false histories of socialism in those countries, and making sure the far right gets lots of media coverage that the left parties are denied. They ban and slander communist parties and their leaders, and all the while foster hatred against foreigners, telling the people that their enemies are the Jews, the Muslims, the Russians, the Chinese and to instil fear in the people tell them that ever tighter surveillance and security are needed to protect them from the “enemy,” and if that does not convince them, there is always a bombing or two or a mass shooting to make the point, along with the constant drone of “you are being watched,” repeated over and over again, to try to keep us in line.
Watched is not the right word; more like gloated over, as the far right leaders, masquerading as liberals, watch us drift into despair at our conditions, knowing that people are seeking any answer, but are told not to look to the left, but to look to the far right to find. We see the black shirts in action again in Hong Kong, supported by the black shirts of the right in the west who hold power over us.
The British and Canadian prime ministers stated on the anniversary of the Nazi invasion of Poland in 1939 that the Soviet Union was the aggressor against Poland when German armies invaded, that Poland was caught between “two tyrannies,” the big lie since the British, French and Americans refused Soviet requests to form an alliance against Hitler since they were encouraging Hitler to attack the Soviet Union. The USSR was forced to protect itself against the fascists, to protect the revolution that raised the workers and peasants of Russia out of poverty into a new life, a struggle so vividly described in Ilya Ehrenburg’s account of the resistance of the Soviet peoples to the Nazi invasion described so well in his novel, The Storm. Yet all across eastern Europe, monuments to the men and women of the Red Army who died fighting the Nazi armies are desecrated or demolished while statues to Nazi thugs are raised. And never are the people told that the Nazis were capitalists on a rampage, that they were and are the face of capitalism with the gloves off. No, there is no monument to the crimes of the capitalists. And so now we have films praising the SS shown to millions of people and not a word said, until now.
We thought the Red Army defeated fascism in 1945. It looks like we going to have fight them again.
Christopher Black is an international criminal lawyer based in Toronto. He is known for a number of high-profile war crimes cases and recently published his novel “Beneath the Clouds. He writes essays on international law, politics and world events, especially for the online magazine “New Eastern Outlook.”