I've never really told anyone about this, and I must admit that the only reason I'm presenting it here is because of the anonymity. Only read if you're bored. I'm basically just looking for what other people's opinion is of this and how they would feel with such a situation.
Basically it turns out that my father's family has a somewhat colorful history. I always knew even when I was really young that I had a strong German background and that it's sort of a cultural tradition my family wants to keep, because I was enrolled to take German lessons, and we used to go to German festivals and parades and such (which were always great fun). It was only when I got older that I began realizing that there was *more to the story*.
The first I realized that there may be tragedy behind this was when I was still quite young and randomly naively asked my grandpa what happened to his father. Now my grandpa is quite the man's man, very strong minded and tough as a nail, but I noticed that I had made him start weeping, and he was so upset he couldn't answer me and just turned away. I knew something was up then because it was so out of character for him to act like that.
It was my father who finally started telling me the full story gradually. Firstly there's the more romantic side in that there's a town and castle still in Germany that holds the family name and from which the people with that name originally came from, it's right near the Danish/German border, not far from Hamburg. In the later Middle Ages they were men-of-arms and according to grandpa "bad boys" who would raid and pillage areas in further South. There's still a memorial in this town to a time where an English army had invaded the area and the locals let loose the dykes and drowned them all, lol. I have a family crest and cool flag with a mounted knight riding over water, which is meant to commemorate this. It also has a palm tree which is meant to symbolize the epic scope of their pillaging operations, lol.
So it all seemed innocent and fun but then came the recent family history. During the rise of Adolf Hitler, my great-grandfather was one of the original "storm-troopers" and brown-shirts of the SS (let's just say his membership number was in the double-digits). He then joined the Waffen SS. I have no idea about his actions during the war, and I'm too afraid to ask my grandpa because he's so touchy on the subject. All I know is that he was killed in Russia, according to one of his friends who made it back it was likely from those rocket-launchers the Russians used. What of course worries me though is that the Nazis obviously did some brutal things in that campaign, so there's some seriously negative possible conclusions to be drawn from that?
But there's even more to the story. It turns out my grandpa was in the Hitler Youth and flew gliders in preparation to be a pilot in the Luftwaffe (he never saw combat though because the war ended when he was ~15). Recently he gave me his Hitler Youth "dagger" which apparantly has ceremonial significance. He says they were taught to put it in the ground with their ears next to it to hear tanks approaching. He also gave me Hitler Youth sporting medals which were meant to be worn on the uniforms. It turns out he lost an incredible number of close friends and family in the war. He showed me a book in German recently which listed all the dead soldiers from around his home area, and it was frankly scary.
So how would you guys feel if your family were not just Nazis, but sort of quite high-up Nazis? I know this sounds sort of sick, but I sort of have respect for them being in the position to the degree that they were in "elite" units, and the skill it takes to be there. But then I always catch myself thinking: what if my GG has seriously bad blood on his hands? How should I react to my grandpa giving me Nazi memorabilia as family air-looms? Treasure them? Once again I'm really mixed in feeling, I love my grandpa and covet pretty much anything he gives me, but then there's the "what if.....?" What should I be feeling having a photo of my great-grandpa decked out in Waffen SS garb?
Thoughts? Family affection vs. scary possibilites!
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Last edited by bronson; 13-09-2012 at 22:46.
I personally dont see it as a problem. You seem like you know that doing what they did isnt ok, but back then it was acceptable. I mean itd be different if you were bragging about how many people they may or may not have injured/killed but instead youre admiring their military status. Just dont take it too far lol
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- Mar 2011
- "The WAD$ in my pockets makes it look like I got thigh PAD$"
I agree i wouldn't make a thing out of it, its apart of your family history. i would save those things that got passed on to you as long as possible.
The Holocaust was bad, but that certainly doesn't mean we should drown out all records or memories of it.
Also, I can admire anyone who serves a higher purpose. Whether I agree with their purpose or not.
Sorry, OP. Going to lay it on you...it sucks your family was involved with the SS. I would be ashamed but at the same time everyone was caught up in it. I personally don't think you should hold onto anything from your grandfather. But, whats done is done. You can't change the past...It's def. a tough situation to be in. I admire the fact that you have thought so much about it - I highly doubt other German youths do the same.
Love your grandfather - he is family. What's done is done. But, by no means, disregard what transpired in the past and take a blind eye to it. That would be ignorant of you. When you have a family of your own, instill into them the values that you want taught. There's nothing else you can do.
Why not donate the memorabilia to a museum?
Do you even know what erroneous means?.. Because if what you said about my post was true, we'd be in disagreement about the Holocaust being bad..
Pedantic, I know, but honestly.. I should post 'misused words to sound smart' in the pet peeves thread..
Tude's museum idea actually is pretty cool though.
Personally I'd keep such important artifacts, but a museum is a good choice, too.
As in we should remember the victims or we shouldn't discard the achievements of the Nazi's? Your whole fucking post bothered me, especially your ridiculous response.
I'm just curious why one massacre is deemed inhuman and a shame whilst another is celebrated and is celebrate with palm trees and holidays? It is because you lost WW2 and not the other war?
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- Aug 2011
well, my grandfather (who i never met, and who is the reason i was raised bilingual and have a dual citizenship) was a member of the ss-totenkopfverband.
these were the guys who guarded the concentration camps, originally. he also horribly abused his children (including my father) and was an all-around fuckhead.
My grandfather went to jail for illegal bookmaking. We all have our own crosses to bear.
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- Aug 2011
illegal bookmaking? that's a thing?
at first i read bootlegging.
It was the 50's in New Zealand. You couldn't even buy a beer on Sunday's until the 1980's.
<snip> Inflection shouldn't be arbitrarily applied as you see fit. How the hell is the statement "The Holocaust was bad" in any way ill advised? And what did I even ever assume? Don't fucking read into shit man, because if I wanted to say something, I'd type it not imply it.
So here's some clarification <snip>:
We should not forget the Holocaust.
Fucking simple, right?
And yea, whether or not you like it, the Nazis made contributions to technological and even humanistic knowledge. Do you have any idea what they accomplished in the field of aeronautics alone??
But hell, that's completely tangential anyway! I didn't even mention their achievements in either of my prior posts.
If you step up your reading comprehension, you might see that I was talking about serving.
So I don't give a fuck what you think, and I stand by my post.
I can respect that these people believed wholeheartedly in what they were doing.
That doesn't mean I agree with their ideas or cause. It means I can respect serving a higher purpose than yourself.
And that I'm not stuck in a single narrow perspective.
Your whole fucking post bothered me, considering it was a ridiculous and ignorant response.
P.S. I think it's pitiful that you'd be ashamed of your family and heritage.
Hell, I think it's pitiful that people are indoctrinated to feel shame at all.
But then again, I'm firmly amoral for secular reasons.
Last edited by bronson; 14-09-2012 at 02:48. Reason: removal of forum guideline violation
It'd be pretty stupid to worry as if you think about it, going back farther and farther the chances of your "family" remaining angelic is verrrrrry slim. You didn't participate in any of this and its not as your/anyways fault your gpa was in HY. It was mandatory for boys i'm pretty sure and not like you could say no, and either way with all the propaganda for it around you would end up being the odd man out, which you know children hate being! I would probably sell the stuff myself knowing WWII memorabilia can be pretty pricey dependent on the item/condition. To me worrying about something like this would be like akin to worrying about the fact your family had a rabid dog in 1795 which killed two people. We've had ex nazis live in our area, it was actually kind of sad because one was literally like 90 something years old and they extradited him, he was just the quite don't bother anyone sort of people as well, he lived in that house possibly since coming over after the war as well. To end, its best to let the people who made the terrible decisions worry about them, not you!
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- Jan 2010
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Feel free to state your opinions on this guys, but don't go attacking each other personally based on different opinions. Lets keep this civil and on topic so further action need not be taken.
Yahh, my apologies to Tomer for letting myself get worked up. I've been kinda angry for some reason the past few days. Nothing personal dude.
well amino acid, it seems as if your great grandfather was part of a truly disgusting and dehumanizing period of global history. Ya those knifes that symbolize the grooming and brainwashing of children in Germany to become racist, elitist, barbarians <snip>
and the skills you were referring into when you said you had respect for your greatgrandfather would be perpetuating hate and being easily swept up in a mob and controlled.
Last edited by bronson; 14-09-2012 at 03:59. Reason: SO Guidelines
Real easy to criticize when you aren't in the situation, isn't it?
I guarantee there's blood on your family's hands, too. Think that point was already made.
My point was not that he was related to them, there is nothing wrong with that. its the sense of respect for his nazi and the nazi memorobilia that bothered me
So you wouldn't respect the military achievements of your ancestors if you didn't agree with their war?
People seem to love to keep modern perspective when examining the past.
You've gotta realize that this was normal then. Help hit the nail on the head, I think, when he was talking about how not only was participation mandatory, but the populace was so brainwashed and in such a terrible place at the time, that it was hard to not get swept up. Consider realistically what you'd have done had you been a young boy in Nazi Germany. If all of your neighbors and family and friends were joining the "Cause"? If you were faced with death for disobedience?
Idealism is for college kids, not soldiers and peasants.
I wouldn't worry about it too much. All of us alive today have ancestors who've committed pretty unsavoury acts at one time or another, or we wouldn't exist. It was a pretty fucked up period in human history and I certainly don't condone what German Nazism did for Europe, but what I will say is that you have to remember the context of the times. It's easy for people to judge the Nazis very harshly with hindsight, but if they were in the same position, would they have rebelled or done things differently? Doubt it highly. Anyway, holocaust aside and all that, the SS were an extremely potent force. Gotta respect them for it. I bet that knife is pretty cool as well. Not a bad piece of memorabilia!
OP, welcome to bluelight, fellow sydney-sider.
to answer your question simply, there is nothing to prevent you from being both critical and loving of your family at the same time. my olds are from the former Jugoslavia areas and so it aint hard to imagine being just two gens from badness. just be glad you are removed from it just enough to not be a contrubuting, and remember that family will always be family.
Anyway, I don't think you're opinion would be so passive about the Holocaust if you lost family members in it?
Anyway, back to the OP - I think someone else mentioned donating it to a museum? That makes sense to me...Thoughts?