Thursday, December 07, 2006

The Waffen SS?

I'll confess - I do love me the occasional dose of military science fiction. In particular, I really, really like David Weber's Honor Harrington series. But I suspect I couldn't possibly spend money on John Ringo's latest:
After the first enemy landings in 2004, the German chancellor decides, despite fierce opposition, to rejuvenate survivors of the Waffen SS. Eager to redeem their tarnished honor, these veterans display the same steadfastness and fortitude that they did in Russia and Normandy. Ringo (Hell's Faire) and Kratman (A State of Disobedience) pull no punches in this audacious and deliberately shocking effort, contrasting the ruthlessness of the (mostly) former Nazis with the contemporary politicians' disastrous insistence on forcing reality into a politically correct mold.
An example of the "steadfastness and fortitude" that the Waffen SS showed during their careers:
Many formations within the Waffen-SS were found guilty of war crimes, most notoriously at Oradour-sur-Glane, Marzabotto, against Canadian soldiers in the Battle of Normandy... and Americans in the Malmedy massacre.

...These formations, composed mostly of ex-Einsatzgruppen, released criminals and Russian Prisoners of War and commanded by the fanatical Nazis Oskar Dirlewanger and Bronislaw Kaminski, were engaged in numerous atrocities throughout their existence. After their actions in putting down the Warsaw Uprising, Heer complaints resulted in these units being dissolved and several members (including Kaminski) being tried and executed for their role in several incidents.

Similarly, the Waffen-Sturm-Brigade RONA has a combat record riddled with atrocities as well as abysmal conduct when faced with front line service.
This must be the logical outcome of the conservative fetish for "defying political correctness": glorifying war criminals and genocidal psychopaths. It's also worth pointing out, um, the Waffen SS lost the war. We destroyed them. They were unable to competently fight a force of equals (from the same planet!) but somehow they're going to repulse an alien invasion? Right.

Lest you accuse me of taking this too seriously, consider for a moment the increasing prevalence of the "more rubble, less trouble" meme on the right - the idea that if we just kill a bunch more people (Iraq, Afghanistan, it doesn't seem to matter) we'll be able to achieve our objectives. It is, plainly, an argument that if we adopt the callous disregard for innocent life and international law that characterized the Waffen SS, we'll finally get victory.

I'm sure a conservative could read all of the preceeding and say I'm just being a typical left-wing, knee-jerk hippy. And maybe I'm overreacting to what is, after all, bound to be a poorly-selling novel. But I also suspect that if I wrote a novel where Hitler were revived, whereupon he explained that the whole "holocaust" deal we were all so upset about wasn't such a big thing (a position about as empirically defensible as the notion that the Waffen SS was an honourable military organization) I'd be pilloried. And rightly so.

(PS - We Canadians had a decisive role in the defeat of the Waffen SS at Normandy. You want to revive 3rd Canadian Infantry division, that's what you would call recognizing success.)


Cyrus said...

This is only halfway on-topic, but if you like mil-SF and haven't read Eric Flint's 1632 yet, let me recommend it. The premise is, some deus ex machina transplants a modern West Virginia mining town from the year 2000 to Central Germany during the 30 Years War. I haven't read the books that are still in hardcover yet, but I've loved the series so far.

North of 49 said...

That's a good one, cyrus, but better yet (for me) was S.M. Stirling's Island in the Sea of Time series, which was the granddaddy of deus ex machina displacement...
except for Turtledove's The Misplaced Legion series, and of course the forefather of them all, del Rey's Lest Darkness Fall.

If y' ain't read 'em yet, they're well worth it.