The occupation and your job

Grendel sent in “this interesting film strip”: by the famous war-time propagandist “Frank Capra”: The film was shown to American soldiers assigned to the occupying force in Germany after the second world war.

The opening statement of the film is apropos of the situation in Iraq:

bq. “By your conduct and attitude while on guard inside Germany you can lay the groundwork of a peace that could last forever… or just the opposite.”

The film advises aloofness and encourages suspicion of _all_ Germans. It paints a picture of the “tender German people” as diseased warmongers not to be trusted. The German imperialist imperative cannot be resolved simply by removing the leadership. The ex-Nazi officials, out of uniform stormtroopers and former SS remain hidden by the mob, an insurgency lying in wait. The message is sharply blunt, emphasized by imagery of desecrated US flags, crying women and dead children. It doesn’t have any of the subtlety of the advanced COIN theory of the 21st century. It is an amazing piece of work. If anyone has access to some comparable contemporary stuff, it would be great to see it side by side with this film. However, in an era victimized by political correctness, could we ever see a film comparable to this?

About Younghusband

Sir Francis Edward Younghusband (1863-1942) was a British explorer, army officer, military-political officer, and foreign correspondent born in India who led expeditions into Manchuria, Kashgar, and Tibet. He three times tried and failed to scale Mt. Everest and journeyed from China to India, crossing the Gobi desert and the Mustagh Pass (alt. c.19,000 ft/5,791 m) of the Karakoram mountain range in modern day Pakistan. Convinced of Russian designs on British interests in India, Younghusband proactively engaged in the nineteenth century spying and conflict over Central Asia between the British and the Russians known as the Great Game. "Younghusband" is a Canadian who has spent a number of years bouncing back and forth between his home country and Japan. Fluent in Japanese and English with experience in numerous other languages from Spanish to Georgian, Younghusband has travelled throughout Asia. He graduated with an MA from the War Studies Department at the Royal Military College of Canada, where he focussed on the Japanese oil industry and energy security issues. He has recently returned to Canada from Japan, and is working in the technology sector.
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8 Responses to The occupation and your job

  1. DJ says:


    That was amazing film making. I am a little shocked by the heavy handedness of the propaganda. Capra knew how to effect people with film. You are right that the German situation is very relevant to the current one. I am sorry we did not remember these lessons.

  2. Chirol says:

    Interesting but shameless propaganda. I particularly take offense to the insulting way Bismarck, one of history’s greatest statesmen, is portrayed.

    Also, the “Deutschland Ueber Alles” phrase has been misused for so long its incredible. It was originally written as a song in the late 1800s to inspire German people in the then dozens of tiny states, to unite into one greater Germany. It had nothing to do with expansion or empire, but rather to think of a unified German, above your own immediate little state. Remember, Germany only unified in 1871.

    Of course this is nothing more than a propaganda film, which in retrospect, is silly and relative to its time, completely understandable.

    It does make me worry though, as someone who has spent tiem all over the Middle East, to hear the same things about the region and Islam.

    However, on a side note, if I were making a film for US soldiers today fighting in Afghanistan, I’d warn them about the Germans as “radical peace mongers” not to be trusted to fight! =) How times have changed.

  3. Aceface says:

    I have to agree with Chirol here.
    Iraq war and occupation totally lack the legitimacy of World War 2 victory over Japan and Germany.
    And Nazi resistance under occupation portrayed here was a creation of paranoid shared both by the Nazis and Allies.
    Only Soviet Union had pursued such propaganda driven occupation and they build up DDR,the not-so-better-half of Germany.

  4. ElamBend says:

    YH – You can get most of Capra’s other stuff on dvd, I have a whole box set of them. He does a good job of using the Nazi’s propaganda against them. My Russian-born fiance finds the pro-Russian one amusing (it glosses over the pact between Germany and the USSR). The one about Japan displays the racialism from both sides.
    Worth watching.

  5. bristlecone says:

    Germany is a quagmire – we’ve been there for over 60 years! We must withdraw.

  6. Chirol says:

    bristlecone: LOL!

  7. SEEROV says:

    What people are missing about the German occupation is the brutality we inflicted on the German people. We literally fire bombed whole cities to ash in Germany. After the war, the US starved another 3 million Germans including 1 million POW’s. In fact, Patton refused to starve the Germans in his sector and he had an “accident.” The biggest book burning in Germany happened after the war. If anyone even whistled the Horst Wessel song they went away.

    Contrast this with Iraq, where people still have pictures of Saddam in their homes. If a German had been found with a picture of Hitler, he would of went to jail. American soldiers also took advantage of German women in their starving state by pimping them out and giving them food for sex. They referred to this as “liberating” them. The whole German nation was humiliated. The Russian’s raped German girls for sport.

    I’m not sure if the US could get away with these activities today? The type of brutality and humiliation required to really stop the insurgency is just not possible. If we pulled 1000 Iraqis in the street and shot them for every American killed, we could stop this insurgency fast.

    But with modern telecommunications and political correctness this isn’t an option anymore. Now we have to come up with resource draining concepts that put our soldiers in dangerous and precarious situations, so not to “offend” anyone.

  8. ron patterson says:

    Seerov your post is nonsense!!! No evidence of mass starvation !