Friday, November 12, 2004

POLITICS BY OTHER MEANS?

Von Clausewitz described war as diplomacy by other means. However, a story in the Prague Post this week reflects the strange bedfellows that war can produce. Makes me wonder if sometimes war is politics by other means. Many people have heard that Patton wanted to arm captured SS units and send them at the Russians after Germany was defeated in World War II. His idea was to basically make them fight for their lives to destroy Stalin. Turns out this sort of idea was a mere rehashing of a similar idea (as most ideas are).

Apparently the Committee for the Liberation of the Peoples of Russia met in Prague on November 14, 1944. As is true of so many vital moments in Czech/Bohemian history, the meeting took place at Prague Castle. Attending were high ranking SS and Wehrmacht officers, as well as representatives from the various Slav lands the Nazis had conquered. The plan put forward was to recruit an army of 1.5 million Russians and Ukrainians from the POW population and use it to invade and conquer Stalin's Soviet Union.

Apparently the Nazis thought this idea had some real problems, but ended up arming 50,000 of these guys and sending them through Bohemia and Moravia toward the Red Army. This was May 1945, and the army realized that if the Soviets captured them, they would be tortured and executed. Therefore, they decided to march to Pilsen, where Patton had stopped his advance through the Reich. The army stopped to rest south of Prague as the Prague Uprising against the Nazis started. As it became evident that the Soviets were about to let the Czech patriots and Nazis kill each other (as they had in Warsaw the previous year), the Czechs asked the POW army for help. The army went to Prague, causing the Nazis to surrender instead of destroying the whole city. The army then marched to Pilsen where the United States eventually returned most of them to the Soviets, where they were tortured and killed.

What a strange, strange story.

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