Friday, 27 June 2014

Quotes from “THE GOOD WAR” : by STUDS TERKEL

Page.5  “For the typical American soldier, despite the perverted film sermons, it wasn’t ‘getting another Jap’ or ‘getting another Nazi’ that impelled him up front.  ‘The reason you storm the beaches is not patriotism or bravery’, reflects the tall rifleman.  ‘It’s that sense of not wanting to fail your buddies.  There’s a special sense of kinship’…  You had 15 guys who for the first time in their lives were not living in a competitive society.  We were in a tribal sort of situation, where we could help each other without fear.  I realized it was the absence of phoney standards that created the thing I loved about the army.”

P.13  (Quoting an ex-admiral):  “WW2 has warped our view of how we look at things today.  We see things in terms of that war, which in a sense was a good war.  But the twisted memory of it encourages the men of my generation to be willing, almost eager, to use military force anywhere in
the world.

P.39  “The reason you storm the beaches is not patriotism or bravery.  It’s that sense of not wanting to fail your buddies.  Having to leave that group when I had the flu may have saved my life.  (Many of his friends were killed while he was sick.)  Yet to me, that kid, it was a disaster.” 

P.44   “It was sunshine and quiet.  We were passing the Germans we killed.  Looking at the individual German dead, each took on a personality.  They were no longer the Germans of the brutish faces and the helmets we saw in the newsreels.  They were exactly our age… boys like us…   What I remember of that day is not so much the sense of loss at our two dead but a realisation of how you’ve been conditioned.  At that stage we didn’t hate the Germans just for evil the country represented, their militarism, but right down to each individual German.  Once the helmet is off you’re looking at a teen-ager…”  19-year-old GI.

P.47  “The Germans were willing to lose millions of men.  And they did.  Every German house we went to, there would be black-bordered pictures of sons and relatives.  You could tell that most of them died on the eastern front.  And the Russians lost twenty million.

P.  175  (U.S. Marine) “These people, they really put you in your place.  That’s a polite way of sayin’ it.  They humiliate ya.  They make ya do things that you don’t think are physically possible.  At the same time they’re makin’ you feel you’re something.  That you’re part of something.  when you’re there and you need somebody, you got somebody.  It was the high point of my life..”

.P.178  “The last image that comes to my mind is what we were taught about the Japanese.  The Marine Corps taught us that too.  That the Japs are lousy, sneaky, treacherous – watch out for them.  Well, my God…who’s brainwashing you on all this?  I’ve been married for 24 years to Satsuko – Sats (he indicates his wife who has just entered the room) – Miss America here, that’s a super person.  She’s the best thing ever happened to me.”

P.191  “Our military runs our foreign policy.  The State Department simply goes around and tidies up the messes the military makes.  The State Department has become the lackey of the Pentagon.  Before WW2 that never happened….  I think the United States has changed.  It got away from the idea of trying to settle differences by peaceful means.  Since WW2 we began to use force to get what we wanted in the world…  Not long ago the Pentagon proudly announced that the U.S. had used military force 215 times to achieve its international goals sinceWW2.  The Pentagon likes that…”  Admiral Gene Larocque.

P.209  “All of war is cruel and unnecessary, but the bombings made this one especially so.  The destruction of Dresden was unforgivable.  It was done very late in the war, as part of a military dynamic which was out of control and had no relationship to any military needs.”  J.K.Galbraith

P.329  “The single most important legacy of the war is what Eisenhower warned us about in his farewell speech: the military-industrial complex.  In the past there were business representatives in Washington, but now they are Washington.  And with the military build-up beyond all our imaginations, we have a new fusion of power.  It has become a permanent feature of American life.”

P.439  (In Poland in 1946.)  “The first (Jewish) child I saw in three months in Europe was a little girl named Ruthie.  Her father was killed and her mother hid her with a Polish family.  She was stunted, paper-thin.  She’d been hidden in cellars and attics.  I asked her what she wanted.  Her exact words were, “I am ten years old.  I never went to school.  help me go to school.’”  We found 100s of youngsters who’d been hidden by Christian families, living in monasteries and elsewhere.”

P.454  (A Russian Stalingrad veteran)  “We had been very excited when the combats were actually taking place.  But now we saw these German prisoners walking by in such a pitiful way, you felt a sort of pity for them.  We understood that these were people who had some families, relations who had been deceived by Hitler.   When I visited West Germany for the first time in 1965, I’ll never forget the welcome given us by these former prisoners-of-war.  It was a visit of the Stalingrad veterans.  Our hosts explained simply: ‘You fed us when you had nothing to eat yourselves.  You saved our lives.’”

P.458  (A Russian veteran soldier)  “Eight from my family went to the front.  Three came back.  We were a lucky family… It was miraculous, wonderful, how brave we were then, how close together we were. (But)  It is not a worthy occupation for a human being.   Of my generation, out of 100 who went to fight, three came back.  Three per cent.  One should not ask those of us who remained what war means to them.   I look at my children and my grandchildren and I think: only centimetres decided whether they should be on this earth or not.  Whether the bullet went that way or this way.  But I lived and they happened.  They can’t understand that.”

P.464   (U.S. prosecuter at Nurenberg trials)  “Why did they do these things?  Because it had become the thing to do.  People most of them were followers.  Moral standards are easily obliterated….They so very easily fall into the pattern that their superiors set up for them, because that’s the safe way.  They may be loving husbands, nice to their children, fond of music.  They have become accustomed to moral standards prescribed from above by an authoritarian regime.  The safe way to be comfortable in life is that way: following orders.   If our general population was subjected to the same trends and pressures that the Germans were, a great many of us would do the same.”

P.534  (Father George Zabelka – U.S. military chaplain)  “When the news of Hiroshima hit me, my reaction was a split one.  Gosh, it’s horrible, but gosh, it’s going to end the war.  Finally the boys will get home.  This was going to save millions of lives…. But, as a priest, I should have considered: We’re killing little kids, old men and old women, burning them to death. I don’t recall any feeling of guilt at the time.   (Later)  In Kyushu, I met some sisters and missionaries who had come from Hiroshima.  I had already visited Nagasaki and talked to some of the survivors.  Thousands had what they called the A-bomb sickness.  This was the first time, I think, that it really began to come through to me.  Here were these little kids, who didn’t have anything to do with the war, and they were dying, many of them very quiet, very silent.  They were just quiet, just dying.  The worm started squirming…..  Along comes Vietnam  The mad bombings.  I’m recalling Hiroshima and Nagasaki.  There’s Martin Luther King.  I’m now with the blacks, the poor, the militants…”

P.573  “The war was fun for America – if you’ll pardon my bitterness.  I’m not talking about the poor souls who lost sons and daughters in the war.  For the rest of us, the war was a hell of a good time.  Farmers in South Dakota that I administered relief to, and gave ‘em bully beef and four dollars a week to feed their families, when I came home were worth a quarter-million dollars. True all over America.  Mass travel, mass vacations, everything else came out of it.  And the rest of the world was bleeding. World War Two?  It’s a war I still would go to.” 

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