If today's journalists were sent back in time to cover World War II, a Reuter's dispatch dated Aug. 12, 1945, might look something like this:
President Truman (search), just a few months into his young presidency, is coming under increasing fire from some Congressional Republicans for what appears to be a deteriorating security situation in occupied Germany, with some calling for his removal from office.
Over three months after a formal declaration of an end to hostilities, the occupation is bogged down. Fanatical elements of the former Nazi (search) regime who, in their zeal to liberate their nation from the foreign occupiers, call themselves members of the Werwolf (werewolves) continue to commit almost-daily acts of sabotage against Germany's already-ravaged infrastructure, and attack American troops. They have been laying road mines, poisoning food and water supplies, and setting various traps, often lethal, for the occupying forces.
It's not difficult to find antagonism and anti-Americanism (search) among the population--many complain of the deprivation and lack of security. There are thousands of homeless refugees, and humanitarian efforts seem confused and inadequate.
In the wake of the budding disaster, some have called for more international participation in peacekeeping.
A Red Cross (search) official said that, "...the German people will be more comfortable if their conquerors weren't now their overlords. It makes it difficult to argue that this wasn't an imperialistic war when the occupying troops in the western sector are exclusively American, British and French."
The administration, of course, claims that, given the chaos of the recent war, such a situation is to be expected, and that things will improve with time. As to the suggestion to internationalize the occupying forces, the administration had no official comment, but an unofficial one was a repetition of the quote from Gen. McAuliffe, when asked to surrender in last winter's Battle of the Bulge (search)--"Nuts."
In an attempt to minimize the situation, a White House spokesman pointed out that the casualties were extremely light, and militarily inconsequential, particularly when compared to the loss rates prior to VE Day (search). Also, the attacks seem to be dying down with each passing month. But this statement was leaped upon by some as heartless, trivializing the deaths and injuries of young American men.
Many critics back in Washington seem now to be prescient, with their previous warnings of just such an outcome a little over a year ago.
One congressman said that "...it's time to ask whether the German people are better off now than they were a few months ago. Yes, a brutal dictator has been deposed, but at least the electricity and water supply were mostly working, and the trains running on time. After years of killing them and destroying their infrastructure with American bombs, it seems to me that the German people have suffered enough without the chaos that our occupation, with its inadequate policing, is bringing."
It's not clear how much support the Werwolf has among the populace, who may be afraid to speak their true minds, given the fearfully overwhelming "Allied" presence in the country. But it is possible that, like the guerilla forces themselves, the people have been inspired by Propaganda Minister Josef Goebbels' (search) pre-victory broadcasts, and those of Radio Werwolf.
"God has given up the protection of the people . . . Satan has taken command." Goebbels broadcast last spring. "We Werewolves consider it our supreme duty to kill, to kill and to kill, employing every cunning and wile in the darkness of the night, crawling, groping through towns and villages, like wolves, noiselessly, mysteriously."
While no new broadcasts of Goebbels' voice have been heard since early May, no one can be certain as to whether he is alive or dead, and continuing to help orchestrate the attacks and boost morale among the forces for German liberation. As long as his fate, and more importantly, that of the former leader Adolf Hitler (search) himself, remains unresolved, the prospects for pacifying the brutally conquered country may be dim.
Although Grand-Admiral Donitz made a radio announcement of Hitler's brave death in battle to the beleaguered German people on the evening of May 1, some doubt the veracity of that statement, and there has been no evidence to support it, or any body identified as the former Fuehrer's. Rumors of his whereabouts continue to abound, including reported sightings as far away as South America. Many still believe that he is hiding with the "Edelweiss" organization, with thousands of Wehrmacht troops, in a mountain stronghold near the Swiss border.
Many have criticized flawed intelligence for our failure to find him, causing some, in the runup to next year's congressional elections, to call for an investigation.
A staffer of one prominent senator said, "For months, starting last fall, we were told by this administration that Hitler would make a last stand in a 'National Redoubt' in Bavaria (search). General Bradley diverted troops to the south and let the Russians take Berlin on the basis of this knowledge. But now we find out that there was no such place, and that Hitler was in Berlin all along. And now we're told that we can't even be sure of where he is, or whether he's alive or dead."
For many, marching in the streets with signs of "No Blood For Soviet Socialism," and "It's All About The Coal," this merely confirmed that the administration had other agendas than its stated one, and that the war was unjustified and unjustifiable.
General Bradley's staff has protested that this is an unfair criticism--that the strategic decision made by General Eisenhower (search) was driven by many factors, of which Hitler's whereabouts was a minor one, but this hasn't silenced the critics, some of whom have bravely called for President Truman's impeachment, despite the fact that most of these decisions were made even before he became president in April.
But some have taken the criticism further, and say that failure to get Hitler means a failed war itself.
"Sure, it's nice to have released all those people from the concentration camps (search), but we were told we were going to war against Hitler, even though he'd done nothing to us," argued one concerned anti-war senator. "Now they say that we have 'Victory in Europe,' but it seems to me that if they can't produce the man we supposedly went to war against, it's a pretty hollow victory. Without this man that they told us was such a great threat to America, how can even they claim that this war was justified?"
Rand Simberg is a recovering aerospace engineer and a consultant in space commercialization, space tourism and Internet security. He offers occasionally biting commentary about infinity and beyond at his Web log, Transterrestrial Musings.