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Reverse “March Violets” August 13, 2016

Posted by WorldbyStorm in Uncategorized.

Speaking of Philip Kerr – mentioned today, I’ve been reading his latest Bernie Gunther book, The Lady from Zagreb. Mention is made of Arthur Nebe in it – indeed he appears as a character. Nebe was a strange character – completely opportunistic one would guess, head of Germany’s Criminal Police and later key within the RSHA. But he is probably most infamous for his role as a commanding officer of an Einsatzgruppe in Belarus during 1941 which was responsible, and he directly so, for the murder of 45,000 human beings – overwhelmingly Jews, but also Communists, Gypsy’s and others deemed ‘undesirable’.

Yet not four years later he was a part of the July 20 1944 plot to assassinate Hitler and he was imprisoned and later executed for that participation.

There’s a fascinating mention on the wiki page that goes as follows:

Alex J. Kay writes that “the role, character and motivation of those involved both in planning—and in some cases carrying out—mass murder and in the conspiracy against Hitler deserve to be investigated more closely”. He places Nebe in this category, with Franz Halder, chief of the OKH, and Georg Thomas, head of the Defence, Economy and Armament Office in the Oberkommando der Wehrmacht (OKW) (English: Supreme Command).[42]

And it is certain that these individuals who were involved in the plot certainly had rivers of blood on their hands. Halder for his development and implementation of war plans (he lived into the 1970s) – though he wasn’t involved in the July 20 plot. Thomas equally was involved in the Hunger Plan which was effectively a genocidal, or semi-genocidal plan to starve millions in the USSR once occupied.

The term ‘march violets’ (and that was the title of Kerr’s first Gunther novel) was used by members of the NSDAP – and others – for those who came after the March 1933 election when there was an influx of new recruits following the effective establishment of the dictatorship. It was, as can be imagined, tinged in sarcasm at the opportunism of those who joined at that particular historical juncture. Perhaps Nebe, in particular, was symptomatic of an opposite tendency towards the end of the war as people sought to distance themselves – sometimes sincerely, sometimes not, or move into opposition with the dictatorship.


1. GW - August 14, 2016

I think I’ve only read one Kerr – none set in Germany.

I’ve read all of the Volker Kutcher series here which, while being a little clunky and full of Krimi(criminal fiction)-clichés, does portray well the process by which a department of the Prussian civil service (namely the criminal police) largely went over to the Nazis voluntarily and how the culture changed overnight after the Reichstag burning.


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