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1998 Closed threads from 1998 (read only)

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Old 23 October 1998, 10:39 AM   #1
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I wonder how MvR would have fit into the Hitlerian heirarchy if he had survived the first war? On the one hand, as a patriot and aviator, he would have strongly supported the rebirth of the German air force. As this was ocurring long before Hitler's plans for the Jewish race became known, he would have been approached at an early stage and placed into a prominent position early on. If so, how would he have behaved once he became aware of the Nazi's racial plans?

I don't doubt that he would be intimately invovled in military planning. He liked to be in the thick of the action as a squadron leader and would probably choose to be close to it as an airgroup leader. As a result, he would be isolated from the Nazi 'racial crowd', but undoubtedly he would be aware of what was going on.

Steinhoff and Galland both have stated that they were aware of the racial policies and were disgusted by them, but by necessity had to be more concerned about their commands and keeping themselves alive. My best guess is that von Richthofen would have not been able to act much differently than Galland and Steinhoff. Does anyone have another idea?
Old 23 October 1998, 12:41 PM   #2
Eric Prillaman
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Actually, I can't help but agree with you. I think von R would have most likely turned a blind eye on what was happening in concentration camps and kept on fighting WWII as so many others did. But, deep down inside, he probably would have been outraged at Hitler's racial activity.

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Old 23 October 1998, 02:00 PM   #3
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From an historical viewpoint, the greater question is whether MvR would have been Luftwaffe CinC rather than Göring. If so, it's possible that Manfred's greater strategic vision could have led to Germany developing a heavy bomber force in time for the Battle of Britain. Had that occurred, the war in Europe might have been somewhat different.
As for M's relationship to Hitler and the Nazi hierarchy, I doubt there'd have been any dramatic difference. He certainly wouldn't have jumped in an Me-110 and flown to England as did Hess. The apolitical tradition of the Prussian aristocracy is evident in how few "vons" rose to prominence in the party.
I've discussed the moral dilemma with Galland and Steinhoff, and ask their critics "What should they have done?" They were responsible for their nation's air defense, where daily and nightly cities were being razed to the ground. Some, like Gunther Rall, lost children to allied bombing. Under those conditions, I wonder how many of us would turn against our government and protest the persecution of people we don't know when our friends and families are constantly in mortal peril from external enemies.
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Old 23 October 1998, 06:20 PM   #4
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As far as "might-haves" go, that is the best I have heard in a long while. I have never stopped to think just what an effect MvR's post war life would have had on future events.

Since the developement and the employment of the Bf-110 was largely a function of Goering's support, if you remove Goering, you might remove that ill-fated turkey from the picture. I cannot agree about the heavy bomber program, though.

The Luftwaffe was formed from the beginning as a tactical air force, and it was not just Goering's doings...Udet & Milch and others were shakers and movers in that department, and none of them were of Mitchell's, Eaker's, or Spaatz's caliber of visionary.

One of the things that MvR also might have accomplished that would have drastically effected the Battle of Britain was the post-production alteration of the Bf-109E to allow that fighter to accept external fuel cells. This was accomplished after the BoB with the Bf-109F, but it was the "Emil" that really needed the extra legs. MvR, being a fighter-jock and a smarter dude, might have had that "ruestaetze" made available to the Jagdflieger sooner. Result: long-range escorts over the targets north of London, and longer loiter-times over the UK in general. That might have made all of the difference in the world right when it REALLY counted. The lack was not in the range of bombers, but in the range of the escorts.

The existing bombers of the Kampfgruppen were sufficient to bomb every airfield in Fighter Command's TAOR (the tactical objective was RAF's Fighter Command, not the cities). Viermot's would not have changed that capacity in the BoB, but they may have been crucial in bombing the manufacturing facilities beyond the Urals, two years later.

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Old 23 October 1998, 06:52 PM   #5
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Any study of German history shows an underlying anti-Semitism....this is a historical fact. Sometimes overt, sometimes festering under the surface, but it's been there.
I doubt if the German aristocracy was any different. And the shame of the Versailles treaty would have given even MvR a thirst for some kind of revenge. So, for what it's worth, I think Manfred would have become a loyal party member, although it would probably have been more as a formality than genuine ardor. As long as Germany was winning, conscience would have been pushed aside.
However, I think that MvR would have had enough decency "post bellum" to repudiate the concept of Aryan supremecy.
But, "what ifs" are a dime a dozen, nicht wahr?
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Old 24 October 1998, 12:31 AM   #6
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IF MvR was really writing "Der rote Kampfflieger" (and not a ghost writer) than you will find already some racial prejudices (Look at the comparisons which he made between Brits and French!).

If we look at the behaviour of his family members than most likely we see Manfreds future behaviour as a supporter of a revenge war like his relatives. Remember the role of a Richthofen in preparation of the Guernica attack!

But all that is speculation. He was lucky enough to die before he could damage his own legend and reputation.

Other people like a Mr.Schmaeling - writing an interesting article dealing with MvR in 1992 - have a very different opinion. Schmaeling is believing that Richthofen could develop into a great leader of the national-conservative parties instead of Hindenburg. Additional Schmaeling quotated voices saying MvR would never cooperate like Udet.
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Old 25 October 1998, 04:21 PM   #7
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What is this moral dilemma rubbish? Does the slogan"my country right or wrong" only apply to Americans? Is a German like Manfred permitted to be a patriot and ,had he lived, defend his country in WWII and worry about odd goverment policies later on.Secondly it is very late 20th century to be obsessed with racial policies.Some 2150 years ago when Mithridates conquored western asia minor there were 80,000 Romans living in cites along the coast.He had them all eliminated-other ethnic groups in those same cities were unharmed. This is but one of many examples of this kind of thing.It really is an ordinary political event to persecute minorities but we somehow expect Germans of the 30s and 40s to have seen the 'moral error' of the Nazi Party and oppose it.
Old 26 October 1998, 07:43 AM   #8
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One would hope that 2100 years of history would move us beyond slaughter of minorities, but that's an academic question. What made the Nazi atrocities stand out was the fact that an entire race was targeted for eradication simply because it existed, not for any perceived military threat or crime against the state. Also, perhaps the world would have reacted strongly against Mithridates if instantaneous communications and modern technology had been around, just as the world reacted to Saddam Hussein.
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Old 26 October 1998, 11:00 AM   #9
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First of all it is not true an entire race was targeted for eradication-only those Jews who wished to live where the Nazis ruled.There was at one time a plan to settle all European jews in Madagascar for example. Secondly this kind of thing is,as I say not unusual,Carthage is another example that comes to mind.Thirdly it is hard to argue with your progressive view of history.You believe we have in some sense improved in 2000 odd years. What is the evidence for this?I would have thought the Nazis provide evidence it is not so.I am not convinced we have made any 'moral'advances though we clearly have made technical ones which,as you point out,make it harder to conceal atrocity.
Old 26 October 1998, 11:10 AM   #10
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There would have been a severe problem for Richthofen and the Nazis. If he had lived, he would have married Werner Voss's sister. The Voss family was Jewish. The perfect Arian boy would have been married to the wrong girl. There would have been trouble.
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