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Ain’t fakin’

“A British medical report concluded that ‘the act of going sick, of giving in, is an all-or-nothing phenomenon, and is damaging to the personality.’ Most men, it concluded, were less effective soldiers after returning to duty, as did more than 50 per cent. The same report observed the paradox that a soldier who ran away from the battlefield was treated as a criminal and harshly punished, while the man who reported sick with combat fatigue was sympathetically received. . . . The report noted that the problem seemed much smaller in the German Army, ‘though precipitating trauma was obviously greater.’ This was a polite way of suggesting that the German soldier, in defeat, was experiencing a tougher war than his Allied counterpart, on the road to victory. The report failed to remark on the small but obvious point, however, that suspected Wehrmacht malingerers were shot. Although combat fatigue was recognized only with the utmost reluctance by the German Army, and not at all in Stalin’s formations, there are no grounds for supposing that German or Russian soldiers were less afflicted by the shock of battle than men of other armies.” – Max Hastings, Armageddon

Published inMax HastingsThe Second World War

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