Monday, February 13, 2006

I'll blame it on Schultz

Believe or not, the History Channel aired two Hitler shows last night. I missed "Hitler's Family," but caught most of "Hi-Tech Hitler." I got sucked in by the fact that one of the show's top talking heads was Robert Proctor, author of "The Nazi War on Cancer," a book I read several years ago. Proctor focused on the Nazi obsession with health and how the German people bought into the Nazi's totalitarian idea that the body belonged to the state. It served as the impetus for giving up drinking and smoking to take up a healthy lifestyle complete with a high-fiber, low-meat diet. German scientists, many of them not members of the Nazi Party outpaced the rest of the world in many areas. However, as Proctor and "Hi-Tech Hitler" maintain, the Nazis merely inherited a scientific culture that had been thriving throughout the twentieth century. After these views, I'm even more grateful we beat those guys.

It's impossible to pinpoint where I began my ascent, or perhaps descent, into WWII geekdom. I suspect the tube had something to do with it. I have vague memories of watching "Combat" and "The Rat Patrol" (mesermized by all the camo), but I've never watched either of those shows in reruns. I'll have to admit "Hogan's Heroes" did stick with me and I still watch the repeats from time to time. I know I didn't get into it like Leslie Campbell Rampey did in this piece written in 2000, but it doesn't sound like a bad gig. I think I read the Mad Magazine spoof Rampey refers to, but I can't verify it. She does reveal some interesting information about some of the cast members real-life brushes with the Nazis.

I never tire of reading about the war. The greatest work I've read is "Stalingrad, the Fateful Siege" by Antony Beevor. What a stark story of evil versus evil and I read it over Christmas a few years ago. The siege included Christmas Day. Beevor gives a mystical protrayal of the doomed German Sixth Army observing the holiday.

I guess the more I learn about WWII, the more I have to quote "Hogan's" Sgt. Schultz as played by John Banner, "I know nothing, nothing."


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