Tuesday, January 02, 2007

About two weeks after K's uncle gave me his copy of The Arms of Krupp, by William Manchester last summer, coincidentally I came across this entry in David Byrne's Journal. I filed it away, to be re-read after finishing the Manchester book. Call it an inquisitive re-inquiry into what a sequel to Manchester's book might look like, a sort of "where are they now" tale.

In my re-read, David postulated the following question, which I think I can now answer based on my reading of Manchester:

"Berlin and Dresden were reduced to smoking hulks while so many of these factories and steelworks, so essential to the German war effort, survived. Did the Allies think they would do a Halliburton and take them over for themselves, and therefore they spared them the bombing? Or maybe they realized that without industry a defeated Germany would have no possibility of reconstruction — they would be shattered refugees — desperate, pathetic, ready for anything that would restore some dignity."

But since David doesn't blog and doesn't provide a place for comments, I'll provide my reading of Manchester in the form of an answer here: It was because of the Cold War. We had an eye on Stalin by that point, and probably long before. Later, after the war, the Allies tried to "do a Halliburton," but due to the fact that the Krupp Works were basically a family dynasty for upwards of eighty years by that point, the record keeping, financing and the like were a convoluted mess.

It was for this reason, according to Manchester, and also in part due to the Marshall plan (reconstruction, as David Byrne postulates) and the onset of the Korean conflict, that Alfried Krupp was released from prison in 1951, a repudiation of an already lenient sentence at Nuremburg. Krupp himself was responsible for many of the atrocities performed at the concentration camps, among them ordering the "disappearance" of children (many of whom were infants) born in the labor camps near the end of the war. Others, like General Alfred Jodl, were executed for lesser crimes. Krupp's trial was also bungled, but that's a whole other topic.

It could be argued that, if we were thinking of Russia alone, we should have bombed out the works Dresden style, for fear of Essen falling under complete control of the Red Army. But I think by then it was clear that the US or Great Britain were closer at hand.

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