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From: Hugh McInnish [email him]
The practice of labeling conservatives as Nazis will apparently never die. Reading James Fulford's "dog whistle" column it occurs to me that I might be a target myself. Here's my confession.
In 1957 I reported to Lackland AFB in Texas to begin my military service. It happened that just at that time there arrived at the base a contingent of old Luftwaffe people, all our erstwhile enemies, and presumably all ex-Nazis, but who had now joined our side in the Cold War.
This "felt funny." How should we respond to them? In a meeting with our group's tactical officer I asked if we should salute the German officers. "Well, let me get back to you on that, lieutenant," was the answer. Shortly the answer came and it was yes, we were to recognize the Germans' rank and salute them just as if they were superior American officers. So every day I saluted the old Nazis.
It gets better (or worse?).
Some years later I was the leader of a U. S. team that was sent to Germany to support their army in their test of the TOW Missile System. My nominal day-to-day boss was an old Stuka pilot, Oberstleutnant Bender, a confessed former member of the party, who had flown some 700 missions, and had been shot down twice. He was an amiable man, loved to discuss European history, and had me to his home for dinner. My relationship with him was nothing but pleasant.
So—I don't know. What is my culpability here? Saluting the Nazis, dining with them? Compared to the indictments issued against others, it doesn't look good.
James Fulford writes: Barry Goldwater was accused (falsely) of associating with Nazis because he'd planned to visit Germany to see an American Air Force General. But post-World War II, the West Germans were Cold War allies and the new German Army, more or less purged of Nazi ideologues and war criminals, couldn't avoid all World War II veterans—that would have meant losing a whole generation. When German infantry came to train in places like Fayetteville, NC, they always claimed to have spent World War II on the Russian Front, and the paratroopers always claimed to believe them. I think nowadays there will be more of a problem when someone figures out that Fort Bragg is named for a Confederate General.