Historical fiction: The tragic life of Albrecht von Haar in journal format
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My father the (retired) general’s German / Japanese fixation

JAPAN TOURISTS MAKING FRIENDS WITH AN OLD MAN ...
Image by Okinawa Soba via Flickr

My father the retired general and I had a rather long discussion today, sometimes heated, about the Japanese situation.

He has long admired Japan and its ruling class. He has written a book and lectured on the topic.  He religiously compares Germany’s destiny in Europe to that of Japan’s undisguised determination in Asia.

The dissenting  point I made in our argument was that Japan’s long standing ambitions in Manchuria and other parts of China and Korea will inevitably bring it into conflict with the United States and possibly Britain. I also pointed out that if Germany continues to likewise cast its eye on the vast grain fields and oil fields to the East, as my father suggests it should, our Fatherland will run afoul of  Britain, France and the United States, not to mention Russia.

In this kind of war-gaming we frequently engage in ( I’m no military man, I’m an academic! )  I hold strongly to my conviction that Germany can never win a two front war. My father is not convinced. Even when I remind him that when the Bolsheviks sued for peace in the Great War and we were able to completely focus our military resources on the Western Front, we still could not win. Then I hear the usual shit from the general that the Great War was lost at home by traitors, not at the front. I never fail to point out that the German army lost the war when they failed to take Paris in the first few months of the conflict and the coup de grace occurred when a million fresh troops from the U.S. joined the fray in 1917.

Countering, my father argues  that he has no esteem for the United States. He feels it is too far away, is now isolationist and has no interest in European politics or war. I cautioned my father that Germany is currently in no condition to go to war over anything, much less lebensraum. The French have a sword hanging over our head with 200 divisions on the border and Russia is too vast to conquer, as Napoleon found out.

We both did agree that Britain is too war weary to care a whit about any German plans to expand in the East. They lost the flower of their aristocracy in the Great War and have no stomach to once again police German actions.

We have no standing army, navy or decent political leader, so my father the general’s geoploitical ambition for Germany to turn Eastward is nothing but poppycock. Talking about geopolitics does serve to get us through two excellent cigars.

Father warned  me to watch this Hitler fellow. Hitler could make things happen for Germany, he said. After all, ten years ago my dear  father the general had tutored Hitler’s closest friend, our good Rudolph Hess, about Germany’s destiny to rule central and eastern Europe. Hess had not been the brightest student, father has rued many times, but herr  Hess makes up for lack of intellect with ambition, drive, and now, the ear of Adolph Hitler. I tell my father I am watching Hitler and his minions and am particularly sensitive to their antisemitism. He glanced at my mother and nodded knowingly.

“If that son of a bitch can put Germany back on the map. I’ll be a happy man. But watch his cronies. I agree many of his advisors are dangerous to people like us.”

“What do you mean, ‘ people like us’, ” I asked.

“People who think for themselves.”

We closed our talk with some schnapps and agreed to discuss Japan again the next time I came south to visit. My brother Hans arrived in the evening and we had a late supper. Hans mentioned that the communists and Nazis are fighting violently in the streets of Munich. This is nothing new.  I return to Berlin in the morning.

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