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Hitler's Wehrmacht, 1935-1945$
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Rolf-Dieter Müller

Print publication date: 2016

Print ISBN-13: 9780813167381

Published to Kentucky Scholarship Online: January 2017

DOI: 10.5810/kentucky/9780813167381.001.0001

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The Difficult Legacy

The Difficult Legacy

(p.199) Epilogue The Difficult Legacy
Hitler's Wehrmacht, 1935-1945

Rolf-Dieter Müller

, Janice W. Ancker
University Press of Kentucky

Despite Allied demands for an unconditional surrender and the announcement of punishment for German war criminals, no one could imagine the dissolution of the German military, with its 300-year tradition. Many Wehrmacht officers hoped the Allies would realize the danger the Soviets posed to the Western world and that the Wehrmacht would survive as an indispensable part of the defense against communism. When the Allies insisted that military leaders sign the capitulation, that put an end to the myth of an undefeated Wehrmacht. Former Wehrmacht members were largely left to struggle with their wartime memories in private and to cope with the reality of the Wehrmacht’s involvement in criminal policies and its willingness and determination to lead the Germans and their military into oblivion. The failed Valkyrie assassination attempt offered the image of a “better” Germany, one that struggled for survival under the Nazi dictatorship. Further, as Müller writes, something positive remained in the areas of military expertise and training used to rebuild the German military. Former enemies became allies who interacted positively and with genuine respect. “Liberation,” as President Weizsäcker implied in a 1985 speech, was liberation from Hitler’s Wehrmacht.

Keywords:   Wehrmacht, Valkyrie, Cold War, German Democratic Republic, Federal Republic of Germany

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