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  2. Book look: Horizons & humanity
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  4. Get e-book Feldwebel Anton Schmid: Ein Held der Humanität (German Edition)

Under Hitler's rule, Germany was transformed into a totalitarian state where nearly all aspects of life were controlled by the government. Germany and the Second World War is a 12,page, volume work published by the Deutsche Verlags-Anstalt DVA , that has taken academics from the military history centre of the German armed forces 30 years to finish. Wette's published book, The Wehrmacht: History, Myth, Reality has been translated into five languages and deals with the issue of Wehrmacht criminality during World War II and the legend of its "clean hands".

In , Wette was a recipient of the Order of Merit of the Federal Republic of Germany , the only federal honour awarded to German citizens for exceptional achievements. The original German-language book was translated into five languages; the English edition was published in by Harvard University Press.

The book received a positive reception. During World War II, the Germans' combined armed forces committed systematic war crimes, including massacres, mass rape, looting, the exploitation of forced labor, the murder of three million Soviet prisoners of war, and participated in the extermination of Jews. While the Nazi Party's own SS forces of Nazi Germany was the organization most responsible for the genocidal killing of the Holocaust, the regular armed forces represented by the Wehrmacht committed war crimes of their own, particularly on the Eastern Front in the war against the Soviet Union.

The vast majority of the world's countries—including all the great powers—eventually formed two opposing military alliances: the Allies and the Axis. A state of total war emerged, directly involving more than million people from more than 30 countries. The major participants threw their entire economic, industrial, and scientific capabilities behind the war effort, blurring the distinction between civilian and military resources. It included massacres, the genocide of the Holocaust, strategic bombing, premeditated death from starvation and disease, and the only use of nuclear weapons in war.

Afterwards, he was a professor of history at the University of Freiburg. He was a member of the municipal council of Freiburg from to as a member of the Social Democratic Party of Germany , and was also the chairman of the SPD parliamentary group and the SPD city association chairman.

The university was founded in by the Habsburg dynasty as the second university in Austrian-Habsburg territory after the University of Vienna. Today, Freiburg is the fifth-oldest university in Germany, with a long tradition of teaching the humanities, social sciences and natural sciences. The university is made up of 11 faculties and attracts students from across Germany as well as from over other countries.

Foreign students constitute about A municipal council is the legislative body of a municipality such as a city council or a town council. Wette is an author or editor of forty books on the history of Nazi Germany, including the Wehrmacht armed forces , its leadership and its relationship with Nazism. Wette's works explored topics that at the time of their publication were considered taboo or not widely discussed in Germany, such as desertion, treason and aid to victims of the Nazi regime from military personnel. Despite thousands of executions for "undermining of military morale", Wette's research has shown that only three Wehrmacht servicemen were executed for helping Jews.

He was sentenced to death by his military superiors and executed in Because of the controversial nature of Wette's work, he has received death threats.


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The Wehrmacht was the unified armed forces of Nazi Germany from to It consisted of the Heer army , the Kriegsmarine navy and the Luftwaffe. The designation " Wehrmacht " replaced the previously used term Reichswehr , and was the manifestation of the Nazi regime's efforts to rearm Germany to a greater extent than the Treaty of Versailles permitted. The relationship between the Wehrmacht, the regular combined armed forces of Nazi Germany, and the regime it served has been the subject of a voluminous historiographical debate.

Broadly speaking, there have been two camps. The myth of the clean Wehrmacht claims that the Wehrmacht had minimal participation in war crimes and genocide. More recently, scholarship has emerged demonstrating that the Wehrmacht was complicit in the Holocaust. Put in charge of an office to return stranded German soldiers to their units in late August , he began to help Jews after being approached by two pleading for his intercession.

Schmid hid Jews in his apartment, obtained work permits to save Jews from the Ponary massacre, transferred Jews in Wehrmacht trucks to safer locations, and aided the Vilna Ghetto underground.

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It is estimated that he saved as many as Jews before his arrest in January He was executed on 13 April. Wette's book Die Wehrmacht. According to The Atlantic , it shows that "the Wehrmacht—and not, as postwar accounts by German generals would have it, merely the SS —freely and even eagerly joined in murder and genocide, which were central, rather than incidental, features of its effort". Harvard University Press HUP is a publishing house established on January 13, , as a division of Harvard University, and focused on academic publishing.

It is a member of the Association of American University Presses. After the retirement of William P. Sisler in , the university appointed as Director George Andreou. Omer Bartov is the John P.


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  • The Atlantic is an American magazine and multi-platform publisher. She was hiding in the entrance of a house when she noticed a uniformed German walking through the street in the dark, cigarette in hand. She mustered all her courage, approached him directly, and out of desperation asked him for help. The German Wehrmacht-soldier was Anton Schmid who was on his way home from work. In occupied Vilnius he was in charge of the office responsible for gathering scattered soldiers who had lost their units in the war and for re-integrating them into the army.

    Anton was posted in Vilnius which was often referred to as the Jerusalem of the East since a large population of Jewish men, women and children 60 of a total population of had been living there for generations. Since the arrival of the Germans, however, their lives were threatened. Undoubtedly Anton Schmid knew of the horrific and carefully orchestrated mass murder of Jews. But he must also have been aware that anybody, and in particular any soldier, who ignored the order to treat Jews as enemies and hid them from the Nazi murder-machine risked his own life.

    Luisa Emaitisaite risked everything by asking a German soldier for help, and Anton Schmid risked everything by deciding to help her. Luisa asked Anton if he would be so kind as to rent her a room in a cheap hotel so that she could feel secure for the night. However, Anton answered that such a move would be too dangerous for her given the constant controls by the German authorities, and instead he suggested that he could hide her in his own army flat. That required a somewhat complex strategy:. There he explained the situation to Fr Andreas Gdowski and as ked him to issue a document identifying Luisa as a Catholic, well known to the monastery.

    Fr Andreas signed and sealed the document which made Luisa now a Polish Catholic.


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    • Once Luisa was in possession of all these documents, she no longer needed to live in fear of the continuing political and antisemitic raids. Her new identity protected her. She did survive the war and the holocaust.

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      Why did Anton Schmid act in this way? Why did he risk his life by saving this young Jewish woman whom he had never met before? He never demanded or received any financial reward. He did not ask any questions.

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      Rather he was confronted with a concrete human need and he responded to it. As far as we know, Schmid never composed any protest letter against the on-going persecution and murder of Jewish women, men and children. He did not write to any German authority to demand a stop to the holocaust. He was not known as a member of any official resistance group against Hitler and his followers. However, we do know that Luisa was not the only person he saved in Vilnius. We do not know any details of how the two had met. Anton Schmid then continued to save many more Jews in Vilnius, among them the writer Hermann Adler and the opera singer Anita Distler who had met and married in Vilnius.

      Again, Hermann Adler had approached Anton in the street and asked him for help. He later admitted that he knew from the church of Ostra Brama that Schmid had helped a Jewish girl, namely Luisa. Later on the Adlers suggested to Schmid that he organise some form of secret transport of Jews from the ghetto in Vilnius to the city of Bialystok. Schmid recalled that a friend of his from Vienna was stationed in Bialystok.

      He offered the couple something to eat and asked them to come back in a few days. When they returned he gave them a room in his office where they lived for the next three months and functioned as the connecting link be tween the emerging Jewish resistance movement in the ghetto and Schmid. A number of convoys between Vilnius and Bialystock were organised by Schmid, Salinger and the Adlers to bring around Jews into the relative security of that pa rticular city. In Vilnius itself Schmid was also in charge of a number of workshops. Here he employed displaced German soldiers, Russian prisoners of war and Jews from the ghetto.

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      He issued documents to the prisoners and Jews which confirmed that they worked for the Wehrmacht in an essential capacity in the respective workshop. Thus, these workers were somewhat protected against arbitrary controls, raids, arrests and executions by the German SS troops and their Lithuanian auxiliary police in the streets of Vilnius.

      It is reckoned that Schmid managed to employ and thus to protect around Jewish craftsmen in his workshops where there was work for no more than 50 people. In this way he probably saved many Jews from certain death. As we have seen, Schmid also made his army flat available for secret gatherings of the Jewish resistance parties from the Vilnius ghetto. Some of those present at these meetings could at first not believe their eyes that their conspirational meetings were in fact taking place in a flat belonging to the German army. Needless to say, Anton Schmid ran a major risk by helping individual Jews and Jewish organisations as well as the emerging Jewish resistance groups in Vilnius.

      At the end of January he was arrested by the German secret field police outside of Vilnius.

      We do not know exactly why or whether or not he had been denounced. But we do know that his arrest happened in connection with one of the clandestine transportation of Jews out of Vilnius. Schmid was put into prison and then tried. On 25 February he was condemned to death. The papers of the trial are lost, so we do not know with which criminal offence he actually was charged.

      Saving Jews was not a crime listed in German military law.

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      Get e-book Feldwebel Anton Schmid: Ein Held der Humanität (German Edition)

      Some historians assume therefore that he was charged with treason and support of the enemy — Jews were considered enemies in Nazi thinking; both offences were deemed to deserve capital punishment. Anton Schmid was executed on 13 April by a firing squad in a Vilnius prison.

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      When it became known in Vienna that sergeant Schmid had been executed because he had attempted to save Jews, his wife and daughter were made to suffer being harassed and defamed. Their windows were smashed. During the subsequent fifteen years they received no support from the Austrian state until eventually in the late nineteen fifties Anton Schmid was declared to have been a victim of the NS state.

      Although the Jews whom he had saved and who were lucky enough to survive the Holocaust honoured Schmid and his family, the wider public first learned about his attempts to help and save Jews in during the Eichmann trial in Jerusalem.