From: Hobart, Tasmania, Australia
ORIGINAL: brian brian
I think all the thinking about 1945, Germany, and Why?, misses a certain point - sure there were fanatical Nazis, but they were a minority. That book "The End" did go a long way towards explaining how a minority could control the majority. But the perhaps unanswerable question, and the probably eternal focus on that minority will still be Why?
My answer is something that is still alive in the world today - the absolute power of propaganda to motivate human action. Hitler and Goebbels always claimed their opponents were guilty of the "Big Lie." Yet I think any rational person will still always ask Why, Why you Fools?
I thought it was a little unfortunate in that book that he didn't go a little deeper into any other comparisons to "Last Stand" societies, though he pointed out that there have indeed been very few examples of such in history. Perhaps a subject that could still be explored. Fury only scratched the surface, simply having the characters ask the "Why?" (and then not quite directly). Perhaps Fury could use a "Letters From Iwo Jima" companion piece, which, come to think of it, IS an exploration of this same topic.
There are several reasons the Germans kept fighting to the end, especially on the Eastern Front. Off the top of my head...
1. It was a totalitarian state and the Nazi hold lasted until their dying gasp. It was better to take your chances at the front than swinging from a lamp-post with a placard around your neck. The "Golden Pheasants" of the Nazi Party were always fanatical with everybody else's lives. They themselves usually got out of Dodge with the cash, gold and luxuries at the last minute.
2. German soldiers knew full well the rapacious nature of the Red Army and they were trying to protect their women. The Western and Italian Fronts were held in part to support the Eastern Front. Also, German propaganda had it that in defeat, everybody would be either killed or carted off to Siberia. There was a feeling that there was nothing to lose, so you might as well keep fighting. And they did, although after the crossing of the Rhine, there was only patchy resistance in the West, and a huge increase in surrenders. Many soldiers decided it was better to survive in a Wallie POW camp than be captured by the Russians or die for a lost cause.
3. There was a belief that somehow Hitler would pull it out of the fire. Whether wunderwaffen, Roosevelt's death, the Alliance falling apart or Adolf luring them into an elaborate trap. The idea that somehow it would all work out was common and persistent.
4. After 12 years of National Socialism, many people couldn't imagine any other kind of Deutschland. Additionally, the Western Allies advertised their plans to dismember Germany and Austria. More "nothing to lose".
I'm sure there are more but it's late. In general the German people were forced to transition very quickly from thinking they had this thing won in the Autumn of 1942 to a grim total war in very short order. The propaganda tried to cover up Stalingrad as best they could but it was impossible. After that the German people knew they were in a death match.