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Rebuttal: Watch on the Rhine

The apparent owner of this site, whose name I haven't bothered to look for, wrote a review some time back of Watch on the Rhine by John Kratman and John Ringo. In it, he bemoaned that the left was cast in a bad light, and that the book attempted to make Nazis look good. I have several responses to this.

First, all that must happen for the left to look bad is to...well, look at them. There are good people of all political persuasions, but the politically active left genuinely is characterized by emotionally unstable, politically and historically ignorant, and generally mind-numbed people. It isn't incorrect to depict them as hateful and angry...the left defines the term mob, after all (remember the rapes that occurred by the Occupy Wall Street movement? Or how about how the Code Pink babes defaced Marine recruiting stations? I could go on...). The left is correctly described in this book, even though I'm sure the authors would agree that not everyone who votes on the left is a picket-carrying protester. Just that those who ARE picket-carrying protesters are consistent with the picture drawn of them in this book.

Second, the idea that this book attempts to redeem Nazis is nothing more than foolishness. There is one Nazi among the supporting characters, and he is described as vile and awful. Further, the tactics of the Nazis from WW2 are shown to be horrific and in no way glorified (did the reviewer even read the sub-plot of Anna and Hans, and how racked with guilt he was to be a German who knew what the Nazis were doing to the Jews, but did nothing about it?)

For those who don't know, German soldier and Nazi are not synonymous terms. The Nazi party was a political party (in fact, it was a party closer to socialism than right-wing, so even attempts to say that the authors are engaging in right-wing extremism fails). Most German soldiers in WW2 were not Nazis. And this book is clear that most of the main characters are NOT Nazis...there is one, and he is never cast in a favorable light. The only reason he's not killed by the others is that he's such a good tank pilot and they can't afford to lose his expertise.

Finally, what about the story itself? I read this book right on the heels of Gust Front (book 2 in Ringo's Posleen saga) and I found it to be an excellent adjunct to that main storyline. It is primarily a series of battles between Germany's Panzers and the hordes of Posleen invading Germany. There is very little which does not directly play into the combat, and this book is full of combat. It is very well written, showing that the authors do understand warfare.

Personally, I loved it. It was certainly not the sort of terrible book the author of this website would like you to believe. It's a great story of a noble people (the Germanic people are, indeed, as noble as they are ancient) fighting back against overwhelming odds to try and preserve mankind when all seems lost.

I will say one thing for the nonsensical review to which I am responding...it has convinced me to read Cally's War. If it's better than Watch on the Rhine, it will be excellent.

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Re: Rebuttal: Watch on the Rhine

Thanks for offering another point of view. Though I will briefly add that it's fallacious to assume that my disapproval of right-wing extremism somehow translates to tacit approval of left-wing extremism. (And National Socialism as established and practiced by the Nazi party was indeed a right wing movement.)

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Re: Rebuttal: Watch on the Rhine

Scott,

1) This website's owner-apparent (do you get a coat of arms with that?) is TM Wagner. You needn't bother to look for that; his name appears all over the site and forums.

2) While there is no shortage of bad characters and outright villains on the leftward political spectrum, what makes WOTR a screed is equating anti-militarism with cowardice, suicidal decadence or scheming hypocrisy - with Ringo and Kratman do con brio.

This is no different than writing a book in which all soldiers or supporters of military action are blood-drunk sadists or callous, chauvinist imperialists.

In addition to such political demonizing, Ringo's Aldenata/Posleen series drops more than few hints that there is some fairly toxic brainjuice being trafficked therein.

In terms of ugly SF stereotypes, for example, Ringo gives us the Darhel; a rootless race of pacifist eggheads and bureaucrats who manipulate others into relying upon, fighting and dying for them. Oh, and they're super-smart, good at emotional manipulation and primarily work in their society's law and finance roles.

And we thought Star Trek's Ferengi were bad. Words fail me.

3) On the matter of the Waffen-SS directly, no attempt to rehabilitate them should go unopposed, no matter how conditional or attenuated the justifications such as presented in this novel.

The Waffen-Schutzstaffel ("armed defense staff") were the field-military wing of the SS, and an integral part of Nazidom. They cannot be separated from Hitler's regime any more than the NKVD can be separated from Stalin's.

Germany had regular armed forces in WW2: Wehrmacht, Luftwaffe and Kriegsmarine. The Waffen-SS was kept apart from them - as was the SS overall - precisely because they were not to be regular soldiers. They had another purpose.

Their units were explicitly formed, recruited, trained and employed to enact and enforce Nazi politics and racial doctrines.

That they fought capably against other soldiers - or even notably, such as Tiger ace Michael Wittman - doesn't change anything.

This makes Ringo & Kratman's book all the more deplorable. Both authors are men with extensive military experience who should well know the difference between actual soldiering versus what the Waffen-SS were all about.

They should, but they don't, as is made plain by the multiple, outrageous historical canards presented in WOTR regarding the Waffen-SS and that period in German history.

If you want a good Invasion of the Space Reptiles story, check out Harry Turtledoves's Worldwar series.

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