Adrian: That's an honest answer and one that I am sure is common to many people. Like you, I grew up without TV, though I am considerably older and TV was not an option in my youth. And, like you, I started reading military histories at an early age. I was 12 when I read Harold Lamb's biography of the Sioux war chief, Crazy Horse and 14 when I read Ernest Hemingway's Men at War. My interest in all things German stems from my heritage and a personality trait that causes me to admire order and discipline. As I have written previously, I am not really a collector, though I do actively search for artifacts that relate to my books. I am a military historian who specializes on modern, Western military history (1898-present) with an emphasis on WWI and a focus on Germany 1914-45. And you are absolutely right that a person's motive for focusing on the Third Reich--or any other area--is an individual issue. But I think we will find that there areas of common ground for the interest. Thanks for the post. Dwight
FJ5 Chally: It seems that we are kindred souls, and I really enjoy your dogs' names, and the cat's name is a clever double entente. Well done. Thanks for posting. Dwight
Corey: Was Elvis in a tank outfit or a truck comapny? At the time I must have known the answer to that question since Elvis was featured in the Stars and Stripes frequently. But the years have past and memory has faded. Regardless of what sort of unit he was in, I'm sure that your mother's late friend is correct that Elvis received no special consideration (grain of salt taken here). But I do recall hearing that he was well liked among the troops who found him to be "a regular guy." Dwight
My fascination started as a very young child. I only wanted German uniforms and equipment for my Action Man, I always wanted to be the German guards when playing the board game Colditz, I didnt like it when German soldiers were killed in war films, when playing games of war with my friends in fields and woods I insisted on being the German. All my toy soldiers were German, I only made and painted Luftwaffe and Panzer plastic models- dozens of them, I only bought Commando books if there was a German on the cover, I adored Sven Hassel books, German uniform books etc etc etc!
And now in later life I have amassed a German militaria collection and more books on the TR than you can shake a stick at!
Why?? I dont know My wife thinks I am a reencarnation !
"In all my years as a soldier, I have never seen men fight so hard." - SS Obergruppenfuhrer Wilhelm Bittrich - Arnhem
I started collecting TR once I started to study WW2 history, what hitler and the nazi's did was awful as we all know, and im sure some people collect it for the wrong reasons, but being from german heritage I always try to put myself in the common german soldiers shoes and wonder what choices or what feelings I would have had at that time, its easy to judge now because we know everything that took place, but if its 1939 in germany and im told that I have to go to war, then most likely I would be going to war to fight for my country, just like I would do now for the USA in 2012. My interest started with helmets and relics, my father served in korea and I have some of his items, I also have some civil war items, but when it came to WW2 the thought of owning or holding a relic that represented a terrible and now extinct (TR) time in history was more appealing to me, the proof is in the reaction people have when I show them my stuff, they enjoy the civil war items, and my relics from USA/korea/ussr even hungary, but when I show them the TR stuff and they see a swaztika decal on a helmet their eyes open wide and they say WOW. now I dont have hanging banners and flags on my walls, because alot of it does make me feel uneasy, but as far as historical and educational purposes go, TR items, in good and bad ways, teach us all about humanity, and only the ignorant will judge someone who collects TR memorabilia for historical purposes.
I think the TR era attracts so many collectors because for the 20th century, Germany was the country to beat. They took on and held off against the armies of the (almost)entire world for five years... twice. If that isn't worthy of admiration, what is? The TR and WWII in general was the crescendo to the end of the old world - before NATO, communist bloc and globalization etc.. and maybe it reminds people of that as well. I personally had my interest piqued from video games and TV(being a youngling and all) seeing the iconic stalhelms and iron crosses, then coming to realize that you can find these things still.
Plus, I mean you look at the craftsmanship and designs of the uniforms, vehicles, awards of the TR compared to any other country then or now... they just did it better.
Woolgar: That is a very interesting and enjoyable post. I was a little guy playing at war when the real war was in full swing, but for several reasons, I didn't "kill" Germans, but I sure fought the Japanese. The fact that we lived in California made the Pacific War more immediate to me, and we didn't have any relatives fighting for the other side, as was the case in the ETO. Late in the war I had a genuine GI steel pot that my Grandfather, who was in the Merchant Marine, brought back from one of the Pacific islands. That and a 1/2 size ground-mounted .50 cal. MG that my dad made from scrap metal allowed me to stack up Japanese soldiers by the car load. But as a late teen and adult, my interest was, and remains, modern German military history, In part because of our family history and in part because of the order and discipline it represents. Thanks for the post. Dwight
Maximus71: Your statement, "...but when it came to WW2 the thought of owning or holding a relic that represented a terrible and now extinct (TR) time in history was more appealing to me..." raises two important points regarding what makes the Third Reich period so attractive to people. The first is that most of us are appalled by, and at the same time attracted to, horror and violence. As you point out, we don't mean to glorify those features, but we are attracted. But it was the "extinct" part of your comment that really caught my eye. You're right, and I had never before considered it, but the Third Reich period is an extinct historical entity. I suppose that the Soviet Union might be in the same category, but I'm not entirely sure that's true. Thanks for the informative post. Dwight
Wolke1165: I enjoyed you insight, especially when you wrote, "They took on and held off against the armies of the (almost)entire world for five years... twice. If that isn't worthy of admiration, what is?" You're absolutely right, we love to be winners, but the literature of the Western Civiliation is heavily laced with the heroism of the lost cause. I have written three books on that theme. And you're right that the trappings of the Third Reich are per se attractive, just as they were designed to be. But the other side of the coin is the mediocrity of the NSDAP leadership. How did a group of second-rate, relatively low intellect misfits, make it all happen? It's the dichotomy of the appearance of efficiency on one hand, and the existence of an inefficient bureaucracy on the other that attracts me a much as any of the other elements. I'm sure there is a lesson to be learned there. Thanks for the interesting post. Dwight
I could sit here and type about how I collect TR stuff because of the anthropological and industrial aspect, and because of the attention to detail in Nazi-era items were incredible, or how the rise and fall of the reich was so fascinating, but...
When it comes down to it, I just really can't remember a time when I didn't see things like feldgrau, balkan crosses, grey steel, red, white, and black flags, and swastikas, and NOT freak out like a teenage girl is a shoe store.
Looking for WWII U.S. dog tags
What a thread! It gets to our core as collectors and hobbyists. Here are my thoughts if you will indulge me. I am divorced and dating again at 52. A friend let slip that I collect "nazi" objects to a new aquaintance. I had a lot of explaining to do as she is really quite liberal in her thoughts. What to do? I had to come clean and admit that indeed, I collect (mostly German) WWII objects, read about the history of the era and participate in events such as displays and documentaries. There is now an academic interest to my proclivity to focus on the TR. I know it well and have studied it earnestly since viewing the World at War in 1974. I was also influenced by uncle Ed Bradshaw a navy coxswain in the Pacific and an energetic high school teacher. My fascination with artifacts as a teen has grown into an appreciation of their historic and monetary value. The German war time memorabilia is simply the most interesting and aesthetically intriguing material out there. From the shape of the Stahlhelm to the age old iron cross image there are no other military images that compare. My investment in TR objects has proven far more lucrative than money deposited in a bank. The trade of these objects have rescued me from financial ruin several times over. They have also figured prominently in my life as a consultant for theatre, film and video - most notably Honor Deferred on the History Channel. My living history impression and collection has also served as an attraction at WWII themed events including the I like Ike Weekend in Gettysburg. The fund raising weekends there help preserve the Eisenhower farm. I think my lady friend was suitably impressed by my justification for collecting and exploring the history of WWII including TR items. You can also see me enshrined in comic book lore as the Panzer commander in the Sargeant Rock revival series by DC comics. Why? Am I a hater or political extremist? No. Just someone who got hooked on history at an early age. Neil H.
TR items are engulfed with style and are yet taboo. I have had relatives killed by the TR and Japanese! I respect both cultures! War is HELL but we can learn from it! Well-most nations and nationalities can! There are many in the Mid-East that need to STEP UP and put down the radicals! I'm not getting political but being a realist! I do know my shiz when it comes to this stuff! But.... The TR did put out some amazing technology!