Should we have invited the Germans?

June 03, 1994|By Art Buchwald

WHEN our wise Allied leaders decided to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the D-Day landings, the question immediately arose, "Should the Germans be invited?" It was a sticky one and it's still being debated by those who served in World War II.

The anti-German argument is that Hitler's troops should not be invited to the commemoration of an event at which they killed so many of our guys in the name of Aryan superiority.

The pro-German planners insist that they should be invited because if it hadn't been for the Germans there would not have been a D-Day in the first place. The Deutschland uber Alles chaps insist that the Germans fought with valor and held the high ground in Normandy long enough to turn it into a really bloody battle.

Finally, everyone knows that when the fighting is over you have to let bygones be bygones. Otherwise no one gets to buy a Mercedes Benz after the shooting stops.

Gunther Gunther, who developed strong muscles firing mortars on Omaha Beach, said that all he had been doing was following orders. Hitler told his outfit that the Allied forces should not be permitted to land. In those days the Germans believed that Hitler knew what he was talking about. "You can't have a war celebration and not ask us to witness the fireworks. If you don't invite German veterans they will refuse to invite you to their Octoberfest in Munich."

Gunther Gunther continued: "I received a medal for shooting down a B-25. Don't you think that I should get to shake hands with Bill and Hillary for that?"

Sir David DePrest insisted there was no way that Normandy could accommodate German veterans. "Had their chaps done their job properly, they would have had the party and I'll wager that we would not have been invited. The trouble with the Germans is that they were stiff during the war and they're stiff now. You can't walk into a French cafe with any of them and sing a good World War II song. The only one they know is 'Lili Marlene.' "

Barry Shanoff, an American, said: "The reason I don't want the Germans to come is that they would interfere with our D-Day battle stories. We have invented so many good ones over the years and they will only start picking holes in them. I have told people I knocked out 20 Panzer tanks with my hand grenades. If the Germans show up, they'll say that I was lying and I'll look like an idiot in front of my family."

Jean Valjean of the Free French is fearful that if the Germans come back they will move into all the best houses again and steal all the Calvados from the applejack stills. "They took everything 50 years ago. What makes you think that they've changed?"

"They're honorable citizens now and they are admired all over the world for their beer," Bill Topercer said.

It was agreed by one and all that this is a big dilemma. The Germans may remember this snub more than they remember being Nazis. This has Belgium worried because they are afraid that the German tourists might try to get into Normandy by overrunning Belgium as they did during two previous wars.

In 1944 some people foresaw the danger of beating the Germans during the war and then not inviting them to the celebration party. Bill Topercer warned General Eisenhower, "Some day we're going to celebrate this D-Day and if we don't invite the Germans to come they're going to say to us, 'No more Mr. Nice Guy.' "

Art Buchwald is a syndicated columnist.

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