My Great-Grandfather was a German Soldier during World War 2 should I be ashamed or not?

My Fathers Grandfather was a German Soldier all I know about him is that he fought and killed Americans. My Dad remembered him at a young age before he died saying he didn't really talk about the war much. I mean i knew i had German in me but to have one of your forefathers fight in the German army during WW2 i dont know whether to be ashamed or proud. Even some of my American friends have been offended from this since their grandfathers fought against Germans.

Updates:
I asked my Dad on more info on him and found out he was born in 1918 his name was Heinrich and had participated in many battles including the Battle of the Bulge and was only a Corporal.
I managed to get info about him from my Dad thats a miracle.

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Most Helpful Girl

  • You aren't your grandfather, don't be ashamed.

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Most Helpful Guy

  • No, there is nothing you have to be ashamed of, but I can relate, people somehow found out that my grandfather was involved in the military too but there is a "troop above the regular army level" if you know what I mean.

    He was born in 1915 and was 20 when he got in. He did it voluntarily because they were promised a good education, including the right to study at university, which was something very special back then, so he did it without knowing what they were going to do. (He also happened to meet the physical criterions for that troop).
    You either did what you had to do or they'd kill you too, there was no way out.
    He got lots of medals too, but rather for his courage, which was his own will to survive actually. It was either you or them. One year before he died he burned his uniform to finally let go of everything. He was 96 when he did this. He died at 97 in 2012.
    The cause of his death was the stress from back then that still tore him up internally.
    You don't get a golden close combat clasp, an Iron cross and a Knights cross for running away from danger..

    RIP, bravest man I've ever known. He was the most important person in my life.

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    • Wow amazing story!

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    • I agree he's such a good hearted man if only I knew mine and what he was like my Dad won't talk about him but your Grandfather was a hero.

    • Not sure whether you are able to understand German, but this song just popped up in my mind, and even though you probably can't understand the lyrics, I think it conveys how I felt when he passed away. (I clearly distance myself from that band's political views nonetheless)

      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=FpNCS_TL07Y

What Girls Said 3

  • No reason to be ashamed of it unless you have Nazi leanings. Most German soldiers were conscripted in the same way as British and American ones were.

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  • Don't be ashamed. My grandfather also fought in world war 2. He was on the side of Soviet Union.

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  • my great grandfather faught for the japanese and they did bomb the US

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What Guys Said 10

  • If he was with the Wehrmacht (German regular army), then he performed as his country and government asked. Soldiers are instruments of foreign policy they are not it's creators. Blame the war on Hitler and Germany as a whole. Do not feel shame that you had a relative that fought honorably in defense of his country. This is what soldiers do.

    If he was SS, that changes everything. They were perpetrators of war crimes on a large scale. Essentually, they were instituted to commit war crimes. There is shame to be found in that possibility.

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    • Nah he wasn't SS if he was than I'd be truly ashamed

    • Think of it this way. Once a soldier surrenders and is no longer a belligerent, the the very soldiers whom he was trying to kill then take him as a prisoner and treat him humanely. If soldiers in war facing death each day can extend this grace, how much more grace should be expected from people and for people not directly involved?

  • I'm sure we would all like to have ancestry that we can be proud of. Maybe it shouldn't matter, but it still does somehow. You ask if you *should* be ashamed. I don't think it's a matter of should or should not. *Do* you feel ashamed, and why? We can't help how we feel, no matter what we think we should or should not feel. We feel how we feel.

    Your GGrandfater was doing his duty. He had no choice. He might have even supported his country. It's highly unlikely that he knew everything that was going on. Very few people did until long after the war.

    Whatever he may have done during the war, he had children, and grand child, and great grand children. Would he be proud of how his great grand children turned out? If he can be proud of them, then I think whatever he may have done is redeemed.

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  • Your grandfather could have been like General Rommel. Rommel was a professional soldier and did not partake in any of the Nazi war crimes. He was a brilliant tactician who was and is still admired. However, unless you know that your grandfather willingly volunteered in the mass genocides, he was just another soldier who was following orders. Regardless, you do not need to wear the shame or burden of what your bloodline has done. It was a tragic time in history, and I pray it never happens again.

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  • Are you a Nazi? Just because someone you are genetically related to did something does not make you in any way responsible.

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  • I don't know what to tell you.. I think you should feel neutral.
    You should not be ashamed because he did what he needed to do for his country in that time.. he had to go to war just like everyone had to in that time.
    On the other hand every war is bad and no one approves of it.
    I think it's best you don't talk about it much because it's the past after all.
    Ohhh and those friends that got mad are not very intelligent I can tell you that right away... I mean getting mad at you for something you didn't do and something that happened a long time ago... wow imbeciles. Ignore them and what they have to say.
    Your great grandfather is no different from theirs that fought in the war.

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  • I think it depends on how high ranking he was.

    Either way, it wasn't called a world war for nothing. The whole world was involved in one side or the other. It's over now.

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  • Atrocities were not committed just from the Germans but from all sides. There was no one wholly good or innocent.

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  • he is just a soldier

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  • Why would you be ashamed? He fought honorably and bravely, even if he was on the wrong side.

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  • Does he talk about it? I mean, does he ever tell you about how it was and all that

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    • I've never met him but he used to tell my Fathers father, my Grandfather, which is my Great-Grandfathers son stories (When he was a boy). Which he told my Dad and my Dad told me 😃

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