But no matter how thin you slice them, they all mean that the boys are taking it on the lam

Like the woman Dorothy Parker used to tell about who spoke 15 languages and couldn’t say “No” in any of them, the Germans have at least 30 ways of announcing that their Army has had its brains knocked out again without resorting to the use of such horrid words as “defeat” or “surrender.”

nazi army retreat wwii

nazi army retreat wwiiAnyway, the script writers in Goebbels office had turned out Number 30, according to a conservative count by Office of War Information scorekeepers, just before we went to press. This latest little gem of careful understatement referred to the pinning-back of the German ears at Smolensk by the Russians. It described the lost town as “evacuated…without interference by the enemy.”

Of course the boys who retread verbs and adjectives for the Nazi communiques have been working overtime since then to keep up, or rather to keep back, with their retreating generals. So the total will be much higher by the time you read this.

Some of the German methods of avoiding the simple word “retreat” are really ingenious For instance, DNB, the official Hitler news agency, reported the flight from Bryansk by declaring:

“The bulk of German troops reached a new line without fighting.”

nazi army retreat wwii

According to the Germans, Bizerte was “given up after the destruction of military installations” and “our troops fighting in Tunis occupied positions southwest of the city according to orders.”

Then in Sicily, the important stronghold of Catania was not given up but “evacuated without the enemy’s following on our heels.”nazi army retreat wwii

Explaining the loss of Calabria and Apulia, they bit their ink-stained finger nails for a long while and came up with a honey:

“Our weak covering forces succeeded in breaking away from the enemy without interference.”

The favorite way of phrasing a retreat for home consumption in the Reich is that old chestnut, “according to plan.” What plan d’ya mean, bud? The Morris plan?nazi army retreat wwii

For More Reading Check Out:

The Mascot: Unraveling the Mystery of My Jewish Father’s Nazi Boyhood

Russia’s War: A History of the Soviet Effort: 1941-1945

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