June 22, 2015

It has come to our attention that in the English edition of this book, the translation of the Dutch preface is missing. We are working to correct this as soon as possible. For those who have the edition without that preface, we post it here.

Preface

This book presents a reconstruction of historical as well as contemporary events. Particularly Chapter 1 is fairly elaborate, because the backgrounds of the encoders influenced the actual codes they devised; using symbols was an essential part of the Nazi regime. For example, the Nazi demand for a surrender of the French in 1940 was signed in the same railway carriage in which the Germans had been forced to sign their own capitulation to the French back in 1918. To an outsider, a code word like Compiègne wouldn’t mean much, but anyone who has buried himself in history will immediately recognise Compiègne as the location of said railway carriage. Because Nazi history is rooted in the First World War, it is essential to take a closer look at this period. Hence the extensive first chapter.

What I’ve done in this book is to wrap up the views handed down by a priest and other people. The fact that I do not always share their views is irrelevant from the point of view of journalism. During my research, I noticed that many people were very reticent to honestly give their opinion of the course of events before, during and after the Second World War. They were afraid of being labelled pro-Nazis. Their fear worried me; I was concerned that historical truth was being held hostage by post-war sentiment. No one benefits from a distorted account of history. The suggestion of the Allies that the fall of Arnhem was to be attributed to cowardly Polish soldiers was refuted sixty years later by Netwerk, a Dutch television programme. By now, we also know that the Nazis never actually manufactured lampshades from human skin, as was put forward during the Nuremberg trials. Neither did they produce soap from human fat. These were horror stories magnified out of all proportion, and similar to those being passed around after the First World War. However, it is beyond doubt that disastrous things happened. My research shows that at some points the answer to the question of how things could have gone so terribly wrong is a rather awkward one. I therefore request my readers to be open-minded when things get confronting, and to form their own objective opinion.

This is not a revisionist book. No person with a grain of common sense would ever deny that gypsies, homosexuals, Jews, psychiatric patients, and numerous others met with a terrible fate during the Second World War. The years I’ve spent in Germany have taught me that the German population certainly does not deny these things either. It is completely ridiculous to quarrel about precise numbers of victims. What is worse: that nine out of ten gypsies were murdered, or sixty out of eighty Jews? We fall into a trap as soon as we start to juggle with figures. The mechanism behind this kind of atrocity still lurks within each one of us – waiting for an unguarded moment in which our emotions might sweep us off our feet. There is very little difference between the fire at the Berlin Reichstag and the attack on the World Trade Center, if you consider the overheated emotions among the people and the licence these attacks offered the governments involved to violate international agreements and the rights of their citizens. Massacres, too, are of all times. We saw it happen between the Hutus and Tutsis, we saw it in Srebrenica and, farther back in time, in what the Dutch did in India, the Brits in Africa, the Spaniards in South America... It goes right back to biblical times.

KARL HAMMER