This chapter concludes with an argument that in Germany, the popular memory of “Barbarossa” is based on the same inversion of reality which was common during the Third Reich, whereby the war's military events and physical hardships are greatly overemphasized, while its truly unique aspect, namely its inherent criminality, is repressed and “normalized.” Cause and effect were reversed: barbarism was perceived as the outcome of the enemy's bitter resistance to occupation, not as its main trigger. Further, the chapter demonstrates that the central contention of this study is that just as we cannot speak of the Wehrmacht as an institution in isolation from the state, so too it is impossible to understand the conduct, motivation, and self-perception of the individual officers and men who made up the army without considering the society and regime from which they came.
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