Hitler told the world the Third Reich was invincible. My German grandfather knew better

tags: Hitler, D-Day, German history

Robert Scott Kellner is a retired English professor. He is the editor and translator of the English edition of his grandfather’s journal, which was published last year as “My Opposition: The Diary of Friedrich Kellner — A German Against the Third Reich.”

“Their soldiers have other ambitions,” laughed Reich Marshal Hermann Goering, explaining to an exuberant gathering in the Berlin Sports Palace why U.S. troops were not yet in Europe in 1942, a year after the attack on Pearl Harbor,

“They'll wobble on a dance floor for 72 hours,” Goering continued, according to news reports, “with contorted limbs, rolling eyes, and a completely dopey look to be crowned marathon king. … Such things are not soldiering, and the U.S.A. will not impress us with bluff.”

Friedrich Kellner was one German who was not amused by the jovial Luftwaffe commander; he knew where the bluff really lay.

“Our leaders ridiculed America in the First World War, too, claiming their soldiers would never come to Europe, but the American army made the difference in every respect, morally and honestly," noted Kellner in his diary in 1942. A court administrator in the Upper Hesse village of Laubach, Kellner would welcome the Allied assault when it came two years later: D-day, June 6, 1944.

As a political organizer for the Social Democrats, Kellner had opposed the Nazis from the beginning, campaigning against them throughout the duration of the ill-fated Weimar Republic. When Adolf Hitler came to power, he began a journal to record the Third Reich’s crimes and the German people's complicity in the Nazi reign of terror. Because he sometimes failed to limit his "defeatist" thoughts to his diary, Kellner and his wife, Pauline, were marked by the Nazi authorities as a "bad influence" and placed under surveillance by the Gestapo.

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