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Synthesis

Elucidating Paul Walden

November 18, 2013 | APPEARED IN VOLUME 91, ISSUE 46

I was fascinated to learn that the outstanding scientist Paul Walden was a supporter only of the SS and not of the Reichswehr (C&EN, July 22, page 28). In Nazi Germany, the Reichswehr was the apolitical regular army. The SS was a Nazi successor of the Nazis’ private army, called the SA, which was forcibly eliminated after the Nazis took power. During World War II, the SS formed a rival fighting army, which was responsible for all the atrocities—the systematic killing of civilians, women and children—on the eastern front. They were hated to such a degree that Soviet Union soldiers had orders to shoot them on sight.

In their letters to the editor, Joshua Tel-ser has his history upside down, and Nelson Marans’s history is no better (C&EN, Sept. 9, page 6). Latvia was occupied by Germany during the war, and the country’s Jewish citizens were eliminated by order of the occupier—albeit with the population’s enthusiastic support. The Wehrmacht’s support was not needed.

A. E. Lippman
St. Louis

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