feelsy thoughts on ww2

This photo was taken in February 1943, but not published until September, when it became the first image of dead American troops to appear in LIFE during World War II. George Strock's photo was finally OK'd by government censors, in part because FDR feared the public was growing complacent about the war's horrific toll.      Read more: http://life.time.com/history/world-war-ii-classic-photos-from-life-magazine/#ixzz1wylxzhoH

Yes, I know it’s not fandom-related.  But it’s real life, and that’s better than fandom.  I’ve been swamped with WWII feels, books, movies, etc., for weeks now.  Rat Patrol, the Liberation trilogy by Rick Atkinson, Unbroken (review coming soonish!), Battle Of The Bulge (the movie), and prep for the WWI/WWII course I’ll be going through this school year.  WWII stories, movies, music, non-fiction always makes me cry.  I don’t look at battle statistics and see numbers.  I see lives – each individual life is part of the bigger picture.  Stories and movies are even more heartbreaking that non-fiction (sometimes) because faces are personalized, stories become real, and you can’t help but hurt for the characters.  I could go on for hours about WWII, how I feel about it, my favorite books and movies surrounding it, but I won’t.  Instead, I want to share with you an excerpt of an essay, a picture, and a quote.

Sent to my by a friend, this except is one of the worst and best things I’ve read on war. (it was the thing that inspired this post)

“Earning honor under fire changes who you are. The blast-furnace of battle burns away impurities encrusting your soul. The white-hot forge of combat hammers you into a purified, hardened warrior willing to die rather than break your word to friends – your honor.

“The biggest sadness of your life is to see friends falling. The biggest surprise of your life is to survive the war. Although still alive on the outside, you are dead inside – shot thru the heart with nonsensical guilt for living while friends died. The biggest lie of your life torments you that you could have done something more, different, to save them. Their faces are the tombstones in your weeping eyes, their souls shine the true camaraderie you search for the rest of your life but never find.

“You live a different world now. You always will.  Your world is about waking up night after night screaming, back in battle.  Your world is about your best friend bleeding to death in your arms, howling in pain for you to kill him.  Your world is about shooting so many enemies the gun turns red and jams, letting the enemy grab you.  Your world is about struggling hand-to-hand for one more breath of life.  

“You never speak of your world. Those who have seen combat do not talk about it. Those who talk about it have not seen combat.  You come home but a grim ghost of he who so lightheartedly went off to war. But home no longer exists. That world shattered like a mirror the first time you were shot at. The splintering glass of everything you knew fell at your feet, revealing what was standing behind the mirror – grinning Death – and you are face to face, nose to nose with it!

“You did your duty, survived the dance, and returned home. But not all of you came back to the civilian world. Your heart and mind are still in the Warrior’s World, as far away from the civilian world as Mars. They will always be in the Warrior’s World. They will never leave, they are buried there. In that far off hallowed home of honor, life is about keeping your word.

Back in the civilian world, however, people have no idea that life is about keeping your word of honor . They think life is about ballgames, backyards, barbecues, babies and business.” ~from ‘The Warrior’s Code Of Honour’ by Paul R. Allen

This picture (collage, really) always makes me tear up.  I don’t know why, it just does.

Same place, different time.....oh, goodness, this made me cry.

And, finally, the quote.

“Never in the field of human conflict was so much owed by so many to so few.” ~Winston Churchill

Eva

the awesomeness that is DIETRICH

"In which Hans Gudegast/Eric Braeden is a terrifying actor. You can just see all of Dietrich’s men that have fallen to the Rats in his eyes. Right there. The men, the boys, the friends and barely-knew-hims he’s seen dragged out of flaming convoys because of Troy. And that is all in a moment of film, a sliver that you barely notice unless you stop the footage."

“…not a perfect soldier, but a good man.”

That quote is in reference to Captain America/Steve Rogers, but I find that it fits Dietrich’s character incredibly well.  He may not always agree with the Nazi mindset (okay, he never agrees with it) but he’ll still work through the twisted morals of his superiors to serve his country to the best of his ability…and at the same time, never sacrificing his own ideals for the sake of convenience or even safety.  There was one episode (‘Truce At Aburah’, which I’ll be discussing further a little later on) where a superior officer threatened to send a report to Berlin (a report that would probably get him pulled down in the ranks, if not executed) if Dietrich didn’t break a truce he had with the Rat Patrol (they’d agreed to a truce so that they could save a little girl out of a well), and Dietrich doesn’t budge.  His attitude is basically “do what you want, I’m not moving on this one”.  Because innocent civilians are more important than some crazy dude’s rantings.  And that’s just one example.

“I don’t want them to change me…Turn me into some kind of monster that I’m not….I keep wishing I could think of a way to…to show them that they don’t own me. That I’m more than just a piece in their game.”

*all the Hunger Games fangirls burst into tears*

Again, it’s not specifically from The Rat Patrol, but this quote…this quote so fits Dietrich.  It’s something he could’ve said.  I’m sure it’s something he thought on more than one occasion.  Like the time when he’s ordered to go find a certain kid, put a Star of David on him, drag him in to Nazi HQ, and send him off to a concentration camp. (from ‘Death Do Us Part’ – overall, the episode is probably my least favorite, but Dietrich is amazing in that one)  He doesn’t want to disobey a direct order, but the entire thing is wrong, and he knows it.  Consider…

German officer hands Dietrich his orders.
Dietrich reads over the paper and sighs heavily.
Dietrich: “So far we have been able to abstain from this sort of thing in the Africa campaign.”
German officer glares at him.
German officer: “What are you trying to tell me?”
Dietrich: “Merely that I want to register my objection to this.”
German officer: “Are you sure you can afford to?”
Dietrich: “I can’t afford not to!”
Dramatic music.  Hitch, Tully, and Moffitt look at each other.  Dietrich salutes and leaves.

Oh wow.  Ohhhhhh wow.

DO YOU SEE WHAT I MEAN?

(plus, when he went to get the boy, he was so close to breaking down…it was horrible)

Would you call those puppy eyes? I’d call those puppy eyes.

Or in ‘Decoy Raid’ when a half-insane SS officer (hmm…there seems to be a theme going here) who I believe potentially has the authority to demote Dietrich, won’t keep his side of a bargain (a member of the RP – in this case, Moffitt – in exchange for a desperately needed medical nurse) and Dietrich practically loses it with him.  Flat-out yelling at a guy who’s crazy enough to kill him.  Dietrich rarely looses his cool, but in this case, he feels that the capture of the nurse was partly his fault and if he doesn’t get her back to the village she was taken from, an epidemic will break out.  So, he’s too frustrated to care anymore. (that SS guy was a jerk, btw)

“As a member of the SS, you are supposed to have a sense of honour.  As you recall, we concluded the bargain…for heaven’s sake, man, think of your sanity as a human being!”

(if you want to watch a good Dietrich-centric episode, ‘Decoy Raid’ is the one to go to, just so you know)

“One of my favorite moments is when Dietrich is in one Nazi’s office and mentions something about Hitler and gives the most dismissive, hate-filled side-eye to the bust on the man’s desk.”

I’m 99.99999999999 percent certain that the writers for this show based Dietrich off of Rommel.  Besides the obvious similarities in their gear/stance/etc, there’s the similarities in their characters as well.  Both were honourable men, who didn’t always agree with the Nazi mindset, but still stayed true to their country.  Plus, I recently read a book about WWII which stated that Rommel gained the respect of both the Allies and the Germans, and I think that within the little pocket of the North African campaign, Dietrich did that too.  He obeys orders, but he’s also fair when it comes to prisoners, civilians, and truces.  And let me go a little further and say that Dietrich probably met Rommel….

OKAY I CAN’T BE CALM ABOUT THIS ANYMORE.  THIS IS MY FAVORITE IN-UNIVERSE HEADCANON AND I HAVE TO RANT A LITTLE BIT.  IT’S BASICALLY CANON.  Because what about all those times that Dietrich has failed a mission? (don’t get me started…I might cry)  And failed it in a big way, I might add.  Despite what Hogan’s Heroes may tell you, not all Nazis are idiots (although the guy in the tag scene from ‘Touch-And-Go’ was pretty stupid).  Dietrich would probably have been shot because of all those botched missions, right?  BUT HERE’S WHERE THE HEADCANON COMES IN.  Maybe early on in his North African career, Dietrich met Rommel.  And Rommel was really impressed with him, so he invited Dietrich to join him for dinner and they became friends and Rommel fields all of Dietrich’s reports and that’s why Dietrich hasn’t gotten pulled from the ranks or shot.  And every so often, Dietrich has dinner with Rommel and they discuss strategy and how the war’s going and Dietrich always feels cheered up after those visits.

One reason that headcanon is my favorite is because Dietrich always seems so lonely.  He’s only twenty-five, he has a huge burden of responsibility on his shoulders, and he doesn’t have a good team behind him (the way Troy does) because the Rat Patrol almost always kill off his men.  So I’ll bet that eventually he doesn’t allow himself to get close to anyone because they always end up dying, and he’s always the last man standing, and the burden of guilt and loneliness would be too much if he let himself be friends with anyone.  There have been a few episodes where things worked out.  ‘Moment Of Truce’ for one, since everyone survived (including cute bubble-gum boy – Heine) and ‘Touch-And-Go’ (which I love because it actually shows Dietrich working with his men…pretty epic).  But on the other end of the spectrum, there’s ‘Truce At Aburah’ where every. single. one. of his men dies.  After they’d had a little characterization as well.  Which was so heartbreaking.  I literally can’t.  His expression when he realizes he’s the last one standing.  I just.  No.

And it was only a couple days ago that I realized that the reason he hesitated for so long before agreeing to the truce wasn’t because he didn’t want to rescue the girl.  It was because he knew only too well how truces usually end (how missions in general usually end, for that matter) and he didn’t want to endanger his men.  But in the end, he agreed to the truce because ‘maybe we can save this little girl and maybe things will go well this time’.  AND THEN THEY DON’T AND IT’S UTTERLY HEARTBREAKING.  On a side note, I do love the little bits of interaction/protectiveness/commanding-officer thing we get between Dietrich and his men.  Like in ‘Touch-And-Go’ when they’re discussing what to do (at different times in the episode) or in ‘Moment Of Truce’ when Dietrich says “Don’t give orders to my men!” when Troy tells them ‘stop shooting at what they can’t see’.  You can see just how much he wants to keep them safe (well, as safe as he can during times of war) and that makes the whole thing so much worse.

"It speaks volumes of Dietrich’s experience with the Rats that he’s willing to go along with whatever plan it is that Troy came up with. And also about the fact that while Dietrich has his pride, boy does he have his pride, he is above all a practical man. Despite how it rankles, he will take Troy’s initial plans above his own when it comes to crazed escapes."

One thing I haven’t really discussed in this post is Dietrich’s frenemyship with the Rat Patrol (but especially Troy).  It’s really-it’s just one of the most epic things ever.  From the moment in ‘Chase Of Fire’ where they did the whole ‘glare-at-each-other-as-the-jeeps-ride-off-into-the-sunset’ thing to where Troy nearly fatally shot Dietrich in the very last episode of the series (‘Kill At Koorlea’), there’s this awesomely dysfunctional frenemyship that I find incredibly awesome.  The truce episodes are the best for showcasing the whole thing (although anytime Dietrich captures any of them is also good) and of all of those, ‘Chain Of Death’ is my favorite.  Short summary: Troy and Dietrich are captured by Arab slave traders and chained together. (with a very long, very heavy chain…what were those Arabs thinking?)  They manage to escape, and have to work together (with the chain between them) to get back to civilization.  There are so many epic things in this episode that I couldn’t begin to list them all, but a few of my favorites (i.e., the ones that illustrate Troy and Dietrich’s relationship to each other) are as follows…

  • Dietrich deferring to Troy’s hair-brained schemes because they actually do work most of the time.
  • Their [fake] slug-fest. (looked pretty real to me, though)
  • Nearly killing each other with the chain until they decide to work together. (basically this whole show)
  • Dietrich goes unconscious and Troy drags him under some shade before concocting a ‘let’s-get-out-of-this-chain’ plan.
  • And the tag scene.

oh, come on, like Troy's really going to shoot Dietrich.

I don’t think any of the Rats are even close to being friends with Dietrich, but they respect him and trust him, at least to some extent.  And that’s more than they give any other German guy (and quite a few Allied ones, as well).  I don’t think they’d kill him (or he’d kill one of them) but they’re still enemies.  Occasional allies, yes.  Friends, no.  There was that one time where Dietrich saved Moffitt’s life by getting him a  live blood donor.  Or when Dietrich saved Moffitt from court martial.  Or when Dietrich shot that crazy SS guy in ‘Decoy Raid’ before he could shoot Moffitt. (um, wow…I’m getting a theme here)  But there’ve also been times where he’s clearly angry/frustrated with the whole lot of them.  Or sometimes, more specifically, Troy.

Dietrich rarely loses him temper enough to start shouting, but there have been a few times.  Annnd they usually have something to do with Troy.  In ‘Boomerang Raid’ he and Troy actually started fighting (like, fists flying fighting) which never happens.  In ‘Tug Of War’ (another insanely good Dietrich episode) he starts yelling at Troy, mainly because Troy refuses to give him some information (and if Troy doesn’t give him the information, he [Troy, not Dietrich] will be hung).  I think he was frustrated in that episode, yes, but he was also worried because Troy had gotten himself into a very dangerous position and he couldn’t do anything about it.  OH AND IN THAT SCENE HE STARTS LAUGHING BUT IT’S THE SADDEST, MOST BITTER LAUGH YOU’LL EVER HERE AND I’M ALMOST POSITIVE IT WAS A ‘If you don’t laugh, you’ll cry’ SITUATION.  FEEEEEEEEEEEEELS.

Dietrich: “Sergeant, can’t you get it through your head that unless you tell me where you disposed of the microfilm, you are going to be hanged tomorrow!”
Troy:  “I saw that possibility.”
Dietrich: “You don’t believe it?”
Troy: “I believe it.”
Dietrich: “Then face facts, man!  You cannot possibly deliver that film to the Allies.  So the very thing you are throwing your life away for is worthless.”
Troy: “Then why do you want it so badly, Captain?”
Dietrich: “Because, Sergeant, an exposure of classified information rattling under my nose is very uncomfortable to me.”
Troy: “That’s your problem, Captain.”

And the iconic episode where Dietrich pulls off and slugs Troy.  Knocks him right out.  But I don’t blame him that time (it was from ‘Trial By Fire’, btw) because Troy tripped him up, Dietrich was frustrated with all of his stupid tricks, and it just built up and built up until he just…punched Troy out.  AND in that same episode, Troy pulls a gun on him and tells Dietrich to call the guard (so that he can kill the guard) and Dietrich hesitates for the longest time.  BECAUSE HE DIDN’T WANT THE GUARD TO DIE.  MAYBE HE KNEW THAT GUARD.  JUST-I’m done.  I’m 24601% done.

Troy: “Looks like our friend found a home.”  PUPPY DIETRICH AND DOGGIE ARE NOW FRIENDS.

There are some happy Dietrich moments as well, and I’ll close of this [super-long] post with listing a few of them.

  • the above gif. (‘Darers Go First’)
  • when he tries to make sure a little girl gets her doll back in ‘Trial By Fire’.
  • eating cinnamon rolls.
  • being happy when he sends Troy/jeeps packing. (happened once, in one episode, ‘David And Goliath’, I believe)
  • WHEN HE SPEAKS ARABIC IN ‘CHAIN OF DEATH’.  He’s actually really mad when he does that, but it was so epic that I had to include it here.

What are your thoughts on Dietrich? (if you’ve seen the show, that is…if you haven’t get to Youtube post-haste!)

Eva

little {fandom} things: rat patrol

{today was Jane’s day to post, but since she’s away on vacation, I’ve taken up the torch – enjoy!}

Confession: I kinda, sorta, really love this show.  It’s…it’s awesome.  RAT PATROL IS UNIQUE AND THE CHARACTERS ARE ALL BEAUTIFUL AND FLAWED AND BELIEVABLE AND THERE ARE SO MANY EMOTIONS AND I JUST REALLY HAVE A LOT OF FEELS FOR THIS SHOW.  I could go on and on about the different headcanons and AUs (alternate universes) and little details in certain episodes and why ‘Chain Of Death Raid’ is the best episode ever, but since I don’t have a lot of time and you’d probably get a bit tired of all-caps rantings and ramblings, I’m just going to list a few (okay, several) things that make this show one of my absolute favorite TV shows ever. (btw, the whole thing is free on Youtube, so go check it out!)

Tully’s smile lights up the desert.  Not even joking.

The Floof.

All the truce episodes.

DIETRICH.

Moffitt’s British Wit.

AUs – Hunger Games, cowboy, modern collage, roadtrip (ugh, that one is most hilarious thing ever), if-Germany-had-won-WWII…

Tully + jeeps is a thing.

So are Brotps. (I platonically ship everything in this show)

Cute romances.

That time when Troy and Dietrich were chained together. (the North African version of ‘our get-along shirt’)

The fandom is literally the best.

Dietrich’s voice is like melted chocolate.

I dunno why, but I love it when they rip the covers off the guns.

The teamwork and camaraderie – they’re all such bros!

How the Rats/Dietrich interact with kids. (and puppies)

Cool explosions!

The fact that Troy found his brother and lost his father…and Moffitt found his father and lost his brother.  I will forever cry over that fact.

#iloveeveryoneinthisdesert

Eva

(no, I did not use this post as an excuse to share all my favorite gifs.  Why would you ask?)