‘Valkyrie’ and Zee Germans

I just finished watching “Valkyrie”..the 2008 Tom Cruise movie about the attempt on Hitler’s life by a group of military officers towards the end of World War II. I first saw the movie in the theater with my father during Christmas 2008. Like me, he has a passion for history. Unlike me, he actually served in the military. Not that you have to be a veteran to appreciate the movie, or the sacrifice portrayed in it. Cruise (in one of his better roles) played Colonel von Stauffenberg, one of the primary plotters who almost (but not quite) manages to take out everybody’s favorite bad guy. Not to be flippant about it, but have you ever considered how unfair it is that Hitler managed to make the name “Adolf” forevermore anathema. Not to mention the square moustache as a viable facial hair option. NOBODY but a really dedicated neo-Nazi is going to name their child “Adolf” now. And that brings me to the serious point of this post: one person can make a big difference. Now, don’t worry. I’m not going to tell you how von Stauffenberg and the other plotters were noble and heroic; how they defied personal oaths and social convention to show the world that not ALL Germans are partial to crooked crosses and gassing people. And THAT may sound flippant, too. It’s not. Think about it: no matter the thousands of years of German history and culture, their scientific achievements, even Legos (actually, I think Legos may have been a Danish invention; Playmobil, then. Or beer. No…beer was probably an Egyptian invention. Let’s just stick with Playmobil. They make some really kool toys!)–nobody ever says “zee Germans” without pretty much immediately thinking about some guy in a black army uniform with a red swastika armband and a British accent.

Admit it! Germany is forever scarred by one guy. ONE GUY! I’m not innocent of the rush to judgment, either. In fact, after watching the powerful concentration camp movie “The Gray Zone”, my brother and I were ready to go kick some German ass. Of course, the closest Germans to us at the time were probably teenagers working at EPCOT. They’re really lucky Disney charges so much to get into their parks, or the kids working at zee German pavillion at EPCOT would have had two angry white, bald guys in boots to contend with. Which is, you know, kinda ironic. And the humiliation of being arrested by security guards wearing Mickey Mouse ears would have been a stain on our family honor we couldn’t have easily washed away.

Fast forward a few years. I used to carry my Xbox 360 over to my friend Bobby’s house when I lived in Scottsboro for the express and stated purpose of (as we often put it) “killin’ Nazis”. This meant we could engage in a few hours of mindless virtual carnage via my favorite video game genre, the First Person Shooter. In yet another ploy to make us all feel that old men have 50-pound cast-iron balls and none of us will ever (EVER!) do anything half as bad-ass as defeating Hitler (even though the Baby Boomers try, with all the whining about protest movements and Bob Dylan songs), the makers of fine FPS titles like the Medal of Honor series give pasty Gen-X’ers like me a way to live out our grandpappies’ WWII experiences virtually. Sorta. Well, look, its as close as we’re gonna get and I don’t want to hear any crap about the Gulf War. That was a video game war and you guys know it. Anyway, I like virtually killin’ Nazis, because–as long as you don’t shoot up your high school–its pretty harmless.

See, this is the reason why I don’t like to write blog posts over two different days. Yesterday I started this as a half-assed review of Valkyrie and a nice little “feel good” piece about how it sucks to be zee Germans and maybe we shouldn’t judge them quite so harshly. But I got tired or maybe the Internet crashed because I saved the draft and here I am trying to finish this post and all I can think of is killin’ Nazis and how none of us will ever really do anything as cool as that again, mainly because there is just NO WAY I’m gonna climb out of a Higgins Boat and run into machine gun fire. UNLESS its a do-over kinda situation. 

So blah-blah, don’t judge people. Killin’ is bad but killin’ Nazis is kinda kool. The End.



  1. You’re going to regret writing this when you’re sober.

  2. That reminds me, we need to get together and kill some Nazis!

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