The Shooting at Aachen
The German radio announced that an underground had been formed in areas already occupied by the Allies “to continue the fight against the hated enemy.” The underground forces, called “werewolves,” vow to risk death “daily and joyfully without regard to the childish rules of so-called decent bourgeois warfare.”—Associated Pr«»*
Three German parachutists in uniform assassinated Franz Oppenhof, 41, Allied-appointed mayor of Aachen, on Sunday midnight, it was disclosed today. The assassins shot the mayor gangster-fashion and escaped. Military intelligence investigators said they had established no motive yet.—New York Times
Is there a motive in the house?
It shouldn’t be hard to find one. Was there a woman in his life? Did he owe anyone money? Was anybody mad at him?
If the investigators can’t find anything along that line, maybe the Germans could help. They’re very obliging that way. If you miss their intentions the first time, they just keep trying. In case you missed the bombings of Guernica or Rotterdam or Warsaw, or didn’t hear about the gas chambers of Lublin, or were looking the other way when they murdered Americans at Malmedy—why, they act it out for you again at Aachen.
Maybe some people can’t find a motive for the Aachen killing because they still think a battle ends when a town is taken. Maybe they also think that when the German Army surrenders, they can go home and forget about Germany.
It’s too bad they can’t. The Germans won’t let them, anymore than the Germans let them sit at home and make believe the rest of the world didn’t concern them. We took Aachen. We chased the Wehrmacht out and moved into the city and set up a provisional government. We appointed a mayor, and the Nazis came and shot him dead.
The shooting of the mayor of Aachen shows us that our responsibility does not end with the taking of a Fascist town. It ends only when the town is clean of all its Fascism. What happened in Aachen may happen in all of Germany. When the whole German Army is beaten, we will still have a lot of dirt to clean up before Fascism is beaten. The Nazis are experts in the use of terror and they will not stop at anything.
And if their terror does not succeed, they will try other ways. They will come out of the woodwork as anti-Nazis. There will be a flood of “good” Germans, who never belonged to the Nazi party, never tortured anyone, never did anything but sit around and watch it happen. They will bank on our kind hearts and bad mem-ories, and they will be even more dangerous than the terrorists.
For we have a terrible responsibility that must be met. We are finishing a job started many years ago by other men. It is a job that cannot be done halfway if we are to live in peace, and it is not confined to the battlefield.
The shooting of Aachen’s mayor shows that.