Busting the Myth of Nazi Super-Science

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Busting the Myth of Nazi Super-Science

The well-worn trope of "Nazi super-science" has some troubling subtext. Critical Intel takes you through everything you need to understand why.

Read Full Article

I think one of the big reasons it's so popular is that it's far more romantic for us to beat up Mecha Hitler with nothing more than our wits, our resolve, and a good old helping of 'Murrica.

I mean, yeah, it's true. They were anti-intellectual. They were anti-science. There was a lot of superstition floating around, and their weird ideas weren't really more sciency than our weird ideas. But when have we ever let history (or the present-day, since a lot of this does date back, as the article says) get in the way of a good (or even a bad) story?

i kind of got the vibe that only deathshead and a few other scientists were allowed to experiment with this science while the rest of the population was kept under check. even if that's true though, it still doesn't fix the ethical qualms with the game saying that abandoning ethics works

This excellent article brought to mind another one I read a while ago that summarized a variety of viewpoints on the ethics of using Nazi experimental data. One of the most interesting views presented in it was that the experimental data should be published so that no one could deny that it happened, but that it was in and of itself worthless because basic scientific principles were not followed. The research programs were under very heavy political pressure to present something demonstrable and as such there was substantial tampering with the research data to give the leadership what they wanted.

It's a very important thing to remember that authoritarian regimes like the Nazis aren't supervillains tapping into evil research to do things that more moral regimes would find impossible. The very same propaganda feedback loop that led to their atrocities is precisely what kept their scientific projects promising the world and failing to deliver. Quashing dissenting opinions and naysayers with force is not just a moral issue, it's also self-defeatingly impractical.

Hmm going to take issue here with some of the statements. In 1940 German equipment was not superior, they just had far better command and control than the French. The French high command did not even have a radio link, all reports and orders were couriered 20 miles between the radios and HQ. When the British almost broke through the German lines at Arras. The French were 24 hours late turning up and attacked the newly held British positions before withdrawing. The British success at Arras was due to the Matilda tank being impervious to all German guns but the 88mm Flak 18 gun. De Gaulle ran his light armored division through the German lines for 3 days, driving the Germans back, but again due to lack of support he was forced to retreat. The story in the air during the battle of France is similar. The French air force was responsible to both army area command and air force HQ. This lead the airpower being evenly spread rather concentrated like the Germans.

The British, post the battle of France, faced a difficult decision with regards to tank production. It took roughly 6 months to build the jigs for new tanks design, the UK was faced was problem of needing tanks now and upgrading designs. This lead to British tanks design to only achieving parity for short periods. In the Air, the Spitfire kept parity with Germans till the advent of jet fighters.

The Germans spent more money on defence in 1930s than the British, largely due to the strong left wing pacifist movement in the UK. After the air ministry turned down the hurricane due to lack funds, the Chairman of Hawker ordered the building of 500 machines on the grounds that "we are going to need them". That said the Germans did not go on to a fall war economy until 1942, nazi social conservatism refused to countenance women on the production line until operation Zitadelle had clearly failed.

The failure of the V1 was largely because it was aimed at the wrong target to start with. By 1944 London had limited military importance, if the V1s had been fired at Portsmouth the outcome could have been different. The Germans fired over 1000 V1s at Antwerp after its liberation, severely limiting the western Allies resupply effort. The other problem that the Germans had while using the V1 was the effect of MI6's double cross spy network. MI6 fed the Germans false data as to where the V1s were falling. So the Germans thought they were correcting their aim at the vital bits of London but they actually caused the missiles to fall long into the suburbs.

German science and engineering was competitive throughout the war but fundamentally, the Germans did not have the industrial capacity to fight an air and naval war in the west and ground war in the east. The easy victories of 1940 and 1941 meant that German war industries were 2 years behind the British in terms of capacity. Even the USA had a greater war effort than the Germans in 1940.

Kilo24:
This excellent article brought to mind another one I read a while ago that summarized a variety of viewpoints on the ethics of using Nazi experimental data. One of the most interesting views presented in it was that the experimental data should be published so that no one could deny that it happened, but that it was in and of itself worthless because basic scientific principles were not followed. The research programs were under very heavy political pressure to present something demonstrable and as such there was substantial tampering with the research data to give the leadership what they wanted.

It's a very important thing to remember that authoritarian regimes like the Nazis aren't supervillains tapping into evil research to do things that more moral regimes would find impossible. The very same propaganda feedback loop that led to their atrocities is precisely what kept their scientific projects promising the world and failing to deliver. Quashing dissenting opinions and naysayers with force is not just a moral issue, it's also self-defeatingly impractical.

With this, the question as to how much of a scientific advantage is inferred by completely abandoning all sense of ethics is still largely unanswered, not debunked as the article suggests.

Which is not to say we should abandon ethics in the name of science - those ethical constraints were put in place for a good reason.

Thank you, mister Rath, I greatly enjoyed reading of your article.

I would love to see more Critical Intel on other popular (pulp?) myths such as this one on Nazi super-science.

Kargathia:

Kilo24:
This excellent article brought to mind another one I read a while ago that summarized a variety of viewpoints on the ethics of using Nazi experimental data. One of the most interesting views presented in it was that the experimental data should be published so that no one could deny that it happened, but that it was in and of itself worthless because basic scientific principles were not followed. The research programs were under very heavy political pressure to present something demonstrable and as such there was substantial tampering with the research data to give the leadership what they wanted.

It's a very important thing to remember that authoritarian regimes like the Nazis aren't supervillains tapping into evil research to do things that more moral regimes would find impossible. The very same propaganda feedback loop that led to their atrocities is precisely what kept their scientific projects promising the world and failing to deliver. Quashing dissenting opinions and naysayers with force is not just a moral issue, it's also self-defeatingly impractical.

With this, the question as to how much of a scientific advantage is inferred by completely abandoning all sense of ethics is still largely unanswered, not debunked as the article suggests.

Which is not to say we should abandon ethics in the name of science - those ethical constraints were put in place for a good reason.

Personally, I didn't think that the article was arguing one way or the other about the gains of relaxing ethical constraints in scientific pursuits. The article was arguing that the Nazi scientists and engineers were far less competent than commonly portrayed, regardless of what they did in pursuit of it.

Deciding upon good ethical guidelines for scientific pursuits is a very large challenge, but Nazi experimentation is not a good case study for it. Whether or not an ethically questionable study is justifiable doesn't mean much if said study is conducted in an unscientific manner.

I usually love Critical Intel, but this was not a well made point.

The bits about the factual Nazi Science were great, but TNO goes to great pains to show that the Nazi's weren't the ones who created the science.

The bit you complained about in the other article where the Jewish sect were the ones who created the technological wonders directly contradicts the idea that the Nazis were somehow smart and superior. You said it was a terrible thing to put in a game because it somehow supports the idea that there is a Jewish conspiracy, but on the contrary it nicely destroys the Nazi superiority you mention here.

Sure, you touched on it in this article, but I think you skip over the point too quickly.

Furthermore, I think the game is less saying that the Nazi's made faster progress because of a lack of ethical restraints, and more because they had the resources of the entire planet at their disposal. If any nation was in control of the world, they would reach the moon very rapidly.

The final thing I want to mention is that while yes, the Nazi experiments yielded little, there is tangible proof that a lack of ethics can lead to faster progress in the form of the Stanford Prisoner Experiment and the Milgram experiments. In both cases, ethics were bent to the point of breaking and as a result, we have a greater understanding of psychology. Does it make it right or ok in the slightest? Of course not. But it would be willful ignorance to pretend it didn't happen. Too often we demand that things be black and white when they so clearly are not. In certain circumstances, ethics do hold back scientific testing. This, however, is a good thing and one of the things that the player is fighting for in the game.

Well, they WOULD have top-notch super science, if so many smart people didn't flee Germany after 1933.

Who knows, the Wolfenstein alternate history might have came true if Germany was led by someone else than a complete psychopath.

Either way, demon cyborg nazis are fun enemies!

This...seems like it's trying a little too hard to squeeze deep meaning and ideas out of something that isn't really that deep and meaningful.

The whole "Nazi Super Science" thing is beloved because of the fact that the Nazis, as villains, are so evil it's to the point of them being almost cartoonish, thus people find the idea of giving them cartoonish or comic book weaponry and abilities (mechs, jetpacks, occult powers, flying saucers, etc.) entertaining.

'Second, it indirectly endorses their racist ideology, since telling a story where Nazi scientists create super soldiers suggests that there actually was something to their belief in eugenics.'
Considering that it's complete fiction and that they didn't create a Super Soldier, no it doesn't. This would be like saying that since the Soviets have Apocalypse Tanks in "Red Alert 3" and the Allies don't, you're indirectly endorsing communism since the Soviets have more advanced tank tech.

Also, the authors idea that "not having ethical constraints never ever ever holds back science because it didn't make a difference for the Nazis" is anecdotal evidence. I certainly believe that Science should adhere to ethical and moral constraints, but the notion that those constraints could NEVER hold back science is completely false and not provable, since we don't know what sort of moral and ethical dilemmas the future of science and research holds for us. This is also not even detailing instances in which ethics and morals have already slowed down or completely stopped scientific research (earth around the sun, stem cells, cloning). This doesn't mean it's good or bad, but it does exist.

Robert Rath:
Busting the Myth of Nazi Super-Science

The well-worn trope of "Nazi super-science" has some troubling subtext. Critical Intel takes you through everything you need to understand why.

Read Full Article

While I completely agree with you on pretty much all other points, I am compelled to bring this point up:

Because it doesn't, and it didn't - the Nazi's horrifying human experiments didn't net them a single thing. They discovered no proof they were superior, and no experiment they conducted was ever linked to saving lives on the battlefield. None. Their carving and freezing and burning of unwilling humans created nothing of benefit. Nazis were bad scientists and worse human beings.

Are you sure this is accurate? I was under the impression that many of the records of Nazi physicians like Mengele were very important keystones to our modern understanding of human physiology, among other things. I do not doubt in the least that such experimentation failed to further the regime's goals any (beyond whatever lies they could twist it into), but I've read several articles over the years crediting those kinds of inhuman experiments with advancing our understanding of biology and medicine much faster than would otherwise have been possible.

I'm not trying to condone it or say that it isn't/wasn't god awful that someone did it, but, as far as I'm aware, there were tangible, real benefits for doing it that the Allies reaped when they liberated the camps and took all the documentation.

Feel free to correct me if that wasn't how it played out though; I'll freely admit it's been a while since I did any research on the subject and could easily be misremembering things.

This article makes no sense surely. It sets out to demonstrate that nazi (german surely?) technological superiority is a myth, and then goes on to proove that it was not.

While wartime Germany absolutely did see scientific advances, they were hardly the only ones to make great technical leaps during the war. While the United States, Japan and Great Britain inaugurated the age of the aircraft carrier, Germany never managed to finish one. - Production issue.

The British developed ASDIC sonar technology for anti-submarine warfare and won the Battle of Britain partially due to the use of an advanced RADAR air defense system. - just because the british invented some pretty nifty things, doesnt mean the germans did not (everyone did)

The Soviets developed the Katyusha rocket launcher - nebelwerfer is probably comparable, and again just because the russians came up with something nifty doesnt mean the germans didnt either.

the T-34 - by far the best and most cost-effective tank of the period - well, by what standards? the russians had the men and materials to spam out an inferior tank, i mean, its a great design, but 1 on 1 the panther or the tiger or the tiger 2 is simply superior. They fell into problems due to production problems and simply getting swamped by the allied numerical superiority in arms and men. The t34 was the right choice for the russians but it was not technically superior.

But if you're looking for the war's true scientific superpower, look no further than the United States - who exited the war with a real life super-weapon that could level whole cities. - yea ok.

Contrasted with the devastation of atomic weapons, Nazi wunderwaffe look fairly paltry. Though V-2 rockets and buzzbombs terrorized London, they had minimal military effect. - doesnt mean they werent technologically significant and advanced.

The same goes for rocket and jet-powered aircraft, which never saw use in large numbers and more frequently died on the runway than in the air. - just, not really true at all. (well maybe of the 163, but of the 162 and 262 just not true).

On top of that, there was a major gap between Germany's scientific research and its manufacturing capability. - this really just sums up in your own words why the article makes no sense.

Despite developing an assault rifle, for example, most German infantrymen still carried a bolt-action rifle when Berlin fell, - but their infrantry light machineguns were where the firepower from the inftantry was sourced. Compared the rate of fire of an mg42 and an american .30 cal. Two different methods of achieving the same result.

erman tanks, often specialized to specific roles, didn't have interchangeable parts - so you couldn't scrap a damaged Tiger to repair a Panther - causing logistics nightmares as supply trains had to haul redundant parts. - poor logistics is not poor technology.

In fact many German weapons suffered from overdesign, making them too expensive to use in sufficient numbers. - same as before really, your saying one thing is bad but then making a completely different point.

Fact is the Germans did not have the weight of men or materials the allies had, so quality over quantity was made a priority forcing them to produce some of the most advanced designs of the war, from the start to the very end, and that is where the idea of nazi super science came from imo. (just google image the ho229, i mean look at that thing).

The allies however chose to go down the quantity route, producing large numbers of shermans and t34's and the like to achieve victory.

Im not one to sing the praises of the Nazi's or anything, but the attitude that just because something is german from 1939-1945 it MUST BE NAZI (and therefore we cant give them ANY credit) is pretty stupid.

Alot of judgments made in this article seem to ignore the fact the strategic bombing campaign halted Nazi production of the vast majority of advanced weapons, i.e. ball bearing plants and fuel depots. The Nazis were actually leading atomic research at the start of the war and if not for a British commando raid may have acquired deuterium in significant amounts to develop a bomb. That being said the Nazis were lagging behind in radar technology and this alone likely enabled the bombing campaign to succeed.

Agayek:

Robert Rath:
Busting the Myth of Nazi Super-Science

The well-worn trope of "Nazi super-science" has some troubling subtext. Critical Intel takes you through everything you need to understand why.

Read Full Article

While I completely agree with you on pretty much all other points, I am compelled to bring this point up:

Because it doesn't, and it didn't - the Nazi's horrifying human experiments didn't net them a single thing. They discovered no proof they were superior, and no experiment they conducted was ever linked to saving lives on the battlefield. None. Their carving and freezing and burning of unwilling humans created nothing of benefit. Nazis were bad scientists and worse human beings.

Are you sure this is accurate? I was under the impression that many of the records of Nazi physicians like Mengele were very important keystones to our modern understanding of human physiology, among other things. I do not doubt in the least that such experimentation failed to further the regime's goals any (beyond whatever lies they could twist it into), but I've read several articles over the years crediting those kinds of inhuman experiments with advancing our understanding of biology and medicine much faster than would otherwise have been possible.

I'm not trying to condone it or say that it isn't/wasn't god awful that someone did it, but, as far as I'm aware, there were tangible, real benefits for doing it that the Allies reaped when they liberated the camps and took all the documentation.

Feel free to correct me if that wasn't how it played out though; I'll freely admit it's been a while since I did any research on the subject and could easily be misremembering things.

You are almost certainly misremembering in this case.
I am extremely curious of the sources you have read, as that is not the common view of his achievements. The scientific advancements resulting of Mengele's work are known to be exactly zero. He did not discover anything not already known to science. Not even his own side benefitted from his work. Science is advanced by the boring old scientific method, not by vivisecting pairs of twins with few other concerns than to see what happens.

Sir Thomas Sean Connery:
I usually love Critical Intel, but this was not a well made point.

*snip*

The final thing I want to mention is that while yes, the Nazi experiments yielded little, there is tangible proof that a lack of ethics can lead to faster progress in the form of the Stanford Prisoner Experiment and the Milgram experiments. In both cases, ethics were bent to the point of breaking and as a result, we have a greater understanding of psychology. Does it make it right or ok in the slightest? Of course not. But it would be willful ignorance to pretend it didn't happen. Too often we demand that things be black and white when they so clearly are not. In certain circumstances, ethics do hold back scientific testing. This, however, is a good thing and one of the things that the player is fighting for in the game.

The problem is that, empirically, the Stanford Prisoner Experiment is utterly useless as evidence for anything. It had a tiny, extremely un-representative sample size, a very limited time frame and the researcher was himself part of the experiment. It is at best an anecdotal comment on the human condition. The ethical concerns of the SPE are inconsequential next to its shortcomings as an scientific experiment.

The common theme with the radical experimenters throwing away the shackles of base ethics and morality are that they often throw out fundamental scientific principles in the same bag.

Johkmil:
You are almost certainly misremembering in this case.
I am extremely curious of the sources you have read, as that is not the common view of his achievements. The scientific advancements resulting of Mengele's work are known to be exactly zero. He did not discover anything not already known to science. Not even his own side benefitted from his work. Science is advanced by the boring old scientific method, not by vivisecting pairs of twins with few other concerns than to see what happens.

I wasn't referring to Mengele in particular so much as using him as an example thanks to the fact that he's the most well-known example of the complete abandonment of medical ethics in the course of experimentation.

Like I said, I could easily be wrong, but I remember reading a few articles about how the vivisections and various horrific medical experiments yielded a substantial amount of information about the function of various pieces of the human body that would have taken significantly longer to figure out using more restrained methods.

Johkmil:

The problem is that, empirically, the Stanford Prisoner Experiment is utterly useless as evidence for anything. It had a tiny, extremely un-representative sample size, a very limited time frame and the researcher was himself part of the experiment. It is at best an anecdotal comment on the human condition. The ethical concerns of the SPE are inconsequential next to its shortcomings as an scientific experiment.

The common theme with the radical experimenters throwing away the shackles of base ethics and morality are that they often throw out fundamental scientific principles in the same bag.

Anecdotal or not, the experiment is still a major part of psychology and is still looked at today.

While you're correct in that the SPE by itself isn't especially useful, it did illustrate that there are aspects of human psychology that can only truly be discovered by unethical means and that if the experiment were repeated with better time frames and sample sizes, there would likely be useful results of one kind or another.

Pretty enjoyable read, but I will say one thing about the ethical constraints:

Realistically, you would get results faster by not being ethical about it(you'd still need to be scientific about it, which for all their great sceientists, they had an agenda to prove they were the chosen ones, akin to phrenology as an argument for slavery). Of course you would, because you wouldn't need to be careful or worry about killing the people you're testing on till you get the thing your after. I mean it speaks for itself, you remove a CONSTRAINT and you're going to work faster.

That doesn't mean that we should remove ethics or that it's saying the end justifies the means, but from an objective point of view, no constrains /is/ better.

In fact it's viewable today. Stem Cell research was and is slowed down dramatically by ethical lobbying, despite science demonstrating that embyros are in fact lumps of flesh with no pain receptors or thought process. Yet if you're religious, you might oppose it on the basis of conception being the start of life, and the concept of the eternal soul. Obviously that's not even in the same galaxy as what the Nazis did, but it's proof that ethical constraints do slow down scientific progress.

We give the Nazis a lot of flak because they did terrible things, and rightly so. But lest we forget the bombing of Hiroshima and Nagasaki? I'm willing to bet there were a lot of people who genuinely thought that the end justified the means there, others would've told themselves that it did so they could sleep at night, more still revile that moment.

And it obviously didn't, many, many more died, 80% civilians, than what would've happened if the Allies had just blockaded Japan, they would've surrendered pretty sharpish without any supplies coming in. But as a result the Allies won, noone in this day and age is likely to think the A-Bomb bombings end justified the means.

They were even planning to drop 3 more every month till the Japanese gave in. Say what you will, but the Nazis didn't plan to turn an entire country into a smoking radioactive crater.

In the end it's all about perspective, the Nazis obviously thought the end justified the means, because they're evil and didn't care about the means. That doesn't mean the game is saying we should agree with them.

The guys who ordered and supported the A-Bombing thought the end justified the means, but noone these days or most at the time agrees with that sentiment because it was a horrific event in human history.

Sooooo, what? TNO should not had Nazi super science? Wouldn't that make for a boring game. Look, I like my Panzer IVs and MP40s as much as the next guy, but sometimes putting some imagination into your game can result in good things.

Agayek:
[quote="Robert Rath" post="6.852548.21084615"]Busting the Myth of Nazi Super-Science

*SNIP*

Agayek is half right.

A faction in World War 2 abandoning all sense of ethics in the conduct of Human experimentation DID actually lead to rapid and tangible gains in the field of Medical Science. However, it wasn't the Nazis or Dr. Mengele.

That nation was Japan, and the organization that conducted said Unethical research was Unit 731. Unit 731 used Chinese civilians and later American and British POWs in horrific medical experiments that would have horrified Dr. Mengele. Researchers deliberately infected subjects with diseases or subjected them to bombs and then performed live vivisections with no anesthesia in order to study the effects of disease or shrapnel wounds on living tissue. The Japanese Empire hoped to discover a virus or bacterium that could be weaponized. Instead, when Japan was defeated, Unit 731's research was captured by the US and eventually made its way into the private sector where it revolutionized our understanding of epidemiology.

Robert Rath:
the well-worn trope of "Nazi super-science" - still retains some troubling subtext.

In short: it gives the Nazis too much credit

I don't understand. Why is it the end of the world if we give credit to the Nazi for their scientific progress? You do realize that the engineers weren't a part of the SS, right? Not everyone in Nazi Germany was a morally reprehensible Jew hunter.

Kleft:
This article makes no sense surely. It sets out to demonstrate that nazi (german surely?) technological superiority is a myth, and then goes on to proove that it was not.

While wartime Germany absolutely did see scientific advances, they were hardly the only ones to make great technical leaps during the war. While the United States, Japan and Great Britain inaugurated the age of the aircraft carrier, Germany never managed to finish one. - Production issue.

The British developed ASDIC sonar technology for anti-submarine warfare and won the Battle of Britain partially due to the use of an advanced RADAR air defense system. - just because the british invented some pretty nifty things, doesnt mean the germans did not (everyone did)

The Soviets developed the Katyusha rocket launcher - nebelwerfer is probably comparable, and again just because the russians came up with something nifty doesnt mean the germans didnt either.

the T-34 - by far the best and most cost-effective tank of the period - well, by what standards? the russians had the men and materials to spam out an inferior tank, i mean, its a great design, but 1 on 1 the panther or the tiger or the tiger 2 is simply superior. They fell into problems due to production problems and simply getting swamped by the allied numerical superiority in arms and men. The t34 was the right choice for the russians but it was not technically superior.

But if you're looking for the war's true scientific superpower, look no further than the United States - who exited the war with a real life super-weapon that could level whole cities. - yea ok.

Contrasted with the devastation of atomic weapons, Nazi wunderwaffe look fairly paltry. Though V-2 rockets and buzzbombs terrorized London, they had minimal military effect. - doesnt mean they werent technologically significant and advanced.

The same goes for rocket and jet-powered aircraft, which never saw use in large numbers and more frequently died on the runway than in the air. - just, not really true at all. (well maybe of the 163, but of the 162 and 262 just not true).

On top of that, there was a major gap between Germany's scientific research and its manufacturing capability. - this really just sums up in your own words why the article makes no sense.

Despite developing an assault rifle, for example, most German infantrymen still carried a bolt-action rifle when Berlin fell, - but their infrantry light machineguns were where the firepower from the inftantry was sourced. Compared the rate of fire of an mg42 and an american .30 cal. Two different methods of achieving the same result.

erman tanks, often specialized to specific roles, didn't have interchangeable parts - so you couldn't scrap a damaged Tiger to repair a Panther - causing logistics nightmares as supply trains had to haul redundant parts. - poor logistics is not poor technology.

In fact many German weapons suffered from overdesign, making them too expensive to use in sufficient numbers. - same as before really, your saying one thing is bad but then making a completely different point.

Fact is the Germans did not have the weight of men or materials the allies had, so quality over quantity was made a priority forcing them to produce some of the most advanced designs of the war, from the start to the very end, and that is where the idea of nazi super science came from imo. (just google image the ho229, i mean look at that thing).

The allies however chose to go down the quantity route, producing large numbers of shermans and t34's and the like to achieve victory.

Im not one to sing the praises of the Nazi's or anything, but the attitude that just because something is german from 1939-1945 it MUST BE NAZI (and therefore we cant give them ANY credit) is pretty stupid.

This guy gets it. The article was pretty stupid all round. None of the Allied nations would have kept pace if they were subjected to the same level of strategic bombing. Even with all the logistical problems, Germany had, The Allies admitted at the end of the war that in many respects German engineering was a full 10 years ahead of everybody else.

They just blew everything on ineffectual wonder weapons instead of mass producing stuff that 'would do' like the Allies did.

As for Nazi super-science in games and movies, it generally makes me sad. You can create endlessly fascinating stories and situations surrounding WW2 without having to resort to such flights of fancy. The use of jetpacks and mecha suits only seems to illustrate a lack of ideas on the part of the creator for creating a compelling narrative within the constraints of the real world. This is why Aliens often seem such a cop out in games too.

Torque2100:
Agayek is half right.

A faction in World War 2 abandoning all sense of ethics in the conduct of Human experimentation DID actually lead to rapid and tangible gains in the field of Medical Science. However, it wasn't the Nazis or Dr. Mengele.

That nation was Japan, and the organization that conducted said Unethical research was Unit 731. Unit 731 used Chinese civilians and later American and British POWs in horrific medical experiments that would have horrified Dr. Mengele. Researchers deliberately infected subjects with diseases or subjected them to bombs and then performed live vivisections with no anesthesia in order to study the effects of disease or shrapnel wounds on living tissue. The Japanese Empire hoped to discover a virus or bacterium that could be weaponized. Instead, when Japan was defeated, Unit 731's research was captured by the US and eventually made its way into the private sector where it revolutionized our understanding of epidemiology.

Ahh, yeah that rings a bell. I was confusing Mengele with 731, that makes sense.

Thanks for clarifying.

Squilookle:

As for Nazi super-science in games and movies, it generally makes me sad. You can create endlessly fascinating stories and situations surrounding WW2 without having to resort to such flights of fancy. The use of jetpacks and mecha suits only seems to illustrate a lack of ideas on the part of the creator for creating a compelling narrative within the constraints of the real world. This is why Aliens often seem such a cop out in games too.

True, but then that counts very much on your style as a writer, what you enjoy writing and the tone. (This is just going from what I've read) Wolfenstien, while it has dark elements, tis a silly story, the writer clearly just wanted to write an over top the story with jetpacks and mechas, under the Nazi backdrop in an alternative universe.

Writing a grounded WW2 story using the real events is a completely different ball game, both in tone, skill and elements involved. At the end of the day, a good story will be a good story, regardless of whether you stick it in realistic historical wrappings or crazy Nazi mecha ones. Not that I'm saying Wolfenstein is a master piece of writing, but you get my point. Not every story needs to be realistic.

Heck, Spec Ops the line was an excellent piece of military fiction, and how well did it sell? Fucking awfully, in the AAA world you gotta do what sells. What's in Spec Ops isn't on most peoples plates, they don't want an introspective complex story about the nature of morality,what it means to be human and the meaning of duty, most people want to unwind and they want to shoot space Nazis. Which is fine, I'd be lying if I said I didnt enjoy shooting Nazis.

That and it /is/ Wolfenstien, I expect crazyness and popcorn when I play it, not expert prose and fine wine.

A cursory search of WWII history will bring up reference to the Thule Society and the Wunderwaffe. And as much as the reality of these things may have amounted to little more than propaganda, and hokum they do serve as a fun springboard for all sorts of period specific stories.

Indiana Jones, Hellboy, Weird War II, Captain America, Wolfenstein, Gear Kreig, Sky Captain, Mr. Monster, Rocket Ship Galileo, Bionic Commando etc...etc.

Maybe I'm just an easy mark for that kind of stuff but to me, the enjoyment of these kind of pulp fiction action adventure tales relies pretty heavily on a willing suspension of disbelief and a heavy dose of "What if."

As in, "What if The Nazi's stupid-ass orbital Sun Laser or Landkreuzer P. 1000 super tank, weren't laughably stupid ideas and instead managed to work in defiance of all logic."

What kind of stories can we tell with those simple premises as a jumping off point?

First Mr Rath, you're spot on with everything you said.

Second: Oh how I wish you all could speak German so you could understand this German internet celebrity:

For those who can:

I have several issues with the article

"new Luftwaffe planes outperformed enemy counterparts and the tanks had heavier weapons and armor than Allied models"

100% incorrect, contemporary Allied tanks were superior. Especially in weapons and armor. What the lacked was strategy in using these machines and on individual tank basis- mobility. But they were superior. And Germans liked using capture Soviet, French and UK machines.

"There were the lauded Tiger and Panther tanks"
Overrated machines which were expensive and took too much time to make (Tiger) or had ABYSMALL early models (Panther).
Whilst they proved to be superior at range to most Allied tanks, vehicles like the IS-2, Beast Killer, Slugger and maybe even Pershing were superior on every way.
German tanks did not have 3:1 kill scores either BTW. Just that as long as their vehicle can be salvaged they did not count it as destroyed, whilst Soviets usually counted as destroyed tanks that recieved EVEN track damage and would require repairs. Actual ratios for both Western and Eastern fronts would be around 1.25-1.75/1. Not that great when you are on the defensive...

Also, on the human experimentation and such terrible stuff:
As monsterous and inhumane as they were... they did help medicine and science... at a bloody price...

Kleft:
This article makes no sense surely. It sets out to demonstrate that nazi (german surely?) technological superiority is a myth, and then goes on to proove that it was not.

While wartime Germany absolutely did see scientific advances, they were hardly the only ones to make great technical leaps during the war. While the United States, Japan and Great Britain inaugurated the age of the aircraft carrier, Germany never managed to finish one. - Production issue.

The British developed ASDIC sonar technology for anti-submarine warfare and won the Battle of Britain partially due to the use of an advanced RADAR air defense system. - just because the british invented some pretty nifty things, doesnt mean the germans did not (everyone did)

The Soviets developed the Katyusha rocket launcher - nebelwerfer is probably comparable, and again just because the russians came up with something nifty doesnt mean the germans didnt either.

the T-34 - by far the best and most cost-effective tank of the period - well, by what standards? the russians had the men and materials to spam out an inferior tank, i mean, its a great design, but 1 on 1 the panther or the tiger or the tiger 2 is simply superior. They fell into problems due to production problems and simply getting swamped by the allied numerical superiority in arms and men. The t34 was the right choice for the russians but it was not technically superior.

But if you're looking for the war's true scientific superpower, look no further than the United States - who exited the war with a real life super-weapon that could level whole cities. - yea ok.

Contrasted with the devastation of atomic weapons, Nazi wunderwaffe look fairly paltry. Though V-2 rockets and buzzbombs terrorized London, they had minimal military effect. - doesnt mean they werent technologically significant and advanced.

The same goes for rocket and jet-powered aircraft, which never saw use in large numbers and more frequently died on the runway than in the air. - just, not really true at all. (well maybe of the 163, but of the 162 and 262 just not true).

On top of that, there was a major gap between Germany's scientific research and its manufacturing capability. - this really just sums up in your own words why the article makes no sense.

Despite developing an assault rifle, for example, most German infantrymen still carried a bolt-action rifle when Berlin fell, - but their infrantry light machineguns were where the firepower from the inftantry was sourced. Compared the rate of fire of an mg42 and an american .30 cal. Two different methods of achieving the same result.

erman tanks, often specialized to specific roles, didn't have interchangeable parts - so you couldn't scrap a damaged Tiger to repair a Panther - causing logistics nightmares as supply trains had to haul redundant parts. - poor logistics is not poor technology.

In fact many German weapons suffered from overdesign, making them too expensive to use in sufficient numbers. - same as before really, your saying one thing is bad but then making a completely different point.

Fact is the Germans did not have the weight of men or materials the allies had, so quality over quantity was made a priority forcing them to produce some of the most advanced designs of the war, from the start to the very end, and that is where the idea of nazi super science came from imo. (just google image the ho229, i mean look at that thing).

The allies however chose to go down the quantity route, producing large numbers of shermans and t34's and the like to achieve victory.

Im not one to sing the praises of the Nazi's or anything, but the attitude that just because something is german from 1939-1945 it MUST BE NAZI (and therefore we cant give them ANY credit) is pretty stupid.

T-34 was by a large margin a superior design and execution to early German tanks like the Panzer 2 and 3. In fact, it was a match even for later Panzer 4 tanks, with superior armor and mobility (though it depends, PZ4 climbed better). Later models with the 85mm gun could even deal with Tigers and Panthers. So, yeah, it was a good tank.

Later Soviet tanks like the IS-2 could shoot straight through the frontal plate of the Panther and the shell exits through the other side of the tank. The 122mm HE shells... would not knock out a Tiger 2. They will turn the people inside into paste though. So, its a kill.

That last sentence made me laugh so hard :')

Charcharo:
I have several issues with the article
"There were the lauded Tiger and Panther tanks"
Overrated machines which were expensive and took too much time to make (Tiger) or had ABYSMALL early models (Panther).
Whilst they proved to be superior at range to most Allied tanks, vehicles like the IS-2, Beast Killer, Slugger and maybe even Pershing were superior on every way.
German tanks did not have 3:1 kill scores either BTW. Just that as long as their vehicle can be salvaged they did not count it as destroyed, whilst Soviets usually counted as destroyed tanks that recieved EVEN track damage and would require repairs. Actual ratios for both Western and Eastern fronts would be around 1.25-1.75/1. Not that great when you are on the defensive...

T-34 was by a large margin a superior design and execution to early German tanks like the Panzer 2 and 3. In fact, it was a match even for later Panzer 4 tanks, with superior armor and mobility (though it depends, PZ4 climbed better). Later models with the 85mm gun could even deal with Tigers and Panthers. So, yeah, it was a good tank.

Later Soviet tanks like the IS-2 could shoot straight through the frontal plate of the Panther and the shell exits through the other side of the tank. The 122mm HE shells... would not knock out a Tiger 2. They will turn the people inside into paste though. So, its a kill.

You are again going down the wrong path of reasoning. The article is not about weather these vehicles were cost effective, or simple or anything like that. The article is about debunking the myth of Nazi Super science. I was simply pointing out that while (ofc) the german machines had huge, important problems (teething troubles, cost, fuel efficiency, maintainability, reliability) they were superior to their contemporaries, less so, maybe not at all pre and early war, but by late war certainly.

Compare any allied fighter with the 262, the 262 is the better performer. Compare any allied medium tank with the panther, the panther was the better performer. Compare any allied heavy tank with the tiger 2, the tiger 2 is the better performer (there are discussions about whether a tiger 2 was EVER penetrated frontally in combat during WW2). The german army to this day pretty much uses the mg42 (the americans copied it to produce the L60).

Certainly the t34 was a superior design to the early war german tanks, but then, it was introduced a year or two after them, and it was outclassed by the panther and the tiger certainly. The tanks brought in to COUNTER the panthers and tigers (the ones you mention such as the IS - 2) could of course compete with them, but were again outclassed by the tiger 2. And no1 believes that these german tanks were invincible, they were weapons and the russians british and americans all brought out counters for them but the point stands that they were technically superior.

I mean, look at this german prototype that was captured by the allies at the end of the war: http://militaryfactory.com/aircraft/imgs/messerschmitt-me-p1101.jpg
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Focke-Wulf_Ta_183#mediaviewer/File:Ta_183_Modell.jpg

Then compare with the post war american design, the sabre:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_American_F-86_Sabre#mediaviewer/File:North_American_F86-01.JPG

And the Russian Mig 15:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mikoyan-Gurevich_MiG-15#mediaviewer/File:Mig-15_schema.svg

There is a reason they look very similar.

It is a fact that a lot of the german designs were the first of their kind, introducing elements that are still in use in military vehicles today.

Im not saying its true that the germans were somehow "better", but if you want to "debunk the myth of nazi super science" you instead say this is where it came from ~ tank, aircraft, rifle, machinegun and missile design. Then argue that the only reason the germans had these designs was out of a necessity to produce quality over quantity. The allies however mostly focused their technical efforts on other things ~ atomic bomb, asdic, the bouncing bomb and so on.

The german fields of excellence were just more in your face than the allies. How can you be afraid of radar? Not in the same way you can be of a light machinegun that fires so fast it sounds like cloth ripping, or of a tank that you cannot penetrate frontally even from close range but that can simultaneously penetrate you frontally from over a kilometer away.

I just think the original article is logically flawed and poorly researched. (Even while i agree the idea of nazi super science is a myth).

Kleft:

Charcharo:
I have several issues with the article
122mm HE shells... would not knock out a Tiger 2. They will turn the people inside into paste though. So, its a kill.

You are again going down the wrong path of reasoning. The article is not about weather these vehicles were cost effective, or simple or anything like that. The article is about debunking the myth of Nazi Super science. I was simply pointing out that while (ofc) the german machines had huge, important problems (teething troubles, cost, fuel efficiency, maintainability, reliability) they were superior to their contemporaries, less so, maybe not at all pre and early war, but by late war certainly.

Compare any allied fighter with the 262, the 262 is the better performer. Compare any allied medium tank with the panther, the panther was the better performer. Compare any allied heavy tank with the tiger 2, the tiger 2 is the better performer (there are discussions about whether a tiger 2 was EVER penetrated frontally in combat during WW2). The german army to this day pretty much uses the mg42 (the americans copied it to produce the L60).

Certainly the t34 was a superior design to the early war german tanks, but then, it was introduced a year or two after them, and it was outclassed by the panther and the tiger certainly. The tanks brought in to COUNTER the panthers and tigers (the ones you mention such as the IS - 2) could of course compete with them, but were again outclassed by the tiger 2. And no1 believes that these german tanks were invincible, they were weapons and the russians british and americans all brought out counters for them but the point stands that they were technically superior.

I mean, look at this german prototype that was captured by the allies at the end of the war: http://militaryfactory.com/aircraft/imgs/messerschmitt-me-p1101.jpg
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Focke-Wulf_Ta_183#mediaviewer/File:Ta_183_Modell.jpg

Then compare with the post war american design, the sabre:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/North_American_F-86_Sabre#mediaviewer/File:North_American_F86-01.JPG

And the Russian Mig 15:
http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Mikoyan-Gurevich_MiG-15#mediaviewer/File:Mig-15_schema.svg

There is a reason they look very similar.

It is a fact that a lot of the german designs were the first of their kind, introducing elements that are still in use in military vehicles today.

Im not saying its true that the germans were somehow "better", but if you want to "debunk the myth of nazi super science" you instead say this is where it came from ~ tank, aircraft, rifle, machinegun and missile design. Then argue that the only reason the germans had these designs was out of a necessity to produce quality over quantity. The allies however mostly focused their technical efforts on other things ~ atomic bomb, asdic, the bouncing bomb and so on.

The german fields of excellence were just more in your face than the allies. How can you be afraid of radar? Not in the same way you can be of a light machinegun that fires so fast it sounds like cloth ripping, or of a tank that you cannot penetrate frontally even from close range but that can simultaneously penetrate you frontally from over a kilometer away.

I just think the original article is logically flawed and poorly researched. (Even while i agree the idea of nazi super science is a myth).

T-34 was introduced in 1940. At the time, nothing could kill it. Also, forgrtting the single KV tank that stopped an entire German armored column and took several hundred shots from German tanks...

Thing is, we cant simply compare vehicles like that. The Tiger 2 is not a good tank. Its only decent performance is in direct engagement, its otherwise a mess of a tank to use. Needing constant repairs, too big to cross many bridges and constant refuel.
Inflated kill counts and allied propaganda made it look far more formidable then it really was. The Panther was MUCH better, especially would have been if Germans just copied Soviets completely. The Tiger 1 though is just a box. A big box. With a decent gun. Like a later war KV-1 heavy tank

As for Tiger 2 tanks knocked frontally:
There are pictures of one knocked in turret by british 17 Pounder. Penetration by both Soviet and German standards.
The Soviets also used 122 mm HE shells to turn Tiger 2 crews into paste. Frontally. The 152mm shells could knock the turret from the tank. Those were normal shells too, Soviets prefered HE as bunkers and infatry were more dangerous then German tanks late ware.

So no, I disagree, Tiger 1 and 2, as sexy as they are (especially 2...) were not superior to other tanks. At least not overall. Panther 1 maybe.

Cant talk about planes. Not something I know a lot of. I do know Allied forces exaggerate how many German tanks they knock out by a factor of 100...

Charcharo:

T-34 was introduced in 1940. At the time, nothing could kill it. Also, forgrtting the single KV tank that stopped an entire German armored column and took several hundred shots from German tanks...

Thing is, we cant simply compare vehicles like that. The Tiger 2 is not a good tank. Its only decent performance is in direct engagement, its otherwise a mess of a tank to use. Needing constant repairs, too big to cross many bridges and constant refuel.
Inflated kill counts and allied propaganda made it look far more formidable then it really was. The Panther was MUCH better, especially would have been if Germans just copied Soviets completely. The Tiger 1 though is just a box. A big box. With a decent gun. Like a later war KV-1 heavy tank

As for Tiger 2 tanks knocked frontally:
There are pictures of one knocked in turret by british 17 Pounder. Penetration by both Soviet and German standards.
The Soviets also used 122 mm HE shells to turn Tiger 2 crews into paste. Frontally. The 152mm shells could knock the turret from the tank. Those were normal shells too, Soviets prefered HE as bunkers and infatry were more dangerous then German tanks late ware.

So no, I disagree, Tiger 1 and 2, as sexy as they are (especially 2...) were not superior to other tanks. At least not overall. Panther 1 maybe.

Cant talk about planes. Not something I know a lot of. I do know Allied forces exaggerate how many German tanks they knock out by a factor of 100...

I am fully aware that at the date of its introduction the t34 was dominant over what the germans had, but as i said, the tanks it was superior than were introduced before. The t34 is an example of a revolutionary design (sloped armour, wide tracks and so on) but what the germans brought out following that were ALSO revolutionary and better tanks. The KV story is really anecdotal evidence that i dont think has much of a place in the dicussion, i mean ive read stories of ludicrous actions involving tigers (sustain over 200 hits but being able to withdraw under its own power, holding off more than 10 times their number with no losses and stuff like this). This stuff may have happened but its clearly not the norm. Otherwise you could point to hans ulrich rudel and his ju87's and declare the ju87 the best ground attacker of the war, but obviously thats not the case...

I know you cant decide whether a tank is a good tank based solely on one factor BUT the point of this is that the tiger 2 WAS a very advanced design, it had problems, yes, crippling problems. But it was still much more advanced than what the allies had in theory, the engineering was there, it existed, and it performed extremely well in direct engagements. It was an extremely powerful tank design in that regard.

The problem i have with the article is that it argues that because of production, supply and logistic problems these machines were NOT technically advanced. While clearly they were, the problems they faced were real but you cannot deny the impressive feats of engineering and scientific progress that went into building them.

With regards to penetrated tiger 2's, ive seen pictures of them penetrated but mostly they have been penetrated after the tank was knocked out/abandoned in tests and so on. The question is about whether it was ever penetrated frontally in combat.

Kleft:

Charcharo:

T-34 was introduced in 1940. At the time, nothing could kill it. Also, forgrtting the single KV tank that stopped an entire German armored column and took several hundred shots from German tanks...

Thing is, we cant simply compare vehicles like that. The Tiger 2 is not a good tank. Its only decent performance is in direct engagement, its otherwise a mess of a tank to use. Needing constant repairs, too big to cross many bridges and constant refuel.
Inflated kill counts and allied propaganda made it look far more formidable then it really was. The Panther was MUCH better, especially would have been if Germans just copied Soviets completely. The Tiger 1 though is just a box. A big box. With a decent gun. Like a later war KV-1 heavy tank

As for Tiger 2 tanks knocked frontally:
There are pictures of one knocked in turret by british 17 Pounder. Penetration by both Soviet and German standards.
The Soviets also used 122 mm HE shells to turn Tiger 2 crews into paste. Frontally. The 152mm shells could knock the turret from the tank. Those were normal shells too, Soviets prefered HE as bunkers and infatry were more dangerous then German tanks late ware.

So no, I disagree, Tiger 1 and 2, as sexy as they are (especially 2...) were not superior to other tanks. At least not overall. Panther 1 maybe.

Cant talk about planes. Not something I know a lot of. I do know Allied forces exaggerate how many German tanks they knock out by a factor of 100...

I am fully aware that at the date of its introduction the t34 was dominant over what the germans had, but as i said, the tanks it was superior than were introduced before. The t34 is an example of a revolutionary design (sloped armour, wide tracks and so on) but what the germans brought out following that were ALSO revolutionary and better tanks. The KV story is really anecdotal evidence that i dont think has much of a place in the dicussion, i mean ive read stories of ludicrous actions involving tigers (sustain over 200 hits but being able to withdraw under its own power, holding off more than 10 times their number with no losses and stuff like this). This stuff may have happened but its clearly not the norm. Otherwise you could point to hans ulrich rudel and his ju87's and declare the ju87 the best ground attacker of the war, but obviously thats not the case...

I know you cant decide whether a tank is a good tank based solely on one factor BUT the point of this is that the tiger 2 WAS a very advanced design, it had problems, yes, crippling problems. But it was still much more advanced than what the allies had in theory, the engineering was there, it existed, and it performed extremely well in direct engagements. It was an extremely powerful tank design in that regard.

The problem i have with the article is that it argues that because of production, supply and logistic problems these machines were NOT technically advanced. While clearly they were, the problems they faced were real but you cannot deny the impressive feats of engineering and scientific progress that went into building them.

With regards to penetrated tiger 2's, ive seen pictures of them penetrated but mostly they have been penetrated after the tank was knocked out/abandoned in tests and so on. The question is about whether it was ever penetrated frontally in combat.

I agree with you on some points in the article. I too agree that its mostly a myth, though there were advanced designs on both sides.

Well, truth is the KV-1 was very feared by germans early days. As were French and British tanks. And with good reason.

Though I still dont see what would be revolutionary in Tiger 2. I see a great AT Gun (mediocre HE gun) on a fortress that can move quickly only if it wants to destroy the engine, otherwise it is sluggish. I see more revolutionary stuff in the STUG and Panther 1.

Cant be certain of the Tiger 2 penetrations. The 17 pounder and 100mm D10T could in theory penetrate the turret.
Not certain if its usefull though, the IS-2 heavy tank can just hit the Tiger 2 with its 122mm HE shell and kill the people inside :(

I come from a community where we have a term for people who believe in Nazi Superscience: Wehraboo

Said lovely community also came up with this :P

image

Looking at this thread I'm already coming close to a a Wehrabingo!

Also, playing the game I didn't get any impression that the ethic-less science that Death's head employed came up with any technology other than the brain robots. Which, really was just needlessly cruel since it wasn't really any better than the robots they had already.

If you want a much better example of that, look no further than Bioshock.

My problem with the article is that it makes the claim that by showing the Nazis with superior weapons and technology then it is endorsing Nazi ideas of superiority. The things is, in all the games, they lose. Whether they have a mystic spear, zombie viruses, or laser cannons they lose. Thus these games show that might does not make right. Also playing games where your side has the upper hand makes you feel less like a good guy.

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