Perhaps it doesn't matter. They're mostly all dead now, these Germans of my parents' generation, or else very, very old.
I am not a World War II buff by any stretch. What fascinates me is human cruelty, and identifying the social and psychological circumstances in which human cruelty emerges and flourishes. Women's capacity for violence has, until recently, been overlooked. They are seen either as victims or in thrall to a dark masculine force, rather than as people who participate in murder or genocide willingly, even enthusiastically, in service of their own ambition or sadistic pleasure.
On a related note, I cannot quite shake my fascination with "the lost German girl" who was filmed during the evacuation of Germans from Czechoslovakia in 1945. She has been beaten, and seems exhausted and disoriented. She is wearing military trousers and braces that seem to fit her too well to have been discarded by a male soldier. She is clutching a deck of cards (or a bible? or a stack of worthless currency? or identification papers?). She has never been identified, and -- assuming she survived -- probably never wished to be.
A case has been made over at another blog that the photograph below is of the girl in the film, and, having compared the images over and over, I am also persuaded that they are the same person. The photograph is of an as-yet unnamed German woman who was serving in some capacity in the Wehrmacht apparatus in Czechoslovakia. (On the other hand, "the lost German girl" captured on film may simply have been one of millions of ethnic Germans expelled from various countries during this period.)
It's difficult, watching the film clip, not to feel great compassion for the young woman, who, with her loose, blonde, blood-caked hair, snug jumper, somewhat cynical expression, and meandering gait, appears to be utterly contemporary. And yet I am also haunted by what she has done, the choices she has made that have brought her to this dark place along a sunny stretch of highway.