This piece by Daniel Benjamin in Slate attacks the idea, being popularised by Bush Administration figures like Condoleezza Rice and Donald Rumsfeld that the occupying forces in Germany after World War II faced resistance from ‘Werewolves’, that is diehard remnants of the SS and Hitler youth similar to those found in Iraq today. The story seems to have been started by this National Review Online piece by Mackubin Owens
This story rang a bell with me, and, digging back I found this NRO piece by John O’Sullivan from early April which seems to have been the first mention of Werewolves. Interestingly, though, O’Sullivan, writing before Baghdad fell, was using this precedent to predict that no resistance would emerge.
Not a single “Werewolf” emerged from his lair. And the allies, who had arrived as conquerors not liberators, soon found themselves handing out food parcels to a grateful German population. That will happen in Iraq too. When? That no one can predict with certainty. But happen it will ï¿½ and not long after the battle of Baghdad is joined.
So O’Sullivan’s account of the facts matches Benjamin’s and is exactly the opposite of his NRO colleague. I don’t know who’s right, though the fact that O’Sullivan’s version came first and that I had never heard anything of postwar German resistance before it became a Republican talking point suggests that O’Sullivan is correct.
I’ve never been a big fan of the ‘meme’ metaphor, but this example may force me to reconsider. Obviously, the Werewolves image has a good deal of reproductive power, and the virus changes its coat to survive in changing environments.