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Why We Fight
Band of Brothers episode 9.JPG

Episode:

9

Preceded by:

"The Patrol"

Followed by:

"Points"

Focus:

Lewis Nixon

Subject:

Occupation of Germany

"Why We Fight" is the 9th episode of Band of Brothers. It follows Easy Company partaking in the occupation of Germany, as well as liberating a Nazi Concentration Camp, all seen through the eyes of Captain Lewis Nixon.

Synopsis[]

Easy Company is finally in Germany and are pushing the Germans back further than ever. Nothing could be better; some soldiers are already saying the war is over. Captain Nixon, however, has become pessimistic. His men die jumping in to the occupied country and things back home aren't looking bright for him either. But Nixon and the others soon find out there is something more sinister in the dark, and they soon realize the Nazis are worse than they'd ever dreamed.

Plot summary[]

The episode opens with Easy supervising the cleanup of a German village; local German citizens are removing the rubble of houses and buildings from the street. A string quartet is playing a somber piece by Beethoven. Luz, Perconte, Liebgott, Webster, and Randleman are sitting on the second floor of a house overseeing the progress when Nixon joins them.

A flashback shows Easy arriving in Germany, near Munich. Captain Lewis Nixon returns to his unit obviously upset; he had made a combat jump with the 17th Airborne division, and his plane was destroyed shortly after he jumped, killing all the paratroopers on board. While Nixon reflects angrily on the unenviable task of informing the families of the men who were killed, Winters confronts his friend about his excessive drinking. He also informs Nixon that Sink is demoting him from Battalion H.Q., and that he should tell the parents that their sons died as heroes. "You really still believe that?" Nixon scoffs. "Yeah. Yeah, I do." Winters replies.

Meanwhile, the men of Easy enjoy themselves. Private Janovec is bedding a German girl only to be interrupted by Captain Spiers, who is mailing home several valuables he's plundered from wealthier houses. Sergeants George Luz and Frank Perconte forage at a farm for eggs to make an omlette; George tries to flirt with a German farmgirl, but ultimately gets slapped in the face. A replacement, Private Patrick O'Keefe, is sent to an outpost with Perconte. O'Keefe hasn't seen any combat and his over-eager, upbeat attitude offends the hardened Perconte who lashes out harshly in a verbal tirade. He tells O'Keefe that he has spent two years away from home watching his fellow veterans die on the battlefield, and occupying Germany is the first time he has actually been able to relax.

Nixon informs Winters and Speirs that President Franklin D. Roosevelt has died back in America. The next day, Nixon receives a letter from his wife; she is asking him for a divorce.

The company sets off to Landsberg, their new headquarters, to deal with bands of Waffen-SS whom Hitler has ordered to fight a guerilla war in the Alps. As they drive through Bavaria, the paratroopers begin singing "Blood upon the Risers", with Nixon briefly joining in. Along the way, they witness over 300,000 newly-surrendered German POW's marching past; noticing that they continue to march proudly even in defeat, Webster begins ranting angrily at the Germans for starting a war they could never have hoped to win, and uprooting his and his fellow soldiers' lives. When he shouts "What the fuck are we doing here?!", Nixon's expression indicates he agrees with Webster. When they witness French soldiers summarily executing three Germans, O'Keefe is shaken, but Perconte simply shrugs at him, while Liebgott looks smug.

Nixon enters a German house uninvited in search of more liquor and breaks a picture of a German officer (Wolf Kahler); the man's wife appears and gives him a cold stare. Sgts. Randleman, Christenson, Perconte, and Luz are sent out on patrol, taking O'Keefe with them. Perconte asked Luz if the woods reminded him of Bastogne. On the edge of the woods they discover a German concentration camp. Perconte races back on foot to Landsberg to find Winters.

Winters and the rest of the company arrive on the scene and see first hand the appalling conditions the prisoners have been subjected to; even Easy's most hardened and ruthless veterans, including Captain Spiers, are horrified. Lt. Lipton orders the men to bring blankets and give the prisoners any food or water they are carrying. Liebgott translates the account of one prisoner who tells them that they are all Jews (musicians, clerks, artists, teachers), Poles or Gypsies, considered "undesirable" by the Germans. A few days before, the SS guards burned some of the prisoners alive in their huts; when others resisted, the guards began shooting at them until they "ran out of ammunition", then fled, leaving the survivors behind. Nixon darkly remarks that someone in town must have told them that the Americans were coming. The prisoner remarks that there is a similar camp for female prisoners at the next rail stop, then wanders away weeping helplessly. All the prisoners are near death, seriously ill or starving, some so weakened that they literally fall over as they try to approach the Americans. Many more are dead and corpses litter the area, Malarkey and Heffron grimly note the number tattoos on dead prisoners' arms marking them "like cattle". Randleman and Luz discover a hut jam-packed with living and dead prisoners lying shoulder to shoulder, and Winters opens a rail car to find it stuffed with corpses. Appalled, Perconte walks away, only to see a prisoner saluting him, which he immediately returns. He comes upon O'Keefe, who has broken down into tears at what he has seen, but ultimately leaves him alone.

Easy rushes back into the village of Landsberg and gathers food and water for the survivors; when the local baker protests at their clearing out his business, Webster angrily threatens him at gunpoint and accuses him of collaborating with the Nazis, unless he "never smelled the fucking stench" from the camp. Rushing back with supplies, the men of Easy distribute them to the prisoners. However, when Colonel Sink arrives with the battlefield surgeon, Winters and Nixon are told they must not continue feeding the survivors. The surgeon claims the survivors' vital systems are unable to handle massive food intake, and they need to be closely monitored during their recovery. The prisoners are forced to remain inside the barbed wire fence of the camp, to prevent them scattering from the area and potentially spreading diseases, an announcement which Liebgott is ordered to make. He does so, promising the prisoners it is only temporary and food, supplies and medicine are coming, but the survivors' pitiful protests cause him to break off in tears.

That evening, back at battalion HQ, Winters tells Nixon that camps like the one they found are being uncovered all over Eastern Europe. Winters speaks of a camp ten times larger that was liberated a few weeks before by the Russian Army, equipped with gas chambers and cremation ovens. He also says that local Germans will participate in the cleanup operations, which will begin the next morning, and will involve the exhumation of Jewish bodies and the disposal of them. One of the women involved in the cleanup is the same woman whose house Nixon had entered uninvited; he gives her a cold stare.

The episode returns to the moment where the German village is being cleaned up. Nixon announces to his fellow Easy members that Hitler has committed suicide, but the war is not over yet. Easy Company has been ordered to the Eagle's Nest in Berchtesgaden. Webster bitterly says Hitler should've killed himself three years ago and saved everyone the trouble. Nixon grimly agrees, but since Hitler didn't, they must move out.

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