“I have, over the past 40 years or so, talked to a fair number of WWII combat veterans who, given the all-encompassing nature of the WWII draft, frequently had a fair sprinkling of real, honest-to-God, thugs and criminals in their platoons and companies. Guys who just had a history of minor things were no problems. The real crooks, used to a life of violent crime, invariably cut and ran. They weren’t used to fighting when someone could fight back hard, and they were so selfish that they couldn’t bond with their fellow soldiers. One example: I remember talking to a Washington lawyer about 25 years ago who had been a rifleman and ended the war as a rifle squad leader in the 80th ID in the ETO. Some replacements came up. Two of them, he was told, were real Mafiosos. They took off at the first shelling and he never saw them again. I didn’t write up all conversations like this I had but this was typical.”
Article about the Danish study:
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