Nazi Germany: People who weren't there still don't understand why

Below are some excerpts from a review of the latest book about the Nazi disaster. It is written by a historian but he still seems to be puzzled by why it all happened. Postwar lies have blinded him. So let me give very briefly the answer he lacks:

Hitler's ideas -- antisemitism, racism, eugenics, nationalism etc were nothing unusual in his times -- particular among Leftists of his times. And here is why people get confused: Postwar Leftists have fostered the myth that Hitler was a Rightist. Given his vast evils, they need that myth. Yet there was nothing conservative about him. He was a far-Leftist who believed in government control of everything in Germany.

Once you realize that, it all becomes clear. With his socialist "we will look after you" message and his nationalist "we are the greatest" message, Hitler had just about the most powerful political message possible. And he presented it so passionately and emotionally that people believed it. They wanted to believe it. They saw what he said as just and right. He came across as a kindly father figure and many Germans loved him -- and followed him to the bitter end. And many of those who survived still believe his "wonderful" message.

I go into it all in great detail here
A controversial new book encourages young Germans to quiz their grandparents about how much they knew about the horrors of Nazism in World War Two.

In his new work ‘My Grandfather in the War’ historian Moritz Pfeiffer claims that a staggering 20 to 25 million German citizens and 10 million soldiers were aware of the Nazi extermination programme.

The historian interviewed his own maternal grandparents about their role in the war before cross-referencing their recollections against historical documents including army records and archived material.

The result, according to the magazine, ‘is a book that has shed new light on the generation that unquestioningly followed Hitler, failed to own up to its guilt in the immediate aftermath of the war and, more than six decades on, remains unable to express personal remorse for the civilian casualties of Hitler's war of aggression, let alone for the Holocaust.

Mr Pfeiffer says his own blood relatives were morally ‘contaminated,’ like millions of ordinary Germans of that period. He describes his grandmother Edith as a 'committed, almost fanatical Nazi,' adding: ‘No One Can Say What They Would Have Done. But the project wasn't an attempt to pass judgment on them but to understand them.

‘I believe that people will learn a lot if they understand how their respected and loved parents or grandparents behaved in the face of a totalitarian dictatorship and murderous racial ideology.

‘Dealing with one's family history in the Nazi period in an open, factual and self-critical way is an important contribution to accepting democracy and avoiding a repeat of what happened between 1933 and 1945.’

His grandfather, identified only as Hans Hermann K., was a career soldier who, Pfeiffer discovered, gave evasive answers to his enquiries about his wartime service when massacres of civilians were carried out in Poland and Russia.

When asked by his grandson if he thought Nazi racial laws banning Jews from public life and systematically expropriating their property were unfair, he said: ‘No, we didn't regard that as injustice, we had to go with the times and the times were like that. The media didn't have the importance then that they do today.’

Mr Pfeffer said his grandfather's claims of ignorance of massacres in Russia were ‘hardly believable.’

He added: ‘Grandfather wasn't lying outright in his interviews, but merely doing what millions of Germans had done after the war -- engaging in denial, playing down their role to lessen their responsibility.

‘It led to the convenient myth in the immediate aftermath of the war that the entire nation had been duped by a small clique of criminals who bore sole responsibility for the Holocaust -- and that ordinary Germans had themselves been victims.

‘Why did the humanity of my grandparents not rebel against the mass murders and why didn't my grandfather concede guilt or shame or express any sympathy for the victims?'


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