Tuesday 21 February 2017

Writing about Nazi Germany

I’m definitely using writing here as a means to exploring something I’ve found difficult to explain. Before I became a full time writer, I taught modern languages for 26 years. I was always the main teacher of German and consequently got to know a lot of German people very well. They’re decent. So why did they go down that horrible road back then? 

We aren’t saints, either. Didn’t we invent the concentration camp during the Boer War? Shouldn’t we be thoroughly ashamed of the Slave Trade? 

What have I found out? 

They were bitter after the outcome of the Great War (World War 1). They suffered the hyperinflation in the 1920s and the great depression of the 1930s was possibly harder on them. Hitler was a charismatic leader who came to them at a time when they needed hope. 

How smart were the uniforms of the Hitler Youth and the BDM (girls’ equivalent of the Hitler Youth)! They were all inspired by Hitler’s promise that he would make Germany great again. An insipid indoctrination followed. Two buzz words were “camaraderie” and “duty”. Both seem innocent and worthy enough. At what price either, though? 

Hitler had inadequacies and complexes: failed art student, abused by father and he had little military skill. Was he actually just a channel of something more sinister? 

The German people blamed much of their poverty on a foreign presence – that of the Jews. Good doctors, teachers, lawyers, business people and eminent physicists were labelled as the scum and gradually squeezed out. The other people who didn’t quite fit the German ideal were asked to leave. Work was the path to freedom, even if you weren’t fit to do it. Well, if you weren’t fit to work, you weren’t fit, full stop. 

It seems important to me to explore all of this thoroughly so that we may learn of any mistake. Or am I too late? 

You can read more about this on my site about my Schellbergcycle.  

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