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November 02, 2012



What more could be done? I just used the Google translator to get Vergangenheitsbewältigung in English and it spat out Dealing with the Past. The terrible German language... The English expression sounds much more positive: Make the best deal you can with your history!
Japan, for example. They kept their Tenno, the country wasn't 'dekaiserized'. The defeat was a shame for the country, epic shame, itself already being the ultimate punishment. Not the A-bomb, btw. Japans Deal with the Past: We don't do it anymore, we even don't talk about it anymore. Instead, we become a stable market.

Germany hasn't been nuked, but we got another Deal with the Past: "We will never do it again and we will always talk about it. We make our shame an institution." All Germans born after 1960 have enjoyed a one year history lesson exclusively on that matter at school. (The following year explains why we are in NATO though the U.S.A. are not better than us.) Since the eighties we can't escape shame books and TV shame soaps anymore, we know everything now and if there was a world series of Third Reich knowledge Germans would make the first 80 million places. We are so good, we would win the Trivial Pursuit Third Reich Edition in a run. Except, perhaps, some million immigrants making own deals with their past. Btw, did I already mention our secret service?

Vergangenheitsbewältigung has also become, willingly or not, a business model for TV productions. Vergangenheitsbewältigung is 24/7 on German TV, most popular: Everything about Wunderwaffen and Wernher Magnus Maximilian Freiherr von Braun.

Before this background, the establishment of controversy is almost inevitably. The controversy even doesn't need that background, or might have another one, as it looks like in other countries. Anyway, there is always and everywhere room for both sides, at least, when there is freedom of speech.

In Germany, we already do the utmost to instruct everyone about the nazi terror.
Sure, getting it all in 3-D and HD would be great and it will come definetly, but further improvements are science fiction. The event horizon of guilt has already been reached.


I've always felt that Americans could use a great deal more Vergangenheitsbewältigung. After all, we are a nation founded on the ethnic cleansing of the indigenous population, built up by slavery.

We have a propensity to get involved in stupid wars of choice - with disastrous consequences for us and for the civilian populations (Vietnam - 1-2 million non-combatants killed).

But the wars quickly recede from memory and so we are doomed to repeat them.

What is needed every time is a constant, laser-like focus on the truth. Wherever it may lead.


There is still a major flaw in this thesis, namely that some knowledge of earlier persecution of Jews, and later coverage in foreign press (which even many in Allied nations did not believe, and was often relegated to smaller columns on minor pages), does not prove or demonstrate actual knowledge of or support for extermination on a widepread basis, which was not publicised in Germany. The machinist in Celle was more an exception than the rule, he had after all a close relative who witnessed an atrocity and told him of it, which most didn't. A Gauleiter's secretary is not a typical case at all. One does not have to be a Holocaust denier (I'm not) to find this argument severely deficient. And it ought to be measured against the knowledge and response of people in the Allied countries, who for the most part were no more concerned or worked up about it, when it counted, see eg The Abandonment of the Jews or Why We Watched. In fact the Allies consistently refused any serious action to save Jews other than routine prosecution of the war, even rejecting opportunities to save Jews when available in some cases. The fact is few cared enough to bother much, even when they did know, and were not under a ruthless dicatorship themselves. This needs to be remembered also. Nor did they care or act when Stalin was exterminating millions before (and even after) the war.

Lastly, once more, de Zayas' books on the expulsions are entirely legitimate, and his latest book mentioned here should not be condemned a priori in such terms without being read first.

There is certainly a need for research and discussion of this period, and others too. But it needs to be with sounder methodology and greater caution than is on display here.


Thanks though for bringing the books to attention, I will read them when I can, albeit with some skepticism as to their advertised arguments (on both sides - I would say the truth is somewhere in between).


Curious as to why you insist that Germans were in the dark?

Goering told the court at Nuremberg that he did not have the slightest "inkling" that Jews were being murdered. And he doubted that Hitler had any knowledge as well. Do you also believe him?

Most were probably like my elderly landlady in Freiburg who claimed not to have known ("Ich wusste NICHTS davon!"). But her favorite expression concerning the Holocaust was: "Es braucht immer zwei zum Tanzen!" (It takes two to Tango.)

So they somehow had it coming to them...


Göring told the court at Nuremberg...?




Look at what I am actually saying instead of a parody. Goering was obviously lying, as were some others. That's a seperate matter from the average citizen who was not 'in the loop'. Some found out, to varying degrees, via relations etc, but there is no proof or even likelihood most knew, let alone fully, as they had no means to, it's as simple as that. And there are certainly known examples, as I quoted once.


And a question for you, do you disbelieve Helmut Schmidt when he said he didn't know until after the war, as did von Weizsaecker (other than a single incident)? And bear in mind also, that they were in a better position to know than many. Local people far from the front, camps or Jews in any number are supposed to have known how exactly? I know of some that didn't.


In the end, Steve, I'm not sure what difference it makes. The massive deportation of Jews could not have taken place without the active participation of many, and the consensus of most, Germans. After their neighbors were gone, there was little or no curiosity as to their fate. Even if the truth had been put in every newspaper, I doubt there would have been any protests.

My guess is you are in the UK. Peter Longerich is a professor at Royal Halloway University of London - his book is by far the best in terms his systematic research into non-traditional sources of information (letters, diaries, transcripts of German language BBC broadcasts, etc,) Why not write him ([email protected]) and let him know he got his facts wrong? Or better yet, go meet him for a cup of tea? I plan on e-mailing him myself and will publish any response I get back.


Goodness I have to agree with Koogleschreiber when it comes to the tiresomness of this.

It does teach us a lesson though. We should do our best not to lose the next war :-)

Only with a future armed conflict beginning I can see this hype to end.


I missed your last reply at the time. It certainly makes a difference, in terms of culpability, and given the arguments over it. In fact the numbers of Jews deported from Germany was relatively small, a few tens of thousands over a number of years, most German Jews had either gone into exile before 1941 or into hiding, or were in camps in Germany under the earlier laws. And the deportations were advertised (to the extent they were mentioned at all) as just that, deportations to the East for labor and resettlement. Most deportations were from other countries to Poland, with as little 'concern' there as in Germany. In fact quite a few did help Jews to hide or escape, all over Europe, but the deportations were security operations under a dictatorship in wartime, not the sort of thing the average person is in a position to openly resist except at cost of their own liberty or life. Nevertheless local protest over the Euthanasia program (led by the Church and regarding German citizens) did have some effect in slowing the program, it was an exceptional circumstance however.

I'm not in the UK, but I will certainly compile a critique of Longerich et al's claims when I am able, right now I am not. But as to facts, they are spare and limited in this area, it is the grandiose conclusions drawn from them that I take exception to. I certainly know however from personal experience with Germans that many did not know, in keeping with the practically zero information they received on the matter. The Allies had more knowledge, and still did next to nothing (the war was fought for other reasons).


I would have hoped you had read Longerich by now. After reading his biography of Himmler (reviewed elsewhere on my blog) I am more convinced than ever that he is a first-rate historian.


It's on my list, but I have scores of other ones in between.

He may be an impressive writer and researcher, but that does not mean he is always correct. Whole schools of brilliant history have been founded on false premises and misinterpreted sources, WW1 is a case in point. It is now emerging that the mainstream narrative of the last century of its causes and course is grossly misleading, and essentially a form of skilfully disguised propaganda. For an intro see Clark (Kaiser Wilhelm II and The Sleepwalkers: How Europe Went to War in 1914), Ferguson (The Pity of War), McMeekin (The Russian Origins of the First World War), Ponting (13 Days) and Zuber (The Real German War Plan), plus Buchanan's Churchill Hitler and the Unnecessary War for additional key material if not always conclusions. There is much more besides.


You don't cite any current research from respected historians in Germany, where most of the research is taking place. Instead you cite revisionists like Buchanan (a notorious anti-Semite).

From everything I've read, I tend to agree with Bajohr that the systematic killing of Jews was known by millions of Germans, but it didn't concern them as long as Germany was winning the war. Only after Stalingrad did people feign ignorance - as a survival strategy.

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