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FTR #169 Meet the New Fuhrer, Same as the Old Fuhrer: Update on Germany

Listen: One segment

In 1999, Germany has gone to great lengths to present itself as being distant from its Nazi past. The capitol has been moved from Bonn to Berlin, Goethe’s 250th birthday is being celebrated as denoting a German cultural renewal and a “center-left” government has initiated Germany’s third military incursion into the Balkans in this century.

This broadcast highlights the illusory nature of this “new image” for Germany.

Beginning with discussion of resurgent nationalism and Nazi nostalgia in the German army (the Bundeswehr), the program underscores the revisionist historical and political attitude taken by the Schroeder government. Personally taking the lead in negating the message of a recent exhibit about Wehrmacht crimes during the Third Reich, Schroeder has echoed the Nazi line on “foreigners” and “immigration” and has consistently downplayed the threat of resurgent Nazi violence in Germany. The broadcast analyzes the resurgence of German “cultural nationalism” and anti-Semitism. This should not come as a great surprise, in light of the failure of de-Nazification in Germany.

Of particular significance is a speech made by author Martin Walser. In early 1999, Walser accepted a peace prize from the German Book Trade and German culture minister and former publisher Michael Naumann.

In Walser’s speech, he sounded the theme that Germany no longer needed to feel responsible for the crimes of the Third Reich and warned that critics should not attempt to hold the country responsible for the Nazi past. Walser characterized those who discuss Nazi crimes as motivated by anti-German sentiment. His speech was widely praised by the German intelligentsia, his ideas finding a wide and sustained audience.

Another critical element of discussion concerns resurgent Nazism among young Germans and similarities between the manner in which crimes of young Nazis are downplayed in both Germany and the United States.

Obfuscating the rising tide of fascism with a facade of “psycho-babble” rhetoric, Nazi crimes are dismissed as the work of “misunderstood youth” who are subject to “social pressures”. In this manner, the problem is covered up. The workings of political conspiracy are misrepresented (and misunderstood) as psychopathology, rather than fascist intrigue. One counseling center in Germany became so solicitous of its young Nazi charges that the staff wound up actively aiding the skinheads in their Nazi activities. (Recorded on 9/12/99.)

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