Spitfire List Web site and blog of anti-fascist researcher and radio personality Dave Emory.

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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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