German Guilt over WWII – Applying some logic ….

At the time:

  • Some people supported Hitler because of the terrible economic conditions after WWI, the Allies having bled Germany dry over “reparations”
  • A minority of ordinary people helped him get into power.
  • He had the backing of many big industrialists who thought they could control him – until it was too late.
  • Very few had any idea of how terrible he was or what he would do until it was too late.
  • No ordinary person could do anything about the increasingly insane situation that Germany got into under the Nazis: resistance meant harsh punishment, including execution.
  • Most people had no choice but to do as they were told.
  • Very few ordinary citizens had any real idea about the death camps. Even if they had known everything, they could have done nothing.

Since:

  • It must be assumed that many senior military officers at the time knew a lot; indeed, there were some attempts to do something about it, but half-hearted and ineffective given the totalitarian and brutal nature of the regime.
  • ALL those responsible for launching the Nazi movement are long dead.
  • The ONLY people still alive in ANY way personally responsible for any crimes are a few ex-soldiers and prison-guards approaching their centenary.
  • NOBODY can be held responsible for the crimes of their parents; Svetlana Stalin was not blamed for the crimes of her father.
  • A “country” cannot be responsible for actions of humans; Only individuals can be guilty of crimes, not a “country”.
  • NO German under around 95 years is IN ANY WAY responsible for what happened. The fact that the Nazis were German is totally irrelevant.

Conclusions:

  • The concept of “German War Guilt” is intellectual nonsense.
  • What is true is that Homo Sapiens of any race, country or creed is capable of horrendous crimes against humanity: there must be few if any racial or tribal groups which at some time or another have not committed horrendous crime, including genocide.
  • The failure is in Man, not the Germans, Japanese, Russians, British, American, Spanish, Turks or anyone else – unless such acts are being perpetrated today – and EVEN SO, it is individuals that are guilty, not races, tribes or states collectively.
  • Children should of course be taught all this, but not burdened with “German guilt”: HARDLY anyone alive today is guilty of anything relating to the Nazi period.
  • We are NOT responsible for the acts of our predecessors, only for our OWN acts; this is – for example – why the Turkish refusal to acknowledge the Armenian genocide is nonsense.
  • Equally idiotic is those Greeks chanting “Nazis” when protesting about German attitudes towards their country’s economic woes.
  • As for WWII guilt, a very large number of Italian and French individuals were also guilty of war crimes, but they seem to have shaken off their guilt to a far more sensible and logical degree than the Germans in general.
  • Lessons have to be – and have been – learned, but one of those lessons is not that Germany today is guilty. A country CANNOT be guilty of anything.
  • The biggest lesson is that ONLY democracy can prevent wars; there would BE no wars if the people voted collectively (when did Switzerland or Leichtenstein last launch a war?) No mother is going to vote to risk her son being killed, only a leader or leaders  with too much power. The greatest risk today is from dictatorships: Iran, China, Russia and NK.
  • Children should be taught the truth as above.
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About Chris Snuggs

- WHS Old Boy : 1958 to 1964 - Director of Studies, Isuga : 1998 to 2008 - now retired and living in Ramsgate, UK
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