Thursday, May 03, 2007

The Nazi In Me



Something I have sometimes wondered is what I would have done if I was in Germany when Hitler was coming to power. Would I have resisted , would I have been an enthusiastic Party member? Of course you can be too literal about it and start talking about how you have been a different sort of person but the sort of questions I am thinking are these.

1 I hate socialism and would I have hated them so much as to have been prepared to ally with anyone?
2 Would my inability to agree with anyone have triumphed over my fond regard for uniforms and sneaky admiration for the human spirit in action. , at war.
3 Would the patriotism I posses have been able to define itself away from the vision of the country that was prevalent.
4 Would the dangerous romantic appeal of fascism have infected me?
5 What about the legendary magnetism of the man himself.

There is a lot about fascism that is attractive if you can concieve of not knowing what we do know now about the way it went and it is ridiculous to imagine that the Germans were people unlike ourselves entirely. Students were notably enthusiastic, Doctors were keen ,as were women as generalisation, so it can be counter intuitive. I like to imagine that having never agreed with anyone for long in my life sheer bloody mindedness would have saved me but we cannot know .


What about anyone else , what in your character might have succumbed and what do you hope would have kept you sane. ? Can you confront and understand the Nazi in you ?

58 comments:

Ed said...

There are two books I would recommend to anyone thinking about this - both of which are good in themselves independent of this particular issue.

1) William Woodruff's The Road to Nab End and Beyond Nab End (OK that's two but you have to read the first to read the second)

2) the other book's name is on the tip of my tongue and I shall try and remember it later!!!

Ed said...

OK I've found it on Gooooooogle.

It's another Woodruff book: Shadow's of Glory.

Read them all!

Ratty. said...

My mother had more than a bit of Nazi in her. Father came home early from work one spring afternoon and found Sir Oswald Mosley's chauffeur giving her a seeing to across the bonnet of his Morris Oxford. Mother and Father didn't speak for weeks.

mens sana said...

I discovered recently that my grandfather was secretary of the British Union of Fascists-funny how that hasn't been widely advertised in the family.

I think you have to admit that in a country which was under enormous pressure as Germany post 1918 was on a variety of fronts, there is a strong tendency to nationalism. This is not necessarily a bad thing. The gradual slip into violent totalitarianism is something that can happen almost unnoticed, especially if the takeover of power is "democratic".

People vote for a leader who has a clear vision of restoring pride in the country which has apparently lost its way. This I can sympathise with-is than not what we all look for?

An easy way to focus nationalist sentiemnt is to stigmatise a group of preferably foreigners. In this case Jews. I like to think that at this point alarm bells would ring, but with the underlying level of antisemitism that was inherent in society at that time, I wonder. Could I have been persuaded that it was somehow undesirable for the control of the nation to be in the hands of "aliens"? Its so easy to say no, but...

Once the principle that these people are a problem is accepted, we are on a slippery slope to Auschwitz. I don't believe that many German people understood the true horrors of the concentration camps, but by that time they were at war, and in a war we accept behaviour which is beyond the norms that we would usually reject absolutely.

So the answer NM is that I don't believe I would have supported Hitler. My pride thinks that I would have rejected him as an unsophisticated and dangerous socialist demagogue, and that I would have fought his rise to power.

But at the back of my mind, maybe like you, I just wonder if in the context of the social and economic situation in Germany at the time, I might not, at least initially, have felt some sympathy for the Nazi Party. I hope not, but clearly many rational, intelligent and cultured people did.

Philipa said...

Hitler was at first seen as the saviour of Germany, the great hope of the future (shades of Bliar?) but I too "like to imagine that having never agreed with anyone for long in my life sheer bloody mindedness would have saved me but we cannot know ." However I have never been much of a 'joiner' - I'm not the follower kinda gal and have never embraced socialism or facism or even religion without some kind of balance. I don't rush towards idealsim like playing statues against authority (where rushing towards something; 'den' or 'home' when they weren't looking made you a winner).

But their image was fab, I like the jack boots and think HWSNBN would have definately made a great Herr Flick. Sadly, in that production, I am seen as Yvette. Even my daughter pointed to the screen and said 'look Mummy, she looks just like you, only she's too pretty, you're just right.' I had to chuckle: awwww.

Electro Kevin said...

I wouldn't like to be tested this way. One would need to be very individualistic and brave to resist a whole nation galvanised by a malign, charismatic and hypnotic force. It's often been difficult enough for me to criticise Tony Blair over the years (on occaision I have been called mad for doing so) so God help me if I try to do the same against any despot who follows the perfectly defined path that Mr Blair has beaten towards totalitarianism.

There is part of me that wants to see those who abuse and damage our country hurt physically and badly- this isn't genocidal but class driven. Substitute Sub-class for Jew and yes - I could see myself being a supporter of extreme politics.

Whereas the demonisation of the jews was a wicked deceit I feel that the demonisation of our 'chav' and gangster class isn't.

Philipa said...

Now I know I wouldn't have been a follower, despite the funky uniform.

Electro Kevin said...

I meant yobos, gratuitous thieves and intimidators and those who cock a snook at the law, P - I can't help disliking them intensely and feeling that they are a threat to our civilisation.

Jenny! said...

Since I have shown to not know much about politics, I probably would have been disinterested and aloof! I do have a thing for uniforms though!

Philipa said...

I have a thing for broad shoulders in crisp, white white shirts, of course being naked under a lycra spiderman uniform works for me too.

tory boys never grow up said...

My suspicion is that the answer to this question isn't really dependent on your current political beliefs - it is not that hard to rationalise changes in particular policies to supposedly constant beliefs (and yes I am aware of the irony of this as a Labour supporter - but are those who support other parties). It is a fairly constant feature of regime change that the same people usually end up holding power - look at what happened to the nomenklatura in Russia/the Nazis in Eastern Germany etc.etc.

I suspect the real test of whether you would be a dissident in an authoritan regime is whether you are prepared something controversial not when you are in enemy territory but when you are among your friends and those you normally agree with - in your case my guess is that you might. On the otehr hand you could be one of the nutters who would actually initiate the change to a Nazi regime - remember it is hardly ever the dissidents who bring about the change in a totalitarian regime and become the new leaders.

Newmania said...

Ed , how do you know so much about politics ...I do read a fair bit and i `ll have go at at least one

Newmania said...

Ratty - you are a damn funny chap but I`d also like to know what you think about what is going on. I`m sure the full rat will emerge you clearly have the "right" idea.........
( By the way I have been out ...dwinking so excuse any nonsense )

Newmania said...

..right I cannot see the keyboard I will return to this tommorow .

Ruthie said...

I'm fairly sure I would have left the country.

My grandparents on both sides came to the U.S. immediately before, during, and after WW2 from Sicily/southern Italy as fascism was rising there.

One of my grandmas claimed to have thrown rocks at Mussolini's hanging body. I think she was exaggerating.

Newmania said...

Men sana thats a very thoughtful reply with a some fascinating family detail, one of the things that strikes me is how easily intellectual opposition was defeated. It was easily to intellectualise you way into this or that and the Nazis had great appeal to the educated . They were opposed by the organised workers to some extent and the churches...in patches. Only belief ata basic level withstood the zeitgeist
Orwell made a similar point about the totalitarian dystopia of his imagination , the elites were found top be power worshippers in the end and Saki`s Edwardian vision is much the same mentioning the literary class particularly

People that are ambitious and impressed by achievement would surely have been some of the first to go. I kid myself that at least I do not suffer overly from “ being impressed” but cynicism of that sort is almost universal and cannot itself be a way out .#

Gotta go buying a house..back later

Raedwald said...

I've just taken the 'Would you have been a Nazi?' test - here at http://tinyurl.com/7dejd

It says:
"Opportunistic, patriotic to a fault, and not so fond of people who aren't just like you, you are like a Nazi General. Back in Germany in the 1940's, you would have been at the top of the asshole list. Not for Nazism, necessarily, but for your own sick, twisted values. Then, out of superior intelligence (relative to other Nazis, that is), you would've climbed to the top."

Hmmm. Verdamnt bolsehvik quizzes. Onto the bonfire with them!

hatfield girl said...

Fascism grows, it's a life style, so it extends across every part of life, not just what is overtly political. Unless you want to be a hermit, anyone living a normal, social existence is drawn in. Your children go to school where teachers are members of the Fascist union(they must be to hold a post), your job is by recommendation from your local 'Circle' where you go to have a drink with friends, you need to have your card to hold your job. Your wife belongs to the local Wives group where she helps with all the things Wives groups do in the community, and if she didn't she'd be invited to join. You are offered work and membership benefits in buying domestic goods, holidays, and your house if you are young and haven't got one.
Your standing in the community rests on who you know, who can speak for you in dealing with bureaucracy, or the courts, or employers.
To oppose this needs independent wealth, clarity of thought, and intellectual assurance that leads to a judgement that all this is wrong. Many in your social position won't think it wrong at all.
But if you do think it's wrong and organise opposition then you find social and economic ostracism -for your children and other family too, who may not accept your view or their sacrifice. If you persist you will be criminalised. Or you can leave, if you go in time and somewhere will accept you. And,again, your family will pay the price of disruption and exile.

Most saw no evil, and saw dissenters as disruptive spoilers of a good way of life. Were I in the 1920s, in Italy, particularly with that outpouring of creativity in all the arts released by visions of constructing Utopia, I would have gone along, probably deploring 'temporary' malfunctions and injustices. Insidious, fascism is, and very pretty packaging.

Ed, Nab End is rivetting in telling about poverty and the collapse of people's worlds in Blackburn and Burnley and all the to-ing and fro -ing to America, but what do you think it says about fascism?

Ed said...

Ed, Nab End is rivetting in telling about poverty and the collapse of people's worlds in Blackburn and Burnley and all the to-ing and fro -ing to America, but what do you think it says about fascism?

The bit where he spends the summer in Belgium and talks about the growing confidence in Germany - the energy, industry, etc. The way Woodruff describes how forward-looking Germany felt to outsiders (and the stark contrast with Belgium and the poverty of England at the same time) is fascinating. Many non-political people would have seen the relative prosperity and looked the other way in relation to the darker side of Hitler at the time and only come to realise his sickness in retrospect.

Also, I think to understand the author of Shadows of Glory and what he's getting at you have to read the autobiographies.

N - I know precisely not-a-lot!

mutleythedog said...

I think they would have gassed me Mr N - what about the appeal of being white in apartheid South Africa?? I wonder how many would resist that?...you wouldn't have to do anything -just go along with evil by ignoring it...

Ratty. said...

"would I have resisted , would I have been an enthusiastic Party member"

Given the likely alternative that prevailed at the time, Communism, I am pretty sure that I would have been seduced and voted for the man and party.
Like those, the vast majority who did vote for him I would have been neither - just a working man, getting on with his everyday life and appreciative of the improved standard of living, return of identity and national pride. Of course 1939 changed all that.

Newmania said...

T BOY said I suspect the real test of whether you would be a dissident in an authoritan regime is whether you are prepared something controversial not when you are in enemy territory but when you are among your friends

Points for me there T Boy as most of my friends , if not all , were always platitudinous Liberals and I certainly was not swayed by any of that .If you were to meet anyone I know you would find I have a slight reputation for being argumentative and thi sis really the only thing I have going for me .


A s someone who is in league with the demonic forces of the establishment left I think you are fitting yourself with a rather snazzy black uniform are you not ?

Newmania said...

what about the appeal of being white in apartheid South Africa??

Have they behaved worse than other tribal groups who hold power in Africa then ...conspiciously better I would say. Why do you expect more from them Mutley

" Is it because Ai iz White ?"

Newmania said...

Hatfield Girl that could have written about Iraq prior to Liberation . It astonishess me that the Liberals pat themsleves on the back so much about their efforts to support the regime.

I agree with you although I have nevr really thought of life in Germany that way . What you say about dissenting vopices ruibngs ominously I do often think of them as self congratulatory poseurs and I can well imagine being similiarly impatient in other circumstances

Newmania said...

WW2 from Sicily/southern Italy as fascism was rising there.

Many people were leaving Sicilly at the time ( I hope you second name isn`t Corleone by the way), for economic reasons so can really be so sure ?

Newmania said...

Then, out of superior intelligence (relative to other Nazis, that is), you would've climbed to the top."

Hmmm. Verdamnt bolsehvik quizzes. Onto the bonfire with them!



Up to the usual standard Raewald very good indeed. I must say I can imagine you as a interrogataor employing brutal sarcasm ( and perhaps a theatrically malevolent cackle)

Newmania said...

Ratty I don`t see you as a Nazi somehow. More a pirate ... What you say abou the Communist Party is important though . Its a common mistake to inmagine the alternatives are a Modren Liberal Democracy...you get that with people who hate the British Empires memory.

Newmania said...

EK I wownder abou that elemnt of fear , that is certainly the picture the Germans prefer, for obvious reasons but gfear cannot be the whole story. You seem far to EK-like ( there is no word) for any of that but people like you and i must have gone along at the very least

Newmania said...

I like to respjnd and I will get back to this when I am back from any questions

Electro Kevin said...

Perhaps we were not talking about the same thing, N. After Hatfield Girl's elucidation it seems clear to me that we are not.

What I (and I believe the majority) would like is a very severe response indeed against the criminal classes - in the absence of such will among our politicians the temptation is to become polarised to the right-wing.

jungle jane said...

I know not of these things. I only know about kittens. and embroidery. Thank you.

Newmania said...

Phillipa i have met you and you exceedingly pretty and you possess a very fine and saucy eye.

I agree though , you are such a contrarian its hard to see youbfitting in well. Like myself though there is alot in your poltics to make you prefer the Nazis to the communists which as ratty mentioned ,was the choice

Newmania said...

N - I know precisely not-a-lot!

This humility is increasingly hard to sustain Ed you seem phenomenally well informed to me.



Why not take politics a bit more seriously ( if you do not ) you are getting quite old to be a Coucillor now ...an MP ..why not ? Beats working

Newmania said...

I know not of these things. I only know about kittens. and embroidery. Thank you.



You will make alovely wife for someone JJ but before you do learn to fucking cook !!!( A bit of ironing wouldn`t hurt either )
You see I believe that women should raise their expectations and worth through training and education.
* Grins awaiting tears of gratitude*

Newmania said...

EK I think what you say is to some extent happening.

Ed said...

...an MP ..why not ? Beats working

LOL!

Newmania said...

Just got bascak from any questions Ed my goodness it was dull.

CityUnslicker said...

being of raterh obvious genetic Jewish stock, I have some confidence in prediciting that I would not be welcome/seduced by the Nazi's.

So, what would you do in Soviet Russia circa 1993 Newmaina?

Newmania said...

CU I didn`t notice anything semitic about your appearance actually and I think that is just avoidin the question.

Russia ....ooops times over

tory boys never grow up said...

I said true dissidents are those who are prepared to say controversial things to friends AND those who they normally agree with - is there anyone who you normally agree with?

Believe me I have form on saying controversial things in the circles in which I move - being pro Iraq war has not been 100% comfortable.

In your case - if the Nazi's came to power my guess is that you might support them initially - but would be liquidated fairly quickly for deviating from the "true path" or whatever they would call it. The question is would you put my name on list before they got to you?

If anyone is looking for reading matter on how fascism could take route in a western society I'h highly recommend Philip Roth's "Plot agaist America"

Newmania said...

T Boy - Pretty much everyone gets liquidated in the end . I must say I hadn`t thought of the pro Iraq war angle in the company of the bleeding edge .
I was at any questions listening to Harriet Harman Fraces Maude and Nick Clegg and it was in the hall of a local Comp
( The one that used to be a Grammar and is in the best catchmemt area . People buy flats next to it )


The audience were the classic Metropoltan left and in a tedious hour the only thing that got a good boo or cheer was the "Illegal war" . An astonshing unanimity of opnion , with which I disagree.I would find it very hard to put up with that for long.

It does amaze me that in such clement economic conditions Blair has become quite so unpopular. La Harman said people are only saying that Labour has to chnage and i thought ...yes but into what ?. If you bread the New Statesman they suggest they are not left wing enough.

They need to cut taxes significantly and the Party won`t allow it .I don`t think you can blame Ieraq . The Liberals are performing atrocioauly .

Electro Kevin said...

For many the conditions don't feel secure, economic or otherwise - much of this 'boom' is base on a more relaxed attitude to credit (but the worry is starting to bite) and the acceptance of slave labour so long as it is based abroad or hidden in our black economy.

But the worst Blairist crime is the onslaught against cultural and National identity - people are waking to the fact that important levees which have, in the past, protected us from the big bad world have been undermined.

By the way, Philipa once told me that she looked (what I would describe as) a messed up version of Ronald McDonald. Are you sure that she didn't send a pretty friend to meet you ?

jungle jane said...

I keep thinking that the title of this post is porn. I am having nightmares of you with a Nazi in you....

hatfield girl said...

Individual allegiance to the ideas and aims of the state is central in fascism, so anything that reinforces family ties and the family as the basic social unit, gets it; and school becomes an induction not an education. Children are vulnerable to being positively encouraged to develop different values from their parents.

It's this that would end the Nazi in any of us, I think.

Newmania said...

Are you sure that she didn't send a pretty friend to meet you ?


Yes , funny you say that EK because i have had the same idea. I once spoke to a girl in one of those phone clubs claiming that i was a very good looking person nearby.
Itwas a remarkable experience , Robert Redford said something interesting about it .He said , his whole life people have wanted to know him and help him just because iof the way he looks. Its hard to stay sane .

)( Not that I `m especially hideous just ..nondescript)

Phillipa is abit of a sex pot in real life though

Newmania said...

Children are vulnerable to being positively encouraged to develop different values from their parents.

And what a symtom to be watching for HG.... I have see New Labours attack on the family and cutural ties at sub state level as sinister but I had never thought of calling it fascist before .

How very interesting HG ...( As you always are !!)

Newmania said...

I am having nightmares of you with a Nazi in you....

Oh come on JJ how bad could it be ? Some women are such fuss pots .



( You know I `m kidding right ?)

james higham said...

Better and better and better, Newmania.

Newmania said...

I start from a low point JH . ( New Statisticians and moi)

james higham said...

Focus is up, NM.

Welshcakes Limoncello said...

Mr N, it's a difficult, agonising question and you are brave to post it and honest in your answers. But you are a father: would you really have allowed the killing of innocents like your own children to go on before your eyes? I don't think so.
Resistance / collaboration can go on at so many levels and this is the trouble: We'd all like to think we would have been heroic but the truth is that most of us would have tried just not to be noticed - unless we were in the persecuted minoroties, when we would not have even had that chance. In a Nazi occupied country you could be deemed to be collaborating just by doing your job, because in so doing you were, to an extent, supporting the occupying power, or at least allowing its continued existence. It is pure myth that the French, in WW2, were a nation of resisters - rather the opposite was true, as evidenced in the film "Le Chagrin at la Pitié". How many of us would turn in a neighbour to the authorities if by doing so we could feed our own family for another month / week / day? We who have not experienced it do not know what we would do.
The books I would recommend on the issue are Ignazio Silone's "Fontamara", Vercors' "Le Silence de la Mer" and André Shwarz-Bart's "The Last of the Just". If I were education minister in any country I would make this last compulsory reading as it shows how easily fascism can take root if we do not fight racism AT THE OUTSET.
I can't belong to a political party because I can't tow any "line" or agree with anyone for long enough. Like you, I hope my cantankerousness would save me from going along with some odious regime. I just hope I never have to find out.

Philipa said...

Thankyou Newmania but it really was me and NO kev - I merely said I had highlights that went wrong and I ended up with orange hair - you were the one who attributed the Ronald McD image to me (thanks)

Ladies - Newmania is by no means nondescript, he's a honey; really most attractive. And he rides a motorbike. His wife is beautiful though ladies, he's already been taken. His son is not yet of age, it may be a while.

Nazi vs communist? N, you may be right (groan) despite the more romantic image of communism (in a beret?) The one thing that was sacrilege for me was burning books. I couldn't countenance that. There is no greater symbol of oppresion for me than suppresing knowledge. So many forms of authority have tried it, from religion to dictatorship, and it is awful. From Nazi Germany to Stalinist Russia, I hate that - oppresion in all it's forms.

Newmania said...

Hi WL . The French were not a nation of resisters partly because France was at war with itself and the threat of Communism and the left , equally totalitarian was resisted in a sense . I wonder sometimes if its too easy to read that story backwards. Never forget that Stalin’s regime was in every way as bad as Hitler`s.

I `m sorry I cannot agree with you if you think that racism is such a unique and special evil, trumping all others .It can be a prejudice no different to those all people have about accents , clothes and asy other visual clue about someone. This fades into what you might call judgement and cannot be legislated against. There is a lot of unnecessary panic which sounds like a sort of bourgeois bossiness and has clearly gone to far.

Neither do I feel there is the slightest danger of fascism in that sense taking root in this Country , more a sort of spiritual and economic disempowerment that reduces us all bit by tiny bit. I do not therefore panic overly about the BNP . Many of their supporters are not evil people and have . Nowhere else to go “ . Articles in both the Sun and the New Statesmen have made this point in different ways last week . The problem is that the ideology of fascism contains many elements a Conservative might support . The reality is quite different and so is the underlying set of beliefs taken as a whole .
The wish to stamp out Fascism at birth is used to stamp out free thinking usually on the right and the accusation of racism is used to close down , for example , the immigration question.

I think I am rather talking around your point rather than responding directly in that you may well agree with me . What you said seemed to elevate the threat of the totalitarian right above all other threats and that has been a problem. It is especially a problem when people are fighting yesterdays battles and failing to recognise the fascist Theocrats of Islam for what they are according them protected status by culturally relative slither.

Thanks for your thoughts this has been a good thread and yours is a great post. Funny how everyone ignores the stuff I work really hard on ….sigh

Newmania said...

from religion to dictatorship, and it is awful. From Nazi Germany to Stalinist Russia, I hate that - oppresion in all it's forms.

Well P


Really I would be happy to burn the Leaflets handily posted at bus stops suggesting homosexuals should be burnt alive ? I don`t see what is so wrong about destroying lies and cultural filth. If you don1`t think burning books can be the right thing to do you are saying they are powerless . They are not .

Frobisher said...

Hello!

what do you do to relax?

Frobisher said...

your awake!

Newmania said...

No I am not .....well not for long anyway Frobo.

To relax ,,,...go to the office ?

*wave*

Philipa said...

N - there's a difference between leaflets and books but I'll come back to you on this if I may, can't answer properly just now.

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