One of the key psychological tools that the victorious Western Allies very successfully used in their denazification project (very successful as well) was the “German Guilt”.
Every German in the Western occupation zone was programmed (brainwashed – let’s be honest) into believing that he or she is personally responsible for Nazi crimes and thus must make amends (do one’s penance, if you will). First and foremost, by making the maximum possible contribution to reengineering of Nazi Germany.
In other words, to its transformation into Bundesrepublik Deutschland – the Western-style liberal democracy and, in a way, a reincarnation of Weimar Republic (new Germany even had the same flag and coat of arms).
This “guilt trap” was a blatant lie, of course (I will explain why in a minute), but a “white lie” (albeit a gargantuan one, like just about all anti-Nazi propaganda – and the core of the “mainstream” history of Nazi Germany).
A “white lie” because it did help (and helped significantly) to transform Germany into a free, liberal, democratic state – and the most economically and politically powerful nation in Europe (the de-facto leader of the European Union).
Interestingly enough, the Soviets preached exactly the opposite message based of the famous saying by Stalin: “Hitlers come and go, but the German people remains”. Although the Soviet occupation authorities used brutal tools and methods in their project of Sovietization of Nazi Germany, “German guilt” brainwashing was not one of them.
Here are 12 reasons why the idea of “German guilt” and “German responsibility” for Nazi crimes is a bunch of bull (pardon my French).
- It makes no sense, absolutely no sense whatsoever to feel guilty for crimes (no matter how horrifying) committed by a relatively small number of Germans (less than 1% of the population) eighty years ago
- Ordinary Germans could not have stopped the Holocaust. For one very simply reason – they had no idea the mass murder of millions of Jews was happening. Nazis (Holocaust perpetrators, to be more precise as few Nazis were aware of what was going on) were so good at keeping Holocaust secret that ordinary Germans were sure that Jews were moved to detention centers because they posed a major security risk. But Americans and British did the same with some of their residents – so Nazis seemingly did nothing of the ordinary. There was no indication whatsoever that Jews were taken away to be murdered.
- For the same reasons ordinary Germans could not have stopped other Nazi war crimes. They had no idea what was happening on the occupied territories (due to very efficient system of keeping these events secret).
- Ordinary Germans could not have stopped persecution of Jews either. First, in the 1930’s Germany one had to be a genuine saint to openly protest against the persecution of Jews. And it would be highly unreasonable (and very unfair) to demand genuine sainthood from ordinary Germans (or from any other nation, for that matter). Second, persecution of Jews (and their subsequent elimination from Europe one way or the other) was so fundamentally important to Nazis that they would have ruthlessly and brutally suppressed any protest – no matter how large-scale.
- Nazi Germany was not the only country that committed war crimes and/or crimes against humanity in the XX century. This ‘genocide age’ witnessed around twenty (!) genocides, democides and mass murders, some of which were worse than the ones committed by Nazi Germany
- Nazi Germany was not the most murderous or destructive ideology in the XX century (or in human history). Bolshevism was (still is – in North Korea, Cuba and to a lesser extent in China).
- More than that, Bolshevism constituted an existential threat to Germany, Europe and the whole Western civilization. And the Nazi Germany removed this existential threat thus saving ‘all of the above’ from a complete destruction. It by no means justifies enormous Nazi crimes or makes them less horrible but it is a cold hard fact.
- Hitler and Nazis came to power in Germany not because of some inherent ‘wickedness’ of Germans (saying that would be Nazism – pure and simple). It happened because of the accumulation of a ‘critical mass’ of events over which all but a very few Germans had absolutely no control. And no one – not even the leaders of Germany – had control over a number of these events (outbreak of World War I, the Treaty of Versailles, existential threat of Bolshevism, the Great Depression, etc.)
- Germany did not start World War I. The Great War was a ‘joint venture’ between Russia and Serbia (with a more or less explicit or implicit consent of Britain and France). The latter two could have stopped the war but chose not to do it. Germany (and Austro-Hungarian Empire) were not perpetrators, but victims because when after shots in Sarajevo were fired, Austria had no choice but to declare war on Serbia. And because Russia made it crystal clear that it will join the war on the side of Serbia, Germany had no other choice but to go to war as well.
- Saying that Germany was solely responsible for the outbreak of World War II would be historically inaccurate. Although this time Germany was no victim, World War II was started by decisions and action of not one, but four powers – Nazi Germany, the Soviet Union, Great Britain and France. Hence, ‘all of the above’ must share the blame for the outbreak of the most destructive and murderous war in the history of mankind
- The (in)famous Nuremberg Trial was a highly controversial legal event. Highly imperfect (to say the least) and of dubious legality. Some justice was, indeed, served (a few criminals received the appropriate punishment while several innocent defendants walked free), but there was also more than one case of a gross miscarriage of justice. In fact, the whole event was not so much about justice, as about politics and propaganda. Besides, while all sides in World War II committed war crimes, only German war criminals were tried for their offenses – a typical “victors’ justice”.
- Right during and after the Nuremberg Trial, a monstrous crime against humanity was taking place. Around 12 million (!) German citizens and people of German ancestry were expelled by the Soviets and their East European puppets from various Eastern and Central European countries and sent to Germany and Austria. At least 600,000 died (were murdered, actually) in the process – roughly equal to the number of Jews murdered in Treblinka. Perpetrators of that genocide (let’s call a spade a spade) were never charged with this horrible crime (let alone convicted). So much for justice.
Denazification project has been successfully completed decades ago. Chances for the reincarnation of the Third Reich are exactly zero. Consequently, there is no need for the “white lie” of “German guilt” and “German responsibility”.
Therefore, all Germans must get rid of this “guilt complex” (if they still have one – not every German does, thank God) and make personal and public (political, economic and social) decisions based on the genuine aggregate needs of Germans – financial, functional, emotional and spiritual.
Not forgetting horrendous Nazi crimes, of course – every citizen of every nation must know its history, including its most horrible events – but letting it go (completely and for good) and moving on. It is long, long overdue.