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German Political Tradition (German Reputation)

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  • German Political Tradition (German Reputation)

    I just got a book on Nazi treatment of homosexuals, and I came across a WWII era quote on Germany:

    Freedom, justice tolerance and decency have never struck deep roots in the German political tradition. In that sense Germany has not been...a normal civilized country (and to act as though it were is a dangerous delusion)
    Frederick Artz

    Now that phrase is obviously inflammatory, and if true in any sense, it precludes any country south or east of Germany from being civilized too...especially Russia. But it would be unfair to to say the rise of the extreme right and left of Germany could only have come from the economic disasters the Wiemar Republic faced 1918-1933. So lets look at this.

    Some would say this unreasonableness is a product of Prussian dominated reunion, namely Junker dominance over German society, but I don't buy that for two reasons: one the Social Democrats where the largest party in the Reichstag until WWI, and two when they had their chance for Leninist style revolution, they stuck to their democratic guns until the party was liquidated by Hitler. And most of the development of Wilhelmine Germany is about industrialization and the decline of the Junker class. I actually think is that quote is true, it is a product of a late unification. The concept of plurality, getting along with the opposition was a long LONG process in British territories. France needed 80 years from the Revolution to a stable Republic (which still had problems) and Germany did not have France's luxury of learning all of this in an environment free of the toxins of plebeian socialism, Marxist and otherwise, and the rise of Social Darwinism and the power politics of the neo-Imperial Era 1880 to 1914. By that time Europe, not just Germany was on a course of belligerent destruction. Germany did very well in developing solid democratic structures, but the roots of trust in government take generations to plant. It was after all, 50 years from America's founding to Jacksonian democracy (which was a mistake IMO).

    And in all of this, if we look at the Wiemar Republic, seems to mean the fringes were vastly more violent and intolerant. This would not have mattered except the Wiemar coalition found it impossible to control either the Nazis or the Communists, which caused the common folk to rally to the one that was less distasteful to them. So my thought is time's a factor, and time was a virtue Germany never had.
    How many Allied tanks it would take to destroy a Maus?
    275. Because that's how many shells there are in the Maus. Then it could probably crush some more until it ran out of gas. - Surfinbird

  • #2
    Churchill knew that the heart of Germany was Prussia and acted accordingly. I've skimmed "Iron Kingdom" and Clark talks of Prussianism as having a feudal attitude.

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    • #3
      Overy says otherwise. He was the only leader in the Allied camp who made a clean distinction between Germans and Nazis. How culpable 'Prussian Militarism' in his mind is another matter, but it seems the enemy was Nazism as a movement and not the political and military classes of the Fatherland per se.
      How many Allied tanks it would take to destroy a Maus?
      275. Because that's how many shells there are in the Maus. Then it could probably crush some more until it ran out of gas. - Surfinbird

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      • #4
        Post World War I, there were two historical events that cast the die for the Germany's political extremes. The first was the Polish-Soviet War. Had the Soviets prevailed (they nearly did), German socialists were standing by and the country could have become a Socialist Republic a full quarter century before one-half did so following World War II. It would have been interesting to have the large, industrialized country of Germany added to the socialist cause. Perhaps it would have provided an enhanced industrial and military base with which socialism could have better competed or adapted to the competing capitalist order. We'll never know.

        The other event, of course, being the severe economic depression (the catalyst provided by America) which served as the prompt for the rise of German fascism and its grab for total power. This history we're all well acquainted with.

        Either way, economic stress and foreign economic inter-dependence was a common denominator. Who knows, given the obvious economic unsustainabilitiies of American domestic and defense policies, and its mushrooming national debt, it will interesting to see how the US copes to similar stresses (and more) 50-75 years from now. Already, there are warning signs of severe political polarity, as well as political extremism not seen for many decades, particularly from the far right.

        Suggested reading: The Wages of Destruction by Adam Tooze

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        • #5
          I've skimmed "Iron Kingdom" and Clark talks of Prussianism as having a feudal attitude
          If you read it in its entirety he actually makes the argument that Prussia was far more progressive than its usually assumed and is destruction in 1945 was somewhat unfair and due mainly to the prejudices of the various Allied nations. I'm pretty sure that Prussian support of Nazism was fairly low by national average for various reasons, including a paternalism that had its routes in the feudal system.
          History is not tragedy; to understand historical reality, it is sometimes better to not know the end of the story.

          Pierre Vidal-Naquet

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          • #6
            He was the only leader in the Allied camp
            Who?
            who made a clean distinction between Germans and Nazis.
            How did he knew the difference between the two groups?

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            • #7
              Originally posted by Wolery View Post
              Overy says otherwise. He was the only leader in the Allied camp who made a clean distinction between Germans and Nazis. How culpable 'Prussian Militarism' in his mind is another matter, but it seems the enemy was Nazism as a movement and not the political and military classes of the Fatherland per se.
              I don't think Churchill was the only making a distinction between Germans and Nazis:There was also Stalinwhen Ehrenburg made a very hate article against the Germans in 1945(no German is innocent =kill them all),he was publicly debunked by Stalin,who said:the Nazis are temporary,the German nation will remain (something like that )

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              • #8
                Originally posted by ljadw View Post
                There was also Stalin
                No need for surprise here - Stalin, like many Soviet leaders and propagandists of that time, was duped by his own propaganda and the Marxist doctrine, according to which the German proletariat had to realise its class interests and if not immediately support the Soviets then at least stop the imperialist war, by means of desertion or refusal to work at the factories. Soviet propaganda leaflets of the first months of the war almost exclusively stressed the anti-working class character of the war and the Nazi leadership. It was only after they had realised that the German soldiers were in fact quite happy fighting for Hitler and the Thousand Years' Reich, they changed the tone to a more common one: "Hitler is no good at military strategy and you'll lose, stop freezing in your trenches and desert to our side, we've got dry socks, hot tea and cookies".
                www.histours.ru

                Siege of Leningrad battlefield tour

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