Friday, June 29, 2007

Ines Webber - Guest Blogger at Kesher Talk

Thanks you, Ines Weber, for the comments on Karl Plagge on Kesher Talk Israel can only enhance her reputation for justice by honoring gentiles who took a dangerous stand for humanity in a time of ascendant evil, an evil which sadly seems about to overshadow the 21st century. It’s as if the world at large can’t learn even a simple lesson or take inspiration from the sacrifice of millions of lives.

Today’s intellectual climate seems to admit of only two extremes, either nearly every adult German was guilty, which is basically the Goldhagen premise, or nobody was guilty, the position taken by Ahmadinejad and the jihadists, who say that the Holocaust is a fraud, and even if something like it happened it was of little moral significance since the slain were Jews and thus had it coming.

What many fail to take into account when they read about someone with a Nazi past is that while anti-Semitism was the irreducible kernel of National Socialism in its ultimate form, this wasn’t at all apparent to many observers at the time. The average German in 1930-33 was anticipating a very bleak future. Democracy was failing on every front, and the only likely outcome seemed to be utter chaos or some form of dictatorship, either communist or nationalist. Most Germans were nationalistic by inclination and Christian by confession, so the prospect of an atheist despotism controlled by a foreign power (Stalin) was doubly anathema. This left the NSDAP as the better choice for an increasing share of the electorate. If one studies the early propaganda, speeches and position papers of Hitler, Göring, Goebbels and particularly Ernst Röhm one will notice that Nazism originally had an authentic socialist character, especially before the fall of the SA and the promulgation of the Nuremberg laws, a character that fell by the wayside in favor of militant racism. Certainly anti-Semitism was the subtext of much of the propaganda, but many thoughtful people dismissed it as mere bluster, even many German Jews were doubtful of Hilter’s sincerity. Thus we have figures such as Ludwig Beck, Wilhelm Canaris, Claus von Stauffenberg, and many others who at one time or another were attracted to the Nazi movement, but became active dissidents who sought to thwart Hitler’s plans or overturn his regime. That they failed can be attributed to many factors -- the suspicions of the Allies, Nazism's cadre of dedicated maniacs who were ready to execute to the letter the Führer's whims, dithering incompetence and the devil's own luck -- but they did try and occasionally succeeded in small ways, here and there. But, whoever saves one life saves the world entire.

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