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Scrolling down FB I saw this on a friend’s post: “Stop comparing it to the rise of Hitler. We are in a different age. Social media, tv and information is readily available. We are not going to wake up one morning and want to ethnically cleanse the earth.”
Neither did the Germans, of course.
They wanted to restore order to their country in the aftermath of a huge economic shock. They wanted to right the wrongs they felt were done to them after the end of the First World War. They wanted motorways and Volkswagens and huge Olympic ceremonies, and to be respected in the world again. They wanted to take their country back from the liberals and put on a show of strength. They wanted to take back control. They wanted to make Germany great again.
And, in order to do it, they were willing to overlook some anti-semitism. And then some more. And then some more.
Of course there were virulent antisemites in the party, but there were also those who liked most of the package of what Nazism offered, and ignored those bits they didn’t like. I’m rereading Victor Klemperer’s diaries and he tells a story about how they are having friends over to dinner who say, knowing Klemperer is Jewish, they’ve joined the Nazis. They are educated, employed academics, personal friends with Jews who feel “Everything has gone wrong. Now we have to try this.”
That’s why it’s important to keep our eyes open now.
When politicians offer strength, and confidence and religious bars to citizenship and ends to freedoms of movement and religion and the media is full of hateful rhetoric for religious or racial or marginalised groups, and when hate crimes rise and there are fascists on the verge of being elected across the world, when the nationalists and nativists and far-right are on the march, let’s be careful.
Even if we really, really want that Volkswagen.