German people were enablers, colluders, co-criminals in the Holocaust — We’re seeing the same mindset today in the U.S.

by Ben Hoffman

There’s a new Nazi exhibit in Berlin that shows how ordinary citizens accepted and celebrated Hitler. Artifacts include household items that had Nazi logos and colors, and celebrate the union of the church, state, and party.

“This is what we call self-mobilization of society,” said Hans-Ulrich Thamer, one of three curators to assemble the exhibit at the German Historical Museum. “As a person, Hitler was a very ordinary man. He was nothing without the people.”


Instead, the show focuses on the society that nurtured and empowered him. It is not the first time historians have argued that Hitler did not corral the Germans as much as the Germans elevated Hitler.

We see the same mindset here in the U.S. It is especially apparent with the way much of the public idolizes Sarah Palin. She’s an extremely ordinary person who’s only skill seems to be her ability to promote fear and hatred.

“The only hope for stopping extremists is to isolate them from society so that they are separated, so they do not have a relationship with the bourgeoisie and the other classes,” Mr. Thamer said. “The Nazis were members of high society. This was the dangerous moment.

It’s the working class who are angry in America. These are the same type of people who elevated Hitler to power. These are the Fox “news” viewers, the “America: love it or leave it” crowd, the people who like to think of themselves as “rugged individualists,” but who are really just sheep in the flock. These are the people who are empowering people like Sarah Palin and the other tea party nobodies.

Germany is slipping back into the mindset that empowered the Nazis…

A best-selling book by a former banker promoted genetic theories of intelligence and said that Muslims were “dumbing down” society. A leading politician condemned “alien cultures.” A new right-wing party recently attracted hundreds to a speech by the far-right Dutch politician Geert Wilders.

Even government officials say that immigrant children are picking on native Germans. The media is filled daily with reports of conflict between immigrants, especially Muslims, and Germans.

We see the same kind of thing here. Christians complain that they are “oppressed.” Muslims are scapegoated, as seen with the proposed community center near the World Trade Center site in New York. Right-wing candidates spew hate and fear filled rhetoric and attract large crowds. Immigrants are blamed for problems with the economy and crime.

As he walked through the exhibit on Friday, Eric Pignolet, a Belgian who has lived in Berlin for 22 years, said he was pleased that Germans were no longer saying, “I didn’t know.” But he said he was troubled by parallels between then and now.

“I think if you had someone like him today, it could be very dangerous,” he said halfway through his walk through the displays about Hitler. ““There are a lot of people out there who want jobs, who are not happy with the political leadership, who would vote for someone like him if he came along.”


But over and over, the point was spelled out clearly in the exhibit’s plaques like one, near letters written by children who were sent off to concentration camps, that said: “Hitler was able to implement his military and extermination objectives because the military and economic elites were willing to carry out his war.”

These Tea Party candidates are being enabled by the modern day economic elites who’s only concern is expanding their wealth and power. People like Christine O’Donnell, Joe Miller, Sharron Angle, Ken Buck, and others are financed by the wealthy and powerful because these candidates want to block things that will slow the outsourcing of jobs overseas, tariffs, tax increases on the wealthy, and regulations that might hurt profits.

The exhibit, with all its photographs of young and old adoring Hitler, also sought to dispel the notion that the Nazi spirit was simply impossible to resist. It held up Johann Georg Elser as proof that “it was possible for an individual to develop into a resistance fighter.”

Mr. Elser was a carpenter who tried to kill Hitler at the outset of the war and was hanged for his actions.

His story, however, left some viewers to wonder why their parents and grandparents had not rejected Hitler. Why everyone went mad.

Twenty years from now, we’re going to be wondering the same thing about how we allowed the radical right-wing fringe to take over our country.

Read more about the Nazi exhibit here


2 Comments to “German people were enablers, colluders, co-criminals in the Holocaust — We’re seeing the same mindset today in the U.S.”

  1. Thank you for your inciteful article on NBC,CBS,ABC,CNN,MSNBC, The New York Times, The LA Times, et al.
    By contrast, powerful Hollywood leftists had no problem getting their documentaries with political overtones widely distributed in theatres as Citizens United was being squashed. In the summer of 2007, Michael Moore’s health-care mockumentary “Sicko” was shown on more than 1,100 screens. In the fall of 2008, Bill Maher’s noxious atheist documentary “Religulous” was spread across America on more than 500 screens. Even this fall, anchors like Harry Smith are already promoting the ridiculous Valerie Plame “docudrama” titled “Fair Game,” complete with soundbites of her real-life congressional testimony. Those evil-Bush-years commercials will run in the campaign’s final weeks without a single reporter batting an eye.

    And guess who’s financed that “Fair Game” movie? A film company named ImageNation Abu Dhabi. The executive producer is Mohamed Khalaf al-Mazrouei, chariman of the Abu Dhabi Media Company. But Obama won’t be pounding the podium against that foreign influence.

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