11 March 2013

Some people just don't learn, do they?

We all know (because we're on this site, we are, by definition, highly informed) that proportionately more Austrians joined the Nazi party than did citizens of Germany, even though they claimed that they were just as much "invaded" and therefore victims as any other European country (Kurt Waldheim, anybody: that well-known peacenik, victim of the Nazis - in Wehrmacht uniform as well - and UN Secretary-General). Well, it appears that their children and grandchildren are just as peace-loving and desirous of world equality as they were.

Thus, according to this article, from The Algemeiner, "Three out of five Austrians want a “strong man” to lead the country and two out of five think things were not all bad under Adolf Hitler". That's 40% think Hitler wasn't all bad! It's actually worse than back then: according to one source, some 30% of Austrian (adult) males joined the Party between 1938 and 1945.

From further into the story, we get yet more gory details of the indset of Austrians today: "In the latest poll, 53 per cent thought the Anschluss was voluntary and 46 per cent saw Austria as a victim. Forty-two per cent said “not everything was bad under Hitler” while 57 per cent saw no good aspects to the Hitler era." I know that over half saw no good aspects to the Hitler era, but that means that close to half did see good things!

I have no idea if the Australian/German film "Lore" is coming your way, but do try and see it if you can. Lore (15? and a girl) has to try and get her sister, 2 brothers and baby Peter across the American Zone of Occupation and into the British Zone, to Hamburg and grandma. This after her plainly Nazi parents have turned themselves in to the American forces. In the context of this article, what's fascinating is that so many of the surviving German civilians don't see anything wrong in what's happened in Germany up until then, only in what's happening now.

The film resonates even more, having read this article. People just don't learn from history. Are they (and therefore us) condemned to repeat it? As Santayana foretold.

By: Brian Goldfarb