Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Poll: Some Germans see good in Nazi rule

By DAVID RISING, Associated Press Writer Wed Oct 17, 1:25 PM ET

BERLIN - A quarter of Germans believe there were some positive aspects to Nazi rule, according to a poll published Wednesday — a finding that comes after a popular talk show host was fired for praising Nazi Germany's attitude toward motherhood.

Pollsters for the Forsa agency, commissioned by the weekly magazine Stern, asked whether National Socialism also had some "good sides (such as) the construction of the highway system, the elimination of unemployment, the low criminality rate (and) the encouragement of the family."

Forsa said 25 percent responded "yes" — but 70 percent said "no."

Stern commissioned the survey, conducted Oct. 11-12, after Germany's NDR public broadcaster last month fired talk show host Eva Herman over comments she made about the Third Reich.

News reports quoted Herman as saying there was "much that was very bad — for example, Adolf Hitler," but there were good things under the Nazis, "for example, the high regard for the mother."

Herman, 48, who has written books urging a return to more traditional gender roles, has stood by her comments.

"What I wanted to express was that values which also existed before the Third Reich, such as family, children and motherhood, which were supported in the Third Reich, were subsequently done away with by the 68ers," she later said, referring to 1960s-era leftists.

Praising the 1933-45 Nazi dictatorship is taboo in Germany. The Nazis were responsible for the murder of some 6 million Jews and for starting World War II — a conflict in which at least 60 million people died, including more than 7 million Germans.

The poll, which had a margin of error of plus or minus 3 percentage points, showed that people 60 or older had the highest regard for aspects of the era, with 37 percent answering "yes."

Those who grew up directly after the war, now aged 45 to 59, were the least enthusiastic about the Nazi era, with only 15 percent responding "yes."

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OK, first of all, I find the radio host's opinions of "motherhood" completely smarmy. Don't know that she should have been fired over those opinions, though. (Full dislosure: I'm 42 and gay and not a mom. In general, though, I've found that people have kids just 'cause they love their spouse and want to make babies. There's nothing particularly "noble" about having babies and then having to raise them! I always hate to see a fetish made of the process.)

The silly "Motherhood" issue aside: The headline on Yahoo---"Some Germans see good in Nazi rule"---made me click on it to read more. My mother is German (born in 1941---her small town, near the Wolfsburg VW plant, was bombed during the war). And I've also read about German history post-WWI, leading up to the rise of Hitler and, eventually, WWII.

To deny that Hitler had any good points in his social program is to completely deny human nature. (And to thus be condemned to repeat the same psychological mistakes.) Truth is, after WWI, Germany was drastically penalized by the victors and the post-WWI years were miserable for the country and its people----extremely high inflation, high unemployment, general social chaos. Basically, average Germans felt like shit about themselves on a daily basis for a couple of decades.

When Hitler came to power in 1933, he did, aside from his psychotic Jewish policy, almost immediately whip things into shape economically and socially: As mentioned above in the article, public-works projects almost eliminated unemployment and improved the infrastructure of the country, and the crack-down on crime also improved the quality of life. Hitler also strengthened the country militarily and improved its standing in the world community.

Looking at the overall picture, I don't see how it's so outrageous to say that the Third Reich had "some" good points that the average German citizen was initially at least tolerant of.

That Hitler's sending Jewish people to their deaths is psychotic is a given. I'm not at all arguing that the concentration camps were in any way forgivable. They weren't. My only point: When Hitler came to power in '33, he didn't come in wearing horns. As the poll above suggested, and as reality suggests, there were things about Hitler's policies that appealed to the nation at that particular time.

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