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Date Posted: 05:21:51 10/14/04 Thu
Author: Chris
Subject: Re: German Politics and Culture
In reply to: Shane 's message, "Re: German Politics and Culture" on 22:06:18 10/13/04 Wed

I've heard that older people who lived through the Nazi era still do not like to talk about it. Is that true?

That generation is currently dying out. Many of those who have been involved and those who had believed in the propaganda felt very bad and ashamed, and many of them solved the problem by just forgetting about it and never speaking about it any more, so as if this time never existed. I saw the same behavior with many UBF dropouts. After leaving, they just did not want to be remembered of UBF any more. They didn't take it as an opportunity to reflect what had happend and to go through a mental process. I believeone of the reasons why there was such an amazing "Wirtschaftswunder" (economic wonder) and Germany had been rebuild so quickly after the war was that building up the country from scratch again was like a work therapy for these people. Being busy helped them to repress the past mentaly. Don't know whether it should be called "therapy", because repression is not healthy, it would have been better to mentally process the past, but it prevented them from becoming depressive or crazy thinking about what had happened.

My family had a lot of luck. My grandparents were too young in WW1 and too old in WW2, and they were also engineers in a reserved occupation. Only at the very end, when they fanatically sent out even children and old people, my grandfather said they gave him a gun and told him to resist the enemy. But he said he did not even know how to use it. My father was too young in WW2 and too old when Germany introduced the official duty in the army. I was the first one in our family who had been drafted into our new army, the Bundeswehr as it is called now. My grandparents were against Hitler, but they were not in the resistance. A cousin of my father was a communist; he fled to South Africa before WW2 started. My grandfather said he got into problems when he refused to greet with "Heil Hitler." My father also got some problems because he did not want to go the "Hitler youth." We often spoke about what had happened, watched TV documentation together, and they all condemned the Nazis. My father read many books about the time, and so did I. But I also heard that in many families, the generation of WW2 did not want to speak about it. Only the next generation, the so called "generation of '68" made it an issue again. Their slogan was "Unter den Talaren, der Muff von tausend Jahren" ("Underneath the robes, the must of a thousand years"), complaining about the fact that among the judges and university professors, many were old Nazis. That movement of '68 was somewhat parallel to the hippie movement and had overlaps, but it was much more political, and it had influenced Germany and German politics a lot. Many of today's politicians had once been members or followers of that movement.

Also, how badly do Germans want to unite Europe under one government? Do Germans consider themsleves to be Germans first and then European or the other way around?

I think we still see us much more as Germans than as Europeans. You have to remember that there are so many different languages in Europe, and we Europeans are very different in style and culture. We love and respect each other, usually speak at least one or two of the other languages, but still we identify ourselves much more with our respective motherlands than with Europe. You can find some results from public-opinion polls here. As already explained, as Germans, we are kind of unemotional about such questions. Most Germans want a stronger European government, but on the other side, not lose their autonomity. Similar to the US, Germany is a federation of states, they are called Bundeslšnder. I think we have 16 of them now together with the so-called "new Bundeslšnder" in East Germany. So we are accustomed to the idea of a federation and understand Europe as another kind of super-federation. Other countries may be more sceptical here. For instance, unlike the US and Germany, France is not a federation but is a unitary state, and they are much more nationalistic and patriotic than we are.

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