“The good self” and the Fragebogened

It the face of self-defensive accounts and the construction of a “good self” what does this this have to say about the Fragebogened?

Sollors writes that these questionnaires were a failed experiment as they were widely unreliable. There is one question that was discussed on the German only Meldebogen that stuck out. It was in which category would they place themselves on the spectrum of the offenders? Did these people actually believe that they were not to blame because they were unaware of what was going on, if they did would that not affect the outcome of their answers to many of these questions? How much would that have altered the way in which Post-war Germany viewed these questionaries?

Also what constitutes the severity of the action by the offender?

What is known from Fulbrook is that not all victims were accepted as victims and encouraged to speak about their experiences. Roma and Sinti, as well as those experiences of gay men were not met with a willingness or sympathetic audience. What does that say about these questionnaires? They were produced for a society that came almost directly after the war. Not many Germans were willing to talk about the atrocities that happened during the war. This questionnaire was distributed by Americans, were they concerned with what happened to these people? Would what happened to these populations during the war be considered a crime? If they were confessed to would they have even been grounds for refusal of occupation?

Though, like Sollors writes, these questionnaires did not leave room for personal accounts of the war. Or the reasons in which Germans participated actively or passively, some of their answers being coercion, or opportunism. Regardless, in the attempt for the denazification of a post war Germany, by the Americans, there are many ways in which these questionnaires would have failed. Though, what these questionaries do illustrate is the lack of voice, whether it be the voice of the victim or the voice of the Germans being questioned.

3 Replies to ““The good self” and the Fragebogened”

  1. I also found it interesting, as you did, that the German-only questionnaire had a question that required people to place themselves in a certain category, essentially immediately asking them to give themselves up if they were Nazi perpetrators during or before the war. I think that speaks to how frivolous and useless a lot of people considered these questionnaires to be – realistically, how many would have marked themselves down as ‘Major Offender’ even if it were true that they should fall into that category. People tend to hide their own misdeeds and not own up to them when given the chance, so I believe that would definitely impact how they answered many questions. I think these types of questions definitely represent the futility of the Fragebogen and other questionnaires like it, and how many West Germans were very frustrated with them.

  2. I particularly find it interesting to examine certain ways in which the American-guided process of de-Nazification differed from the Soviet-guided approach. The mention of how West Germans participated in these questionnaires at the behest of the American approach is interesting. Both the methods of punishment as well as the definitions of victimhood/guilt were so deeply different based on both historical experience and social understanding. Perhaps most interesting then is that the one consistency between these approaches is the participants, the German people. Had similar questionnaires been used in the East, would the results have ended up effectively the same as they did in the West, or was the mere factor of who was administering the questionnaires a factor in how they were answered?

  3. It seems that you are suggesting the main issue with the Fragebogen was that it was administered by a “foreign” power – the Americans – over the German people. I completely agree that this would be a source of contention for West Germans. As you say in your post, the American-administered questionnaires in post-war West Germany perhaps did not allow many Germans the freedom to provide their own personal accounts of the war. By forcing Germans to use a foreign template to reconcile their feelings about the Nazi regime, this can run the risk of making Germans feel as though they are being ideologically colonized – something which may have been a leading cause of the rise of Hitler in the first place.

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