Post-Nazism in the Federal Republic of Germany

After the tremendous destruction that was brought upon all of Germany during the last years of the second World war, reality was hammered in the German conscientiousness. With the creation of the Federal Republic of Germany, they would have to go back to square one, a more liberal and democratic regime, a post Great war repeat of the Republic of Weimar in the 1920-30s. But instead of instead of seeing it fail once again due to disastrous economic and political reasons, West Germany was able to make it work by deconstructing the ideology of Nazism as it was argued by Joachim C. Häberlen. One of the ways to do so was trough the popular culture and it was very interesting to see that things such as the Allies denazification questionnaire was introduced to change the population’s perception of it. The answers highlighted by Werner Sollors were confirming a point that was foreseeable, that Nazism after the war was already getting rejected as an ideology. Still, it shows that no one was really sure of what would actually happen in the late 1940s and 1950s as political instability was omnipresent since the start of the 20th century. Americans while trying to help the German society radically change as fast as possible may have also slowed the process a bit because of initiative like the questionnaire that was perceived as a bit much. It is also shown in the German culture that they were ready to move on from this period of Nazism when Stanley Kramer, an American cineaste, was able to present a movie which dove in the trial of Nuremberg that left no stone unturned.

  • Louis Lacroix

One Reply to “Post-Nazism in the Federal Republic of Germany”

  1. You bring up a good point about the American involvement in the de-Nazification process, as well as the desire to move on to a new period/society. One of the aspects of the Fragebogen that struck me was that it was necessary in order to be employed. While people could be pursued legally for lying on the questionnaire, the deluge of respondents (Sollors says that there were 13 million in the American zone alone) suggests that it was unlikely that each person could be properly vetted. Moreover, West Germany desperately needed a labour force to rebuild their country, so I imagine that these two factors led to lots of people with Nazi leanings, ideas, etc. slipping through the cracks of the system. When the Americans were resting on their laurels with statistics like “92% de-Nazification” is being achieved, it is easy to see how a meaningful lustration of Nazi sympathizers (or former Nazi war criminals) from West German society would loose out to pressing economic and demographic needs.

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