By Blaise Rego
I’d like to hope that everyone reading this post would agree with the idea that after WW2 Germany needed less Nazi and even less in positions of power. This idea was the basis of the allied task following the end of the war. Germany had to be rebuilt, institutions must be reconstructed and Nazi must be punished but figuring out who would be able to help on this task and who would hinder progress being made was the primary task before much could be accomplished. The American military government created what became a 131 question questionnaire most commonly know by its German name, Fragebogen, the German word for questionnaire. This questionnaire asked everything from eduction history to voting history to questions of ones height and weight. This was deemed to be a necessity as there were millions of germans living in allied occupied areas and it was deemed inefficient to interview and investigate very single person in the country. So this bureaucratic form was made to root out who needed to be sought out and investigated deeper.
This is were the crux of the issue lies, this questionnaire is good on face value, if people are honest, at determining who was or was not a collaborator with a Nazi regime. However it lacks the nuance necessary to root out deeper reasons why people join the party. Some as the reading state joined out of fear, in one particular example from the book Small Victory a man joins the party in an attempt to save his implied jewish daughter. Stories such as these, fictional as they may be place the idea in our brains that maybe individuals might’ve had deeper reasonings for joining the party than just antisemitism and hate.
This leads to the deepest issue with the Fragebogen the hypocrisy of the American state. In the “everybody gets Fragebogened sooner or later” reading there is a story of American officers being openly antisemitic in post war interment camps. This story demonstrates an idea that the Americans were doing this less to root out those with hatefully beliefs but more to push their enemy even in defeat. When speaking of American hypocrisy on hate, it must be mentioned that at this time segregation was still alive and well and wouldn’t be made illegal for another 20 years. The idea of the Fragebogen was well intentioned as a way to root out those who may have participated in heinous acts during the war but it turned into a bureaucratic nightmare that exemplified American hypocrisy and insensitivity to what those in Germany may have truly believed.