Post-War Guilt

Kathleen McKinnon

Post-war Germany was a case that was very difficult, how to deal with so many people that were complicit with the regime even if it was by not doing anything to stop it. How can a nation be rebuilt if it was so much at fault? The fluidity of collective and individual memory makes this an interesting example of where guilt can be laid and how to deal with people just being people and living their lives complicit with a ruling regime just to get some of the benefits that were offered. (Mary Fulbrook, “Voices of the Victims” 405). When the Nazis fell, there was a dichotomy to deal with of who is guilty and who was not into the bad stuff as much. There was a level of success for people in the regime and the achievements that they had now they need to be careful barging about post-war. For example, in the end, what seems to be the issue is how to move on from a past that many were complicit in but not with every evil intent of the regime may be sometimes that includes creating an image of distance between oneself and the past (Mary Fulbrook, “Voices of the Victims” 405).

It is clear that most people just as easily shifted their focus to other things, the liberal left, society/social norms that were frowned upon under the Nazis, etc. (Joachim Häberlen, “(Not) Narrating the History of the Federal Republic: Reflections on the Place of the New Left in West German History and Historiography”,110). So that proves that many were not stuck on Nazi values, meaning then there is a struggle to remember what was thought to be good under the lens of later knowing that there was something wrong participated in, at least wrong for the new liberal standards brought by the west- at the time of East Germany there were other issues to be dealt with.

Mary Fulbrook, “Discomfort Zones” and “Voices of the Victims” in Reckonings: Legacies of Nazi Persecution and the Quest for Justice (Oxford University Press, 2018), pp: 314-336, 361-377.

Joachim Häberlen, “(Not) Narrating the History of the Federal Republic: Reflections on the Place of the New Left in West German History and Historiography” Central European History Vol. 52, Issue 1 (March 2019): 107-124.

Fascism Drawing People to Flawed Idealism

Kathleen McKinnon

Fascism seems to have an element of belonging and finding people who are emotionally linked in wanting to save a “culture” and create a sense of purpose. (Cynthia Miller-Idris, “The Extreme Gone Mainstream” IIITMedia lecture, May 2018 There is an element of heroism that comes with far-right extremists that people are drawn to, as Cynthia Miller-Idris points out, there is often references to solidarity with veterans. It seems also that people want something to fight for and fascism plays on some issues that people already display such as homophobia. Many fascist regimes, like the Hitler regime or Franco in Spain, had overt elements of homophobia. (Inside Spain’s Fascism Fandom 

These elements also seem to present in the past with those that supported the fascist regimes that they were in. In the case of Walter Hauck, for example, he was an ideal figure of a Nazi. He supported the regime and its idealism and created the image that people wanted to see of masculinity. However, that ideal was an ideal and when Huack was pictured with a baby carriage it was explained away to maintain his image. (Thomas Kühne, “Protean masculinity, Hegemonic Masculinity: Soldiers in the Third Reich”. 393) This shows, that there have to be exceptions to the rules that were set for the regime, and then the narrative has to change to include things that it originally rejected. So if enough of the people play a role things can slowly change- there is some agency but arguably it has to be done with the right circumstances. An example of this can be the women fascists of the Spanish Civil War. Women were supposed to have traditional roles but a group managed to rise and support the regime through ways that were much more non-traditional. (Sofía Rodríguez López and Antonio Cazorla Sánchez. “Blue Angels: Female Fascist Resisters, Spies and Intelligence Officials in the Spanish Civil War, 1936–9.” 692 and 693). So although these women supported the regime they undermined its traditionally based standards. 

To conclude more or less, people support fascist regimes because they feel close to something or a connection to others with the same beliefs or feelings. However, in many cases, their own ideals are undermined by those within the regimes and are accepted because the regimes cannot apply standards that are so idealistic without eventually having to accept some exceptions. So that in and of itself is part of the undermining of fascism. 

Thomas Kühne, “Protean masculinity, Hegemonic Masculinity: Soldiers in the Third Reich” Central European History Vol 51, Issue 3 (September 2018): 390-418.

Sofía Rodríguez López and Antonio Cazorla Sánchez. “Blue Angels: Female Fascist Resisters, Spies and Intelligence Officials in the Spanish Civil War, 1936–9.” Journal of Contemporary History, vol. 53, no. 4, (Oct. 2018), pp. 692–713.

Cynthia Miller-Idris, “The Extreme Gone Mainstream” IIITMedia lecture, May 2018

Inside Spain’s Fascism Fandom

Internationalism is Unavoidable

Kathleen McKinnon

My thoughts before reading into nationalism and international would have been that nationalism must deal very closely with internationalism because the “other” must be defined for the nationalist ie. what is the nation that nationalists are trying to preserve and against who or as opposed to which groups. Not that these things are exactly wrong but I would have also there to be a general interest in internationalism besides that one point, in that to make a country great and strong as the nationalist would want for the country their nation lives in, to have strong ties to other countries to create a sense of security.

Instead what seems the be the case is that nationalism often has too much factionalism and which likely hinders the ability of these groups to have really meaningful engagement with other countries and participate in internationalism as in “Parochial Nationalism.” (Motadel, 2020) However, that does not mean they do not engage in internationalism, it is just different than expected. There is often support from similar nationalist groups, parties, or regimes for each other and they can meet or even form alliances. So this newer concept is interesting to consider in how internationalism may also seem like a liberal idea in terms of global movements/globalization but it does have illiberal usages as well in a more “Cosmopolitan Nationalism.” (Motadel, 2019. 848) These interesting developments show how globalization as an advantage is even recognized by the nationalist, and not just in an imperialist way by controlling another country and using it for some type of power or resource but to actually ally with other nationalists to build strength and meaning.

David Motadel, “The Global Authoritarian Moment: The Revolt Against Empire” American Historical Review Vol. 124, Issue 3 (July 2019): 843-877.

David Motadel, “The Far Right Says There’s Nothing Dirtier Than Internationalism — But They Depend on It.” The New York Times. 2019.

Terms: How they are used vs. What they are. Is there a distinction?

Kathleen McKinnon

Rogers Brubaker’s “Why Populism?” podcast posed an interesting thought process of what makes populism and how it has been possibly overapplied in many instances as an evil racist machine. Not that is always true or untrue but it certainly makes clear that terms are not always clear and are not always used or portrayed correctly and thus become even more polarizing. Not only that but without proper definitions and with over applications what is going on in the determining of populism and authoritarian phenomena as eras or just periods, for example as pointed out in the podcast, are not so clear. It is better to understand these terms to determine or try to determine what is going on in the world.

Populism for example, as just the opposition to elites, is a broad definition and needs further exploration to be further understood otherwise it remains broad and in danger of misunderstanding. Both fascism and populism see themselves as the only legitimate form of government, both of these terms likewise have been historically overapplied and both have been seen as negative in a liberal democratic society but also these terms have some differences. (Finchelstein, 5). I get the sense that fascism is seen as more militaristic with the world wars and major revolutions (De Grazia) and that populism is what has risen to power in place to keep down the “other” while using information technology to prove legitimacy. It seems that over time that the authoritarianism which has manifested as fascism has seen a decline in favour of populism. But I would argue that the terms take on a life of their own as defined by popular media. The definitions can be fluid and change depending on how people perceive them and that is the role the media plays in this.

Works Cited

Rogers Brubaker, “Why Populism?” NUPI Podcast (51 minutes)

Federico Finchelstein, “Introduction: Thinking Fascism and Populism in terms of the Past” in Federico Finkelstein, From Fascism to Populism in History (University of California Press, 2017).

Victoria de Grazia, “What We Don’t Understand about Fascism” Zocalo Public Square hitler-20th-century/ideas/essay/


My name is Kathleen McKinnon, I’m a 2nd year EURUS MA in the European stream and have a BA in Poli Sci minoring in History and German. My research focus is on how Europeanization has affected the minority rights of Russian speakers in Latvia and Estonia mainly through the EU and its accession process but also through other bodies like the Council of Europe. I’m hoping to learn a little bit of how authoritarianism gains traction and why people respond to this type of regime. I’m also interested if this could be related to my research paper in someway even if indirectly.