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Before the rise of Nazism in Germany and the Second World War, there had been acts of violence and discrimination against the Jews, but there had never been a systematic policy for ridding Germany of its non-Aryan population. However, as the Third Reich gained homeland power under the banner of postwar nationalism and soon too began expanding its own borders, the territories conquered brought with them a larger collection of Jews, begetting a new proportion to the "Jewish problem." Hitler stressed the cleansing of the Jews, or Judenrein, as a valiant necessity, and by the end of the 1930s, Germany was engulfed in discussion of how to rid the land of the Jews. Mary Fulbrook discusses the ghettos, exportation to Madagascar, and mass-graves that were first toyed with, before the development of the sinister "final solution." (Fulbrook, 197.) The suppression of human emotions and enculturation of obedience restructured the people of Germany into killers, supporters, silent accomplices, and victims, who, post-war, were faced with the monumental task of rebuilding a nation in the face of despicable memory and civil discontent.
The Third Reich that built Auschwitz was not a collective of Nazi thugs, Fulbrook stresses, nor was it the mastermind of a group of vicious animals, according to Richard Bessel. Instead, it was a bureaucratically organized and technologically perfected system that fostered the mass-destruction of the people and cultural prowess of Germany.
"The bureaucratically organized, technologically perfected and efficiently executed mass murder of over 6 million Jews, as well as the almost complete annihilation of Europe's gypsy population, and the killing of numerous political opponents of Nazism or others deemed 'unworthy of life', from a whole range of cultural, political, and national backgrounds, including communists, Social Democrats, Conservatives, Protestants, Catholics, Jehovah's Witnesses and others -- this mass killing, undertaken by members of that highly cultured nation which had produced the music of Bach and the poetry of Goethe, raises questions almost impossible to contemplate, let alone answer." (Fulbrook, 200.)
Fulbrook argues that by the end of 1943, most Germans knew that their neighbor Jews were not being rounded up and shipped off to a new home and resettlement, but were instead being sent directly to their death. Silently, in the wake of an incredibly violent leadership, they either complied or remained quiet; dissent was not tolerated. (Fulbrook, 201.) After the war, reconstructive efforts to both cope with and eradicate the Nazi legacy was written within the structure of the global setting, in its initially punitive approach, then with allied support, as the social dilemma of historical memory motivated German life on both sides of Berlin.
Despite institutional efforts for denazification, such recent persecution, pain, and current lack of a stable Israel make more important the need to address outstanding legal issues that pertain to the Third Reich. The aftermath of Hitler's terrorism called for not only immediate action to reunite both sides of Germany and both sides of the culture, but for a sensitive awareness to the emotional and political needs of both sides. In the context of the postwar FRG, a struggle to come to terms with the past, or a Vergangenheitsbewalitgung, was partially institutionalized, but further developed in literary, cultural, educational, and political contexts. The Historical Commission of 1998 mandated a review of Austria's role in the expropriation of Jewish property in a legal perspective, but also demanded an acknowledgement of those complicit with the crimes of the Third Reich.
Bessel presents an monochromatic view of the Nazis that developed in post-World War I Germany as not the deviants of society normally depicted, but instead normal human beings whose legacy extended to the Storm Troopers of Eastern Germany. Bessel focuses his historical inquiry on the nature of political violence and its role in the growth and lifetime of the Nazi group, arguing that its actuality was actually the "expression of mainstream social values." (Bessel, 154) He argues that the ultimately failure of the Nazi regimen was that it was transgressed "commonly accepted social and moral code," later demanding significant demobilization. (Bessel, 154.)
Bessel maintained that the postwar area was subject to the conditions of actual demobilization, but that ideology and reality became increasingly distant as the Republic of the Right colonized public memory. His revisionist understanding undermines the Weimer Republic's enemies insistence of unfettered disaster, and instead argues tahat German civilians and officials "did their utmost" to welcome home the soldiers, "war heroes" not returning to a disrespectful "home front." (Bessel, 88.) His…[continue]
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