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Clara T Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Feb-09-06 11:10 PM
Original message
They Thought They Were Free: The Germans, 1933-45
They Thought They Were Free

The Germans, 1933-45

Excerpt from pages 166-73 of "They Thought They Were Free" First published in 1955

By Milton Mayer

But Then It Was Too Late

"What no one seemed to notice," said a colleague of mine, a philologist, "was the ever widening gap, after 1933, between the government and the people. Just think how very wide this gap was to begin with, here in Germany. And it became always wider. You know, it doesnt make people close to their government to be told that this is a peoples government, a true democracy, or to be enrolled in civilian defense, or even to vote. All this has little, really nothing, to do with knowing one is governing.

"What happened here was the gradual habituation of the people, little by little, to being governed by surprise; to receiving decisions deliberated in secret; to believing that the situation was so complicated that the government had to act on information which the people could not understand, or so dangerous that, even if the people could not understand it, it could not be released because of national security. And their sense of identification with Hitler, their trust in him, made it easier to widen this gap and reassured those who would otherwise have worried about it.

"This separation of government from people, this widening of the gap, took place so gradually and so insensibly, each step disguised (perhaps not even intentionally) as a temporary emergency measure or associated with true patriotic allegiance or with real social purposes. And all the crises and reforms (real reforms, too) so occupied the people that they did not see the slow motion underneath, of the whole process of government growing remoter and remoter.

"You will understand me when I say that my Middle High German was my life. It was all I cared about. I was a scholar, a specialist. Then, suddenly, I was plunged into all the new activity, as the university was drawn into the new situation; meetings, conferences, interviews, ceremonies, and, above all, papers to be filled out, reports, bibliographies, lists, questionnaires. And on top of that were the demands in the community, the things in which one had to, was expected to participate that had not been there or had not been important before. It was all rigmarole, of course, but it consumed all ones energies, coming on top of the work one really wanted to do. You can see how easy it was, then, not to think about fundamental things. One had no time."

"Those," I said, "are the words of my friend the baker. One had no time to think. There was so much going on."

Read It:
http://www.informationclearinghouse.info/article11845.h...



Mayer, Milton They Thought They Were Free: The Germans, 1933-45. 368 p. 1955, 1966

Paper $22.00sp 0-226-51192-8
"Among the many books written on Germany after the collapse of Hitler's Thousand Year Reich, this book by Milton Mayer is one of the most readable and most enlightening."Hans Kohn, New York Times Book Review

"It is a fascinating story and a deeply moving one. And it is a story that should make people pause and thinkthink not only about the Germans, but also about themselves."Ernest S. Pisko, Christian Science Monitor

Get it Here:
http://www.press.uchicago.edu/cgi-bin/hfs.cgi/00/1471.c...
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Mnemosyne Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Feb-09-06 11:22 PM
Response to Original message
1. More:
Edited on Thu Feb-09-06 11:27 PM by vickiss
"You see," my colleague went on, "one doesnt see exactly where or how to move. Believe me, this is true. Each act, each occasion, is worse than the last, but only a little worse. You wait for the next and the next. You wait for one great shocking occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join with you in resisting somehow. You dont want to act, or even talk, alone; you dont want to go out of your way to make trouble. Why not?Well, you are not in the habit of doing it. And it is not just fear, fear of standing alone, that restrains you; it is also genuine uncertainty.

"Uncertainty is a very important factor, and, instead of decreasing as time goes on, it grows. Outside, in the streets, in the general community, everyone is happy. One hears no protest, and certainly sees none. You know, in France or Italy there would be slogans against the government painted on walls and fences; in Germany, outside the great cities, perhaps, there is not even this. In the university community, in your own community, you speak privately to your colleagues, some of whom certainly feel as you do; but what do they say? They say, Its not so bad or Youre seeing things or Youre an alarmist.

"And you are an alarmist. You are saying that this must lead to this, and you cant prove it. These are the beginnings, yes; but how do you know for sure when you dont know the end, and how do you know, or even surmise, the end? On the one hand, your enemies, the law, the regime, the Party, intimidate you. On the other, your colleagues pooh-pooh you as pessimistic or even neurotic. You are left with your close friends, who are, naturally, people who have always thought as you have.

"But your friends are fewer now. Some have drifted off somewhere or submerged themselves in their work. You no longer see as many as you did at meetings or gatherings. Informal groups become smaller; attendance drops off in little organizations, and the organizations themselves wither. Now, in small gatherings of your oldest friends, you feel that you are talking to yourselves, that you are isolated from the reality of things. This weakens your confidence still further and serves as a further deterrent toto what? It is clearer all the time that, if you are going to do anything, you must make an occasion to do it, and then you are obviously a troublemaker. So you wait, and you wait.
>snip

I think this is such an important book. Just the excerpts have my heart pounding. Library here I come first thing tomorrow!

I feel even more sane after reading these words.

Thank you for pointing book out Clara T.

In peace and hope,
Still,
V
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justgamma Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Feb-09-06 11:27 PM
Response to Original message
2. It really is chilling.
I read "I Will Bear Witness". It told about the elections when Hitler's party finally became the majority. The minority party was ridiculed and ignored. Finally they just gave up.
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PDJane Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Feb-09-06 11:31 PM
Response to Original message
3. Information Clearing House
has an article posted called Papier Bitte.

It's a scary read, and it is written by a survivor.....it's worth reading and pondering.
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msongs Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Feb-09-06 11:38 PM
Response to Original message
4. hitler told ALL his plans in Mein Kampf - ignorance is no excuse
since there was eventually a copy in almost every german household.

i tried reading an english translation once, it was a turgid read and very boring, but all the crap was
in it, the exterminations, the invasions, the tactics and strategies, how hitler would pull it off
because he could outfox his opponents. nothing was secret and turned out hitler was pretty much correct
in his strategy and analysis of his opponents .. and his views on the german people.

Msongs
www.msongs.com/political-shirts.htm





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doublethink Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-10-06 01:13 PM
Response to Reply #4
7. Hitlers Mein Kampf ........
Bush's PNAC ....... in a sense. The more things play out, the more PNAC documents come into my memory. No, Bush didn't write them but they are eerily a blueprint of what has taken place so far. Ignorance is no excuse. Peace. :)
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Clara T Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-10-06 02:08 PM
Response to Reply #7
8. For the most recent blueprints
for world domination see the QDR released last week.



http://www.comw.org/qdr /

Quadrennial Defense Review Report
Department of Defense, 06 February 2006 (printable .pdf file).

Fighting on all fronts
Jim Lobe. Asia Times, 09 February 2006.

Pentagon Plans for 'Long War' on Extremism
Mark Mazzetti. Los Angeles Times, 04 February 2006.

Rumsfeld Surrenders: The QDR Dashes his Dreams of Military Transformation
Fred Kaplan. Slate, 03 February 2006.

QDR Does Little to Improve Affordability Of Long-term Defense Plans
Steven M. Kosiak. Washington, DC: Center for Strategic and Budgetary Assessments, 03 February 2006 (printable .pdf file).

Address at the National Press Club ("The Long War")
Donald H. Rumsfeld. 02 February 2006
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doublethink Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-10-06 02:58 PM
Response to Reply #8
9. Thank's again Clara T .......
for your insightful information, will look into the articles and info posted. Was eagerly awaiting the QDR myself a few weeks ago to see what re-evaluations these neo-cons had in store for the rest of us..... Anyway get this ...... I just saw a running news update on the bottom of CSPAN which said .... "Donald Rumsfield and the Defense Department back plan for NATO to take over the stabilization duty's of Afghanistan" ...... well whata ya know, wouldn't that free up some American Forces to go into Khuzestian ... 'Southwest Iran' where 90% of Iran's Oil Reserves are? As long as the pipelines in Afghanistan are secure by now ....... what timing eh? Yea that's it ... go in pillage, steal these nations resources, secure off the 'important ($) areas' .... call in NATO or other Country's to stabilize the unrest ...... and move on to the next one. Sick. How far will they take this? I really believe going into Iran will be the beginnings of WW3 .... to much reaction elsewhere will be the result. We just have keep fighting for peace though no matter what. And on that .... Peace. :)

notes: 1. Rumsfield also lately stated our troops are now 'Battle Hardened' ..... I take that as ready for other offensive action elsewhere. 2. The March 20th Oil Bourse looms each day, as more and more a target to be kept aware of. 3. Our troops in Pakistan sent there for 'earthquake duty' awhile back ..... are outta there come March also. 4. Anyone reading this thread needs to nominate it for the original post about the book 'They Thought They Were Free' .... needs one more vote to get on the greatest page. Yea read it, a must read. Peace. again.
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RaleighNCDUer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-10-06 03:21 PM
Response to Reply #9
12. Battle hardened veterans are necessary
to guide conscripts in battle.
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doublethink Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-10-06 03:29 PM
Response to Reply #12
13. Great insight .......
you've added to this thread, now nominate it so more people can see it. ;) It only needs one more vote to get on the GP and out of the back pages of the editorials. Peace.
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Sequoia Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-10-06 05:08 PM
Response to Reply #9
16. I'll vote for it!
Of course our rather hick library doesn't have it so I'll order it with my left over Xmas Barnes and Noble gift card.

Thanks (I have too many books to read!!!)
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doublethink Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-11-06 11:38 AM
Response to Reply #16
25. Cool!
Yea me too ... my endless stack of ever growing books. :kick: Peace.
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RaleighNCDUer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-10-06 03:19 PM
Response to Reply #7
11. That's because * is not Hitler -- he's not the real leader.
Just a figurehead for the PNAC crowd.
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tavalon Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-10-06 07:16 PM
Response to Reply #4
19. The Neocons told ALL their plans in PNAC
unfortunately, there isn't a copy in every American household.
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drthais Donating Member (771 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Thu Feb-09-06 11:51 PM
Response to Original message
5. a MUST, MUST, read
I ordered this about 4 months ago
I believe it is REQUIRED reading
go to Overstock.com for the best price
but read this book!
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missouri dem 2 Donating Member (308 posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-10-06 05:55 PM
Response to Reply #5
17. Overstock.com is a red company.
www.bookfinder.com is a better choice for searching for the best buys on new and out of print books.
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Briar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-10-06 12:07 PM
Response to Original message
6. More:
"And one day, too late, your principles, if you were ever sensible of them, all rush in upon you. The burden of self-deception has grown too heavy, and some minor incident, in my case my little boy, hardly more than a baby, saying Jewish swine, collapses it all at once, and you see that everything, everything, has changed and changed completely under your nose. The world you live inyour nation, your peopleis not the world you were born in at all. The forms are all there, all untouched, all reassuring, the houses, the shops, the jobs, the mealtimes, the visits, the concerts, the cinema, the holidays. But the spirit, which you never noticed because you made the lifelong mistake of identifying it with the forms, is changed. Now you live in a world of hate and fear, and the people who hate and fear do not even know it themselves; when everyone is transformed, no one is transformed. Now you live in a system which rules without responsibility even to God. The system itself could not have intended this in the beginning, but in order to sustain itself it was compelled to go all the way."

Substitute "muslim" for "Jewish" and it is clear just how close the west has now brought itself to this state of affairs.
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RaleighNCDUer Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-10-06 03:15 PM
Response to Original message
10. "...on top of that were the demands in the community, the things in which
one had to, was expected to participate that had not been there or had not been important before. It was all rigmarole, of course, but it consumed all ones energies, coming on top of the work one really wanted to do. You can see how easy it was, then, not to think about fundamental things. One had no time."


Back in the '80s, when Reagan & Co. started pushing "volunteerism" I wondered what that was all about. I thought, at the time, that it was a way to get people to work for nothing, allowing the government to unfund the programs that previously had done the work -- shelters and soup kitchens were once staffed by paid workers, if you recall. Now it is the social norm for people to do volunteer work - a good impulse in its own right, maybe, but it does keep people busy. So now the people like me, of very modest means, work two jobs to maintian. And people of less modest means, who get by on a single job, are expected to keep themselves busy with volunteer work.

"...it consumed all ones energies, coming on top of the work one really wanted to do. You can see how easy it was, then, not to think about fundamental things..."
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Briar Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-10-06 04:00 PM
Response to Reply #10
15. and another way to achieve that
is to ensure that people have to do two or three jobs in order just to eat and keep a roof over their heads (and that many more can't get those jobs - which ensures obedience in the workforce). Unsurprisingly, Bush (whose experience of the job market is very different) regards having to hold down many jobs just to survive as very American...
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Jim__ Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-10-06 03:53 PM
Response to Original message
14. ...for that was all that was required of most of us: that we do nothing...
Edited on Fri Feb-10-06 03:53 PM by Jim__
An extremely frightening thought to still be alive 20 years from now and realize that we had lived under a nazi-like government and done nothing to resist. Sounds unlikely? How many Iraqis has our government needlessly murdered? And what am I reading today? The indefinite extension of the "Patriot" Act is now acceptable. The question is, is there anything that is not acceptable, even at this point?
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iconoclastNYC Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-10-06 06:12 PM
Response to Original message
18. No time to think. So much going on --- 2006
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Clara T Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Fri Feb-10-06 11:38 PM
Response to Reply #18
20. Please try to believe me
"To live in this process is absolutely not to be able to notice it - please try to believe me - unless one has a much greater degree of political awareness, acuity, than most of us had ever had occasion to develop. Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, "regretted," that, unless one were detached from the whole process from the beginning, unless one understood what the whole thing was in principle, what all these "little measures" that no "patriotic German" could resent must some day lead to, one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing. One day it is over his head.

http://www.thirdreich.net/Thought_They_Were_Free.html

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Mr_Jefferson_24 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-11-06 12:46 AM
Response to Reply #20
21. This describes exactly what's happening....
...I've posted this link many times on DU---It's all unfolding right in front of us:

http://www.crisispapers.org/Editorials/germany-1933.htm

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Clara T Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-11-06 12:56 AM
Response to Reply #21
22. It's really unbelievable
Haffner was approaching decision time about his future if he stayed in the Third Reich. But it's clear which way he was leaning, as his analyses got darker and darker. "It is said that the Germans are subjugated. That is only half true. They are also something else, something worse, for which there is no word: they are 'comraded,' a dreadfully dangerous condition. They are under a spell. They live a drugged life in a dream world. They are terribly happy, but terribly demeaned; so self-satisified, but so boundlessly loathsome; so proud and yet so despicable and inhuman. They think they are scaling high mountains, when in reality they are crawling through a swamp. As long as the spell lasts, there is almost no antidote."

He hung in until 1938. Just prior to the Second World War, Haffner left Germany for England to join the war-effort against fascism. He did not return until the mid-'50s.

http://www.crisispapers.org/Editorials/germany-1933.htm

I have had a specific personal encounter with an elderly German woman who lived through Nazi Germany and she describes much of what you linked to.

I knew her about a decade ago and at the time she was in her 80's. She told me of her deep concerns for this country and saw the parallels then. As a sidebar it was during the Clinton Administration. Maybe I should tell the story in detail another time.
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Mr_Jefferson_24 Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-11-06 01:33 AM
Response to Reply #22
23. Thank you for this thread Clara T...
...and I for one will be interested to read of your discussions with the German woman whenever you choose to post about it.
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mogster Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-11-06 05:45 AM
Response to Original message
24. Too old to recommend, kicked instead
Important information! :kick:
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Uncle Joe Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-11-06 12:40 PM
Response to Original message
26. I believe Al Gore has used a similar analogy in describing
the way people think about global warming as to the psychology of the German People understanding what was happening to their reality. The problem is so big and imperceptible as to be out of their local world or immediate environment, from some old science experiment, you can put a frog in a pot of cold water and slowly heat it until the frog boils to death,it will not attempt to escape, however if a frog were put in a pot of boiling water it would immediately try to jump out.
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Kurovski Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sat Feb-11-06 02:36 PM
Response to Original message
27. K&R n/t
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kath Donating Member (1000+ posts) Send PM | Profile | Ignore Sun Feb-12-06 03:19 AM
Response to Original message
28. There's a longer excerpt available here:

"Slouching Toward Kristallnacht" (a DailyKos diary, with comments)
http://www.dailykos.com/story/2005/12/20/12819/467


"You see," my colleague went on, "one doesn't see exactly where or how to move. Believe me, this is true. Each act, each occasion, is worse than the last, but only a little worse. You wait for the next and the next. You wait for the one great shocking occasion, thinking that others, when such a shock comes, will join with you in resisting somehow. You don't want to act, or even to talk, alone; you don't want to "go out of your way to make trouble." Why not? - Well, you are not in the habit of doing it. And it is not just fear, fear of standing alone, that restrains you; it is also genuine uncertainty.

"Uncertainty is a very important factor, and, instead of decreasing as time goes on, it grows. Outside, in the streets, in the general community, everyone is happy. One hears no protest, and certainly sees none. You know, in France or Italy there will be slogans against the government painted on walls and fences; in Germany, outside the great cities, perhaps, there is not even this. In the university community, in your own community, you speak privately to your colleagues, some of whom certainly feel as you do; but what do they say? They say, "It's not so bad" or "You're seeing things" or "You're an alarmist."

"And you are an alarmist. You are saying that this must lead to this, and you can't prove it. These are the beginnings, yes; but how do you know for sure when you don't know the end, and how do you know, or even surmise, the end? On the one hand, your enemies, the law, the regime, the Party, intimidate you. On the other, your colleagues pooh-pooh you as pessimistic or even neurotic. You are left with your close friends, who are, naturally, people who have always thought as you have. "But your friends are fewer now. Some have drifted off somewhere or submerged themselves in their work. You no longer see as many as you did at meetings or gatherings. Informal groups become smaller; attendance drops off in little organizations, and the organizations themselves wither. Now, in small gatherings of your oldest friends, you feel that you are talking to yourselves, that you are isolated from the reality of things. This weakens your confidence still further and serves as a further deterrent to what? It is clearer all the time that, if you are going to do anything, you must make an occasion to do it, and then you are obviously a troublemaker. So you wait, and you wait.

"But the one great shocking occasion, when tens or hundreds or thousands will join with you, never comes. That's the difficulty. If the last and worst act of the whole regime had come immediately after the first and the smallest, thousands, yes, millions would have been sufficiently shocked if, let us say, the gassing of the Jews in "43" had come immediately after the "German Firm" stickers on the windows of non-Jewish shops in "33". But of course this isn't the way it happens. In between come all the hundreds of little steps, some of them imperceptible, each of them preparing you not to be shocked by the next. Step C is not so much worse than Step B, and, if you did not make a stand at Step B, why should you at Step C? And so on to Step D.



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