Club meeting

Dave Killion — September 23, 2011

The club met last night to discuss chapters 5 – 13 of “They Thought They Were Free“, as well as decide what book we will be reading next. In the past we would nominate titles which were turned into a poll on the Meetup page, but that process was unsatisfactory in different ways. This time it was agreed we would consider works of fiction, and after discussing four nominations, the group selected Garet Garrett’s “The Driver”. Despite having nominated the other three titles myself, I was very happy with this choice because I’m familiar with Garret’s work and enjoy it. I hope you will all read along with us when the time comes.

There was a lot to like in the chapters we discussed. Author Milton Mayer continues to examine the appeal of the National Socialist Party, and finds class warfare played its part –

He was not, of course, sure of the New Germany or of himself; he was still, after fifty years of being Karl-Heinz Schwenke, Karl-Heinz Schwenke, and the Herr Professor was still the Herr Professor. The New Germany was, of course, Schwenke’s, but the Herr Professor had something, and something German, the the New German had not.

Tailor Schwenke would not, after 1933, any more than before, have failed to tip his hat to the Herr Professor; all the more joyously he received the revelation that half the academics were traitors and the other half dupes and boobies who might be tolerated under close surveillance by the New Germany which Tailor Schwenke, at your service, Sir, represented.”

Mayer also finds that physical and social separation, as well as unfamiliarity, also made demonizing Jews much easier –

Traditional anti-Semitism (what Nietzsche, beloved by the Nazis for his superman, called “the antiSemitic swindle”) played an important role in softening the Germans as a whole to the Nazi doctrine, but it was seperation, not prejudice, that made Nazism possible, the mere separation of Jews and non-Jews. None of my ten friends except Herr Hildebrandt, the teacher, had ever known a Jew at all intimately in a town of twenty thousand, which included a nine-hundred-year-old Jewish community numbering six or eight hundred persons.”

There’s more, but this post is long enough that I’ll leave the rest for later. Make sure you come back!

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