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From Nuremburg, with a pause for thought

By Julie Farthing

I have just recently returned from an extended European holiday, of which two weeks was spent meandering around the German countryside. My husband and I relished the warm greetings we received from the Germans, the lovely food and glorious countryside. Germany appears to be well on its way to a full recovery following the horrendous activities of the twentieth century. Given that the ‘wall’ only came down in 1989 it is quite a stupendous recovery in fact. The Germans are also good friends with the Poles now (as we were told by a lovely lady we met in Krakow, just a few days before we clambered over the border to the new-old city of Dresden).

The Germans are a tough bunch, and they are not a race to shirk their responsibilities or to hide their faults. There is evidence a-plenty to remind Germans and the rest of the world about all the bad things that went on there in times gone by. Current day Germans accept this as part of their past, they don’t like it but they most definitely do not want it to be repeated, ever. (Well, of course there are some renegade groups of neo-Nazis and the like, but they are not too worried about them).

I’ve been to Germany before and seen and heard too much already about the Nazis and the atrocities they levelled at just about everyone. I’ve visited the Eagle’s Nest in Berchtesgaden and Sachsenhausen Concentration Camp outside Berlin. I’ve stood in Bebelplatz where the books were burned, and strolled through the pillars at the Memorial to the Murdered Jews of Europe. I have heard so many terrible stories that I thought I couldn’t learn much more.

Then we went to Nuremburg. In July this year, seventy years after World War II ended in Europe, we walked in the steps of the Nazi groupies in the field where the Rally Grounds once were, and we visited the museum which is housed in the former Documentation Centre buildings.

It was as I walked through the museum (probably one of the best curated museums I have been to) that I began to feel a real fear of dread. It is all too common for Australians these days to draw parallels, real or imagined, between Abbott and Adolph; between the Liberals and the Nazis; our treatment of Asylum Seekers and Hitler’s Final Solution.

How far is this from the actual truth? We would like to think that what happened in Germany in the 1930s and 40s couldn’t happen here. We might imagine that the German people are a different race, or at least were, back then. We might even laugh at our own overreaction to current events in Australia. After all, we’re still OK aren’t we? Even after two years of Liberal rule, we haven’t suffered that much. We can just wait till the next election, boot them out, and start again. Can’t we?

I am worried. Really worried. As I walked through the exhibits and watched the footage at Nuremberg I wrote down some notes on my iPhone, which outlined a well-thought through and systematic approach.

The Nazis implemented each of the following strategies:

  • Curtailing free speech
  • Sacking dissenters in the public service, stopping the unions, clubs and associations from meeting (by various means, including criminalising them)
  • Creating enemies with apparent foul intentions against the nation
  • Infiltrating non-aligned organisations and destroying from within
  • Initiating ‘compromises’ to allow moderate people to believe they were being heard
  • Passing laws outside the constitutional process, through the Enabling Act
  • Imprisoning dissenters
  • Stopping publication of books not in line with policy
  • Generating a sense of group identity – eliminating others not of the same opinion as impure
  • Becoming the only party by infiltrating and absorbing others
  • Elevating experiences and feelings to the group level, depersonalising individual feelings
  • Making government smaller (and eventually abolishing state governments)
  • Preparing the minds of the people for war by staging battles, having people in uniforms more and more present
  • Borrowing rituals and activities from pre-existing ones to give a feeling of familiarity, a sense that nothing was really changing.

Promoting the ‘Hitler myth’, the absolute authority of the Fuehrer, meant that:

  • Only official photographers were allowed near Hitler and his henchmen
  • Small gatherings, where the press could get close to Hitler, were prohibited as the man became less publicly available and more an icon
  • Press articles focused on creating the legend of Hitler as saviour, a man with no needs, wearing himself out in the service of his people
  • When Hitler spoke, the scene was embued with an air of ceremony (mainly through the addition of more, and larger and larger banners around him), the man himself raised higher and higher, and further and further away, from the people.

The most interesting things I learned, though, were how the Nazis distracted the people so they didn’t notice what was going on. The first way was with the rallies. These were never intended to inform the people, they were all PR. Each rally lasted for days, and had a motto, there was lots of free booze and food (can’t see Abbott doing that, not with the budget emergency and all). The second way was by getting people busy doing things, building things, making things. Often these things weren’t important or even finished, but it kept them from really thinking about what was going on.

Obviously, the necessary and inevitable end to the Nazi era was war and destruction. Maybe our Government is trying to get to that bit without some of the time consuming middle part. They certainly haven’t indicated that they actually care about most Australians. Why not kill off a few in a war not of our making? Why not send a few back where they came from? Just a few of course, not everyone, just the ones we don’t like. Who knows? But as I said before, I am definitely worried.

On a final note, it is clear that Hitler could not have done what he did without the party machine. Was he a puppet, or just pure evil? I will leave those thoughts with you.

 

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24 comments

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  1. Richard

    Om … see interesting similarities to the current Australian political scene. Or am I just imagining it?

  2. Blinkyewok

    You are not imagining it. Check out Andrew Wilkies statement on Australia now a dictatorship. Wilkie was an Australian intelligence assessment officer. He knows what a dictatorship looks like.

  3. GJN

    And what are we all going to do about it?

  4. mars08

    “Why of course the people don’t want war. Why should some poor slob on a farm want to risk his life in a war when the best he can get out of it is to come back to his farm in one piece?

    Naturally the common people don’t want war: neither in Russia, nor in England, nor for that matter in Germany. That is understood. But, after all, it is the leaders of the country who determine the policy and it is always a simple matter to drag the people along, whether it is a democracy, or a fascist dictatorship, or a parliament, or a communist dictatorship.

    Voice or no voice, the people can always be brought to the bidding of the leaders. That is easy. All you have to do is tell them they are being attacked, and denounce the peacemakers for lack of patriotism and exposing the country to danger. It works the same in any country.”

    – Hermann Goerring

  5. jim

    Abbott trigger finger is getting cramps and losing its integrity. must be the elections looming hey.ggrrrrrrr.

  6. dwejevans

    Yeah, but of course that couldn’t happen in Australia,……………Could it?

  7. virtualnonsense

    My feeling of panic has been steadily increasing since Abbott became opposition leader. At first it was just a gut feeling, nothing I could pinpoint. As time has gone on, he’s provided far too many examples to warrant my sense of panic and where Australia is headed under his government. I am genuinely frightened of where we’ll end up if Abbott and those like him continue to be in government. I still have friends who are LNP supporters who can’t see what I’m seeing, and that leaves me very confused as they’re not like Abbott at all. So why are they still accepting of his acts, pronouncements, actions?

  8. Angela ♥ Ƹ̵̡Ӝ̵̨̄Ʒ ♥ (@sallie6youtube)

    It’s frightening to see so many disturbing similarities with this Abbott government…it’s seriously time for them to be removed from office before people start disappearing!

  9. Southerly

    The parallels have been getting clearer for a while now. The people of Canning can stop the rot. A defeat there would be the begging of the end for Abbott. Labour needs a leader prepared to stand up for some principles instead of blanket agreement, shorten is too afraid of the wedge.

  10. Matters Not

    The Germans are also good friends with the Poles now

    Not sure about that, even accounting for your little old lady’s view of the world. While this museum is hard to find, it’s well worth a visit to appreciate the atrocities executed and the continuing enmity.

    http://www.tripadvisor.com.au/ShowUserReviews-g274856-d274992-r220765432-Gestapo_Headquarters_Museum-Warsaw_Mazovia_Province_Central_Poland.html

    The average Pole, in my experience, is less than impressed by Germans and Russians alike but I am only relying on my experience of less than half a dozen visits visits.

    As to the ‘guts’ of your article, there’s much I could quibble with but yes I agree.

  11. mark delmege

    It is a pity the German government imposed on Greece an impossible task. Actually it is worse than a pity and the consequences have a long way to play out and I expect people will look back and ask how could they be so stupid and cruel.

  12. gangey1959

    The closer one is to the pointy end of society, whether that be a wealth based or power based point, the more clearly one can see who is
    “Not Quite Us”, and then alienate and/or remove them. The flip-side of this is eventually one is left holding back the tide, a la King Canute.
    Let’s take our dickhead of a pm as an example. Who does he represent, and whom does he really have as supporters?
    Australia’s population is roughly 24 million people.
    He’s a catholic, which means he only represents 25% of the populatio. 6 miilion.
    Lets assume (I can’t find the figures) that only 33% of catholics are women. 4 million.
    Unemployed @ 6%. 3.75 million.
    50% Labor voters. 1.9 million.
    28% born elsewhere. 1.35 million.
    Gay / Lesbian. Again hard to find figures, but Wikipedia suggests maybe upto 5%. 1.28 million
    Minus aproximately 650,000 Indigenous population. 630,000.
    Republicans. Lets say 35%. 409,000.
    State educated. Again, a bit of a guess, but let’s say 50%. 205,000
    Green voters or supporters. 13% at 2010. 178,000.

    OK. My figures are a bit on the hazy side, and in reality I was hoping to get the number down to fewer than 100, but you get the drift.
    Our current pm is really supported by very few of Australia’s population. At least he has the support of chrissy pyne and scott morrisson. And jojo hockey. Being as homophobic as abbott is I wonder if he really wants the three of them that tight in behind him.
    Poor bastard.
    I wonder what rupert has planned for him next?

  13. Pingback: From Nuremburg, with a pause for thought – Written by JULIE FARTHING | winstonclose

  14. M-R

    Well, Julie Farthing … I don’t know that I’ve read you here before, but this reading was carried out with appreciation.
    Of course it’s a bit OTT – but, terrifyingly, not much.
    I have a sister whom I love, and who has an amazing brain capable of just about anything; but she votes LNP. I CANNOT GRASP THIS; that intelligent (very !) people can be like that. It drives me mad …
    And it worries the christ out of me, because who knows what insanity will prevail in a year’s time …?

  15. totaram

    Nothing OTT here. I read, write, and speak German and have lived in Germany. It’s very easy to manipulate simple, decent, folk to do terrible things. What is now called neuro-linguistic programming and other such terms, was intuitively understood by Hitler and the Nazis and is now being explicitly used by the present government. You only have to look at the number of flags at the PM’s press conferences and the use of new uniforms for the ABF and so on. Given enough time, these things become normal. It’s already normal to demonise refugees and lock them up indefinitely, without trial in concentration camp style conditions. All this is secret “because it is an on water matter”. This is supposed to “save lives”, while others know that it is supposed to “protect” us from invading hordes of Islamists who will enforce Sharia Law on us – not withstanding that they may actually be Hindu and Christian Tamils from Sri Lanka (in which case they are illegal “queue jumpers” just looking to get free handouts here). The right wing trolls routinely spread stories about how these “refugees” arrive here and are immediately given everything for free – housing, medicine, dole etc. John Howard started this and used it to great advantage, and the Coalition has tried to use this trick at every opportunity. Labor is too afraid of being “wedged”, or have they been taken over from within, according to the Nazi play-book? Think carefully.

  16. mark delmege

    As we are talking about Europe here This article from the Saker joins a few modern dots – a bit off topic kinda but maybe not as far as people might think especially when you consider what is around the corner. http://www.unz.com/tsaker/europe-in-free-fall/

  17. Jim KABLE

    Nothing over the top by Julie FARTHING – right on all counts. Interesting the reference to Hermann GOERING – he was right – of course – none of us want war – but politicians of evil intent and with their hands on the levers seem to be able to make such decisions without consulting the citizens – and without time to think through the so-called “emergency”. (A cousin I caught up with in the US last month – her husband’s grand-father was a first cousin to H. GOERING – degrees of separation are very close.) I am reading the recent publication – Peter LONGERICH’s editing – with commentary – of Josef GOEBBEL’s diaries: GOEBBELS is the title. I am only about 20% into it – but already the template for our current LNP thugs’ way of rule is clear! Start with slogans (who would have thought it!!) & posters. Then create as much confrontationist nonsense (no matter the legality) push the boundaries to get reactions to “prove” the emergency. Last week-end Border Force plan in downtown Melbourne was just one such matter. And pass laws – restricting democratic process in favour of “protection” (ironically the removal of protections and (hitherto assumed) rights)! These are very, very dangerous times. I lived in Germany in the mid-70s for a brief time, albeit, – having visited several years earlier. I visited places of horror such as Dachau – I lived in mid-town Munich. I visited relatives in Stuttgart and in Vienna. I did my best to make sense for myself of what happened there prior to and through WWII. An uncle’s mother died (“of exhaustion”) in Auschwitz. She was Evangelisch (Lutheran) – but had apparently been involved in helping folk of Jewish background escape from Berlin. A cousin of my uncle’s father was the London correspondent for the Völkischer Beobachter – Hitler’s “Popular Observer” till thrown out on suspicion of spying in 1935 – he had been funnelling money directly from Hitler to Oswald MOSLEY. Read Anna FUNDER’s All That I Am – Penguin 2011 to get the flavour of those days of early exile of German liberals and those of Jewish background in London – at the time the kinsman to my uncle was keeping his eyes on that community. And read Anna FUNDER’s Stasiland to understand how a people is ultimately persuaded to spy on each other! Only in the Germany of A. HITLER or in the post-war DDR? – nope – here, too, in Australia, now. I am reading the Peter LONGERICH book on Goebbels assuming that I will meet his name – he moved in such circles. As I wrote above – degrees of separation – not distant – and irrelevant – rather close and absolutely relevant.

  18. Frank Baarda

    My father was a Dutch child in Germany (1917-1932). Later I became a Dutch child in Argentina (1947-1956).

    Dad was an astute witness to the descent into barbarity. He’d always maintained that if it could happen in the land that gave us Göethe, Schiller and Schubert, it could happen anywhere and anytime. To me, this was confirmed by what happened in Argentina from 1976 to 1983. Dad didn’t consider Australia to be immune either. He was way ahead of Neville Chamberlain.
    Dad died in 2008. If he was alive today he would be echoing Andrew Wilkie.

    Remember the fridge magnet?
    Be alert indeed AND be alarmed!

  19. mars08

    Frank Baarda:

    My father was a Dutch child in Germany (1917-1932). Later I became a Dutch child in Argentina (1947-1956).

    Dad was an astute witness to the descent into barbarity. He’d always maintained that if it could happen in the land that gave us Göethe, Schiller and Schubert, it could happen anywhere and anytime….

    Yes indeed.

    Something very scary has taken hold of the citizens of this nation. Far too many are mindlessly marching to Abbott’s drums. Fear, bigotry and ignorance abounds.

    Even as the govt tries to wriggle out of this latest farce… claiming it was an administrative error, I can see scores of people on social media eagerly defending the use of ABF troops to patrol our cities. I fear things will get much worse, before they (maybe) get better.

  20. mark delmege

    Mars you need better social media friends

  21. mars08

    Ha! They’re not my friends… usually just friends of friends. Oh. I see what you mean.

  22. kizhmet

    How did I miss this article? Interesting reading Julianne – the similarities are frightening.

    @Mars08 – I keep hearing that quote and each time, it fills me with absolute dread.

    @M-R. I am new to politics. I have four very intelligent friends, all of whom vote LNP. Listening to them savagely support LNP is awful. A common theme with them – “I run a business worth $XYZ” I know what it’s like. This limited exposure to “LNP” thinking leads me to believe much of the liberal support comes from these business people who equate government with management. They equate our federal budget with a household/business budget. The mere fact they are unable to distinguish the difference disqualifies them, prima facia, from making intelligent decisions about what is required to run a government!

    I’ve been calling this government fascist since they won the election in 2013. I did not use the term lightly then. I do not use it lightly now. I hope against hope Australians realise what is happening and that LNP are booted out in the next election. Greens, Labor, anyone but LNP/Abbott and his fascist, Tea Party cohort.

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