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Hitler’s Handouts: How Welfare Blossomed in Nazi Germany

Discussion in 'Historical Events & Figures' started by Truth-Bringer, Sep 15, 2007.

  1. Truth-Bringer

    Truth-Bringer New Member

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    Hitler's Handouts

    Inside the Nazis' welfare state

    Michael C. Moynihan | August/September 2007 Print Edition

    Hitler’s Beneficiaries: Plunder, Racial War, and the Nazi Welfare State, by Götz Aly, New York: Metropolitan Books, 448 pages, $32.50

    Few subjects arouse a historian’s reductionist instinct like Nazism. It’s hard to resist that desire to explain, in a single bullet point, just how “the nation of Goethe and Schiller” descended into imperial, genocidal madness. The earliest Holocaust reductionists saw in the German character a preternatural fealty to power: the stolid Prussian willing to subsume morality to a vague notion of duty, with those not of the Junker class simply terrorized into submission, too fearful to resist.

    Among historians, this idea fell out of favor long ago. For non-specialists, it was effectively debunked in 1996 by the Harvard political scientist Daniel Goldhagen, who demonstrated that punishment was rarely if ever meted out to soldiers who refused to participate in mass murder. (According to Goldhagen, S.S. chief Heinrich Himmler allowed the righteous—and the squeamish—to be redeployed from the killing fields.) But Goldhagen merely replaced one monocausal theory with another, contending that the Holocaust was a natural extension of popular anti-Semitism. Fascism flourished, he claimed, because Germany was a country suffused with a “racist eliminationist view of Jews.” Goldhagen’s book, Hitler’s Willing Executioners, was cut to ribbons by his peers, many of whom wondered why, if genocidal anti-Semitism was uniquely German, so many non-Germans willingly betrayed, deported, and executed their Jewish neighbors.

    So if anti-Semitism alone cannot explain the fate that befell European Jewry, what can? According to Götz Aly’s Hitler’s Beneficiaries: Plunder, Racial War, and the Nazi Welfare State, most previous treatments of German complicity in genocide overlook a significant aspect of Nazi rule. Aly, a historian at the Fritz Bauer Institut in Frankfurt and the author of more than a dozen books on fascism, urges us to follow the money, arguing that the Nazis maintained popular support—a necessary precondition for the “final solution”—not because of terror or ideological affinity but through a simple system of “plunder,” “bribery,” and a generous welfare state. When first published in 2005, Aly’s book caused a minor sensation in Germany, with critics accusing him of everything from sloppy arithmetic (a charge he vigorously denies in a postscript to the English translation) to betraying his soixante-huitard roots by implicitly connecting West German social democracy to fascism. After the massive success of books like Günter Grass’ Crabwalk and Jörg Friedrich’s The Fire, two bestsellers stressing that Germans too were victimized by fascism, Hitler’s Beneficiaries shifts the brunt of the blame back toward ordinary Germans.

    Far from being victims of Nazism, Aly argues, the majority of Germans were indirect war profiteers. Requisitioned Jewish property, resources stolen from the conquered, and punitive taxes levied on local businesses insulated citizens from shortages and allowed the regime to create a “racist-totalitarian welfare state.” The German home front, Aly claims, suffered less privation than its English and American counterparts. To understand Hitler’s popularity, Aly proposes, “it is necessary to focus on the socialist aspect of National Socialism.”

    Rest of article here
     
  2. WileE

    WileE New Member

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    It's always about money

    A great article! Being an avid military/political history buff, I guess I didn't realize how ignorant many people are about the period between the two world wars, particularly with respect to Germany. One of the major aspects of the Nazis' rise to power was the abject poverty of the German people, following WWI, exacerbated by rampant, unchecked inflation making the reichsmark practically worthless. It literally took a wheelbarrow full of money just to buy a loaf of bread. Promises of economic relief were the mantra of most of Hitler's campaign speeches. One of his lines was something like: "When a man is hungry, he doesn't dream of bread and water. He dreams of caviar! And champaigne!" The Nazis placed most of the blame on communists, democrats, foreigners, and the ever-present Jew, as a means of getting the people to listen to their message. Ironically, as much as Hitler claimed to hate Bolshevism, the Nazi regime was not too different from the Soviet regime. Most Germans were more than happy to accept their slice of the newly acquired Nazi pie, and I don't think many put forth much effort to find out where all that stuff came from, and at who's expense.
     
  3. Truth-Bringer

    Truth-Bringer New Member

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    Precisely. But why did these economic conditions come about? They came about because the Treaty of Versailles amounted to an 80% tax on the German people and the government foolishly tried to inflate its way out of this burden. And you ended up with the German Nightmare, where a loaf of bread did indeed cost more than $250,000 in our current economic system.

    This is why some scholars are now saying that if the U.S. would have remained neutral during World War 1, a negotiated settlement would have resulted and the Treaty of Versailles would have never existed, thus Hitler and the Nazis would have never come to power. The Nazis never even won a majority with economic conditions that desperate.
     
  4. WileE

    WileE New Member

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    Yes, but when finance wizard Hjalmar Schacht did all that borrowing, it was from banks in the very countries to whom Germany was forced to pay reparations to. Pure genius! Amazing what people will do when backed into a corner.

    I guess if one wanted to rewrite and/or rearrange historical facts of the past, to fit an agenda today, one could find ways to "Blame America" for every bad thing that ever happened in the world. I'm kind of skeptical about the assertations of certain scholars.
    Again, sounds like "Blame America". The Nazis did OK for a while until the economy began looking up towards the late 1920s. It was the crash of 1929 that gave the Hitler newfound reason to salivate with glee. He is quoted as saying, "Never have I felt so well-disposed!"
     
  5. Truth-Bringer

    Truth-Bringer New Member

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    Are you asserting that America can't be blamed for anything? Are you also aware that the government and the country aren't the same thing? I blame the American government for quite a bit and I consider the federal leviathan to be the country's greatest enemy.

    I encourage you to take the time to read the following. He presents both opinions and facts. If any of the facts are inaccurate, please cite them:

    http://www.chaostan.com/whydotheyhateus.html
     
  6. 9sublime

    9sublime Active Member

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    I agree Truthbringer. If a country, person or organization has a lot to be blamed for and it is readily accepted that this is the case, the supported of said country, person or organization tend to resort to 'blaming us again are you?'.

    Just because you think your being blamed a lot, doesn't make any of the accusations less valid.
     
  7. WileE

    WileE New Member

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    Absolutely not. I didn't say anything of the sort.
    Any imbecile knows that.
    The second half of your sentence belies the first half. In reference to Mr. Maybury's article which you cited below, and which you parroted above, I don't consider our federal government to be unequivocally our greatest enemy, though I would be in favor of it being alot smaller.

    I find the article very interesting, and have to agree that we have made our share of mistakes down through history, some due to our phobia -- sometimes right; sometimes wrong -- about the threat of Communism. Vietnam was a huge mistake, or series of mistakes. Throughout that article, Mr. Maybury seems bent on putting an evil spin on every foreign policy decision we ever made. I find that highly misguided or disingenuous.
     
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