Monday, January 28, 2013

The myth of the silent Geman, the Communist Party of Germany

It's often said that people in Germany just let what transpired happen, that they passively accepted, and implicitly approved, what the Nazis did. However, if you look at the election results from 1932, what you see is that a little over 14% of the public voted for the Communist Party of Germany, which was committed to destroying the Nazis and constructing a hardcore socialist republic. The KPD did not mince words, and so the people who supported it were knowingly supporting a party that was about as far to the left as was possible at the time. Surely, those 14% of Germans, including those who voted for Ernst Thälmann in the Presidential election that saw the Nazis take power, count as opposition. The people who supported the Communists didn't go anywhere.

The Communist leadership was one of the first victims of the Nazi state, with many leaders either executed or sent to the camps, and the Nazis instituted a reign of terror not just against people who were Jewish but against internal opposition, specifically against the Communists, so that it became lethal to publicly oppose the State. Perhaps, then, the "silent Germans" were silent because they feared being executed rather than because they approved of what was going on.

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