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Military government weekly information bulletin
Number 93 (May 1947)

New books on Germany's past,   pp. 7-8 PDF (1.2 MB)


Page 8

politics: he believes Bismarck and
the German bourgeoisie elevated Bis-
marck's Machiavellian "Realpolitik"
to a metaphysical principle and thus,
contrary to current belief, it became
devoid of genuine political realism.
The author does not believe, that
Hitler's rise to power was inevitable.
He sees historical "accidents" at
work in at least two instances before
1933. He believes that Hindenburg,
Hugenberg, and Schleicher were to
a large extent responsibleforHitler's
advent. While advocating a break
with Germany's militarist tradition,
the writer does not, however, shrink
from saying: "Once again, a good
guiding spirit seemed to be leading
the German people. That was when
the First World War broke out. The
spiritual upsurge in the August days
of 1914 is for all who were witnesses
of one of the everlasting memories
of the highest order."
Burnt-out Crater
Meinecke, who views Germany as
"a burnt-out crater of great power
politics," believes that the power
of a future Germany will not rise
beyond that of the small nations like
Holland, Belgium, or Sweden. Ger-
many's mission lies in the conser-
vation and revitalization of its cul-
tural achievements. All Meinecke
has to suggest in practical terms,
beyond the usual demands for
federalism and a "United States of
Europe," is the creation of Goethe
societies to recite Goethe's poetry
and thus bring to the German people
consolation and re-orientation in the
form of its classical literature.
All in all, this is the book of a
very   old  man   of  considerable
historical  knowledge.  Meinecke's
views are at once conservative and
liberal; he manages to correct some
of his historical insights previously
gained, but he fails to explore fully
the economic causes for Hitlerism
and the reasons for the failure of the
Weimar Republic.
Zu Deutschlands Schicksalswende
(On Germany's Crossroad of Destiny)
is the title of a collection of lectures
and speeches made by Prof. Julius
Ebbinghaus,  former  professor  of
philosophy and president of Marburg
University, on various occasions. The
seven highly academic speeches deal
with national socialism and morality,
the new state and the new uni-
versity, nationalism and patriotism,
youth and fatherland, the power of
the state and the individual's respon-
sibility, the collective guilt thesis,
and solidarity and disagreements.
Although  the  occasions  during
which the various speeches were
delivered were of different character,
there is nevertheless an inner con-
nection between all of them. The
author in his foreword expressed the
hope that the ideas set forth in his
collection of speeches may help to
lead the German people back to the
theses of Kant "true teacher of
mankind whose heritage may deliver
the Germans from  all misery the
roots of which lie in the erratic and
erroneous notions about the destiny
of man."
Addressed to Students
Ebbinghaus discusses in his speeches
the essence of denazification, the
Nazis' corruption of national moral-
ity, the ills and sins of blind
patriotism and nationalism, and the
mission of universities in a post-war
Germany. Most of the speeches are
directly or indirectly addressed to
the new generation of studentswhose
past ideals and idols, eloquently and
effectively projected against the back-
ground of Kant's philosophy, are
proved to be morally untenable and
nationally unjustifiable.
The author's uncompromising in-
sistence on law, justice, and "spiritual
disarmament" essentially contributed
to his unpopularity among the mem-
bers of the faculty: he was not re-
elected president of Marburg Uni-
versity.
Der SS-Staat (The SS State) by
Eugen Kogon carries the subtitle
"The System of German Concen-
tration Camps." Kogon is a Viennese
sociologist of strong Catholic lean-
ings. He is active and prominent in
leftist CDU circles of Hesse. Kogon
is presently the licensee of a monthly
magazine called Frankfurter Hefte.
Kogon accomplishes what all other
authors have neglected. He presents
an wealth of authentic material.
Documents, orders, charts, blueprints
on Nazism's most sinister and de-
structive side-the SS in the con-
WEEKLY INFORMATION BULLETIN
centration camps-are abundant in
his book. He furnishes the reader
with a profound analysis of the
structure and the practices of the SS
in the camps. He cites facts and.
figures and sources; he describes the
history and pattern of the camps; hb
portrays the depraved way of the
life of the SS guards; he describes
their scientific system of torture and
torture in the service , of medical
science; he dwells on the political,
criminal, national, and racial com-
position of the camp inmates, their
warfare, solidarity, intrigues, and
tragedies.
Seven Years in Buchenwald
Kogon brings to his talks the equip-
ment of a sociologist and the astonish-
ing capability of a patient (he him-
self spent seven years in Buchenwald)
to describe the process and progress
of an operation performed on his
own body without loss of conscious-
ness. The result is a most compelling
sociological, psychological, and crim-
inological study of the Nazis pattern
of terror and torture.
The inescapable conclusion the
intelligent reader draws from  this
work is that the composition and
climate of the camps is but a micro-
cosm of what was true for Germany
as a whole: a suicidal and infernal
struggle for the survival of the fittest
-in many cases the worst types. It
is clear that in such a struggle
oppressors and oppressed are van-
quished alike.
Kogon blames Allied propaganda
techniques and German mental re-
sistance-the latter not necessarily
caused by the former-for the failure
of penetrating and rousing national
consciousness of the Germans to the
horrors and lessons of the camps.
Because the Allies linked the col-
lective guilt thesis with the camp
atrocities, Kogon writes, the vast
majority of the Germans defended
themselves by saying, "We cannot
be called guilty of happenings of
which we were ignorant." The chance
to turn the atrocities, their reality,
scope, and frequency, into a moral
lesson for the Germans has been
missed so far. And Kogon concludes
that Germany's moral regeneration
has become that much more difficult
because of it.
19 MAY 1947
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