Lessons from history.

I read the following article by Michael Streich and couldn’t help but notice the similarities between Nazi Germany and the current tory government.

Today, Theresa May announced her desire to bring in draconian measures in the shape of the new counter terrorism and security bill, on the grounds that there have been many, many instances of terrorism.

She has failed to provide any proof of this of course.

You can read more about the new bill here :-  http://www.theguardian.com/uk-news/2014/nov/24/counter-terrorism-security-bill-proposals-pitfalls

The BBC reports that police have been giving out flyers to members of the public to encourage the public to be their “eyes and ears” on the ground and to report any suspicions about possible terrorists.

That worries me… encouraging members of the public to report their neighbours on nothing more than a suspicion. So people with a grudge against their neighbours can basically have a free rein to make up any old nonsense.

And won’t this law be discriminatory against migrants who live and work in our communities such as those from Iraq, Pakistan, Africa and Turkey.

The same thing happened in the 80’s with the “suss” laws which led to a disproportionate number of young black men being stopped and searched by the police.

This ultimately led to the St Pauls and Broadwater Farm riots.

Anyway, over to Michael…

 Fear and Secrecy in the Nazi Police State

BDM Members In Poland did Volunteer Work

BDM Members In Poland did Volunteer Work (Michael Streich Family Photo)

 

 

Living in Hitler’s Germany characterized every aspect of what is often referred to as a “police state.” Everyday Germans were drafted into Nazi control and secrecy, often without realizing it. By employing fear techniques, few government agents, such as the Gestapo, were actually needed to control the masses. Such tactics involved normal citizens willing to spy on neighbors, teachers reporting on what their students may have said in class, and monitoring newspaper and radio usage.

Invading the Privacy of the German Home

Most Germans lived in apartment houses and each unit was assigned to a house warden, a Nazi Party member, to monitor. These men and women listened at apartment key holes if residents were listening to foreign radio broadcasts like the BBC. They could enter homes to ensure that Adolph Hitler’s picture was prominently displayed in the living room. They watched who came to the apartment and noted the daily routines of residents.

House wards reported to block captains who reported to district coordinators. Ultimately, any suspicious information was funneled to the local police or Gestapo. Any persons living suspect lives were reported. The presumption was always guilt.

Teachers Trained to Assist the Nazi Cause

After Hitler’s accession to power in 1933, Jewish teachers were systematically fired. The curriculum was purged of all so-called degenerate literature, art, and music. Students were taught the virtues of the new Nazi-controlled state. A favorite question was, “Where does the fuehrer live?” The correct answer was, “In the heart of every German.” The revision of German history favored the Nazi ideology and perspective.

Students were taught patriotic songs praising the regime, including the national anthem of fascist Italy. The Nazi state utilized music and pageantry to create conformity. Students were taught the superiority of the Aryan race and to use “Heil Hitler” as the official greeting. Many students were part of the Hitler Youth. Participation in any student or athletic events, even those not related to school was predicated on membership in the Hitler Youth. Teenage girls joined the Bund Deutscher Maedchen (BDM).

Documentation and Bureaucratic State Control in Nazi Germany

Having the proper “papers” in one’s possession was mandatory in Nazi Germany. Proper credentials – paperwork such as identity cards, allowed for the purchase of food ration cards as well as legitimizing status. Any residential changes had to be reported to the local police. Changes in status were documented. All family records were meticulously scrutinized by the state to avoid any taint of long-established blood laws which might reveal Jewish or other undesirable ancestry. This was particularly true after the 1935 race laws were enacted.

The Nazis censored the mail, paying particular attention to letters and postcards received by Germans from abroad. Any hint of collaboration with foreign sources that posed a danger to the Third Reich resulted in the swift detention of recipients and their subsequent interrogations. German newsreels, produced by the Ministry of Propaganda, reinforced the dangers of foreign contacts and the so-called lies being disseminated by Germany’s enemies and critics. These propaganda efforts linked national feelings with popular support for the regime.

Living in Nazi Germany

For everyday Germans, living in Nazi Germany was precarious. Even those everyday Germans that disagreed with state policy or who refused to accept the cult of Hitler were spied upon and threatened. Although some Germans knew, as early as 1933, of the ruthless actions of the Nazis, fear silenced their opposition.

In an incident in Hamburg, a friend of an incarcerated Jewish businessman intervened on his behalf and, knowing his friend like to read, brought him books. Gustav Tieland, a Hamburg real estate broker, was held in the same camp as his friend, later released after losing a leg. He never spoke of what happened in the camp for the rest of his life.

Living in Nazi Germany was traumatizing for all everyday people. Their contradictory lives revolved around the cult of Hitler and the daily fear of saying anything that might be construed as criticism of the state. The few openly courageous ones died in concentration camps or managed to escape Germany to foreign shores. But all of them would, in the long run, have to account for the evils perpetrated by the Nazi regime.

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5 Responses to Lessons from history.

  1. sdbast says:

    Reblogged this on sdbast.

    Like

  2. beastrabban says:

    Reblogged this on Beastrabban’s Weblog and commented:
    Glynis here points out the dangerous similarities between the Coalition’s attempts to use members of the public to spy on possible Islamic terrorists, and the totalitarian web of surveillance the Nazis used against their citizens during the Third Reich described in the Groaniad by Michael Streich. Streich is absolutely correct about the system of hauswart (housewarden) and Blockwart (Blockwarden) used to spy on individual households and city blocks. Descriptions of this mechanism of surveillance and control can be found in many books on the Third Reich, as indeed can the Nazi school curriculum.

    Such measures weren’t confined to the Nazis, however. All of the monstrous totalitarian states of the 20th century used similar methods in order to muster the forced support and obedience of their peoples. A similar system to the Hauswart and Blockwart mechanism was used in the former Soviet Union, where households in a particular street or apartment complex were placed under the surveillance of a trusted party member. This allowed plenty of leeway for corruption and bullying by malign and vindictive apparatchiks. Under the ‘self-criticism’ system of Mao’s China, each individual was expected to spy on his fellows for subversive or non-Communist attitudes and behaviour. Children in particular were demanded to spy on their parents and teachers. Back in Russia, the KGB also used volunteers from the public to monitor and control their citizens. A similar organisation is also used today in Iran to monitor and suppress dissident protests and demonstrations.

    The wholesale use of the general public to spy on their neighbours presented the German authorities with awkward and potentially socially disruptive problems after the Fall of Communism. The Stasi – the East German secret police – also recruited the public to spy on their fellow East Germans, with the result that at one stage a quarter of the East German population was actively involved in denouncing others as traitors or capitalist lackeys. And these denunciations give full support to Glynis’ fears that similar denunciations over here of people as Islamic terrorists may be motivated by personal grudges. Most of the denunciations made to the Stasi were exactly that. The German authorities were thus reluctant to release details of the East German spy network because of the effect this could have on society by revealing those people believed to be their friends and trusted confidants as really spies acting out of fear, suspicion and personal spite.

    The danger that this could also happen over here is all too real.

    Like

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