Germany After WW2: A Defeated People - Germany in the Immediate Aftermath of WW2
Video from The Best Film Archives
"This 1946 British documentary short film depicts the shattered state of Germany, both physically and as a society, in the immediate aftermath of World War II. The narration explains what is being done - and what needs to be done - both by the occupying Allied forces and the German people themselves to build a better Germany from the ruins. A Defeated People (1946) Germany After WW2 | A Defeated People | Documentary on Germany in the Immediate Aftermath of WW2 NOTE: THE VIDEO DOCUMENTS HISTORICAL EVENTS. SINCE IT WAS PRODUCED DECADES AGO, IT HAS HISTORICAL VALUES AND CAN BE CONSIDERED AS A VALUABLE HISTORICAL DOCUMENT. THE VIDEO HAS BEEN UPLOADED WITH EDUCATIONAL PURPOSES. ITS TOPIC IS REPRESENTED WITHIN HISTORICAL CONTEXT. THE VIDEO DOES NOT CONTAIN SENSITIVE SCENES AT ALL!' from video introduction.
It has long intrigued me why the German people supported Adolf Hitler and his Nazi regime. After all, every schoolchild in America is taught that Hitler and his Nazi cohorts were the very epitome of evil. How could ordinary German citizens support people who were so obviously monstrous in nature?
Standing against the Nazi tide was a remarkable group of young people known as the White Rose. Led by Hans and Sophie Scholl, a German brother and sister who were students at the University of Munich, the White Rose consisted of college students and a college professor who risked their lives to circulate anti-government pamphlets in the midst of World War II. Their arrest and trial was depicted in the German movie Sophie Scholl: The Final Days, which was recently released on DVD in the United States.
Of all the essays on liberty I have written in the past 20 years, my favorite is “The White Rose: A Lesson in Dissent”, which I am pleased to say was later reprinted in Voices of the Holocaust, an anthology on the Holocaust for high-school students. The story of the White Rose is the most remarkable case of courage I have ever come across. It even inspired me to visit the University of Munich a few years ago, where portions of the White Rose pamphlets have been permanently enshrined on bricks laid into a plaza at the entrance to the school.
A contrast to the Scholl movie is another recent German movie, Downfall, which details Hitler’s final days in the bunker, where he committed suicide near the end of the war. Among the people around Hitler was 22-year-old Traudl Junge, who became his secretary in 1942 and who faithfully served him in that capacity until the end. For me, the most stunning part of the film occurred at the end, when the real Traudl Junge (that is, not the actress who portrays her in the film) says,
All these horrors I’ve heard of … I assured myself with the thought of not being personally guilty. And that I didn’t know anything about the enormous scale of it. But one day I walked by a memorial plate of Sophie Scholl in the Franz-Joseph-Strasse…. And at that moment I actually realized … that it might have been possible to get to know things.
So here were two separate roads taken by German citizens. Most Germans took the road that Traudl Junge took — supporting their government in time of deep crisis. A few Germans took the road that Hans and Sophie Scholl took — opposing their government despite the deep crisis facing their nation.
Why the difference? Why did some Germans support the Hitler regime while others opposed it?
Each American should first ask himself what he would have done if he had been a German citizen during the Hitler regime. Would you have supported your government or would you have opposed it, not only during the 1930s but also after the outbreak of World War II?
After all, it’s one thing to look at Nazi Germany retrospectively and from the vantage point of an outside citizen who has heard since childhood about the death camps and of Hitler’s monstrous nature. We look at those grainy films of Hitler delivering his bombastic speeches and our automatic reaction is that we would have never supported the man and his political party. But it’s quite another thing to place one’s self in the shoes of an ordinary German citizen and ask, “What would I have done?”.. from the article: Why Germans Supported Hitler, Part 1
What lessons can we learn from the people, the Christians in the time of Hitler? Are we in a similar situation now? What will we do?