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I've been reading a good selection of WWII history recently. One of the strangest and most reassuring features of Nazi history is the way that many highly placed Germans spoke out against atrocity. Not a few of them risked - and sometimes lost - their lives through public criticism.

The Nazis were more or less a few Hitler cronies with trained support from the SS and the Gestapo. Even with an industrial propaganda machine, democratic support was always partial. It started strongly, but rapidly crumbled as the war became more and more of an obvious disaster.

Some of Hitler's most vehement critics came from Germany's military establishment. There were at least two other planned assassinations in addition to the famous failed bombing.

So in spite of Nazism, there was a solid core of more or less obviously enlightened morality in Germany. Nazism didn't so much destroy it, as it destroyed itself and left older more civilised values badly damaged, but unexpectedly functional.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Tue Aug 25th, 2009 at 07:16:03 PM EST
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If you haven't already, do read William Shirer's Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. He covered Germany from Berlin and Paris during the '30s, saw the writing on the wall of what was coming, and was present when France surrendered to the Nazis.

I knew Shirer late in his life, and it always amazed me that he saw so much horror and still remained a nice person. But then, he also knew Gandhi, so perhaps it balanced.

by Mnemosyne on Wed Aug 26th, 2009 at 07:20:44 PM EST
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