It is easy to blame the German civilians for being complacent during World War II and especially the Holocaust, and to an extend this blame is understandable.
But I have my doubts if this complacency would be different in any other country. After World War I Germany was engulfed in internal conflicts and even an internal revolution, which was basically a civil war.
After this political upheaval and social uncertainty followed by economical woes,partially caused by the repayments as laid out by the treaty of Versaille and partially caused by the great depression, the country was facing an uphill struggle. There was poverty,famine and a hyper inflation. Money was worth nothing, people would sometimes use paper money to fire up the stove.
It is not hard to understand that in those times it didn’t take much for people to follow a party who not only promised things but also delivered on those promises, at least temporarily . We now know of course that these promises eventually only served one reason, which was for the NSDAP to get to power.
These promises coupled with a well functioning propaganda machine proved to be a very powerful weapon.
In the early 1930s the Nazis started setting up programs like “Kraft durch Freude” Strength through Joy which was was a large state-operated leisure organization which worked in conjunction with the German Labour Front . The KdF provided affordable leisure activities such as concerts, plays, libraries, day trips and holidays. Large cruise ships, like the Wilhelm Gustloff, were built specially deigned for KdF cruises.
Beach resorts were also built, resorts like Prora , which facilitated beach holidays on a massive scale. An enormous building complex on the island of Rügen, located off the Pomeranian coast in the Baltic Sea. It was built between 1936 and 193 by the KdF as a beach resort to accommodate affordable beach holidays.
The Nazis promised that every family should have a family car. Designed by Ferdinand Porsche , the KdF cars were known as the People’s car or Volkswagen. Porsche developed the Type 12, the concept f the or “Auto für Jedermann” (car for everybody) for Zündapp in 1931. On 26 May 1938, Hitler laid the cornerstone for the Volkswagen factory in Fallersleben.
The Nazis made sure that everyone in the country would get a radio, the so called “Volksempfänger” or People’s receiver. Of course people were delighted with this. This bit of technology would connect them with the wider world, They did not realize then that this was also a toll for mass propaganda, a brainwash device for in the living room.
The Nazi regime even attempted to provide families with their own airplanes, the so called Volksflugzeug (people’s airplane) was never fully implemented though.
The keyword in many of these technologies was “Volk” or ‘People’. It created the illusion that the Nazis only had the best intentions for the People, There were People fridges and even People gas masks.
This combined with the creation of employment, a new found prosperity was created in Germany. This prosperity after the years of hardship and poverty worked nearly as a drug, and people believed what Hitler and his cronies told them, because for a while they did what they promised.
It was relatively easy to find a scapegoat to blame for the poverty they had endured, and to ensure this wouldn’t happen again and people fell for it.
Of course their eyes should have been opened when they saw what was really happening to the Jews,disabled and other groups which the Nazis had deemed as subhuman, but at that stage so many were brainwashed and believed the lies they were fed, because life was good.
Sometimes when a politician keeps his promise is not necessarily a good thing.
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