The German Myth

Germany mythologized Hitler and the elite of the Nazi party as a method of explaining themselves and the world how World War 2 could happen with no significant resistance from the German people. Hitler and the Nazi party were demonized; Hitler was converted to a ‘monster’, and the Nazi party – to ‘pure evil’. By doing so, the Germans created a social ‘alibi ‘for themselves, an alibi that turned the blame away from the average people. After all, that was the common line of defense in the Nurnberg trials (when the defendants pointed all the blame to Hitler) and the German people adopted it happily.

Things started to change when the post war generations, around the Sixties and the Seventies, started to invoke questions that could not be answered in history classes at schools. Events like the war in Vietnam, the student movements of the era and the continuing cold war, were all accelerators of the intellectual blooming of movements such as the New German Cinema. The New German Cinema is a genre in film that was developed in the late Sixties and continued till the late Eighties. One of the aims of this genre was to help the German people, especially the second generation of WW2 in particular, in dealing with its controversial history of the 20th century. The Seventies are an interesting historical era in the West German Republic history, a boiling point of conflicts between two generations of Germans living together side-by-side: the parents’ generation, the “Nazi generation,” and the young, the second generation to the war, who had very little or nothing to do with the Nazi regime. The two generations are bound to share the same collective history and its meanings. In Germany of the Seventies, the post war generation’s collective feelings of shame and disbelief in the parents’ actions in Nazi Germany evolved into diverse emotional reactions. Young Germans are traveling to Israel, to volunteer in a Kibbutz or to nurse Jewish holocaust survivors. Others’ reactions are a follow up to the student movements of the Sixties.  Terror cells, like the Baader Meinhof group choose violent means to promote their causes.