The Nizkor Project: Remembering the Holocaust (Shoah)

Shofar FTP Archive File: places/germany/climate/public-opinion


Newsgroups: alt.revisionism,soc.history
Subject: Holocaust Almanac: German public opinion during the Nazi period
Followup-To: alt.revisionism
Organization: The Nizkor Project
Keywords: opinion,Marrus,Stokes,Steinert
X-Web: http://www.nizkor.org/

Archive/File: places/germany/climate/public-opinion
Last-modified: 1993/03/07

Not long ago, there was a brief discussion in alt.revisionism and
soc.history which related to German public opinion during the Nazi period.
In the past few weeks, I've managed to dig up a few sources for those who
wish to explore the issue in depth. Marrus devotes a chapter to public
opinion in his `The Holocaust in History,' which is where the citation below
was found, and where other sources were noted. 

While I have not taken the time to segment or catagorize my bibliography,
all of the Marrus sources are included - I have listed the author/editors'
names below, so that those using my bibliography will be able to locate the
citations relating to public opinion at the time throughout Europe. The file
grafeneck.01 (grafeneck.01, also provides evidence that the public was 
aware of the events in question, and includes a letter 
from Bishop Wurm to Frick which complained about the 'euthanasia' 
program then in full swing.

"In a study of German attitudes published in 1973, Lawrence Stokes
considered the extent to which ordinary Germans grasped the essence of the
murder process and concluded that `much, although not all of the terror and
destruction inflicted upon the Jews of Europe by the Nazis was generally
known among the German people.' Stokes acknowledged that the Nazis kept the
extermination camps like Auschwitz hidden from the German public. It was
impossible to prevent leaks about the grisly work of the Einsatzgruppen,
however, and there were frequent rumors about other massacres and
atrocities. Most people understood the awesome implications of the `very
severe measures' taken against the Jews, he concluded, even if they did not
know details.<16>

"The German scholar Marliss Steinert discussed this issue in a 1977 book on
public opinion during the Second World War.<17> She recognized that there
was indifference and lack of reaction on the Jewish issue during the period
of Nazi persecutions. However, she also noted extensive examples of
`non-conformist behavior,' suggesting a much more positive attitude. It is
important to remember that as late as January 1942 there were still more
than 131,000 Jews in Germany, mainly in Frankfurt and Berlin. Most Germans
found themselves cut off from Jews, but some did not. While the SS often
drew satisfaction from evidence of popular antisemitism, they also reported
instances where opposition evidently existed. To be sure, only a very few
Germans were willing to assist the beleaguered Jews. Steinert also asked
what was known about the Final Solution. In her judgement, `only a very few
people knew about the monstrous scope of the crimes,' and `many were
befuddled by propaganda.' Although rumors, fragmentary reports, and other
clues to mass murder existed, for most people these were incomprehensible.
Concluding her discussion, she suggested that the Jewish issue was of
modest importance for most Germans at the time. Hitler was obsessed by
Jews, but the German people, evidently, were not." (Marus, 88)

<16> Stokes, Lawrence.  "The German People and the Destruction of the
     European Jews," Central European History 6 (1973), 167-91 

<17> Steinert, Marliss.  "Hitler's War and the Germans: Public Mood and 
     Attitude during the Second World War," ed.  and trans.  Thomas E.  
     J.  de Witt (Athens, Ohio, 1977)

                                Work Cited

Marrus, Michael R. The Holocaust in History. Toronto: Lester & Orpen 
Dennys Limited, 1987          

Author-Editor names in my Holocaust bibliography relating to public opinion:

Abramsky, Chimen et al	Hunczak, Taras 		Lukas, Richard
Dipper, Christop[f]	de Jong, Louis		Mendelsohn, Ezra
Friedman, Philip	Kater, Michael		Ringelblum, Emmanuel
Gordon, Sarah		Kershaw, Ian		Tec, Nechama
Gutman, Yisrael		Kulka, Otto Dov		Wilhelm, Hans-Heinrich
Hallie, Philip		Laqueur, Walter		(also many others...)

Marrus continues his discussion after the above citation, borrowing from
Kershaw, who conducted studies of public attitude in Bavaria before and
during the war. Kershaw's book should be on your recommended reading list if
public opinion is of interest to you.

"The road to Auschwitz was built by hate, but paved with indifference." 
[Kershaw]

"..a large part of the German people ... believed that a `Jewish Question'
existed and had to be solved." [Christof Dipper]

"Indifference might better be termed `passive complicity.'" [Kulka]


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