The fascination with history is unending for me. I love to study most, if not all, eras from before the Romans and Egyptians through to the events of last year. It is all fascinating. Yet, I am, like a lot, especially drawn to and horrified by the events leading up to the Second World War. I have always been slightly uncomfortable at how the German nation managed to do what they did. That beautiful nation, where I have been lucky enough to visit over the years and where I have always been greeted by warm-hearted, enthusiastic, pleasant and genuinely ‘good’ people. That same nation, who, less than a generation before I was born, managed to bring to power one of the most evil and cruel men the world has ever seen. A nation of culture and strength allowed their country to be taken over by a thug and a bully. I have often wondered, as I read the books and looked at the movie reels, how that nation could have done such a disastrous thing. How the citizenry failed to see the coming storm. How anyone, in a sane and rational mind, could have allowed the rise of such a man to political power.
But of course, we know they did. The German people, obviously not the majority, just a motivated few, managed to elect a barbarian. A man who spoke his mind in private with his followers and associates, yet in the public glare often recanted until he was in the true position of strength he sought. A man who surrounded himself with sycophants. A man who weaker men said no ill of, until it was too late. A man who could have been stopped dead in his tracks if those who thought him odd, strange and uncouth, had stood and said, “No more of this. This has gone on long enough, get out and don’t come back.” But of course they didn’t and history now looks back in unfriendly light at them. It sees clearly in hindsight the opportunities that were missed to put an end to his thuggery of entitlement, his thuggery of elitism, his thuggery where ordinary, working class people who paid their taxes and spoke gently amongst themselves, their families, their friends and neighbours, were sneered at, refuted, despised.
So this period of history fascinates me. Always has. How that regime took power and whittled away the freedoms once cherished, slowly, step by step, without an outcry, without a nation’s majority even realising it. How the silent few were removed from society. How the idea of a superior, somehow more noble, more worthy, less criminalistic population were heralded over weaker, second-rate citizens. How women were expected to fulfil the State’s idea of ‘their role’ and little else. The unending tide of superiority instilling in those who were far, far from superior the idea they could do as they pleased with no responsibility to the masses.
I spent time studying the regime when I was writing my alternate history novel, but of all the horrendous things I found out, it was that the normal, run-of-the-mill German didn’t actually support the Nazis, it was just they didn’t actively NOT support the Nazis. It all happened in full view and without most lifting a hand and the international community looked on aghast but could not intervene or stop the slide to madness. So they watched on as a sane, rational, powerful nation gave away its democracy to a dictatorship of cruelty.
Thank goodness that can never happen again.