The term ‘racism’ has a generic meaning today, denoting social ostracism of outgroups, or in the worst case scenario, depicting an act of savagery meted out by some race or some warring party to another race or ethnic group. In the standard usage today the word ‘racism’ is not necessarily a referent for a different skin color, or a depiction of someone’s high or low cognitive ability. As a result of constant semantic shifts the word ‘racism’ is used to describe a form of barbarism, generally viewed as despicable and contrary to the most basic norms of human conduct.
If one accepts this very general and generic definition of racism, then the German people, shortly after WWII, became a prime victim of the most massive form of racism and racial discrimination — unseen and unheard of at any time in the history of mankind. The scope of terror inflicted to the German people during the Allied firebombing of German cities, the degree of suffering experienced by millions of German civilians in Eastern Europe in the aftermath of the war, goes beyond human imagination. By its scope and its sophistication this peculiar type of cruelty against Germans is hardly comparable to any earlier tragedy of any other race or ethnicity in Africa or Asia during colonial times. It had clear racial, linguistic and judicial overtones still awaiting an objective scholarly examination.
Images of Dresden after the fire bombing of February 13, 1945
Numerous books have been published by prominent authors, including the well- known American legal scholar Alfred de Zayas, the German historian Franz W. Seidler, and the Canadian historian James Bacque on the expulsion of Germans, the policy of starving of hundreds of thousands of surrendered German soldiers along the Rhine river that was carried out by the Allied commander Dwight Eisenhower, the grand theft of German property, mass rapes of over 2 million German women by Soviet soldiers, slave labor of captured young German children, etc. Yet most of these books, although based on solid forensic research and physical evidence, are barely accessible, and they are never mentioned in higher education in the USA and in Europe.
Germany’s European allies, such as Hungary, or the wartime France, dearly paid their collaboration with Germany too. Few French students, let alone American students, know that over 70,000 French civilians perished under American bombs from 1942 to 1944. They cannot be blamed, as there are no sites of commemoration for the bombs’ victims in France. Tiny Croatia, which remained the loyal ally of Germany to the last day of WWII, paid a heavy price too, losing the best part of its gene pool, after its middle class had been wiped out by Yugoslav Communists. Although considered today the most beautiful country in Europe and a prime tourist destination, Croatia is essentially a huge graveyard. In 1945 it became the largest communist killing field of ethnic Germans and Croats in Europe (see here and here).
It is still common in the Karst area in the mountains of southern Croatia to stumble upon small ravines and pits with rusted German helmets, rosary beads and scattered bones. Beyond the carnage of WWII and its immediate aftermath, the root causes of the recent interethnic war in the Balkans are the direct outcome of forcible Allied creation at Yalta and Potsdam of the artificial multicultural entity known as Yugoslavia.
The question that comes to mind is: Why is this unique form of racism against Germans not debated in public as is for instance the plight of Jews during WWII? While acknowledging that others suffered greatly during WWII and that Germany also committed large-scale atrocities against others, one still wonders: Why are the enormous crimes against the Germans simply not discussed?
The answer may not be hard to find. We are still living in the period where history has been written by the victors. The topic of the war and postwar German losses cannot be debated in academe or in public life because the gigantic scale of German suffering would automatically and immediately eclipse all other competing victimologies combined.
What is striking is that there is still no official tally as to the number of German civilians and soldiers who perished in the period from 1938 to 1950. Why has the German government never released the exact casualty figure? One can only read in some marginal revisionist journals or hear occasional rumours that 6 to 12 million Germans perished during that that time span — but there is no official document endorsing this allegation. And this silence is very, very telling, indeed.
Racism against Germans had been well thought out and was brought to its academic perfection before the war’s end. An influential American Jewish businessman, Theodore Kaufman, published in 1940 a small pamphlet titledGermany Must Perish! In 1942 pamphlet Kill, his counterpart, the high Soviet-Jewish official Ilya Ehrenburg, unabashedly urged Soviets solders to spare no mercy against the Germans: “The Germans are not human beings. Henceforth the word German means to us the most terrible curse. From now on the word ‘German’ will trigger your rifle.”
The Morgenthau Plan, devised by two ethnic Jews — Secretary of the TreasuryHenry Morgenthau, Jr. and Assistant Treasury Secretary Harry Dexter White— would have killed 10 million Germans by starvation and disease in the first two years after the war. (White has been named as a Soviet spy on the basis of the Venona documents.) This would have been in addition to the 1 million that had been killed in saturation bombing and 3 million in forced expulsions. As Secretary of War Henry L. Stimson wrote in his diary, “I found around me, particularly Morgenthau, a very bitter atmosphere of personal resentment against the entire German people without regard to individual guilt, of the Nazis.”
As recounted by Joseph Bendersky, American military officers commonly believed that there were many anti‑German Jews in the U.S. military government after World War II who were bent on de‑nazification and revenge. “Feeling inhibited from speaking publicly by alleged Jewish power, a number of officers, as well as some government officials, complained incessantly in private that Jewish ‘refugees in American uniforms,’ together with Jews in the U.S. government, unduly affected American policy toward Germany in a variety of detrimental ways” (p. 364). Refugee officers (i.e., German Jews returning as members of the U.S. military government) treated Germans brutally, including sadistic beatings and starvation (p. 365). In general, these Jews advocated harsh treatment, the concept of collective guilt, and trials for general staff officers.The reputation of these refugee officers was so bad that the Army ended up firing personnel who had entered the U.S. after 1933.
Although modern mainstream historiography and the media downplay Kaufmann’s little booklet and Ehrenburg’s hectoring of Soviet soldiers, their words had a significant psychological impact on the behavior of Allied soldiers.
Anti-German hatred did not stop when the war was over. It is still well alive and thriving, albeit by resorting to far more sophisticated methods. Over the last 70 years anti-German racism, under the guise of the fluid word ‘antifascism’ has been the pivot of the “negative legitimacy” of Western civilization in the eyes of intellectual elites. Anti-German hatred still represents the unavoidable pillar of the world order, including international law. Any dent in it would seriously harm the modern system and would possibly bring it down.
There is also a psychological dimension to a racist act. Usually the bigger the magnitude of a racist crime the more intellectual effort is needed by its perpetrator to hide it, or explain it away, either by propagandistic or by pedagogical tools. Perpetrators of huge racist crimes, such as those committed by the Allies against the German people, were subsequently obliged to project their own crimes on their German victims. By reversing the semantics of the word ‘racism,’ they were able to carry out their own racist policies, while at the same time naming the German victim as an exemplary role model of racism. Consequently, the victors of WWII had no other option but to trivialize or hush up their crimes, while simultaneously doctoring up the image of their own victimhoods while ascribing their own evildoing as a racially inborn trait of the defeated German side. The postmodern liberal “antifascist” and “antiracist” discourse of “crying wolf” — blaming the Other for one’s own dark and criminal secrets, can be traced to good old fable teller Aesop and his allegories about human duplicity.
Freda Utley, a former communist intellectual, who very early learned the meta-language of the Allied propaganda and who later turned into an anticommunist writer, observed the psychology of the victors and their usage of semantic pyrotechnics. As early as 1948 she knew what would become of Germany:
A thoughtful American professor, whom I met in Heidelberg, expressed the opinion that the United States military authorities on entering Germany and seeing the ghastly destruction wrought by our obliteration bombing were fearful that knowledge of it would cause a revulsion of opinion in America and might prevent the carrying out of Washington’s policy for Germany by awakening sympathy for the defeated and realization of our war crimes. This, he believes, is the reason why a whole fleet of aircraft was used by General Eisenhower to bring journalists, Congressmen, and churchmen to see the concentration camps; the idea being that the sight of Hitler’s starved victims would obliterate consciousness of our own guilt. Certainly it worked out that way.” (Freda Utley,The High Cost of Vengeance (Chicago: Henry Regnery Co. 1949)
Judicial Review or Racial Review?
There is also a judicial aspect of modern anti-German racism, well observed by the German legal scholar Carl Schmitt, who witnessed himself this unparalleled German drama. Wars declared “good” and specifically wars fought in the name of “democracy and human rights,” are the most barbaric ones. A democratic warrior is obliged to place his enemy below democratic standards, or simply set him outside the category of human beings. This was likely the image of Germans crossing the mind of American commanders when given orders to firebomb German cities. There were no longer “bad Krauts” residing in the crosshairs of the bombers, but monstrous beasts — a unique type of bacteria, a special form of disease that needed to be chemically removed in order to make the word safe for democracy.
Psychologically speaking American aircraft pilots or naïve GIs had perfect consciousness, being firmly convinced that some ugly telluric creatures from the Bible, some stray Gogs or Magogs, lived down under in the medieval cities of Cologne, Dresden, Bremen, and Munich. It is no accident that the largest Allied firebombing — of Hamburg in July 1943 — had a code name from the Old Testament: ‘Gomorrah.’
This pattern of demonization of the adversary was first used by the North against the South in legitimizing the Union aggression in 1863 and later on in brainwashing the Southerners. More recently it was used by George W. Bush and his neocon advisors in legitimizing military intervention in Iraq, notably by parroting the expression “Axis of Evil,” put together by his Canadian-American Jewish advisor David Frum in subliminal reference to Axis countries of WWII. In both historical instances, Deuteronomy, Chapter VII, with its prescriptions for genocide, was used as a handbook against unchosen ones. As Schmitt writes:
Hostility becomes so absolute that even the most ancient sacral differentiation between the enemy and the criminal disappears in the paroxysm of self-righteousness. To doubt one’s own justice appears as treason; to show interest in the opponent’s arguments is viewed as treacherousness, and the attempt to start discussion is considered as agreement with the enemy. (Ex Captivitate Salus, Erfahrungen der Zeit 1945/47 (Köln: Greven Verlag, 1950, p. 58).
After 1945, with the hindsight of the Allied terror bombing and fresh memories of immense suffering, the mimicry of political rectitude amidst the new German ruling class was comprehensible. Hundreds of thousands of German intellectuals had to be purged from schools and universities and newspapers and also obliged to fill out the demeaning Questionnaires (“Fragebogen”), while renouncing over and over again their “authoritarian personality.” The high priests of the Frankfurt School, specialists in “laundering the German character,”accomplished their work meticulously. (See Caspar Schrenck von Notzing;also my Homo Americanus.) In the decades to come German politicians had to prove that they could perform their liberal democratic tasks better than their American tutors. Given that all signs of nationalism, let alone racialism, had to be erased, the only form of patriotism allowed to Germans was “constitutional patriotism”: “The German people had to adapt itself to the constitution, instead of adapting the constitution to the German people,” writes the German legal scholar, Günther Maschke (Das bewaffnete Wort (“Die Verschwörung der Flakhelfer”) (Wien und Lepzig: Karolinger Verlag, 1997) p. 74; my emphasis).
The word ‘German’ has become synonymous with evil. German studies in the US academe have been thoroughly neglected; any mentioning of “German culture” is still reminiscent of the time span stretching from 1933 to 1945. Today, the Germans are a thoroughly neurotic people, a case of the victor’s successful cultural (and genetic?) engineering — probably the most unique case in the history of mankind.
The peculiar hatred of German tormentors must be put into wider psychological perspective and possibly also described by an evolutionary psychologist. It was largely the subconscious knowledge of their low character in comparison to the Germans that tormentors of the German people acted in such a barbaric fashion.
The German people, as the synthesis of all European races and residing in the place where North and West meet South and East in Europe, are in many ways the most accomplished of all Indo-European peoples. Rising from the ashes of WWII, they have built the strongest, most productive economy in Europe.Germans have a special sense of space and order (Ordnung and Ortung), which other European peoples do not have to the same degree. There is a joke that even a German drug addict knows how to neatly dispose of his used needles.
In addition, the German language is the richest Indo-European language. It enables hundreds of thousands of neologisms and compound nouns; it is timeless and endless and ideal for philosophical speculation. Unlike the English language and even more so the highly contextual French language (which is full of antonyms and homonyms), the German language is a straight-forward and a very “earthbound” language, having in addition a solid normative grammar. Alas, unlike French, its major fault is that it does not give a speaker latitude for diplomatic weaselling.
The paradox of our postmodernity is that despite being the most demonized people on earth, Germans are the most welcome people anywhere. Unlike the French, the English, and let alone the Americans, who are resented, if not despised in foreign countries, German businessmen, tourists and even their politically correct elites, are welcome everywhere. From the Arabic casbahs to India’s bazaars, barefooted street kids yell in great respect when they spot Germans: “Alemani! Alemani!” Officially, even Germany’s former archenemies in Russia and Israel reserve to German diplomats a far more lavish treatment than they do to other foreign diplomats.
Subconsciously everybody knows that something terrible and unspeakable happened to Germans. But it’s not deserving loud and open discourse — at least not for now.