Lately I have been seeing a lot of stories about Germany’s anti-Nazi laws. The more I read the stories the more I think the Germans have gone over the deep end on this one. I will agree that what the Nazis did to Germany and the world is horrible in the extreme. I also agree that after WWII Germany was in need of deprogramming but 60 years on the time has come for the Germans to serious look at these laws. It seems to me the issue now is free expression and free speech. If the Germans must oppress political speech in order to have a stable society then they have not come very far from the days of the Nazis.
In Germany, an arm gesture will get you in the news, especially if you are a prince. Even a dog is not allowed to give the Nazi salute, but Hitler’s moustache does not seem to be illegal. You can be arrested and put in jail for song lyrics and, naturally, anything with the Nazi flag or a swastika is outlawed. Furniture named after Nazis is not illegal so I guess there is still some hope for a free Germany. The Germans are so committed to state censorship it is illegal to be home-schooled. Parents can be put in jail if their children are not in public schools being indoctrinated. Many of these tactics are the same ones the Nazis used when they were in power.
One of the true ironies of Germany’s laws is that it is illegal to be a Holocaust denier. But, you cannot display Nazi symbols or teachings. Hitler’s Mein Kampf is illegal to possess or read. How, exactly, can you study the history of Germany, the Holocaust or the Nazis and not be able to read the main source materials? How are the German people to truly understand how evil the Nazis are if no one can properly learn about them? The Nazi flag was the national flag of Germany after the Bremen Incident in 1935. How can you study the period without seeing the national flag?
Sadly, anti-Nazi hysteria is not limited to Germany. Prince Harry has the EU in an uproar over his Nazi costume. Seems they want to enact anti-Nazi laws across the entire EU in response the prince’s lack of taste. France and Austria have laws very similar to those of Germany and they seemed to be used mostly to control politicians who espouse unpopular views, not just to control actual Nazis. As an American, I find it impossible to understand how a ‘free’ society can outlaw a political part, no matter how offensive their views.
The Nazi legacy is seen in different lights at different times. It is also viewed differently depending on were you are. In the former East Germany Nazism was seen as an underground opposition party to the Communists. In the West it was equated with the greatest evils of mankind. Ironically, in the West, many former Nazis were rehabilitated and put to work for the West German government or for the West German army. In both the Soviet Union and the United States Nazis with special skills were forgiven and pressed into service for the victors.
This Nazi legacy has had a profound impact on German society and by extention Europe as a whole. I believe this is the main cause of German and European cowardice in the face of modern aggression. Their inability to respond to modern genocide and dictators insults the memory all who suffered and died fighting the Nazi horror. The greatest crime America has ever committed is turning the Germans into the French.