Why Germany can’t get rid of the ghosts of the past and its guilt of being a follower.
von Jochen Mitschka
My father suffered from nightmares for the last 60 years of his life until he died at the ripe old age of 95. The ghosts of war haunted his dreams every night. My mother had grown up far away from the war in Bavaria. But not far from a concentration camp. She was haunted until her death by the shadows of the atrocities committed there. But neither of them had actively resisted, indeed they had supported the system and were convinced they were doing the right thing.
Today, a generation is in power that has hardly any contact with the contemporary witnesses, with the generation that took on the guilt of the followers.
And what I observe around me today, among the generations to which my children and grandchildren belong, is again the same kind of fellow-travellerism. Moreover, there are those who believe they can use violence as a political tool, promoting imperialist crimes while claiming to represent a “revolution”.
My father was drafted just before he was to be made an accountant in a shoe factory at a very young age. He just wanted to get back as soon as possible to work on his career. But things turned out differently. The seventh wound left a shrapnel in his head that was to plague him for the rest of his life, along with the memories of the war.
The guilt he had incurred as a soldier weighed so heavily that as a child he forbade me to own any kind of firearm during the carnival season. A cowboy without a gun? Doesn’t matter! The main thing was no guns. For him, the rearmament of Germany was the start of a spiral that would inevitably lead to another war. Since the war of aggression against Yugoslavia, which was based on lies, we know that he was right.
The hope that arose after the Nuremberg Trials that people would abide by international law in the future proved to be naïve in the last 30 years at the latest. That is why I have left my pacifist past behind. There is a new power that wants to dominate the world – and it wants to do so by all means, especially those of war. And pacifism only works if the opponent has a minimum of morals and ethics, something that cannot be seen at present in the hegemonic warlike conflicts.
The establishment that was established after the war, a new kind of aristocracy into which one is admitted through the right schools and universities, through sentiments and solidarity actions, controls German society today in an even more perfect form than was the case some 90 years ago. And unfortunately, three generations later, the German phenomenon of fellow travellers is once again becoming a majority phenomenon.
When I tried to understand what my parents were doing when Hitler seized power, I asked my mother if she had not known what was happening in the concentration camps. She replied:
“We suspected that something terrible was happening. Whenever one of the guards employed there came to our house, it was quiet. Everyone suspected something, but no one asked questions, no one WANTED to know what was happening in the concentration camp.”
Today, when I tell someone about the lies of the powerful, they usually don’t want to hear it. “Oh, that’s far too much text, I don’t have time for that…”. People also like to put things into perspective by explaining, “Oh, they’re all lying anyway.”
My mother often told me how hard life was, and that she tried to get into an ideal world by reading and watching Sissi films, which made her forget the hardship of the struggle for survival for a while. Today there are many more distractions that are consciously supported by the establishment. Bundesliga, party, rock concerts and very topical: social media with music, cats and other fun videos.
The inverted Basic Law
After the horror of the Nazi dictatorship, the fathers and mothers of the Basic Law (Grundgesetz) made every effort to prevent history from repeating itself by creating a good constitution. No more wars were to start from German soil, the rich were to bear a fair share of the state’s costs and not be able to decide alone on the policies of large companies, privacy, postal secrecy, protection of the home, etc. were to be given the highest priority.
|[For more background information about Germany’s Basic Law see: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Basic_Law_for_the_Federal_Republic_of_Germany]|
In short, the Basic Law was intended to fulfill the task for which constitutions had been introduced in the first place: The subject was to be protected from the arbitrariness of the ruler. Unfortunately, the meaning of the Basic Law has been reversed over the decades; today it serves to protect the rulers from control by the ruled.
“I am not giving any information about the reasons here,” a representative of the Federal Government gave in response to a question at the Federal Press Conference on 15 December 2014. The question, to which she did not give a satisfactory answer, related to why the federal government awarded contracts to private companies known to be carrying out and conducting spying missions in Germany for the NSA. Her answers to other questions were a bit longer and wordier, but sent basically the same message, meaning: “We are here to tell you what we want you to tell outside, so don’t bug us”.
If you follow the answers at the Federal Press Conference on 5 February 2015, you will realise that the above impression is not an isolated case, but is definitely part of the system.
The spokespersons sit elevated on a podium like otherwise only the judges in a supreme court. And the answers sound accordingly. Here, it is not the sovereign who questions his government, but a ruler humbles himself to spread information as if it were charity, and this, of all things, on a subject where the credibility of the government is at stake, as in the case of torture (from 0:12 min.) and the corruptibility of government members (17:00 min.).
What does the German sin of being a follower have to do with the Constitution?
Well, Germans have shrugged at the creeping erosion of the Constitution and thus of the basic democratic order and looked after their careers instead of heeding the lessons of the past. What is actually left of the characteristics of a democracy listed on Wikipedia today?
Free elections certainly exist in Germany. However, if one reads the exact definition of what is meant by “free elections”, one finds a whole series of preconditions that need to be discussed in Germany. For example, one wonders whether it has been realised that every eligible person can campaign without discrimination. For this, one should look at party financing and the reimbursement of election campaign costs.
Or let’s look at the preferential treatment of civil servants over workers and employees, housewives and farmers when applying for a political mandate. It is also interesting to see how legal parties such as AfD or Die Linke are prevented, with the help of the government, from being able to exercise their rights as a political party without interference.
In my opinion, the ban on “…opinion manipulation through false promises or [through] false or defamatory claims before the election…” is also violated with great regularity. Or what other purpose is served by the media dissemination of the information that members of the Bundestag elected by the people are being monitored by the Office for the Protection of the Constitution?
Or how else should one interpret the regular exclusion of right-wing and left-wing parties, even by the Federal President and even with the aim of preventing the election of a left-wing prime minister?
What about the government’s acceptance of the opposition, which is so important for the functionality of democracy? As can be seen particularly well in the current Grand Coalition, the government accepts an opposition, but withholds information essential for political decision-making from it to an ever greater extent. More and more often, this is done with arguments such as a necessity for “national security”, arguments that one is actually more accustomed to from dictatorships.
Or with the argument that one must not reveal company secrets. When even the disclosure of information to an opposition MP (e.g. Dr. Alexander Neu) is openly refused, but other MPs are given access to the same information, it is clear that double standards are being applied.
Only the opposition that is perceived as a “good opposition” receives its rights in full. However, as soon as an opposition seriously tries to fulfil its task, it is denied its due right without any consequences.
Constitutionality with regard to the Federal Republic of Germany is not without delicacy. Only a sovereign people can give itself a constitution. But according to Finance Minister Schäuble and other top politicians, Germany has never been fully sovereign since the unconditional surrender of the Nazi regime. Consequently, one would have to ask whether a country that is not sovereign and does not have a constitution in the full sense of the word can be a democracy at all.
But let us assume that our Basic Law fulfils the role of a constitution in the sense of the above definition. Do those in power then act constitutionally? This is doubtful, given the large number of laws that are overturned by the Federal Constitutional Court.
It must also be taken into account that only a small proportion of the laws that are questioned with regard to their conformity with the Basic Law are actually rejected. For the composition of the Federal Constitutional Court is determined by the parties, i.e. by those whose deeds the court has to judge.
And so a negative judgement by the Constitutional Court is always understood more as a friendly request to please formulate the law differently in the near future than as a warning shot that one may not have acted constitutionally and may even have to expect consequences.
And the statement by a federal minister that if the deployment of the Bundeswehr in Iraq was not in conformity with the constitution, the constitution would have to be amended, indicates that the Basic Law has long since ceased to be taken seriously by the members of the government.
The fathers and mothers of the Basic Law stipulated in Art 97 (1) that judges should be independent and subject only to the law. Why this has never been realised can be seen at www.gewaltenteilung.de. This shortcoming also applies to the Federal Constitutional Court.
The page does not mention the fact that former top politicians, who are themselves responsible for laws, move to the court. The result is that courts are supposed to judge the constitutionality of laws that were created by colleagues of constitutional judges themselves.
This is an approach where neutrality is questionable, to say the least. It is almost comparable to the revolving door policy by which top politicians now switch to business and back again. Yet the representatives of both social subsystems actually have the task of controlling the other subsystem, in the case of a politician, even with the power of the law in the background.
The spirit of the German Basic Law, all experts agree, is best expressed in its core concern that war should never again emanate from German soil. Article 26 of the Basic Law, however, stupidly formulates this concern in such a way that the PREPARATION of a war of aggression is punished, but the waging of a war of aggression itself is not specifically prohibited. And thankfully for this linguistic omission, this passage was never clarified and thus adapted to the spirit of the Basic Law.
It is almost certain that the founding fathers and mothers could not have imagined that there could be a war of aggression without preparation.
And certainly they had assumed that the conduct of a war of aggression should of course also be punishable. But even when it becomes undeniably clear that the government is assisting in the preparation of a war of aggression, no investigator from the Office of the Attorney General appears to enforce the law. This should be illustrated by just one of dozens of examples.
This latest case, in which Article 26 was simply ignored, was again justified with extremely inventive formulations. The reasoning provided is as questionable as it is richly sophistical in its interpretation that “war of aggression [is] not the same as preparation for a war of aggression”.
In view of this absurd reasoning practice, the Attorney General should be relieved that the troublesome paragraph 80 in the Criminal Code, which described the punishment of the preparation of a war of aggression, has been deleted in the meantime “in order to bring the German legal situation into line with EU standards”.
Due to legal restrictions, civil rights are now hardly suitable for effectively fulfilling their mandate of protecting individual citizens from the state.
Although they still provide a certain degree of protection against violations of rights by other citizens, the state has granted itself such extensive exceptions that in many cases the original intention has been turned into its opposite.
Take the example of the secrecy of correspondence. Since the 17th century, it has protected people from being spied on. At the time, the possibilities for this were quite limited anyway. It took a lot of effort to “violate” the secret of a letter or even to systematically monitor a person.
After these hurdles fell in the 21st century, since it has become much easier to systematically and comprehensively monitor e-mails, which replace normal letters, i.e. are quasi the legal successors of letters, the regulations are not tightened, which would have corresponded to the spirit and meaning of the regulation, but are practically abrogated.
And this is done with great matter-of-factness, as if the spirit and meaning of the secrecy of correspondence had never existed.
Human rights are those rights that have been defined in the Basic Law in such a way that, unlike the civil rights that apply only to citizens of Germany, they apply to all people residing in Germany without exception. In contradiction to these human rights, however, top German politicians have prevented the release from torture detention of Murat Kurnaz, a Turkish citizen living in Germany who is known to be an innocent prisoner of the USA who was illegally abducted on German territory.
Nor are any measures apparently being taken to clarify other crimes committed by US secret services on German soil and still being committed today. First and foremost, of course, the investigation of those crimes against humanity that took place in secret prisons of the USA on German soil is meant here. And of course there is no investigation of German accomplices.
The German government is preventing any criminal prosecution of US intelligence officers on the basis of allegations of torture that have been proven in the meantime, saying that the US would take care of this itself – which unfortunately has never been the case and will never be the case, as we all know. Rather, those who have made the crimes public are being punished.
In this context, the refusal mentioned at the very beginning to take a stand on why alleged US spy companies that violated the German constitution are also allowed to operate in the name of the German government and paid for it with taxpayers’ money. If this is justified with agreements that are above the constitution, but which the German people are not allowed to know, this means an even greater breach of democratic principles.
And if you look at the report linked here about drone assassinations coordinated and carried out from German soil, you are stunned to wonder what this still has to do with respect for human rights. In the linked TV programme, one could see how recruits were openly recruited for the purpose of carrying out actions from German soil that are contrary to human rights and international law. The Federal Government … knows nothing. And no public prosecutor is taking action.
Freedom of expression
Freedom of expression is explicitly mentioned in the aforementioned Wikipea article and described as being of outstanding importance for a democracy. Freedom of opinion would only be given in the full sense of Article 5(1) of the Basic Law if every opinion were also disseminated in the media in accordance with the proportion of the population group it represents in society as a whole.
The establishment of public broadcasting and its structure were already the right approach. However, here, too, watering down to the point of complete perversion has long since taken place. The deviations from the constitutional mandate and especially from the requirement of state neutrality had recently become so great that the Federal Constitutional Court finally even declared the ZDF State Treaty unconstitutional.
With the independence of public broadcasting from the state, an important pillar of democracy has fallen away. In addition to the public media, however, there are now private media. And here, freedom of opinion has in fact been restricted even more, because every media entrepreneur can prescribe the propagation of his own opinion to the journalists employed by him (tendency company regulation).
He is not obliged to offer a socially balanced diversity of opinion, but can determine all by himself which opinion his medium represents. A broader public became aware of this fact when it became known that employees at Springer Verlag were obliged in writing to refrain from doing anything that could harm the interests of the USA or Israel.
With the private media alongside the public media, there are now two media power blocs: that of the state representatives, the country’s political elite, and that of the wealthy who can afford to finance a media outlet themselves.
The results of the study so far already indicate the direction in which an analysis of the state system will lead with regard to its actual (i.e. not merely formal) form of rule. For they reveal clear manifestations of a polyarchy.
Unfortunately, the interests of politics on the one hand and business and banks on the other have grown together strongly in recent decades, not only as a result of the revolving door policy, so that one can now assume that, apart from isolated conflicts between these two social subsystems, the same tenor of opinion will prevail.
This can currently be well observed in the harmony between politics, public media and private media in the portrayal of the Syria and Ukraine conflicts or the banking crisis, called the financial crisis of the EU. There are signs of a development that has already been completed in the USA, namely that of an oligarchy.
Suppression of freedom of expression does not (yet) take place in Germany by imprisoning and murdering critical journalists. Instead, they are simply deprived of their economic livelihood. They no longer find employers or clients.
Examples of such “outcasts” are, to mention just a few cases, Frieder Wagner, the maker of the award-winning film about the consequences of uranium ammunition (Deadly Dust), Andreas von Bülow, former top politician and author, Christoph Hörstel, who, until, Christoph Hörstel, who, until he began to express dissident opinions, worked as an ARD correspondent and advisor to the German government, Ken Jebsen, who can openly and futilely challenge a lawsuit claiming that the Intendanz lied about his case in order to get rid of him when he came under criticism from transatlantic circles.
And of course such fears become a self-fulfilling prophecy. Because then suddenly these journalists appear on “enemy broadcasters” and promptly it’s, “See, he’s always been one of them.”
Where is Germany drifting?
Where is Germany heading when Bavaria introduces indefinite preventive detention (which will probably be overturned by the Federal Constitutional Court at the latest), when the Bundeswehr is made fit for counter-insurgency instead of national defence and primarily has offensive weapons systems at its disposal, when our arms expenditure doubles? when, against all reason and ignoring history, not Europe but a transatlantic EU, which merely serves as bait for NATO (no membership without security partnership), is declared the guarantor of a policy of peace promotion, when we help bomb a sovereign country without being asked to do so, to name just a few examples from Absurdistan?
My father told me how Russians were systematically and persistently demonised by Nazi propaganda, how they were dehumanised. All the atrocities a human brain could think of were attributed to them.
He also told me how you couldn’t get rid of it at the time because there were no alternative means of information. And if you heard something different from a communist or opponent of the system, you simply didn’t want to believe him.
That is Germany’s original sin: not wanting to see what is unpleasant and not questioning the grand narrative that one accepted as the only truth at school, in one’s studies, in the course of one’s career.
The follower’s guilt
People caught in the trap of establishment propaganda have a hard time seeing the absurdity of it because the facts, the (relative) truth, seem too improbable to them.
For the lies and distortions of the establishment’s propaganda are so overwhelming that it is hard to believe that it could be otherwise. Then there is the protective function that we in Germany have known only too well since Hitler, shielding the elites and leaders from any grievance that is always perceived as a singular deviation from an ideal that is in itself morally flawless, as revealed, for example, in sayings such as “if the Führer knew”.
That in truth the moneyed aristocracy, business leaders, politicians, top civil servants, senior members of the judiciary, leading media and therefore also their journalists are all part of an establishment that essentially thinks alike seems like a gigantic conspiracy theory to the majority of the members of this group as well as to its propaganda victims.
The increasingly high level of education in Germany certainly plays a role in this, albeit a negative one. Jacques Ellul already explained in the 1960s that people who grow up in an educational environment, go to school, study and work are much more receptive to propaganda that affects them in the sense of this educational environment. Because they believe in themselves.
And they believe that because they are educated, they must have an opinion on everything, know everything. Both together produce an ever thicker layer of faith in the digestion of propaganda and an ever less willingness to question one’s own faith. Uneducated people, on the other hand, but who have what is called “common sense”, are more willing to question the beliefs acquired in the shorter imprint of school and possibly study.
This mechanism is of course well known, and it is not for nothing that “promising young leaders” in business and politics from Germany are “promoted” in US universities through generous scholarships. It is not for nothing that the ordinary voter is denied the ability to co-decide complex political issues.
In Thailand, I was able to observe how students in the countryside introduced people who could just read and write to the human rights conventions and then asked whether they would apply to them.
This education led to a fundamental questioning of the authorities of the royal house and the military, indeed of the historically developed hierarchy as a whole, reinforced by the fact that some representatives of the previous hierarchy showed solidarity with this movement. Why did they do this? On the one hand, because they recognised the inevitability of change, and on the other hand, they wanted to reduce their inevitable loss of influence in an (uncertain future) by supporting the movement.
This eventually led to the military coup of 2006 and May 2014 and ultimately to Thailand now being a military dictatorship again. A dictatorship that is still supported by large parts of the “educated” for reasons described in the previous paragraph. Thailand is now a military dictatorship that receives military aid from the USA and is gladly accepted by German business leaders.
The politics of absurdity
If one observes, for example, the speeches in the UN Security Council, in which the most brazen lies are spread with the greatest fervour or conviction, without this being questioned by journalism, one begins to understand that there is a policy to make the truth appear so absurd that no one dares to even consider it. But this policy can turn into a pipe burst.
For in the cases of Ukraine and Syria, borders have been crossed that opened some people’s eyes. If politics now continues this propaganda of declaring reality an absurdity, it could happen that more and more people stumble over it and start to question this propaganda.
And again, the less educated will be at an advantage. For those “educated” who have succumbed to their own propaganda will, when they begin to recognise reality, excuse the lies in favour of a higher value. For they consider the goal to be achieved by these lies to be more valuable than the truth. For them, Machiavelli is often a mastermind who defined political action for eternity.
According to Wikipedia, Macchiavelli states that successful politics requires “the art of creating the right appearance” and further explains in the Book of Princes:
“People generally judge by sight, not with their hands. Everyone can see, but few can understand. Everyone sees how you act, few know how you are. And these few dare not oppose the opinion of the many. For these have the majesty of the state to defend their point of view.”
The prince must be able to uphold traditional morality ostensibly, but he must also – in the interest of the reason of state – not shy away from violence and terror.
We know this, we know history, but we do not want to realise what the consequences of our ignorance will be.
NS comparisons are inappropriate
It is often objected that it is inappropriate to compare the prehistory of the greatest crime of the 20th century with the situation we have seen in Germany in recent years.
In particular, it is objected that we do not adhere to any ideology to achieve world domination, that we do not prepare industrial mass murders. But that is too short-sighted.
Today, of course, Germany is not the country of 1933, but a country in complete dependence on a hegemon, namely the US establishment. Germany has become an aircraft carrier for the USA, on which the country’s “elites” are trying to get a few crumbs from the imperialist cake of the great hegemon and position themselves favourably for its expected downfall.
In this respect, the ideology of world domination is not our own, but that to which we have submitted.
And this hegemon is well on its way to surpassing the crimes of the Hitler regime, not only through its own crimes in the 20th century, but additional crimes in the 21st century.
A US study reveals, “The US regime has killed 20-30 million people since World War II.”
And when the citizens of the USA revolt against this and elect a populist outsider as president who promises to end the wars, the German establishment shows how much it has already succumbed to the murderous ideology of the USA’s exceptionalism and its claim to world domination and supports in every way the propaganda of the US establishment in order to force the president to maintain the previous course. Therefore, as soon as he has dropped the first bombs, he is praised.
Of course, there are also people in the US establishment who have not abandoned their morals and ethics in favour of exceptionalism. And there are more and more of them. Alongside well-known former government advisers or advisors such as Paul Craig Roberts and Michael Chossudovsky, scholars such as John Mearsheimer and Stephen Cohen are increasingly stepping forward to voice opinions and warnings that our establishment ignores.
Looking at the bloody trail of devastation by the US establishment and aided and abetted by Germany in the world over the last few years, from Yugoslavia to Iraq, Afghanistan, Libya, Syria and Ukraine, to name but the most important, one can well speak of a situation similar to that which existed before the outbreak of WW1 and WW2. And our complicity is in not wanting to see this.
We remain silent about the worst torture and human experimentation perpetrated by the CIA that a perverted brain can devise. We obstruct the dismantling of the nuclear weapons threat by refusing to support a UN initiative to that effect, in line with the US. We remain silent on this when a high-level US think tank writes:
“Advanced forms of biological warfare targeted at specific genotypes could transform biological warfare from the realm of terror into a useful political tool.”
Or in the original text:
“And advanced forms of biological warfare that can “target” specific genotypes may transform biological warfare from the realm of terror to a politically useful tool.”
And we are also silent on this when we learn that the US Air Force is actively searching for patterns of ribonucleic acid (RNA) and synovia from Russian humans on 19 July 2017, as revealed by the website FedBizOpps.Gov, which publishes requests for proposals for the armed forces (Folicitation Number: FA3016-17-U-0164).
We are silent on this, although after a Pentagon investigation it should have become conclusively clear that the US establishment uses war to assert its supremacy and is likely to use it increasingly to prevent the collapse of its hegemony.
Yet John Locke’s 17th century philosophy of the state already teaches us that coercion and violence will increase as the cultural and economic hegemony of the hegemon erodes.
Our fellow-traveller guilt is perhaps even worse than the guilt of the perpetrators, because we can recognise, if we want to, that the deeds of the hegemon and his allies or vassals contradict human dignity, human rights and the desire for peaceful coexistence.
For without fellow travellers, the deeds would not exist. This was explained to us after the last lost war, but we seem to have forgotten it.