Thursday, January 15, 2009

The News of the Past

The process of de-Nazification that was begun and continued in Germany after World War II may have stalled a bit, especially since the fall of the Berlin Wall and the arrival of generations of Germans who never experienced the de-Nazification programme, as they were confined to East Germany under a repressive regime which forbade discussion of the Nazi era. Now. the Times reports, a British publisher is releasing facsimiles of Nazi-era newspapers - these may even eventually include the rabidly anti-Semitic Der Stürmer -  so that contemporary Germans can become acquainted with this dark era from their country's past. With the current rise of anti-Semitic sentiment in Europe as a whole, the project looks as though it may be distinctly double-edged - but it also marks a watershed:

The appeal of the facsimiles in the first instance is to Germans fascinated by the breach of a taboo that has been intact for more than 60 years. In Germany books are removed from the shelves if they bear a swastika, and the Hitler salute is forbidden. Mr McGee has been given special dispensation to reproduce the Nazi propaganda with all its insignia for its historical value.

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