Wednesday, August 2, 2017

Jerry Meldon Retrospective: Kohl's Defeat & Hitler's Ghost

Adolf Hitler's long shadow extended over many of West Germany's post-war political leaders, especially after the Cold War brought a premature end to the de-nazification program. In the name of economic and political stability, the Allies struck deals with many of Hitler's supposedly less despicable accomplices, deals that shaped the Kohl era.

Kohl himself was not implicated in the crimes of World War II. He counted himself lucky to have been under military age -- 15 years old -- when the war ended. Like many young Germans, he belonged to the Hitler Youth. But he shoulders no personal guilt from the war.

The same is not true for many of Kohl’s financial backers. Kohl was one of the Christian Democrats who benefitted from secret ties to former Nazi industrialists, the same men who assisted Hitler's rise to power in the 1920s and '30s.

Indeed, if the West had not relented on its German de-nazification program, Kohl might never have climbed to the pinnacle of national leadership, let alone come to dominate German politics for the past 16 years.

Through his career -- and his hushed connections to Hitler's old allies -- Kohl personified an ambivalent political class which, on one level, denounced the atrocities of the Holocaust while, on another, protected some of the business executives who benefitted from Jewish slave labor.  (more...)

H/T to Spitfire List:

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