BOCHUM, Germany—Sixty years after the end of World War II, older Germans are living the good life. To finance luxurious state-based pension plans, they have slowly been bankrupting every other sector of the German government. Pensioners have consistently voted to increase their own pension payouts and at the same time decrease their taxes, shifting the burden to younger and poorer German workers.
From where does the selfishness of the current pensioner generation derive? Their quality-of-life expectations were set, as the renowned historian Götz Aly, argues in his study Hitler’s Volkstaat (Hilter’s People’s Nation), by Adolph Hitler during the Third Reich.
Aly successfully argues that 95 percent of Germans loved Hitler because he radically and steadily improved the quality of their lives, as measured by material affluence, educational opportunities, meaningful employment and participation in local political decision-making processes. (Of course, after the Communists, Socialists Jews, trade unionists and other “troublemakers” had been detained in concentration camps).
Nazi Booty Grabbing
Despite his massive war machine, Hitler never once raised taxes. In fact, he continuously lowered taxes throughout his dictatorship. He established, as Aly makes clear, the most extensive and opportunity-rich socialist state ever invented within the Occident. He financed his social state by plundering first, Germany’s internal Jewry, and thereafter, by plundering all available wealth in the countries the Reich invaded: Poland, Hungary, France, etc., Viking style. One reason Germans bombed targeted countries so sparingly and instead relied on foot soldiers and tanks is precisely because Hitler wanted to preserve potential booty from destruction. He literally could not afford to aerial bomb his victims. The riches of the invaded countries were gathered together by Nazi soldiers and systematically shipped home – not only bank accounts, jewelry and gold – but furniture, automobiles, appliances and foodstuffs. Anything that could be transported was sent back to the workers in the Fatherland.
Up to the very end of the war, Germans experienced a steadily rising standard of living, despite massive Allied bombing campaigns. Aly points out the large number of supposedly “bombed-out” Germans who emerged from the war rich enough to start up small industrial ventures. Material wealth had been well hidden in bomb-safe cellars and bunkers. Under the auspices of the Marshall Plan and protected during the Cold War by the U.S. nuclear umbrella, “ex-Nazis” rebuilt their country with astonishing swiftness. Within five years, West Germany was already beginning to assert its former economic might across Europe. And the German social state emerged from the ashes like a phoenix.
Hitler’s Youth Revolution
Aly makes quite lucid how Hitler wooed and seduced young Germans at the outset of his political career. To be young then was heaven. The Third Reich was largely the result of a Youth Revolution. Never before had any European nation offered so many educational and career opportunities to its young. For members of the German Volk, the Nazi state represented an admirably flexible meritocracy that rewarded diligence and talent alike, according to Aly. The reason so few German historians have been willing to admit this undeniable fact, despite the overwhelming evidence Aly has gathered together, is because it brings up seriously disturbing questions about the so-called remorse of the post-war generation. Even while they were bemoaning the catastrophe of the Third Reich, they were continuing to fulfill precisely the same set of quality-of-life expectations Hitler himself had created. If this generation refused to adjust their consuming desires, how authentic could their penance have been?
The youth revolution of the Third Reich did not disappear; it just got older. Numerous popular novels, feature-length films and TV documentaries now promote nostalgia for the good old days of the Nuremberg Rallies, when German workers were de-alienated from the product of their labor and made to feel that building tanks and guns was a transcendent religious calling. The Nazi generation continues to plunder “others” in order to finance its lifestyle. But today, it’s not Polish Jews or French Normans who are paying the bills of the Nazi generation; it’s Germans under the age of 40, the first generation in the history of German civilization whose lifestyle will not supercede its parents. Should it be surprising these younger generations are refusing to procreate? The birth rate continues to sink further and further below the mortality rate. Nazi plundering has come full circle.
The Germans of the Nazi Youth Revolution have never called the 8th of May a day of liberation, instead regarding it as a day of German capitulation, a term used more and more frequently in the mainstream media to describe this month’s anniversary. It seems inaccurate to use either “liberation” or “capitulation” to describe the 8th of May. Given the fact this dying generation of “ex-Nazis” enjoyed, post-War, a nearly totally Jewish-free Germany along with a standard of living utterly unknown to most peoples of Europe before or since, it’s difficult to conclude that Hitler and his Volkstaat actually lost the war.
Only now is their bill finally being paid by Germans themselves. And therein lies the irony: Germans under 40 eschew the notion, and rightly, that they share any guilt for the crimes of their grandparents. Yet, it’s they who will suffer the economic and social pain that history normally associates with defeated empires.