Second World War still key to German identity

Seventy years after the end of the Second World War, Germans still feel that they deal with its legacy in everyday life, a survey published on Tuesday shows.

The survey, conducted by YouGov for the German Press Agency (dpa), was carried out ahead of the 70th anniversary of the end of the war on May 8th and interviewed 1,000 people.

It shows that 81 percent of Germans believe that Berlin’s actions on the world stage are still influenced by the Nazi period.

Germany’s duty towards Israel, the importance of the relationships with France and Poland and the sensitivity of relations with Russia were all cited as being affected by the Second World War.

Only 8 percent of those asked said Germany’s current foreign policies have no connection with the Nazi past.

  • David Murrell

    There are a few perceptive opinion essays being published, suggesting that it is time to end World War II (one recently published in the National Post). Part of a maturity of a society, is to foregive others and to put things to rest.

    I grew up in the U.S., and my father’s side of the family hailed from the deep South. As a little boy growing up in the 1950s, I had to suffer through the wailings of bitter Southerners whining about Reconstruction and other stuff. Eventually in the U.S. the Civil War — and the pre-war and post-war periods –have been laid to rest. Except perhaps for the far-left loons who demand slavery repayments, and other such junk. But the same holds for Germany: the Germans today are innocent of what went on in WWII.

    • I agree David, inherited guilt is an invention of the left.

      • Waffle

        Sorry, BCF, but war is a traumatizing experience that leaves its imprint on the psyche of countless generations. Numerous studies have been done. I will try to dig some out and pass them on when I have time, but I have to run now.

      • truthdareisay

        Fur.. It wasn’t merely a “war.” It was 2/3rds of Europe’s Jewry wiped out in the most heinous of ways. For children of Holocaust survivors, they grew up with nightmares and screams of their parents, the tears when parents spoke about their so young brothers and sisters who were slaughtered. It was about so many millions of non-Jews slaughtered because they were homo sexual, or Roma or in some way disabled. Europe never truly grieved WW2 and so we see what is happening in Europe today.

  • Doug Kursk

    Anti-French sentiments have existed in Germany (in varying degrees) since the Franco-Prussian War; moreover, there is still a strong current of anti-Semitism that has pervaded their society since the middle ages. That also tends to be a European constant no matter the age or political regime.

    That said, there are no greater Jew haters than the French. As much as the Germans have turned introspection for their wartime actions into the national zeitgeist, the French, conversely, have never taken the lessons garnered after the Dreyfuss affair to heart. The French drift in a state of denial that their society was possibly even more anti-Semitic than Germany if only in thought and not deed.

    Many Germans feel cowed and paralyzed when it comes to foreign policy, especially if it involves the military. There is a deep sense of sadness among the wartime generation: the costs in lives, physical and mental health, world standing etc. deeply affected them. The 12 years of National Socialist rule left a permanent dark cloud over subsequent generations and has negated, in their minds, hundreds of years of non Nazi culture and achievement.

    It is felt in Germany that this will only abate after the wartime generation has passed away. Remember, the previous generation who were the vanguard of the party (and the instigators of the seizure of power) have long since passed into the void.It is now the 18 year olds who filled the ranks of the SS and Wehrmacht in 1945 who carry the burden (and who often pass the guilt down to their children like old furniture…) and they are on average in their late 80’s.

  • k

    ….. sins of the father = for 7 generations
    Well the racism of the Left is…
    that they do not hold 3rd WORLD NATIONS TO …ACCOUNT!
    I want to HEAR people lambasting HUTU’s for the Rwandan genocide of Tutsi’s, Gang wars of Jamaica, Thai families FORCING their girls into prostitution! Indian families CUTTING OFF THE ARMS AND LEGS OF THEIR CHILDREN TO BEG ON THE STREETS and Middle Class India says oh yah that’s uneducated GET OFF YOUR ASSES AND FIX IT!

  • Georgina

    Much as American children are taught about slavery and white guilt, German and Austrian children are still being taught (70 years later!) to feel an associated guilt for the crimes of people long dead. School social studies reinforce their ‘guilt’ almost daily.
    Of course as a ‘militant’ atheist, I blame the judeo/christian religions – all that sins of the fathers & scapegoat BS.
    Children born AFTER 1945 can not be guilty of crimes commited BEFORE 1945.
    Time for the world pop. to grow up and teach children to accept responsibility only for crimes they have commited.

  • hymie

    The problem Germans have is they think they are superior but twice last century they were proved wrong, this permeates their collective psyche and plays itself out when a mass trip to the shrink would do the country a lot of good (possibly).

  • As history is being repeated, shaming is pointless. Of course the Second World War should be discussed and Germans should not forget what precipitated these terrible events. But blaming current generations as though they were to blame is unconscionable.