Saturday, February 4, 2017
Nazi-Occupied Germany: A Phrase to Exculpate Germany
The book "Bieganski: The Brute Polak Stereotype" shows how through folk and popular culture, history is manipulated to exculpate Germans and to indict Poles and other Eastern Europeans. This blog continues that work.
Blog reader Sue Knight has just alerted me to a new wrinkle, one so devious I had never imagined it. The use of the phrase "Nazi-occupied Germany."
I thought that phrase so weird that it must have been used only once, in the BBC piece Sue mentioned. A quote from that piece:
"But Bertha was one of the lucky ones. Back in Germany, Bertha's mother and father had made arrangements to escape from Nazi occupied Germany. In a dangerous journey they slowly made their way across Europe and in 1944, five years since they were last together, Bertha's family were finally reunited in England."
I was wrong. I googled the phrase "Nazi occupied Germany" and found thousands of instances, including from the past month, as here:
"Join Sonja Maier Geismar, a St. Louis survivor, in a conversation with Armando Lucas Correa, author of The German Girl, the story of a twelve-year-old girl’s harrowing experience fleeing Nazi-occupied Germany with her family and best friend, only to discover that the overseas asylum they had been promised is an illusion."
This phrasing exculpates Germans. They are not responsible for Nazism; they were "occupied" by something foreign over which they had no control.
In fact Germans were themselves the Nazis, and significant numbers of Germans voted for Hitler.
Ironically, the same media and scholars who refer to Nazi Germany as "Nazi occupied Germany" often refer to Poland, a country that was attacked, occupied, and all but destroyed, as being responsible for Nazi crimes committed in Poland, as in the phrase "Polish concentration camp" and other similar shiftings of responsibility and guilt.
Polonia would benefit from engaging in the public sphere and contributing to changes in how WW II is discussed.