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Nazism and Communism

Seamus Milne

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This debate should be about the simple fact that there still around us exists an admiration for the ideology which was brutal and inhuman.

Agreed in part at least to the extent that the ideology I believe you are talking about is Leninism.

I suspect that some Czechs recall the experience of Leninism as worse than the experience of Nazism simply because it went on for longer and therefore blighted a much longer and therefore more significant part of many lives.

Leninism in practice as Dalibor recalls shares many common features with Nazism in practice - anti-democracy, terror, one party system etc. etc. My point in an early post in this thread was that these very unpleasant trends set root in the Soviet system long before the arrival of Stalin and have clear theoretical foundations in the political writings and later the activities of Lenin in power.

Lenin was no socialist and the totalitarian system his ideas spawned had about as much in common with socialism, democracy and equality as the Queen Mother had with WG Grace - which unless I have missed out on some very fruity gossip means nothing in common at all

I agree with you Dalibor that in is worrying that some individuals and indeed political parties still want to "impose" the Leninist model on the world, but I would also like you to consider the possibility that not all "socialists" want to bully, brutalise, control and impoverish you.

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Guest Stephen Turner
Not discussion about how folks fought for socialism in Great Britain by fighting police on the streets ( it´s somehow pathetic to read this recollection. How about asking these millions of “Eastern Europeans” who already at that time experienced a real socialism in action! After all they lived just a couple of hundreds kilometres from you ….!).

Yeah, thanks for that, you should have manned the picket lines at Orgreave, when the wonderful, democratic, freedom loving Police, were beating up men, women and children, Or Grunwick, where low paid asian women were on strike for union recognition and where they and their supporters faced brutal police tactics or on the march were the police murdered blair peach.Or preventing the BNP from marching and inciting racial hatred. Or find that your blacklisted from your job, with one child, and another on the way, Yeah Dalibor pathetic isnt it. Right I'm out of here before I say something that will get me permanently banned.

Edited by Stephen Turner
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How bad was it to live during Nazi occupation compared to Communist regime?

I still remember an old teacher answering clearly and loudly that communist or totalitarian regime as it is simply called in Czech republic since Velvet revolution was far worst than Nazis. At first this judgment surprised me (and my colleagues around) greatly. I was always taught in great details how incredibly brutal Nazis were compared with nice comrades striving for bright future of my country, well, yes for the whole mankind.

I am surprised that you were surprised by this point of view. Anyone who studies Nazi occupation of other countries knows that it was not bad for everyone. That is why in every country you had Nazi collaborators. This was a moral decision people made. In every country the majority agreed to give into the Nazi tyranny. This is true of countries in Western as well as Eastern Europe.

For some people, they did not have a choice of accepting Nazi tyranny. Jews did not have the opportunity to ignore Nazi atrocities. Nor did those who were identified as being “communists” or “socialists”. Don’t you remember going round that excellent Museum of Resistance in Toulouse? The curator’s talk fully illustrated why the minority resisted and the majority kept their heads down in Nazi controlled Europe.

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As I've mentioned before on this forum, I've had quite a few older students here in Sweden who served in the army during WW2 up on one of the borders to German-occupied or -controlled territory (um … that would be all of them, which is one of the factors about Sweden's neutrality during WW2 which often gets overlooked by US and British observers).

Lots of them remember having comrades-in-arms who were detailed to shoot the officers in the event of a German invasion of Sweden. The Swedish officer corps was heavily influenced by Nazism (as were certain of the influential sectors of society, such as industrialists, the Royal family, etc), and the soldiers were certain that their officers wouldn't fight back if the Germans invaded.

It's recently emerged that Swedish nazi sympathisers had compiled lists of people who were to be executed or sent to concentration camps. There were also several places in Sweden where the local police were more or less in cahoots with the Germans on the other side of the border and thus handed any escapees from Norway straight back to the Germans (the Värmland police were notorious for this).

I'm sure that Nazi rule of Sweden would have had the support of quite a lot of influential Swedes - the sort who owned factories and newspapers. I'm also sure that there would have been plenty of terror too.

When was Wannsee? 1942? Although the Nazis had set things in motion before the war, we have to remember that they had a very short space of time available to murder all the people they did. I think that there's plenty of evidence that they'd have been even more brutal if they'd had the absence of external threat and 20 years to practise in … and that the ridiculousness of all these specious comparisons between Nazism and Communism would be even clearer.

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I think that there's plenty of evidence that they'd have been even more brutal if they'd had the absence of external threat and 20 years to practise in … and that the ridiculousness of all these specious comparisons between Nazism and Communism would be even clearer.

I agree with you that the Nazis would have been more systematically brutal had they had 20 years to practise in. However I disagree that the comparison between the ideology of Leninism and the ideology of Nazism is either specious or ridiculous. Both I believe appeal to the authoritarian type of personality - Leninism with its "vanguard party" and belief in its representation of the "best interests" of the proletariat and Nazism in the fuhrerprinzip.


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  • 1 year later...

Interesting article by Bruni de la Motte in today's Guardian.


It is a truism that history is invariably written by the victors, but that shouldn't stop individuals like me protesting when the truth is so clearly distorted. I read too often recently about how the communists in eastern Europe repressed knowledge of the iniquities of Hitler and Nazism. Recent Guardian articles have stated: "... in communist East Germany which did little to expose its Nazi past" (Hitler's honour lives on in G8 summit town, March 12); and "Due to the communist regime's suppression of history and its encouragement of anti-semitism, few Poles were aware ..." (I'm no hero, says woman who saved 2,500 ghetto children, March 15).

I was born and grew up in the German Democratic Republic. Our schoolbooks dealt extensively with the Nazi period and what it did to the German nation and most of Europe. During the course of their schooling, all pupils were taken at least once to a concentration camp, where a former inmate would explain in graphic detail what took place. All concentration camps in the former GDR were maintained as commemorative places, "so that no one should forget". The government itself included a good proportion of those, including Jews, who had been forced to flee Hitler fascism or who had been interred.

The allies' post-war Potsdam agreement laid down the vital need to prosecute Nazi war criminals and de-Nazify the country. In the east, thousands of new teachers had to be found overnight, as those tainted by the Nazi ideology were not suitable to teach a new postwar generation, and this resulted in schools having under-trained and inadequate teaching staff for some years; all lawyers were replaced too.

Although the Nuremberg trials set the scene with the trial and convicion of the 24 top leaders, after the onset of the cold war the west did not carry through the spirit of Potsdam. In West Germany thousands of leading Nazi army officers, judges who had sent Jews and leftists to their deaths, doctors who'd experimented on concentration camp victims, politicians and others, were left unscathed and continued in their professions. They received generous pensions on retirement, whereas those who opposed the Nazis and had been imprisoned or in concentration camps received no pensions for these periods as "they hadn't paid their contributions". In the GDR the "victims of fascism" received extra pensions and other privileges in recognition of their suffering.

General Bastian, who later became a Green MP in the Bundestag, was forced out of the army after revealing that Nazi ideology was rife in the postwar Bundeswehr. In East Germany, on the other hand, all top Nazis were put on trial or fled to the west before they could be caught; and the government produced its famous Brown Book, with a list of leading Nazis who were still "on the run".

Little is said about the fact that Reinhard Gehlen, Hitler's chief of intelligence, became the head of West German counter-espionage after the war, or that Hans Globke, a leading Nazi lawyer, became a top minister in Adenauer's postwar government.

The crimes of the communist regimes are well known, but the demonisation of communism and the distortion of history have surely more to do with the vitality of the utopian ideas which communism still represents, rather than an attempt to report historical truths?

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