Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Germanism

My husband and I were talking about the German government's attitude to homeschoolers (a friend of mine had received a high-handed letter from a bureaucrat), and he commented, "You can see how the Nazis could establish themselves so easily in Germany".

Now, before anyone accuses him (or me) of Godwinism, let me make one thing clear. We are not accusing the German government or Germans in general of being Nazis. But having lived in that country for a few years, as an outsider, the cultural attitudes that resulted in the Nazis, as well asthe DDR, stand out like a sore thumb to us.

The letter to my friend stated that she has a duty to send her children to school and she must fulfill this duty even if it goes against her conscience. The letter does not deal with the content of her arguments at all. It implies that her duty is to the state, to fulfill its ideas of what is right, even if they go against common sense, experience and research. The German government has taken unproven (and often discredited) educational theories as gospel and decrees that everyone has a duty to obey this without question.

Germans, for the most part, have not yet confronted the weakness in their culture that made them so susceptible to the National Socialist Regime. By this, I mean the tendency to regard the individual as subservient to the State, rather than the other way round.

Recently, talkshow host, Eva Herman, inadvertantly caused a furore when she was misquoted as seeming to praise Nazi family policies. She is now an ex-talkshow host. Anyone who has read a couple of good parenting books knows that extreme sensitivity is is an indication of unhealed wounds. The Germans are plastering over their unhealed wounds with little band-aids making it illegal to promote fascism or anti-semitism, but the cultural foundations of their society are still the same.

By continuing to stick to the Nazi-invented Schulzwang, the German authorities are doing exactly what Eva Herman was accused of doing. You won't catch any German politician, judge or bureaucrat saying "Well, I think that the Nazi educational policies were a good idea", but in applying those same principles so stringently today, they might as well be yelling it through a megaphone.

5 comments:

Kinderlehrer said...

So true! "Don't mention the War!" was one statement that I heard ring loud and clear.

It follows that to acknowledge anything that came from that experience also violates that unwritten law.

To say that the psyche of a total nation of people has not been effected by its history is burying their heads in the sand.

I recently heard a young german girl laud the pride of the culture that she has been assimilated into whilst on a foreign school exchange by countering it with the statement 'in Germany our national pride has to be handled carefully'.

Perhaps instead of acting out of fear, grief and depression, the authorities focused on the sanctity of the individual, the decisions they make would be different. Though it has to start with them, doesn't it?!

jennifer in OR said...

"...extreme sensitivity is is an indication of unhealed wounds. The Germans are plastering over their unhealed wounds with little band-aids making it illegal to promote fascism or anti-semitism, but the cultural foundations of their society are still the same."

Really great point! How to dig up the roots of Germany's cultural foundations? What a task. It needs a revolution. People talk about one person at a time, but monumental change like what's required in Germany seems to me to demand something on a grand scale. I pray for revival. :-)

Elle said...

Interesting blog. I came across your link through the Homeschooling in Italy list. We didn't end up moving to Italy, and I never signed off the list. (Just in case we did eventually get transferred!)

We have quite a few German people stay with us in the US through a hospitality program. We are always very careful not to offend. I tend to field questions about American attitudes toward Germans, and I give my standard "Generally speaking, many Americans can be quite provincial" speech. One young woman didn't believe me, and a young neighbor told her that he knew about Germany...why, he could even draw the flag!

Well, my visitor had a triumphant look on her face, and she immediately asked him to draw her the flag. Her expression changed when he showed her a picture of the Nazi flag. I was embarrassed beyond belief, but my visitor said she now understood what I had been trying to tell her.

We homeschool, too, and are a hodge podge of cultures. I have taken my teens to visit all the places in their background, except Sicily (Italian, Greek, English, Welsh, etc.) We have adopted whatever customs, food, etc. from those countries and claim them as our heritage. Since we are a modge podge we get to pick and choose! : )

Anonymous said...

Fabulous blog as usual, Rina!
Could you quote the salient parts of your friend's letter from the German obey-ocrats?

Lynne

Anonymous said...

Tell me about it!

We are home edding in a part of Scandinavia (north Germany) and have encountered similar responses here. AND most kids are in daycare or away from their mothers at the age of a year..all very wierd stuff. It really is quite overbearing.

Also we get told how to bring our kids up just generally by random members of the public for minor infringements like running across a pedestrian crossing on red to catch the last train home, or for taking our kids out without full compliment of snowsuit, hat, extra hat, mittens, extra raincoat over snowsuit etc. Sometimes I think we run the risk of being locked up here simply because we are pretty vocal about the fact we don't use sun screen.

Ai! Just stumbled across your blog way past mid night and am glad to hear that people are still home edding in Germany..I had been misinformed that the practise of parents taking full responsibility for their children had 'died out' in Germany. Ho hum. I guess they haven't reached everyone yet.

The phrase: run! run! run for your lives comes to mind. I just hope the disease doesn't spread up North..even though we are seen as freaks for not running with the herd here or for not doing as we are 'ordered', we do still get away with it because intelligent reasoning works here.

I'm not being racist or anything, but Germany's really giving itself a bad name....WHAT do I tell my children when they ask me if 'all that' is really in the past?

Hmmm. I hope someone sorts it out soon, it is really rather worrying to be perched so near to a country that hounds parents in this way.

Best wishes,
E.F.