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.