Secretary’s report: Meeting of 15th March 2022

Members were treated to a most eloquent, powerful, and structured presentation by Douglas Cossar under the title of “Understanding the Germans”. Rarely has the Forum been so gripped by an exposition and analysis of the life of a nation through good times and bad.

Douglas began by telling us that Germans have an enduring memory of the 2nd World War and of the atrocities committed by their forces. For this reason, since the war, Germans have not engaged in any military action other than as peacekeepers. In maintaining this stance, their military capability has fallen well behind and their equipment has become outdated and in short supply. Now, after decades of neglect, and probably in response to Russian aggression, the incoming government of Olaf Scholz has abandoned restraint and announced a huge defence spending programme of £85 billion.

Reverting back to history we learned more about the rise and fall of the Jews in German society. From the outset, Jews were considered outsiders and unbelievers by German Christian society. They could not own land, be farmers or join craft guilds and instead, they became traders, merchants and money lenders. They congregated in big cities like Berlin and Hamburg where they made a huge contribution to culture and society. Despite being only 1% of the population, they soon occupied 20-30% of the banking, media, medical, legal, and scientific positions.

However, in 1933 Hitler came to power and within 90 days established a 1-party state which removed Jews from the civil service, from academic life, hospitals, judiciary and for 12 years committed them to such appalling atrocities that the German population were in disbelief and later in denial. They had turned a blind eye and allowed this to happen without redress.

In the following 20 years, the vacant jobs left by Jews were filled by those criminals who had been enthusiastically promoting Naziism. Those born after the war were deliberately shielded from any knowledge of their recent history until student riots erupted in 1968 and forced Germany to change tack, come to terms with its past and effect social change.

Today, museums in Germany examine the past with complete openness and there are more Jewish museums than in any other country. In every town and village little brass plates on the pavement commemorate the houses where Jewish families lived. Former concentration camps are preserved as memorials and museums to be visited by all German schoolchildren.

So, politicians and journalists are careful to strongly support the democratic line and sing from the same hymn sheet. But there are still small but noisy groups who put forward alternate views for discussion. The AfD is the only party that identifies migration as a major threat to the German way of life. It wants to prevent migrants from heading to Germany at all. The party insists on the primacy of “traditional” German culture and rejects Islam as a part of German society.

The standard German response is not to argue with them but to rubbish them. To this day the major parties do not allow the AfD, who command 12% in the polls, to participate in any of the coalitions which are the standard outcome of German elections.

Douglas went on to quote from a controversial best-selling book by Thilo Sarrazins of the SPD party. It identifies the falling German birthrate which will lead to Germans being a minority in their own country. Today there are more than 3 million people of Turkish Muslim ancestry with a birth rate double that of Germans. Many Turks have come from rural areas with poor education and have little inclination to integrate into German society. Turks are now responsible for more than 70% of immigrant problems. They have below average rates of employment and education and above average claims for social benefits and involvement in criminal violence. They receive more in welfare benefits in Germany than they could expect from full time employment in Turkey. Why would they want to return to Turkey?

As with the holocaust of the Jews, today’s Germans are unwilling to accept that these are problems that have to be discussed and rectified. Just as in today’s Russia, Western democracies have not been paying attention to the nature of the menace that has been incubating. Those who raise migrant questions in Germany are accused of Islamophobia and even one of Douglas’ academic German friends when confronted with pertinent facts merely responded “RUBBISH”

So, after an hour’s discourse, Douglas left us with the conundrum of German uncertainties in today’s uncertain world.

Commenting on the situation in Ukraine Chairman Peter Wilson admitted he was terrified to hear mention of War and Hitler again. He opined that a solution could only be found by going back to discover how and why it came about and rectifying it from there.

Next week John Gilleghan will tell us all about James Herriot.

Comments are closed.