New light shed upon Nazi bureacrats

Interesting news coming out of Germany not only for the forgotten whitewashed history of Nazi era bureaucrats.  Thanks to Betsy’s Page for the link.  The New York Times and Judy Dempsey have the details. Read the entire article, interesting stuff.

It’s eerily quiet in the depths of the German Foreign Ministry, where tens of thousands of documents are filed away in narrow drawers. The documents consist of telegrams and reports filed by German ambassadors from all over the world as well as from diplomats based in Berlin.One document on display tells of the Wannsee Conference in 1942. There, in a villa in southern Berlin, a group of top Nazi officials drew up plans for the “final solution of the Jewish question.”

They involved the deportation of the Jewish population of Europe and the French colonies of North Africa, including Morocco, Algeria and Tunisia, to German-occupied areas in Eastern Europe, where they were to be murdered. Jews were also forcibly conscripted into labor camps for building roads and other projects.

What is coming to light now — and causing a major debate in Germany over the past few weeks — is the active involvement by Nazi Germany’s civil servants in the annihilation of Jews. For decades, bodies like the Foreign Ministry and the Finance Ministry managed to make the public believe they had been relatively “clean” during the Nazi years. They pointed to their continuing efficiency as a source of pride.

“What is revealing is the way the civil service, the bureaucrats, applied the law,” said Professor Jane Caplan, a historian at St. Anthony’s College, Oxford, and part of a commission investigating the German Finance Ministry’s past. “They were not passive in their work. They became sources of innovation in order to make the system more efficient.”

Interesting historical fact but,  for me, the psychology of the whitewash is particularly useful for a lesson.  You need to ask yourself why government officials have whitewashed the actions of hundreds, if not thousands, of government bureaucrats who are either dead or at a very advanced age.

Why weren’t their histories treated the same as the Nazi leaders?  Doesn’t their people deserve to know the depth of the rot of the Third Reich?  One possibility is that even though the Nazi party lost relevance long ago, the bureaucrat class remains.  Of course present day bureaucrats wouldn’t dream of taking part in another ‘final solution’… but in times of duress, would they follow the power that pays for their livelihood?  They might not follow another ‘final solution’, but they will follow some government agency’s solution and that’s not necessarily good for the general populace.

Governments rely on us ceding them power and trust while disposing most of our skepticism about their motives. That’s why every citizen should always store a maximum of skepticism and distrust of an ever-expanding army of bureaucrats.

Keep them honest.  Take power from them when possible and give them the maximum amount of skepticism in inventory.


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