Such a military government in Germany, if it actually should come about, might be compared with the present Badoglio regime in Italy, with the only difference that it would put up a stronger battle.
Whew. I had to do a decent amount of research to catch up on this one. I think this might be the first time that Opa doesn't get everything right- or at least his predictions are a bit too optimistic, even for him.
Opa talks about July 25th, the fall of Fascist Italy, and how it reverberated into Germany. Germany isn't doing all that great in the war, the Soviets have reclaimed territory and are moving closer to their borders. The Allies are gaining footholds and winning more than losing, which is a signal of the tide changing. Germany is aware of this, and Opa is thinking about how it's affecting them. Opa rightly points out that Hitler's mere mention of the Fascist overturn in Italy and how it doesn't affect them at all is a sign that the Nazi government is feeling the strain.
Now here is where I think Opa misses the boat. He scoffs at Nazism as being too young, too dependent on the illusion of invincibility (which he feels has been proven wrong), to really hold claim over the German people in the face of defeat. He assumes that if the defeat continues, that the German people (with the military as their powerhouse) will capitulate the Nazi government and fight or surrender on their own terms. He remembers that Germany is not one to fight to the death and destruction of every town, but rather gives in before total annihilation. Opa is actually quite generous in this analogy because he gives the German people the benefit of being able to weigh the costs and make a sound decision about when to let go.
He invokes the memory of 1918, the year the first world war was over. Germany was absolutely miserable, and their defeat meant that they would be humiliated before the victors. The victors of that war focused less on creating lasting peace, and more on humbling Germany. This of course, only created a breeding ground for Nazism and the need for Germany to prove themselves strong and better than everyone else. Opa was born into the slowly improving depression that was Germany after the first world war. His entire childhood and young adulthood was shaped by the two wars.
Opa predicts that the Germans would shed the new coat of Nazism and protect their country against being totally humiliated again. He was, unfortunately, wrong. I think his perspective of the German people was largely shaped by his location. He was a Berliner, living in the city of progressives and thinkers. His parents were educated and acutely aware of the political and social situation. But what they didn't know (at least I guess this to be so) was the dangerous ignorance and fear that lurked in the rural towns and uneducated masses. Even in the face of the terror caused by Nazis, Opa assumed that the Germans would come to their senses.
Sound familiar? I remember after the election last year that I was astounded. How was it possible that this person of terrible moral and fiscal courage could be lauded as a savior of the country? But I was shocked because of where I live. I live surrounded by the educated elite. I live in a suburb, in homes without worry of electric or water being shut off. I don't know about the fear and ignorance that fuels some of the hate I have seen explode this last year. I have been trying to listen better, to learn more, to become less ignorant myself. But one thing I have learned is this: I didn't know America as well as I thought I did.
Opa had been through some of the same questioning, wondering how Hitler and the rise of anti-semitism (and the rise of hatred towards anything "different") could have become so prominent and popular. But if I am honest, this article tells me he hasn't admitted yet that his home may not be what he thought. As for Nazism- we're still not rid of it. The ideology, even having suffered resounding defeat in the second world war, is still rampant. Even here. I don't pretend to understand it, but I will try not to underestimate it.
I remember Opa's lingering question, even as an older man, was how a civilized country like Germany could fall so far. He could never answer it fully. I feel cynical in saying this, but I think the answer lies in recognizing that we are not as civilized as we think we are.