ARGUMENT

German-born Peter Lust warns that Hitler’s ghost still haunts Western Germany. He predicts the Nazis will be back in power in seven years

PETER LUST December 17 1966

ARGUMENT

German-born Peter Lust warns that Hitler’s ghost still haunts Western Germany. He predicts the Nazis will be back in power in seven years

PETER LUST December 17 1966

ARGUMENT

German-born Peter Lust warns that Hitler’s ghost still haunts Western Germany. He predicts the Nazis will be back in power in seven years

Peter Lust is a 56-year-old Germanborn Jew who now works as a freelance journalist in Montreal. He escaped from Germany in 1933; his family followed him in 1936. During World War II he served in the U.S. army. In the following open letter Lust strongly disagrees with the verdict reached by Canadian poet Irving Layton, also a Jew, in the Nov. 19 issue of Maclean’s. Layton wrote that “Nazism is dead and little or nothing remains of its evil dream.” Lust is the author of Two Germanics: Mirror Of An Age, published last summer by Harvest House.

DEAR IRVING LAYTON:

1 don't know whether your conclusion that Nazism was dead in Germany was based on wishful thinking or on faulty observation. In any event the neo-Nazi NPD party won more than eight percent of the total vote in Hesse five days after your article appeared. Three days later, Kurt Kiesinger, a former fullfledged Nazi, was chosen as the Christian Democratic entry for the West German Chancellorship.

These developments may have surprised you; they did not surprise me. After a life-long study of the German political scene I expected them. In fact, I will go further and say that if present trends continue, the NPD will govern West Germany within seven years.

I reached my conclusions by a thorough analysis of voting trends and public opinion in present-day West Germany. Hesse has always been a liberal state; its main city, Frankfurt, was comparatively immune to Hitler as late as 1932. An examination of

the Hessian results shows that the NPD gains were won in the “upstate” area, the poor farming districts outside Frankfurt. In fact, the total NPD percentage in rural Hesse comes to within two percent of the Nazi vote won in 1929, four years before Hitler came to power.

Kurt Kiesinger’s political triumph is a direct consequence of these developments. It happened three days after the Hessian election results had come in. Kiesinger was the darkest of four dark-horse candidates. He also was the only one who had ever been a Nazi-Party member.

Last year I visited Stuttgart, political powerbase of Kiesinger. I interviewed many of his political sidekicks and visited Chief Prosecuting Attorney Erwin Schuele, the man charged with the prosecution of all German war criminals. Oddly enough Schuele himself had been a Nazi-Party member, very much like Kiesinger. We must analyse present political developments against this background where ex-Nazis bring other ex-Nazis to justice.

Kiesinger, 62, joined the Nazi Party in 1933 and recently told a German TV audience that he became disillusioned one year later (Schuele had told me the same thing about himself). But there is no record of Kiesinger having left the party at the time of this disillusionment; in fact, he stayed a Nazi Party member until VE Day. In 1940 he became a member of the Nazi foreign office, run by Joachim von Ribbentrop. He worked as a liaison officer with a group of German army observers whose job it was to listen in on foreign radio broadcasts—a highly sensitive job. It seems unlikely that Ribbentrop would have

allowed a doubtful Nazi to hold this position. A great number of Germans risked their lives and those of their families at that time to undermine the Hitler dictatorship. Kiesinger’s name is not among them.

You state that the German youth is completely unaffected by Nazi thoughts and that only the age group 40-60 might be tempted to look back with favor to the days of the Third Reich. The facts do not bear you out, Mr. Layton. The NPD’s youth group has a membership of over 200,000 across the Federal Republic. This indicates that the percentage of young people infected by Nazi thought slightly exceeds that of the older generation. West Germany’s strongest exponent of neo-Nazi ideology, Dr. Gerhard Frey, is in his late 30s. The more radical and outspoken neo-Nazi organizations appeal primarily to the very young, with torch parades and field meets featuring slightly altered Hitler-style uniforms and Nazi flags minus only the outlawed swastika.

Are Germans predestined by fate to remain Nazi forever? Of course not! Germany’s nationalist malaise which has affected the last three generations of Germans was initiated by the philosophy of Nietzsche, by the bombastic style of Wagner, by the expansion initiated by Prussia, and has been carried into our own age by a faulty educational system.

We could have won the fight for political sanity if we had — after 1945 — systematically eliminated every teacher with Nazi ideas and background. This was actually done in East Germany. No matter how much we may dislike the East’s political and social systems, Nazism in East Germany has been completely eliminated. But West Germany took a pragmatic approach. Nazi teachers remained in office and promptly proceeded to infect the new generation.

How is life in Germany for those once persecuted by the Nazis? Let me describe the fate of Mrs. Frieda Bloch, a lady who lives in the small Franconian town of Aschaffenburg, once a hotbed of Nazism. Her small clothing store was frequently splashed with red paint; her children had no friends.

“Don’t worry about me,” Mrs. Bloch told me when I last saw her. “Give it time. Things will go back to normal.” Last week Mrs. Bloch wrote me a letter, asked me to sponsor her as an immigrant to Canada. “During the 12 Hitler years Mr. Wohlgemuth, a hardcore Nazi, had been Mayor of Aschaffenburg,” she wrote. “Now he has started to organize the NPD party here; things are just like they used to be in the early 1930s. I won’t live through it a second time! My parents, my brothers and sisters, all gassed! It is coming again. I see the handwriting on the wall. Please help me to reach Canada quickly!”

It is tragic that we will not iearn from history. There were three Punic Wars, not two, and they were all fought among the same antagonists. While we are fanning the flames of an artificial cold war, Nazism, which caused the direct and indirect death of more than 30 million human beings, is once again rearing its head while we sit idly by. “Carthago delenda est.” Cato kept warning. And eventually Carthage was wiped out. We need a latter-day Cato to shout again and again: “Fascismo delenda est.” PETER LUST