Wednesday, March 25, 2015

German Workers - 1946

‘‘I discovered among the workers,’’ I wrote in summing up my first set of interviews, ‘‘an openness and frankness and a generally positive outlook regarding democracy and denazification often lacking in others of their countrymen.’’ ‘‘We will never be able to repay for what we have done in other countries in Europe, never,’’ one worker exclaimed, covering his face with his hands and shaking his head in shame. Asked what advantages he had experienced from the Nazi regime, a middle-aged mechanic replied, ‘‘I lost my house, my wife, my two sons, and now I’m all alone. That’s what I got from Hitler.’’ ‘‘Some men,’’ said a streetcar conductor, ‘‘were glad to get jobs in 1934 and 1935, but only the Nazis enjoyed Kraft durch Freude [Strength through Joy] excursions and vacations. Otherwise, we worked longer hours, ate less and couldn’t speak up to protect our rights. We were locked into our jobs, but they could fire us arbitrarily. They spied on us and forced us to ‘volunteer’ for special labor details and later for the Volkssturm. By the end of the war, we had become slave labor.’’ - ARTHUR D. KAHN

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