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The Unloved Germans

By: Herman Eich (432.1/36053)
Publisher: Macdonald London From the John Laffin Library

The English publishers of this book are by no means in agreement with everything it says. But they are convinced that, representing as it does the first really courageous attempt by a middle-aged patriotic German to say what he and so many of his contemporaries in Germany really think about their country, the Nazi era and where the responsibility for the future lies, it needed to be written. The man who, at last, has dared to write frankly about his emotionally supercharged subject is Dr. Hermann Eich, a Rhinlander and editor of the important newspaper DusseldorferNachrichten.

We are so accustomed to the shifting of blame, the denial of personal guilt and the unqualified acceptance of the Allied viewpoint by our former enemies that an impassable barrier to real understanding has been erected. This faint-hearted reticence of the older half of the German population is really alarming: for they are the ones who accepted Hitler gladly at first-but they have become so crushed by the enormity of the crimes proved against the Reich that they will not plead for objective judgement in the face of world condemnation. Frustrating also is their refusal to be drawn into intelligent (and sometimes, inevitably, heated) discussion on the immediate past and its relationship with the present and future. This constitutes a dangerous barrier to international trust and co-operation. When one pauses to think that two-thirds of the responsible high executive and governmental posts in West Germany are held by this older section of the population , the insidious nature of this barrier and our continued acceptance of it is all the more astonishing. It is therefore essential that whether we agree or not with what Dr.Eich and thousands like him think and believe, we should at least recognise and understand their viewpoint and attempt to reconcile it with the world we live in.

Dr. Eich had another objective before him when he wrote this book. It was to present to his own countrymen the view that other nations took of them. On the subject of this book, which quickly became a best-seller in Germany, the Federal Republic was sharply divided, as the following representative extracts drawn from the huge West-German press the book received, compellingly show:

It remains to praise the author's sense of fairness; while avoiding Jingoism and national self-hatred he seeks to paint a true picture of events and of the German character. - Die Welt.

Eich's best-seller bears out above all the rather shop-worn truth that anything can be proved with quotations - Der Spiegel

March 2009

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