In the light of such a boredom the Landeszentrale für politische Bildung (lpd, State central for political education) scheduled a panel discussion at the university's Audimax (main auditorium).
|General elections 1932 and 2017: Hitler at Freiburg 85 years ago|
At campaign rallies in the Weimar Republic people had to pay an entrance fee.
Visitors came from Switzerland and neighboring Alsace to listen to Hitler.
|Most impressive. In July 1932, Hitler campaigned using an airplane |
allowing him to give four speeches at four distant cities
in one day. At Freiburg he arrived late.
|As Hitler passed young female voters were screaming|
like today's teenies idolizing Justin Bieber.
|Already in 1932 there were fake news about the number of attendees: |
30,000 according to the Freiburger Sport Club,
50,000 as estimated by the Freiburg newspapers,
70,000 as claimed by Nazi propaganda.
|Hitler with flying cap ready to head for Radolfzell on Lake Constance |
to attend his fourth and last rally of the day.
|Super election year 1932. Rektor Schiewer during his introduction |
in front of a poster of the presidential election of April 10.
|In front of a historical photo|
showing Nazi Mayor Franz Kerber and Gauleiter (governor) Robert Wagner
here are the panel members from left to right:
Dr. Thomas Schnabel, Leiter Haus der Geschichte Baden-Württemberg, Stuttgart
Dr. Dieter Salomon, Oberbürgermeister der Stadt Freiburg
Dr. Michael Wehner, Landeszentrale für politische Bildung Baden-Württemberg,
Außenstelle Freiburg leading the discussion
Christian Streich, Trainer, Sport-Club Freiburg
Dr. Heinrich Schwendemann, Historisches Seminar
der Albert-Ludwigs-Universität Freiburg
According to Dr. Thomas Schnabel, director the the House of History in Stuttgart, a comparison between 1932 and 2017 is nearly ridiculous. In 1932 Germany suffered from the world economic depression and a resulting high unemployment rate of 18% (today 5,7%). This meant more welfare recipients and increased social spending that was compensated by a reduction of salaries in the public sector. Streets were dominated by politically motivated brawls and murder. This was an excellent climate for populism. Most important, however, was that more than 50% of the voters, be it right or left, rejected the Weimar Republic while today more than 85% fully support the democratic system of our Federal Republic.
Hitler and the National Socialists had their breakthrough in 1930 with 18.3% of the votes, reached their maximum with 37.3% at the July 1932 poll, and declined to 33.1% in the November 1932 elections due to a noticeable improvement in Germany's economic situation. Schnabel insisted that Hitler's January 31, 1933 rise to power was not imperative. The elites helped him to power and not the working class.
Schnabel is right for the chancellor-makers and members of Hitler's initial government were industry (Alfred Hugenberg), military (Werner von Blomberg), and aristocracy (Franz von Papen) where the latter commented: In zwei Monaten haben wir Hitler in die Ecke gedrückt, dass er quietscht (Within two month we shall have pushed Hitler into a corner so he will screech). All underestimated Hitler's will to power. Within only eight months the Nazi chancellor had brought Germany into line.
Why there were two of Freiburg's soccer teams invited and Christian Streich, coach of the SCF, was sitting on the panel? As Dr. Heinrich Schwendemann, Historical Seminar of the university, explained: In the beginning of the 20th century soccer was an integrating factor when Catholics, Protestants, and Jews placed the team spirit above religious and ideological differences. The Mösle Stadium, home of the FFC, was sponsored by Jews. So it is one of history's ironies that Hitler gave his speech in a "Jewish" stadium.
The integrating power of soccer today rather implies Muslim and native African than Jewish players. This multicultural mix sometimes leads to racist manifestations during matches of the Bundesliga (Federal soccer league). Christian Streich, contrary to other coaches, frequently had spoken out against racist remarks and hate speech and in particular had taken on the populistic AfD (Alternative for Germany) recently. Under great applause he explained that he had accepted to sit on the panel because here I am surrounded by educated people who are occupied the whole day with history and politics whereas I constantly reflect on how to prevent goals against my team.
Later in the discussion Dr. Salomon made the distinction between a political movement and a political party. The Greens started out in 1980 as a movement with Joschka Fischer being their charismatic leader. Now, together with the Free Democrats and the Linke (left socialists), the Greens belong to the spectrum of the smaller established parties in Germany with intentions to vote around 10% each. The populistic AfD is still in the stage of a movement but missing a one and only charismatic leader. They will possibly get 12% of the votes in the upcoming general election.
Dr. Salomon said: With respect to Germany's past, present generations are not guilty but we have the duty to watch that such an inhuman period will never reoccur. With respect to our uneasy relationship with our nationality Dr. Schnabel added: Nationalism yes, but never against others both inside and outside Germany.
Except for some interesting historical details and a few bon mots the panel discussion did not knock my socks off. Contrary to his habit Red Baron - this time being afraid of lengthy comments by people from the auditorium and verbose answers by the panel members - left the Audimax together with the majority of the audience before the general discussion started.