In light of such 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 in 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 one hour late.
|As Hitler passed, young female voters were screaming|
like today's teenage girls idolizing Justin Bieber.
|Already in 1932, there was 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 of 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 high unemployment rate of 18% (today 5,7%). This meant more welfare recipients and increased social spending compensated by reducing 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% in 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 squeak). All underestimated Hitler's will to power. Within only eight months, the Nazi chancellor had brought Germany into line.
Why were two of Freiburg's soccer teams invited and Christian Streich, SCF coach, sitting on the panel? As Dr. Heinrich Schwendemann, Historical Seminar of the university explained: At 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 involves Muslim and native African rather than Jewish players. This multicultural mix sometimes leads to racist outbursts during matches of the Bundesliga (Federal soccer league). Contrary to other coaches, Christian Streich has frequently spoken out against racist remarks and hate speech and, in particular, has recently taken on the populistic AfD (Alternative for Germany). To great applause, he explained that he had agreed to sit on the panel because I am surrounded by educated people who are occupied the whole day with history and politics. In contrast, 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. Together with the Free Democrats and the Linke (left socialists), the Greens now belong to the spectrum of the smaller established parties in Germany, each with the prospect of around 10% of the votes. The populistic AfD is still in the stage of a movement, just missing the one and only charismatic leader. They will possibly get 12% of the votes in the upcoming general election.
Dr. Salomon said: Concerning Germany's past, present generations are not guilty, but we must 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 inside or outside Germany.
Except for some interesting historical details and a few bon mots, the panel discussion did not knock my socks off. Contrary to my habit, I - 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.