A few weeks ago I had a visitor at my lab from our other plant in Germany. We did not have too much work to do at that time so after i have shown him around we had some time to chat about this and that.
One of the things that transpired was that he is married to a woman who is of US American / German descend. He said her Texan grandfather took it rather badly and commented it along the lines “I was fighting against Nazis in war, and my daughter and granddaughter both married one.”.
I looked at him after this and asked the first question that popped in my mind: “Is your grandfather in law per chance a Republican and did he vote for Trump?” To which his answer was yes on both accounts.
I was astounded at this blatant display of a lack of self-awareness.
I mean, it is not uncommon to hear something similar in CZ. Even some of my close friends sometimes ask me – and only half-jokingly – if I still work “for Nazis” or in “Naziland”. Even I said such things. The German nation will in minds of many Czechs never ever get rid of the black stain the horrors of the WW2 have made on its reputation, not to mention previous thousands of years of mutual enmity between Slavic and Germanic nations and the two hundreds years long attempts at Germanization of Czechs. History cannot be denied or ignored, and its consequences do and will reach far into the future.
There is still also a lot of anti-slavic prejudice (not only) in Germany to this day. When Czech Republic entered in the EU, there was a lot of people near the borders who feared the influx of uncouth Czechs that would lead to a massive rise in crime-rate and stealing of jobs from proper Germans. Which of course did not happen.
It is therefore understandable that some Czechs view Germans as a whole with distrust and dislike, even though not justifying the over broad use of the term “Nazi” for anyone from Germany.
The current rise in nationalism spurred by anti-muslim sentiments, both in EU and in USA, seems to have led to a peculiar situation demonstrated by the Texan grandfather in law of my colleague’s. A lot of people seem to be putting an unqualified equal sign between the words “Nazi” (or “fascist”) and “German” in their minds whilst completely forgetting – or perhaps never even knowing – what this originally was about. And so subsequently they are voting for de-facto Nazis, who spout nazi rhetoric and try to propagate nazi policies, the whole package – unbridled racism and white supremacy, yearning for a golden age that never was, scapegoating and dehumanizing whole ethnic groups, wishing for concentration camps, firing squads and wars to beat opponents into submission (even the “traditional family values” and homophobia are in that package). All the while saying that “Nazis are bad” and thinking themselves opposing Nazis and nazism.
Yes, I know, one could quibble about whether the term Nazi really does fit Trump and the Republican party. One could discuss the minutiae endlessly and talk over differences in definitions and perspectives. There are differences. However I would argue that the term does indeed fit Republicans in general and Trump in particular much, much better than it does a typical German in these days, who most likely would feel ashamed and sorry for what Nazis have done and would despise them.
Lets not forget that not all (not even most) Germans are Nazis and not all Nazis are German. Lets not forget that first victims of first Nazis were Germans – German Jews, German communists, German mentally ill and handicapped and many just ordinary decent Germans. Using the term Nazi as a generic sneer against Germans is morphing into a form of bigotry of its own, an a dangerous one at that. Because as it usually is with such things, it shifts the focus from bad things people do on people who are perceived as bad whatever they do*.
- I have not heard this yet, but I wonder if there is someone somewhere who dislikes Angela Merkel and accuses her of being a Nazi for accepting refugees? I know for sure there are people who accuse her of giving power to Nazis by doing it.