Thursday, May 24, 2012

Progressions of hatred

There is a high residue of anti-Jewish sentiment in Germany today.  There is a fairly consistent geographic  distribution in these sentiments  over time.  Some areas started out as being more anti-Jewish and stayed that way. In general, older Germans are also more likely to have negative ideas with regards to Jews.

But there are a couple of outliers.

Hatred transformed: How Germans changed their minds about Jews, 1890-2006

Nico Voigtländer,  Hans-Joachim Voth, VOX, 1 May 2012 (hat tip: NC)

One group, however, stands out from this general pattern – those born in the period 1925-34. In Appendix 2, we plot anti-Semitism and xenophobia by birth cohort. Those who were aged between 11 and 20 when the war ended are much more anti-Semitic than one would expect given their age and general hatred of foreigners (left panel); they also have a higher share of committed anti-Semites than any other group (right panel). We argue that this is a direct result of Nazi policies to indoctrinate the population in racial hatred and a belief in the superiority of the Aryan master race. Interestingly, additional results show that teaching to hate was easiest in areas where the “bourgeois” parties of the centre and right did best in the period before 1933. In principalities controlled by the left (Social Democrats and Communists), the Nazis had no success in boosting Jew-hatred among the young.
If Germans could be influenced strongly in their beliefs during the Nazi period, is there any evidence of the opposite once racial hatred became an official taboo after 1945? We compare the level of anti-Semitism in the different zones of occupation. The former British zone today has by far the least anti-Semitic beliefs, even after controlling for pre-1945 differences. The American zone, on the other hand, has strong levels of support for anti-Jewish views.
Based on a detailed examination of occupation policies, we argue that these differences probably reflect different approaches to de-Nazification. The American authorities ran a highly ambitious and punitive programme which resulted in many incarcerations and convictions, with numerous, low-ranking officials banned and punished. Citizens were confronted with German crimes, forced to visit concentration camps, and attend education films about the Holocaust. There was a considerable backlash, and perceived fairness was low. The Jewish Advisor to the American Military Government concluded in 1948 that “... if the United States Army were to withdraw tomorrow, there would be pogroms on the following day.” In contrast, the British authorities pursued a limited and pragmatic approach that focused on major perpetrators. Public support was substantial, perceived fairness was higher, and intelligence reports concluded that the population even wanted more done to pursue and punish Nazi officials.
It is not surprising that the German populace resisted being vilified.  The tone that the Americans took likely was a tone that may have made themselves happier, but was not very effective in persuading their  intended audience.  Which of course is not at all unlike our politics today:  our methodology of vilification does a good job of locking in your own base, but very little to persuade those who are sitting in the middle.  The Nazis, who were of course wonderful vilifiers, eventual solved the problem by throwing the base of the opposition in camps.  As my (likely partial) understanding of the process, these camps were the latter starting point when they came to the final solution.


Stephen said...

Nice piece, Russell. I'll never be able to wrap my mind around hatred.

Anonymous said...

That's something that needs to be examined.

The British Empire covered approximately 25% of the globe but the British were/are rarely vilified.

How come?

I remember reading that the British had better results then the Americans in pacifying their area after the 2nd Iraq War.

Firm but fair?

russell1200 said...

Stephen: I know what you mean. I get pretty angry at times, but hatred always seems like such a waste of time.

Anon: In their day the British were (and really still do) get a lot of flack for colonialism- particularly in India. The shift in emphasis was (I am guessing) after the Vietnam War.

The British had control of Basra - the second largest city in Iraq but with a lot of Shiites. I think they tended to stay much more low key and thus were a little less destructive. But they got a big assist from the local Shiites. But when the Shiites started getting truculant, I think in the end the Americans did have to give them some help to keep from being overun by hostiles. So I think the British did better than us, but with a somewhat mixed record.

After they fired them all from their jobs, the Americans were using artillery, bombing train stations, and busting down doors as a response to the Sunni uprising. It is not hard to see why we were unpopular.