740.00119 Control (Germany)/7–2145

No. 867
The Political Adviser in Germany ( Murphy ) to the Secretary of State
No. 670

Subject: Information Concerning Attitude of German People Regarding Nazis.

Sir: I have the honor to transmit herewith for the Department’s information the following report on the attitude of Germans with respect to Nazis and Nazism, supplied to the Office of Political Affairs by the Intelligence Section, Psychological Warfare Division of SHAEF.

The questions herein contained were raised by this Division, and the answers supplied by the Psychological Warfare Division of SHAEF are based on extensive field survey.

1. Do many Germans tend to distinguish between real Nazis and other Nazis, between active and nominal Nazis?

It seems clear that to a large number of Germans a Nazi is much the same thing as an “Outsider”. He is a man who is not a native of the place but has been brought by the Party from somewhere else in order to perform certain Party tasks in the district. To a much lesser extent, a Nazi is somebody who made his living by working for the Party. I think the psychological implications of this are fairly obvious. They re-inforce the universal inclination to shift the blame from the individual interrogated to someone else. In this case, it is shifting the blame from the individual’s locality and attributing it to someone from a different part of Germany.

2. Are there other categories into which many German[s] (non-Nazis) tend to put the Nazis? Have they other breakdowns than active and nominal Nazis, ardent and passive Nazis?

Compared with this broad distinction, further subdivision into categories of Nazis is comparatively unimportant. It is, however, true that the Germans recognize a category of “Muss Nazis”[,] i. e. people who were forced into the Party against their real beliefs for fear of losing their jobs. The principal criterion used to distinguish these seems to be the date of joining. It scarcely needs to be pointed out that categories like the SS play a large part in those Germans brought from “outside” to perform Party tasks.

3. What conclusions have been reached thus far by PWD concerning Germans’ acceptance or disavowal of the collective war guilt theme?

The question of reactions to charges of war guilt is complex. Preliminary conclusions are that people fall into about four main categories [Page 803] (though so many combinations are possible, either simultaneously or successively for the same individual, that is it [sic] very difficult to establish hard and fast definitions.)

The indoctrinated Nazis—at highest 10%—automatically repeat the argument that whatever was for the good of Germany was right. For them the question of “guilt” cannot exist. Not unnaturally, the people who explicitly adopt this attitude now are few and far between.
“The pots who call the kettle black”, i. e. the people who meet charges of atrocities by reference to stock Nazi propaganda themes such as Katyn, the Boer War, lynchings of negroes, etc.
The people who seek to project the blame on to somebody else, i. e. on to the Nazis unless they themselves are indisputably Nazis, in which case they blame some other section of the Nazi Party (usually Himmler and the SS). But non-Nazis in this group tend to say “we admit that, through the Nazis, dire things happened in concentration camps to innocent people. But, also thanks to the Nazis and the way in which they provoked war, the Allies came and bombed Germany and very dire things happened to us too, in spite of the fact that we are also innocent. Therefore, we are in the same class as the victims of the concentration camps and your sympathy should be extended to us equally.”
The people who are prepared to admit collective responsibility on the part of the German people for failing to stop Hitler, but who go on to claim that just as much responsibility falls on those Allied Governments who also refused to stop Hitler, e. g. the reoccupation of the Rhineland, the Spanish Civil War and Munich.

It will be noted that none of the above categories seeks to deny the facts of the atrocities, though a few in categories a. and b. will suggest that they are exaggerated.

4. What punishments do non-Nazis think should be meted out to active and confirmed Nazis? Is their thinking definitive or general and vague on this subject?

The usual attitude is that no punishment can be bad enough for confirmed Nazis. This is, of course, a consequence of the scapegoat process. Nominal Nazis should lose their jobs, but there is not much evidence of clear or new thinking on this point.

5. What disposal do Germans interrogated think should be made of the Wehrmacht—retained for internal order and protection against the Russians? Be completely disbanded? Be partially disbanded? Other disposition?

There is no evidence of the rank and file of Germans thinking at present about the future of the Wehrmacht. I suspect that if people were directly asked the question, they would start to talk about our need for military help against the Russians.

6. Do Germans interrogated expect that German civilians will be required to do forced labor in the occupied countries? Do they [Page 804] think Germans should be so required? Only some Germans? If [the] latter, what Germans and why? How do they associate this subject with collective war guilt?

It is taken for granted that Germans will be required to do forced labor repairing damage done in the occupied countries. There is no evidence at present that this is regarded as a particular injustice but that is not to say that such a feeling might not develop, especially if the scale of demand had serious repercussions on the labor supply in Germany. But at present the complaint is rather that we are not employing Germans when they have accepted the inevitability of having to do restoration work and are anxious to get it over as quickly as possible. This does not prevent them from being afraid of being sent to Siberia.

7. How much blame for the Nazi regime, German militarism and Germany’s defeat do Germans interrogated put upon the shoulders of German industrialists?

There is not much evidence at present of blame for the Nazi regime and Germany’s defeat being fixed on the industrialists. The Nazis are acting as the universal scapegoat.

8. What evidence is there of the growth of a Hitler legend?

Hitler’s death seems to be generally accepted as a fact. The tendency to exclude Hitler from responsibility for the acts of his followers still crops up here and there. But at the moment, there are no signs of the growth of any legend about him.

Respectfully yours,

Robert Murphy