Alli Snow (allisnow) wrote,
Alli Snow
allisnow

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An interesting editorial at WaPo today, from David Staffer: Iraq Is a Mess. But Germany Was, Too.

It just provides a little historical perspective, ya know?

As for de-Nazification, it sounded good, and indeed was morally and politically necessary. But distinguishing between real and nominal Nazis often proved extremely difficult. Small officials who'd joined the party out of necessity were thrown out of office, while big businessmen who'd profited under Hitler were left alone. The policy generated growing hostility to the occupiers, and its implementation was soon handed over to the Germans themselves. This caused its own bitterness as the Germans were often seen as being too lenient.

Even so, despite this willingness to rethink and adjust, occupation policy floundered. Two years after Allied victory, Germany was in desperate straits, facing an economic crisis that threatened to nip democracy in the bud. Only the Marshall Plan, with its massive program of financial aid, saved the country from disaster. Self-government did not come until 1949, and Allied troops remained in West Germany as occupiers until 1955, a full decade after the defeat of the Third Reich. Unrepentant Nazis stayed active on the extreme fringes of West German politics for years, and a few ex-Nazis held high positions even in mainstream politics until the 1960s. The Christian Democratic politician Kurt Georg Kiesinger, who had joined the Nazi Party in 1933, was chancellor of the Federal Republic from 1966 to 1969.

Rebuilding a nation is possible. But even in the best of circumstances, it takes effort, time, patience and pragmatism. As 1945 confirms, liberation from a dictator in itself offers no easy path to peace or democracy. Battlefield victory is the easy bit. Building peace is a constant struggle -- and it's a matter of years, not weeks.


Ed Morrissey adds a few more points, specifically about Japan, at HotAir.
Tags: wwiii
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