More than a month after activist Marie-Noëlle Gues passed away, we would like to honour her memory by uploading two chapters of a book some parts of which she had read, and which will inform many on the reasons why she insisted on calling any person directly or indirectly linked to the deportation and detention system, a fascist or a collabo.
That book is They thought they were free. It doesn’t exist in French, and that may not be surprising. Less than ten years after the end of World War II, an American journalist of German ancestry, Milton Mayer, travels to Germany. He settles in the small town of Kronenberg, and attempts to understand how people who are presumably deeply religious and conservative, or who share such background, could have joined such a movement.
Although Marie-Noëlle always repudiated the socialism in the term Nazism, always indicating that Nazism was a destruction tool of the workers movement, and therefore, an enemy, the Nazi regime worked for a great part of the population. The part alongside which the Jewish author of the book lived, without revealing his religion, and tried to understand through numerous conversations he recorded. After reading this book, it is undeniable that Nazism has helped a great deal of people, that it created a great deal of jobs, that it organized social activities for people.
So then, are we Nazis? No. That was the face of the regime reserved to the ‘good’ Germans, as opposed to the Communists, the Catholics, the homosexuals, and the Jews. That is well known. There really were two Germany’s, two realities in a single country. And the last resort, the basic decency of the population, who, even convinced by Nazism, would never consider the mass murder of the Jews, was inactive. Apathy, indifference, self-deception, and fear reigned supreme.
War put an end to the will to revolt. Who wants to overthrow the government in the middle of a war? The genocidal program could be launched because Nazis knew people would not oppose it under those circumstances, that the last counter-weight would not rise up in outrage to overthrow them. We must stop saying that war stopped the Nazis from killing the Jews. Exactly the opposite took place.
Today in France, any allusion to that past is swept aside, rejected. However, we wish to remind you that Germany was a Democracy, before she was a Dictatorship. That there was a strong culture of obedience in that efficient democracy, and it is this culture of verticalism, which will not hear this or that, that Vichy wanted to implement, and that has been preserved, and that we find this very day, at all governmental levels, and in all the nooks and crannies of the French police. Without that spirit of obedience, the Republic falls apart and the people is freed, once again a master unto itself, tolerating the intolerable no more. That obviously cannot be allowed to happen.
We lock millions of people up, we deprive them of their liberty for the most ridiculous of reasons. In the case of borders, it is because you need to consult Immigration Minister Guéant before setting the first toe on the sacred soil of Eternal France. If we can lock them up, what stops us from killing them? What matters is the potential, not the will, good or bad, of the people in power. Power may be hijacked by a band with murderous objectives, as it has been under the Nazi regime, and gradually grow more and more, without the people realizing it.
We think you have the duty to read those chapters, and spread them everywhere. And we ask of you: what are you doing? Where are you? We don’t see you anywhere. You go from your house to your work to your house, sometimes dropping by at the bar, and then immediately returning home. The last counter-weight, the true counter-weight, is all of us. And without our vigilance, without our resistance, power will take liberties with our liberties, and crush more and more innocents for crazier and crazier reasons.