Thursday, March 7, 2019

Four Roads in the Garden of Beasts: Appeasement, Collaboration, Resistance and Dissent in Nazi Germany


In August 2019 I will be presenting my lecture 

Four Roads in the Garden of Beasts:  Appeasement, Collaboration, Resistance and Dissent  in Nazi Germany

through the CSU-East Bay Osher Lifelong Learning Institute (OLLI) in the San Francisco Bay Area.


In the Garden of Beasts is Eric Larson’s 2011 book about U.S. Ambassador William Dodd and his family’s time in Germany from 1933 to 1937.  The Garden of Beasts is a loose translation of the Tiergarden, Berlin’s version of Central Park, around which much of the political and diplomatic action of Larson’s book takes place – and is, of course, a metaphor for the general state of Germany in the 1930s and 1940s. 

U.S. Ambassador William Dodd and his family
arriving in Hamburg in July 1933

When the Dodds arrived in Germany, storm troopers were beating American tourists on the streets and Jews were increasingly the target of brutal violence and tightening social restrictions.  Dodd arrived in Berlin holding the Antisemitic notions typical of America at the time—expressed rather simply by his daughter, Martha (who unbeknownst to her father was a Soviet spy), “We sort of don’t like the Jews anyway.”  But first-hand experience of the Nazis convinced Dodd they were an increasing threat, and he resigned in protest over his inability to mobilize the Roosevelt administration, particularly the State Department, to counter the Nazis prior to World War II.

But how did others in Germany and abroad respond to the Garden of the Beasts?  They took one of the 4 roads:  appeasement, collaboration, resistance and dissent.  This lecture will take a short drive down each of those roads.

Food for Thought


Fascism 101:  We will take a very brief look at Fascism and the social, economic and political conditions in Germany at the time of Hitler’s rise to power. 
In the Garden of Beasts:  Love, Terror and an American Family in Hitler’s Berlin (Eric Larson)
Fascism:  A Warning (Madeleine Albright)
The Long Night:  William L. Shirer and the Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (Steve Wick)
The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich (William L. Shirer)

Appeasement:  In an international context, appeasement is the diplomatic policy of making concessions to an aggressive power in order to avoid conflict – and is most often applied to the foreign policy of the British governments of Prime Ministers Ramsay MacDonald, Stanley Baldwin and Neville Chamberlain towards Nazi Germany and Fascist Italy.  But others – including the leaders of the Weimar Republic and political leaders in the USA—chose the path of appeasement in dealing with Hitler. 
 The Death of Democracy:  Hitler’s Rise to Power and the Downfall of the Weimar Republic (Benjamin Carter Hett)

Collaboration:  Collaboration is defined as cooperation between elements of the population of a defeated state and representatives of the victorious power.  Within nations occupied by the Axis Powers in World War II, some citizens and organizations knowingly collaborated with the Axis Powers. 
Sarah’sKey (Tatiana de Rosnay)
The Vél d'Hiv Raid: The French Police at the Service of the Gestapo (Maurice Rajsfus)

Resistance:  Resistance movements were rare in Germany, but during World War II occurred in every occupied country by a variety of means ranging from non-cooperation, disinformation and propaganda to hiding crashed pilots and hiding Jews and to outright warfare and the recapturing to towns.  In many countries, resistance movements were referred to as The Underground. 
Sophie Scholl:  The Real Story of a Woman who Defied Hitler (Frank McDonough)
Outwitting the Gestapo (Luci Aubrac)

Dissent:  Although it usually resulted in imprisonment or death, publicly expressing non-agreement or opposition to the philosophy and actions of the Nazi regime did occur - particularly among the dissenting religious leaders like pastor and theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer and Cardinal Clemens August Graf von Galen.
Dietrich Bonhoeffer:  Pastor, Martyr, Prophet, Spy (Eric Metaxes)

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