THE THIRD REICH AS A SPECK OF BIRD SHIT – An Alternative for Germany politician gets into trouble:

In remarks reported by Deutsche Welle and the German news agency DPA, Alexander Gauland, co-leader of the anti-immigrant, anti-Islam party, told a youth party congress that there was more to the country’s history than the 12 years of the Nazi regime.

“Yes, we plead guilty to our responsibility for the 12 years” of Nazi rule, he said.

But “we have a glorious history and one, my dear friends, that lasted a lot longer than those damned 12 years,” Gauland said.

“Hitler and the Nazis are just a speck of bird shit in over 1,000 years of successful German history.”

There are two mistakes often made when looking at German history: looking at it through the prism of Hitler and looking at it as if Hitler was just a blip.

Gauland is right in that there is a lot more to German history than the 12 years of the Third Reich. In fact, Germany’s contribution to what we call the Western Civilisation is quite staggering. For the past three hundred of years, in particular, it can be argued that German (including German Jews) scientists, inventors, artists, philosophers and scholars, have been at the very forefront of inventing and creating the modernity. We should all know more about the German Enlightenment and the German Industrial Revolution, and about German history in general, and not just about Nazism and the war.

On the other hand, “the 12 years” is so consequential in modern history and so traumatic to our collective memory that it is more than just a speck of bird shit on the otherwise awe-inspiring monument to Germania. Hitler and Nazism, likewise, are not phenomena that “just happened”, like an act of God (or, indeed, Satan). They represent the darker side of both the German psyche and the German history, with roots stretching deep in both. In fact, the lesson for us all from German history is precisely this: that the inner strength of a civilisation cannot be taken for granted, the proverbial veneer is thin and has to be continually mended, and that a country which has produced Goethe, Bach and Heisenberg can indeed also produce Hitler.