German Culture

Commentary by Dr. Ursula A. Falk


Might Makes Right

The Nazi Mentality


The German/Nazi mentality was the forever conviction that coercion or force creates winners.  This can be observed by reading the stories by the Grimms, which were frightening stories, sending messages of destruction to young children.  They were tales that included bells following young ones, overwhelming them with dread.  There was one story of cereal that buried everything in its sight, including a young consumer who was choked by farina, sending the eater to his or her death. 

The Brothers Grimm were not alone in sending their messages to the German people from very small children to aging adults.  Wilhelm Busch, a famous story and rhyme writer, described what was done to people and animals, tales/poems which were considered humorous but which subliminally and directly sent messages of torture to animals and humans.  One of these humorous multi passages was about two young pre-adolescents who tortured chickens and their owners by tying strings around the hens' necks, so when they tried to get loose they choked to death. Other “entertaining” tales were full of pathos like The Little Match Girl who froze to death.  No one really seemed to “take pity on her”.

There are some very clear illustrations in children's verses which were recited by children who were disgusted with schools and teachers.  What they learned was physical brutality, anger, and much more.  It clearly describes whoever has more power is able to be the winner.  Children are powerless unless they bring someone older and stronger and more political into the picture, someone with allegedly more and bigger muscles:  “Eins, zwei drei vier funf sechs sieben, in der Schule wird geschrieben, in der Schule wird gelacht bis der Lehrere Pitsch, Patsch mache.  Aber Lehrer das tut weh, Morgen komm ich nimmer mehr, ubermorgen noch einmal, aber mit meim Grosspapa.  Grosspapa ist nicht so dumm, schlagt den Lehrer kurz und krumm!” (One two three four five six seven, in the school you write and laugh, then the teacher hits.  But teacher, it hurts, tomorrow I will not come back.  The day after that I will return, but this time with my grandfather.  My grandfather is not so dumb.  He beats up the teacher until he becomes short and crooked/disabled).  This verse shows clearly that which was inherent in the German society during the twentieth century.  Children were mercilessly shamed and beaten if they did not learn as readily and precisely as the teacher expected.  There was no thought about the welfare of the child, nor of the ability or lack thereof of the teacher.  Many children were terrified of attending classes because of the constant threat of corporal punishment.  The switch was always handy, and was used full force across children’s little hands and or legs.

What can be expected of children who grow up in that kind of violence?  Even excellent students were terrified from witnessing the kind of brutalities described.  Do we wonder why it was so easy to involve these former children, now adults, in becoming brutal psychopaths who had no feeling about maiming and killing their Jewish neighbors and erstwhile “friends”,  robbing them not only of their earthly goods but of their very lives?

“Rachmones”(pity) is a word that the Nazi killers did not know.  This is a word that runs throughout our Jewish religion, our Jewish heritage, our Jewish hearts. We are taught to practice self control.  The kosher laws, if adhered to, are a good example of this practice. We are taught to not turn the hungry stranger from our door; to obey the ten commandments; to keep the “Karyagim Mitzwot” (613 blessings/good deeds), or at least some of them.  We are imbued with the knowledge that our children and our parents are very important in our lives.  The first are our future and the last are our roots – they tell us who we are and from whence we came.

Let us follow that which we have been taught to believe and come away with Sholom (peace) and contentment!



Dr. Ursula A. Falk is a psychotherapist in private practice and the co-author, with Dr. Gerhard Falk, of  Deviant Nurses & Improper Patient Care (2006).

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