As we’ve learned in the teaser, Volksverrat served as a means to hunt and fight those who were considered enemy to the Nazi’s idea of the German people. Attacking this idea was automatically treated like trying to topple the state. This means that the state and this idea, this ideology had become the very same thing under Nazi rule. If selfless human acts are considered detrimental to this ideology, it is fair to consider it not only to be the worst possible set of ideas for any truly human being, it makes studying and opposing it an act of humanity.
We could stop here if we are able to rule out the circumstances that led to the Nazi rule could ever repeat. It is evident this isn’t the case. We also have to understand whether and how it is limited to a subset of people, like the German people, including those of modern day Germany. In order to understand the Nazi ideology, we need to dismantle it and trace back its roots, and how it persists beyond its peak at which the German people mass-murdered millions of human beings – not as an act of war, but much rather as a rationalized requirement for the same ideology that made Germans murder political opposition, Volksverräter.
Influx and Regress
Following the events that led to the mass-emigration of the Syrian populace, contemporary Germany became the safe haven of choice for a majority of people who were fleeing certain death. This also gave rise to a popular German movement of self-dubbed concerned citizens who are pushing an agenda to strictly limit the influx of refugees and forcefully send back those who have already arrived. While the concerned citizens don’t publicly ask for the eradication of refugees, the umbrella movement PEGIDA (Patriotic Europeans against the Islamization of the Occident) quickly developed popular terminology to use against political opposition against their own agenda: Gutmenschen and Volksverräter. The former is usually used against non-members of the political establishment and roughly translates to a polemic version of philanthropist. Politicians, who are considered solely to be servants to the native German people, consequently become Volksverräter, criminals committing the most severe of crimes.
The parallel use of the two terms, Gutmensch and Volksverräter, hints at their connection. To proponents of the underlying ideology, they can almost be used interchangeably. Being a philanthropist and a traitor to the people is essentially the same thing to them, just like to the Nazis. Clearly however, there are important differences. Neither does contemporary Germany live under Nazi rule, nor do the concerned citizens follow a closed worldview that is as elaborate as the one of WWII Germany. Simply put, the concerned citizens might have a more than questionable opinion that is rightfully opposed by others, but calling them Nazis is not only wrong but plays down the crimes against humanity committed by Germans in the 30s and 40s. Even the horrible crimes committed by some concerned citizens that include burning down refugee shelters or even attacking and killing refugees in some cases is still negligible in contrast to the industrialized murder of millions that could be carried out without noteworthy resistance. And yet, the mob expresses hatred against strangers, even if they have just fled terror and certain death, losing everything on their way to Germany. Those who deserve compassion and help are confronted by a collective that tries to blame all individual misery on the only people in even greater misery.
However, concerned citizens are a minority. To fully understand the origins of Volksverrat, we need to look at how the German left and the mainstream are handling PEGIDA, concerned citizens and refugees.