New Pope was a Nazi
Seriously. This comes to my attention via Bob Freedland:
Papal hopeful is a former Hitler Youth
THE wartime past of a leading German contender to succeed John Paul II may return to haunt him as cardinals begin voting in the Sistine Chapel tomorrow to choose a new leader for 1 billion Catholics.
Unknown to many members of the church, however, Ratzinger’s past includes brief membership of the Hitler Youth movement and wartime service with a German army anti- aircraft unit.
He joined the Hitler Youth aged 14, shortly after membership was made compulsory in 1941. ... “Ratzinger was only briefly a member of the Hitler Youth and not an enthusiastic one,” concluded John Allen, his biographer.
He has since said that although he was opposed to the Nazi regime, any open resistance would have been futile — comments echoed this weekend by his elder brother Georg, a retired priest ordained along with the cardinal in 1951.
“Resistance was truly impossible,” Georg Ratzinger said. “Before we were conscripted, one of our teachers said we should fight and become heroic Nazis and another told us not to worry as only one soldier in a thousand was killed. But neither of us ever used a rifle against the enemy.”
Some locals in Traunstein, like Elizabeth Lohner, 84, whose brother-in-law was sent to Dachau as a conscientious objector, dismiss such suggestions. “It was possible to resist, and those people set an example for others,” she said. “The Ratzingers were young and had made a different choice.”
Incidentally, on the issue of the possibility of resistance: I am way outside my area of expertise (which is?) here, but there is some evidence that the German people did exert some non-trivial influence over the Nazi regime.
In September 1939 Hitler authorised a "euthanasia" program to rid Germany of all those people classified as "unworthy to live". This classification initially covered disabled children, but was ultimately extended to Jews and non-Jews who were "cripples", alcoholics, epileptics, pyschopaths, "vagabonds" and sufferers of tuberculosis and cancer ... The program was named T-4, after the address of its headquarters at Tiergarten 4, Berlin. It was authorised by Hitler on his private letterhead, signed in at the end of October 1939 but predated to September 1 to make it appear a 'wartime measure'.I don't know whether this is decisive one way or the other, but it does show that Hitler's power was to some extent contingent upon the support of "ordinary Germans."
The first victims of the T-4 program were babies and children suffering from Down Syndrome, hydrocephalus and various physical deformities ... By 1940 six killing centres stood in readiness, all within Germany and Austria: Grafenak, Brandenburg, Bernburg, Hartheim, Sonnenstein and Hadamar. In these six institutions between 1940 and August 1941, it is documented that 70,273 people were killed. The relatives of victims received officially-forged death certificates, together with letters of 'condolence' and queries regarding instructions for disposal of their ashes. These sparked off mistrust, unrest, enquiries and protests.
Surprised by the level of protest it had provoked, Hitler ended the T-4 program in August 1941, by which time it is believed that some 200 000 people had been killed. For the Nazis the program was a success, as it provided practice killing for their mass murder of the Jews. Experienced staff and tested methods and equipment were simply transferred from the T-4 program to the concentration and extermination camps. When it came to killing Jews, however, there was no significant protest from the German people.