April 21, 2005


Growing up in the Nazi era (Richard Bernstein and Mark Landler, April 21, 2005, The New York Times)

[H]istorians and Jewish groups agree that Ratzinger's wartime record, which was common to young men of his generation, has little if any significance today.

Moreover, they make a point about his time as chief adviser to Pope John Paul II in matters of doctrine.

Ratzinger was a central figure in one of the late pope's most highly publicized gestures, not just to build ties with the Jewish community but to apologize for the role that Catholics played in the Holocaust.

"Everybody was in the Hitler Youth," Olaf Blaschke, a specialist on modern church history from Trier University, said in a telephone interview. "Some very strong Catholics didn't go to the Hitler Youth, that's true. But it was sort of mandatory, difficult to evade. And those people who were in the Hitler Youth and were indoctrinated by those ideologies were the very people who later on built the Federal Republic of Germany and fought against every type of totalitarianism."

Other examples of people who in their young years were obligated to be members of the Hitler Youth were the novelist Günter Grass and the philosopher Jürgen Habermas, both intellectual pillars of German democracy, Blaschke said. [...]

[A]s the right-hand man to Pope John Paul II, he was widely assumed to have played a major role in drafting "We Remember," and he was clearly involved in other pathbreaking gestures that John Paul II made toward reconciliation with Jews, such as praying in a synagogue.

"It cannot be denied," he said last year, in a statement that mirrored the main concept of 'We Remember,' "that a certain insufficient resistance by Christians to this atrocity is explained by the anti-Judaism present in the soul of more than a few Christians."

It's indecent to compare him to Gunter Grass.

Posted by Orrin Judd at April 21, 2005 9:38 AM

Say what you want about Gunther Grass, at least he's always told the truth about abortion.

Posted by: ted welter at April 21, 2005 10:04 AM

"It's indecent to compare him to Gunter Grass."

Or the utterly incomprehensible Jrgen Habermas.

Posted by: Robert Schwartz at April 21, 2005 12:05 PM

50 million people took up arms against Hitler.

One was a German Christian.

Once you know Ratzinger is German, it truly is irrelevant that he was in the Hitler Youth.

To a very, very close approximation, all Germans were Nazis and all Nazis were Germans.

It might be nice if the Roman church, like the secular Geman government, started paying reparations to the Jews.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at April 21, 2005 4:18 PM

Why? If anything the Germans should be paying the Church reparations.

Posted by: oj at April 21, 2005 5:02 PM

To make some amends for two thousand years of crime.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at April 21, 2005 8:12 PM

Crime? Toleration.

Posted by: oj at April 21, 2005 8:16 PM

Only the truly deranged would consider incidents like Hugh of Lincoln -- of which there were thousands, maybe tens of thousands, continued over 15 centuries and not stopped yet -- 'toleration.'

Apparently you would not define a person living in Manhattan as a mugger until he had mugged every person there.

Posted by: Harry Eagar at April 22, 2005 3:36 PM

There are still Jews, aren't there?

Posted by: oj at April 22, 2005 4:44 PM