Fascism was an unjust regime and Hitler a criminal. His seizure of power sealed the end of democracy. All citizen rights were repealed and the trade unions were forbidden. The majority of Germans took part in the fascist dictatorship, but mostly against their will and unaware of the senseless atrocities that it organized. Most learned of the Holocaust of the Jews only after the fall of the Third Reich. Hitler’s grandiose illusions can be deduced from his program of world war. Even when the war was lost, he still believed in the final victory. Democracy, in contrast, is the overcoming of fascism and a bulwark against it. It tolerates neither anti-Semitism nor right-wing radicalism; unlike fascism, it permits trade unions and guarantees freedom of opinion. Internally it is organized by the rule of law and outwardly it strives for the security of peace and freedom.
Thus reads the quintessence of today’s criticism of fascism. It is in school textbooks, regularly repeated in the speeches of politicians and on the part of established German fascism research. It does not make an accurate criticism of fascism. Each one of these judgments is wrong. Each one is at the same time a minimization of fascism.
Fascism was not an unjust regime but a constitutional state, which fixed the fascist state reasons into law. Hitler was a politician who in order to bring the party he led to power courted competitors. After his appointment as chancellor he used his power to suppress each competitor and implement his – fascist – politics. Citizen rights and trade unions were not simply abolished, but transformed into instruments of the new rule. The majority of Germans obtained good reasons for taking part in fascism. They either supported Hitler’s anti-Bolshevism or his intention to finally erase the “disgrace of Versailles”; they always had something against Jews or found at the time that finally someone brings order and tidies up Germany. All the good Germans who learned about Auschwitz only after the end of the war (or wanted to) had experienced the anti-Semitism that with Jewish stars, Nürnberger race laws or the “Kristallnacht” announced the genocidal war declaration against the Jewish people. Hitler’s war was finally not the product of a diseased brain, but a variant of imperialism. He had his fascist reasons to fight for the re-allocation of the world and to lead the competition against the other great powers.
But these judgments do not concern only theoretical misdemeanors. Rather, they serve a message that is easily inferred from the principle of the errors: Fascism is presented in each case as the transferred negative image of democracy. The juridical system of National Socialism is not criticized, but it is explained from the winner’s point of view as a “system of injustice.” Hitler’s political objective is not brought to light, but is declared a crime from the moral point of view. One does not clarify in which functions a trade union is suitable for fascist domestic policy, but the abolishment by Hitler of the Weimar trade unions is contrasted with their permission by democracy. And each time the postwar German receives the same extremely simple message: democracy is therefore a praise-worthy political system because it is not fascism. And turned around: Fascism is despicable because it is simply not democratic. In this way one learns nothing about either fascism or democracy. Thus goes that remarkable praise of democracy that gets by completely without argument.
It sticks to this day because it is hardly noticed that the democratic system not only does not differ from fascism in its enmity to communism, but both share the same social economy, i.e. capitalism; that democrats just like fascists defend the principle of the national state, fortify themselves for it, do not tolerate enemies of this principle and therefore also have no place for foreigners in the homeland. Both put stable government and a faithful people above everything and when they discover disloyalty and disorder in them, both immediately must have a strong hand to restore order. Democrats and fascists do not resign themselves to defeats of their commonwealth and share the political need to pursue their interests globally beyond their state borders. All this speaks neither for democracy nor exclusively against fascism. There can be no talk of democracy and fascism as contrasting systems at all. They embody two variants of the competition for power in the bourgeois nation state.