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Report by the American Secret Service about the Attitudes of the German Population in the American Occupation Zone (August 12, 1945)

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ANTI-SEMITISM. – Latent anti-Semitism manifests itself in all those surveyed. It seems to be a motivating sentiment even when the survey participant deems himself free of all National Socialist sympathies. The answers to the question: “Do you believe Germany would have also lost the war if the Jews had not been persecuted?” is particularly relevant. With varying degrees of qualification, 64% of those surveyed declared that the persecution of the Jews had been “decisive” in Germany’s defeat. Moreover, many of those surveyed expressed strong opposition to the Reich’s anti-Jewish measures. And yet, they still hold anti-Semitic ideas insofar as they are convinced of the “power” of “world Jewry.”

POLITICS. – Weariness with politics was evident in more than 90% of those surveyed. It is probably primarily due to the fact that the vast majority of Germans believe that politics in the future will be carried out over the heads of the German people. Seventy-three percent of those surveyed did not believe that German self-determination was foreseeable within the next fifteen years. To the question: “Why do you want to have nothing to do with politics?,” 67% responded: “Because politics leads to war.” One frequently expressed view is that the new economic beginning “is pointless anyhow.”

PRESS. – The “American newspapers for the German population” are more popular than one might think. A Berlin survey showed that 91% of readers consider the Allgemeine Zeitung a “decent paper.” In contrast to this, 66% responded negatively to the question of whether the “American papers” publish “the whole truth.” Apparently the popularity of our papers can be attributed to the comparison with the National Socialist press. Eighty-four percent of those surveyed declared that the National Socialist press had “always lied,” 15% felt it had “not always” written the truth, and only one percent believed that the Hitler press had for the most part stuck to the truth. The question about the format of American newspapers drew different responses, which varied by region. On average, it emerged that 59% of readers approve of the format, 36% have various objections – “too sensationalistic,” “too little substance,” “a moralizing tone,” “not enough local news” – while 6% reject the journalistic format without any further explanation.

Source: Hans Habe, Im Jahre Null. Ein Beitrag zur Geschichte der deutschen Presse [In Year Zero. A Contribution to the History of the German Press] (1966). Munich, 1977, p. 82 ff.; reprinted in Christoph Kleßmann, Die doppelte Staatsgründung. Deutsche Geschichte 1945-1955 [The Founding of Two States. German History 1945-1955]. Göttingen: Vandenhoeck & Ruprecht, 1986, pp. 372-73.

Translation: Thomas Dunlap

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