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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)

A few weeks after the end of the war, an opinion poll in the American occupation zone revealed the aftereffects of the politics and propaganda of the Nazi regime. The Germans were weary of politics and did not believe in a positive new beginning. They despised the Russians but also rejected the Americans, whom they blamed for their “voluntary” entry into the war, and from whom they expected the forced introduction of a “foreign” form of government – i.e., democracy. The statements about National Socialism were themselves contradictory, though they already pointed to an exculpatory approach that was often used later on, namely to place responsibility for the crimes entirely on the person of Adolf Hitler. Anti-Semitic prejudices were still widespread.

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Stance toward the Allies. – The Russians are without a doubt the least popular. Even today, 92% of those surveyed said that they consider the Russians an “inferior” people. The Germans cannot and do not want to grasp that they were defeated “even” by the Russians. Strong feelings of revenge are noticeable here. Most Germans were evidently hoping that the Russians would be forced to rebuild the destroyed Germany. To our question: “Did you assume that the Western Allies together with the Germans would wage war against the Soviets?,” 72% responded in the affirmative. [ . . . ]

We (the Americans) are in second place. It is astonishing that people are generally more hostile toward us than toward the French and the English. A psychological assessment of the opinion survey shows that there are two reasons for this. First: it is generally said that the English and the French were “forced” to go to war, while the Americans entered voluntarily into war against the Reich. It is assumed that the French and the English will behave “in a manner that is customary after a war,” while the Americans are “suspected” of wanting to impose their own way of life (democracy) onto the German people. Second; the idea that we waged a “Jewish war” remains predominant. [ . . . ] The English are credited with a certain “correctness.” What also contributes to their popularity is that they are not as “rich” as we are: the element of envy is absent. Most popular are the French “archenemies,” probably because people assume that they can deal most readily with the French.

NATIONAL SOCIALISM. – There is a tendency to hold individuals, especially Hitler, responsible for the regime’s atrocities. Strong contradictions are evident here. A review of the attitudes (cross-checking) shows that 84% of those who can still be regarded as National Socialists distance themselves from the person of Hitler. At the same time, 53% of those surveyed declared that Hitler “knew nothing” about the atrocities in the concentration camps.

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