That German Jewish families "constituted one of the most spectacular social leaps in European history [and] produced some of the most fiercely independent minds" in Germany is a little-understood cause of their persecution during the Holocaust, since a nation afraid of independence naturally chooses the most independent people in their population as scapegoats for their fear of freedom. Jews in Germany were far more literate (even the females) than others since medieval times, when most populations were nearly totally illiterate. Jewish families, smaller and more urban than other German families and far less authoritarian, for centuries almost always nursed their own children; so that in 1907, for instance, in the south "44 percent of the children of Christian families died, but only 8 percent of the Jewish children." Jewish immigrants who lived in poverty in various European cities had lower infant mortality rates than their neighbors. Even poor Jewish families further east took much better care of their children and had much lower infant death rates than the families around them. Two major studies of German Jewish family life confirm that it was quite different from most of the other families around them, so much more loving and compassionate that even after the end of WWII, after experiencing during the Holocaust the most "severe abuse and unimaginable stress, there were no suicides [in survivors]...the people are neither living a greedy, me-first style of life, nor are they seeking gain at the expense of others...most of their lives are marked by an active compassion for others..." As was stressed earlier, what produces violent restaging of early trauma isn't merely the severity of the trauma, but whether or not the child blames himself.
Two similar studies-one by Dicks of Nazis and another by the Oliners of rescuers of Jews-clearly reveal the different family backgrounds of the more advanced psychoclass represented by rescuers. Just as Dicks found brutal, domineering parents of Nazis who had "particularly destructive mother images," the Oliners interviewed over 406 rescuers of Jews, compared them with 126 nonrescuers, and found that their economic class, their religion, their education, jobs and other social characteristics were all similar, only their childrearing was different. Altruistic personalities, they found, had families that showed them more respect, more concern for fairness, more love, and had less emphasis on obedience and more on individuality. They were almost never sent out to others to be cared for, and if they were sometimes hit by their parents, the parents often apologized. The result was that Jews were the most liberal group in Weimar Germany. A new childrearing mode had penetrated to a minority of Germans at the beginning of the twentieth century, in time to produce a new innovative phase and an attempted "leap to modernity" during the Weimar Republic.
During this decade of prosperity, "many Germans enjoyed a temporary triumph of eros over thanatos, experiencing a sense of liberation hitherto unknown in a land where strong discipline and public conformity had held sway for generations." Universal suffrage allowed women to vote, a minority of parties were even fairly democratic in intent, economic freedoms multiplied and produced unaccustomed prosperity, women's rights over their children were promoted and sexual material and even contraception became widely available, reducing for the first time the number of children per family to two. But all this political, economic and social liberation produced terror in the average German -- a "fear of freedom" that threatened loss of maternal approval and that led to fantasies of merging with the punitive, controlling mother. Democracy was seen as "a beast of a thousand heads [that] crushes anything it cannot swallow or engulf." Weimar Purity Crusades began to call for "emancipation from emancipation" and "a restoration of authoritarian rule."
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