Sunday, January 09, 2005

[ELECTION 2005] Dangerous Truths

Few days ago Stipe Mesić (Stipe Mesic) was campaigning in Duga Resa and used the opportunity to comment on HDZ economic policies. His favourite subject is cataclysmic decline of Croatian industry, most of which happened under HDZ rule. Mesić referred to usual HDZ counter-argument which had always putting all the blame for Croatian economic woes on the war.

According to Mesić, this argument is false because war alone can't account for the decline of Croatian industry. Mesić tried used historical example to prove his point and found it in Nazi Germany. According to him, Germany had its industrial production peak in the very last year of the war, despite cataclysmic military defeats, resource shortages and relentless Allied bombing.

Many in Croatia saw this historical reference as another of Mesić's campaign blunders. For some any idea to link or compare Republic of Croatia with Third Reich is blasphemy. Mesić got pummelled, not by the usual suspects from Croatia's rabid right and Kosor's camp, but from his ideological allies from the Left. Many newspaper commentators described this reference as "insulting" or, at least, "irresponsible".

In strictly political terms, Mesić did make a blunder, although he can compensate any loss of reputation at the left with some right-wing voters who would appreciate kind words for WW2 losers.

In terms of historic truth, Mesić was right. Third Reich indeed had its industrial production peak in its last days. Croatian economy could indeed be well-served by organisational capabilities of someone like Albert Speer.

It is unlikely, at least at this time, that anyone will take Third Reich as positive role model and that anyone, except tiny and insignificant minority, would try to resurrect something like that in near future. Therefore, saying that Third Reich did some things right, at least in strictly technical terms, shouldn't be taboo. Anything else would be hypocrisy, because many people who don't have any sympathies for Nazism admitted so.

Engineers who built modern motorways owe a lot to Autobahns, just like creators of economy cars owe a lot to the concept of Volkswagen. Modern militaries that spread and protect (at least theoretically) liberal democracy in the world are equipped with general purpose machineguns inspired by MG 42. And even some Hollywood filmmakers, like George Lucas, owe a lot to Leni Riefenstahl documentaries.


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