Presenter: I’m Julian Warwickshire, and I’m here in Chiswick where, yesterday, a horrible new bomb, the so-called V2 rocket, landed on Stavely Road after being launched from somewhere on the mainland of Europe, killing 3 and seriously injuring 17. With me is Iain Handwringer, a scholar from Oxford specializing in Germanic studies.
Mr. Handwringer, now we don’t want to jump to conclusions here, as the authorities are still piecing together what happened, but it is widely suspected that this new rocket-propelled weapon is the work of the German military. And of course we should note that, even if that turns out to be the case, we are only talking about a tiny percentage of Germans. Most of the German people, of course, are law-abiding and are not a part of the military machine at all. They are productive members of the European community. We at the BBC want to make that perfectly clear. But if this does turn out to be the work of German militarists, what can be done to protect ourselves?
Handwringer: Well, really what we have to start doing is looking at the root causes of militarism. And, again, we must stress that we are talking here about only a small criminal element, fanatics of a sect called Nazism. We don’t want to paint all Germans with the same broad brush…that cannot be overstated. To date we really have done very little to understand the source of alienation that drives disaffected German youth into the arms of extremists like the Nazis. We need to come up with ways of making these alienated Germans feel welcomed in, and an integral part of the wider European community. The philosophy of racial purity and German superiority can seem very empowering and hence attractive to people who are estranged from the wider community, so we must come up with ways of embracing these people and encouraging them to become a part of, rather than conquering, Europe. I think we really need to look to how we’ve failed the German population such that some of them – and really, it is only a small percentage of them - feel their only choice is to embrace the extremism professed by Hitler.
Presenter: I understand that, in the wake of the attacks yesterday, hostility towards Germany and Germans has grown. What do you say to those expressing such hostility?
Handwringer: Really, such feelings are not only unjustified, but counterproductive as well. Hostility towards Germans only increases the sense of isolation which fuels the attraction of Nazism. We must remember that the misguided perpetrators of this crime do not represent the wider Aryan mindset. They are acting on a perversion of, not a true understanding of, the German Volk. Rather than hostility, we need education. We need to both educate the British public about German thinking, and educate potential extremist Nazis that the concept of Volk is compatible with, not an alienation from, European life.
Presenter: A few months ago Britain joined the Americans in invading France, ostensibly to “liberate” the country from the Nazis. We were told that a Nazi-controlled France posed a threat to the UK. Doesn’t yesterday’s attack demonstrate that the invasion has made us even less safe?
Handwringer: Well, I don’t think you can establish a direct causal link. We have always ranked high on the list of Nazi enemies, ever since our opposition to the invasion of Poland. However, it is certainly true that, having declared war against the Nazis when they invaded Poland, our leaders can hardly complain that the Germans are acting as though they are in a war.
Presenter: Again, we should be clear that when you say Germans, you mean a small, radical sect of Germans, the Nazis, and not wider Germany.
Handwringer: Of course. I misspoke there. We definitely do not want to stigmatize all Germans with the acts of a few.
Presenter: Mr. Handwringer, thank you. And now, back to you Jane Garvey, for an interview with Heinrich Schwarzenegger, who condemns today’s attacks, worrying about the impact on the British-German community.