Over the course of the semester, students enrolled in Origins of Nazism have had the oppourtunity to reflect on the role of race and ethnicity in the context of Weimer and later Nazi Germany. We have looked at propaganda posters, studied speeches, and discussed government policies pertaining to the subject. I think it is fair to say that all participants in the class, including students, GSIs, and even Professor Berg have developed a newfound appreciation for the complex topics. For me, one of the largest takeaways of the class is that race and ethnicity were topics that were not skirted around during the 1920s and 1930s in the manner that they are now. People engaged in discourse pertaining to race and ethnicity without hesitation during the period studied in class. While most discourse of the era that the class has discussed was extremely negative and often times racist, misguided, and simply incorrect in its assertions, I believe that there is something to be learned from the forwardness of people belonging to the early 20th century.
I feel strongly that today, some people are hesitant to disclose their true feelings on subjects pertaining to race and ethnicity because they fear saying something that will be viewed as inappropriate or mean-spirited. Simultaneously, other people, who view themselves as open-minded and forward-thinking, unintentionally suppress the fulfillment of free discussion in their efforts to make the world a more fair and just place. In order to reverse this trend, common people must make a concentrated and sustained effort to express their opinions regarding the aforementioned sensitive topics even when it is uncomfortable to do so. By having more people willing to have difficult conversations regarding race and ethnicity, I am confident that the world could become a less bigoted and more equitable place for its inhabitants, regardless of their creeds, races, ethnicities, and backgrounds. Though people of the early 20th century were often times wrong and even disgusting regarding their treatment of race and ethnicity, their willingness to broach the subject is something that should be emulated today.