Third Reich's legacy tied to present-day xenophobia and political intolerance

29-Jan-2020 2:25 PM EST, by Rice University

Newswise — HOUSTON - (Jan. 28, 2020) - Who -- or what -- is to blame for the xenophobia, political intolerance and radical political parties spreading through Germany and the rest of Europe? A new study from Rice University and Washington University in St. Louis shows a major factor is people's proximity to former Nazi concentration camps.

"Legacies of the Third Reich: Concentration Camps and Outgroup Intolerance" will appear in an upcoming edition of the journal American Political Science Review. Lead author Jonathan Homola, an assistant professor at Rice, and fellow authors Miguel Pereira and Margit Tavits of Washington University were interested in understanding why some Europeans are more xenophobic, less accepting of "outgroups" and more supportive of radical right-wing political parties.

The researchers focused closely on Germany but also examined other parts of Europe. They looked at survey responses from the European Values Study and the German General Social Survey as well as recent electoral results. They were especially interested in explaining intolerance toward Jews, Muslims and foreigners and support for radical right-wing parties. The researchers also used census data, information on the location of Third Reich concentration camps and historical election results.

The researchers found consistent evidence that present-day Germans who live closer to concentration camp sites are more xenophobic; less tolerant of Jews, Muslims and immigrants; and more likely to support extreme right-wing political parties. They also found preliminary evidence of this behavior in other parts of Europe.

"We believe that individuals living near concentration camps during World War II were more likely to conform to the beliefs system of the regime," Homola said. "And we think this was because of cognitive dissonance."

Cognitive dissonance is the process of people justifying new information and beliefs that don't necessarily align their values in order to eliminate feelings of guilt or psychological discomfort. In the case of the Holocaust, these beliefs were passed down from generation to generation, Homola and his fellow authors said.

"While the causes of the Holocaust have attracted ample scholarly attention, its long-term sociopolitical consequences are less understood," Homola said. "Our evidence proves that when it comes to political attitudes, these consequences are real and measurable even today. The prejudice that this racist and inhumane institution instilled in the local population is hard to erase even after the institution itself is long gone."

Homola said prior research in the U.S. has established a similar link between extreme political beliefs or racism and proximity to areas that once were home to a large number of slaves. These historical explanations for present-day prejudice are especially timely, he said, as political developments in the U.S. and Europe have brought intolerance toward marginalized groups back into the limelight.

"It is important to understand both contemporary factors and historical legacies that make exclusionary political appeals attractive," he said.

###

SEE ORIGINAL STUDY

Filters close

Showing results

110 of 5480
Released: 24-Sep-2020 4:05 PM EDT
Trump said he has "a constitutional obligation to put in nine judges — justices.” This claim is false
Newswise

Only since 1869 have there consistently been nine justices appointed to the Supreme Court. The U.S. Constitution is silent about how many justices should sit on the Supreme Court.

Released: 24-Sep-2020 12:50 PM EDT
The claim by Pres. Trump that Nevada voters are not required to sign their mail ballots is false
Newswise

At a rally in Vandalia, Ohio, President Donald Trump falsely claimed that Nevada voters are not required to sign their mail ballots and, if they do sign them, the signatures don’t have to be verified.

access_time Embargo lifts in 2 days
Embargo will expire: 25-Sep-2020 8:00 AM EDT Released to reporters: 24-Sep-2020 11:40 AM EDT

A reporter's PressPass is required to access this story until the embargo expires on 25-Sep-2020 8:00 AM EDT The Newswise PressPass gives verified journalists access to embargoed stories. Please log in to complete a presspass application. If you have not yet registered, please Register. When you fill out the registration form, please identify yourself as a reporter in order to advance to the presspass application form.

Released: 24-Sep-2020 10:10 AM EDT
Rebound or Permanent Slump? Possible Impacts of US COVID-19 Fiscal Policies
University of Virginia Darden School of Business

Fiscal policy is a powerful tool to combat economic downturns, but the results depend on decreasing inequality, an imperative to the efficacy of fiscal multipliers. As COVID-19 cases rise, new research offers insights into which fiscal policies may bolster the economy — and the other options, which may have long-term ramifications.

Released: 23-Sep-2020 1:55 PM EDT
Obama administration implemented several police and prison reforms despite what popular Facebook claim says
Newswise

A Pew Research Center analysis found that Obama granted clemency to more people convicted of federal crimes than any president in 64 years.

Released: 23-Sep-2020 10:00 AM EDT
Lack of Key Considerations in FDA Food Chemical Safety Process Leaves Consumers at Risk of Chronic Diseases
Endocrine Society

Today, a group of health, environmental, and consumer organizations challenged the Food and Drug Administration’s (FDA) practice of not accounting for the cumulative health effect of chemicals in the diet when allowing new chemicals in food. Over 60 years ago, Congress passed a law requiring that FDA and industry do just that. Unfortunately, an Environmental Defense Fund investigation of nearly 900 safety determinations found that only one considered the requirement in a meaningful way.

Released: 22-Sep-2020 4:15 PM EDT
Did Justice Ruth Bader Ginsburg Say Her ‘Most Fervent Wish’ Was Not To Be Replaced until a New President is installed?
Newswise

The quote reads: “My most fervent wish is that I will not be replaced until a new President is installed.” Ginsburg dictated this statement to her granddaughter, Clara Spera, in the days before her death.

Newswise: COVID-19 Opens a Partisan Gap on Voting by Mail
Released: 22-Sep-2020 3:35 PM EDT
COVID-19 Opens a Partisan Gap on Voting by Mail
University of California San Diego

Study by UC’s New Electorate Project documents a growing divide on preferences for absentee ballots. Before the pandemic, there wasn’t any difference in the rates at which Democratic and Republican voters actually cast their ballots by mail or in-person. That may change now.


Showing results

110 of 5480

close
1.42143