An article came out a few years ago about the appeal of Nazism to people of today: Germans fascinated by Nazi era eight decades later. Here’s a bit from the article:
German interest in the darkest chapter of their history seems stronger than it has ever been as the country marks several key anniversaries this year linked to the Nazi era.On TV talk shows, in newspapers and online, people endlessly debate the Nazi era – from what their own grandparents did and saw, to how the regime’s legacy constrains German peacekeepers on overseas missions today, or why unemployed Greek and Spanish protesters lampoon Chancellor Angela Merkel as a new Hitler.
I am wondering why there is such a fascination with WWII Nazism and Hitler even today within Western society. Here are some reasons that could potentially explain this odd appeal:
The present vs. the past
Major cultural changes and attitudes in the West over the past 70 years make it increasingly difficult to understand how the rise of Nazism was ever possible. Attempting to understand this mystery of the nature of man and his political choices has led to greater interest in the topic.
The presence of a single cult figure
Hitler has been identified as the single person in whom WWII Nazism can be defined/blamed. This makes it more appealing to study than, say, earlier wars.
An eccentric leader
Hitler has become derided and parodied so much in modern times that he has become almost a comic figure (think of the Hitler meme that came out over the past few years, or the “Hipster Hitler” cartoon). This inevitably changes perceptions of the man, and actually garners a more sympathetic view of him than he had before.
Fascination with darkness
People today are fascinated by dark chapters in human life which contrast with the normal, sanitized world which most people live in. Just as horror films have increased in popularity over the past several decades, more people are interested in macabre chapters in human history.
German response to their past
I am guessing that the fierce response by Germans to quash this chapter in their history has made it somewhat taboo, which only serves to make it more desirable.
Disillusionment of the present age
Decades after the fall of Nazism, the present age fails to offer an entirely satisfactory model for Germans or others. Despite the moral disasters presented by Nazism, it can be said to have produced a utopian vision of the future which may be admirable to some in form, rather than in content.
All of these reasons have help explain the cultural interest in Nazism today. Of course, this is separate from the other, ridiculous fascination of Nazism by actual Antisemites today.