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Instead, Mr Stargardt argues, the German press “hinted at what people already knew, fostering a sense of collusive semi-secrecy.” The resulting “spiral of silence” led to a sense of quasi-complicity.

This sentence is exacted from The Economist. I cannot understand the meaning of this sentence well.

I have already looked up the dictionary, so I guess that the semi-secrecy means that even though Goebbels avoid the information open but half of people know the holocaust. The quasi-complicity means that people want to do something different from a holocaust. In this case, I cannot see why this is the result of spiral of silence, as there is not hint that doing something else is the opinion of majority.

The whole paragraph is

Gradually, a new conviction spread: that this genocidal war “must never come home to Germany”. For, just as the Germans gave no mercy, so they could also expect none. Goebbels made sure that no details of the Holocaust were ever reported. Instead, Mr Stargardt argues, the German press “hinted at what people already knew, fostering a sense of collusive semi-secrecy.” The resulting “spiral of silence” led to a sense of quasi-complicity.

A link to this article is here.

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    "Collusive" here means "sham," "make-belief." "Fostering" is encouraging and promoting. Since the public knew what was going on, but were afraid to say so, the hints (rather than the truth) made the readers feel as if they and the press were involved, sort of (semi) in a conspiracy. Because no one was willing openly to discuss this make-belief secrecy or the events behind it, people began to feel sort of (quasi) complicit in the government's crimes.
    – Ricky
    Nov 19, 2015 at 14:55
  • @Ricky That should work as an answer. Please repost as such.
    – Paul Rowe
    Nov 19, 2015 at 15:10
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    @Rathony: Oui, mon capitaine.
    – Ricky
    Nov 19, 2015 at 16:00

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A secret is no longer a secret if someone outside a group that keeps the secret knows about it. There could be no "semi-secrecy". It is either secrecy or "non-secrecy". Semi is used as a prefix that means:

a combining form meaning “half” (semiannual), “partially,” “somewhat” (semiautomatic; semidetached; semiformal).

[Random House Kernerman Webster's College Dictionary]

This doesn't mean "half of people knew about the holocaust". It means everybody knew about the holocaust, but nobody was acknowledging it as it was not allowed to reveal the secret. "Semi-secrecy" means it was not a secret but was treated like one by people.

Quasi is an adjective that means:

Having a likeness to something; resembling: a quasi success.

[American Heritage Dictionary]

Quasi-complicity means:

Even though ordinary Germans did not participate in the horrible massacre, they felt like they were accomplices of the crime (holocaust) as they were keeping it a secret.

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