Empty Days

Saturday, November 01, 2003

Vae victis - Dresden vs Shoah

massacreWas WWII really all about wiping out the Jews? You need not be a Neo-nazi Jew-hater to ask the question. But the way things stand at the moment, that's precisely the kind of label you gonna get. Why? They'll tell you such a question cannot possibly be asked without a hidden agenda, an unconscious one even. They'll tell you history is good enough as it is and you should quit trying "revising" it. What is history after all? Always something of a fabrication, n'est-ce pas, habitually used for various ideological purposes, never really a repository of "objective" facts and figures. Which is true. But in that case, it sure needs continuous grappling with - it needs freedom of research, revising, rethinking. Yes, history is made by victors - as long as they think the ennemy still needs defeating... Looking around, it seems to me w've never really won the WWII. The Third Reich has become a vampire lore, perfectly unreal and yet perpetually alive - lurking in the darkness out there. Hitler as Dracula doesn't even seem ridiculous, it seems plausible. Too bad it does. We're in the mythland here, nothing is quite the way it looks..

I browsed through various places and point of views, and here's what I found. This is all very recent. Interestingly enough, the only relatively sane outlook comes from 1944... Surprised? Maybe not. My comments in brackets.
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1. Quote from an article blasting revisionist David Irving :
"Denial of the Final Solution removed not only from Hitler but from the whole Nazi regime the Satanic label which had created a clear distinction between Nazi Germany and the Allies. So while it is true that until the end of 1980s Irving refrained from denying the Holocaust explicitly, the conceptual foundations were laid years before, originating in the desire to change the widely-accepted Satanic image of Nazi Germany."
[ Precisely. History is not a cartoon, with villains and good guys fighting over some poor dame in peril. Hitler is not Dracula possessed of superhuman power; is it so hard to look at reality and see it for what it is? ]

2. Quote from a review that caught my eye for its title, Springtime for Hitler :
"In my article cited by Barraclough, I argued that Hitler's mother cannot have escaped fatal poisoning from a given treatment applied to her by a Jewish doctor in her last weeks of life and that Hitler's experience of her agony was the unconscious source of his deadly hate for the Jews."
[ This is pure rubbish. Anti-semitism as it existed in Europe did not need infant trauma to set you raving. Hitler was a common enough schmock in that sense. Go down to Rwanda and see what bit them... ]

3. Quote from Amnesia about the Allied bombing, an article about W.Sebald books:
"And this is precisely Sebald's theme, the eerie fact that "the sense of unparalleled national humiliation felt by millions of Germans in the last years of the war had never really found verbal expression, and those directly affected by the experience neither shared it with each other nor passed it on to the next generation".
[ Not found verbal expression... this is not just about the Germans, this is the story of many things suppressed that can't find "verbal expression" and keep festering, and keep coming back at you to bite your ass... ]

4. Quote from a webpage by some German guy :
"My grandmother explicitly described me the bombardment of the city of Dresden, which she and my grandfather survived only with great luck. The fire-storms had been so strong and tugged the people with such a power into the huge infernos of fire in the center of the city that people tried to escape in rows of five or six persons. (...) I has always been surprised that I nearly had no feelings with her narrations. Somehow I had been more or less indifferent towards these stories. I listened to them from a rational distance. After all I had to protect myself from the feelings of my parents and grandparents."
[ Same as above - stuck in a cartoon, cut to frame, not allowed to feel, not allowed to think different... As a child I used to torture animals; it felt grand; it wasn't me.. ]

5. Quote from an Aryan movement website, super rabid :
"Under Two Flags - by Heinz Weichardt. Indispensible reading. A personal account about what really happened in NS Germany between Germans and Jews and, most importantly, the reasons. More Jew "woe is me" BS is put away in this one letter than you'll find in some entire books. A real eye-opener. "
[ What "really" happened? But of course, how can you know what really happened ever since reality has been set to cartoon... It turns out we actually need these mad dogs around to bite our ass, since we can't do it on our own. Are we ever gonna wake up? ]

6. Quote from George Orwell dismissing 1944 outcry about Allied raids:
"Heaven knows how many people our blitz on Germany and the occupied countries has killed and will kill, but you can be quite certain it will never come anywhere near the slaughter that has happened on the Russian front."
[ Voila. Who cares about the Russian front these days... it all happened in Auschwitz. No, it didn't! Yes, it did! No, it didn't! Yes, it did... blah. ]

7. Typical quote from a high-pitched politico blog :
"Krugman wrote, 'So what's with the anti-Semitism? Almost surely it's part of Mr. Mahathir's domestic balancing act.' Koch told us: 'There is a French expression, "To understand everything is to forgive everything." Using Krugman's logic, we should understand Hitler's needs and forgive him as well. He needed to blame Germany's defeat in World War I on the Jews. Krugman's defenses are lame and his column is lamebrained.'""
[ Uhu. So, we still have to make sure Bush (or whoever) is not Hitler. Just in case he were... Still at war with Hitler-Dracula, the changing shape of evil. I am not evil, I am not!... Yes, you are! Yes, you are!... blah. ]
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P.S. Looked around for blogmen discussing this stuff. Here is a contented (and widely held) view that Germans were bombed in retribution for their Final Solution policy. This is a conclusion-in-retrospect, due to a much later Holocaust-centered perspective. At the time of the bombings the fate of the Jews was not yet first on the list of Allied concerns. Elsewhere, a German blog Cum grano salis militates against the new tendency in Germany to claim their share of "victimhood" in WWII. Spurred by a an indignant article in Washington Post - which then receives a hostile treatment from the Crooked Timber crowd.
Everywhere the debate seems to center on who's the victim and who's the butcher, collectively/historically speaking. I wonder if it's at all possible to escape this rhetoric. Probably not - it implies admitting that "collective victimhood" is not a permanent category, that yesterday victims can very well turn into tomorrow butchers etc.





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