All Quiet on the Western Front

I watched All Quiet on the Western Front, last night. I thought that November 11 would be the perfect date to watch a World War I movie. It is a very powerful retelling of the story. Although I thoroughly liked the movie, this is not going to be a review of it, suffice to say I do recommend it.

This post is going to be about the man who wrote the book, Im Westen nichts Neues, which was translated into English as All Quiet on the Western front Erich Maria Remarque was born as Erich Paul Remark, his life was everything but quiet. it is also a reflection of how little regard the Nazis had for their World War I heroes.

Remarque was born on June 22nd, 1898, in Westphalia. After a local school and university education, he was drafted aged 18 and sent to Flanders on June 12, 1917.

Remarque was wounded five times within a month of being on the western front, the last during the third battle of Ypres. He began writing in a military hospital about his experiences, supplementing them with stories of fellow injured soldiers.

Remarque was the third of four children of Peter and Anna. His siblings were his older sister Erna, older brother Theodor Arthur (who died in early childhood), and younger sister Elfriede. The spelling of his last name was changed to Remarque when he published All Quiet on the Western Front in honor of his French ancestors and to dissociate himself from his earlier novel Die Traumbude (which he started writing at the age of sixteen and completed, but it was not published, until 1920). His grandfather had changed the spelling from Remarque to Remark in the 19th century.

In 1929, Remarque scored his greatest success with All Quiet on the Western Front. The novel, a lasting tribute to Germany’s “lost generation” that perished in the Great War, became an immediate international bestseller. In Germany alone in 1929, the book sold almost one million copies. It was translated into more than a dozen languages, including English, Chinese, and Dutch.

All Quiet on the Western Front earned Remarque accolades generally from the liberal and leftist press for the work’s pacifist stance. The Nazis and conservative nationalists immediately called it an assault on Germany’s honor, a piece of Marxist propaganda, and the work of a traitor.

That same year, German-born Hollywood producer Carl Laemmle, acquired the rights to make a film of the book. In May 1930, the American film premiered in Los Angeles and won Academy Awards for Best Picture and Best Director. That summer, audiences in France, Britain, and Belgium flocked to the film and it received popular acclaim.

Nearly immediately the Hollywood-made movie ran into trouble in Germany. When it was proposed for showing, a representative of the German Ministry of Defense demanded that its screening be rejected on the grounds that it damaged the country’s image and shed a bad light on the German military. In response, the Berlin censorship office requested Laemmle to edit the film, which was done. Remarque’s former boss, the press and film magnate, and outspoken German nationalist, Alfred Hugenberg, indicated that because of the movie’s alleged anti-German bias it would not be shown in any of his theaters. He subsequently petitioned German president, Paul von Hindenburg, to ban the film.

In December 1930, when the edited and dubbed version of the film was shown to the general public in Berlin, the Nazis sabotaged the event. The Party’s leader in Berlin and its propaganda chief, Joseph Goebbels, organized a riot to disrupt the showing. Outside, SA Stormtroopers intimidated moviegoers, while inside they released stink bombs and mice and harangued the audience. At subsequent showings, the Nazis carried out violent protests. In response to these actions and conservative attacks on the film, the government banned the film. Liberals and socialists condemned the action, but the prohibition lasted until September 1931, when Laemmle produced a more censored version for German audiences.

Remarque left Germany for Switzerland in 1932.

Once in power, Goebbels banned all Remarque’s works, stripped him of his citizenship, and let his Nazi rumor mill claim the author’s birth name, Remark (his grandfather dropped the French spelling), was a reversal of his real, Jewish, name: Kramer. On May 10, 1933, pro-Nazi students consigned his works to the flames during the fiery book-burning spectacles staged throughout the country. Remarque’s writing was publicly declared as unpatriotic and was banned in Germany. Copies were removed from all libraries and restricted from being sold or published anywhere in the country. The 1930s version of cancel culture.

In 1943, the Nazis arrested his youngest sister, German: Elfriede Scholz, who had stayed behind in Germany with her husband and two children. After a trial at the notorious Volksgerichtshof (Hitler’s extra-constitutional “People’s Court”), she was found guilty of “undermining morale” for stating that she considered the war lost. Court President Roland Freisler declared, “Ihr Bruder ist uns leider entwischt—Sie aber werden uns nicht entwischen” (“Your brother is unfortunately beyond our reach – you, however, will not escape us.”) Elfriede was beheaded on 16 December 1943. The bill of 495.80 Reichsmarks was sent to her surviving sister, Erna. Remarque later said that his sister had been involved in anti-Nazi resistance activities.

In exile, Remarque was unaware of his sister Elfriede’s fate until after the war. He would dedicate his 1952 novel Spark of Life (Der Funke Leben) to her. The dedication was omitted in the German version of the book, reportedly because he was still seen as a traitor by some Germans

In 1944, Remarque wrote a report for America’s Office of Strategic Services (OSS), the country’s foreign intelligence organization and the forerunner to today’s Central Intelligence Agency (CIA). In it, he urged the Allies to adopt a systematic policy for re-educating the German population after the war. Germans, he believed, had to be exposed to Nazi crimes and evils of militarism.

When you watch the movie, and I hope you will, or read the book then please remember it is not just a bit of cultural history, but also something that is still current. That hate has never left, it just came back in different configurations.

(Many thanks to John Davis for pointing out the story to me, and Jackie Frant for doing some research on it)

sources

https://www.irishtimes.com/opinion/an-unquiet-life-erich-maria-remarque-and-all-quiet-on-the-western-front-1.3772230

https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/erich-maria-remarque-in-depth

https://www.history.com/this-day-in-history/erich-maria-remarque-born

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erich_Maria_Remarque#Early_life

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Laying the Foundation for Hate

When I see young people being very passionate about something that has a political undertone, I always wonder who is really behind that.

The Nazis understood that for them to successfully implement their racial ideas and policies, they would have to indoctrinate the youth. Hitler had a very strong viewpoint on education. The only teacher he liked at secondary school was his history teacher Leopold Potsch.

Hitler wrote in Mein Kampf (1925): “Dr. Leopold Potsch, my professor at the Realschule in Linz, embodied this requirement to an ideal degree. This old gentleman’s manner was as kind as it was determined, his dazzling eloquence not only held us spellbound but carried us away. Even today I think back with gentle emotion on this gray-haired man who, by the fire of his narratives, sometimes made us forget the present; who, as if by enchantment, carried us into past times and, out of the millennial veils of mist, molded dry historical memories into a living reality. On such occasions, we sat there, often aflame with enthusiasm, and sometimes even moved to tears. What made our good fortune all the greater was that this teacher knew how to illuminate the past by examples from the present, and how the past draws inferences for the present. As a result, he had more understanding than anyone else for all the daily problems which then held us breathless. He used our budding nationalistic fanaticism as a means of educating us, frequently appealing to our sense of national honor. By this alone he was able to discipline us little ruffians more easily than would have been possible by any other means. This teacher made history my favorite subject. And indeed, though he had no such intention, it was then that I became a little revolutionary. For who could have studied German history under such a teacher without becoming an enemy of the state which, through its ruling house, exerted so disastrous an influence on the destinies of the nation? And who could retain his loyalty to a dynasty which in past and present betrayed the needs of the German people again and again for shameless private advantage?”

Leopold Poetsch began his history teaching career in Maribor and later moved to Linz. He held strong nationalist opinions on the subject and believed that all ethnic Germans should be united by a single government. He also held strong racist views and told his pupils that Jews and Slavs were members of “inferior races”. However in later years took some distance from his former pupil, and considered Hitler an enemy of Austria.

The Nazis went to great extents on teaching the German youth to be proud of their race through biology teaching, the National Socialist Teachers League (NSLB) in particular taught in schools that they should be proud of their race and not to race mix.

Race biology was meant to encourage the Germans to maintain their racial purity, the NSLB stressed that as early as primary schools Germans have to work on only the Nordic racial element of the German Volk (people) again and again and have to contrast this with the racial differences that foreign peoples such as the Jews represent.

Every institution was infused with National Socialist ideology and infiltrated by Nazi personnel in chief positions. Schools were no exception.

Schools and universities were to:

indoctrinate young people into the racial ideas of Nazism and make children loyal to Hitler – this was in effect a form of brainwashing;
train girls to be good Aryan wives and mothers, and prepare boys to be effective soldiers.

Make young people “swift as a greyhound, as tough as leather, and as hard as Krupp steel”. All teachers had to join the Nazi Teachers’ Association, which vetted them for political and racial suitability. By 1939, 97 percent of teachers belonged to it.

Jewish teachers were fired.

Teachers had to go to summer school so they could teach Nazi ideas effectively. Pupils were encouraged to inform the authorities if teachers did not teach and support Nazi ideas.

There were even so-called Bride Schools. The Reich Bride Schools (German: Reichsbräuteschule) were institutions established in Nazi Germany in the late 1930s. They were created to train young women to be “perfect Nazi brides”, indoctrinated in Nazi ideology and educated in housekeeping skills. The fiancées of prominent SS members and senior Nazi Party officials (and later a wider range of German women) were taught skills including cooking, child care, ironing, and to how to polish their husbands’ uniforms and daggers. They were required to swear oaths of loyalty to Adolf Hitler, to pledge to raise their children as Nazis, and to marry in what the Nazis alleged to be ceremonies based on the pre-Christian model.

The bride schools were a collaboration between Gertrud Scholtz-Klink and SS chief Heinrich Himmler, who was obsessed with German superiority over all races and the need for a “strong family life to create a strong, pure nation”.

Gertrud Scholtz-Klink

Regulations dictated that young women would be taught ‘washing, cooking, childcare and home design’ before they could walk up the aisle with the men who would staff death camps and rule conquered lands with an iron fist.

They were also instructed in social niceties – such as how to hold conversations at cocktail parties – and how to bring up their children worshipping not God or Jesus Christ, but Hitler. Although several bride schools were established in locations across Germany, the demands of the Second World War made it impossible for the Nazis to realize their ideal of women as being exclusively homebound.

Nazi racial policy did not always include degrading Jews but had to always maintain the importance of German blood and the Aryan race. This was often connected to the blood and soil ideology.

Whilst the young Germans were being taught about the importance of one’s blood, at the same time they were being taught about the dangers that the Jews represent in Germany and the necessary living space in the East, in particular Russia.

Novels portrayed the Germans as uniquely endowed and possessors of a unique destiny. The segregation of races was said to be natural, just as separate species did not come together in nature.

Der Giftpilz was a piece of antisemitic Nazi propaganda published as a children’s book by Julius Streicher in 1938. The title is German for “the poisonous mushroom/toadstool”.

The book explains that the Talmud discourages Jews from performing manual labor and encourages them to engage in trade instead; that it teaches Jews that non-Jews are meant to be slaves and asks Jews to enslave the non-Jewish population; and that Talmudic law allows Jews to cheat non-Jews. The book was sometimes used in German schools.

The indoctrination, or rather brainwashing, also happened in third-level education, in the Universities. On May 10, 1933 student groups at universities across Germany carried out a series of book burnings of works that the students and leading Nazi party members associated with an “un-German spirit.” Enthusiastic crowds witnessed the burning of books by Brecht, Einstein, Freud, Mann, and Remarque, among many other well-known intellectuals, scientists, and cultural figures, many of whom were Jewish. The largest of these book bonfires occurred in Berlin, where an estimated 40,000 people gathered to hear a speech by the propaganda minister, Joseph Goebbels, in which he pronounced that “Jewish intellectualism is dead”

The information in this post comes from a great number of sources. The reason why I did this article is to warn people. There are groups out there at the moment who are manipulating young people, to be foot soldiers for their political ideas. We need to check who is behind some of these movements, some of them have a noble veneer, but if you scratch the surface you might discover there is a different agenda behind it.

Of course, the vast majority of young people are decent human beings.

sources

https://www.ushmm.org/collections/bibliography/1933-book-burnings

https://www.smithsonianmag.com/history/brief-history-book-burning-printing-press-internet-archives-180964697/

https://histclo.com/schun/country/ger/era/tr/book/ned-book.html#:~:text=The%20NAZIs%20proceeded%20to%20unabashedly,of%20the%20national%20community%20…

https://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2390238/How-perfect-Nazi-bride-The-sinister-regulations-women-learn-breed-cook-sew-iron–worship-Hitler.html

https://slate.com/human-interest/2013/10/nazi-bride-schools-educated-german-women-in-racial-values-and-homemaking.html

https://nypost.com/2013/08/13/documents-reveal-secrets-behind-the-third-reichs-bride-schools-where-women-were-trained-to-be-perfect-nazi-wives/

https://spartacus-educational.com/Leopold_Potsch.htm

https://spartacus-educational.com/GEReducation.htm

https://www.bbc.co.uk/bitesize/guides/z897pbk/revision/3

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Cancel Culture 3rd Reich style.

Cancel Culture seems to become more and more of a problem nowadays. Apparently the only opinions that matter are of those who get offended by literally everything. However they don’t realize that what they are doing is really a carbon copy of 1930s Nazi Germany, which eventually resulted in the murder of millions.

On May 10, 1933, university students in 34 university towns across Germany burned over 25,000 books. The works of Jewish authors like Albert Einstein and Sigmund Freud went up in flames alongside blacklisted American authors such as Ernest Hemingway and Helen Keller, while students gave the Nazi salute. In Berlin 40,000 people gathered to hear German Minister of Public Enlightenment and Propaganda Joseph Goebbels give a speech in Berlin’s Opera Square. He declared “the era of extreme Jewish intellectualism is now at an end. … The future German man will not just be a man of books, but a man of character. It is to this end that we want to educate you. … And thus you do well in this midnight hour to commit to the flames the evil spirit of the past.” Radio stations broadcast the Berlin speeches, songs, and ceremonial incantations to countless German listeners. Widespread newspaper coverage called the “Action against the Un-German Spirit” a success. The Nazi war on “un-German” individual expression had begun.

Kristallnacht or the Night of Broken Glass, also called the November pogroms. It was a pogrom against Jews carried out by the Nazi Party’s Sturmabteilung (SA) paramilitary forces along with civilians throughout Nazi Germany on 9–10 November 1938. The Nazi regime looked on without intervening. The name Kristallnacht (literally ‘Crystal Night’) comes from the shards of broken glass that littered the streets after the windows of Jewish-owned stores, buildings and synagogues were smashed. The pretext for the attacks was the assassination of the German diplomat Ernst vom Rath by Herschel Grynszpan, a 17-year-old German-born Polish Jew living in Paris.

After Adolf Hitler came to power in Germany on January 30, 1933, the Nazi leadership decided to stage an economic boycott against the Jews of Germany. Local Nazi party chiefs organized the national boycott operation. Although it lasted only one day and was ignored by many individual Germans who continued to shop in Jewish-owned stores, it marked the beginning of a nationwide campaign by the Nazi Party against the entire German Jewish population.

The April 1, 1933, boycott aimed to intimidate Germany’s Jews and discourage the German public from shopping at Jewish businesses. It marked the beginning of Nazi efforts to drive Jews from the German economy.

These events were basically cancel culture by another name.

sources

https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/boycott-of-jewish-businesses

https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/kristallnacht

https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/goebbels-burnings/

Where they burn books, they will ultimately burn people as well .

The title of this blog is a quote from Heinrich Heine’s play “Almansor” which he had written in 1821. Heine was a Jewish German poet, writer and literary critic. His words would ring true just over a century after he wrote them.

The Holocaust didn’t start with the mass murder of Jews and other so called “undesirables”. It was a gradual process. It was not just the destruction of life but also the destruction of art and culture that did not suit the Nazis philosophy.

In a symbolic act of ominous significance, on May 10, 1933, university students burned upwards of 25,000 volumes of so called “un-German” books, heralding a period of state censorship and control of culture. The disturbing part of this ,it was university students doing this, Supposedly well educated people. In an effort to synchronize the literary community, Goebbels had a strong ally in the National Socialist German Students’ Association (Nationalsozialistischer Deutscher Studentenbund, or NSDStB).

On the evening of May 10, in most university towns, right-wing students marched in torchlight parades “against the un-German spirit.” The scripted rituals required for high Nazi officials, professors, university rectors, and university student leaders to address the participants and onlookers.

The event was organised by the Ministry of Propaganda and Public Enlightenment. There are 3 definitions for enlightenment:

1.the act or means of enlightening : the state of being enlightened
2capitalized : a philosophical movement of the 18th century marked by a rejection of traditional social, religious, and political ideas and an emphasis on rationalism —used with the
3. Buddhism : a final blessed state marked by the absence of desire or suffering.

None of the definitions applied here.

Below are just some of the books which were deemed harmful to the German people, according to the Nazis .

Bambi, a Life in the Woods; Time Machine; War of the Worlds; The condition of the working class in England; All Quiet on the Western Front; The Lord of the Rings; Ivanhoe.

As you can see from those titles there was absolutely no justification, nor will there ever be, for banning and burning books.

In Berlin, some 40,000 people heard Joseph Goebbels deliver a fiery address: “No to decadence and moral corruption!” Goebbels enjoined the crowd. “Yes to decency and morality in family and state! I consign to the flames the writings of Heinrich Mann, Ernst Glaeser, Erich Kästner.”

“The era of extreme Jewish intellectualism is now at an end. The breakthrough of the German revolution has again cleared the way on the German path…The future German man will not just be a man of books, but a man of character. It is to this end that we want to educate you. As a young person, to already have the courage to face the pitiless glare, to overcome the fear of death, and to regain respect for death – this is the task of this young generation. And thus you do well in this midnight hour to commit to the flames the evil spirit of the past. This is a strong, great and symbolic deed – a deed which should document the following for the world to know – Here the intellectual foundation of the November Republic is sinking to the ground, but from this wreckage the phoenix of a new spirit will triumphantly rise.”

— Joseph Goebbels, Speech to the students in Berlin.

Not all book burnings took place on May 10, as the German Student Association had planned. Some were postponed a few days because of rain. Others, based on local chapter preference, took place on June 21, the summer solstice, a traditional date for bonfire celebrations in Germany.

The really scary things is this is happening again, the burning has been replaced by cancelling, and the banning of books is happening more and more.

sources

https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/book-burning

https://www.pbs.org/wgbh/americanexperience/features/goebbels-burnings/

https://www.goodreads.com/list/show/101688.Books_Banned_by_Nazis

http://www.artandpopularculture.com/Bambi%2C_A_Life_in_the_Woods

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Lou Manche-Dutch Artist and Nazi propagandist.

One of the most powerful weapons during World War 2 was propaganda. The armies did not have to be persuades to go to war, it was their job to follow the orders of their respective governments.

However to persuade the civilians of the merits of war, propaganda was used this was done by all sides.

But World War 2 was different then any other war before. it also included the targeted mass murder of civilian population. For the Nazis to convince the general population that they were not only fighting external enemies but also ‘internal# ones they came up with a whole range of propaganda tools to sell their lies and market them as truth. It is a fact there is an element of truth in every lie.

Lou Manche was a member of the NSB, the Dutch Nazi party. He was also a member of the WA, which was the Dutch equivalent of the Stormtroopers, they called themselves a group who maintained order, but in fact they were just a gang of thugs.

Lou was also an artist, and by all means a very talented artist, but rather then using his talents for good he used them for evil.

He became a prominent propagandist for the NSB. The poster at the start of the blog is one of his posters. In the poster he makes clever use of semiotics, the study of signs and symbols and their use or interpretation, there are a few symbols in the poster: The star of David; the hammer and sickle, a caricature of Winston Churchill sitting on someone, who I believe to be Stafford Cripps, who was appointed Ambassador to the Soviet Union by Churchill..

Lou also makes use of words like: retarded; dandy ; millionaire communist; gold trading Jews. All of these symbols and words are all subliminal messages- messages that are meant to kind of ‘slip past your mental radar’ and embed itself deep into your subconscious mind- they were aimed to make Jews, English, Communists and also people with mental illness look to be the enemy of the state.

People who read these messages may have thought they were no so harmful because they didn’t call for aggression. They may have thought they were warnings of what could happen. The headline says “If England wins the war” it then lists all that could happen. In short it says that the Jews would exploit the Dutch and the English described as retarded’ and Soviets would destroy the country.

The poster also makes reference to a piece H.G Wells had written in a magazine called the ‘Fortnightly’ .

Wells warns about the mistake the English government has made by going to war with Germany. To end Hitler’s regime, he warns about what may come after Hitler. He also says that they think that they can render Hitler powerless just so that can go back fishing and golfing, quoted on the poster of Lou Manche. This of course was one of those cherry picking tactics of the Nazis, H.G. Wells had been one of the authors banned by the Nazi regime. His book “The Outline of History: Being a Plain History of Life and Mankind” was one of the books, thrown into the flames, a the 1933 book burnings. But if it suited the Nazis agenda they would be willing to overlook that fact.

Although many Dutch used their common sense and did not heed the propaganda of the NSB and Lou Manche, there were plenty who fell for it, and quite a few were well educated. 75% of all Dutch Jews were murdered during the Holocaust, Lou Manche’s ‘art’ had a part to play in this.

Many of Lou Manche’s propaganda posters remind me of modern day memes, which are often used in a similar way to get a political message across. Like then they are usually taken out of context.

After the war Lou Manche was only jailed for a short time. In 1954 the Royal British Legion had even commissioned him to do a stained glass piece for them. But afters a great number of protests they decided to assign it to another artist

sources

https://encyclopedia.ushmm.org/content/en/article/hg-wells

https://historical.ha.com/itm/books/philosophy/-h-g-wells-contributor-the-fortnightly-fortnightly-review-may-1940-issue-original-wrappers-some-wear-and-t/a/201306-93219.s

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Rolf Wenkhaus; Child actor and Luftwaffe crew member

I was reminiscing on TV shows I watched as a kid in the Netherlands. One of my favourite shows was a series called “Q&Q”. It was about 2 teenage detectives. The boys named Aristides Quarles and Wilbur Quant accidentally snap a photo of a dead body in the woods. After finding the place where the body was, they find it to be gone. Nobody believes them except Grandpa. They decide to investigate themselves. I will spare you the theme song because once you hear it, it will be in your head for days.

Then I also remembered a German movie I watched about some German teenage detectives, nowadays with Google and IMDB, it was relatively easy to find the title. The movie is called “Emil and the Detectives” .Turns out it is the birthday of the young main actor today. Rolf Wenkhaus was born on September 9,1917. The movie I was referring to earlier was made in 1931.

Rolf only made tow more movies, the last one was a Nazi propaganda movie titled “S.A.-Mann Brand”

Ironically the screenplay for Rolf Wenkhaus’s 1st movie, “Emil and the Detectives” was written by Billy Wilder, a Jewish Austrian screenwriter who lived in Berlin. After the rise of the Nazi Party, he moved to Paris, due to rampant antisemitism and discrimination against the Jewish people. He moved to Hollywood in 1933. That movie was also based on a novel by Erich Kästner, a pacifist and an opponent of the Nazi regime. The Gestapo interrogated Kästner several times, the national writers’ guild expelled him, and the Nazis burned his books as “contrary to the German spirit” during the book burnings of 10 May 1933, instigated by Joseph Goebbels.

After the outbreak of World War II, Rolf Wenkhaus enlisted in the military. At the time of his death, aged 24, he was in the aircrew of a Focke-Wulf Fw 200 Condor, a four-engine bomber that specialized in attacks on shipping. Wenkhaus’s plane, with identification code F8 MH 0093, was shot down on 31 January 1942, off the coast of Bloody Foreland in County Donegal, Ireland by HMS Genista, a British Flower-class corvette being utilized as a convoy escort vessel.

The entire aircrew of six was killed. The body of the pilot, Werner Bornefeld, washed up at Bunbeg two weeks later, and was eventually reburied at a German War Cemetery at Glencree, Ireland.

Because Rolf Wenkhaus’s corpse has never been found they officially pronounced his dead only in 1948.

sources

https://www.imdb.com/name/nm0921020/?ref_=tt_ov_st

https://prabook.com/web/rolf.wenkhaus/1928015

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Erich_K%C3%A4stner#Berlin_1933%E2%80%931945

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I am passionate about my site and I know you all like reading my blogs. I have been doing this at no cost and will continue to do so. All I ask is for a voluntary donation of $2, however if you are not in a position to do so I can fully understand, maybe next time then. Thank you. To donate click on the credit/debit card icon of the card you will use. If you want to donate more then $2 just add a higher number in the box left from the PayPal link. Many thanks.

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The not so original Cancel Culture

The buzz word nowadays is ‘Cancel Culture’ the definition of this phenomenon according to WikiPedia is

-Cancel culture (or call-out culture) is a modern form of ostracism in which someone is thrust out of social or professional circles – whether it be online, on social media, or in person. Those who are subject to this ostracism are said to have been “cancelled”-

However cancel culture is nothing new. It does appear to resurface every once and again. Although the current ‘woke’ generation may think it is a socially very responsible thing to do, it is far from it.

The problem with cancel culture it only cheery picks elements of the truth in order to pursue a political philosophy. It also is more an ideology which is endorsed by both fringes of society, The far and extreme right and also the far and extreme left. You only have to look at the call out for banning of the Teletubbies ,by some far right evangelists in the USA, because it supposedly encouraged homo sexuality- Tinky Winky was allegedly a gay icon.

On the other hand there were calls for the books of Laura Ingalls “Little House on the Prairie” to be banned, by far left socialists, because if allegedly encouraged racism.

These are just 2 examples of the more current cancel culture phenomenon. As I said this however is nothing new. Back in the 1920’s there was a call for the banning of some movies because they went against the moral values of the wider society. Especially when there was nudity involved

A still of Annette Kellermann from A Daughter of the Gods (1916).

What many people nowadays don’t realize is that the first movie to win a best picture Oscar (the 1927 silent film “Wings”) had both male AND female nudity. In 1922, after several risqué films and a series of off-screen scandals involving Hollywood stars, the studios enlisted Presbyterian elder Will H. Hays to rehabilitate Hollywood’s image. Initially it started of with a list of 36 self-imposed “Don’ts and Be Carefuls,”

But soon that was no longer enough and the Hays code was introduced in 1934 and lasted for 34 years. The Hays Code was so strict that even the display of cleavage was controversial. There were some exemptions like in documentaries and comedies where some nudity was involved. Like the 1963 comedy “Promises! Promises!” starring Jayne Mansfield

We may not have the Hays code anymore but nowadays we have the “Community Standards” set by Social Media platforms such as Facebook, where it is possible toe get porn sent you via anonymous sources as spam and there seems to be no rule for that, however posting a topless picture of a wife or girlfriend on the beach is seen as totally offensive, but it is never explained who is offended by it. Or in my case where I was banned for posting a meme of Aerosmith’s Steve Tyler and his daughter actress Liv Tyler.

So far these examples have been relatively harmless but social media is becoming more and more the source for many of these cancel culture events. People just are not interested in educating themselves with all the facts. I totally condemn all racism, and I mean all racism. No one in their right mind will deny that there was slavery but slogans like “White Privilege” or “Black lives matters” will not help fight racism, in fact it will do the opposite. Of course we need to look at the history of slavery, but we need to look at all the history.

It is true that white slave traders went to Africa where they got slaves, but it mostly wasn’t them who captured the slaves. That was mainly done by other Africans often from other tribes.

This is a front cover of a London news paper a printed in 7 December 1889, of Tippu Tip, or Tippu Tib an Afro-Arab slave trader, ivory trader, explorer, plantation owner and governor. He worked for a succession of the sultans of Zanzibar. Tippu Tip traded in slaves for Zanzibar’s clove plantations. As part of the large and lucrative ivory trade, he led many trading expeditions into Central Africa, constructing profitable trading posts deep into the region. He bought the ivory from local suppliers and resold it for a profit at coastal ports.

Although he owned thousands of slaves and sold them for a profit , I haven’t heard anyone ask for him to be cancelled. He is not the only African slave traders there were many.

As for the aforementioned the banning or cancelling books like “the little house on the prairie” or a series of books of Dr Seuss really is nothing different then the 21st century version of book burning.

On April 8, 1933, he Main Office for Press and Propaganda of the German Student Union (DSt) proclaimed a nationwide “Action against the Un-German Spirit” Yes indeed the student union, supposedly educated people who actively encouraged fellow students and citizens to destroy books.

Of course the subject of History itself is under scrutiny and has been already cancelled in many schools.

We should all learn from the mistakes in history. We should also respect our differences and embrace them. But not by cancelling it but by debate and education. and especially education in History.

If we give in to these extreme philosophies on each side of the political spectrum we will make the same mistakes again. My biggest fear is that , and I mean this sincerely and genuinely, if we look at everything from just one side we will be contributing to a genocide we have never seen before.

May 10,1933- Book burning.

Book Burning

A scary thought crossed my mind this week. What some Social Media outlets are doing nowadays, is basically the digital version of book burning. Regardless how valuable a post might be, or even how inoffensive it is when the moderators don’t like it , it will get banned,or digitally burned so to speak.

On May 10,1933 German university students burned upwards of 25,000 volumes of perceived “un-German” books, foreshadowing an era of state censorship and control of culture. On the evening of May 10, in the majority of German university towns, right-wing students marched in torchlight parades “against the un-German spirit.” The scripted rituals called for high Nazi officials, professors, university rectors, and university student leaders to address the participants and spectators.

may 10

The books ranged from Bebel, Bernstein, Preuss, and Rathenau through Einstein, Freud, Brecht, Brod, Döblin, Kaiser, the Mann brothers, Zweig, Plievier, Ossietzky, Remarque, Schnitzler, and Tucholsky, to Barlach, Bergengruen, Broch, Hoffmannsthal, Kästner, Kasack, Kesten, Kraus, Lasker-Schüler, Unruh, Werfel, Zuckmayer, and Hesse. The catalogue went back far enough to include literature from Heine and Marx to Kafka. But also books from H.G Wells,Ernest Hemingway and Virginia Woolf.

What amazes me most about this, these weren’t uneducated people doing this but students and lecturers, and other academics willingly participating in the destruction of scientific research and history.

books collected

These academics had become the moderators of what could or could not be read.

It is true history does repeat itself.

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Twelve Theses-When students encouraged the destruction of History.

twelve

One of the most effective weapons to fight antisemitism and racism is critical thinking. What scares me though, is that there seems to be less and less people who have this ability. Or maybe it is just a case that those who think critically are silenced.

This blog will be about a historical event , but I can’t ignore the fact that it has similarities to what is slowly creeping in today’s society. Often critical thinking gets confused with criticizing news reports or studies etc., but that is an incorrect assessment. Critical thinking is merely not accepting everything you hear automatically, but rather analyse the data and ask questions where needed.

One of the key ingredients for critical thinking is knowing history. There is currently a trend in  several countries, to take  history out of the school curriculum. However if you forget your history, you forfeit your future.

Books

In April 1933 German Student Association called for German university students to destroy all “un-German” literature. Basically they wanted to sanitize history to suit their own traditions and philosophies. According to them everything which was not in line with the Germanic ‘values’ ,and especially anything Jewish,was deemed tainted and had to be purged.

They published what they called “Zwölf Thesen wider den undeutschen Geist,-twelve Theses Against the Un-German Spirit”. The document was published in several German media. Below is an English translation of the text.

” Twelve Theses Against the un-German spirit!
1. Language and literature have their roots in the people. It is the German people’s responsibility to assure that its language and literature are the pure and unadulterated expression of its Folk traditions.

2. At present there is a chasm between literature and German tradition. This situation is a disgrace.

3. Purity of language and literature is your responsibility! Your people have entrusted you with the duty of faithfully preserving your language.

4. Our most dangerous enemy is the Jew and those who are his slaves.

5. A Jew can only think Jewish. If he writes in German, he is lying. The German who writes in German, but thinks un-German, is a traitor! The student who speaks and writes un-German is, in addition, thoughtless and has abandoned his duties.

6. We want to eradicate lies, we want to denounce treason, we want institutions of discipline and political education for us the students, not mindlessness.

7. We want to regard the Jew as alien and we want to respect the traditions of the Folk.

Therefore, we demand of the censor:
Jewish writings are to be published in Hebrew.
If they appear in German, they must be identified as translations.
Strongest actions against the abuse of the German script.
German script is only available to Germans.
The un-German spirit is to be eradicated from public libraries.
8. We demand of the German students the desire and capability for independent knowledge and decisions.

9. We demand of German students the desire and capability to maintain the purity of the German language.

10. We demand of German students the desire and capability to overcome Jewish intellectualism and the resulting liberal decay in the German spirit.

11. We demand the selection of students and professors in accordance with their reliability and commitment to the German spirit.

12. We demand that German universities be a stronghold of the German Folk tradition and a battleground reflecting the power of the German mind.

The German Student Association.”

Although these theses did not themselves expressly call for book burning, it is what triggered the book burnings across Germany and Austria in May 1933. This was only a few months after the Nazi party had taken power.

Frankfurt

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Sources

USHMM

Library Arizona