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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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

Donation

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.