Wednesday, December 23, 2015

The Aesthetics of Hate: Far-Right Intellectuals, Antisemitism, and Gender in 1930s France. Sandrine Sanos

Aesthetics, Politics, and Abjection: Gendered Fantasies of Race and Nation among 1930s French Far-Right Intellectuals

The intellectual far right in 1930s France sought to reimagine national belonging by challenging what they saw as pervasive moral degeneration and a crisis in a national sense of masculine sexuality. These challenges involved articulating an exclusionary, even violent, antisemitism, and scholars have long debated precisely how to account for the political choices and rhetorical strategies mobilized by far-right writers and journalists from the period. In this lucid and thoughtfully argued book, Sandrine Sanos argues against prevailing historiographical and literary approaches to the work of far-right intellectuals and journalists in 1930s interwar France. Specifically, she challenges scholars who have conceived of interwar far-right politics as thoroughly determined by the “shameful” homosexual longings of its most ardent practitioners. She explains that scholars have unduly privileged biographical readings that view antisemitic political commitments as pathological outcroppings of “deviant” homosexual and homosocial obsessions and desires. For Sanos, antisemitic fantasies of national regeneration in interwar France cannot be tied simply to the “perverted” masculinity of leading far-right figures. Her study focuses instead on the ways in which gendered discourses of sexual perversion became central themes in what she calls the “aesthetics of hate” developed by far-right thinkers.

Drawing on the literary and political writings of such figures as Lucien Rebatet, Robert Brasillach, Thierry Maulnier, Maurice Blanchot, and Louis-Ferdinand Céline, Sanos convincingly demonstrates that “we must take more seriously the ways in which the tropes of heterosexual deviance, sexual perversion, and abject homosexuality helped mark the bounds of the male citizen and the meaning of public letters in French history” (p. 203). These tropes, she explains, actually constituted the ideological foundations of interwar far-right thought and as such they were explicitly mobilized by intellectuals writing for publications like Je Suis Partout, Combat, and L’Insurgé. The figures Sanos analyzes in The Aesthetics of Hate emerged from early twentieth-century right-wing nationalist and monarchist circles and took inspiration from Charles Maurras, the leading figure in reactionary and antisemitic politics from the turn of the century. One of the book’s goals is to show how these intellectuals formed a loosely knit movement bent on redefining Frenchness (in the face of what they perceived to be social “abjection”) according to a political grammar that united discourses of gender, race, and sexuality (p. 4). Sexuality was a key category for the writers Sanos analyzes, as they called for a renewed French heterosexual masculinity (and, hence, a renewed sense of French citizenship) over and against the “unmanly” bodies of Jews and colonized subjects who were often coded as homosexual. As she puts it, “the appropriate gendered and sexual underpinnings of the social order” had become unmoored after the experience of the First World War and the embrace of modernity, and far-right intellectuals sought to “restore” stable sexual identities as moral foundations for national regeneration (p. 29). Thus the figures Sanos studies were obsessed with well-regulated gender roles, denunciations of sexual “deviance” (which tended to be linked with Jews, communists, and foreigners), and the restoration of a whole masculine self that had been torn asunder by sexual difference.

Central to Sanos’s argument here is the idea that far-right thinkers sought political responses to the tense and fraught social climate of 1930s France in the realm of aesthetics. Art and literature (and aesthetic form as such) provided these figures with potential avenues for regenerating and demarcating anew a corrupt and degraded social body that had been beset from without and from within by democratic and “foreign” (i.e., Jewish) intrusion. This claim explains why she aims to avoid narrowly historicizing the movement she seeks to define; instead, she ties historicizing readings to close consideration of “the narrative and rhetorical strategies [far-right intellectuals] developed in their journalism and in their literary writings” (p. 6).

As she points out in her introduction, the conjuncture of aesthetics and politics that frames her study owes less to what Walter Benjamin referred to as fascism’s aestheticization of politics than it does to Jacques Rancière’s theorization of how the overlapping of aesthetics and politics provokes new “distributions of the sensible;” she rightly highlights how Rancière’s work foregrounds aesthetics as politics and how this emphasis helps to define “the common of a community” (p. 7). This is precisely the problem that haunted far-right thinkers in the interwar period who were obsessed with renewing or recreating a bounded masculine self and, by extension, a bounded national community in response to the excesses of modern life. This theoretical point is an original and timely contribution, given how Rancière’s work has succeeded in drawing the attention of many critics back to the relationship between aesthetics and politics. Yet Sanos only devotes a paragraph of her introduction to this observation, which nonetheless undergirds the theoretical thrust of her project. One cannot help but feel that this underdeveloped discussion of Rancière is a missed opportunity, since its pertinence seems to demand a more sustained and in-depth engagement. Additional fleshing out of this point might reveal more clearly how far-right intellectuals’ turn to aesthetics for political solutions generated new “ways of doing and making,” in Rancière’s terms, that “intervene in the general distribution of ways of doing and making as well as in the relationships they maintain to modes of being and forms of visibility.”[1] The creation of new forms of visibility in particular seems crucial for Sanos’s study, since the far-right figures and publications she examines sought to make perceptible a pathological Jewishness (embodied by socialist Léon Blum, leader of France’s Popular Front government) that they felt was responsible for the abjection of France’s social body. Since Sanos views her project as a contribution to both the historiography and literary theory of far-right politics in France, drawing out her reading of Rancière a bit further would have been especially revealing.

The book’s chapters engage a variety of themes and figures, offering an intellectual genealogy of the 1930s far-right movement; a contextualization of the “crises” caused by modernity to which far-right journals responded by calling for a renewed sense of virility that would restore order and boundaries to a (masculine) national subject that had been decentered; and a synthetic analysis of how the far-right press polemically and even violently negotiated their fixation with the French nation’s “abjection.” The discourse and thematics of abjection thoroughly permeated the thought and written work of figures like Maulnier and Rebatet, and the figure of the “Jew” served to embody an abject national modernity that had to be transcended via a turn to aesthetics and the “rigorous order” of form (p. 113).

Two of Sanos’s strongest chapters are given over to extended studies of individual writers, Blanchot and Céline, respectively. In the first of these, she historicizes Blanchot’s interwar journalism, viewing his early far-right and antisemitic work as born of a contingent and problematic historical moment and situating her reading of his early career in response to the work of scholars who have retroactively dismissed or minimized the content of his far-right writing. She makes a similar analytic move in the following chapter on Céline, reading his antisemitic pamphlets as continuous with his literary work (especially Voyage au bout de la nuit [1932]) and as a piece of the “cultural discourses of difference and otherness” embraced by “the intellectual and literary far right” (p. 162). In both of these cases, Sanos reads canonical literary figures against the grain, illuminating provocative continuities between their 1930s writing and later literary production and, through careful historical exegesis, laying bare their intellectual and political affinities with the interwar far right more broadly.

Her chapter on Céline deals in part with his racist and hygienicist conception of social contamination, highlighting how colonial interaction with race and blackness in Africa caused his protagonist in the pamphlet, Bagatelles pour un massacre (1937), to grow acutely aware of pervasive Jewish influence on an abject society at home in France. This observation reflects another key element of Sanos’s argument, namely, that far-right figures in interwar France racialized Frenchness within the nation by linking strident denunciations of Jews to colonial ideologies that were enacted abroad in the empire (particularly, in Africa). This is an especially fascinating and provocative point; however, whereas she deals with it at some length in her reading of Céline, at other moments in the book she brings it up only briefly, and it remains unclear precisely how meaningful this turn to questions of empire was for members of the antisemitic French far right. This aspect of her argument is handled most directly in a several-page subsection of chapter 6 (on representations of race in the journal Je Suis Partout) that takes up how the journal approached the problem of colonialism. She points out that Martinican writers René Maran and Paulette Nardal actually produced articles for Je Suis Partout’s colonial affairs page, but she does not go so far as to synthetically historicize the unlikely and paradoxical relationship with far-right intellectuals that these figures must have experienced. Since Sanos refers to this aspect of her argument throughout the book, one expects a fuller and more synthetic treatment of the ways antisemitism was articulated through a racialized colonial grammar than what is actually provided. Such an idea merits extended attention, especially since discourses of race were so central to far-right intellectuals’ collective senses of masculinity and nationality.

The Aesthetics of Hate is nonetheless a rich, well-researched, and well-documented study that succeeds in complicating historical and literary approaches to what Sanos rightly identifies as the far-right ideological confluence of aesthetics and politics in interwar France. She evinces a keen sense of the debates in the field as well as of her work’s place in relation to them, which lends the book and her writing a sense of scholarly self-awareness that makes for engaging reading. Sanos’s analyses of journalistic and literary “fantasies of abjection” avoid the pathologizing logic against which she argues and instead shed convincing light on “a particular aesthetics where young far-right intellectuals reimagined nation, race, and bodies articulated in a gendered and sexual discourse of male identity, citizenship, and civilization” (p. 14).


[1]. Jacques Rancière, The Politics of Aesthetics, trans. Gabriel Rockhill (New York: Continuum, 2004), 13.

Sandrine Sanos. The Aesthetics of Hate: Far-Right Intellectuals, Antisemitism, and Gender in 1930s France. Stanford: Stanford University Press, 2012. xi + 369 pages. $65.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-8047-7457-4.

Reviewed by Justin Izzo (Brown University)
Published on H-SAE (June, 2013)
Commissioned by Michael B. Munnik

Source: H-Net

Tuesday, December 22, 2015

The “Final Solution in Riga”: Exploitation and Annihilation 1941-1944

Slavic Review: Andrej Angrick and Peter Klein, The “Final Solution in Riga”: Exploitation and Annihilation 1941-1944, New York, Oxford: Berghahn Books, 2009.

Within the covers of this 500 page tome one finds two books: one short, one long. The long one is about the fate of 24,000 Central European Jews who were transported to Latvia in the fall of 1941 and thereafter. The shorter one is about the Holocaust in Riga and the Latvian role in it. The long study consists of eighteen chapters that include detailed documentation of transports from Central Europe to Riga, and their life and death in Latvia. While the study of the European Jews is exemplary, when authors write about the native Latvians, specifically in the chapter “From Pogroms to the Establishing the Ghetto,” they lose their empirical approach, rely on folklore, clichés, and glosses of Nazi propaganda. Without debating alternative evidence, the authors argue that the Latvians were ready to kill Jews before the German had occupied the country and before the Germans had given an order to kill them.

To bolster their conclusions the authors mostly rely on evidence that Nazi spokesmen and activists already declared at the time of the Holocaust. As a keystone of their argument they cite the observations of certain Hans Krauss, a member of the Einsatzgruppe, the killing unit in Latvia, who argues that since the Latvians considered Jews to be allies of Communists and had supported the deportation of Latvians to Siberia:…“horrendous acts of cruelty took place, for which the Latvians…made the remaining Jews responsible. This explains why Jews were arrested by Latvians…locked up and in part shot.” The authors seem to be unaware that the above viewpoint was part of Nazi propaganda that they began to push on the world and themselves even before the killing of Jews had began.

Are we doomed to continue to think like the Nazis?

I shall forgo to parse the reasons why the authors find the Nazi “authorities” so believable, only to say that no anti-Nazi sources or evidence were advanced to test the veracity of the Nazi ones. For example they could have reached for help to the German legal judgments in the Arajs case at Hamburg and ones in the Graul case at Hanoover. There are also hundreds of Soviet court records in Riga in which Angrick and Klein could have tested the truth of Nazi propaganda.

One of the untested premises in Angrick and Klein’s work is whether Latvian opinion of Jews in 1941 was identical to that of Nazi propaganda slogan, namely that Jews were Bolsheviks. The authors call it a cliché, as if that would be a good reason to believe it. They also call it traditional anti-Semitism. On both accounts the authors are wrong. Traditional anti-Semitism was more along the lines of Protocols of Zion, “blood libel”, or that the Jews had killed Jesus..To proclaim that Jews were Bolsheviks was the pillar of Nazi propaganda in 1941, the big lie, one that Nazis at the beginning of the war unleashed as a flood on Eastern Europe. Before that the slogan was known among royalists during the Russian Civil War. For Latvians in 1941 to believe, although some allowed to be persuaded by the Nazis, that Jews were Bolsheviks would have been counter factual: There were no Jews in Soviet Latvian government, very few in the NKVD, and a small number in the Party. And they had nothing to do with deportation of Latvians. For historians to push Nazi clichés on Latvians, even if done in ignorance, shows a lack of tact. The Latvian role in the Holocaust is thoroughly covered and if ever the authors will see a light at the end of a tunnel of clichés, they should at least attempt to temper their Nazi opinions with some Latvian ones.

The authors have not fully made up their mind whether the Holocaust was a crime of passion or of organization. The former they tend to assign to Latvians, the latter to Germans. Not that all German historians are cut of the same cloth but many of them have problem in discussing the role of those people in the Holocaust, whom the Nazis called “natives”.

While the German poets already in 1947 established GRUPPE 47 to purge Nazisms out of German language, the historians to date have been reluctant to carry out a similar self-cleansing. For example, the authors of this volume missed the opportunity to examine the meaning of the Nazi use of “pogrom”. Enough said. A book review is not the proper venue to deliver a tutorial on an arcane and complicated topic. In short, I must reject Angrick and Klein’s description of Riga in July 1941, as conceptually and factually faulty. Their version of the events and use of terminology would ask of me to make a major accommodation with shards of National Socialism. This problem perchance may not be as well understood in the centers of former and present empires, as it is in the former colonies, the objects of German domination.

Andrew Ezergailis, Ithaca Collegess Andrew Ezergailis is a retired Professor of History, author of The Holocaust in Latvia (1996), The Stockholm Documents: The German Occupation of Latvia (2002), and most recently The Nazi/Soviet Disinformation About the Holocaust in Latvia (2005).

Source: Holocaust Archive of Latvia Usa

Friday, December 18, 2015

German Expansionism, Imperial Liberalism and the United States, 1776–1945

Germany and the "Laissez-Faire" Imperialism of the United States

Linked to the rise in domestic industrial capacity and the ascent of an educated, commercially minded liberal political class desirous of expanded economic opportunities, Germany’s global penetration during the long nineteenth century was predicated on the conviction that overseas expansion would deliver both mercantile benefits and domestic political change. Over the past decade, this period of domestic change and international activity has been a fruitful field for researchers studying the historical development of Germany. Historians have variously framed this penetration through the superordinate concept of “globalization”; or alternatively, imperialism, which is one of globalization’s primary historical forms.

Whether viewed as imperial or globalizing endeavors, German attempts at overseas penetration during the nineteenth century did not take place in a historical vacuum, with numerous, preexisting European empires all but crowding Germany out of the ranks of the global empires. While the antiquated Iberian empires offered a counterexample to German liberals, the blue water empires of the British, the French, and the Dutch were perceived by German liberals as exemplars of successful European liberal imperialist ventures. With great verve and clarity, Jens-Uwe Guettel makes the case that missing from this picture is the key role of the United States, which he argues was central to German understandings of liberal empire and in some respects offered a template for German approaches to expansionism. Guettel traces Germany’s liberal imperialism, or as he terms it, “imperial liberalism,” from the late eighteenth to the mid-twentieth centuries, showing the numerous points of transatlantic overlap. Beginning with Immanuel Kant, Alexander von Humboldt, and Christoph Meiners’ respective meditations on slavery, which derived their content from Anglo-American models, he illustrates how the tension between the negative experience of the condition of slavery for the slave and the utility of slavery as an institution enabling further European economic development was resolved in favor of the latter. From here, Guettel’s account moves on to a refutation of the notion of any special German affinity or empathy for the plight of Native Americans. He does this by demonstrating the favorable reception in Germany of American narratives of the “vanishing” Amerindians, which presented the extraordinary excess death rates associated with imperial expansion as either inexplicable “natural” occurrences or, quite often, a process in line with world-historical developments which dictated that “higher” forms of life must displace “lower” ones. Astutely, Guettel points out that this racializing discourse was multidirectional, with Friedrich Ratzel not merely transmitting current U.S. thought on indigenous policy, but also contributing to the renewal of liberal imperialist thought in the United States, influencing figures such as Frederick Jackson Turner. At this point it might have been interesting to see Guettel go even further and try to assess the impact and agency of ordinary German settlers in the United States on this transcontinental exchange. An admittedly difficult task, it might nonetheless have been possible by utilizing the material uncovered by Stefan von Senger und Etterlin in his 1991 work Neu-Deutschland in Nordamerika: Massenauswanderung, nationale Gruppenansiedlungen und liberale Kolonialbewegung, 1815 – 1860.

One of the main elements of U.S. imperialism that Guettel sees as translating well to the German context was the emphasis on what he terms the American-style laissez-faire approach to empire, which he argues particularly informed the views of not only Ratzel but also the left-liberal colonial secretary Bernhard Dernburg. Central to this American model were political liberty, economic self-reliance, a decentralized approach to settlement patterns, and a localized, “rational” approach to issues of colonial racial hierarchy. While the first three were certainly laissez-faire, the decentralized aspects of U.S. racial policy that Germany adopted were, at least in the late imperial period, not always apparent, as Guettel admits. A tension between localizing and centralizing impulses was apparent, pronouncedly so under the left-liberal colonial secretary Wilhelm Solf, who in 1912 moved from a reliance on colony-specific ordinances forbidding miscegenation and mixed marriages towards a demand that such measures be enacted from Berlin and enshrined in national legislation. With Solf’s call for a law against mixed marriages defeated by the combined forces of the Catholic Centre Party and the Social Democrats in the Reichstag, Guettel explains how Solf once again turned to the example of the United States; this time to study how the segregationist Jim Crow laws of some states coexisted with the Fourteenth and Fifteenth Amendments, which seemed to contradict them at the federal level.

Guettel quite correctly reveals just how much changed for Germany after World War One. Germany lost a significant portion of its territory, including all of its overseas colonies, while also enduring a period of partial occupation, including occupation by African troops brought in under French auspices. This inversion of the hitherto-prevailing colonial socio-racial order was decried in the German press. In addition, as a result of the American entry into the war, Germany’s relationship with the United States suffered greatly, to the extent that favorable allusions to U.S. racial conditions in post-1918 German debates fell off markedly. Even more obvious, Guettel reveals, was the Nazi Party’s disdain for the state of racial law in the United States. Rejecting the prewar enthusiasm for a decentralized approach to racial law, the Nazis instead argued that the United States was in fact a racially degenerating counterexample which should follow the new, highly centralized German approach. “Unlike in 1912,” Guettel argues, “in 1935 America was not allowed to be exemplary” (p. 200). The previously admired liberal mode of U.S. imperialism was necessarily criticized on the same grounds--it lacked centralization and was too heavily bound up in notions such as individualism and political liberty which, the Nazis claimed, they had superseded. In this way, Guettel convincingly disrupts accounts of Nazi imperialism that stress its continuity with prewar forms of liberal imperialism, suggesting instead that “the pre-1914 imperialism and post-1918 visions of living space in the East existed as perceived opposites within a framework of dialectical tension” (p. 223).

A natural field of further inquiry for both the author and other future researchers is the liberal depictions of Central Europe in nineteenth-century Germany. Raised briefly in the first chapter, it is one area that might profit from further analysis. Perhaps in deference to Woodruff Smith’s seminal Lebensraum/Weltpolitik distinction, Guettel seems to stress the distinction between overseas empire and contiguous European empire in liberal circles.[1] While he correctly points out the marked differences between liberal imperialism and Nazi imperialism in terms of political modality, racial policy, and manner of execution, it is worth remembering that German liberals such as Friedrich List, Friedrich Naumann, and Max Weber also had their own sense of a German-dominated Mitteleuropa (Central Europe) that complemented liberal demands for an overseas empire, as Guettel acknowledges (p. 63). The partial overlap in the imperial topography of liberal Germans and Nazi Germans does not mean that there were uniquely German structural or political continuities that determined the shift from liberal to Nazi imperialism. Given too that U.S. liberal imperialism largely (but not exclusively) took the shape of contiguous territorial expansion, Guettel might profitably assess how Central Europe looked to not just the Nazis but also nineteenth-century liberal Germans familiar with U.S. expansionism. This could potentially strengthen his already detailed and convincing refutation of overarching and idiosyncratic lines of political and imperial continuity in German history.

Guettel’s book is admirable for a number of reasons. It expertly dissects the twin myths that U.S. expansionism was uniquely devoid of violent, imperialist characteristics, and that the history of German imperialism is somehow reducible to proto-Nazi violence. Citing the myriad statements of violent intent against indigenous people made by U.S. liberals and noting the transferal of these statements to German public discourse, Guettel lays out precisely how strategies for imperial consolidation were not contained to individual nation-states but were translocated. The book also successfully contextualizes prewar German imperialism within a liberal milieu which shared a set of assumptions with its American counterpart regarding the correct forms of imperial penetration and the requisite means for dealing with recalcitrant indigenous populations unwilling or unable to submit to the rigors of European politico-military dominance and work discipline. As Guettel shows, imperialism and the forms of socio-racial knowledge it engendered were an integral part of liberalism on both sides of the Atlantic.


[1]. Woodruff D. Smith The Ideological Origins of Nazi Imperialism (New York: Oxford University Press, 1986).

Jens-Uwe Guettel. German Expansionism, Imperial Liberalism and the United States, 1776–1945. Cambridge: Cambridge University Press, 2012. 292 S. $90.00 (cloth), ISBN 978-1-107-02469-4.

Reviewed by Matthew P. Fitzpatrick (Flinders University)
Published on H-Diplo (April, 2013)
Commissioned by Seth Offenbach

Source: H-Net

Thursday, December 17, 2015

Ostkrieg: Hitler's War of Extermination in the East - Stephen G. Fritz

In his thoughtful and beautifully written history of Nazi Germany’s war against the Soviet Union, Stephen G. Fritz has two ambitious and important objectives. Fritz aims in the first place to provide a narrative that, while still structured by the unfolding of military operations, seamlessly integrates military events with the ideological convictions, economic imperatives, and social conditions that did so much to shape the course of the war. Fritz also seeks to illuminate the ways in which the war in the East (the Ostkrieg of the book’s title) radicalized Nazi policy toward the Jews, producing the Holocaust and shaping the pace and manner by which it developed. Aimed chiefly at upper-division undergraduates and lay readers interested in military history and the Holocaust, this book will also be helpful to historians of genocide who want to improve their understanding of the larger context in which the Holocaust was embedded.

Fritz efficiently develops the ways in which the war provided the necessary ideological context for the radicalization of Nazi Jewish policy into genocide, beginning with Adolf Hitler’s worldview, from which both the Holocaust and the war in the East sprang. Hitler saw the Jews as Germany’s deadly and implacable enemy, protagonists of a worldwide conspiracy that controlled the nations of the world partly through the manipulation of the financial system, and partly by a strategy of divide and conquer, fostering class conflict by promoting Marxism. The 1918 revolution, supposedly fomented by Jewish socialists, had (in Hitler’s view) caused Germany to lose the First World War; throughout his political career, Hitler was driven by a burning thirst for revenge against those he blamed for this national humiliation, Jews foremost among them. Hitler’s fear and hatred of Jews fused with a second strand of his thinking, racial Darwinism, to provide the necessary context for the Holocaust and the war against the Soviet Union. Hitler saw history as a Darwinian struggle for survival among races, in which inferior races would be exterminated. To survive this merciless struggle, Germany needed more industrial capacity and natural resources, and fertile farmland to feed a larger population, the better to produce the weapons and breed the soldiers for future wars. Germany could gain land and resources by attacking and destroying the Soviet Union, annexing huge swaths of land, and killing or driving out the “inferior” Slavic inhabitants. Destroying the Soviet Union was both necessary and desirable for a second reason: as the world’s only Communist state, it was presumably governed by Jews, and constituted the center of a worldwide “Judeo-Bolshevik” conspiracy that posed a permanent and deadly threat to Germany. At its ideological roots, Fritz notes, the war against the Soviet Union was thus also a war against the Jews.

Most German élites, including the professional military, probably did not subscribe to all tenets of Hitler’s worldview. However, most held a racist contempt for the Slavic peoples, were ferociously anti-Communist, and accepted the identification of Jews with Marxism that had been the stock in trade of the German Right since the 1890s. This overlap between Hitler’s thinking and theirs made it easy for them to accept his decision that the war against the Soviet Union would not be a conventional war fought by normal rules, but rather an ideological war of extermination in which the German forces would show no mercy. This war of extermination, in which military and economic functionaries planned the deliberate starvation of tens of millions of civilians, provided the radicalizing context in which the regime’s Jewish policy could evolve into the most ambitious and thorough program of genocide ever seen. In a war in which tens of millions would perish in combat or from famine, outright murder of the people who were blamed for this war would be seen as unremarkable.

In tracing the lethal evolution of Nazi Jewish policy over the course of 1941, and establishing its relationship to military events, Fritz hews closely to the synthesis provided by Christopher R. Browning, with important contributions by Jürgen Matthäus, in The Origins of the Final Solution: The Evolution of Nazi Jewish Policy, September 1939-March 1942 (2004). Until a still undetermined point in the late winter or spring of 1941, German policy aimed only at expulsion of all Jews under German control to some inhospitable location where a huge fraction of them would necessarily perish; Madagascar figured prominently in one variant of these plans. As planning for the invasion of the Soviet Union proceeded, some ill-defined region of this country was imagined as the destination for these unfortunates. Although these expulsion plans were inherently genocidal, and Polish Jews were starving in the ghettoes in which the Germans had confined them, the Nazi regime still refrained from outright murder. The Germans crossed this critical threshold with the invasion of the Soviet Union on June 22, 1941.

Following close behind the invading armies, mobile murder squads, in a total strength of well over thirty thousand men, descended on Jewish communities and proceeded to shoot Jewish males of military age in very large numbers.[1] This rupture of the inhibition against murder may rank as the single most important turning point in the evolution of Nazi Jewish policy into the Holocaust. Yet we do not know when the decision for it was made, or why. About all we can reliably say is that Hitler--given his very active role in all major decisions concerning policy toward the Jews--made the decision, probably in vague and general terms which his eager subordinates fleshed out. For the men who did the shooting, and for the army officers who provided logistical and other support to the shooting squads, the killings had the stated purpose of “pacifying” conquered territory by eliminating anyone who might foment partisan warfare or engage in sabotage. Thus Jews were only one of several listed target groups; among the others were civil and military Communist Party commissars. However, the explicit and constant equating of Jews with Communism quickly made them the most numerous victims of the death squads. Fritz effectively develops this connection between alleged military necessity and the slaughter of Jewish boys and men, demonstrating the terrible culpability of the regular army, which welcomed the killings with enthusiasm. However, it bears repeating that although this rationale for the murders was consistent with Hitler’s beliefs about Jews, we cannot assume that it constituted his principal motive or that of Heinrich Himmler and Reinhard Heydrich, who formed the shooting squads and unleashed them on the Jews of the Soviet Union.

During the second half of July 1941, a scant four weeks after the war had begun, some of the shooting squads crossed another threshold: from shooting only males of military age, to exterminating entire Jewish communities, man, woman, and child. Over the coming weeks, at different times in different places, all of the shooting units made this transition to the policy of murdering all Jews on Soviet territory. On July 31, the regime took another important step, although its meaning has been debated: Himmler’s deputy, Heydrich, was charged with developing a plan for the “final solution of the Jewish question” in Europe. Browning sees Heydrich’s brief as nothing less than conducting a “’feasibility study’ for mass murder of European Jewry.”[2] In Browning’s reconstruction of events, Heydrich and Himmler’s planning from above merged with varied initiatives on the ground to produce the basic decision for the Holocaust by the end of October, and the chief method for perpetrating it, murder by poison gas in death camps. Hitler’s biographer, Ian Kershaw, sees the July 31 charge to Heydrich differently: as authorization to plan for the expulsion of these Jews into the conquered Soviet Union, assuming death on a genocidal scale, but with most deaths not resulting from outright murder.[3] In Kershaw’s interpretation, the transition to total extermination as policy happened only when military setbacks led a frustrated Hitler to give up on expulsion as a solution. Although Fritz follows Browning’s chronology and interpretation of Hitler’s decision making, he uneasily straddles the competing readings of Heydrich’s marching orders, concluding that Heydrich’s “feasibility study,” if implemented, “would result in the mass death, one way or another, of European Jews” (p. 108).

Echoing Browning, Fritz attributes the twofold radicalization of Jewish policy in July 1941 to Hitler’s “euphoria” over Germany’s stunning military triumphs during the first four weeks of the invasion, triumphs that seemed to portend imminent victory. Fritz persuasively argues that Hitler, in the flush of apparent victory, now felt capable of fulfilling his historic mission of undoing the shameful defeat of 1918, rewriting history on a racial basis, and destroying the demonic Jewish enemy. Hitler’s expansive comments to subordinates in mid-July, envisioning a radical reordering of Soviet territory on racial lines, suggest that Hitler enjoyed a feeling of unlimited possibilities. This thesis fits Browning’s interpretation of Heydrich’s instructions: a feasibility study for solving the “Jewish problem” by wholesale extermination, a means previously not contemplated, and thus a bold innovation of which a man like Hitler might be proud.[4] However, the expansion of shooting to include all Soviet Jews, including women and children, complicates the picture, especially after one incorporates insights from Peter Longerich’s biography of Himmler, Heinrich Himmler: Biographie (2008, English version published in 2012), which Fritz does not cite.

The shooting squads never received a single order to expand the killing to include women and children, but rather a mix of mostly verbal and some written orders, some vague and contradictory, usually delivered personally by Himmler on visits to their area of operations. In Browning’s and Fritz’s dating, it took until mid-August for all shooting units to understand this escalation of the killing, in Longerich’s account until early October. If Hitler was seriously contemplating, already in July, the systematic murder of European Jewry, why would Himmler not ask for--and receive--clear authorization to speed up the murder of Soviet Jews? If he had done so, why would there have been no single and unambiguous verbal order, transmitted at the nearest opportunity to all shooting units by courier? The gradual and haphazard process by which the scope of the murders expanded supports Longerich’s thesis that Himmler took it upon himself to step up the killing without clear authorization from Hitler, as a way of enhancing his authority and that of his SS over police and security matters in the conquered territories. Longerich argues that Himmler acted in the reasonable expectation that Hitler, having expressed approval in general terms for some kind of genocidal outcome, would retroactively approve his actions.[5] It seems plausible to speculate that Himmler escalated the shooting in this piecemeal fashion so that he could gauge Hitler’s reaction as the shooting squads reported their expanded death tolls to Berlin. If Hitler objected, Himmler could always rein in the shooters and claim that they had misunderstood his verbal orders.[6] Longerich’s argument about the escalation of the shooting does not undermine the thesis that victory euphoria radicalized policy, but it does tend to support Kershaw’s more cautious reading of the July 31 instructions to Heydrich: a direction to plan for expulsion, rather than for something that resembled the Holocaust. A charge to plan for expulsion, which included the expectation of a massive die-off in the East, is more consistent with Longerich’s thesis of a vaguely genocidal expectation which Himmler fulfilled in pursuit of his own empire building. Altogether, this is Longerich’s strongest evidence for his claim that the policy of murdering every Jew in Europe was never really “decided,” but rather emerged through so many small increments that it was not fully in place until April or May of 1942, as opposed to being embraced by Hitler and his top aides already before the end of October 1941 (Browning and Fritz) or in November or early December (Kershaw).[7]

Like Browning, Fritz argues that a second round of victory euphoria, from mid-September through mid-October, radicalized Hitler’s thinking and allowed the convergence of several developments to produce, by the end of October, the decision for complete extermination. Army Group North finished the task of cutting off Leningrad in early September, and on September 16, German tank armies completed the encirclement of Soviet forces at Kiev, leading to the surrender of 665,000 Soviet troops. Operation Typhoon, planned as the final German drive on Moscow, scored smashing successes during the first half of October, including the encirclement and capture at Vyazma and Bryansk of another 673,000 enemy soldiers. The second half of October once again found Hitler speaking expansively of his historic destiny to vanquish Germany’s Jewish nemesis: “We are getting rid of the destructive Jews entirely.... I feel myself to be only the executor of history”; “When we exterminate this plague, then we perform a deed for humanity, the significance of which our men out there can still not at all imagine”; “We are writing history anew from the racial standpoint” (p. 178). Already in mid-September, buoyed by the victories near Kiev and Leningrad, Hitler took a step that he had refused to take in mid-August: setting in train the deportation of Jews from Germany and the Czech lands to ghettoes on Polish and Soviet territory. As these ghettoes were overcrowded, officials on the spot radicalized policy by either murdering the arriving German Jews or killing local Jews to make room for the newcomers. Other initiatives by lower-ranking officials pioneered murder by engine exhaust gas or by cyanide (at Auschwitz). These and other initiatives from below fused with Hitler’s signals from above to produce the policy we know as the Holocaust: the attempt to systematically murder every single person of Jewish ancestry in Europe.[8] As usual, Fritz is admirably efficient and concise in this section of the book, but this part seems slightly rushed and compressed, and he could have fleshed out the initiatives of lower-ranking officials a little more thoroughly.

Fritz also examines the sharp acceleration of the murder of Jews that took place during the second half of 1942. He links this shift to the war effort partly by invoking Hitler’s renewed optimism about victory; partly by observing that Reich Director of Labor Fritz Sauckel had solved Germany’s labor shortage by importing slave labor from conquered territories (thus rendering Jewish slave labor redundant); and partly by referring to the food shortages that afflicted German-controlled Europe until bountiful harvests in the fall of 1942. Fritz suggests that the regime chose to secure Germany’s food supply by accelerating the murder of Jews, often referred to as “useless eaters” (pp. 224-226). His thesis seems eminently plausible, but the documentary evidence is scant and none of it comes from the machinery of the Final Solution, nor does Longerich mention this concern as part of Himmler’s motivation. Instead, Longerich argues that Himmler sped up the killing, just as he accelerated all his other projects for the racial reordering of Europe, because early German successes in the 1942 campaign led him and Hitler to expect imminent German victory. Himmler saw in this victory a decisive moment in which he could further expand his power and that of his SS empire. Longerich also argues, fairly persuasively, that revenge for the assassination of Heydrich, who died of his wounds on June 4, was not just an excuse for the acceleration of the killing, but rather a significant motive.[9]

Turning now to the bulk of the book, a military history of the eastern front, I will limit my comments to a summary of what seem to be Fritz’s principal arguments, since I lack a background in military history sufficient for evaluating the contribution of his work to the scholarly literature. It has to be said at the outset that Fritz achieves his primary goal, seamlessly integrating operational developments with ideological imperatives and economic considerations. His exploration of logistics, which frequently imposed fatal limits on German operations, is especially thorough.

Could Germany have defeated the Soviet Union? Fritz prudently refrains from giving a yes-no answer to a counterfactual question, but allows that Germany’s last “slim” chance at victory, in 1942, was squandered when Hitler divided his forces in an attempt to reach simultaneously objectives that could only be accomplished seriatim. His masterful exposition of the 1941 and 1942 campaigns and the gross mismatch of resources between the combatants suggest that Germany’s defeat was as close to inevitable as anything in history can be. The German invasion of 1941 was predicated on the assumption that one sharp blow would cause the Soviet state to collapse like a house of cards. Once the Soviets failed to cooperate with this plan, and Soviet troops fought on--sometimes even after being surrounded--with astonishing valor and grim determination, Germany’s doom seems to have been sealed, even if it took the Soviet Union almost four years of hard fighting to reach final victory. In his early successes, Hitler was lucky in his opponent: Stalin could not believe that Hitler would invade, despite alarming intelligence to the contrary, and consequently refused to let his generals make better defensive arrangements.[10] For example, he refused to let his generals withdraw from Kiev in September 1941, resulting in the encirclement and capture of 665,000 troops. His meddling also ruined the Soviet forces’ opportunity for a devastating counterattack against the Germans in December 1941.

Fritz presents an interestingly mixed assessment of Hitler’s merits as a military commander. Some of Hitler’s decisions, later decried by his generals as irrational when they sought to restore their own reputations, make more sense when economic imperatives are factored in. However, with his controversial stand-and-fight order of December 1941, which Fritz finds defensible in tactical terms, Hitler inaugurated a fateful pattern, which persisted to the war’s end, of depriving his front commanders of all autonomy. This micromanaging “stripped his generals of the flexibility and command initiative that had been the key to German operational success” (p. 205).

Fritz touches on other interesting topics, more in passing: the significant role played by partisans in undermining the German war effort; the valuable point that although the eastern front remained the most important front in the war to the very end, the threat of a second front in Western Europe began in 1943 to force Hitler to divert resources from the war against the Soviet Union; the crucial role played by Lend Lease aid, including 450,000 trucks and jeeps, which made possible the Soviet forces’ new operational mobility beginning in 1944; and a concise and helpful assessment of the eastern front’s relative importance among the varied theaters of World War II in Europe. Fritz also offers some interesting thoughts on how Germany, although badly outmanned and outgunned, could fight on until May 1945, a good two years after most informed observers (and much of the German public) knew that the war was lost. Here he anticipates many conclusions reached by Kershaw, who published a book-length study addressing precisely this question, only a few weeks after Fritz’s volume appeared, The End: The Defiance and Destruction of Hitler’s Germany, 1944-1945 (2011). To some of the factors that Kershaw explores--sharply increased repression within Germany, Nazi leaders’ sense that they had “burned their bridges” through their genocidal policies, and brilliant efforts by Albert Speer and other technocrats to keep the German war economy alive--Fritz adds a military factor that Kershaw leaves out: the cautious strategy of Germany’s opponents of advancing on a broad front.

All in all, Fritz does an admirable job of explaining to the lay reader how the war in the East provided the necessary context--and frequently a vital catalyst--for the evolution of Nazi Jewish policy into what the perpetrators called the Final Solution of the Jewish Question. Fritz has provided us with what may be the most comprehensive single-volume treatment of the eastern front in the English language. Thoroughly researched, carefully reasoned, clearly structured, beautifully written, fully accessible to the lay reader, and at times nothing short of riveting, it deserves to be widely read.


[1]. Browning counts three thousand members of the Einsatzgruppen, eleven thousand men in twenty-one battalions of the Order Police, and twenty-five thousand men under Heinrich Himmler’s direct control in his “Kommandostab Reichsführer-SS,” although it is unclear whether all twenty-five thousand were actively involved in the shooting, in Christopher R. Browning, with contributions by Jürgen Matthäus, The Origins of the Final Solution: The Evolution of Nazi Jewish Policy, September 1939-March 1942 (Lincoln: University of Nebraska Press, 2004), 229-233. In addition to the Einsatzgruppen, Fritz counts twenty thousand in the Reserve Police and Order Police, plus eleven thousand SS, presumably part of Himmler’s Kommandostab (p. 70). Peter Longerich counts, in addition to the three thousand in the Einsatzgruppen, twelve thousand in the Order Police and nineteen thousand directed by Himmler’s Kommandostab, in Peter Longerich, Heinrich Himmler: Biographie (Munich: Siedler Verlag, 2008), 539-540.

[2]. Browning, Origins, 315-316.

[3]. Ian Kershaw, Fateful Choices: Ten Decisions That Changed the World, 1940-1941 (New York: Penguin Press, 2007), 460.

[4]. This speculation about Hitler taking pride in a radically new policy is mine, not Browning’s.

[5]. Longerich, Heinrich Himmler, 548-552, 557-558, 766-767.

[6]. This is speculation on my part, not Longerich’s.

[7]. Browning, Origins, 370-373; Fritz, Ostkrieg, 173-181; Kershaw, Fateful Choices, 464; and Longerich, Heinrich Himmler, 559-560.

[8]. Gerhard L. Weinberg has persuasively argued that Hitler was determined to destroy every Jewish population on earth, but that most Nazi planning did not go beyond Europe simply because that marked the limit of what was feasible in the short term. However, Fritz’s work and all others cited here refer to an extermination program focused solely on Europe, and do not mention Hitler’s ambitions concerning the world after victory would be won in Europe. Weinberg, “A World Wide Holocaust Project” (paper delivered at the conference “Global Perspectives on the Holocaust,” Middle Tennessee State University, Murfreesboro, TN, October 21, 2011).

[9]. Longerich, Heinrich Himmler, 587-589, 662.

[10]. Kershaw, Fateful Choices, 243-297; and Fritz, Ostkrieg, 78-80.

Stephen G. Fritz. Ostkrieg: Hitler's War of Extermination in the East. Lexington: University Press Of Kentucky, Illustrations, tables. 2011. 688 pp. $39.95 (cloth), ISBN 978-0-8131-3416-1; $24.95 (paper), ISBN 978-0-8131-6119-8.

Reviewed by Dan McMillan (J.D., Ph.D., Independent Scholar,
Published on H-Genocide (October, 2012)
Commissioned by Elisa G. von Joeden-Forgey

Source: H-Net

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Wednesday, December 16, 2015

Generalplan Ost

Generalplan Ost. (General Plan East), plan devised by Nazi leaders in 1941--1942 to resettle Eastern Europe with Germans, and move about other "inferior" groups within the Nazis' domain.

In 1941 the Nazis fully believed that they were going to win World War II and maintain control over all the lands they had conquered. Thus, they came up with a long-term scheme for the fate of those territories: the expulsion or enslavement of most non-Aryans, the extermination of the Jews living in the conquered territories, and the resettlement of the empty areas with Germans and Volksdeutsche (ethnic Germans).

The territories involved included the occupied areas of POLAND, the Baltic states (Lithuania, Latvia, and Estonia), Belorussia, and parts of Russia and the Ukraine. There were about 45 million people living in those areas in the
early 1940s, including five to six million Jews. The Nazis came up with an elaborate racial classification system by which to decide who would be enslaved, expelled, murdered, or resettled. Some 31 million of the territories'
inhabitants, mostly of Slavic origin, were to be declared "racially undesirable," and expelled to western Siberia. The Jews were to be annihilated, euphemistically referred to as "total removal." The rest of the local population
would be enslaved, "Germanized," or killed. After the area was cleared out, 10 million Germans and people of German origin, called ethnic Germans, were to be moved in.

During the war, many of the Nazis' activities were carried out with Generalplan Ost in mind. They massacred millions of Jews in Eastern Europe, in addition to millions of Soviet prisoners of war. Millions more were sent to Germany to do forced labor, and two million Poles living in the areas that had been annexed to the Reich were treated to a "Germanization" process.

Approximately 30,000 Germans who had been living in the Baltic countries were moved from their homes and prepared for resettlement in Poland. From November 1942 to August 1943, Poles living in the Zamosc region of Poland were kicked out of their homes and replaced by Germans.

The Nazis quickly lost interest in Generalplan Ost after the battle of Stalingrad, when they realized that their victory in the war was not a sure thing.

Source: Yad Vashem

Wednesday, December 9, 2015

Nuestro ensayo “¿Qué era? ¿Qué es? El Fascismo” EN PDF GRATUITO

¿Qué era? ¿Qué es? El fascismo. Entre el legado de Franco y la modernidad de Le Pen (1975-1997), Destino, Barcelona, 1998, 94 pp. ISBN: 978-84-233-2999-1. Prólogo de Rosa Regás, pp. 11-14.

EN 1998 publicamos nuestro ensayo breve El fascismo, en la colección “¿Qué era? ¿Qué es?”, que entonces dirigía Rosa Regás en editorial Destino. Dado que el libro está descatalogado y hemos recibido peticiones de consulta, hemos decidido fotocopiarlo y escanearlo íntegramente para que sea accesible en PDF de modo gratuito. Para acceder al pdf íntegro del libro clicar aquí: El fascismo-Xavier Casals

Consideramos que pese al tiempo transcurrido ofrece una imagen de interés: una radiografía del universo de la ultraderecha española de la época, en la que se dibujaban entonces intentos de importación del lepenismo, pervivencia del neofranquismo y se apuntaban populismos protestatario emergentes.

En suma, desde nuestra perspectiva ofrece una radiografía asequible del universo de la extrema derecha española antes de que hiciera eclosión la Plataforma per Catalunya [PxC].


Síntesis divulgativa sobre la evolución del fascismo hasta el momento de publicación del ensayo centrada en el caso de España. La primera parte (“Los herederos del fascismo”) expone cómo se conformó una extrema derecha en el seno del franquismo que constituyó un sector ideológicamente involucionista en las postrimerías del régimen y durante los albores de la Transición, el llamado “búnker”. La segunda (“La crisis del ‘búnker’, 1975-1982) analiza el papel y la trayectoria de Fuerza Nueva, del terrorismo ultraderechista en “los años del plomo” y del fracasado golpe de Estado del 23 de febrero de 1981. La tercera parte (“Entre la tradición y la innovación, 1983-1994)” constata la coexistencia de discursos ultraderechistas nostálgicos del franquismo con otros innovadores e importadores de la cultura política de este espectro entonces exitosa en Europa, siendo su referente principal el Front National francés. La cuarta y última (“Hacia una nueva extrema derecha, 1994…”), efectúa previsiones de futuro sobre la eventual existencia de un “lepenismo español”.

La conclusión final, a la luz de la década transcurrida, resultó acertada. Decíamos ayer (1998):

“En cuanto a la ultraderecha española, ésta todavía parece contar con un largo camino que recorrer antes de configurar una opción política de cierta solidez. Carece de líderes y cuadros políticos, los ejes ideológicos de su discurso actual son tan variados como -en ocasiones- contradictorios. La siglas que se agitan en este espectro son casi desconocidas, muy cambiantes y difícilmente valorables en cuanto a su capacidad de convocatoria. Los ditintos grupos o no concurren a las elecciones o, cuando lo hacen, sus resultados son insignificantes […]. Pero, sobre todo, la extrema derecha se enfrenta a un problema irresuelto: conciliar los valores de la ultraderecha ‘tradicional’ y los de la ‘postindustrial’, aunar el legado de Franco y la modernidad de Le Pen” (p. 89).

Source: Blog de Xavier Casals

Tuesday, December 8, 2015

Hitler: un cabo austriaco o el nuevo superhombre

¿Qué fue Hitler? ¿Cómo pudo Alemania caer en sus manos? ¿Qué hizo posible algo tan monstruoso? Setenta años después de su muerte, el «Führer» sigue siendo, como dijo Churchill, un «acertijo recubierto por un enigma y envuelto en el velo de un misterio». Nuevos estudios y biografías, sobre todo en Alemania, tratan de desentrañarlo

Hitler, durante un paseo con uno de sus perros

Ningún idioma de cuantos existan tiene sustantivos y adjetivos suficientes para expresar con palabras lo que fue este hombre, trauma máximo del siglo XX y eje fatídico sobre el que giró su obsesivo delirio. Precisamente a ese hombre es a quien ahora la historia le concede, en uno de sus retornos cíclicos, la gracia, maldita, de la rememoración. Cuando se cumplen 70 años de su desaparición, el mundo vuelve a recordar cómo murió en ese búnker de Berlín que fue su fugaz tumba antes de que sus restos se volviesen fuego y cenizas sobre el cemento de un patio inhóspito. Y vuelve la interminable riada de biografías monumentales, esta vez con las 1.296 páginas, recién publicadas en alemán, de Peter Longerich, biógrafo también de otros herrumbrosos nazis. Páginas y páginas de erudiciones que no resuelven casi nada.

Quizá deberíamos hacer aquello que hizo Karl Kraus en «La tercera noche de Walpurgis» –ya en 1933– ante esa «aparición del infierno», y que explica con la frase cortante y sarcástica que abre el libro: «Sobre Hitler no se me ocurre nada». Lo que viene a significar esto: que en un sujeto así no procede perder una sola palabra. Aunque, para no querer decir nada, escribiría un libro entero que es un trágico recorrido por aquella barbarie en la que participaron activamente buena parte de los más conspicuos intelectos. Lo que confirma el cruel pronóstico del mismo Kraus: que un «zapatero bohemio» tiene más capacidad de pensar que un «pensador neoalemán», desprecio que podemos imaginar a quién iba dirigido.

Así que estamos ante aquella contradicción que destacó en su día Ernst Nolte: «¿Debe concedérsele a Hitler, a tantos años de su muerte, una vez más ‘la palabra’ después de que el mundo entero se vio obligado a meterse en una guerra para hacer enmudecer definitivamente la voz ronca de ese furioso demagogo?». Seguramente no. Pero un silencio como ese sería concederle demasiado a quien no merece nada. Ni siquiera el descanso eterno.

Disparo en la boca

Estamos, sin duda, ante un caso único. Este «arquitecto de la ruina» no tiene comparación con nada. Ni con el huno Atila, llamado «el azote de Dios», ni con Gengis Kan, ni con ningún otro devastador, por terrible y salvaje que haya sido. No hay monstruosidad comparable a las suyas: por gigantescas, por arrasadoras y por descerebradas. El mundo está aún lleno de los efectos de sus monstruosidades.

Si somos sinceros, debemos confesar que no somos del todo capaces de explicar una aberración tan gigantesca. Por decirlo así, supera cualquier lógica. Hitler es la degeneración de lo monstruoso hasta el punto en el que ya no es posible degenerar más. En él confluyen los mayores cretinismos, los peores sentimientos, las peores «filosofías», los peores mitos… En ese sentido, es lo «Entarte» (palabra que tanto usaba para calificar el arte que despreciaba), lo «degenerado».

Es cierto que conocemos casi todos los detalles de su vida y de su muerte. Sabemos también mucho de nuestra historia hasta él y desde él. Pero sabiendo todo eso, no somos capaces de desentrañar lo principal: cómo fue posible aquel monstruo. Y en esa cuestión fundamental seguimos tan confusos hoy como el día de su suicidio en el búnker de Berlín, con aquella parafernalia que organizó para no caer él, y su esposa «in articulo mortis», Eva Braun, en manos de las tropas rusas que los tenían ya acorralados: el disparo en la boca, el acopio de gasolina, la quema de sus cadáveres. Por citar al clásico, seguimos en nuestra «docta ignorancia».

El Rey de «la sucursal del infierno en la tierra», así llamó Joseph Roth a Hitler

Se han hecho múltiples intentos de desentrañar tan enrevesado misterio. Para descifrarlo, se han escrito miles de biografías y extraordinarios análisis: K. Heiden, A. Bullock, E. Voegelin, J. Fest, S. Haffner, I. Kershaw o E. Jäckel, por citar a los más valiosos. Temo a pesar de todo que, para desentrañar ese «acertijo recubierto por un enigma y envuelto en el velo de un misterio» (como dijo Churchill en otro contexto), tengamos que acabar recurriendo a lo sobrehumano.

Estamos ante una especie de demonio. Ya Rudolf Diels escribió un libro titulado «Lucifer ante Portas». Y el historiador F. Meinecke dijo que con Hitler entró en la historia alemana el «principio satánico». Es cierto. Es también cierto, como advirtió con extrema irritación el gran politólogo austriaco emigrado Eric Voegelin, que esas analogías con el demonio derivan muy fácilmente en un cómodo propósito de no analizar y de «disculpar» al monstruo mediante el subterfugio de declararle «demoniaco».

Ya Zweig explicó, aplicándolo a Hölderlin, Kleist y Nietzsche, lo que son esas fuerzas infernales: algo «fuera de lo humano que actúa sobre ellos», «un poder por encima del propio poder» que los arrastra y cautiva. Y el mismo Goethe había explicado antes lo «demónico» en un famosísimo pasaje de «Poesía y verdad».

Pura destrucción

Moraleja, equivocada: nadie puede nada contra lo demoniaco. Con lo que podemos dar a Hitler por «exculpado». Evidentemente, eso es una patraña, como advirtió severamente Voegelin. Creo, sin embargo, que la analogía con los demonios sigue siendo una clave para tratar de hacer comprensible a un sujeto que, por su naturaleza, es casi incomprensible.

Aunque con una matización. Paul Tillich estableció hacia 1926 una aguda distinción entre lo «demónico» y lo satánico. Para él, lo «demónico» mezcla siempre dos potencias contrapuestas: una fuerza creadora y otra destructora. Cuando lo «demónico» no tiene casi componente destructor y todo es fuerza creadora, estamos ante la genialidad. Cuando ocurre totalmente lo contrario, estamos ante lo satánico. Con el lenguaje de Tillich, lo satánico es lo negativo en estado puro. O sea, Hitler: la pura destrucción sin ápice de creación.

Por tanto, Hitler no es un demonio, ni siquiera «el» demonio; es lo satánico. Lo vio, con fina perspicacia, el pobre Joseph Roth, una de sus víctimas, con aquella insuperable fórmula: el Rey de «la sucursal del infierno en la Tierra». Por cierto, el mismo Tillich advierte, ya entonces, de que el nacionalismo es uno de los demonios del presente, que se está transformando, por la sacralización que hace de lo propio, en satanismo y pura destrucción. Como se ve, no aprendemos demasiado.

Según Ernst Jünger, el «Führer» fue la cerilla que le faltaba al polvorín alemán

Setenta años más tarde, el enigma que vuelve a torturarnos es el que tortura al mundo desde 1933: ¿qué fue Hitler? La pregunta esconde tres cuestiones distintas: una pregunta a los alemanes –¿cómo pudisteis caer en sus manos?–; una pregunta a la historia –¿cómo «permitiste» algo tan «monstruoso»?–; y, por fin, una pregunta a nosotros mismos: ¿seremos así de inhumanos? Pero la cuestión determinante no es Hitler, sino Alemania. ¿Cómo fue posible que un detritus así llegase al poder, no ya de una nación insignificante, sino, como lo formuló con prosopopeya H. Heine, de un «pueblo que ha inventado la pólvora y la imprenta y la «Crítica de la razón pura»?

Muy sencillo, aunque extremadamente complejo. Un deseo ciego. Un atroz espejismo. Un sueño alemán. Para entender qué es un sueño alemán recurramos otra vez al gran especialista, Heine: «En fin, nosotros [los alemanes] soñamos, pero lo hacemos a nuestra manera alemana, es decir, filosofamos. Y en concreto, no sobre las cosas reales… sino sobre las cosas en sí mismas, sobre los fundamentos últimos de las cosas, y sobre sueños transcendentales y metafísicos…». Y eso es lo que ocurrió: que se entregaron al sueño alemán, que duró casi cincuenta años.

No es ceguera

Delirio de sí mismos, delirio de su misión histórica, delirio de la propia raza y valor, delirios que son la consecuencia última de multitud de «filosofías» putrefactas que duraron casi siglo y medio. Lo expresó muy bien el gran historiador Ranke: «No es ceguera, no es ignorancia lo que envenena a personas y a pueblos. En general no suelen tardar mucho en percatarse de adónde lleva el camino elegido. Pero existe en ellos un impulso, una compulsión, generada por su naturaleza y reforzada por el hábito, a la que no logran resistirse, y que los empuja hacia adelante mientras les quede un resto de energía. Divino es quien se controla a sí mismo. Pero la mayoría ve ante sus ojos su ruina, y se lanza a ella».

Es difícil explicar mejor lo que le ocurrió a Alemania. A toda esa maraña de ideas y sentimientos que condujeron al nazismo sólo le faltaba una cosa: el demonio que los despertase. O sea, Hitler. Como Adán y Eva en el Paraíso de Milton, los alemanes hicieron un pacto con la serpiente y cayeron cautivos de increíbles fantasías aberrantes, de trucos y engaños malabares, de apariencias sin realidades. Ese pacto satánico convirtió a un indigente austriaco en «Führer» de la Gran Alemania. Y la cosa fue hasta tal punto incomprensible que el mismo mendigo asistía totalmente asombrado a lo que estaba ocurriendo, hasta que, con tanto «bel canto», acabó por creerse sus propias fantasías enfermas. Y ocurrió entonces lo inevitable: que estalló el mundo. Que es lo que pasa cuando un país se deja embelesar por un fantoche.

Karl Kraus resumió su opinión con estas palabras: «Un nuevo payaso, ¿cómo llegó aquí?»

Lo vio con extrema finura intuitiva su coetáneo Chaplin, tan coetáneo que había nacido sólo cuatro días antes que Hitler, en «El gran dictador»: un don nadie histriónico, un caricato nervioso e histérico, un «Carlitos» creyéndose Federico el Grande de Prusia. Ese es el delirio: que un mísero mendigo fuese tomado por príncipe. Ernst Jünger –que sentía un gélido desprecio por los nazis– da en «Radiaciones» una clave: fue la cerilla que le faltaba al polvorín alemán.

Quiso la historia, tan cruelmente caprichosa, situar en el mismo pináculo del poder de una de las naciones más importantes de la Tierra a este horrible fantoche. Porque eso fue Hitler, un payaso, un histrión insólito, por más que mil análisis y demostraciones intenten convencernos de lo contrario. Casi todos sus biógrafos y analistas, incluso los más críticos, han visto en ese histrión satánico «genialidad» política. Como puede comprobarse leyendo el inaceptable retrato que le hizo en los años 60 el reputado medievalista E. Schramm. O lo que escribe el objetivo biógrafo inglés Allan Bullock, quien lo considera un «genio político por malvados que hayan sido los frutos», y le atribuye «dotes fuera de lo común».

Otro de sus grandes biógrafos, Fest, le cree «un organizador muy capacitado del poder», un psicólogo y «con todas sus fracturas, vacíos y rasgos inferiores, una de las apariciones públicas más extraordinarias de su tiempo». Incluso la persona que quizá mejores reflexiones ha hecho sobre él, Sebastian Haffner, escribió: «Tras 1933 se confirmó como un gestor enérgico, imaginativo y eficiente». Hasta cree que «como puro atleta de logros fue quizá más fuerte que Napoleón». Y el fundador del «Spiegel», el tan crítico, despiadado y brillante Rudolf Augstein, consideró también en su día que Hitler tenía «genialidad» política y era un hombre con cualidades muy destacadas.

Lógica «líquida»

Es este un ciego impulso «justificatorio» que brota seguramente de la propia vergüenza, y que trata de taparse con la maquinaria lógica de un silogismo averiado. Premisa: una nación tan culta como Alemania no puede ser engañada por un imbécil notorio. Hitler la engañó (a ella y a Europa). Luego no era un imbécil notorio, sino que tenía dotes extraordinarias. Es esta una lógica «líquida» con el mismo rigor que la repetida cantinela de que «algo tendrá el agua cuando la bendicen».

Son muchos, y muy ilustres, los expertos que, callada o explícitamente, han caído babosamente en esa trampa. Estalló con Hitler una insólita idolatría –el «mito Hitler»– que infectó no sólo a sus conmilitones, sino también a media Europa. Hay ejemplos sangrantes. De los alemanes baste citar la babosa mitología sobre sus penetrantes ojos azules y su mirada magnética, o sobre la inmensa cultura y saber de un hombre que… ¡no había acabado la escuela primaria! De los extranjeros podemos citar los increíbles embelesamientos de Chamberlain. Por ejemplo, le dijo a su hermana Ida en 1938: «Pese a la dureza y crueldad que me pareció ver en su rostro, tuve la impresión de estar ante un hombre en el que se puede confiar una vez ha dado su palabra». Nunca se pudo confiar en su palabra, que había incumplido numerosísimas veces; por ejemplo, en la anexión de Austria.

Pueden tan ilustres autores encontrarle a Hitler las gracias que deseen. Pero cualquiera que estudie con cierto cuidado sus «ideas», vea sus fotos, analice sus discursos, observe atentamente su mímica, sus gestos, su voz, sus poses, su forma de vestir, descubrirá enseguida que algo rompe la magia: una increíble chabacanería mental, un títere narcotizado, un personaje de una opereta baja y trágica, la marioneta sin ideas de un guiñol de pasiones nacionales y personales locas.

Alemania pactó con la serpiente y cayó cautiva de increíbles fantasías aberrantes

Toda esta valoración negativa no es caprichosa, ni nueva. Cuenta con abundantes e ilustres antecesores: un colega de K. Löwith lo caracterizó, ya antes de 1933, de «mago imbécil». Thomas Mann lo llamó sarcásticamente «hermano Hitler». El gran satírico alemán K. Tucholsky dijo: «El hombre no existe en absoluto; sólo es el ruido que él mismo causa». El lugarteniente de Hitler y luego enemigo Rauschning escribió: «Es el tipo de mozo que ayuda a un camarero de un merendero de las afueras quien ejerce aquí de «Führer» carismático». Y Kraus resumió escuetamente: «Un nuevo payaso, ¿cómo llegó aquí?». Uno de sus más importantes biógrafos, Heiden, titula un capítulo «para persona, inservible». Y M. Frisch escribió años más tarde: «Nunca merece llamarse destino a algo, sólo porque ella –la imbecilidad– haya sucedido».

Pero fue quizá E. Voegelin, que siempre lo consideró, y con razón, no causa sino efecto del «estado chatarra en el que se encontraba el pueblo alemán», quien le puso el adjetivo más atinado: «stultus», el estulto. Y lo argumentó así: «Hitler no fue relevante, incluso si se le considera un político con brillo. La relevancia consiste en algo más que el talento de un médium capaz de aprovechar la imbecilidad y la degeneración ética de otros para sus fines». Aunque, hay que añadir, no fue un simple «stultus», fue un estulto especial: con máximo grado de narcisismo, máximo grado de criminalidad y máximo grado de estulticia.

El puño del destino

Quiso, a pesar de todo, el dedo absurdo de la historia caer, como un rayo perdido, sobre el estulto. Y con eso el caricato interpretó el dedo como una señal del cielo en el que no creía. «El puño del destino golpeó sobre la mesa», escribió solemne. Probablemente, ni el rayo cayó sobre él, ni el rayo tenía más sentido que un simple azar. Pero en ese rayo vio él, confuso visionario como era, la llamada desesperada de la patria. Y allí estaba él, erguido, para convertirse en el salvador de Alemania, en donde ni siquiera había nacido. El hombrecillo satánico se creyó sus fantasías. En realidad fue el salto ciego y osado hacia adelante de un marginal que no tenía oficio ni beneficio y que no sabía qué hacer con su vida. «Él es… como un desgastado perro callejero que busca un dueño…», dijo de él un amigo cuando comenzaba su destino.

No es el hijo del pueblo, como se ha dicho tantas veces, sino más bien el «mammón» del ejército que, hambriento, chupa ansioso de sus pechos. La guerra y las infanterías fueron el único sitio en el que se sintió a gusto: le extasiaba la milicia. Disfrutó y fue feliz en la Gran Guerra, infierno en el que este desnortado encontró sentido a su vida. Hecho que no conviene olvidar. Así que años más tarde, allí estaba él, el «Führer» esperado, para transportar a los alemanes de la negra nube de la perdición al futuro resplandeciente del destino histórico.

Para lograrlo usó todo lo que tenía a mano: la eficacísima oratoria, el puré ideológico del nacionalismo y del antisemitismo, la sensación de orden que emanaba de los uniformes, las antorchas, los estandartes, la «militarización» de la vida civil, y toda esa parafernalia de sus huestes «pardas». Todo eso sirvió para transmitir la sensación de que había, por fin, un hombre fuerte. Y para redondearlo echó mano, masivamente, de la propaganda: la repetición continua de mentiras, la ideología única que, como un mantra tibetano, se repite y repite hasta que el cerebro es incapaz de percibir otra cosa. Y, cuando eso no fue suficiente, utilizó sin ningún miramiento la violencia, los atentados y las encarcelaciones. O la explotación del miedo: el bolchevismo, las violaciones de «nuestras» mujeres por los rusos, el judío que «bastardiza» la raza. Y después las invasiones, las anexiones y los pulsos. Al final, la jaula de hierro quedó cerrada definitivamente. El delirio era ya completo. Como dijo el 15 de marzo de 1939 a sus secretarias: «Chicas, ahora que me dé cada una un beso… Es el día más grande de mi vida. Pasaré a la historia como el alemán más grande de cuantos han existido». Comenzaba el acto final del delirio wagneriano.

Chaplin, en «El gran dictador», vio lo que era Hitler: un don nadie histriónico

Provenía este pigmeo de un ángulo bastante oscuro del Imperio Austro-Húngaro. Y de unas enigmáticas brumas familiares que nunca se han disipado del todo: bastardías extrañas, inscripciones registrales cambiadas entre hermanos decenios después de ocurridos los hechos causantes. El primer misterio de esas brumas familiares es el nombre, probablemente de origen checo. Que parece ser una variación tardía de otro anterior, pues durante decenios se habían llamado, o bien Hiedler, o bien Hüttler, hasta que el nombre se convirtió, casi de repente, en Hitler. La familia se llamó también durante algún tiempo Schicklgruber, el apellido de su abuela.

Entre las brumas han quedado para siempre las razones que haya habido para todo eso. Las brumas, especialmente las biográficas y familiares, le acompañaron siempre, y puso un empeño muy intenso en que no se disipasen. Nació este Hitler/Hiedler a las seis y media de la tarde de un Sábado Santo, extraña paradoja, en una taberna en Braunau an Inn; es decir, en la orilla del río Inn, en la misma frontera entre Austria y Baviera. Nació este hijo del delirio en abril de 1889, casi en el año de los tres káiseres. Fue corista y monaguillo, y allí descubrió la importancia de la liturgia y se le «apareció» la monumentalidad de la Iglesia.

Examen: insuficiente

Estaba Austria plácidamente quieta y creía que iba a seguir así eternamente hasta el día aquel en el que un osado profesor de una más que venerable institución –la Academia de las Artes de Viena– escribió del examinado Hiedler/Hitler, quien se sentía llamado a la bohemia artística, una concisa frase que tendría consecuencias infinitas: «Examen: insuficiente». Y con un punto de crueldad, añadía: «Sin objeción posible… no [tiene] capacitación para la pintura». El golpe fue demoledor. Desde esa hora giró Hitler hacia la profecía, y, sin darse cuenta, se convirtió en profeta de la destrucción resentida del mundo. Esa amarga herida de Hiedler/Hitler le costaría al mundo una explosión mucho más grave que la atómica.

El mundo estaba parado en un ayer de cartón piedra y en una dorada estabilidad que era pura apariencia. En realidad, predominaban, desde antes de la Gran Guerra, la fragilidad, las angustias históricas y las inseguridades más profundas. Reinaba el vacío, el agotamiento y un melancólico aire de hundimiento. A esa monumentalidad vacía la llamamos Imperio Austro-Húngaro. Se compone de muchas cosas; la principal, Viena, sus valses y su Ringstrasse, que tanto impresionó a Hitler desde la primera vez que la vio. En esa Viena hueca hallaría Hitler su vocación, y el resto del mundo su tragedia.

Allí encontró él, y lo sorbió ávidamente, el antisemitismo más crudo de Ritter von Schönerer; allí se encontró con el nacionalismo de un país que soñaba con el Reich alemán; allí sintió en propia carne la experiencia terrible de la más extrema marginación social y conoció los fondos más bajos –durmió, sin dinero, en parques y calles, vivió en asilos para indigentes–; y en Viena descubrió, con asombro y veneración, el arte que tiene el socialismo para manejar a las masas, conocimiento que aplicaría milimétricamente en el nazismo. Pero en Viena reencontró, sobre todo, a Wagner. Sus obras le abrieron los ojos a la importancia de las grandes escenificaciones y al rancio nacionalismo de los héroes nibelungos.

Uno de sus más importantes biógrafos, Heiden, titula un capítulo «Para persona, inservible»

Con todos esos elementos –o con sus detritus– cocinó un infumable comistrajo fanático y ario-heroico del que se alimentó durante decenios, y con todos esos ingredientes se lanzó al mundo para conquistarlo, o más bien para arrasarlo. A esa extraña e indigerible bazofia la llamó él mismo, en «Mein Kampf», su «fundamento granítico». De fundamento tenía poco, y de granítico nada, era más bien basura putrefacta y restos «filosóficos» descompuestos. Sólo faltaba un elemento para que fuera operativo: el resentimiento. También se lo regalaría Viena.

De esa Viena huyó profundamente herido al verse despreciado por aquel ambiente altamente clasista. Necesitaba un escenario y la historia le iba a regalar el más grande: el Reich alemán hundido en 1918. De Viena saltó el dolido caricato a una mísera y pequeña habitación en «la Atenas del Isar», es decir, en Múnich, ciudad más abierta y bohemia, y de la hermosa capital bávara saltaría al mundo. Como él mismo formuló: «Tenía que irme al gran Reich, al país de mis sueños y de mis deseos». A su Camelot. Claro que ese nuevo Reich iba a convertirse, gracias a esta serpiente satánica, reproducción de la del Apocalipsis, no precisamente en Camelot sino en el Pandemonio, o sea, en el Palacio de Satán en medio del infierno.

LUIS MEANA - ABC_Cultural - 04/12/2015 a las 19:22:12h. - Act. a las 12:50:03h.
Guardado en: Cultura , ABC Cultural - Temas: Alemania , Adolf Hitler , Libros , Biografías , ABC Cultural , Nazismo

Source: ABC (España)

Monday, December 7, 2015

Feliz cumpleaños, Adolf

El 19 de abril de 1942 Wilhelm Furtwängler dirige la «Novena» de Beethoven por el cumpleaños de Hitler. Una versión que pone al descubierto la ambigua relación entre arte y política

Furtwängler en Viena en 1938
Al final de la Segunda Guerra Mundial, el trago más amargo para Wilhelm Furtwängler fue, posiblemente, explicar lo que ocurrió el 19 de abril de 1942. Furtwängler dirigía entonces la «Novena» de Beethoven, pero las circunstancias no eran las de un concierto normal. La actuación del célebre director y de la Filarmónica de Berlín era la guinda de las celebraciones del 53º cumpleaños de Hitler. Un «bonito» regalo organizado y prologado por Goebbels. Cuentan algunos que Furtwängler intentó de todas las maneras escurrir el bulto pero no pudo negarse ante la insistencia del ministro de Propaganda. Fuera cierto o no, aquel día Furtwängler estaba al pie del cañón y esto pesó como una losa sobre su carrera musical al final del conflicto bélico.

No tan desinteresado

Furtwängler era el director preferido de Hitler, cuya melomanía era notoria. Mucho se ha debatido sobre la relación entre director y dictador, así como sobre la verdadera naturaleza de su vinculación con el nazismo. Años más tarde, Furtwängler se defendió afirmando que su único objetivo había sido el de servir a los intereses de la música alemana y permanecer junto a su pueblo en los momentos duros. En su descargo contaba con atenuantes como la defensa pública de la música de Hindemith, hostigada por el nazismo, o la negativa a hacer el saludo nazi, pero sus acciones nunca fueron todo lo desinteresadas que él pretendía. Sabido es, por ejemplo, que Furtwängler aprovechó su conexión privilegiada con las altas esferas del régimen para torpedear el astro ascendente de Herbert von Karajan (quien, dicho sea de paso, tenía carnet del partido nazi).

El sello Archipel publicó en 2004 la grabación de esta «Novena»; aún más conocida es la versión realizada por los mismos intérpretes en marzo de 1942 y que constituye una suerte de ensayo general. Furtwängler tiene varias interpretaciones históricas de la «Novena», como la de Bayreuth (1951) y la de Lucerna (1954), pero ninguna es comparable con la de 1942. Hay pocos casos en la Historia de la Música de interpretaciones capaces de poner auténticamente los pelos de punta al oyente. Este es uno de ellos.

Nunca ha sonado ni ha vuelto a sonar la «Novena» de Beethoven tan brutal y tan violenta, como si la ferocidad del clima bélico se hubiese apoderado por completo de la partitura. Las percusiones tienen un impacto salvaje, y la orquesta sigue sin desfallecimiento al director en sus continuas fluctuaciones de tiempos. Más que un edificio grandioso, esta «Novena» parece un campo de batalla donde reinan los humos de la devastación. Sólo el movimiento lento, que Furtwängler convierte en lentísimo, brinda un momento de descanso o, mejor dicho, de elegía. ¿Será la recogida de los cadáveres?

Carácter apocalíptico

Hay quien, a posteriori, ha pretendido leer esta versión como un acto de acusación encubierta contra la barbarie nazi. Me parece una interpretación subjetiva y discutible tanto como la de quienes, en su día, vieron en ella una exaltación de la fuerza y del poderío germánico. En marzo de 1942 eran todavía pocos los que en Alemania dudaban del desenlace victorioso del conflicto.

Si algo define esta «Novena» es, en realidad, su carácter apocalíptico. Un apocalipsis al estilo wagneriano, donde incluso una posible victoria se llevaría por delante a hombres y a dioses. Al final de la sinfonía no hay exaltación. En los compases conclusivos se oye cómo Furtwängler lanza la orquesta a una carrera vertiginosa que es una carrera hacia el abismo. Y todos le siguen.

Lo que aquí presenciamos es, tal vez, un rito purificatorio de alcance colectivo similar al de la antigua tragedia griega, donde la «catástrofe» es la antesala indispensable de la catarsis. Si logramos abstraernos de las circunstancias en las que esta versión tuvo lugar, no podemos no quedarnos atónitos ante una de las recreaciones musicales más impactantes de siempre.

STEFANO RUSSOMANNO - @ABC_Cultural - 04/12/2015 a las 17:46:12h. - Act. a las 13:16:48h.
Guardado en: Cultura , ABC Cultural - Temas: Adolf Hitler , Música Clásica , ABC Cultural

Source: ABC (España)

Sunday, December 6, 2015

How a new edition of 'Mein Kampf' hopes to debunk Hitler's lies

A mesh of "half-truth and outright lie" in Adolph Hitler's memoir-manifesto, "Mein Kampf," prompted scholars to spend three years completing a new edition chock-full of fact-check annotations, according to The New York Times.

That's to "defang any propagandistic effect while revealing Nazism," Alison Smale wrote for The Times. The work's copyright expires Dec. 31, which made the academics' efforts possible.

The Times noted why the release of the edition, which includes 2,000 pages and 3,500 academic annotations, wasn't possible until now.

"Not since 1945, when the Allies banned the dubious work and awarded the rights to the state of Bavaria, has Hitler's manifesto, 'Mein Kampf,' been officially published in German," The Times reported. "Bavaria had refused to release it. But under German law, its copyright expires Dec. 31, the 70th year after the author's death."

This time around, the work will "dismantle the core doctrines" Hitler deployed to justify the Holocaust, Marie Solis wrote for Mic.

The bottom line: "Scholars want to disrupt a narrative of hate," according to Mic.

Still, some argue in regards to whether reprinting such a controversial text is a good idea.

Svati Kirsten Narula wrote for Quartz many scholars and librarians view "Mein Kampf" — translated in English to "My Struggle" — as a "toxic and dangerous text."

And German authorities refused to allow reprintings of the book in fear it would incite hatred, according to BBC News. Because of that, officials indicated they'll limit the public's access to the new "Mein Kampf" edition "amid fears that this could stir neo-Nazi sentiment."

However, Caroline Mortimer wrote for The Independent that the team of academics said a scholarly version to refute Hitler's lies is an appropriate way to reprint the book.

Christian Hartmann, lead of the team, told David Charter for The Times they created a "very reader-friendly edition."

"We firmly connect Hitler's text with our comments, so that both are always on the same double page. I could describe it in martial terms as a battle of annihilation — we are encircling Hitler with our annotations," Hartmann said, according to The Times. "Our principal was that there should be no page with Hitler's text without critical annotations. Hitler is being interrupted, he is being criticised, he is being refuted if necessary."

According to The Independent, many Jewish leaders remain opposed to the reprint.

"I am absolutely against the publication of 'Mein Kampf,' even with annotations," The Independent quoted Levi Salomon, spokesman for the Jewish Forum for Democracy and Against Anti-Semitism, as saying. "Can you annotate the Devil? Can you annotate a person like Hitler? This book is outside of human logic."

Mic reported the edition will cost $63 and hits bookstore shelves in January.

Payton Davis is the Deseret News National intern. Send him an email at and follow him on Twitter, @Davis_DNN.

Source: Deseret News National

Monday, November 30, 2015

Un gran negocio llamado Franquismo

Último de los artículos publicados en el dossier del periódico Diagonal sobre el 40 aniversario de la muerte de Franco

El 21 de agosto de 1942 Franco dijo lo siguiente en un discurso en Lugo: “Nuestra Cruzada es la única lucha en la uqe lo ricos que fueron a la guerra salieron más ricos.”. Cierto es cuando comprobamos como grandes familias de este país (los Gómez-Acebo, Aguirre Gonzalo, Banús, Fierro, Oriol y Urquijo, etc.) medraron a la sombra del dictador. Pero no solo se benefició a esas familias. El propio Franco hizo su fortuna a partir del golpe de Estado contra la República. Como ha mostrado el historiador Ángel Viñas, Franco comenzó la Guerra con el sueldo congelado y la acabó con 32 millones de pesetas de la época (el equivalente actual a 388 millones de euros). Para Viñas esta fuente de riqueza podría venir por la donación de café que Gentulio Vargas (dictador brasileño) dio a Franco y éste se enriqueció personalmente en su venta.

Y es que el entramado de corrupteles y enriquecimientos del franquismo parte desde su origen. El golpe de Estado de julio de 1936 no habría sido posible sin la ayuda financiera que el baquero Juan March brindó a Franco. La compra de armamento, los negocios con nazis y fascistas, tuvieron a March como un protagonista. A cambio consiguió de Franco el monopolio bancario y financiero. La fortuna de Juan March creció durante el franquismo, con la fundación de empresas que medraron a la sombra del régimen y que aun existen. Los March siguen presentes en consejos de administración de empresas importante de España (ACS, Acerinox, Prosegur, etc.). March fundó en 1951 FECSA (Fuerzas Eléctricas de Cataluña), que se hizo con el monopolio de la producción eléctrica catalana. Sobrevivió al franquismo y fue una de las impulsoras de la central nuclear de Ascó hasta su absorción por parte de Endesa. Una empresa que reportó enormes beneficios a los March.

Junto a estos incrementos de riqueza hay que analizar como se realizaron algunas obras públicas del franquismo. Las imágenes de Franco inaugurando pantanos, pueblos reconstruidos, canales de riego o el faraónico Valle de los Caídos, tiene detras una triste historia. De una parte de concesiones de empresas adictas al régimen. De otra la utilización de mano de obra esclava de presos políticos.

Investigado por historiadores como José Luis Gutiérrez Molina, el Canal del Guadalquivir utilizó mano de obra esclava. Hasta 2000 presos políticos trabajaron en estas obras bajo el auspicio del llamado Patronato de Redención de Penas por el Trabajo, utilizado para aminorar las condenas. Mano de obra expuesta a un peligro vital, sin ningún tipo de garantía y que reportó al Estado enormes beneficios. Alrededor del Canal se instalaron autenticos campos de concentración, nada envidiable a la Alemania nazi. La Dirección General de Regiones Devastadas y Reparaciones también se benefició de esa mano de obra esclava.

Pero el monumento por excelencia que encarnó la utilización de presos políticos y que no solo benefició al Estado sino a empresas privadas, fue la construcción del Valle de los Caídos. Franco eligió el emplazamiento de Cuelgamuros para realizar una faraónica construcción donde hacer su propia tumba. La concesión de la construcción del Valle de los Caídos recayó sobre las siguientes empresas: San Román, filial de Agromán, Estudios y Construcciones Molán y Banús. Posteriormente se uniría Huarte y Cía.

Todas estas empresas utilizaron mano de obra esclava. Presos republicanos. El periodista Rafael Torres cifra en 20000 los presos republicanos que participaron en la construcción del Valle de los Caídos. Para el también periodista Fernando Olmeda en el Valle trabajaron 141 batallones de presos. Isaías Lafuente dio un paso más y cuantificó los beneficios del franquismo por la utilización de esa mano de obra: 130.000 millones de pesetas (unos 780 millones de euros). Esa mano de obra esclava fue la base del beneficio económico de las empresas. Si un trabajador les costaba 10,50, el preso político solo recibía 50 céntimos, tal como ha explicado en más de una ocasión Nicolás Sánchez-Albornoz, que estuvo preso en el Valle de los Caídos en 1947 y que huyó de España.

Los grandes empresarios de esta construcción fundaron incluso entidades bancarias posteriores como el Banco Guipuzcoano de José María Aguirre Gonzalo, uno de los fundadores de Agromán. También José Banús que se benefició de distintas concesiones del régimen en construcciones como Puerto Banús. Allí todavía sus descendientes explotan el beneficio del turismo de alto standing (entre ellos la familia real saudí).

Muchas de estas empresas siguen existiendo hoy en día. Los beneficios que consiguieron en su momento beneficiándose de mano de obra esclava sigue cotizando en el IBEX-35. Durante el franquismo se inaugura las puertas giratorias. Ministros de Franco, que por las concesiones que hacían a determinas empresas, acababan sentados en los Consejo de Administración de esas mismas empresas. Algunos de esos ministros y altos cargos franquistas consiguieron también importantes puesto en la banca española.

En 1993, el periodista Jesús Hermida entrevistaba a la plana mayor del PP. Un PP pujante que apuntaba a la Moncloa. En ese programa televisivo se sacó la conclusión que dicho partido era una derecha moderna, sin vínculos con el franquismo. Allí se sentó José María Aznar, Mariano Rajoy, Rodrigo Rato, Javier Arenas, etc. Pero a pesar de ese intento de desvinculación del franquismo, lo cierto es que muchos de esos políticos habían crecido al calor del régimen y sus familias se beneficiaron las concesiones del mismo. Ramón Rato, padre de Rodrigo Rato, había fundado con Millán Astray y Dionisio Ridriejo, Radio Nacional de España, así como propietario del Banco del Norte y el Banco Murciano. Y el propio Aznar era nieto de Manuel Aznar, uno de los periodistas de cabecera del régimen franquista y que también formó parte del Banco Urquijo.

A todo esto habría que sumar los beneficios que la propia familia del dictador tuvo y tiene. Propiedad adquiridas durante la dictadura que hoy siguen reportando beneficio, ya sea por su explotación o su venta, a los descendientes del dictador.

El franquismo no solo fue una maquinaria represiva sino también una gran empresa y un negocio que la actualidad sigue reportando beneficios.

Source: Fraternidad Universal (blog)