Welcome to European Tribune. It's gone a bit quiet around here these days, but it's still going.
"But, a criticism of such is no support for rootless2 when s/he seems to deny any possible elements of 'Germanness' contemporary or newer than the Nazis and the Holocaust -- and when he claims a passive denial of those."

I did that? All I said was that the Germans killed off the Jews and now find themselves, ironically, living with another middle eastern descent minority. And then, in response to you I rejected the idea that it is impermissible to say "the Germans" when, according to you, I needed to use "the Nazis". I find that wording evasive as well as historically inaccurate. And, as I pointed out, wording of the form I used is standard English usage, everyone knows what it means. As I said, someone who insists that we say "The US Army fired white phosphorous" in place of "The Americans fired white phosphorous" is demanding less accuracy, not more.

I'm not willing to have other people insist that I use euphemisms. The Germans killed the Jews - in fact, many of the people who killed the German Jews or cooperated in their slaughter were not members of the Nazi party and, as it is well known, many members of the Nazi legal and academic system transitioned seamlessly to the post-war state. This is something every German knows and, in fact, was a subtext of the Baader-Meinhof period rebellion. I find efforts to pretend otherwise as intellectually acceptable as the constant whining by white American racists that "slavery ended 100 years ago".

by rootless2 on Sat Jun 27th, 2009 at 09:19:29 AM EST
[ Parent ]
Your argument is silly.

If it were true, why did the Germans stop killing the jews? Why did Germans not start killing the jews much earlier? Why is that when you meet someone from Germany now, the chances of them showing any enthusiasm for killing jews are vanishingly small?

Since Germans are still German, and presumably some even take some pride in being German, it's obviously possible to be German without - inexplicably - feeling any need to go on a jew-killing rampage.

On the other hand, if you find yourself some Nazis, or their fascist equivalents in other countries. I suspect they'll be much more enthusiastic about jew killing.

Fascism is a process and a social pathology, not a nationality. It's a pathology which doesn't just try to farm hatred for out-groups for political power, but also ends in self-destruction for the fascist order.

The Nazis didn't just kill the jews, they also killed their own vision of Germany, and millions of Germans with it. That's what fascists and authoritarians do. They don't just legitimise the murder of out-groups - given enough time and enough opportunity they'll lead any country or group into collective suicide.

by ThatBritGuy (thatbritguy (at) googlemail.com) on Sat Jun 27th, 2009 at 11:45:38 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I'm sorry, but I agree with most of what you said and so am mystified about why you are taking me to task about it.

In standard English usage, if we are speaking of Cromwell and I say "The English massacred the Irish" there is no connotation that all English people took part in it or approved or that Cromwell's policies in Ireland are enthusiastically endorsed by today's English people. If you were to object and insist that I say "The New Army massacred the Irish, the Levelers and cavaliers had nothing to do with it", you'd be asking me to import an excuse into a simple statement of fact.

by rootless2 on Sat Jun 27th, 2009 at 02:24:03 PM EST
[ Parent ]
I did that?

In fact you did more than that: you effectively accused all Europeans of Holocaust denial. That's the meaning of what you wrote.

You wrote that we Europeans "live in the world that they made", to counter my argument that we live in a world that was remade after them, in reaction to them. That's what I term a demial of post-war history.

I find that wording evasive as well as historically inaccurate.

Why? What you said qualified all Germans then (that's 70 million people) an now (because of the lack of temporal distinction) as killers. (Not merely as part responsible by association or benefit, not merely as "bearing the mark of cain" - heh, whatever that means -, but killers.) The actual killers with German citizenship were a fraction of that, hardly historically precise. To boot, you are leaving out the non-German helpers in killing of the Nazi regime across Europe, be it the SS legions from the Baltic states, Vichy France, or the state machinery of the Horthy regime here in Hungary and the succeeding Arrowcrossers. Even less historically precise.

standard English usage, everyone knows what it means

...is no argument for anything. (It's the logical fallacy called "Argumentum ad populum".)

As I said, someone who insists that we say "The US Army fired white phosphorous" in place of "The Americans fired white phosphorous" is demanding less accuracy, not more.

No. You said "Republicans", not "US Army"; and if you said the above, I find it very ridiculous. One can blame "Americans" for failing to not elect/elect off the imperial regime and/or not block it with civic resistance, but "The Americans fired white phosphorous" has nothing to do with precision. At this point, I must ask: do you approve of the concept of collective guilt?

insist that I use euphemisms

That you consider these euphemisms only proves that you are incapable of seeing distinctions.

as it is well known, many members of the Nazi legal and academic system transitioned seamlessly to the post-war state

Yep. The '68 movement grew in large part on a movement from the fifties to expose and push these people from positions of power.

the Baader-Meinhof period rebellion

What is the "Baader-Meinhof period"? Is that how you call 1968 and what followed, or the era of the first generation of the Red Army Faction, or the time until the suicides in prison, or the seventies?...

It is true that the RAF grew from the 1968 movement, and that they used to accuse those in power of being crypto-Nazis (even if they weren't), it is not true however that the Nazi holdovers remained in power without disturbance.

I find efforts to pretend otherwise

Again with the insinuations. What exactly is your point here? Is it that modern Germany is a continuation of the Third Reich, with cosmetic changes?

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.

by DoDo on Sat Jun 27th, 2009 at 11:57:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I cannot help if you take offense at plain language. As I noted, "Germans killed the Jews" is standard English usage that carries no further connotation than an acknowledged historical fact. The claim that I must say "Nazis killed the Jews" is as ridiculous as the simplistic conclusions you draw. In history, the situation of Jews in Germany has varied over time and is not invariant. I could as well have said that the increasing influence of Indian/Pakistani culture in the UK is ironic given that the British imposed racist system of colonization on India. I suppose you would object that it was the East India Company and not the British as a whole or that my observation of the irony was tantamount to saying that all English people want to reimpose colonial rule on India.

In response to your original complaint, I have made the further argument that the denial of history is a commonplace in Europe and I think a dangerous one.

by rootless2 on Sat Jun 27th, 2009 at 01:16:49 PM EST
[ Parent ]
So you are right because you say so. That's the end of the debate, then.

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Jun 27th, 2009 at 01:30:04 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Look, I'm right because empirically, the words I used are correct and standard usage. If you want to read into them an indictment of all Germans past and present, I cannot stop you, but that's not what it means.
by rootless2 on Sat Jun 27th, 2009 at 01:33:25 PM EST
[ Parent ]
When posters here (rarely) say "Jews kill Palestinians", there is an immediate reaction from members (editorial or not, and I will be very prompt to be among them) to refuse that generalisation to all Jews from the behaviour of Israel.

Are we right or wrong?

by afew (afew(a in a circle)eurotrib_dot_com) on Sun Jun 28th, 2009 at 08:54:56 AM EST
[ Parent ]
But "Israelis killed Palestinians" is accurate. Look, the basic issue is whether "The Germans killed the Jews" is an acceptable statement - and I continue to note that it is common usage acceptable english and it neither requires a disclaimer nor carries the implication that all Germans are currently anti-semitic murderers.
by rootless2 on Sun Jun 28th, 2009 at 11:05:32 AM EST
[ Parent ]
I continue to note that it is common usage

I think DoDo's point is that "common usage" is perhaps not the best language, and perhaps not even adequate language, for discussing these issues.

The fact is that what we're experiencing right now is a top-down disaster. -Paul Krugman

by dvx (dvx.clt št gmail dotcom) on Sun Jun 28th, 2009 at 12:59:45 PM EST
[ Parent ]
And, to me, Dodo's objection is a demand for an excuse to be inserted in the language. The holocaust is part of German history, not part of some untethered Nazi history that exists on its own.

Of course, I do not believe, nor have I said or implied that Germany today is exactly the same as it was in 1940 or that most Germans are actively anti-semitic or that all Germans supported the Nazis. But I do not believe and will not say that "the Nazis" were some alien force from outer space - they came out of and reflected something in German culture and history.

We have the same demands here in the USA, from people who want to insist that "slavery was a long time ago" and nobody today is guilty - and therefore, apparently, nobody can speak about "the South" and black slavery. A generalization always involves some inaccuracy, but denying the essential truth of a generalization is a demand for obscurity.

by rootless2 on Sun Jun 28th, 2009 at 01:15:22 PM EST
[ Parent ]
On second thought, two clarfications.

  1. Of course not all German citizens who participated in or helped the extermination of Jews were NSDAP members. Then again, there is a loose usage of "Nazis" that encompasses all who agreed, not just card-carrying members; and including 60 million to cover an extra half million (while missing out on non-Germans) is hardly more precise or moraslly justified.

  2. At the root of the difference between my take on post-war history, and your misreading of it, seems to be that you see a claim of a momentary changeover, where I am speaking about a process.

And yet again back to the original point in yet another formulation: the fact that today's Germany is home to a large religious minority of post-war immigrants, almost half of whom are naturalised -- as well as the120,000 Jews Detlef reminded us , most of them post-1989 immigrants --, is in the context of history a confirmation of de-Nazification, so irony and bitter laughs are out of place. (Pissing on Hitler's figurative grave is more in place.)

*Lunatic*, n.
One whose delusions are out of fashion.
by DoDo on Sat Jun 27th, 2009 at 01:27:59 PM EST
[ Parent ]
Perhaps the issue is simply that you are making some peculiar use of "irony". I was lucky enough to attend a speech given during the primary elections by Obama at the Texas state capitol. A huge multi-racial crowd gathered to cheer Obama - and the stage obscured a statue placed on the front of the capitol building in the early 1900s that has on it the legend "in memory of the Confederate soldiers who died to protect the rights of states given in the constitution." That is, in my mind, an enormous irony although a very pleasant one.

The bitterness of the irony in Germany is maybe not apparent to you, but to me, when I travel in germany and see muslim women in headscarves, I think of photographs of my great grandmother in her headscarf in her village in Lithuania before the Germans arrived with guns and shovels. When I pass the empty synagogue in Koln, I think of the people who worshipped there for many generations. When I talk to Turkish Germans and find them "more german than the germans" it reminds me of the reputation of German Jews among the ostjuden. And yes, it's a bitter irony. And the fact that the Nazis would have found it a defeat doesn't lessen the irony or the bitterness.

by rootless2 on Sat Jun 27th, 2009 at 01:45:29 PM EST
[ Parent ]


Top Diaries

Occasional Series