Tag Archives: nazi germany

“On The Brink Of A Pit”, by David Holbrook, Analysis

In “On The Brink Of A pit”, David Holbrook describes taking his daughter, Kate to a party being held to celebrate the 12th birthday of her Jewish friend, Melanie.

The friendship between the 2 children is very close:

“I took our child to her party, carrying a book-token
Covered in child-gay seals, because they love one another”.

And:
“Melanie assured me with her guileless big blue eyes
Her father would bring Kate home, fondly drew her into the house”.

Here we have a beautiful picture of 2 children, one Jewish and the other non-Jewish who love one another and are unconcerned with racial or religious differences.

This beautiful portrait is enhanced as the street is full of birdsong and:

“Warm sun honeyed the suburban gardens”.

Yet the line:

“handsome women
tapped over a few skeleton leaves on the muddy pavements”, signifies that all is far from being right. “skeleton” speaks of death. The leaves are as dead as the Jews who perished in Nazi Germany’s “Final Solution”, under which approximately 6 million Jews where murdered in gas chambers and by other means.

Holbrook wants “a thousand lives to worship what Melanie was”, and the thought of the horrors of the mass extermination of Jews causes him to openly weep in the street
“There being as much hate in garden cities as at Majdenek”.

This is a deeply shocking poem which never fails to move me. It is as relevant today as when it was written. In its mildest forms I have heard people say, “the Jews control the media”, or “Jews are mean”. Such words are often spoken by those who would be genuinely horrified if they thought that by speaking them they could be contributing to antisemitism, and that they could, indirectly cause a resurgence of virulent Jew hatred. Yet such words do feed the monster of hatred towards Jews, and I hear behind the words spoken in pubs or over dinner tables the crunch of jackboots in concentration camps.

Other expressions of antisemitism are more direct, ranging from the desecration of Jewish graves to the murder of Jewish people.

It is sometimes said, by ignorant people that poetry doesn’t matter. Holbrook’s poem prooves them wrong.

(“On The Brink Of A Pit”, can be found in “The Golden Treasury of The Best Songs And Lyrical Poems In The English Language”, selected and arranged by Francis Turner Palgrave. Updated by John Press. Sixth Edition”. page 571).

Publisher Sued By Goebbel’s Family Over Diaries

The descendents of Joseph Goebbels are suing the publishers of a book about the notorious Nazi propaganda chief due to them not having obtained permission to quote from his diaries. The publishers argue it would be unethical to pay compensation to the descendants of a war criminal and are contesting the case which is due to be heard in Germany on 23 April. You can find the details here (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3044620/Family-Hitler-s-propaganda-chief-Joseph-Goebbels-sue-publisher-royalties-biography-draws-diary.html).

North Korea is Murdering People With Disabilities North Korean Defector Says

On 30 November I published a post entitled “Lets Talk About Eugenics”, (http://newauthoronline.com/2014/11/30/lets-talk-about-eugenics/). In that piece I wrote about how eugenics has been embraced by people with divergent political views, including leading socialists, conservatives, liberals and, in the most extreme manifestation of eugenic measures Nazi Germany.

Eugenics lead, in it’s most virulent form to the Action T-4 Programme (http://www.jewishvirtuallibrary.org/jsource/Holocaust/t4.html) under which the Third Reich sterilised and murdered thousands of disabled people. One would hope that the attitudes which lead to Action T-4 perished with the defeat of Hitler’s Germany. However according to defectors from North Korea the killing of people with disabilities continues apace, (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2869792/Dwarfs-castrated-babies-left-suffer-horrific-deaths-Defector-claims-North-Korea-purging-disabled-population-humiliate-regime.html), with the disabled being used as guinea pigs in medical experiments and being forceably removed from their parents. Words such as horrific can not do justice to the barbarity of what the North Korean regime is inflicting on people with disabilities and the populace in general.

Strange Dream

“They will put the people in cells. Put them to sleep and suck out their brains. They will start with the elderly and disabled then move on to the rest.

The people will feel a sense of freedom when they are asleep but, on waking will have buttons where they once had eyes to operate them. They will feel only a dull headache”.

 

This was, so far as I am able to remember it the dream from which I awoke some 10 minutes ago. I was listening to a narrator expounding his conspiracy theory? Regarding a take-over of the world by an unnamed group, aliens perhaps?

I don’t believe in conspiracy theories (they have caused much suffering. Witness, for example the Nazi’s mad view that Jews are intent on taking over the globe through the manipulation of the financial markets, which lead the Third Reich to murder at least 6 million innocent people of Jewish origin). I remember, in my dream inwardly questioning why the unnamed entity would want to take over the world and wondering whether I was listening to the ravings of a lunatic.

As pointed out above I do not believe in conspiracies. Given this fact I am at a loss to explain my dream. On going to sleep I have no recollection of pondering on the atrocities of the Hitler regime (“they will start with the disabled and elderly first”) has echoes of the Action T-4 Programme under which people with disabilities where sterilised and/or murdered, the Programme being the precursor to the mass killing, in gas chambers of Jews and other groups, including gypsies deemed undesirable by the regime).

In conclusion I do not know why I dreamed thus. However my dreaming was so vivid that I wished to record it before it vanished in the cold light of day.

Book Review: Eugenics And Other Evils By G K Chesterton

I recently read Eugenics And Other Evils by G K Chesterton, http://www.amazon.co.uk/gp/product/B0082XCCNK?ie=UTF8&ref_=oce_digital_UK. Chesterton wrote at a time when eugenics was gaining ground. Politicians ranging from Will Crooks on the left (Crooks was a member of the British Labour Party) and Winston Churchill (at one time a Liberal but later a Conservative) advocated eugenic measures while intellectuals such as the Webbs joined in championing such ideas.

In essence Chesterton argues that old-style capitalists/individualists such as Cobden and Bright had believed that the capitalist system would in time uplift the condition of the poor through increased prosperity. As time went on it became apparent that the condition of the mass of the population was not improving. The wealthy members of society became alarmed by what they saw as the deteriation in the quality of the population and the stubborn problem of pauperism so became receptive to the arguments of the advocates of eugenics. Likewise many on the left embraced eugenic measures out of a belief that social planning of which eugenics should form an integral part could improve the condition of the working classes.

While Chesterton rejected capitalism as it existed at the time of writing he was no fan of socialism either. He saw both systems as seeking to control people. In his view capitalism denyed the poor property by paying them insufficient wages thereby preventing the accumulation of property. Socialism on the other hand saw property as the cause of social evils and actively saught to limit or prevent it’s accumulation. Chesterton advocates a middle course in which property is widely distributed thereby enhancing the independence of the population and uplifting the condition of the poor. Widely distributed property rather than eugenic measures are, in Chesterton’s view the answer to the widespread pauperism which he condemns in Eugenics and other Evils.

So what where the eugenic measures which Chesterton attacks?

In 1912 the British Parliament passed a bill allowing for the separation of “the feeble minded” from the rest of the population. The term feeble minded was not well defined and led to the confinement in institutions of everyone from the genuinely mentally ill to those with minor learning difficulties and unmarried mothers. Pauperism was seen by many eugenicists as a disease the cure for which was to prevent so far as was possible the breeding of those afflicted by it.

In the UK there was no mass sterilisation programme despite it’s advocacy by many eugenicists. However in the United States organisations such as the Eugenics Records Office under the leadership of Charles Davenport and Harry Laughlin played a leading role in persuading American states to introduce sterilisation programmes under which those with various forms of disabilities and unmarried mothers (among others) where sterilised. Nazi eugenicists modelled the German eugenics law on the law drawn up by Laughlin although in Germany, unlike America sterilisation lead on to mass killing of disabled people under the Action T4 Programme.

After World War II eugenics fell out of fashion as a consequence of the atrocities committed under the Nazis but also due to advances in science which showed flaws in eugenics (E.G. few now believe that the poor are poor due to genetic defects).

Chesterton wrote Eugenics and other Evils in 1922. Given the abuses committed in the name of eugenics his book was remarkably prescient.

The Long Shadow of the Past

On 16 July I published a story entitled “An Act of Mercy” (http://newauthoronline.com/2013/07/16/an-act-of-mercy/). In “An Act of Mercy” the government has introduced a eugenics programme under which those with mental and physical disabilities are eliminated as in the opinion of the authorities they are unproductive and place an unacceptable burden on society.

The view of disabled people as “useless eaters” and “life unworthy of life” lead to the forced sterilisation and (later) murder of many mentally and physically disabled people under the so-called Action T4 Programme (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Action_T4), however the atrocities of the Third Reich where forshadowed in other countries long before Hitler became Chancellor of Germany. In the United Kingdom legislation was introduced in 1912 aimed at segregating the “feeble minded” from other “healthy” members of the community. Feble minded could mean anyone a doctor deemed to fall into that category. Thus unmarried mothers became lumped together with people with mild learning disabilities and where segregated from their fellow citizens.

Support for eugenics was not a matter of party politics. The Webbs (both prominent members of the socialist Fabian Society) where strong supporters as was Winston Churchill (in 1912 a Liberal but later a Conservative politician).

In both the USA and the UK eugenics societies played a leading role in arguing for eugenic measures. In the USA legislation went further than the measures introduced in the UK with many sterilisations of the “unfit” being carried out on individuals against their will. Nazi Germany modelled it’s sterilisation law on US legislation and at the Nuremberg trials of Nazi war criminals accused of forceably sterilising the disabled the accused pointed to what had been happening in the USA in their defence.

Some supporters of eugenics where no doubt genuinely horrified at the use to which their theories had been put by Nazi doctors and the term eugenics fell out of favour largely as a consequence of the abuses perpetrated by the Third Reich. However some have argued that proponents of eugenics such as Leonard Darwin (the son of Charles Darwin) helped to create the atmosphere in which atrocities could be commited. The leading American eugenicist Charles Davenport openly expressed his admiration for the German’s eugenics programme (see http://www.eugenicsarchive.org/html/eugenics/static/themes/25.html).

Eugenics is a fascinating subject and I will write more on it in future.

Oops I Shouldn’t Have Said That!

As a child I lost my vision and am now registered blind. This was as a consequence of a blood clot on the brain. Being disabled I was shocked and angered to read about Colin Brewer, a councillor on Cornwall County Council who stated that “disabled children should be put down” (http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2285773/Collin-Brewer-resigns-saying-Disabled-children-cost-down.html?ITO=1490&ns_mchannel=rss&ns_campaign=1490). Mr Brewer made the remarks to a representative of a charity for disabled children back in 2011. The lady to whom the remarks where addressed naturally complained to the Council and over 18 months later received an apology from Mr Brewer apologising for his remarks and stating that the remarks where not, in fact his views. His explanation (excuse) is that he had just come out of a heated council meeting during which the significant costs of supporting children with disabilities had been discussed and he was “still hot under the collar” following the discussions. Seeing the charity workker he gave vent to his anger which he now says was wrong. Not surprisingly Mr Brewer has now resigned although he is, apparently considering standing in May’s local elections. Good luck Mr Brewer, you will need it as the vast majority of decent ordinary people will, I’m sure vote for candidates other than yourself!

We all at times get angry and say things which we don’t mean and later bitterly regret having said, however the remarks of Mr Brewer are not in this category. In Nazi Germany disabled people (both children and adults) where exterminated by the authorities on the direct order of Adolf Hitler. The so-called T-4 Programme was carried out in secret, however news of it’s existence leaked out and (not surprisingly) even in Nazi Germany public revulsion was voiced by brave churchmen and other members of the community which lead to the Programme’s official suspension but it’s continued operation at an unofficial level. The Programme saw experimentation with the gassing of people with disabilities, a method later utilised by the Nazis in the Final Solution (the attempted extermination of European Jewery).

Mr Brewer’s belief that children who are disabled should be “put down” was put into horrific practice in Nazi Germany and this is why it is right that he has resigned. One does (as I said above) say things which are not meant during the heat of the moment, however there are certain remarks which no civilised person would make as it would never enter into their head to make them. Murdering disabled children falls into this category!

Photographs of life in Nazi Germany

The Daily Mail for 29 November has an article showing life in Nazi Germany in 1937 through the lense of the camera. The photographs show happy Germans and where taken by a Norwegian photographer who was a member of the National Socialist German Workers Party (Nazi Party). I was struck by the fact that the article makes no reference to the terrible cruelties which Hitler’s Germany was already inflicting on the Jews and other groups at that time (although the “Final Solution” which entailed the slaughter of approximately 6 million Jewish people didn’t start until World War II was underway, Jews where already being systematically discriminated against being banned from marrying non-Jews and being gradually deprived of other rights).

For the article please visit http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-2240351/Sunshine-swastikas-Rare-colour-pictures-1930s-Berlin-carefree-life-Hitler-s-capital-war-reduced-rubble.html