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Exile and the prophetic: Normalizing the Hitler Youth

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This post is part 43 of Marc H. Ellis’s “Exile and the Prophetic” feature for Mondoweiss. To read the entire series visit the archive page.

Last night the program had a barbeque and a dance.  I stayed for both, though the music was so contemporary it didn’t have words or a danceable beat – at least for my taste.  The students like to observe the fact that their professor dances, a change in their perception of the talking head, so I attend dances in the programs where I teach.  Once I start dancing, it’s fun for everyone.  So why not collapse the age/thought divide for a night.  We return to sanity the following day. All is well.

During the barbeque a bombshell. One of the students in the larger group approached me with a rumor.  Had I heard that the buildings we use for the program had been a Hitler Youth camp during the war?  I was shaken by this and asked one of my Austrian students to check it out.  His immediate “so what” response interests me.  Obviously Austria was Nazified during the late 1930s and some of the buildings in Austria that stood and are still standing were used for whatever the Nazified Austrian government needed to carry on.  If all the buildings that had been used for Nazi programs were destroyed after the war, a massive building program would have ensued.  Much of Austria would have to be reconstructed.

Same and more for Germany.  So, as the research begins, does it matter, as in, should such a program such as this have its living and teaching quarters where Nazi youth were once trained in Hitler’s madness?  It should at least be known to all, I would think.  It certainly would reinforce my sense and my teaching that Europe isn’t free of history. The program would need to acknowledge that it too has a historical foundation.

Rumors of Nazi background.Rumors of genocide.  Some more reflection on Hillary Clinton’s address and the Atrocity Prevention Board set up by President Obama.  Timothy Snyder, our Bloodlands author, was quoted in the article, as knowing that global warming will bring episodes of mass death, a strong statement for sure and perhaps an accurate one.  A strange future for sure, though he also warns that superpowers like the United States and China will deflect the consequences of global warming from their shores. 

What strikes me is how easy “mass death” roles off the tongue at the Holocaust museums of the world.  Politicians and intellectuals who are protected from the ravages of everything they predict for others.  At least for now. This, at the place where they mourn the past. Strange digs to predict the end of the world as we know it?

Returning to the Israel’s “Never Again” Drones and Germany on the “We Repent” prowl again. Everyone who is anyone are preparing for the Global Warming world where drones will monitor the earth for every movement of weather, food, armaments, you name it.  Monitoring for our security is the name of the Global Warming future.

This reminds me of the time I spoke at the Holocaust museum – itself a long story and one for another time.  The image I remember is a reception held for a conference that was being held at the same day I was speaking.  As I was brought to the reception and introduced all around, I noticed the food and the drinks were extensive and beautifully presented. 

It was a lavish spread.  Noting that we were surrounded by Holocaust depictions and artifacts, I hesitated before partaking of the feast before me.  Of course, I had eaten earlier that day and would eat again.  I was also hungry.  The memory of the Holocaust had not interrupted my eating patterns.  Yet, right there, in the Holocaust museum, the feast before me and the hum of friendly interactions, I was caught up short.  When I mentioned this to my host he assured me that partaking of the food and conversation was appropriate.  He offered to help by gathering food for me. 

Hitler Youth camps.Mass death rolling off our tongues.  Drones being manufactured, bought and sold.    Receptions at Holocaust museums.  Should all of this be normalized, as in, Marc, enjoy the food, would you like some tomato juice?

An earlier discussion in the program.I told the group that when a Palestinians comes to my home on Friday night, I will not light the Shabbat candles or say the blessings in front of them or that I was against my son, Isaiah, learning German as his college program’s foreign language – shall we say that it elicited controversy?  Obviously I was just sharing my perspective to provoke thought.  In light of everyone’s desire to normalize what shouldn’t exist in history or now, it may seem even more idiosyncratic.  Who cares about Shabbat and my son learning German?

Disturbing it is, though.  I suppose memorializing the dead and predicting more death is normal for the protected and the affluent, as in, we know it happened and is coming, let’s eat a sandwich and drink some coffee before we return to the continuing discussion, and, oh yes, Hillary Clinton’s keynote is next where she will note her husband’s failure as the Rwandan genocide unfolded.  Not a problem, he has already acknowledged it as he acknowledged and tried to bridge the Israel/Palestine gap.  President Clinton even attended Yitzhak Rabin’s funeral after he was assassinated as a friend and a man of peace without mentioning that Rabin was an ethnic cleanser.   Clinton normalized Rabin as the Hitler Youth camps, mass death in the future, drones galore, the Holocaust, the Rwandan genocide – all of it rolling off our tongues so easily.

The Congo line. The Apartheid Wall.  Do you remember when no one thought the Wall could be built because the international community would stop it?  I remember people arguing that it was best that Israel start building the Wall precisely because the situation would be then so crystal clear that the whole Israel/Palestine affair would be resolved.  I was amazed and asked whether if the proponents of the Wall for the express purpose of exposing Israel had ever been ghettoized.  If they had ever watched their worlds being walled in as the international community was called upon to act.  Didn’t they realize that they were wrong, that if the record in the past of stopping Israel was a predictor then the Wall wouldn’t be stopped and that soon the world be on to other global hot spots? That the Wall would be normalized and that a people would be ghettoized as another fact on the ground?

Normalizing the once unthinkable. Mass death. The Apartheid Wall. So much before and after.  So much to come, it just rolls off the tongue.

The Hilter Youth. Pope Benedict time, a whole other story.  In the main building here, now being renovated, the crucified Jesus hangs on the wall where meals are eaten and in each room above the bed.  I mean vivid depictions of Jesus’ agony.  Were they there when the Nazis were around?   

It seems that the Swastika and the Cross rarely clashed during the Nazi era.  When they did it sometimes had to do with Crucifixes on the wall.  Should they be removed or if they remained how vigorous did the churches support for the Nazis  have to be?

The Catholic Church coexisting and then normalizing the Nazis.The Cross and mass death.  Not synonymous.  Not in absolute opposition.

Scary stuff. The raw dough of history.

Where I am teaching now, receptions where plates of food were passed, then.

Dancing last night – on the graves of others.  Such is history.  If we don’t dance on the dead, there would be no place to dance.

Life goes on, Global Warming mass death rolling off our tongues.  Receptions will continue for the protected.  As with the Apartheid Wall.  Life goes on.

About Marc H. Ellis

Marc H. Ellis is Professor of History and Jewish Studies. His new book, Finding Our Voice: Embodying the Prophetic and Other Misadventures, is forthcoming.

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50 Responses

  1. Citizen
    August 16, 2012, 12:12 pm

    American soldiers have lived in former Wehrmacht and SS soldier barracks ever since 1945 right up to the present. But there’s always Old Glory flying near said barracks. An American-made F-16 emblazoned with a Jewish star has been seen reigning white phosphorus death on Palestinian babies and school children. Of course said star was not painted yellow. Torture’s being normalized too (once again), and so is collective punishment (once again). If we don’t dance on the dead, there would be no place to dance. Yes, so why not eat a ham sandwich or rubin sandwich on them too–well, OK, sit on the tombstone?

  2. mijj
    August 16, 2012, 12:55 pm

    Nazis .. they appear to be elevated from human figures in history to religious mythological beings.

    • MHughes976
      August 16, 2012, 2:05 pm

      The most important force behind this elevation from historical to religious language is the general acceptance of the term ‘holocaust’ = ‘sacrifice’ for a brutal, in truth merely human process. The Nazis in this dark theology become demons but also evil priests, making the offering which God accepts for the restoration of the ancient Kingdom.

  3. ColinWright
    August 16, 2012, 3:13 pm

    “…It seems that the Swastika and the Cross rarely clashed during the Nazi era. ..”

    I’m mildly surprised at this statement. Try reading the relevant sections in ‘The Third Reich in Power,’ the second volume of Richard Evans’ trilogy.

    In particular, I’d point to the surreptitious distribution of an anti-Nazi homily to every Catholic Church, which was then read out simultaneously from every pulpit the next Sunday.

    Please point to some similarly coordinated action Jews of conscience have undertaken against Israel.

    • American
      August 16, 2012, 4:48 pm

      In particular, I’d point to the surreptitious distribution of an anti-Nazi homily to every Catholic Church, which was then read out simultaneously from every pulpit the next Sunday.

      Please point to some similarly coordinated action Jews of conscience have undertaken against Israel.”..Colin

      Not only that but ‘before” Hitler’ took power Catholics were banned from their churches if they joined the nazi party.
      After Hitler took over the churches just tried to survive.
      Hitler killed a lot of priest, nuns that spoke out against him anyway…they were thrown into the camps also.

      • MHughes976
        August 17, 2012, 10:06 am

        The homily was called ‘Mit Brennender Sorge’. It did some good. But in all these things the record is mixed. People keep doing research and the research keeps showing how mixed things were. The mix was demonstrated by the differences between Bruning and Kaas as leaders of the Catholic Centre Party. Klaus Scholder’s ‘The Churches and the Third Reich’ is a very impressive work, though as far as I know the third and posthumously published volume is not yet translated into English. In recent times popular Catholic support for the Nazis in their early years is being uncovered, along with its Protestant counterpart. The key name seems to be Oded Heilbronner followed in English by Derek Haskell. I haven’t read either work!

    • Theo
      August 17, 2012, 8:36 am

      I also do not see any discord between the Cross and Star of David in the USA, where 50 million born again christians wait for the repture and support every whim of the zionists. Nazism = fascism = zionism!!

      How long will these “lectures” by Prof. Ellis will go on, his comments are insults to many germans who had nothing to do with WWII and the nazis, like 95% of the population.

  4. German Lefty
    August 16, 2012, 4:19 pm

    During the barbeque a bombshell. One of the students in the larger group approached me with a rumor. Had I heard that the buildings we use for the program had been a Hitler Youth camp during the war? I was shaken by this and asked one of my Austrian students to check it out. His immediate “so what” response interests me.
    You must be kidding, right? Please, tell me you are kidding. You can’t be serious.

    It certainly would reinforce my sense and my teaching that Europe isn’t free of history.
    No continent or country is without history.

    I was against my son, Isaiah, learning German as his college program’s foreign language
    Yeah, let’s abolish the German language. You know, because the Nazis spoke it. *facepalm*

    everyone’s desire to normalize what shouldn’t exist in history
    The thing is that you can’t change history. Therefore, it is NORMAL to accept the historical facts.

    • Citizen
      August 16, 2012, 7:32 pm

      @ German Lefty

      And its normal to dispute what has passed for historical facts when new evidence is discovered and made available, and/or governmental archives secrecy classifications expire.

    • W.Jones
      August 16, 2012, 8:45 pm

      Yiddish developed as a variant of High German, and I assume has influenced modern German alot and vice verse considering the mixes of the cultures. I am not saying Marc’s reaction is so bad: it was common among Russians after WWII to try to avoid learning German.

      “Yiddish takes about three-quarters of its vocabulary from German, but borrows words liberally from Hebrew and many other languages from the many lands where Ashkenazic Jews have lived.” http://www.jewfaq.org/yiddish.htm

      • Theo
        August 17, 2012, 9:05 am

        W.Jones

        There are hundreds of german dialects and none of them were developed, but grew naturally over centuries in the areas where it was spoken. Yiddiesh was spoken only by eastern european jews and had absolutly no influence on modern german. It is a mish-mash of old german, slavik words and hebrew.
        What you call high german, it is spoken around the city of Hannover, a very clear pronunciation of words.

      • W.Jones
        August 17, 2012, 9:55 pm

        Theo,

        It would make sense to me that if there are so many German dialects, based on etymology Yiddish could be considered a German dialect, since what I read was that it was basically old German*75%) with Hebrew and Aramaic words added in, although there were other words too. Just as, say, modern English could still be considered in the Germanic group of languages even though it has so many “loan words” from French and Latin, etc.

        I highly doubt that “Yiddiesh was spoken only by eastern european jews” Those Eastern Europeans came from somewhere and since Yiddish appears a home-grown language rather than a literary one, it obviously came from when they were in Germany. That is not to say it wasn’t mostly spoken by Eastern Europeans after it was created, however.

        I am unaware of any Yiddish influence on later German, but I assume it happened because there was so much contact between the peoples. Just as, say, Native American words like I think “canoe” have come into English.

        You wrote: “What you call high german, it is spoken around the city of Hannover.” OK. And it sounds from the literature like Yiddish developed as a variant, change, dialect, subgroup, or a closely related grouping of that, just as Ebonics, Old English, or Scottish English have a a close relationship with English, and perhaps could be considered variants of the same language.

        My point is that it makes sense someone could be repelled by German culture because of the Holocaust, even if the revulsion doesn’t make sense intellectually. But even in that case, a person may be able to overcome that by, for example, seeing the close relation that existed for many centuries between Yiddish and High German. It’s like having an abusive relationship with someone and then saying you don’t have to reject everyone in the person’s family, because you actually had a positive, close relationship with another person in the family.

      • German Lefty
        August 18, 2012, 5:05 am

        It’s like having an abusive relationship with someone and then saying you don’t have to reject everyone in the person’s family, because you actually had a positive, close relationship with another person in the family.

        Right. However, this doesn’t apply here, because Mr Ellis has never actually had this abusive relationship, because he was born AFTER the Holocaust. Furthermore, he wanted to impose his own dislike for German on his son and thereby pass on his personal psychological struggle to the next generation. That’s very unhealthy and counter-productive. As an educated person, Mr Ellis should know that.

      • Theo
        August 18, 2012, 7:59 am

        W.Jones

        I am sorry friend, but I just don´t know what are you talking about.
        German dialects were, and still are, spoken by germans only as a natural mother tongue, not by immigrating foreigners.
        Jews, or khasars if you wish, came from the east though Russia, speaking russian oder other languages, and eventually ended up in an area where they came in contact with germanic speaking people, and they developed a language of their own, called yiddish, using german, slavic, hebrew and perhaps turkic words, AND ONLY JEWS IN EASTERN EUROPE SPOKE THAT ARTIFICIAL LANGUAGE, NOT GERMANS!!!!

        You trying to make the impression that yiddish had a great influance on the modern german is in the same cathegory as G-d gave the ME to the jews.
        Simply nonsense, if I may voice my opinion.
        Certainly a few words were taken over, however that cannot be cathegorized as an influance. In Europe every language uses a few, sometimes even more, words of neigbouring lands, it comes from the close proximity.

      • mijj
        August 18, 2012, 10:07 am

        .. on the other hand …

        Mr. Ellis is doing exactly the right thing if he wishes to obscure history (and the essential sophistication of reality) and replace it with good v. evil religious mythology (which serves the purpose of eternally validating whatever actions we take, no matter when or what reason, as innocent reaction to the evils of Nazis)

      • W.Jones
        August 19, 2012, 4:50 am

        Theo,

        1) “Immigrating foreigners” can develop a “dialect” of German, just as immigrating French developed the English dialect of Creole, or African Americans made an English dialect of Gullah. Dialects are often formed by mixing languages.

        2) I am highly doubtful of the claim that Europe’s Jews are only Khazars from Central Asia. There is a long history of Jewish settlement in Europe going back to at least St. Paul’s time. The fact that Yiddish is a very old variation of German, and only has a few Slavic words in it goes against the Khazar claim, especially since the Khazars were Turkic, and not even Slavic. If they were Khazars living in Germany, you would see comparable amounts of Hebrew and Turkic. Instead, it is 75% German, with Turkic mixed in.

        The shouting is a temporary side effect of the unfreezing process.
        Yes. I’m having difficulty controlling THE VOLUME OF MY VOICE.

        3) In my opinion, the Khazar “claim” is a weak-minded attempt to argue against the claim you point to that “G-d gave the ME to the jews.”
        But don’t you think that what should really count is one’s faith and morality- not one’s biological background- when it comes to whether one should control a place?

      • Theo
        August 19, 2012, 8:33 am

        W.Jones

        Temper, temper!! Am I lucky that we are so far away, otherwise would you rearrange my face or call me a bigot?
        You started with this argument with a ridiculous statement that yiddish is a german dialect and it had great influance on the present german language.
        Do you feel I must accept your false statement?

        To answer to your very latest statements:
        1. Khasars do not, or did not, live in Germany, but NE of the Black See in the Caucasus Mountains area.
        2. According to many studies, around the 8th century the rulers and upper class converted to judaism en mass. (YouTube Benjamin Friedman and many other videos on this subject).
        3. Due to the mongols invading Europe, they fled toward the west and settled in Russia and eventually in Poland, etc. These are the ashkenazi jews, or at least the great majority of them, converted turks and other nationalities from the Caucasus. There is still a tribe there, called the mountain jews.
        4. Yiddish was spoken in Poland, Russia, Ukraina, Belarus, etc., not in proper Germany. In Germany the jews spoke proper German or german dialects. Yiddish is not one of them.
        5. Yes, there were other jews in Europe coming direct from the ME, like the ones living in the Al Andalus kingdoms with the arabs, however most of them were chased out of Europe by the christian rulers and the church.
        6. Not the french developed the creole language, but their slaves and african slaves did the same to the english one.

        If you are referring with your last sentence “faith and morality” to the situation in Palestina, I certainly do not see any morality there, the rightful owners of that land are subjugated, killed and robbed of their property.

      • piotr
        August 19, 2012, 11:26 am

        I read about a study of Y chromosomes of Ashkenazi Jews that identified some groups as related to Siberia etc. If representative, Khasarian component can be estimated as 15-20%. Ashkenazi formed as an ethnic group, with Germanic language and Jewish religion, around 12 century, and their total number at that time was estimated as 15-20 thousands.

        Clearly, Yiddish developed as a vernacular that was not imposed in any systematic way, so I do not see how one can view it as “artificial”.

        “In Europe every language uses a few, sometimes even more, words of neigbouring lands, it comes from the close proximity.”

        Some language use “even more”. Few are more mixed than English. Consider umbrella, ward, guard, carrot.

      • Theo
        August 20, 2012, 12:42 pm

        piotr

        I don´t want to beat a dead horse to death, however you raised a few points:

        “Askenazi formed as an ethnic group”: Since people do not drop from heaven, formed from what??! If they formed from local tribes, then they are not semitic, correct? Only germanic peoples speak a germanic language or dialect and the ashkenazi certainly are not germanic.
        Besides, Khasaria was a large empire with warrior type people, so one would not have to be ashamed to have them as forfathers.
        Unless their claim is to return to Jerusalem, in that case they must insist they are decendents of israeli wanderers.

        Many west european languages are based on latine, so if you speak latine, then you can understand some french, italian, spanish.
        I really doubt that any of them are more mixed than english, because the basic words are germanic, with latine and french added, not forgetting the original inhabitants who spoke keltic.

        However, all is unimportant, you and I, and all other humans, came from Africa and looked like little monkies do today, do we are all brothers or sisters in one way.

      • Mooser
        August 20, 2012, 1:21 pm

        Mr. Jones, if some people wish to think they are descended from Khazars, what difference does it make?
        If every Jew in Israel today produced a deed from 3000 years ago, and claimed they were only reclaining their property, and were certified Khazar-free, would that make any difference?
        Hey, at one time Judaism was pretty hot stuff, and all the bright young things were trying it out. New franchises everywhere. You never who might turn up Jewish.

    • ColinWright
      August 17, 2012, 3:52 am

      German Lefty says: “The thing is that you can’t change history.”

      You obviously haven’t spent enough time visiting Israel-love sites. Oh yes you can.

      • German Lefty
        August 17, 2012, 11:59 am

        You obviously haven’t spent enough time visiting Israel-love sites. Oh yes you can.

        Colin, you should know that by “You can’t change history.” I meant that it’s not possible to make the Holocaust undone.
        The only “Israel-love site” that I have ever visited is this one:
        http://www.haolam.de/
        It’s in German, but there are also some articles in English:
        http://www.haolam.de/?site=themen&de=17
        Enjoy.

    • Theo
      August 17, 2012, 8:56 am

      Based on Mr. Ellis´s perception the english language should have been boykotted after England colonized/raped half of this globe, but for sure when the USA a-bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki!
      Looking at what is happening in Palestina it is time we forbid hebrew in the USA and Europe.
      Prof. Ellis is a ziocain shill.

      • German Lefty
        August 17, 2012, 11:48 am

        Based on Mr. Ellis´s perception the english language should have been boykotted after England colonized/raped half of this globe, but for sure when the USA a-bombed Hiroshima and Nagasaki! Looking at what is happening in Palestina it is time we forbid hebrew in the USA and Europe.
        Yes, Theo. I had this thought, too.

  5. W.Jones
    August 16, 2012, 5:11 pm

    Prof. Ellis,

    You write: “In the main building here, now being renovated, the crucified Jesus hangs on the wall where meals are eaten and in each room above the bed.”
    I think it’s pretty typical artwork, especially since the school has a Jesuit background. Now I heard that in the eastern Christianity of the Middle East, the triumphant Resurrection receives more emphasis than it does in the West, which emphasizes the Passion more.

    One of the reasons for the common-ness of the cross symbol is probably its simplicity to draw: It’s just a ” t “. And on the opposite hand, it is apparently much less common to depict the Resurrection, because no one saw the process.

    You added: I mean vivid depictions of Jesus’ agony. Yes I saw some very inexpensive authentic crucifixes from the Holy Land, and was thinking to buy one, except the figure appeared graphic, with the ribs emphasized. If I was staying someplace else, or it was someone else’s crucifix, I probably wouldn’t especially focus on it. Alot of crucifixes just look kind of like Jesus is sleeping.

    Arguably, eating other mammals on a plate is more graphic than metal artwork on a wall.

    But anyway, the graphic-ness is probably a goal of the art. Maybe if the person knows that such an important, spiritual person underwent such passion it helps them in their life to have a reminder of this somewhere around when they themselves have problems and sadness.

    Peace.

  6. libra
    August 16, 2012, 5:21 pm

    During the barbeque a bombshell. One of the students in the larger group approached me with a rumor.  Had I heard that the buildings we use for the program had been a Hitler Youth camp during the war?  I was shaken by this and asked one of my Austrian students to check it out. 

    It seems the students have got measure of the Distinguished Visiting Professor and have started to play him like an accordion. Who said the Austrians don’t enjoy a good joke?

    • Mooser
      August 17, 2012, 12:47 am

      “Who said the Austrians don’t enjoy a good joke?”

      AFAIK, nobody.

  7. Mooser
    August 16, 2012, 6:12 pm

    Hardly ever seen a guy who needs a tab of acid so badly.

  8. thetumta
    August 16, 2012, 9:18 pm

    Excellent candidates for the Livani Brigade, I would think. Ethnic purity and all? Have you ever noticed that they always say the same thing in one form or another, “but it is really necessary this time”? And none of them ever recognizes the other!
    Hej! Tumta

  9. Kathleen
    August 17, 2012, 12:11 am

    Mark really enjoy what you write. Barbecue chicken, dance, Nazi youth camps, Clinton , global warming, Rwanda, Apartheid wall, crosses, swastikas, drones, mass death being normalized…apartheid walls being normalized, Palestinian ghettos being normalized.

    Life goes on indeed but it should not. Somewhere deep inside of me and I know so many others we all have the capacity to live our humanitarian ideals to treat others fairly and respectfully. That capacity is there…I am a foolish believer. “Life goes on” but we can do so much better.

    “Dancing last night on the graves of others” Holding them in our memories hoping, praying and trying to make it better than before.

    • Citizen
      August 17, 2012, 12:26 pm

      I wrote a long comment, but it vanished when I hit the reply button, and has not reappeared. I can understand how one thinks he will provoke thought (or at least some snickering) by telling his audience he was against his son learning the German language, as if it was a criminal car driven only by felons for felonious ends, but how do you provoke thought by not doing Shabbat when Palestinians are visiting on Fridays–seems such choice avoided the provocation of thought.

  10. Kathleen
    August 17, 2012, 12:22 am

    Normalizing mass death. We don’t even hear about Iraq anymore and when we did there were never any solid numbers on the dead, injured and displaced in Iraq. They just swept the Lancet report under the rug. The U.S. MSM, our leaders, the U.S. just driving over that bump of dead Iraqi people in the road in the pursuit of oil and expanding U.S. and Israel’s influence and control in that region. I have shared before at this site how as a teenager (I am now 60) I was obsessed with reading books about WWII. Read horrific descriptions of the death, torture, extermination of Jews, Poles, Gypsies etc. I would sob uncontrollably …my mother would come into my room and I would ask between tears “how and why did people allow this to happen”..”how could this happen” And this has happened again and again since then. But now with Iraq few even talk about it let alone count and report the dead. Normalized and placed in the shadows.

    • Citizen
      August 17, 2012, 12:11 pm

      @ Theo
      I don’t know that Ellis is a ziocain shill. I didn’t notice it when I read or at least skimmed his articles as they appeared on MW, but in this article of his, the subject of this thread, it seems he’s fighting some demons himself, and I’m not sure that battle is only one of trying to comprehend the whole that is evil past and present in world history. His remark about, and personal activity against, the German language itself is an example of losing a connection with reality unless he thinks a language is like a particular car that can only be used by a gang of criminals who drive it exclusively towards their always felonious ends. Maybe he reveals this foolish aspect of himself to some of his more discerning students? He says he told of his being against his son learning German at college because: “Obviously I was just sharing my perspective to provoke thought.” In such instances, maybe he simply provoked snickering? Or kindled a tad of reciprocal hate?

      The Church did have a mixed relationship with the Nazi regime. the Church has always had a mixed relationship with governments, including tyrannical ones. Wehrmacht soldiers sometimes received church services at the Front via their chaplains, especially during high holidays, instances where the cross and swastika were both very present in the makeshift religious service area. The US Army provides chaplains in Iraq, the Israelis have their rabbis to minister to the soldiers “administering” the occupation that they say does not exist.

      • Kathleen
        August 17, 2012, 7:24 pm

        I think it is quite obvious Marc struggles and is willing to share his struggle out loud

      • Theo
        August 18, 2012, 8:30 am

        Citizen

        This blog supposedly is for the problems in Palestina and Prof. Ellis may have a spiritual fight with himself, however after 40+ long articles from him don´t you think we have had enough?
        Perhaps he should not fight the nazis so much, after all they are mostly dead, but fight the zionist in Israel. They are present and alive.

      • Citizen
        August 18, 2012, 9:30 am

        @ Theo

        Mondoweiss is a news website devoted to covering American foreign policy in the Middle East, chiefly from a progressive Jewish perspective. A progressive perspective, Jewish or not, realizes that influential Jewish Americans with a mindset that equates criticism of Israeli conduct and policies enabled by US tax dollars and UNSC veto with the Nazi regime is obviously fair game here. Prof Ellis tries to detach himself from putting his Nazi era goggles on when judging contemporary times, but shows it’s hard to do. Imagine how hard it is for Sheldon Adelson to do. I agree that perhaps both superwordy Ellis and superwealthy Adelson should not be “fighting the Nazis” so much since they are mostly dead, and both should be fighting Likud Zionists, who are now beating the American war drums for another aggressive war, this time not on Iraq, but on Iran, and all the while Israel is grabbing more land and suppressing the native Palestinians in accordance with Zionist lebensraum policy.

      • Mooser
        August 20, 2012, 1:25 pm

        “superwordy Ellis”

        He may write a lot (40+ posts at a couple a week) but I wouldn’t call him “wordy”. In fact, I would say he’s trying to avoid being wordy, or using specialised terminology. But, that’s what I would say.

  11. Mooser
    August 17, 2012, 12:45 am

    Wait a minute, I read this entire thing over two times. There’s nothing in there about the Boy Scouts! Maybe he is tripping.

  12. Antidote
    August 17, 2012, 12:54 pm

    “Obviously Austria was Nazified during the late 1930s and some of the buildings in Austria that stood and are still standing were used for whatever the Nazified Austrian government needed to carry on. If all the buildings that had been used for Nazi programs were destroyed after the war, a massive building program would have ensued. Much of Austria would have to be reconstructed. Same and more for Germany.”

    One wouldn’t know from this drivel that a great many of the Nazi leadership, including Hitler, were Austrian. Nor would one know that a “massive building program” did indeed take place in Austria after the war, and even more so in Germany. True, allied terror bombing did not focus on buildings that had served as venues for Hitler Youth meetings. The aim was to kill and “de-house” Germans. This guy is upset about “normalizing mass death”? So am I.

    • Theo
      August 18, 2012, 8:34 am

      We with the US Army still use buildings and whole barracks once used by the Wehrmacht. Are we commiting a moral or legal crime, Prof. Ellis?

  13. notatall
    August 18, 2012, 6:24 am

    I understand that there are something like three hundred Holocaust Museums/Memorials in the U.S., a country that was not directly (note, directly) involved in the events commemorated. What would be the reaction of Americans if there were three hundred museums of American Indian genocide or three hundred museums of the African slave trade in Germany?

    • German Lefty
      August 19, 2012, 5:36 am

      @ notatall:
      What would be the reaction of Americans if there were three hundred museums of American Indian genocide or three hundred museums of the African slave trade in Germany?
      They would probably get really angry and spout, “You just want to misuse our terrible history to distract attention away from your own terrible history!”

  14. Citizen
    August 18, 2012, 9:37 am

    So what does that tell you about America? We do have a “National Museum Of The American Indian” on the DC mall.

  15. DICKERSON3870
    August 18, 2012, 6:05 pm

    RE: “Scary stuff. The raw dough of history.” ~ Marc Ellis

    MY QUESTION: Leavened or unleavened? Enquiring mimes want to know!™

    • Leavened versus Unleavened Bread – http://www.prosphora.org/page27.html

  16. Eva Smagacz
    August 19, 2012, 9:33 am

    Dear Mr. Ellis.
    Thank you very much for this essay. I identify very much with an inner struggle where it comes into teaching German to my children. My oldest daughter had a chance to spend a year in Germany on an school exchange and I was not at all certain that I liked the idea.

    I mean, I knew it was a good idea. She was learning yet another modern European language. It would be an excellent addition to her CV. She would learn about culture and history of Europe in greater depth. And yet, and yet…….

    Did I really want to hear my oldest child speaking in the language of oppressors and occupiers? Part of my subconscious, part of my totally irrational self, was worried that by speaking the language she will somehow acquire a cold, cruel, sadistic, and merciless mindset of Master Race.

    I was worried that I will recoil and reject her.

    As I said, none of that was rational. But it did go through my mind and had to be acknowledged, processed and rejected. I have Pavlovian reaction of fear and loathing when I hear German unexpectedly. And I was born many years after the war.

    • German Lefty
      August 19, 2012, 9:53 am

      @ Eva Smagacz:

      Did I really want to hear my oldest child speaking in the language of oppressors and occupiers? Part of my subconscious, part of my totally irrational self, was worried that by speaking the language she will somehow acquire a cold, cruel, sadistic, and merciless mindset of Master Race. I was worried that I will recoil and reject her. […] I have Pavlovian reaction of fear and loathing when I hear German unexpectedly.
      OMG, seriously? But can you understand that this irrational reaction upsets me? Also, I wonder how you react when you hear Hebrew. And what about Yiddish, which is very similar to German?

      • Eva Smagacz
        August 19, 2012, 7:22 pm

        Hello German Lefty,

        I am sorry I upset you.

        Please believe me it was never my intention.

        I know that undeserved and irrational rejection of any aspect of self ( and language is a major part of who we are ) is incredibly upsetting. This is why racism and misogyny are upsetting.

        I think that this reaction to German has been imprinted in me just like phobia of snakes and spiders is passed from generation to generation.
        It’s a scar of World War II that is fading away very slowly.

        I am cynical enough to acknowledge the role of propaganda in the way those feelings were kept alive: my generation, from earliest years, was fed an endless stream of Soviet Russia directed propaganda that vilified Germany and in the process seeded the idea of Russia as a guardian and as a protector of Poles.

        I never heard Yiddish spoken. Hebrew reminds me of Arabic.

      • German Lefty
        August 20, 2012, 2:54 pm

        @ Eva Smagacz:

        Please believe me it was never my intention.
        I know.

        my generation, from earliest years, was fed an endless stream of Soviet Russia directed propaganda that vilified Germany and in the process seeded the idea of Russia as a guardian and as a protector of Poles.
        I think that the first and most important step is to recognise propaganda as propaganda.

        I never heard Yiddish spoken.
        Some spoken Yiddish for you. Do you like it? I think it sounds like funny German.
        http://yiddish.forward.com/video/

        Hebrew reminds me of Arabic.
        Ha, ha. I don’t think that Zionist Israelis would like to hear that. I agree with you. Hebrew sounds similar to Arabic.

        What about your daughter? Has she been to Germany?

      • Eva Smagacz
        August 21, 2012, 10:35 am

        German Leftie,

        Hi, you are right: Yiddish has german sounds, but seems softer and to me sounds like having echoes of lithuenian accent. Of course, since I started reading Mnondoweiss, I become aware, just how many polish words have crossed over from Yiddish.

        My daughter spent a very happy year in Padagogium Baden-Baden. She once had a tea in one of the coffee shops in town when she realised that party opposite included no other than Bill Clinton!

        Funny enough a century earlier, Baden-Baden (together with Oostende and Biarritz) was a place where my ancestors used to come for rest, socialising and medical treatment.

  17. Mooser
    August 20, 2012, 1:10 pm

    I have revised my opinion of Mr. Ellis. The acid won’t do it. He needs to take up an instrument.

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