I hope I wasn’t too scholarly and dry with my first part of this essay. I’m dry but not an academic. I rarely read, and never write, footnotes. None of my writing has a bibliography attached to the end of it. There are no credits rolling. What you read is what I got…off my chest.
As I read MK over the weeks I realised that I started out for an answer to why Hitler was such a shit – and hadn’t found it yet. Other works that detailed his early life could probably have told me more, if I cared to read them. In the end I didn’t care – I used to ask myself why the schoolyard bullies were the way they were when I was a child, but the reason there was that I was an easy victim and they were pack animals anyway.
I also started to think that my quest to understand why the German people conducted themselves as they did for 15 years – out of millenia of existence – was a biased one. I was hoping to find a good reason for bad behaviour. I was hoping to find something that let the ghosts of my ancestors lie clean and quiet.
Ancestors? Well, the furthest back I know goes to Austria and East Prussia and is merely family stories. A grandfather out of the Tirol and a grandmother out of Posen. Another grandmother’s predecessors out of Vienna – admixed with an Irish family from Cork. 3/4 of them Germanic and 1/4 Hibernian. With a ragout mixture of religion and association withal. The Irish ghosts could flit as they liked between brewery and peat bog and good luck to them. It was the Krauts I wanted to address.
Note: I needed not fear the history of my parents, nor of their brothers and sisters. All Americans and all pretty honourable characters. Some veterans and some not, but no-one ended up in either jail or Congress.
My reading of the book gradually settled into a search for brilliance. For captivating charm, political insight, economic wisdom, and noble statesmanship. You might laugh or grimace that I was expecting this sort of literature from Adolf Hitler but try not to be too enraged. If it was written in such a way as to persuade me to leap from my seat and attack the Polish border or set fire to the New Era bookshop, it meant that it was good enough to do this to the German people. And that might have let them off the hook somewhat.
Otherwise, the premise that Daniel Goldhagen put forth in his 1996 book was all the more probable.
Note for readers of this column: The previous post that dealt with this topic was published yesterday but disappeared from the list of posts on my WordPress dashboard. It’s still accessible through my Facebook page. I can only assume that some editor, censor, or automatic program picked up upon the topic and removed it. There are two more instalments before it finishes, and it will be interesting to see if they are allowed to exist.
Careful writing and considered judgement would seem to be contrary to some internal cultural laws. Let’s see if this N0. 2 column and then N0.’s 3 and 4 are expunged.
Is it the ghost of Goebbels riding shotgun?
Postscript Note to the above: The missing N0.1 column isn’t totally gone – it’s has been shifted to the 24th of February…how, I have no idea. Wonder if this one will similarly disappear…?