The Kampf – Part Four – Done At Last

Well, I did it. I finally read all of the Manheim translation of ” Mein Kampf ” – it was the English edition put out in the 60’s. It had lain untouched on my bookshelf for over half a century while I tried to decide why I bought it* and why I should read it.

Hard reading – Germanic phrasing in English makes for difficult sentences and this author was not a good writer to begin with. Hard reading as well when you see it veering into the most virulent hate-speech. And it was surprising how often it did veer. Of course Hitler hated Jews, Marxists, Bolsheviks, and black people – that’s a given – but it was somewhat diagnostic to see how often his worst thoughts would erupt in the middle of what might otherwise be a dry passage. There was only a thin barrier between his moods.

Also surprising…and grab your eyebrows before they disappear forever into your hairline in surprise – Hitler did tell the truth sometimes. Not about the rest of the world and the people he hated, but about the people who he wished to control. And he sometimes laid out his operational methods proudly  – like a mechanic might roll out a tool kit – and announced exactly how each tool would be used…and upon whom. He had a devil’s grasp of propaganda. I was surprised to see him spell it all out.

Unfortunately this sort of noise sometimes echoes far after the gunshot that finally silenced him. The last few weeks on the social media platform Facebook have seen  ” meme’s ” or ” shares ” drop through that embody a number of the propaganda principles that Hitler set out; the targeting of a declared enemy with ridicule, then with unalloyed hate, then with relentless use of the lowest abuse. Simple abuse that is simply repeated, with no let-up or debate. Hammering the hate into dim minds.

It was also interesting to see the memes use an admixture of simple sentiment with simple statements –  uncontroversial in nature – and  then a sly slipping in of the propaganda message or abusive remark. The people who read and then share these things on Facebook are the vehicles – not for the sentiments or simple statements – but for the propaganda abuse. And they probably don’t realise it. As they keep doing it, they are brought to agree to wilder and wilder things.

Hitler lied about a number of the events in his past within this book – the scholarly footnotes make this abundantly clear. Yet he grasped at as many real events as he could to promote his hate. And I am afraid I can see where some parts of the 1920’s were bound to serve that purpose. They could well have driven the German people to desperation…or preconditioned them to take the virulent infection of his speeches.

Unfortunately, I suspect many did not need much exposure to become just as deadly in their turn. In the end, I don’t think Hitler such a writer that would move normal people to abnormality. The ones he moved were in motion already…

Well, that’s the conclusion. It can go back on the shelf forever, along with the Protocols Of Zion and whatever other rubbish is thrown up from time to time. I won’t burn it because that is not what a thinking person does – but I will not bother with it again. It can go on the Untouchable List.

*  Youthful foolishness.

Who’s Ya Hero? – Part Three

As a child, youth, and young man I was invited to admire various heroes. Idols of history or current culture; Gordy Howe, Elvis, Churchill, John Wayne. As time went on they either rose or fell in my estimation according to new information that was disclosed. Also as time went on I learned to seek out truth and did not take the cultural advertising at face value.

It was an easy thing to do – Canada was a free country and you could ask, read, speak, and think pretty much as you wished. You might  be wrong or right but it was your decision which road to follow.

Same here in Australia – substitute Don Bradman for Gordy Howe and do what you like with the rest. People might say you nay but that was just their voice and you could still read and speak freely.

I eventually ended up with a revised list of people I admired or wanted to emulate. And an equal list of those who caused me revulsion.  They’re my lists -and private; if I haven’t thrown a rock at you, you’re probably on the first one. But the fact that I revised them eventually made me curious to see whether other people had also gotten past childhood idolatry. In some cases I fear not.

This was particularly poignant considering my determination to finish reading ” Mein Kampf ” in the Manheim translation. It was no fun. As I read it, I was drawn to wonder how much it influenced the thinking of people with whom I’ve had personal contact. Was something published in 1933 still echoing in 2018? Did they regard Hitler as a personal hero back then, and did they secretly cling to that 80 years later…?

I’d started reading the book to find a reason for other people’s behaviour – so far that was inconclusive. But eventually I became aware that my interpretation of it may have been at great variance to how it was seen by them.

That Book – Part Two

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…?

What Is Your Regimental March?

It seems that every regiment in the Russian or Austrio-Hungarian Army had a regimental march – also every one in the British Army. That may have changed , but it has left us with a legacy of show tunes that can move aheavily-armed chorus line past a reviewing stand in three minutes.

Other armies have a repertoire of march tunes but don’t assign them regimentally – they can be used for different occasions by different bands. Of the two approaches, I favour the first, as it leads to a greater variety of music.

In civilian life there must also be occasions when a good march would be a real help to the day. Uplifting moments or times when you just want to get down and invade Belgium. We need civilian marches made to order. And not just pop tunes and ear-worms. Proper pieces of music about 3 minutes long that can get us through the crowds of other punters at the football or the local shopping centre. An insistent internal rhythm and regular pace can actually clear a way faster than a bulldozer.

For myself, I use three: The Königratzer or Preußen Gloria for faster movement or Le Boudin for slower crowds. The other people cannot hear the music but I can, and as long as I am marching in time with it I can dodge and move with precision. I will occasionally whistle but this may mean nothing to them.

What music do you march to?

 

Hyphenate For Fun And Profit

Are you bored? Is the pace of daily life getting you down? Has all the Zip gone out of your Zipcode? Well do what trend-setting modern royalty do – hyphenate your name!

You don’t even have to actually be connected to a royal family – or a noble one – or any family whatsoever. In fact, if you have barred your door to all your relatives, hyphenating your name can be a fun way of sniping at them from cover.

Heretofore the hyphenated name was used by European nobility to notify their peasants that two groups of overlords were combining by marriage and that revolution was a bad idea because now there were two lots of armed guards on call. It worked well, and social media influencers ( aka priests and scribes ) were paid to insist that this gave greater dignity and legitimacy to the ruling classes.

It became such a sign of status that lower-born types also decided to adopt it. In Great Britain it became somewhat of a rage in the Victorian era as newly-rich landowners and ironmasters lumped together whatever surnames they had been given to make new imperial ones. The advent of Wilhelmine Germany and the realisation by the British ruling monarchy that that was, indeed, their circus and those were, indeed, their monkeys, led to the Anglicisation of Battenburg to Mountbatten and the brigading of the thing to the location of one of the castles – Windsor. Largely a public relations move, it was probably unnecessary as the British could have been counted on to die for the Manchester Board of trade or the London Stock Exchange just as well.

But what of today? If you have a reasonably presentable name like Smith and have contracted marriage or a social disease with a person named Jones you may apply to a magistrate to have it changed to a joint Smith-Jones….though the beak will probably smile at your folly. Don’t smile back. If you have a perfectly reasonable Indian name like Bhattacharyya and fall in love with a Finkleberg you can also brigade up the two but expect a louder guffaw from the magistrate. And from everyone else. Humans can be like that.

So ask yourself….

Will your new surname be a help to you in life? If you expect it will gain you admission to the Old Boy network if you are not one…no. The Old Boys and Old Girls know their own and guard the compound gates zealously.

Will it look well on a book cover? ” Tales Of Death And Bloodletting For The Shut-in ” will sell well in Japan but you need a local author’s name as part of it – consider marrying a Japanese person.

Will you be forever leaning over a clerk’s counter correcting their spelling of it? Wladislxvch Wczyzchchev-Prmzelyic led a life of hell when he moved to the Dutch East Indies…

Finally, think through your amours carefully before the first button is undone. If your surname is Getts and hers is Tuft, you would do well to shake hands now and part before morning.

 

British Independence – Part Two – The Opposition

The opposition to the British BREXIT decision taken some time ago seems to have been set along party lines – as so many social questions are – and further connected to a number of interest groups. Whether they might be said to be special interest groups or not is up to the reader to decide. I counted :

  1. Some youth groups  – who were horrified that the easy access to Europe for jobs and/or vacations might be compromised.
  2. Some immigrant organisations who feared that the nation’s gates would swing shut  and prevent their clientele and relatives from coming to the UK and staying there.
  3. Some organisations opposed to nationalistic sentiments or actions of any kind – good or bad. Not ALL nations, mind, but the UK version was to be abhorred.
  4. Some companies who could see financial loss or inconvenience caused by having to move their headquarters out of the UK or their manufacturing plants into it

I’m sure there were many others, some with genuine concerns for the country and some with genuine concerns for their own concerns.

But have we considered that some of the opposition to an independent Great Britain may come from the rulers of the place? They have been used to a populace that does what they are told – they have been told what to do all the way from William The Conquerer to the last speech from the Crown Prince – and the idea of the locals getting free of the Germans and the French might start them thinking that they’d like to be free of the rulers…

You can’t sing  ” God Remove Our Gracious Queen…” with quite the same poetry as the current words, but then you could always write a new piece of music to go along with it. I don’t think the British populace would think about this at all, but they could change their minds when Charles and Camilla ass-end the throne.

The Hatter – Retail Clothing Part Three

I like hatter’s shops. They seem such an old-fashioned place to be that I can relax and slow down as I browse. And hatter’s shops are not for the shallow or insensitive – they have surprisingly little to do with the modern youth – or that may be the other way round.

The feed-cap-with-a-baseball-team-on-it shop is another matter. That may be staffed and crowded with all forms of youth – golden, brassy, or plastic as the case may be. I would not know, not being the sort of man who wears a feed cap backwards.

But back to the proper hatters. There is a good one in the basement of the Flinders Street railway station in Melbourne and also one in the Strand Arcade in Sydney. They are small shops with a great deal of stock, but be aware that the stock may be seasonal – hot or cold weather – and priced accordingly. Treat yourself to a coffee at a stall before you call in, and take your time to review all the choices and fit before you decide to purchase. The Sydney shop has a good range of braces too.

Advice for someone buying a hat?

a. Do you need a hat for a protective purpose or is it to be fashion? You can get ones that will do a single or double duty.

b. Can you be a hat wearer? Some cannot. They are so self-conscious that they never seem to be able to actually put the hat on and wear it. They think everyone is looking at them and that this is a bad thing.

c. Do you know hat etiquette? When to cover and when to uncover?  How to do it – how to wear and how to carry – is an important social skill. One that can set you apart from hoi polloi in a very favourable way. There are numerous books that will help you to learn what to do.

d. Do you realise that hats are seasonal, and that you can own more than one? Try a straw for summer, a felt fedora for winter, and a good tweed cap for in between. Then, if you find you are comfortable with them, you can get many more to match your wardrobe choices.

e. If you wish to wear a ten-gallon Stetson hat, there are places where you may do so without incurring laughter. Texas, Calgary, and the outback stations of Australia come to mind. The ten-gallon is not a hat to wear in places where there are dudes.

f. If the hat you fancy makes you look younger, reject it. Likewise, if it makes you look like an English used-car salesman, an Amish elder, or Popov. Hats lend dignity, but withhold it if you make the wrong selection.

g. Do not wear a peaked cap unless you are commanding a regiment, ship, or air station. German railway drivers can get away with one, but then they are that sort of person. Führers to a man.

Note: if you are a service peaked cap wearer and they issue you with a side-cap or fatigue cap it is because they are going to make sure you are sidelined and fatigued. It is not a good cap and not a good sign.

h. Treat your hat well, but do not expect it to last more than a few seasons. Your sweaty head will see to that. If continuity of style is important, select a standard Akubra that has not changed since the days of Menzies and just buy another one when yours gets greasy and spotty.

 

Who Is Whizzing On Whom

A few days back a new Mini motorcar passed me in the Northbridge tunnel and slowed down – the brake lights came on. See the heading image – they were in the shape of part of the British Union Jack flag. Thank you to the chap who took that picture – I couldn’t get my camera out while driving.

I was instantly delighted – it was such a clever use of technology to tie this iconic symbol into the iconic car. But it gave me to think…

a. The car is not wholly British. it is made by a company that is firmly German – BMW – at plants in the UK and Holland. The design comes out of Bavaria. Leading to the question of whether or not it is a gentle piss-take.

b. Apparently it is associated with a wide-eyed ring of LED running lights up the front that make the car look permanently deranged. I did not see the front of the vehicle in the tunnel. But again, aus München…

c. In the past there have been any number of Issigonis and later Minis that have had the roof painted in a complete representation of a Union Jack.

d. Which leads to a cynical smirk at the proclivity of Brits to complain about Americans flying the Stars and Stripes or displaying it as a symbol. Be honest, Johnny Bulls – you’ve all sneered at the Yanks for their patriotism at some time or the other…and yet painted your national flag on the top of a tinny little motor car. Or in the case of the modern version, an expensive little German motor car.

All the same. I did admire the modern Morgan in the York Motor Museum…If you’re going to be crass for $ 92,300, you might as well do it big-time.

Ve Germans Haff A Sense Of Humour

As you will haff noticed, my name iss a Teutonic one. It iss from the Tyrol where my Grossvater has come. He wass in Amerika from many years and I am here in Australia until now.  So I haff a connection to the Old Country…in fact to several old countries.

I wish to address the libel that iss promoted that Germans haff no sense of humour. This has been the standard of jokes throughout the Western world since 1914. The Eastern world iss too serious for this sort of thing – they regard the German nations as carousels of comedy.

The libel iss false! Ve haff as strong a sense of humour as anyone. The fact that we do not haff a native Mr. Bean does not bar us from appreciating him, though ve would not vish that he was a German or Austrian citizen. After Brexit this will be less of a danger.

Ve haff many jokes – you must look up back copies of ” Simplicimus ” to see this and there are amusing cartoons of the German Imperial general staff there as well. Wise people do not laugh at them in public, however.

Vee also participate in ze jokes that ask how many people are required to screw in light bulbs. But we know the secret that they are not screw-based bulbs. They are bayonet -based bulbs, and if zere iss one thing that a German iss good vith it iss a bayonet. Zat iss why ve only need one person.

And ve are as ready as anyone to laugh at ze Amerikan President. It iss fashionable and makes us look better by comparison. Ze fact that we were not fast enough to erect a border wall around Deutschland in the last couple of years to prevent the sort of thing that he complains of iss neither here not there – but ve are not laughing quite so hard about zis.

If you vant people who haff no sense of humour, try the Swedes.

 

 

 

The Standard Bearer Is The One Who Gets The Bullets

The heading image of this column is the rootin’ tootin’ flutin’ King of Prussia, supposedly striding out ahead of his loyal troops to inspire them. It may have been drawn from fact, or it may just be a German propaganda construct, but it points out the title of our piece admirably. The individual who makes a flag bearer of themselves can attract far more than applause – they can attract lead.

I don’t suppose many of us march into enemy guns these days with flags flying and bayonets charged – though I did just that a couple of decades ago – but we do tend to climb the Facebook ramparts and wave our opinions to attract attention. And in most cases we don’t even have a kingdom to defend by doing it. We appear to be attacking public figures for the sheer joy of it. Fortunately the public figures never notice us and most of the people who do would have no idea how to fire a spud gun, let alone a musket.

The only wounds we suffer are to the ego and the reputation. Grievous hurts, of course, but mostly non-fatal. Friendships crumple up and fall over, and that is perhaps the saddest part of it.

So what to do? I’m sure if you look far enough into Roman and Greek history you’ll find advice to keep yourself from party, as well as from lust or gluttony. If you pay me $200 I’ll tell you what they say about avarice.

I don’t tell people what to think or do – apart from this hectoring column. It is safer not to, and even better if I do not tell them what I think or do either. If it is necessary to throw rocks through their windows after dark it is best not to tell them who is doing the throwing.

Flags do need flying, and causes championed, and virtue signalled – and we can see it every day on our social media feed. But we should glance up at them carefully before we raise the pole. Fred’s got his family and the state on the stick there, and a good many armed Germans behind him – he’ll be fine as long as the French don’t spot him and lay a double canister round his way. Not so our Facebook warriors, who may be flying the flag of many foreign parties – replete with vulgarity and foolish appearance. ” Sharing ” the antics of idiots is allying yourself to them…and sometimes the flag that you think you are hoisting is a disgrace to all.

Note: I could be wrong. Friedrich might have just have taken a snout against his generals and is taking his flag and going home.