Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Hitler returns to front page as Nazi era papers hit the streets

The headlines leaping out from German newsstands yesterday were shocking, if a little dated. "Hitler Chancellor of the Reich!" was the lead story on the front of Der Angriff and if readers were in any doubt about the significance of the news they could study the rather histrionic commentary by Dr Joseph Goebbels. Masterminded by a British publisher, facsimiles of original Nazi-era newspapers are being reproduced and are going on sale across the country. The weekly publication costs 3.90 euros. The start-up print run is 300,000 and kiosks in Berlin are reporting brisk sales.

"Ah, you want the Nazi papers," said the owner of a newsstand on the upmarket Kurfrstendamm, reaching up to the top shelf where she stacks men's "special interest" magazines and cigarettes. "Tell me if they have any useful tips."

A surge of interest in national socialist pamphlets has been reported recently. The daily talk about a return of the Great Depression has stoked up interest in the 1930s and there is fresh curiosity about why the older generation swallowed Nazi propaganda. "From today you will have a unique opportunity to read what information was available to your grandparents and your parents," said the historian and editor of the venture, Sandra Paweronschitz. The publisher, Peter McGee, who launched a similar project successfully in Austria describes the publication, Zeitungszeugen (newspaper witnesses), as a platform for discussion in Germany. "It should be read by people who would never read a contemporary history textbook but still value quality analysis of the information," he said.

Mr McGee's London-based publishing company, Albertas, is being advised by leading German historical scholars on the Third Reich, including Professor Wolfgang Benz, head of Berlin's Centre for Research into AntiSemitism. They are part of a ten-member board, whose make-up is intended to banish any suspicion that reprinting Nazi papers was some kind of far-right stunt.

The appeal of the facsimiles in the first instance is to Germans fascinated by the breach of a taboo that has been intact for more than 60 years. In Germany books are removed from the shelves if they bear a swastika, and the Hitler salute is forbidden. Mr McGee has been given special dispensation to reproduce the Nazi propaganda with all its insignia for its historical value.

The current issue is centred on January 30, 1933, when Hitler came to power. Three newspaper are reproduced - Der Angriff (The Attack), a Nazi paper founded by Goebbels, the Deutsche Allgemeine Zeitung, a national conservative paper and Der Kaempfer (The Fighter), the main organ of the German Communist Party - giving a spread of opinion. The three papers come with a wrap-around supplement full of commentary and analysis from the advisory board.

The publishers have tried to fend off potential criticism that they are peddling Nazi propaganda for a new generation. However, the problem will become more pronounced in subsequent issues. The plan is to reproduce completely 150 newspapers up to 1945. In the later publications there will be little internal balance. The Nazis closed down opposition papers and censored heavily. Newspapers such as Der Stuermer (The Attacker) dripped antiSemitic vitriol.

"I am not sure what effect this project will have," said Ralph Giordano, a novelist and Holocaust survivor. "What I can say is that Hitler, and everything that his name symbolises, may have been militarily defeated but not intellectually." A leading member of the Berlin Jewish community was also sceptical about the mass selling of Nazi newspapers. "We're all a tad nervous," he said, requesting anonymity. "The Gaza action is propelling thousands on to the streets chanting antiIsraeli slogans - it's not a great moment to give publicity to Joseph Goebbels."


Hooray! Arrogant bitch loses

Sharon Shoesmith, the former children's services chief who lost her job over the Baby P tragedy, has lost an appeal against her sacking from Haringey Council.

Ms Shoesmith, 55, was dismissed without compensation from her senior position at Haringey Council in north London last month after a damning report into her department's failings. She launched an attempt to overturn the decision to sack her but a panel of councillors rejected her appeal.

Children's Secretary Ed Balls sent inspectors into Haringey Council after the trial of those responsible for 17-month-old Baby P's death. The inspectors identified a string of "serious concerns" about the local authority's child protection services, which they described as "inadequate".

Mr Balls removed Ms Shoesmith from her post on December 1 but she remained suspended on full pay until Haringey councillors decided to dismiss her a week later. Ms Shoesmith's appeal hearing before a panel of three Haringey councillors began on Wednesday last week and lasted three days. A Haringey Council spokesman said: "A panel of councillors has rejected an appeal by Sharon Shoesmith against her dismissal on December 8 2008. "The decision was taken today by a different panel of councillors from the ones who made the original decision. "Ms Shoesmith will not be returning to work in Haringey. She will not receive any compensation package. She will not receive any payment in lieu of notice."

Employment law experts say Ms Shoesmith could be in line for a payout of up to œ173,000 if she can prove that the council was wrong to sack her. She may now make claims against Haringey for breach of contract and unfair dismissal.

Baby P, who cannot be named for legal reasons, died in a blood-splattered cot in August 2007. He had suffered more than 50 injuries at the hands of his mother, her boyfriend and their lodger despite being on the child protection register and receiving 60 contacts with the authorities over eight months. The trio will be sentenced at the Old Bailey in the spring.


Italy: Minister blasts Muslim protesters' prayers

Italy's defence minister warned the country's Muslims to stop further "provocations" after thousands held prayers in public squares in Milan during pro-Palestinian demonstrations over the past week. Ignazio La Russa, from the right-wing National Alliance, said he did not oppose protests or want to deny anyone the right to pray, but called the public prayers a challenge to peace. "I say enough of the provocations of Islamists in Milan," he told Il Giornale newspaper on Sunday. "In Milan, a legitimate demonstration ended in a deliberately provocative mosque under the open sky."

Thousands of Muslims knelt with their heads bowed to the ground in prayer before Milan's central train station in one of several pro-Palestinian protests on Saturday. A week ago, Muslims held prayers in front of Milan's central cathedral, angering right-wing politicians in the overwhelming Catholic country who called it an affront to Christianity.

Muslim leaders later apologised, saying no offence was intended. There are about 1 million Muslims in Italy, making up almost two percent of the population.

"What would have happened if a group of Christians gathered together to pray with a rosary before Mecca? They probably would have been stoned," said La Russa, who described himself as a practicising Catholic who attends Mass almost every Sunday.

Milan's deputy mayor issued a similar warning to Muslims, saying four protests in seven days was too much. "Enough with pro-Hamas marches now," said Riccardo De Corato. "Milan is not a province of Gaza and has no intention of reluctantly instituting this type of 'Gaza Saturdays.'"

Prime Minister Silvio Berlusconi's centre-right coalition, which includes the hardline anti-immigrant Northern League, has clashed with Italy's Muslim community in the past. It irked Muslims last year with plans to block the construction of new mosques in Italy.

Protests against the Israeli offensive continued in Italy on Sunday, with 3,000 people marching through the centre of Naples. Another 1,000 held hands to form a human chain and march through Rome's historic centre to demand an end to violence in Gaza.


Facing reality

by David Gelernter

Several smart observers have described the root cause of the ongoing battle between Israel and Hamas in the exact same phrase: "irreconcilable differences." America and Europe are warned not to press for pointless negotiations, because the parties are irreconcilable. Israel and the Palestinians both want the same piece of land and can't both have it; Islam and Western democracy or Islam and Zionism can only be antagonists.

Warning the world against pressuring Israel is timely and important, as governments everywhere respond to Israeli self-defense by celebrating the usual worldwide Hypocrisy-Fest (complete with street demonstrations, U.N. resolutions, and the customary savage gaiety), and as Israel's battle against Hamas is denounced as immoral or "disproportionate." A proportionate response would presumably consist of Israel's launching randomly targeted missiles back into Gaza. (Hamas's rocket technique was pioneered in 1944, by the way, in Nazi Germany's V-1 "buzz bomb" attacks against Britain.)

But even though the warning (beware of forcing negotiations) is right, the premise is not. Of course Israel has no choice but to fight Hamas in Gaza. Of course the idea that all problems can be settled by diplomacy is idiotic. Yet we ought to remind ourselves that the supposed "irreconcilable differences" between Israel and the Palestinians are trumped up and phony. The facts are well known to those who care about facts, but bear repeating.

The dispute has many causes, but one root cause. If I own an old junker Buick that's worthless to me, and a stranger offers me $10,000 for it, naturally I'll take the money. But at the same time I might grow suspicious (or at least thoughtful): Maybe the thing is valuable after all. Maybe I could have got more for it.

And suppose the new owner proceeds to enthuse rapturously over the old car, and repairs and rebuilds it and makes it shine, makes it better than new, and starts exhibiting it at car fairs and winning big prizes. Under those circumstances, I'm even more likely to feel aggrieved, cheated, angry, and (especially) stupid--if I'm the kind of person who dwells on old hurts and imagined grievances. And my friends can make matters worse by egging me on. (Everyone loves a fight, especially if he can watch from the sidelines.)

Now, every human being on earth who cares about facts and can tell a lie from a truth knows that there was no such thing as "Palestinian nationalism" until modern Zionism created it out of whole cloth, by placing enormous value on a piece of land that used to seem as precious to its landlords as a rat-ridden empty lot in a burnt-out neighborhood in the middle of nowhere, in the suburbs of nothing. The Jews gradually got possession of an arid stony wasteland (where the sun beats, / And the dead tree gives no shelter, the cricket no relief / And the dry stone no sound of water)--complete with the odd picturesque, crumbling, dirty town; and they loved it. They turned it into a gleaming, thriving modern nation, not only a military but an intellectual powerhouse. And so it is only natural that the former owners' descendants want it back, and remember how much their ancestors loved it, and how the new owners only got possession by wickedness and deceit. Such memories have the strange property of growing clearer instead of cloudier every day.

Only one thing can restore the former owners' peace of mind. They must be kicked firmly in the pants and told "stop whining and get lost" so many times that they finally move on to another grievance.

Any competent psychologist will agree: When someone is mooning over a thing he can't have because it belongs to someone else, the responsible and humane course of treatment is not temporizing sweet-talk but a blunt lesson in the facts of life. "No, you cannot have my wife (girlfriend, husband, etc.), and we are not going to negotiate over it; let's talk about something else." (And it really doesn't matter that the two of you used to keep company; you never loved her.) "Know Thyself" was supposedly carved on the ancient Temple at Delphi; "Face Reality" should have been carved right next to it. There is no irreconcilable difference in the fight between Israel and the Palestinians, no bone-deep dispute that will haunt humanity forever. There is only greed and envy. They never disappear, but can easily move from one target to the next. The problem will be solved as soon as the world stops trying to solve it. When the international community moves on to fresh causes, so will the Palestinians.

Islam too is held up as a basis of "irreconcilable differences" between Israel and the Palestinians. But we ought to remind ourselves that Israel fought the Six Day War in 1967 (and took possession of the West Bank and old Jerusalem, the Golan Heights, and Gaza--as well as Sinai, since returned to Egypt) with the armies of Egypt, Jordan, and Syria, supported by Iraq and Saudi Arabia. Except for the Saudis, every one of these Arab governments was a secularist or modernizing autocracy. On the Arab side the most important man by far was Nasser, f_hrer of Egypt, who as a young man had been a "Green Shirt" (modeled on Mussolini's Black Shirts and Hitler's Brown Shirts) and stood for "nonaligned," left-leaning, bellicose secularist nationalism.

Fatah and the PLO were also secular organizations to start, and in some respects still are. (Fatah was founded in 1954, the PLO in '64; they merged in '67.) In the late '60s and 1970s, the PLO made common cause with far-left terror groups such as the Red Brigades, the Baader-Meinhof gang, and other wacko-Marxist murderers. At one point, Baader-Meinhof gangsters traveled to PLO camps for elementary terror training.

The English actress Vanessa Redgrave represents the sort of bloody-minded Westerner who supported Palestinian terrorism in the 1970s. In 1977, Redgrave made an infamous propaganda film on behalf of Palestinian terrorists. But she was hardly endorsing Islam or any other religion. She was a Marxist (and, as far as one can tell, still is). The Palestinian terrorists were members in good standing of a worldwide fraternity that included the Vietcong and North Vietnamese Communists, Castroite Cubans, the Sandinistas, and dozens of other far-left groups that mostly hated religion to the extent they bothered with it at all.

Obviously most Arabs are devout Muslims, and Islam has a long history of jihad. An event of the late 1800s suggests modern Iran: An Islamic leader in the Sudan who proclaimed himself the Mahdi, God-given ruler of the whole Islamic world and (in effect) the messiah, announced a jihad against the British colonial authorities. His army drove the British and their Egyptian allies out of the Sudan. In the process his troops slaughtered or enslaved thousands of British, Egyptians, and Sudanese and presented the Mahdi (as a sentimental remembrance of victory) with the severed head of the British commanding general on a pike. The Mahdist army then launched invasions of neighboring territories, but was finally destroyed by the British at Omdurman in 1898.

No one doubts that the Muslim religion can inspire gigantic ferocity--yet Islam, like horseradish, is available in anything from super-hot to extra-mild. Only with the rise of Khomeini's Iran in 1979, the Saudis' increasingly lavish support for the spread of Wahhabism, and the collapse of the Soviet Union in 1989 did modern Islam become the dominant hate engine of the Middle East, powering anti-Zionist, anti-Jewish, anti-Western bloodlust. The Arabs are an intensely religious-minded people, like the Jews, but the same religious devotion that is focused today on blood-and-guts Islam could also be focused on a kinder, gentler variety, such as the one preached in the 19th century by the Emir Abd el-Kader. (On Abd el-Kader, see the book by John W. Kiser, reviewed in last week's issue.) Religious devoutness persists from generation to generation, but can take many different systems and causes as its target--as Jews are well aware.

The Bush administration, which has done so many small and medium things wrong and the biggest of all things right, could leave the world a parting gift by introducing some appropriate resolution in the Security Counsel or General Assembly. A proclamation that "anti-Zionism is a form of racism" might be just the thing. (The infamous "Zionism is racism" resolution, passed in 1975 and rescinded in 1991, remains a perfect symbol of depraved worldwide attitudes to Israel.) Or a U.S. resolution might call on the U.N. to take the unprecedented step of enforcing its own charter and booting out members that preach the destruction of Israel. (Article 2 part 4: "All Members shall refrain in their international relations from the threat or use of force against the territorial integrity or political independence of any state.") To start the ball rolling, Iran might be designated for immediate expulsion. The resolution would be savaged and hooted down. But here and there it might make people think.



Political correctness is most pervasive in universities and colleges but I rarely report the incidents concerned here as I have a separate blog for educational matters.

American "liberals" often deny being Leftists and say that they are very different from the Communist rulers of other countries. The only real difference, however, is how much power they have. In America, their power is limited by democracy. To see what they WOULD be like with more power, look at where they ARE already very powerful: in America's educational system -- particularly in the universities and colleges. They show there the same respect for free-speech and political diversity that Stalin did: None. So look to the colleges to see what the whole country would be like if "liberals" had their way. It would be a dictatorship.

For more postings from me, see TONGUE-TIED, GREENIE WATCH, EDUCATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL, FOOD & HEALTH SKEPTIC, GUN WATCH, SOCIALIZED MEDICINE, AUSTRALIAN POLITICS, DISSECTING LEFTISM, IMMIGRATION WATCH INTERNATIONAL and EYE ON BRITAIN. My Home Pages are here or here or here. Email me (John Ray) here. For readers in China or for times when is playing up, there is a mirror of this site here.


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