Teaching the wrong things

This isn’t surprising:

For seven decades, “never forget” has been a rallying cry of the Holocaust remembrance movement.

But a survey released Thursday, on Holocaust Remembrance Day, found that many adults lack basic knowledge of what happened — and this lack of knowledge is more pronounced among millennials, whom the survey defined as people ages 18 to 34.

Thirty-one percent of Americans, and 41 percent of millennials, believe that two million or fewer Jews were killed in the Holocaust; the actual number is around six million. Forty-one percent of Americans, and 66 percent of millennials, cannot say what Auschwitz was. And 52 percent of Americans wrongly think Hitler came to power through force.

There’s a reason for this, but I think part of it might have been missed:

“As we get farther away from the actual events, 70-plus years now, it becomes less forefront of what people are talking about or thinking about or discussing or learning,” said Matthew Bronfman, a board member of the Conference on Jewish Material Claims Against Germany, which commissioned the study. “If we wait another generation before you start trying to take remedial action, I think we’re really going to be behind the eight ball.”

Bronfman is right that 70 years ago is a long time: I was born in 1977 and WWII ended a mere 32 years previously, but I’m no more connected to that event than a millennial is. Where he’s going wrong is thinking “remedial action” is required, which will no doubt consist of reminding everyone what Auschwitz was along with harrowing pictures and dark warnings of a rise in antisemitism. But it’s not Auschwitz or the Holocaust that needs to be remembered so much as what brought them about. Alas, it’s not difficult to see why those lessons have been forgotten. For example:

And 52 percent of Americans wrongly think Hitler came to power through force.

Well, yes. When people are told incessantly that democratically elected governments are by definition virtuous, it might be hard to imagine someone like Hitler could come to power peacefully. Rather than warning of the dangers of an overly powerful head of state, we have elected presidents ruling by Executive Order, deliberately bypassing Congress as his supporters cheer and the media explains it’s best for the country. Instead of a Supreme Court ruling on the law as it stands, we have them making overtly political decisions which the people in power say is what the people want. As the federal government gets its tentacles into every nook and cranny of public life and branches of the state security apparatus attempt to thwart the election and then the presidency of Donald Trump, few seem interested in pointing out that the Holocaust was first and foremost an abuse of state power which cared little for due process or individual rights.

At the site of the Monument to Six Million Jewish Martyrs, the Philadelphia Holocaust Remembrance Foundation has been developing an interactive memorial plaza, scheduled to open in October. Visitors will use a new app that will, among other things, feature survivors’ recorded testimonies.

In one part of the plaza, train tracks that carried prisoners to the Treblinka death camp will be embedded in the pavement. When visitors step onto the tracks, the app, using geocaching technology, will pull up videos of Philadelphia residents “who were on those very trains that led to Treblinka,” said Eszter Kutas, the remembrance foundation’s acting director.

I’m sure this is very interesting from a historical perspective, but wasn’t the whole point of “never forget” to ensure the Holocaust was never repeated? I’m a lot less concerned that the population is slowly forgetting a terrible event which occurred over half a century before they were born than their being unaware of the importance of things like limited government, freedom of speech, and individual rights in preventing another.

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42 thoughts on “Teaching the wrong things

  1. The problem with “never forget” is it will be taught by people who have a very specific idea of what we should “never forget”. So you are quite right to talk about limited government, respect for individuals and so on. However the teachers will think the issues that matter are stopping hate speech, and preventing “fascists” from organising (such as Cable Street.

    There will certainly be no attempt attempt to consider whether collectivist ideals inevitably lead to the diminishing of the rights of individuals or how Utopian ideals, lead to mass murder. Indeed the teachers will be those who think the “right ideals” can be an excuse for the gulag. Who think killing saboteurs is regrettable but understandable.

  2. The whole purpose of “never forget” is so the Holocaust is not repeated.

    Quite so.
    The most memorable aspect of my visit to the brand new “Holocaust Memorial Centre” in Washington DC (in I think 1993) was the induction speech by one of their officials about exactly that, this must “never” be allowed to happen again.

    The night before in the hostel, the TV had been showing Bosnian civilians in barbed wire concentration camps, being starved to death, or shot, etc.

    I interjected at this point during the induction speech.
    This was not well received by the staff giving the “never again” speech.

    My first experience of indisputable, but inconvenient, facts being kicked under the carpet.

  3. However the teachers will think the issues that matter are stopping hate speech, and preventing “fascists” from organising

    They sure as hell won’t teach the fact that Hitler, upon assuming power, made very good use of laws already on the books that were brought in to stop the Nazi party.

  4. Indeed any education is on the what happened, when the why and how might be more useful.

    Similarly, again and again I have the same argument on the risks of allowing into power people with a certain world view. The response is always, but we would vote in socialists who don’t want to trash the economy (kill people/etc). Occasionally buttressed with a dash of racism: of course the Venezuelans (replace as appropriate) ended up killing each other they are not….European like us.

  5. @Tim

    “wasn’t the whole point of “never forget” to ensure the Holocaust was never repeated?”

    Erm, no, that would be the point of “always learn” – which is a more comprehensive but rather less promoted concept.

    Given that the learning would include “stop financial and technological backing of criminal regimes”, I can see why.

  6. Perhaps saddest is the notion that a 34 year old could have spent sixteen years of adult life and still not know what Auchswitz was, in an age utterly saturated with information. Schools cannot, and should not, be the only source of information about the world

  7. And 52 percent of Americans wrongly think Hitler came to power through force.

    While he didn’t come to power entirely through force, like Lenin, I think it’s fair to say that he wouldn’t have been able to come to power without considerable use of force, like setting fire to the Reichstag, and having the SA physically intimidate the Bundestag into voting through the Enabling Act (and, later, using force to bust the trade unions, and of course the Night of the Long Knives).

    This is why I roll my eyes when people insist that the USA now has a ‘fascist government’. If Robert Meuller dies in suspicious circumstances, or the family members of Republicans who don’t vote the way Trump wants them to start getting beaten up, or the elections are cancelled, then maybe, but as long as Trump has to face the voters in a free and fair election in a couple of years, then no, it’s not a ‘fascist government’ (also, anybody who claims that has to explain, with reasons, whether when they say ‘fascist’ they count Franco’s Spain as a fascist regime: they can say either yes or no, but they have to have a good argument, and be able to point out both similarities and differences with the regimes in Germany and Italy, before they get to comment on what is and isn’t ‘fascism’).

  8. I’m happy for the memorials to continue as seeing what a supposed civilised country could stoop to is educational but the distance now means its relevance is vastly diminished. It would be for many youngsters the same as my generation becoming upset about the massacres of the 30 years war or Armenian holocaust etc.

  9. I think, as well as the abuse of state power aspect (which is certainly of great importance), the specifically conspiratorial nature of antisemitism is one key thing that is in danger of being forgotten, overlooked (or implicitly accepted). It’s not the same as other forms of racism.

  10. the specifically conspiratorial nature of antisemitism is one key thing that is in danger of being forgotten, overlooked (or implicitly accepted). It’s not the same as other forms of racism.

    Agreed.

  11. “They sure as hell won’t teach the fact that Hitler, upon assuming power, made very good use of laws already on the books that were brought in to stop the Nazi party.”

    This. It isn’t taught why he went for the communists first and more brutally than his other opponents. Because they were after the same voters.

  12. It irritates me somewhat when I read/hear about “Six Million Jews”. Allow me to explain …

    The Jews were perhaps, due to the anti-Semitism in Europe, one of the best organised minorities in Europe and they kept fairly meticulous records of their numbers via Synagogues, social organisations etc.

    After the war, various people studied the demographics and counted up the surviving Jews they could find. Based on normal populations, they calculated that over the period of the war, so many would have died of natural causes, so many emigrated and so many would have been born so the total population should have been X Million. There were actually Y Million that they could find and therefore there were, rounded to the nearest million, six million missing. This is a highly conservative estimate.

    This is certainly an underestimate because the Russians would not allow inspectors into their territory to examine records or count up the number of Jews. The Germans did keep good records but fiddled numbers by using the same prisoner number from a dead person on a new arrival and when the Russians approached, systematically destroyed records. The records in Germany consisting of reports on the numbers killed are again good for the early war period, less so for the later period.

    Besides, the Soviets carried on using the camps for their political enemies and as Jews were persecuted in Russia from time immemorial, they were not particularly interested.

    I would say that the estimate of 6 million is on the low side but it would be virtually impossible at this late remove to determine exactly how many were killed.

    One excellent reason to oppose at every level any attempt at gun control. After all, all the best dictators approve of it such as Stalin, Lenin, Trotsky, Mao, Pol Pot etc. etc. and so forth.

    In the 20th Century alone, the State has been the biggest mass murderer with communists alone exceeding by a very large margin 100 million dead. This number is taken from the Black Book of Communism, edited by Stéphane Courtois which attempts to estimate the numbers of dead. Wikipedia has a fair and unbiased entry on this book. Again, the estimate is low as the useful idiots in the west jump on any minor error to discredit the research and refute any claim that anyone was killed by the Communist regime.

    I would be happy to see another effort to make sure that every schoolchild was educated about communism and its inevitable result. Mass murder isn’t a bug, it is a feature of all socialist regimes and the first step is gun confiscation. The laws relating to firearms in Germany were put in place before the 1st World War and “reasonable” as they were, were used by the Nazis to disarm the population. The Jews had an excuse that they could not foresee the end result. We don’t.

  13. I would say that the estimate of 6 million is on the low side but it would be virtually impossible at this late remove to determine exactly how many were killed.

    My only criticism of the 6 million figure is how it has become so etched in stone that anyone questioning it, e.g. by asking whether it wasn’t closer to 4 million, is howled down as a Holocaust-denying antisemite (as if they’re suggesting 4m is better, or okay). I don’t really have a problem with anyone questioning the 6 million figure as part of a genuine intellectual exercise (as opposed to citing genuine problems with the methodology to claim the whole thing is a hoax), but it’s not really allowed these days. And anyone who claims the figures are not in the millions but the thousands is a moron.

  14. On the subject of the Holocaust, I actually found Roman Polanski’s The Pianist a lot more illustrative of the Nazi machine than Spielberg’s Schindler’s List. The latter depicted the head Nazi as a pyscho who used to shoot prisoners for fun from his balcony, and while this was based on a real character, the real horror of the Nazis is not some pyscho on a balcony but lies in the cold, callous methods by which they went about their business. I thought The Pianist captured this far better.

  15. Mass murder isn’t a bug, it is a feature of all socialist regimes and the first step is gun confiscation

    While the first part is true, I must admit I am not sure that even an armed population would have much of a chance against a trained, equipped, organised military. Just having firearms isn’t enough: you need control structures, you need logistics support, you need training in fighting together.

    In the event that a state did turn its military on its own people, even if those people are heavily armed, they are not going to be able to spontaneously morph into a fighting force capable of resisting (and no, a few survivalist whackadoos who spend their weekends running about the woods with guns aren’t going to cut it either).

    After all, in the aftermath of the second World War you had probably the most comprehensively armed societies ever: guns were easy to come by. and yet did, say, the Forest Brothers in the Baltic states stand a chance against the Communists? No, they did not, because even though they had all the guns they could ever need, they didn’t have the organisation or the logistical support to do anything but carry out increasingly desperate and ineffectual guerilla raids until they were cut down one by one in a series of bloody last stands.

    And when it comes to coups d’états, the side which wins is never the armed rabble: it’s always the side which gets control of the organised military.

    So while you can make arguments for and against gun control, please don’t let’s pretend that an armed population would have any chance of resisting a government determined to enforce its will by military means; it wouldn’t, and it never has.

  16. So while you can make arguments for and against gun control, please don’t let’s pretend that an armed population would have any chance of resisting a government determined to enforce its will by military means; it wouldn’t, and it never has.

    True, but governments want people disarmed so they don’t have to enforce their will by military means. They can send a few fat, ill-disciplined trigger-happy cops to do the job instead.

  17. The Communists have systematically exaggerated the effect of guerrillas since the Russian Civil War. It’s an item of faith, and facts are not allowed to get in the way.

    The Viet Minh were highly organised and hugely numerous. They had massive outside support. They were not just some locals who had risen up.

    But both the French and US were beaten by regular armies in the end. That’s how it always is.

    Fidel Castro, meanwhile, is the ultimate outlier. He won because his opponents were so corrupt they may well have fallen to a peaceful revolt. He didn’t defeat the Cuban Army, he just survived long enough to take advantage of their fall.

    When Che tried it again in a new country he got the usual result.

    No-one has ever replicated Castro, because his success is falsely attributed to its military importance, rather than being a symbol of “someone other than the current rotters”.

  18. Just to recall a case where a government decided to intern – without trial – some 120,000 of its citizens, based purely on their ethnicity, for some years; of course, their lands and property were either confiscated, stolen, or sold at knockdown prices.

    This was in the USA in 1942, though, and despite the Second Amendment the people concerned weren’t able or willing to take up arms to defend their liberty from government oppression.

    In part, perhaps, because Japanese-Americans taking up arms against the Government right after Pearl Harbor would have been pretty suicidal… but it highlights the limits of “I have a gun and can fight for my rights” – by the time you’ve been marginalised enough that they’re coming for you, the rest of the “right thinking citizens” see you as the problem to be eliminated, and those nice police officers are protecting you from the angry mobs…

  19. It’s a bit more complicated than democracy. It was really about the bad politicians after democracy. The Centre Party that listened and accepted Hitler’s reassurances, Paul von Hindenburg that thought Hitler was going to restore the monarchy (and wanted an enabling act, and a bunch of aristos running the place). It was systemically bad.

    It also followed from years of really bad economics. While post-WW1 didn’t help, the Weimar government actually paid back very little in reparations and actually had more money lent to it by other countries for rebuilding than it ever gave. It fuelled the situation that meant people would vote for Hitler with policies to expand the state and hyperinflation by printing money.

    The tragedy of WW2 and the holocaust is how many times it could have been avoided. If von Hindenburg had died a couple of years earlier, a different president might have acted differently. A few years later, Hitler might have been kicked out of power by the electorate.If Hitler had gone down the route of free market economics rather than socialism (and he considered both) he might have been more of a Pinochet today.And yes, he was a socialist and no, the German economy wasn’t good under the Nazis. If we’d started re-arming earlier, maybe given the German army a kicking when they put some troops into the Ruhr (which broke the terms of the surrender) maybe he’d have thought twice about what he was doing.

    The best way to guarantee peace is full bellies. No two countries with McDonalds have fought each other. OK, the odd little scrap, but nothing too serious.

  20. In one way the holocaust is just another on the long list of horrible slaughters in history. But there is one reason to view it as unusually awful, it seems to me.

    Namely, it was perpetrated by the most cultured nation in the world. That, say, the Mongols built a mountain of skulls in Baghdad seems unsurprising. But that the Germans should behave like that …. ugh! Naturally the publicity machine never looks at it like that because historical insight is not the job of a publicity machine.

  21. @ Jason Lynch: why is it “of course” that their lands and property were either confiscated, stolen, or sold at knockdown prices? Britain interned enemy aliens: they weren’t robbed like that. Do you mean “of course, this being the US …”?

  22. @TN: “My only criticism of the 6 million figure is how it has become so etched in stone that anyone questioning it, e.g. by asking whether it wasn’t closer to 4 million, is howled down as a Holocaust-denying antisemite.”

    On an American blog I pointed out that when I was a boy the number eight million was often mentioned. Sure enough, some turd had a go at trying to insinuate that I might be an antisemite. It seems impossible to say anything unbland about the Middle East, the holocaust, and such, without some weevil making such an insinuation. I’m fed up with it. Are they false-flaggers i.e. antisemites pretending to be coarse, hectoring, bullying Jews? Who knows? But it does begin to make me wonder whether we are unusually lucky in this country in the calibre of our Jews.

  23. I simply don’t understand the intellectual process that people go through when they make the “a group of armed citizens don’t stand a chance against the State” argument. Forget for a moment all of the positive secondary and tertiary effects of an armed citizenry (eg your standing army is largely composed of the same people who own guns) and focus on the primary point. We live in a world of finite choices:

    Choice 1: You live in an increasingly authoritarian society and are – by law – unarmed.

    Choice 2: You live in an increasingly authoritarian society and are armed with a weapon that’s deadly at 500 yards.

    I’m a simple man but this one is pretty straightforward from my POV.

  24. Choice 2: You live in an increasingly authoritarian society and are armed with a weapon that’s deadly at 500 yards.

    Yeah, but so is everyone else, and that’s what gets me. I definitely don’t trust you with a gun, sorry.

  25. While it may be true that initially disorganized rebels have little chance of winning against a regular army, a tyrannical government usually cannot rely on the regular army against the people and has to use “elite” NKVD/SS – type gangs, who are much less numerous. So the Americans are quite right to hold on to those AR-15s.

  26. “So while you can make arguments for and against gun control, please don’t let’s pretend that an armed population would have any chance of resisting a government determined to enforce its will by military means; it wouldn’t, and it never has.”

    So Afghanistan is all pacified and prosperous, right? The US military could crush its own countrymen without breaking a sweat, but a bunch of [insert insult here] halfway around the globe can never be defeated because reasons.

    OK.

  27. Hitler came to power peacefully. The NSDAP had won around 37% in the November ’32 elections and the Right, around Hindenburg, lead by that idiot von Papen thought they could tame Hitler by making him Chancellor and only giving a few Cabinet posts to the Nazis.
    Up until 1938 – certainly 1937, Hitler was very successful in domestic terms. Try reading Adam Tooze’s The Wages of Destruction.His anti-semitism was worse than most but not actually off the scales (vide Poland, Lithuania) and the Jewish population was only 1% of the total in Germany. Unlike Stalin, the Nazis only persecuted unpopular minorities. If you were German and kept your head down, life got much better quite quickly under Nazism. I’m not defending Nazism. It was a truly amoral wicked ideology. Worse even than Communism (and I’ve got a copy of the Back Book of Communism and more volumes on the Soviet Union than you would be believe. An early introduction to Robert Conquest by my supervisor at Uni inoculated me against any rosy eyed view of Communism). The problem with Germany post 1933 was that were no institutional barriers in Germany to the assault on civilisation and a march to war. The judiciary was still a hangover from Wilhelmine Germany, anti-semitism was widespread, the Right were disgustingly corrupt and very happy to go along with the Nazis as their socialism was at a communitarian level. Post 1933 until rearmament stepped up post 1937, unemployment fell dramatically, living standards rose, the Nazis introduced social legislation encouraging and rewarding families and children and a Government that praised Germans, told them they had plenty to be proud of, etc. No wonder the Germans loved Hitler.
    But that doesn’t get away from the fact that Hitler and the Nazis deliberately risked war in 1939, and fully expected to go to war by early 1940s and are planning for it. Nor that the Nazis planned for extermination – I prefer mass murder – of the Jews shortly after the War began and planned for it on an industrial scale at the Wannsee Conference. And if they’d won, I don’t think the Man in the High Castle is too far from the truth.

  28. “While the first part is true, I must admit I am not sure that even an armed population would have much of a chance against a trained, equipped, organized military.”

    We won’t be fighting the actual army. We’ll be killing the army’s wives, husbands, kids, pets, chickens, crops . . .

    We’ll be sniping at their vehicles. We’ll make it impossible for them to step outside without body armor and escorts. We’ll shut down food transport to the areas they control – easy to do on the very long and unguardable roads leading in to them. We’ll stop their fuel shipments. We’ll make their helpers too scared to help.

    Look up 4G warfare. https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fourth-generation_warfare . We’re definitely not going head-to-head with any organized force.

    ” I definitely don’t trust you with a gun, sorry.”

    I can live with that. I cannot live with people like you in charge of the only guns.

  29. We’ll be killing the army’s wives, husbands, kids, pets, chickens, crops

    Yeah, because that won’t lose you sympathy.

    Seriously, check out what happened to the Forest Brothers. That’s what you’d be looking at. All the guns in the world don’t help when you have no supplies, no support, no organisation, and the population won’t help you.

    I cannot live with people like you in charge of the only guns.

    Well, as long as we don’t share a landmass, that’s fine.

  30. @S,

    You seem woefully ignorant of previous successful revolutions. In no particular order, there was:

    The American Revolution where it is estimated that only 3% of the qualifying population took up arms against the British. hence the “Threepers” .

    The French Revolution

    Spain during the Napoleonic wars – Wellington was always at a numerical disadvantage against the French (about 25% of the numbers, occasionally up to 30%) BUT the Spanish guerillas (guerilla is Spanish for “a little war”) pinned down so many French troops to safeguard their supply lines that Wellington was locally numerically equal or stronger than the French

    The Mexican Revolution under Pancho Villa who fought the Mexican Government and the various expeditions that the USA sent their own troops in under General Pershing and others to kill or capture him.

    The Russian revolution

    Cuban Revolution

    The Warsaw Ghetto and the Warsaw Uprising – both failed through lack of resources and external supplies but shows what unarmed civilians can do against the best that the state can throw at them if there is the will to do so.

    Afghanistan – from the British expeditions in the 19th century to the Russian invasion where the Afghans fought them to a standstill until the Russians gave up. Try reading The Bear Went Over The Mountain for an insight into the Russian view of the war. The Americans went in after 9/11 and are still there having (sarcasm on) successfully westernised and pacified the country (sarcasm off). Note that the enemy isn’t defeated until the enemy admits it is defeated. Astonishingly, they get a say in the matter too!

    Africa – where “Liberation” organisations eventually prevailed against the state powers.

    Cambodia.

    China under Mao – he worked out tactics and methods by himself. His published work “On Guerilla warfare” is still a standard text for the US Marines.

    Nicaragua.

    Vietnam against the French.

    Korea.

    And so forth.

    The times that the revolution failed is when the revolutionaries went head to head against the Army in a conventional battle. The most obvious example is the Tet Offensive in Vietnam in 1968. The Viet Kong were wiped out and the invading North Vietnamese army were defeated comprehensively, so much so that the war was won and the US withdrew their troops. It was only AFTER a change in the presidency of the US when Ford refused to get involved that the NVA invaded and took the country.

    An army requires food, munitions, fuel and a supply line to operate. if you prevent that lot from reaching the army it cannot operate.

    As for targeting the dependants of the army personnel, this is a way that the army can be forced to decide that they no longer want to fight.

    You mention the Forest Brothers in Poland and mistakenly believe that they had all the firearms they could wish for. Well, if you research them, they fought the Russians until at least the mid-1950’s BUT:

    They had to rely on battlefield pick ups of weapons and ammunition and could not rely on external support for more weapons and ammunition. You need spares and replacement weapons plus ammunition which is the limiting factor.

    The Communists were determined to pour enough resource and materiel into the place to ensure defeat – they did not care how many of their own men were killed as long as all opposition was crushed.

    The Communists put in place a system that spied and controlled the civilian population – the civilian population could not supply them with food, medicines, money, arms and ammunition and intelligence due to the KGB and economic hardships. Neither was such material available from elsewhere. They were defeated because the Communists were more determined than them and had more material and men.

    The only recent revolution that failed were the Chinese insurgents in Malaya for various reasons.

    So for you to say that no civilian revolution succeeded displays a remarkable lack of knowledge and an unfamiliarity of how to engage in insurrection.

    However, your anti gun stance slipped and is a classic case of projection. It goes:

    “You should not be allowed a gun!”
    “Why not?”
    “Because you might shoot me over a dispute”
    “What makes you say that? I have never had an argument with you?”
    “Well, if I had a gun, I would shoot you …”

    Unless, of course, you are willing to live under a regime like North Korea, Stalinist Russia or Mao’s China when guns are indeed not needed.

  31. “Seriously, check out what happened to the Forest Brothers. That’s what you’d be looking at. All the guns in the world don’t help when you have no supplies, no support, no organisation, and the population won’t help you.”

    There’s one very large difference between the situation of the Forest Brothers and us. Take a look at this map: https://www.zerohedge.com/sites/default/files/images/user3303/imageroot/20161109_trumpmap.jpg?1478755426

    We’re the red part.

    We’re not some small percentage of some small backwater of Estonia and Lithuania seeking to defeat the huge Soviet conqueror.

    The only way this all occurs is if the blue part decides to invade and conquer the red part. I think our support would be adequate, and the population helpful, if this were to happen.

  32. “Seriously, check out what happened to the Forest Brothers”

    Just looked at the map. Turns out they won.

  33. @dearieme,

    I think describing Germany as the most cultured nation in the world is overegging it quite seriously. Obviously ahead of Bongo-bongo land but that’s not the peer group. The country had a very late transition from feudal patchwork to more-or-less benign dictatorship, while other countries in Europe were already established democracies. Germany was behind the rest of Europe on most counts, artistically and technologically. We only really got a proper industrial revolution underway in the late 19th century.

    Pre-1870 literature consists of a handful of smash hits, much of it written by Austrians or Czechs. There probably isn’t an undergrad German literature programme in the world without Kafka and Goethe on it, but I doubt most Germans would recognise the other authors students are forced to stomach.

    Beethoven spent his productive years in Austria, while Mozart and Mahler were Austrian (and Mahler Jewish anyway). The rest of the music that is still listened to is, while quite pleasant, also derivative and repetitive.

    Most of German peasant culture (odd exceptions like Fasching parades) is also pretty rudimentary.

    Finally, in defence of my “uncultured” thesis, I present Exhibit A: the achievements and global appeal of German cuisine.

  34. Take a look at this map

    Oh, good. There is, as I suspected, an ocean between us. So you just stay on your side of it and everything will be fine.

  35. I confess to really liking German cusine
    I’ve had much wurst.
    (sorry, open goal.)

  36. Oh, good. There is, as I suspected, an ocean between us. So you just stay on your side of it and everything will be fine.

    Sure thing. In fact, we had a bit of a skirmish to ensure that you stay on your side of the pond, remember? Even still, you’re welcome to come visit if you tire of being thrown in a cage for being a meanie-pants on the internet.

  37. “I present Exhibit A: the achievements and global appeal of German cuisine.”

    You had me convinced until this. German food is wonderful and pairing it with bier is heaven on earth.

    I think the British culture and their traditions are to be envied but the food is so terrible they had to conquer the known world to improve the fare.

  38. @BiG

    I think describing Germany as the most cultured nation in the world is overegging it quite seriously.

    But it was the common German mindset, was it not, their sense of self-identity? Perhaps actually quite an odd thing for them to believe but certainly the Great War was seen in terms of protecting Kultur?

    And the worst atrocities of WW2 were, as dearieme alludes to, both the pinnacle of this – that the culture is so uniquely worthy and strong and valuable it must eliminate its impurities and wipe out its competitors – and the pit of it – that any civilisation that undertakes such depravity as an organised project, particularly without significant internal resistance, is utterly morally degraded from its core outwards. How could a people who had supposed themselves to be so civilised and cultured – and we had largely accepted their claim – fall so far? Is it a mirror to all of us, that any “great civilisation” has this potential for evil in us if the conditions are just so? Was there something uniquely Germanic about it, and if so how do we live with them as neighbours and allies, and why had we not seen this in them?

    As with all Brits I’m afraid my sense of German history may be warped by the moving pictures, including on the civilisational issues.

    Unteroffizier Schnurrbart: Rolf, what are we doing here?
    Sgt. Steiner: We are spreading the German culture throughout a desperate world.

  39. This. It isn’t taught why he went for the communists first and more brutally than his other opponents. Because they were after the same voters.
    It’s true he imprisoned the leaders of the communists. It’s also true (as Michael Burleigh documented) that the Nazi Party welcome converts from the rank and file.

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