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What I find striking is the many ways that Americans are conditioned like Nazi Germans. On the one hand, in their discourse, they insist on following the law (and by “law”, they mean American laws!). So much so that when there is a law that would prevent American secret agencies from breaking laws regarding American citizens, that is, the national sphere of laws, these agencies must find a way to break the law secretely or to bypass the law through justifications, or to take advantage of legal loopholes, for example, all these secret courts and decisions for mass surveillance. In other words, they allege to the populace that they are “following the law” while behaving in a criminal way. But they must pretend to follow the “rule of law”.
On the other hand, Americans clearly state that they will break all laws in every other country if they want, for purposes of “national security”, “spying”, etc. In other words, the attitude is that they can disregard the rule of law completely once the sphere moves from internal to external. Yes, they justify acting in a criminal way internationally by pretending it’s to “catch bad guys”, but still they believe they are entitled to be criminals as they please. Internally they must pretend to be “following the law”, externally, no pretense is necessary.
It’s very Nazi.
See this article from National Review for a clear example:
I did a little venting yesterday on the NPR site, in the comment section of this article:
‘Sheer Terror’ As Attack Along French Riviera Kills At Least 84
regarding the Nice attack. (Am I the only person that, when reading headlines in English about the attack, mostly goes default on the pronunciation of the word Nice as it is pronounced in English? 🙂
In any case, the comment section was infested by American neocons and Muslim haters who were shrieking there fanaticism at the top of their typing lungs. The majority of people in the US, UK, and France are incredibly primitive and Nazi-like when it comes to geopolitics.
So I vented a bit – responding repeatedly by highlighting the ugly simple truth of the world we currently live in:
The US, UK, and France have killed and continue to kill millions of innocent people around the world, especially in the ME and Africa, in their endless corrupt wars to put their grubby hands on resources and to exploit other people. They are terrorist governments and military and do a lot more evil and damage in the world than any little so-called “terrorist” group. These “terrorist” attacks in the West are a blow-back from all the death and destruction the West is currently inflicting on other people.
the US, the UK and France have murdered or provided the weapons for
the murder of many more innocent people than the number killed by ISIS,
but please continue your nonsense. And most of ISIS’s weapons were all
provided from Western powers, which explains why they’re fighting Assad
and the US hates the idea of Russia killing them all.
As you can see, I was “on message” all the time. Very Nicely on message. 🙂 Oh, and speaking of Nicely, two more:
Toulouse your head or not to Toulouse your head is the question in such a situation.
That would be Brest but I don’t think I Cannes.
Idk99: More senseless truck violence.
Alessandra Reflections: There are no Seine people left, I tell you.
Back to serious issues, the problem with this ugly ugly propaganda from the US, UK, and France was also summarized in a few other comments at The Guardian:
The Nice attack reminds us that France is at war –
Did Iraq or Afghanistan invade France, Australia, Britain or the US?
The US and NATO attack country after country even while financing and arming terrorists to cause even more attacks, and then use attacks on Western citizens (mostly by deranged individuals) to justify what they have been doing all along. It’s totally criminal and the citizens of the West have been propagandized to believe that they are innocent and undeservingly attacked.
No one needs reminding the whole world is at war, not least the millions who have died due to the proxy crusades. The attacks from both sides have become more deadly and more frequent. And in what, the name of oil? Each attack desensitises the world to death further, to the point that people are now suggesting criminals be deported.. To where – labour camps? That mistake has been made before and it seems it could again. War is profitable and there are no winners apart from those financing it.
Genocide in Algeria
Pacific nuclear tests
Rainbow warrior bombing
Bombing in Iraq and Syria
The French aren’t the egalitarian, innocent victims they make themselves out to be. Then there’s Chad, Lybia, Mali, and all the Northern and Central African countries the French love to exploit and destroy…
The war against terrorism was invented by Ronald Reagan. Ironically the US is only country found guilty of terrorism in the International Court of Justice.
Thankfully many commenters commented on the idiocy of the article’s title repeating the same idiocy that Hollande proffered back in November: now France is at war!
Now! And when it was bombing and killing people in myriad wars and committing every kind of atrocity against innocent people around the world, it was what? Peace?
These people are such Nazis! The West is such a fraud, such a fraud!
Counterpunch really throws a punch here:
Hillary has accepted massive bribes in the form of speaking fees from financial organizations and corporations. She is under investigation for misuse of classified data, an offense for which a number of whistleblowers are in prison. Hillary has survived the bombing of Libya, her creation of a failed Libyan state that is today a major source of terrorist jihadists, and the Benghazi controversy. She has survived charges that as Secretary of State she arranged favors for foreign interests in exchange for donations to the Clintons’ foundation. And, of course, there is a long list of previous scandals: Whitewater, Travelgate, Filegate. Diana Johnstone’s book, Queen of Chaos, describes Hillary Clinton as “the top salesperson for the ruling oligarchy.”
Hillary Clinton is a bought-and-paid-for representative of the big banks, the military-security complex, and the Israel Lobby. She will represent these interests, not those of the American people or America’s European allies.
The Clintons’ purchase by interest groups is public knowledge. For example, CNN reports that between February 2001 and May 2015 Bill and Hillary Clinton were paid $153 million in speaking fees for 729 speeches, an average price of $210,000.
According to rootsactionteam.com, multi-million dollar donors to the Clinton Foundation include Saudi Arabia, Ukrainian oligarch Victor Pinchuk, Kuwait, Exxon Mobil, Friends of Saudi Arabia, James Murdoch, Qatar, Boeing, Dow, Goldman Sachs, Walmart, and the United Arab Emirates.
According to the International Business Times, “Under Hillary Clinton, the State Department approved $165 billion worth of commercial arms sales to 20 nations whose governments had given millions to the Clinton Foundation.”
And this woman is a main candidate for the United States presidency? Seriously, Bush in drag. The United States has become what Nazi Germany wanted to be. I have no doubt that the Nazis, had they won the war, and had they succeeded in being the empire to rule Europe, after a few decades, they could well have instituted more voting on in internal and local level, and have called themselves a democracy. And Germans would be yelling how wonderful their country and their system was, because it brought them material profit.
And then you see all these famous lefty boomer women going wild about Hillary.
What an ugly spectacle.
WASHINGTON — A message from Hillary Clinton’s private email server reveals that France and the United Kingdom both sought to control Libya’s oil in the days after the U.S.-backed coup in 2011.
An email sent on Sept. 16, 2011 to Clinton, then the U.S. Secretary of State, from journalist and family friend Sidney Blumenthal, shows that French President Nicolas Sarkozy and British Prime Minister David Cameron each traveled to Tripoli about one month after Moammar Gadhafi’s government fell in order to assert their claim on Libya’s energy reserves.
They made these demands, Blumenthal wrote, during meetings with the country’s National Transitional Council, a de facto government which formed with Western support in the aftermath of the coup:
The United States, France, U.K. and other NATO allies backed rebel forces in Libya that ousted Gadhafi in August 2011, in what was widely reported to be a “humanitarian intervention” against a government with a history of severe human rights abuses.
So, if they all knew he was a monstrous dictator, why did they all support him for decades, do business with him, and then arm him to his teeth?
Mar. 11: Libya: lessons in controlling the arms trade – by Pieter D. Wezeman
In the current military air strikes against Libyan forces, nations that once supported Colonel Muammar Gaddafi’s regime are now—based on sanction by the United Nations—attacking the forces they were marketing and delivering arms to only weeks before. As the violence escalates and the international community examines how to respond to internal conflict and human rights violations, arms supply should be analysed as it implicates the international community as complicit in the violence it is now trying to end.
UK approved £2.3bn in arms exports over 21 months
Successive governments ‘misjudged the risk’ [What baloney!]
Heavily armed: The British government approved £61.3million in arms exports to Gaddafi’s regime since 2009
Britain sold weapons to Libya and other dictatorships in North Africa and the Middle East just four months before Colonel Gaddafi’s regime slaughtered hundreds of protesters, a damning report reveals today.
The British, you know, these people who claim to be for “freedom and democracy”, did they object ? Did they stop the arms sales and the terror they unleashed?
No, they continued doing their monstrous deeds, while most of the British population looked the other way and while all these dictators continue to terrorize and kill millions of children and adults. And with their bloody British hands, they pocketed the money. So did France and the US.
As long as the US, the UK, and France can rob a country of its resources by putting in place, supporting, and arming a dictator that will sell to them what they want, while keeping the population in a horrible state of poverty and oppression, they will do so. And they don’t even bother to do it very covertly, given how corrupt their populace is. Should any of these dictators outlast their use or start to make demands or not agree to be such a puppet, then it’s time to play the “Oh! We’ve just discovered so and so is a horrible dictator! Now we must topple him! And now our corporations must move in and directly control the natural resources that don’t belong to us! Three cheers fo freedom and democracy – Hitler-style!”
Either the US, the UK, and France rob poor countries through instituting and arming a monstrous dictator, or they do it through a sham of a corrupt “democratic” government, where their corporations move in and rob directly. Either way, the people of any such country remain in horrible poverty, suffering, and are robbed of their own country’s resources.
And after all of this, Americans, British, and French, all exclaim, “Isn’t the democratic governments you see in our own respective countries wonderful? Isn’t capitalism wonderful?”
Hitler died, but his ideology and tactics were fully taken up by the US, the UK, and France – not that it was new to the imperialist powers to continue to oppress millions and rob poor countries all over the world.
Kill, rob, kill, rob, kill, rob – corporations are the “legitimacy” wrapper that the Nazi-like military of the US-UK-France cover themselves with.
Below is a brilliant sentence. One sentence that perfectly summarizes the US today (a comment made at The American Conservative site):
Tis rather a case of a divided house living by the sum of its fears.
Fear – the great uniting force of Americans. Every horrendous policy, every mass murder, every type of exploitation, assassination, usurpation, surveillance, and torture is and will continue to be justified by mechanisms of fear at its deepest level and with material wealth as its most persuasive element. After fear, in second place comes greed.
The American system is crumbling right before the eyes of all. But most Americans, drenched in their ideological propaganda that their system is good, cannot fathom where the problem lies. Not only do they believe their system is good, but they believe it is the best and it works and therefore, by ideological diktat, it cannot malfunction. As a result, they cannot recognize that the problem lies with the very type of savage capitalism/imperialism they have. And now, additionally, this atrocious imperialist capitalism encompasses a deep layer of complete lack of morality and ethics to regulate the personal/sexuality sphere.
Add to this the two very corrupt parties that dominate the political scene – which offer no real alternative to change the system where it needs to be changed. Thus Americans having been going from populist to populist politician as their choice of president, dreaming and clamoring for hope and change, while blindly marching forward and steeping downward to greater and greater systemic malaises.
As I realized not too long ago, Hitler died, but his ideology won in the West. It brought prosperity to some – and given that the prosperity was significant in the US and Europe in the last century – it worked to camouflage a large part of the systemic rot that can never function in this type of system, along with all the people who get crushed by it along the way. Smarter Americans have realized that simply changing presidents won’t change much in the country, no matter if it’s a Democrat or a Republican administration that takes over. Yet, even these people will do very little to bring about change.
Democracy cannot function without ethics. Once you have a rotten democracy in place, such as what has happened in many Western countries, you cannot change that without enormous work from a lot of people. Americans, like most people, are stuck in their ways, their dysfunctional ideology, their attitudes, their blindness, their corruption. With each passing day, certain very valuable attitudes that they possessed, cherished, and encouraged are simply lost as part of the country’s culture. There are no more Mr. Smiths going to Washington today. Nor would they be admired if they existed. Americans traded in I Love Lucy, Jimmy Stewart, An Affair to Remember, and The Partridge Family for Grindr, Tinder, porn, and Caitlyn Jenner. It is sad – and it further underscores just how much the past is often another country.
Instead of fighting the Nazis, Americans now go murder masses of the poorest of the poor in the Middle East and Africa. Or they supply the arms and oversight for other client monsters to do the job. Or they bomb entire countries to pieces with not a thought for the suffering and destruction they inflict on defenseless populations who cannot escape.
And most of the American population supports this. They have as much concern for other people as the Germans did while gazing at the boarded trains taking those unfortunate Jews to their extermination. The threat from Stalin during “Cold War I” gave Americans the justification to commit any barbarity under the guise of fighting the particularly monstrous version of totalitarian communism that Stalin’s USSR represented. Once that fight largely disappeared, American barbarity increasingly came to the fore, naked. So new excuses needed to be created to canvass popular support. Little irrelevant groups conveniently labeled “terrorists” were presented, through a flick of a wand, to the American people as the threat that replaced the USSR communist bogeyman and who were seeking to destroy their glorious system, their way of life, their freedom – even their very lives. And here is where this circus takes on a surreal turn. While Americans will continue to scapegoat their problems on “terrorists” and “illegal immigrants” – no matter how much they murder and bomb other peoples, and no matter how much of a militarized, police state they become, with encircling walls set up along every inch of every border, they cannot stop the gradual implosion of their system, because it is there where the rot lies.
And another nice comment below left on TAC by Cosimano, that nicely finishes my own commentary above:
American ethics have always been subjective. Other than a sort of general agreement that it was not good to steal or murder everything else has always been open for discussion.
Religion was a nice veneer but it never really mattered all that much. People made up their minds and then found the appropriate Bible verse to support them. Not the other way around.
Why do I ask? Today I came across an intriguing news article saying French authorities had finally made public archives from their shameful and evil WWII Nazi collaboration.
Why intriguing? Because the article was in English on the Daily Express’s site*, and when I searched for the news in French, thinking I’d find at least a dozen articles, there were none. Is the news old or is the French media going to stifle it? I don’t know. I found it odd.
But the search led me to this interesting interview with Robert Paxton, a historian that specializes in the Vichy era/government. Apparently some archives had been opened earlier. Also, note that the access is quite restricted to certified scholars, the general public can’t access anything. Peons are not entitled.
And then, in reading some articles written by Paxton, I came upon the one below, which is partially paid access only. So I didn’t read it all.
But it provided one more bit of data that was particularly intriguing to me, since it was news to me: Which countries in the West deported the most Jews to the camps – proportionally speaking? He slightly veers into the answer, while reviewing a book on France:
It’s called “the French paradox.” On the one hand the Germans, with the assistance of the actively anti-Semitic Vichy government and of a certain number of actively anti-Semitic French citizens, deported a shocking number of the Jews living in France between 1940 and 1944 to their deaths. On the other hand, the proportion of Jews deported from France was much smaller than that deported from the Netherlands, Belgium, or Norway. Is it not curious that among the Nazi-dominated countries of Western Europe the country reputedly most anti-Semitic had one of the highest survival rates? In that region only Denmark and Italy lost a lower proportion of their Jewish population.
About a quarter of the Jews who were living in France between 1942, when the deportations began, and 1944 were murdered. Double that proportion—roughly half—of the Jews living in Belgium and Norway during the same period were killed. The loss in the Netherlands was a catastrophic 73 percent.
I wonder why some of these countries mentioned, that no one normally thinks of as monstrously Nazi, performed such a high level of persecution of Jews. No time to go find out the answer now.
REVEALED: France’s SECRET links to the Nazi Holocaust
FILES detailing French collaboration in the murder of 76,000 Jews were made public for the first time yesterday after being locked away since the end of the Second World War.
The world is going to pieces.
Has nothing really changed that much and was it just me that hadn’t noticed it before? Europe is on the fast-track to become an increasingly fascist bunker, corrupt and nasty to the core. They have no choice since they refuse to change course from their neo-colonialist/joint imperialism with the US. They’ve been nazis for the past 3,000 years at least – ask yourself, was there any time when Europe wasn’t Nazi? No. And apparently if there was a slight interlude in the post-WWII or post-Cold War era, it’s over. It’s back to their vivid hatred of everyone else, the xenophobia, and the scape-goating, along with their beloved ally across the pond. Also it’s about time we start counting Cold Wars. Number 1 ended and now we are in Cold War number 2. Sparks are flying all over the Middle East and some people seriously want it to catch fire and explode.
One facet of this Nazi culture is that I’ve noticed how little reporting there is in the West concerning the thousands and thousands of civilians that are being killed in Africa and the Middle East. All that is usually mentioned, when there is any mention at all, is a number. It’s as eery as the record-keeping of Jews being gassed in the camps. It’s another facet of the current Nazi attitude that other people (non-American/non-European) are expendable and irrelevant when killed.
I’ve also noticed we hardly ever see graphic pictures on television of the victims of the “allied (mafias’)” bombing, such as the few examples I linked to in the above paragraph. These are the kinds of pictures that show the horrors that children are going through in Syria and Africa – maimed, injured, and killed – but must of all, terrorized. Like all war pictures, they are unforgettable. But most people I know (Westerners) are never exposed to such pictures and never care to see what is happening. Although many support the bombings and war (of other people, of course). Remember how hysterical Europeans were when they were being bombed during WWII? How easily they have forgotten.
And then the nastiness doesn’t end there. All parties involved, including the “allies”, are bombing hospitals in these wars (here’s one example: Syrian Government Forces Are Targeting Doctors as a Weapon of War. Since this article is being reported by Newsweek, they don’t report when “allies” do the same). If it weren’t for Doctors Without Borders (who are Western as far as their top organization), we wouldn’t even hear about the West bombing hospitals in these wars, it’s obviously not news. They have also destroyed water treatment plants. People are not only being bombed but now they have no water.
When I spoke of this to a Belgian guy this week who works in the gas industry, his was the typical European retort – a snicker. He is planning to go to a beautiful vacation spot for Christmas. He doesn’t care about any war atrocity or the millions of people killed around the world. “We don’t have operations in Syria”. Therefore should all Syrians or Africans be killed, that would not concern me, he could have added. Together with his complete insensitivity to the rest of humanity, he likes to take pictures of nature. How quaint. His entire existence is dedicated only to himself and various forms of self-entertainment. Talk about clash of civilizations indeed. Monstrous inhumanity of the West versus any kind of sanity that exists anywhere.
As a small consolation, in this bleak and truly horrifying world, there will always be heroes. Like this one (“‘I Will Not Leave Syria’: One of Aleppo’s Few Remaining Doctors Is Defiant“). Most of the doctors have been killed in or have fled Aleppo. This one refuses to leave. He is one of a kind. Works 15-hour shifts day after day, underground, to save lives, putting his life at risk at every moment. While the rest of the world expends all its energy to kill and maim and injure. All in order to pay 50 cents less on filling up their precious little gas tanks that are also destroying the environment, as they have spent the last week bleating like sheep repeatedly telling us in the COP21. This is the real clash of civilizations that is going on. Between the Western nazi imperialists and all their wars and arms industry and robbery of natural resources and the rest of the world.
When one of the numerous Western-set-up dictators starts becoming a little too independent, a little less the Uncle-Tom they had agreed to be, then it’s time to label them no longer “one of our allies” in the Middle East, but a “brutal dictator”. The (brutal) friends and allies of yesterday are the “monstrous rulers” that must be toppled and bombed today, along with million of civilians. The war criminal and monster of yesterday that used chemical weapons his people (Assad) becomes a possible “partner” and not so bad after all if the West doesn’t like the Islamic State. And what, mind you, is the difference between Saudi Arabia and this Islamic State? There is nothing that the Islamic State does that Saudi Arabia doesn’t do at a much larger scale.
And, as we have been watching, should any civilian try to flee the horror inflicted on them by these wars, there’s a nice door ready to be slammed on their faces by most of the West, most notably France. And then they are surprised when the blood spatters on their faces through some “terrorist” attack. I just heard a news report that the number one reason given for the French who voted for the FN (hard right) in a post-voting poll in France was… “immigration”.
Nicely, there was also this: David Cameron reported to police as a ‘war criminal’ for bombing Syria | UK Politics | News | The Independent.
This is a fantastic article: Nazi Germany’s War On Terrorism
Excellent recap of how Hitler manipulated people using the idea of “terrorism” and, of course, through the vivid fear it engendered.
This article was written on 05/30/03, twelve years ago! And here were are, having to re-live every single step of what Hitler did.
I’ve been reading and watching way too many things to post anything here. Ah, where to begin. I’ve been in shock in the last few days, ever since the Paris attacks because I realized the extent of my naiveté in thinking that I lived in anything that could be called a democracy. So this is what living in Germany at the time of the Reichstag fire was like. And it’s moving fast. Europe and the US are no longer democracies. (And it didn’t just happen yesterday, but my illusion was lingering, painful as it is to realize that we are to live in the same world of 75 years ago).
I’m very distressed to understand that the problem are the proxy wars. Instead of Russia, the US, France, the UK, and the Saudis bombing each other, they are bombing “the poorest of the poorest”, including masses of civilians, which includes, even worse, always a large number of children. No solidarity from the West to all the murdered and terrorized and maimed children in Africa and the Middle East, whether the killings come from these noxious “coalitions” of mass murder governments, or the so-called terrorists. When you think about it, any of the following governments: the US, Russia, France, UK, and the Saudis are just terrorists with much more means – both in arms and in resources. And what a propaganda machine! So oiled, so shameless.
I had always thought part of the reason Hitler et al had been able to come to power around 1930 was that ‘it was a different era then’, ‘people were more stupid’, they had ‘more stupidifying education’, they had less access to information, society’s culture was more dumbed down.
Alas, nothing has changed. We live in a world with masses of morons who gladly give their support to today’s Hitlers. What then must we do? That’s what I’ve been thinking.
And I’ve had the displeasure to spend this last week focusing on thoughts about war itself, and several of the concrete wars that are currently going on. One thought out of many – why are people in the West so shocked about beheadings? It’s one person killing another. Whereas a jet dropping dozens of bombs is one (or a couple of people) killing a huge pile of human beings and injuring so many others. I haven’t heard of the fighters beheading children. What are children being killed with in these wars? Modern arms. Really, who are the barbarians? While all groups use modern arms, the people who have killed the most civilians in Africa and the Middle East are the usual culprits: the US, the UK, France, Russia, and now more recently, they were joined by the Saudis, with their massacres in Yemen.
The Russians arming Assad, who used chemical weapons on people. The US and Saudis arming the Islamic State, which is now being attacked from various sides. And it’s millions of people forced to live in the hell these powers create that pay the most cruel price. It’s disgusting.
Below some good links to read – I won’t even bother to post the title first on some, because it will take too much time:
Putin hasn’t changed, but suddenly the West’s short-termist rhetoric has softened
In this review by Cesarani, I found a bit more explanation of the complicated problem Fritz Bauer and others were up against in attempting to try the participants in the Nazi Holocaust machine. https://muse.jhu.edu/journals/utq/summary/v076/76.1cesarani.html
As Cesarani explains:
The trial of twenty men accused of aiding and abetting murder while serving as guards or kapos in Auschwitz that took place in Frankfurt between December 1963 and August 1965 was a pivotal moment in the process by which West Germans became aware of the crimes committed by the Third Reich. It was given saturation coverage by the media and made it impossible for West Germans to deny knowledge of the atrocities perpetrated by the Nazis.
[This is what is so amazing for someone who was not living at that time to understand. As I mentioned in my earlier post about the movie “Labyrinth of Lies”, it’s just mind-blowing to think that the public largely ignored what happened before that regarding the Nazi extermination system, the camps, the tortures, etc! I can understand better now why the fictional character in the movie is completely surprised when he first hears that Auschwitz was an extermination camp – and why the director+other writer decided to create the character and the story this way.]
However, as Rebecca Wittmann shows, this knowledge was partial and peculiar. It would take decades before Germans came to terms with the extent of popular complicity in racism, atrocity, and genocide during the Third Reich. This was not due to malice in the judiciary or any desire to avoid the truth. Rather, it was the strange result of punctiliously observing legal niceties.
The Auschwitz trial was conducted under the 1871 criminal code. The prosecution did not want to charge the defendants with perpetrating genocide or crimes against humanity because that would have meant invoking retrospective legislation, something that was anathema following Nazi manipulation of the law.
[What a terrible dilemma. It seems to me, had the prosecution tried the genocide trial route, that would have meant failure from the start. At the same time, having to use a legal framework from 1871 (!) completely hampered their efforts and goals.]
But this fastidiousness created numerous dilemmas. Owing to the statute of limitation the defendants had to be charged with murder.
[As an aside note, the notion of statute of limitations for serious crimes is often counter to justice.]
To convict on a count of committing or abetting murder, the prosecution had to attain a high threshold of evidence and, crucially, had to prove ‘base motives.’ If the defendants could convince the court that they were just obeying orders, which meant that they had no motive other than doing what they were told to do, they could be acquitted. So, ironically, the more they were obedient Nazis the less they were at risk of conviction.
Use of the old criminal code created an even worse distortion that warped public understanding of Nazi perpetrators. In order to show that the defendants acted from ‘base motives’ the prosecution had to demonstrate that they showed initiative and exceeded orders. To do this the prosecution invoked the regulations that pertained in the concentration camps and brought forward witnesses, such as the SS judge Konrad Morgan, who investigated alleged ‘excesses.’ This technique inadvertently established the standard brutality of the camps as an acceptable norm. Furthermore, to clinch a conviction the prosecution sought to show that the defendants acted sadistically. In several cases there was plenty of such evidence, but it had unintended consequences.
The West German public became convinced that Nazi perpetrators were not ordinary folk like them, but murderous sociopaths.
[What a convenient way to think! Especially when you are living in a country infested with Nazis, most of whom have been awarded total impunity for every kind of monstrous crime, including genocide.]
Other SS men, even if they were part of the machinery of mass murder, seemed like decent chaps doing their duty. Any sign of compassion or inconsistency could moderate the view taken of a defendant and few men were consistently violent or murderous. Because the prosecution focused on individual instances of vicious behaviour, the daily business of genocide receded into the background. The torture apparatus developed by one of the defendants made more of an impression on the public than the gas chambers.
Fritz Bauer, the attorney-general of the state of Hesse, who had pressed for the trial, hoped that it would expose the systemic racism, quotidian brutality, and genocide practised by Nazi Germany. He was thwarted because, ironically, the law itself militated against the effects he wanted to obtain. Wittmann remarks that ‘in the courtroom, the Holocaust faded almost entirely into the background, as excessive, unauthorized brutality was emphasized by the judges and prosecution.’ Even the worst offenders received relatively mild sentences that bore no relation to their role in a death factory that murdered over one million people. Indeed, the more Nazified they were the more lenient the court had to be because this, rather than personal, venal motives, explained their errant behaviour.
Wittmann’s study is a fine blend of political, cultural, and legal history, drawing on a deep knowledge of the Nazi era and the genocide against the Jews. Although in places her narrative is a trifle repetitive, she writes clearly and elegantly. Her account of the trial’s impact may seem perfunctory compared to the space devoted to exegesis of the proceedings, but this is a minor quibble over what will surely be regarded as a landmark study of a landmark trial.