Hitler’s New Order

One point that Mazower mentions in this chapter is the way the more dominant European powers like Britain allowed Hitler and Germany to become so powerful . He says, “Mistrust of German power was blended with admiration for their economic recovery” (pp 140-141). Other than admiration for its recovery after World War I, are there any other reasons why the allies  stood by when Hitler began to completely ignore the provisions of the Treaty of Versailles? Mazower also explores Hitler’s disorganized plan regarding territory he never thought Germany would capture. If Hitler and the Nazis had more intricate plans of governance prior to implementing Blitzkrieg and quickly conquering country after country, would they have emerged from World War II victorious with a vast German Empire? Would it have been possible to maintain long-term control of such a diverse collection of cultures under the rigid Nazi system?

Olitskaia, My Reminiscences

In My Reminiscences by Ekaterine Olitskaia, the part of realization when the women were brought out of the train cars and saw that “Cattle” was written on them was truly horrendous. (432) As Olitskaia mentioned, some of the women were upset by this while others, like herself, were not too bothered by the statement. (432) Why do you think it was necessary for the guards to have written “Cattle” on the sides of the cars? To protect them women from possible treats from “non-traitors” or to make sure no one tried to rescue them? Also, why were some of the women upset over being labeled as cattle while others did not care?

The crisis of capitalism in the XXI century

Throughout chapter 4 of Dark Continent, The Crisis of Capitalism we could see the disastrous consequences of what WWI meant over the economic sphere of Europe. In spite of a rapid and partial stabilization, this was quickly succeeded by the 1929 crisis that hit the world economy in many ways. Curious but still somehow afraid of the economic projects lead by both communist and fascists regimes during the 1930’s, most of the western world, lead by the thought of figures as John M. Keynes, started arguing the impossibility of continuing with an economic model based on the traditional paradigms of liberal capitalism (p. 137) . Characterized by a strong role of the state over the economy, and taking some elements from those other economic adventures previously mentioned; Keynes’ and others’ ideas lead the way to much of what during the 1930’s and strongly during the 1950’s became known as the welfare state economy. In American History, for example, this became, undeniably, one of the most successful epochs in terms of social progress.

However,the modern world has rapidly turned back to a capitalist system based on an extreme liberalization of markets (notably in America during the 1980’s and on). This phenomenon not only has caused a rapid growth of global inequality as it has never been seen before, but also, and as remarkable economists as Stiglitz, Piketty or Wolff have showed; it could also explain the world economic recession of 2008. If the traditional and modern methods of liberalism are proving once again to be problematic in many senses, how should we address these risks in economic terms trough the lens of history? What can we learn from history in terms of state-oriented economic planning under these vary same circumstances that we face today?

Changes at School

This section about Ellen Switzer’s experience in school really stood out to me. In any society, the way children are raised really has the ability to shape the mentality of an entire generation. Hitler clearly understood this concept very well. We have talked about his ability to inspire the German people and rise to power as a totalitarian dictator, but this story helps show the very effective the Nazi propaganda machine at work. It would have been essential for Hitler to win the support of young people in order to secure the future of his rule. When Hitler came to power and ordered the separation of Jewish and German students, Switzer points out that Ruth may have thought it was a misunderstanding, but still went along with the orders. Even after Ruth showed some initial hesitation, Switzer says, “Not only did she no longer speak to the suddenly ostracized group of classmates, she carefully noted down anybody who did, and reported them” (p 175). I know we have already touched on this a bit in class, but how was Hitler able to convince people like Ruth that they should abandon their own ideas and subscribe to his? What other examples throughout history exist where education has been used as a tool to shape the minds of students? 

What I Saw: Reports from Berlin 1920-33

In the reading for class What I Saw: Reports from Berlin 1920-1933 by Joseph Roth a key part of the chapters read that caught my attention was the bus theory. Roth discusses “the trouble and irritation in daily public life” and that is is in fact the fault of the public and more specifically the postwar generation (Roth, 101). With this, he compares it to a bus full of aggravated passengers. He describes the lead up to a possible fight due to a woman wearing a hat and, oh my, if a man is with her it makes it even worse (Roth, 102). After this Roth states, “If everyone causes their own individual catastrophes, how can there fail to be more general catastrophes?” and after he claims that all those people on the bus make up a community; however, they only see each other as enemies (Roth, 102). In regards to this section, I ask the question, why is it that the people can’t see past their individual problems and at the problem at large in the community? How can the people on the “bus” come together instead of rage at each other? Or is it impossible due to the political, social or cultural atmosphere?

Nuremberg Laws Discussion

In “A Documentary History of Life in the Third Reich” we read about the Nuremberg Laws. These are otherwise known as Anti-Jewish laws and legislation. Upon reading these many articles and many subsections I came to a conclusion. We have seen these laws before this time they were simply masquerading under a different pretense. In my eyes the Nuremberg Laws are almost identical to the 19th and 20th century Black Codes or “Jim Crow” Laws we saw in Southern America, formerly the Confederacy. In these reading there were three main articles or laws that stuck out to me, but I will be focusing on 2. In the First Regulation the the Reich Citizenship, Article 4 it states “A Jew cannot be a citizen of the Reich. He has no right to vote in political affairs, he cannot occupy a public office” (Sax & Kunitz, pg 405). This is practically identical to how African Americans were seen and treated even after the 14th Amendment went into effect in the United States. African Americans were still seen as objects of the state and while voting was legal eventually for them, we have seen how Southern States used fear tactics in the 19th and 20th centuries to prevent them from voting. Another thing that stuck out to me was under the Law and Protection of German Blood. According to Section 1 and 2 marriage and relationships between Jews and Germans was absolutely prohibited. This is much like the 19th and 20th century with African Americans where Anti-Miscegenation laws were in place in some southern states up until the mid 1960’s until Supreme Court Case Loving vs Virginia overturned the laws. My question for you is, why do you believe America was okay with fighting a war against one of the very things we were doing in our own backyard, segregation and racism? Also, what other similarities do you see between the Nuremberg Laws and Jim Crow Laws? 

A commentary to “Cult of Personality (and extreme racism)”

(Sorry I put this at a whole new post but for some reason I can’t respond at the original post for now)

I think that under this kind of historical analysis, it’s really important to keep a critical perspective centered on the way in which social macro-structures influence the whole worldview of people at a cultural, economic, politic and individual level by the forces of history itself. This processes, I believe, are the ones which ultimately allow the existence of tyrannic leaders who base their discourse on hate, for example.

This doesn’t mean that Hitler wasn’t objectively and at an individual level a psychopath (which he proves at Mein Kampf) nor that he wasn’t responsible for all he did, but my point is that we cannot understand the emergence of this kind of hate groups, even more at an explicitly institutionalized and socially popular level, as it did with Hitler, without taking into account the underlying characteristics of, not only German, but the whole European thought of the time.

This thought was characterized by a worldview based on centuries of colonialism, racial domination and barbarism hidden beneath the idea of the humanist and enlightened civilized European man. This process configured a culture at a social and symbolic level in which ridiculous ideas such as scientific racism emerged as a way of justifying consensual hate among the dominant groups of society.

Psychopaths will always exist, even more at a political level; but the way in which society assimilates him/her depends on the state of the different spheres of this society in the way history has  configured them.

Cult of Personality (and extreme racism)

It is evident that Adolph Hitler was himself racist and relied on underlying racial prejudices in the midst of a severe economic and national identity crisis to seize power in Post World War One Germany. Writing in Mein Kampf, Hitler cites what he believed to be a “merciless struggle against the universal poisoner of all nations, international Jewry ( Boyer 192).” He subsequently states that the German national body still possesses “great unmixed stocks of Nordic-Germanic people whom we may consider the most precious treasure for our future (Boyer 208),” showing his racial motives very clearly. I find this not interesting, but gravely important in studying how populist figures and politicians in dire political climates use the issues of race or nationality as topics of policy and fear. The topic of who is welcome and who is not is something that every society faces, but particularly on the basis of religious, ethnic, racial, and national identity is something that I think warrants discussion. I ask then how underlying prejudices affect our societies and how they get interwoven into our cultures. Simply we can say Hitler was racist and antisemitic but critically we might benefit from discussing how he was these things and how that type of thinking affects culture and policy.

A Room of One’s Own

In Victoria Woolf’s novel, “A Room of One’s Own” she addressed the conflict with women and their presence, more so their lack of presence, in writing, particularly fiction. Woolf addresses many reasons and circumstances as to why women have been withheld from complete engagement in the field. She states the lack of education at higher institutions, as women were often barred from these places. The lack of financial freedom they held and the lack of privacy they also had. She stated how they were restricted by the ownership their family held over them by providing the case of “Judith Shakespeare.” However, one of the more interesting subjects Woolf brings forth is the topics men often write about. In Chapter Two, page 27, the following question is posed, “Why are women, judging from this catalogue, so much more interesting to men than men are to women?” This quote is relevant historically in a wide range of topics. From various forms of art, women are often the subject matter for men. And in the instances, women are used quite superficially and portrayed as objects. However, if women were given the rare opportunity at artistic expression, they rarely wasted it to investigate the male sex. Woolf stated the presence of novels on males by women is nonexistent. The question that arrises from this is, why is there such a keen interest for men to write about and objectify women in this capacity but keep them from their own attempts to write? Is it because they recognize the privilege and exploitation they are exhibiting and do not wish for it to be reversed?

The Bust of the Emperor Thoughts

In the reading, The Bust of the Emperor by Joseph Roth, the main idea that caught my attention was how the old Count had an on-going dilemma with nationality. As a man from the Austrian Empire, he was a part of a whole. However after WWI, his nationally identity was lost due to his home now residing in Poland (Hoffman, 234-5). Over the course of more years, the Count was still struggling with his national identity and having moved back to his home town, reverted back to the ways of the Empire with his old uniform and a bust of the Emperor Franz Joseph (Hoffman, 242-3). Overall, his national identity was with Austrian but he ended up burying his national identity. This being because he had possibly finally found peace in what his national identity was.

The questions I’d like to propose are as follows: How did the Count’s action in the bar in Switzerland correspond with him going back again to his “home”? Why did he end up going back to his “home” again after already having leaving it? Also, regarding the bust of the Emperor, was it possible that other people in his “home” felt the same way and saluted the bust with gratitude/ longing instead of just from ignorance as to what happened after WWI?