A History of Violence

A blog about history topics, varied and sundry.

The Situation in Crimea

Why is it that whenever Putin or the Russian state media talks about the endangered ethnic Russians in Ukraine, all I can think of is the Volksdeutsch in the Sudetenland?

Transition Time! Hitler Myth 8 and Stalin Myth 1!

"Stalin/Hitler was waaaaaaaay worse than Hitler/Stalin! I mean, how can any serious historian compare the Holodomor/Holocaust to the Holocaust/Holodomor? What are you, a Nazi/Stalinist!?”

This comparison pops up virtually everywhere on the internet, and in real life, where people talk about history. And it’s useless.

Mass murders cannot be ranked in severity. The crimes of Hitler and Stalin will resonate through all time as a stark reminder of the ability of human beings to dehumanize one another. And whenever you turn the memory of these colossal tragedies into some kind of contest, you dehumanize the victims even further.

pretty-fly-for-a-jedi asked: Hey dude, I hear you're getting married. Congrats! All my love to the happy couple. :)

Thanks! How’re you? If you’re still in London, I won’t expect you to schlep all the way to the wedding in Ohio. BUT the soon-to-be Mrs. and I are taking our honeymoon in London, and we’d love to take you to dinner or lunch while we’re there!

A Christmas Story

My father and I made some purchases off a militaria website while looking for materials to fill out a wall display of my great uncle’s artifacts from his service in World War Two a few years ago. Little did I know, he made an additional purchase, and slipped it into my Christmas stocking, months later.
On Christmas morning, while my entire family was gathered in the living room, unwrapping presents, I found it nestled in the toe of my stocking.
Noting my pale face and shocked expression, from across the room my father whooped, “Well, TRY IT ON!”
It was a Nazi Party armband.
Needless to say, my father has a very twisted sense of humor. We have since, over the years, traded it back and forth by hiding it it plain sight in each others’ homes.
The apple, as they say, does not fall far from the tree.
Merry Christmas, Dad.

Christmas!

Merry Christmas everybody! If you celebrate the holiday, I hope you have a time of good fellowship with those you love most. If you don’t, I hope you’re merry anyway. There’s never too much merriment.

Hitler Myth 6 & 7: Hitler was a Christian/Atheist!

The part of this myth that really sticks in my craw is the fact that it’s always stated as if it means something. Look: If, at the cusp of the Year of Our Lord/Flying Spaghetti Monster 2014, you haven’t realized that religious people and atheists both have pretty good odds of being huge assholes, you are beyond my feeble capacity to educate.

Also, in the interests of baring my biases: I am a Christian.

But here goes anyway:

Hitler was not Christian. In fact, Hitler’s regime was very anti-Christian. His government persecuted the Catholic clergy and attempted to purge the Protestant church in Germany of “Jewish influence,” which is pretty difficult what with the whole Abrahamic faith-angle. The Nazis even went so far as to found their own version of the church, calling it “Positive Christianity,” which removed all those pesky Jews (Read: Jesus + almost all of the Old Testament) and the Apostle’s Creed, and replaced it with Nazi philosophy.

I know the internet is fond of crowing about the “No True Scotsman” fallacy, but when you take out the Apostle’s Creed, what you have (no matter how loudly you call it Christianity) is not Christian.

Hitler was not (in all likelihood) an atheist. Hitler’s views on the existence of God are tough to nail down. He was a secretive guy, and had a mercurial streak a mile wide. He frequently discussed the idea that Germany was created by God, or gods, and that the nation was favored by God. At the same time he frequently derided faith (in anything other than Nazism or himself) as being idiocy.

In summation, Hitler’s religious views were ambiguous, and the question of Hitler’s faith is of dubious value.

The same Altarpiece, but closed.

The same Altarpiece, but closed.

The Altarpiece of Ghent, Hubert Van Eyck, 1430-1432.
The Altarpiece was commissioned for Saint Bavo’s Cathedral. It was seized by the Nazis in 1940 while it was traveling through France on its way to safety in the Vatican. The Germans had stolen its panels once before, during the First World War, and were happy to have it back. In an effort to protect it from Allied bombing, it was stored in the Altaussee salt mines, where it was badly damaged by the poor conditions instead.

The Altarpiece of Ghent, Hubert Van Eyck, 1430-1432.

The Altarpiece was commissioned for Saint Bavo’s Cathedral. It was seized by the Nazis in 1940 while it was traveling through France on its way to safety in the Vatican. The Germans had stolen its panels once before, during the First World War, and were happy to have it back. In an effort to protect it from Allied bombing, it was stored in the Altaussee salt mines, where it was badly damaged by the poor conditions instead.

Hitler Myth 5: Adolf Hitler was a Mad Genius

Mad? My goodness, yes. Genius? No and, again, no.

Mein Kampf, for example, reads as if it was written by a very hyperactive grade-schooler who was just sucker punched by a rabbi.

It leaps from topic to topic so frenetically that its chapter headings are really just literary red herrings to throw the reader off the scent of his inability to write.

Even ignoring his writing, he comes across as a bit of a chump. He constantly saddled the German military with bizarre restrictions that massively hindered its ability to fight. For example, all German bombers had to be usable in a dive bombing role. All of them. Ever wonder why the technical giants of the aviation industry like Messerschmidt, Focke-Wulf, Fokker, and Blohm & Voss couldn’t seem to throw together a serious strategic bomber to save their lives? It’s because every time they came close, Hitler and the R.L.M. came along and demanded to know whether or not their new, 4 engined, long range, heavy bomb carrying beast could dive bomb tanks on the Eastern Front.

Or how about the fact that Hitler overrode the Schlieffen Plan (the Plan so nice, they used it twice) and got Germany involved in a two front war that it had no hope of winning? I’m not talking through hindsight alone, here. Hitler’s whole plan hinged on the idea that Germans could not lose to Slavs.

No matter how you look at him, Hitler comes across as a less than towing intellect beset by numerous mental health concerns.