Anomie - hell is other people

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Anomie - hell is other people

Postby wm » 10 Feb 2018 06:33

Anomie is a social condition characterized by a breakdown or absence of social norms and values, as in the case of uprooted people.

The study below was written in the Warsaw Ghetto in 1942. It illustrates the condition perfectly. These are small fragments from a much larger text.
Source: The Ringelblum Archive. Warsaw Ghetto, Everyday life. The Street, July 1942.
The moral decay, the amorality, and the radical blunting of people's moral sense are - aside from hunger, poverty, and death - the most elemental plagues in the ghetto. [...]
This total disregard for moral principles, even the most basic ones, manifests itself in both private and public life, in family and professional life, as well as among one's friends and people in general.
1. Theft
From a stall, from a basket, from a suitcase, from a shop window, from a cart, from a wagon, or from a box whose contents are the merchant's entire property. Those careless enough not to hold on tightly to their briefcases, bags, or baskets full of food products are bound to lose them -an adolescent beggar will rush past them, snatch the handle out of their grip using a practiced "method," and run away. If he fails he does not run away, unless the owner is an overzealous advocate of lynching. Clearly unashamed, the attacker stops and looks into the eyes of his [would-be] victim without any embarrassment, as if there were nothing out of the ordinary.
2. Fraud
Even before the war in Jewish Warsaw there were too many, far too many, swindlers, frauds, quacks, con-men, and crooks. But nowadays having such a flair is an asset that generates a fixed income. Frauds cheat in various ways. They double-deal, take advantage of people's ignorance, spread panic.
For when panic spreads among merchants they often abandon their merchandise or do not notice an act of theft. And it's a piece of pie to steal a wallet or to empty a [merchant's] pocket in the press of a crowd. Organized gangs prowl mostly near the corner of Lesson and Solna streets, near the corner of Smocza, Paula, and Dzielna streets, and on Leszno and Okopowa streets. These thieves have no qualms. The Jewish Police are no saints either, and even though the thieves steal everything from paupers, dooming them to beggary and death by starvation. [T]heir acts of fraud deprive Jews of the rest of the moral credit they still enjoy outside the ghetto [they remain unpunished]. To the outside world these louses are clear proof that Jews are thieves and frauds. Making matters worse, their number is increasing wherever people are at a work detail, nor is there any shortage of them in public institutions. Yet some cheats are more original and ingenious than others. They falsify [well-known] companies on the market, selling trash under recognized brand names. There are thousands of such cheats in every sphere, [...] they falsify coupons. Judenrat vouchers, orders.
3. Denouncing and spying
There are legions of professional snoops in every milieu. Among the young and women. [...] Among intellectuals and the proletariat. Among German, Polish, Warsaw, Łódź, and provincial Jews. Among religious Jews and the meches. This plague has penetrated all milieux. They became engaged in this disgraceful service not only for money [...], but also because of their desire for profits and their being used to light work [...] this plague is so widespread that people distrust these poorest [...] there are also amateur denunciators who denounce out of [...] out of envy, of rivalry, of anger, or out of zealousness.
4. Blackmail
Blackmailers roam about along the ghetto walls and blackmail policemen, [...]. The latter offer them bribes without a word because they know that it is better not to mess with professional blackmailers, for they never fail to carry out their threats.
Blackmailers blackmail corrupted clerks, speculators, former officers, repatriates from Russia, and anybody whom the authorities could detain for any reason whatsoever. Many of them are members of the Order Service, operating in cooperation with the Polish police. "You've come from Lvov or Vilna? Pay up, or I'll denounce you." "You haven't registered as an officer? Pay up!" "You've entered the ghetto without a pass. Pay up!" "You've listened to the bulletin."" Pay up!" And they pay, often more than once for the same offense.
5. Corruption
Corruption is equally commonplace in the ghetto and unbelievably widespread, simply ubiquitous in all spheres of public life. Cash will buy you a Kennkarte, a Meldekarte, and an Arbeitskarte. You can buy a job and a "badge" in the police force, a position in the Judenrat, a work record, an assignment of housing, an allotment of wood, of food, along with an exemption from a camp list. A bribe will reduce your fee, tribute, or contribution. It will get you released from prison or jail. It will discontinue an investigation. It will guarantee that you do not end up in a camp as a result of a round-up. It will guarantee that they neither requisition your flat, nor delouse it, nor close the gate, nor detain you due to an unpaid contribution, tribute, or fee. This plague has mostly hit the poor - just like everything in the ghetto, for that matter. Those without money end up in camps or have to perform forced labor, leave their flat, pay.
6. Moral shamelessness
Moral shamelessness is visible and reigning supreme on the street. Beggars and paupers relieve themselves on the street: if not on Leszno Street, then on Orla Street, if not on Karmelicka Street, then in the alleys. You often see women, young or old, spread their legs, lift their skirt, and relieve themselves, shamelessly looking into the eyes of embarrassed pedestrians. Children do it very often and in a cynical way, provided that children can be cynical at all. The sight of the naked intimate body parts of beggars is commonplace too. And this exhibitionism is not accidental, because they take delight in displaying all their wounds, ulcerations, and swollen body parts.

There is no chance either that denunciators, cheats, frauds, blackmailers, traitors, speculators, spies, and profiteers'. will be embarrassed about their stench. Nowadays, nobody bothers with such luxuries as conscience, qualms, compassion, helpfulness, or kindness. You will not see any of these on the street, [...] absolutely nowhere. The war, hunger, poverty, captivity, and the ghetto have completely eradicated any customary morality.
7. Taking the law into one's own hands
Admittedly, this form of punishment is commonplace, yet at the same time it is very fluid and elusive. The police cannot and will not eradicate the common plagues, for they would have to turn half of the buildings into jails and prisons.
8. Extreme social or caste conceit
The thing is, above all, that society has split into a few dozen castes, and that if people do help one another then they do so only within the same caste. Hence, the name of the plague: caste conceit. You ignore the fact that others die of starvation, suffer from edema, or rot in prison. They are not "from your caste." Solidarity - if it still exists, then is only within your caste.

You take pity only on those closest to you - people from your family, world, or milieu. The attitude towards more distant people, strangers is usually indifferent, contemptuous, and numb. Solidarity, altruism, humanitarism, and philanthropy are obsolete terms, anachronisms, for the inhabitant of the ghetto. l am talking about the masses, because individuals do not set the tone of the street. And the street does not show such feelings at all. The phenomenon is completely plain, explicit, and striking.
You walk indifferently past the corpse of a baby, of an old man, or of a youth because it is none of your business. But when "one of your people" is caught in a round-up and is about to be sent to a camp, then "your people" immediately do everything to get him out. But nobody cares about strangers.
When the terror [...] led to the execution of one hundred Jews in the prison on Gesia Street, at the very last moment the Judenrat and the police got "their people" out - the "superior" from a more prosperous "caste."
9. Beggary
They are ready to sell their soul for the tiniest piece of bread because they have nothing to lose anyway. [...] These former human beings cannot be treated as normal social entities of whom you would expect a certain responsibility towards other people. Others have no responsibilities towards them. They separate themselves from beggars. They reject and scorn them. Consequently, the only human element left in the beggar is a simple animal craving for food. Everything else has died in him. He is "beyond good and evil." He is morally, emotionally, culturally, and socially blind. He cannot even afford a gesture of gratefulness towards the occasional hand that feeds him.
10. The complete disappearance of good manners
The street displays this the most vividly in every minor, trivial incident in our everyday co-existence and our mutual relations when we face the bleak, dismal horror of everyday life. [...]
And even if you break free from these problems and you can chase away these macabre spectres for a moment, you still have to contend with the unruliness, numbness, brutality, egoism, unkindness, dis-obligingness, hooliganism, and ruthlessness - all the time, every minute, and at every step.
Even if you avoid theft and other plagues on the street, you will not be able to walk the street in peace. Virtually anything can trigger an argument, cursing, abuse, insults, or violence. If you accidentally bump into somebody, and that often happens in a crowd, the person will immediately hurl threatening insults, affronts, and curses at you.
Last edited by wm on 11 Feb 2018 02:11, edited 1 time in total.

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Re: Anomie - hell is other people

Postby wm » 11 Feb 2018 01:48

The orginal document, two first pages:
ulica1.jpg
ulica2.jpg
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Re: Anomie - hell is other people

Postby wm » 11 Feb 2018 01:51

The other side, mostly Poles and Volksdeutsche.
Source:
The Ringelblum Archive. Warsaw Ghetto, Polish-Jewish relations, after February 1942
It is the officials who are by far the worst. Police officers, tax inspectors, prison wardens, officials working for power stations, gas works, the city, trams, and everyone else - they are a problem, a real plague.

They all have bottomless pockets, terrible appetites, and they turn to blackmail at every opportunity, force bribes, take the last penny out of peoples' purses. For just about anything, at just about any opportunity, they make you buy yourself out, otherwise they threaten with denunciation, protocol, arrest, court, or prison, for if a Jew stands accused, he must be convicted.

A tax official enters a shop, striking men and women in the face. If they resist, he reports them. A large bribe helps; you have to pay for getting beaten, if the beating is to be all you get. An official enters a flat and since he had to knock as many as 5 times before the door was opened, instead of with a "hello" he greets the lady of the house hitting her once in the face, hard, drawing blood. Another tax official comes into a flat of a tenant who has not paid on time and declares that he actually has the right to beat the Jew for it, but, feeling generous for the time being, he won't.

Officials and officers from the power plant, telephone company, gas works, water sewage systems, etc. simply shut off their respective utilities periodically, take their toll, and then turn them back on. And if they run out of money or have a fancy some vodka, a few days later they return and once again shut off the utilities. Or perhaps they send a colleague for decency's sake, who declares that he does not care what his predecessor did, that there is a defect, that this and that, and that it is going to cost this much. Any discussion, persuasion, or exposure is pointless, because it offends an officer [on] duty, because it is a bribery attempt, insult, attempted battery, etc. Unfortunately, these are not isolated incidents, but rather routine a suffering, and everyone in the ghetto has experienced this.

There is no point even mentioning that the Jews meet with offense under any pretext, are rudely addressed, insulted, and treated like dirt. Jews are already accustomed to this, so saying: "Pay, you stinking Jew, or don't bother us" has no impact on the course of business. The worst are police officers, who, at every opportunity, mercilessly and ruthlessly rob people of their last penny.

Despite everything else, we have never known such demoralization. They beat [Jews] whenever they get a chance, with club, a fist, foot, they spit, insult and, without any scruples, inform about fabricated crimes of Jews who do not want or cannot pay a bribe. It is pointless to write about their exploits because it is also a well-known phenomenon. They are hated among the Poles as well.

They are recruited either from former policemen, informers, and spies, or from the half-Poles from the Poznan region. Therefore, it is neither the place nor the time to write about their methods, because it would not - to be honest - shed any light on Polish-Jewish relations, since Polish society also rejects them. It has to be said, though, that they are doing excellent business everyday along the walls, smuggling in partnership with Jewish policemen.

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Re: Anomie - hell is other people

Postby wm » 12 Feb 2018 05:34

Ghetto elites and their favourite café - Sztuka.
The Ringelblum Archive. Warsaw Ghetto, A study of kawiarnie [Cafés], no date.
Converts, educated bourgeois, and the ghetto "elite" call the tune here. Proud that they had been rich before the war, they look with contempt on the nouveau-riche profiteers.
"The people by the window had bogus bills in our bank and they did not buy them up. They were suspected of malicious bankruptcy and would have ended up in prison had it not been for the war ..." a university-educated waitress informs me with contempt.
The atmosphere of snobbery, aristocratic affectation, vanity, and fake elegance floods the room. Most clients are pre-war frequenters of the IPS, Ziemianska, Zodiak, SiM, and Europa cafés.
They keep up their spirits. They do not mingle with "commoners."
You will hear neither spoken Yiddish nor any Yiddish songs here. Their mugs show that they are particularly discontented because they have to mingle with the ghetto masses.
They want nothing to do with Jewry. Why, they never miss Sunday mass. They hate the street and being equated with the "lousy yids" with whom they have to share their fate.
Their yearnings become apparent in Sztuka. Its converted co-owner, Mrs Czarnecka, whose husband works for the Judenrat, walks proudly among the tables, making sure everything is in order. She watches over her sheep. Mrs [...] manages the cafe like an ambassador's wife supervises her parties even though the [average] check is 11 zlotys.
The waitresses are educated ladies "of quality," adequately clumsy and with adequate chutzpah. They reluctantly serve the customers and make too many mistakes on the cheques.
But the aristocracy went through a bad time some time ago in France and not so long ago in Russia, too. So their martyrdom is also sacred. Hence their sweetly suffering superior smile.

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Re: Anomie - hell is other people

Postby wm » 13 Feb 2018 22:20

The café. Photographs by Ludwig Knobloch. May 1941.

Bundesarchiv_Bild_101I-134-0794-11A,_Polen,_Ghetto_Warschau,_Juden_in_Nachtclub.jpg

Bundesarchiv_Bild_101I-134-0794-06A,_Polen,_Ghetto_Warschau,_Juden_in_Nachtclub.jpg

Bundesarchiv_Bild_101I-134-0794-02A,_Polen,_Ghetto_Warschau,_Juden_in_Nachtclub.jpg

Bundesarchiv_Bild_101I-134-0793-35A,_Polen,_Ghetto_Warschau,_Unterhaltungsabend.jpg

Its advertising leaflet promising sun, greenness, space, and air.
sztuka_advert.jpg
from:Getto warszawskie. Przewodnik po nieistniejącym mieście by Barbara Engelking, Jacek Leociak
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Re: Anomie - hell is other people

Postby wm » 13 Feb 2018 22:48

Splendid café.
The Ringelblum Archive. Warsaw Ghetto, A study of kawiarnie [Cafés], no date.
Gold is playing with the best jazz orchestra of the ghetto and Kagan is on the piano. Their playing is excellent, rhythmic, and breath-taking. The biggest hits of the pre-war dance floors and a few Yiddish folk songs. The atmosphere in this basement is overly erotic. [...] the melodies, the lyrics, and the dance rhythm of the songs performed by Grodzienska - during the day everything revolves around one topic. Obviously, this is the only entirely safe topic (provided that you do not offend public morals). Consequently, the most eagerly copied lyrics are those with erotic allusions.
The Negro rhythm of the wild and untamed jazz orchestra is nevertheless dissonant. It grates against the background of the slow, monotonous, and complete bleakness of everyday life. And it is shocking and creates an unnatural, sick atmosphere. It seems unreal, out of this world. This contrast is too brutal. Who needs this much obvious eroticism? As if nowadays such thoughts could indeed occupy our tormented consciousness to such an extent. But the audience gives in, bends to the rhythm, and lets itself be seduced.

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Re: Anomie - hell is other people

Postby wm » 15 Feb 2018 23:34

The Sztuka café again, this time without blackout and in daylight. The leaflet promised space and air, here there are. Prewar pictures from National Digital Archives.
sztuka1.jpg
sztuka2.jpg
sztuka3.jpg
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Re: Anomie - hell is other people

Postby wm » 15 Feb 2018 23:46

The conclusion of "A Study of Cafés":
What is the reaction of the street, the masses, the people? For let us be magnanimous and not mention the authorities. Nobody has vandalised any of the establishments yet. However, everybody - a beggar, poor man, pauper, and child grates their teeth when the bourgeois, having gorged themselves and spent several dozen zlotys, dare say to a beggar that they have no change or cannot spare any money, or that [beggars] should not stink up the street, etc.
But let us be honest! Such cafés exist and they have a right to exist. But this is already too much of a justification. For if the rich exist, they need to have their cafés. For if they have nowhere to go, such establishments are necessary. For if there is such general and shameless public corruption, such establishments must exist, and they are just a natural consequence of the general situation. [...]
the existence of such establishments - aside from Arizona and the quasi-brothels is not a bad thing itself. The point is that such establishments should exist not only for feasting and drinking, not only for snobs and idlers, not only for smugglers and speculators, but also for workingmen, for clerks, for employed intelligentsia, and for the proletariat. Their luxuriousness and high prices, their atmosphere and their catering of the riff-raff, make these establishments unavailable to the [social] strata listed above.

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Re: Anomie - hell is other people

Postby wm » 17 Feb 2018 16:22

I'd like to stress here that for everyone interested in the occupation, or the Warsaw Ghetto the Ringelblum Archive is simply mandatory, writing an article or a book without consulting it first is pointless. It can be bought relatively cheaply, considering the resources needed to decipher and transcribe it, from the bookstore of The Emanuel Ringelblum Jewish Historical Institute in Warsaw.

Today, it's lynching, the story of Frania S., age twelve.
The Ringelblum Archive, Images from the Ghetto, no date.
It is a lucky day for a close acquaintance of mine, Frania S., age twelve. Her mommy has given her one zloty. She has been roaming about Leszno Street for two hours. She presses her nose to each grocery window. She can not decide what to buy. Some sweets, a pastry, or a roll? Finally, she makes up her mind and resolutely walks into the grocery to buy a sweet butter roll. She has made this resolute decision because such a roll is both sweet and big.
Hungry and tired, Frania greedily takes a bite on her way out. Suddenly, a starving adolescent scruff and beggar, the ghost of a lad, greedily and brutally snatches the roll that Frania has barely bitten into.

He immediately devours it, oblivious to the crowd gathering around him and hitting him with fists and walking canes. He just covers his mouth as if scared that somebody would snatch the roll from his mouth or his greedy, ever hungry stomach. He collapses onto the ground. They hit him from all sides. The boy's face is covered in blood, but he neither whimpers nor screams out in pain. Silently and without a fight, he gives in to the vengeful blows dealt by angry pedestrians, who instinctively and spontaneously punish the ragged, emaciated, homeless, and starving boy.
Dissolved in tears, Frania looks fearfully at this everyday and common-place street scene. She is not mourning the loss of her roll. She has already forgotten her dreams even though the sweet aftertaste of the saccharine roll still mingles with her bitter tears. No, she is not lamenting over the roll at all.
But the boy who wronged her even though she did not recognize him right away is her former prewar acquaintance and neighbour from Nowolipki Street. She clearly remembers his beautiful big eyes, his gentle smile, and his melodious voice, which had always fascinated her.
He was beautiful, had good grades at school, and always impressed her with everything. Yes, it is Josek Kapusta her biggest crush, whom she has never forgotten. And now he is lying miserable on the ground, having been kicked, trampled, and spat upon, abused, cursed, and insulted. With his dirty, horribly skinny naked body peeping out from his rags, and with his face deformed by hunger, freezing cold, pain, blood, dirt, and dull resignation, he looks more like a dog beaten up for disobedience than that proud, clean, handsome Josek Kapusta whom she had often dreamed about. Only these big, seemingly surprised eyes remind her of that former lad, her former friend. Everything else is alien to her. Even though just 2 years older, Josek is a grown man, almost an old man. There is nothing of the child in him now.
He jumped from angelic, idyllic childhood straight into a time of manhood, a time of defeat." Indeed, this is not a man but an animal, responsive only to its most basic instincts.

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Re: Anomie - hell is other people

Postby wm » 19 Feb 2018 19:52

The story, part 2:
The Jewish street witnesses such scenes several dozen times a day. This phenomenon reveals three highly important and very painful wounds [inflicted on] society: the demoralisation of children and the young; their sentencing to the torture of slow death by starvation or to freezing cold on the street; and finally the plague of street lynching. Each of these phenomena is a painful social problem unto itself. Combined, however, they make up a catastrophe, unpredictable in its consequences and difficult to recover from. These three phenomena are strongly interconnected. Hunger sentences the young to the torture of disease and death. It also warps and damages their basic moral instincts. A starving man does not know feelings other than the yearning to satisfy his hunger. The more hungry he becomes, the weaker his will and the looser his moral brakes. The hunger in the ghetto is horrible, hence the horrible demoralisation. [...]
But is it difficult to find justification for our police force, which as a rule settles all criminal cases solely through bribery. Thieves and conmen are officially requested to pay ransom under threat of being handed over to the Polish police or to the Gestapo. You can count neither on justice, nor on courts, nor on the "order service" to actually keep order, nor on the public organs' protection of private property. What can one do? Where ransom or bribe will not do, there the sad, macabre, bloody act of lynching takes place to provide satisfaction from vengeance and to satisfy people's sense of justice. Our police walk indifferently past such scenes as they will not extort anything from a beggar. So why would they trouble themselves to take him to the police station?


The best guess is the story was written in March 1942.
The first page:
samosąd.jpg
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Re: Anomie - hell is other people

Postby wm » 23 Feb 2018 09:08

"sentencing to the torture of slow death by starvation or to freezing cold on the street"
from Notes from the Warsaw Ghetto by Emmanuel Ringelblum,‎ Jacob Sloan:

Mid-November, 1941. The first frosts have already appeared, and the populace is trembling at the prospect of cold weather. The most fearful sight is that of freezing children. Little children with bare feet, bare knees, and torn clothing, stand dumbly in the street weeping. Tonight, the 14th [of November], I heard a tot of three or four yammering. The child will probably be found frozen to death tomorrow morning, a few hours off. Early October, when the first snows fell, some seventy children were found frozen to death on the steps of ruined houses. Frozen children are becoming a general phenomenon.
The police are supposed to open a special institution for street children at 20 Nowolipie Street; meanwhile, children's bodies and crying serve as a persistent background for the Ghetto.
People cover the dead bodies of frozen children with the handsome posters designed for Children's Month, bearing the legend, "Our Children, Our Children Must Live - A Child Is the Holiest Thing." That's how people express their protest against the failure of CENTOS [the Children's Aid Society] to collect these children in a center and save them from certain death in the street.
Especially when it is known that CENTOS has collected almost a million zlotys from taxes (postal payments, bread ration cards, etc.). Children's Month is a grand success - posters (every two or three days a new one), a fortune expended in money, well-attended concerts and affairs. But it did not make an impression on the large part of Jewish society. [...]
Another ostentatious feature of the operation was the disgraceful subservience to the big money givers, to people like the president of the Jewish Council, who was crowned First Citizen of the Jewish Quarter by Dr. Wielikowski at the opening meeting. To crow such an incompetent as Czerniakow first citizen publicly requires vast courage and subservience. The same ceremony was performed at other occasions, all to find favor in the eyes of the Council president.
22/December, 1941. A terrifying, simply monstrous impression is made...[by] the wailing of children who...beg for alms, or whine that they have nowhere to sleep.
At the corner of Leszno and Karmelicka Streets, children weep bitterly at night. Although I hear this weeping every night, I cannot fall asleep until late. The couple of groschen I give them nightly cannot ease my conscience.


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