Hitchens, Kissinger, and the smear of Holocaust Denial

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Hitchens, Kissinger, and the smear of Holocaust Denial

Post by Entropy » 08 Jan 2003 09:44

Christopher Hitchens is a pretty well-known contrarian pundit here in the US. Though in youth a Trotsky-ite (and he still won't disavow socialism) and often associated with the American Left, he nonetheless was rabidly anti-Clinton and is currently supporting a war in Iraq.

Anyway, he wrote a book a few years ago stating a case that Henry Kissinger is a war criminal (absolutely true, IMO). Dr. Kissinger, naturally, didn't like this too much, and through his agents seized upon Hitchens's then-recent defences of the notorious David Irving's right to free speech, construing Hitchens's defences to mean that he was some sort of holocaust denier. Hitchens threatened to sue. Kissinger backed off.

This link is a recent letter by Hitchens posted on his fan site, with a bibliography of everything Hitchens wrote on National Socialism. It's worth a read (if for nothing else, for Hitchens's interesting take--in one of the links--on the the vile racist Irving).



Christopher Hitchens Said :
"When a man believes that any stick will do, he at once picks up a boomerang."

Introductory Note

After giving the matter a little thought, I have decided that I ought to give a comprehensive explanation, for the curious, of why I resorted to law when Henry Kissinger accused me of being a "Holocaust denier". I made this decision in spite of the fact that over-long defenses or justifications are apt to arouse suspicion in themselves - the suspicion of "protesting too much". This difficulty is itself an aspect of the innuendo about "no smoke without fire." In the past several months, I have received a number of genuine and non-malicious inquiries, from people seeking to know how such a controversy got started. It occurred to me that, if I put the entire record on view, I could save trouble by referring all questioners to one source. It also occurred to me that the story might possess some innate interest of its own. Appended to this note, the reader may find everything I have ever written on the subject of the Nazi "Final Solution", as well as the complete record of my correspondence with Henry Kissinger’s lawyers.
The rather murky antecedent story is as follows. In the mid-1990s I took an interest in the work of the Holocaust-denial and Holocaust-revisionist writers who were then beginning to have an impact on unofficial media. I met and debated with Robert Faurisson, the Frenchman who is the leading "denier", and I met and debated with David Irving. What I wrote is to be found in the record that follows. In Irving’s case I took the view that, on First Amendment grounds of free speech as well as on general principles of free inquiry, his work should not be suppressed. I also became aware, through conversations with Deborah Lipstadt, Christopher Browning and other "mainstream" writers on the subject, that there was a "grey area" of what might be called Holocaust mythology: an area where it had to be admitted that certain long-held beliefs were in error. The classic instance here is the famous rumor of the making of Jews into soap: Lipstadt told me that she had herself been attacked for agreeing that this was a wartime propaganda horror-story with no basis in fact. (The National Holocaust Museum in Washington concurs with her on this, as do the Israeli scholars at Yad Vashem.) However, there were those who felt that any admission of this kind could only give ammunition to the "deniers".
I must have had numerous conversations about this at the time, and since, and can remember the details of several of them. I do not remember discussing the subject with Edward J. Epstein, a New York journalist whom I have met off and on over the past two decades. However, he may be right when he claims to have heard me discussing the topic at a dinner in New York in 1995. I certainly remember his attaching himself, against my will at any rate, to a restaurant table after a reception. The other guests were Anna Wintour, editor of Vogue, and the restaurant-owner Brian McNally.
I certainly did not on that occasion or any other describe the Holocaust as "a fiction", and I am inclined to think that my claim is borne out by three things. The first is that I don’t believe any such thing, and have never said any such thing in company or in print. The second is that neither Ms Wintour nor Mr McNally, when later asked, could remember my making such a memorable claim. The third is that Mr Epstein didn’t think it worth mentioning either, until almost four years had passed. But in February 1999 he contacted the gossip columns and some other well-chosen sources, with the hot news that Christopher Hitchens wasn’t satisfied with the evidence for the Holocaust.
I hardly imagine that even the most jaded tabloid editor would have found this allegation newsworthy in an average week. But in that particular week I had myself become briefly newsworthy. I had given an affidavit in the Senate trial of President Clinton, saying that he had - contrary to his own claims and the claims of his defenders - sought to blacken and defame female witnesses. I knew this for a fact, but I knew it as result of a lunch-table disclosure made by one of his aides. I suppose it may therefore have struck Mr Epstein, and perhaps the Daily News gossip page, as "ironic" to try and pay me back in the same coin. Anyway, it got passed zealously along for a few days. (At one point, someone anonymously or mistakenly faxed me a clip on the subject, with a CC to both Alan Dershowitz and Sidney Blumenthal.) But as it turned out, not even my enemies believed the story, and it didn’t check out with the supposed witnesses, so it died a natural death. Given the circumstances, and the fact that he never called me before making his little move, I don’t think that Epstein was honestly confused as between, say, my defense of David Irving’s free-speech rights and my own views of fascism. Had I wished to sue him, I think I could have shown malice as well as reckless disregard for the truth.
I did consider suing him for defamation but thought better of it, since although he is a very bad writer specialising in paranoid subjects he is nonetheless a journalist of a kind. And by then, people had learned to recognise the hallmarks of a Clinton-operation smear. I might add, though, that if anyone has anything to fear from the repetition of dinner-table eavesdropping it would be Mr Epstein. If I ever run out of things to write, I might one day try and recreate the wet-lipped way in which he boasted of having barely-legal girls supplied to him on the yacht of the late Sir James Goldsmith, the demented right-wing media tycoon. "Jimmy" was also a steady source of name-drop material for Epstein, who is notorious for his inability to attract female company on his own merits. It was no hardship for me to break relations with someone who I only knew in any case as a bore and a sycophant and an abject scraper of acquaintance.
There the matter rested until the spring of 2001, when I went to William and Mary College in colonial Williamsburg, Virginia. I had published a series of articles in Harper’s magazine - now available in expanded form as a book - in which I made the case for the prosecution of Henry Kissinger as a war criminal. The students of the college had invited me to speak at a "teach-in" about the much-contested appointment of Kissinger as their chancellor. I went, and had a splendid time. But one of Kissinger’s partisans had gone to all the trouble of distributing, anonymously, a Xerox of the original Daily News gossip item. Even though this was self-refuting, containing as it did the denials of Ms Wintour and Mr McNally, its intention was obviously nasty.
My book duly came out, and Kissinger was inconvenienced by a number of questions about it. At first, he refused to dignify such a scurrilous book with so much as a comment. He kept up this pose through a succession of press inquiries. Then on Memorial Day he was served a summons in the Ritz Hotel in Paris, by Judge Roger LeLoire, asking him to testify about his possible complicity with the death-squads of General Pinochet. European press reports connected this annoyance to the then-recent publication of my book in French. A few days later - having left Paris in a hurry - he agreed to speak to Jim Ledbetter of Time and to describe my book as "contemptible". And a week or so after that, he took to the airwaves and met a fresh inquiry with the sudden discovery that I had "denied that the Holocaust existed". Very soon afterwards, as the patient reader will soon see, he discovered that he didn’t think this any more, and undertook not to repeat the allegation - which he has not.
Meanwhile, and perhaps coincidentally, a group of manic-depressive mediocrities repeated the same accusation on a Clintonoid website calling itself - presumably in honor of its anonymous founders - "Media Whores.com". This furtive little gang affects great horror at the role played by right-wing media interests, such as those of Richard Mellon Scaife, in the persecution of its hero Bill Clinton. But it does not object to carrying water for Epstein, one of Sir James Goldsmith’s toadies. (Goldsmith offered, from his huge ranch in Guatemala, a large cash prize for the exposure of leftist infiltrators in the press.) By a nice coincidence, Mr "Mack" McLarty, formerly Mr Clinton’s White House chief-of-staff, became a senior partner in the firm of Kissinger Associates at about this time. One supposes that their common interest in Indonesian money provided the cement for this relationship. It isn’t every day that one’s foes cluster so conveniently, and so demonstratively, together.
The Media Whores can relax. I won’t sue them, either. They may be sad hacks and sorry pseuds, but they are journalists of a sort. However, I did send a lawyer’s letter to Kissinger, and anybody who has heard this filthy rumor about me from any quarter is now invited to read on, and to examine the evidence in full.

links :
June 29, 2001 letter to Kissinger

July 3, 2001 letter from Kissinger's attorney

July 17, 2001 letter to Kissinger's attorney

July 18, 2001 letter from Kissinger's attorney

July 24, 2001 letter to Kissinger's attorney

August 2, 2001 letter from Kissinger's attorney

Hitchens's comments on August 2nd letter

August 27, 2001 letter to Kissinger's attorney from Hitchens

Primary Sources:

"Diluting Responsibility for the Final Solution," (In Hitler's Shadow), New York Newsday, August 23, 1989

"A German Aristocrat's Resistance to the Nazis," (Letters to Freya), New York Newsday, July 4, 1990

"A Monster Inside the Average Man," (Ordinary Men), New York Newsday, March 25, 1992

"Nuremberg: Judgement by Law, Not by Revenge," (The Anatomy of the Nuremberg Trials), New York Newsday, Oct. 7, 1992

"On Not Knowing the Half of It: Homage to Telegraphist Jacobs" from Prepared for the Worst, pp. 345-357, summer 1988

Minority Report, The Nation, October 3, 1994

"Hitler's Ghost," Vanity Fair, June 1996

Los Angeles Times article of May 20, 2001
reproduced in hyperlink, in the same order :

These are attorney's letters, not the best reading, except if you are a Kissinger fan (or hater).


These are the meaty links, regarding Hitchens on Irving, the Nazis, revisionism, etc :

http://events.calendarlive.com/top/1,14 ... 10,00.html

The last link, on Irving, is from the LA Times, and free registration is required to view it.

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Post by Dan » 08 Jan 2003 11:36

(The National Holocaust Museum in Washington concurs with her on this, as do the Israeli scholars at Yad Vashem.) However, there were those who felt that any admission of this kind could only give ammunition to the "deniers".
Who does this remind us of?

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Post by Annelie » 08 Jan 2003 12:02

Sometimes the truth is harder to believe than

Interesting reading and goes to show what goes on behind the scenes.
The ripple effect may bring more interesting information.


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Post by tonyh » 08 Jan 2003 13:14


Kinda goes to show that the nonsensical trade marks of holocaust denier, anti-Semite etc are used on just about everybody who dares to criticise Jews or the holocaust in general.


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Post by Gilles Karmasyn » 08 Jan 2003 18:01


Hitchens is certainly not a Holocaust denier. But he has been intoxicated by *some* lies usually uttered by Holocaust deniers and has dared to publish those lies as established facts. In late may and early june 2001 , I had an exchange on the H-Holocaust discussion list with a Mr. McNamara on this subject. The whole exchange can be followed using the following URLs (which will direct you to H-Holocaust archives):


and finaly:

which is an article which was not published by the H-Holocaust moderator, since the exchange was getting bitter.

I hope that this will shed some light on this difficult subject.

Gilles Karmasyn

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Post by Alexx » 09 Jan 2003 03:58

Interesting post Entropy.

In the link that leads to the essay " The strange case of David Irving" published in L.A. Times.

The following is related:
It was a rather vertiginous atmosphere all around. When it came time for him to leave, my wife and daughter went down in the elevator with him on their own way out. Later, my wife rather gravely asked me if I would mind never inviting him again. This was highly unlike her; we have all sorts at our place. However, it transpired that, while in the elevator, Irving had looked with approval at my fair-haired, blue-eyed daughter, then 5 years old, and declaimed the following doggerel about his own little girl, Jessica, who was the same age:

I am a Baby Aryan
Not Jewish or Sectarian;
I have no plans to marry an
Ape or Rastafarian.
The thought of Carol and Antonia in a small space with this large beetle-browed man as he spouted that was, well, distinctly creepy. (He has since posted the lines on his Web site, and they came back to haunt him at the trial.)
What an absolutly vicious and nasty little story. I just don't believe it. Who's the liar Christopher Hitchens or his wife? Probably both.


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Post by Tarpon27 » 09 Jan 2003 06:03

Alexx wrote:
What an absolutly vicious and nasty little story. I just don't believe it. Who's the liar Christopher Hitchens or his wife? Probably both.
Well, Irving himself admits to humming that happy little doggrel to his then infant daughter...and it was in his trial.

< 9> MR JUSTICE GRAY: --- selection?
<10> MR RAMPTON: This is a typed or printed page.
<11> A. Yes.
<12> Q. Some of it has underlines and italics?
<13> A. The underlinings are not from me.
<14> Q. "A quiet evening at home", etc, "Jessica", who is Jessica?
<15> A. My little infant child.
<16> Q. Yes.
<17> A. At this time she was nine months old at this time.
<18> Q. Nine months old in September 1994. "Jessica is turning
<19> into a fine little lady. She sits very upright on an
<20> ordinary chair. Her strong back muscles, a product of our
<21> regular walks in my arms to the bank, etc., I am sure. On
<22> those walks we sing the binkety-bankety-bong song. There
<23> are two other poems in which she stars: 'My name is baby
<24> Jessica. I have got a pretty dressica, but now it is in a
<25> messica' and, more scurrilously, when half breed children
<26> are wheeled past" and then you go into italics, "'I am a

. P-97
< 1> baby Aryan, not Jewish or sectarian. I have no plans to
< 2> marry an ape or a Rastafarian"?
< 3> A. Yes.
< 4> Q. Racist, Mr Irving? Anti-Semitic Mr Irving, yes?
< 5> A. I do not think so.
< 6> Q. Teaching your little child this kind of poison?
< 7> A. Do you think that a nine month old can understand words
< 8> spoken in English or any other language?
< 9> Q. I will tell you something, Mr Irving, when I was
<10> six-months old, I said, "Pussy sits in the apple tree
<11> until she thinks it is time for tea"?
<12> MR JUSTICE GRAY: You were very precocious!
<13> MR RAMPTON: I was, but then I burned out at two!
<14> A. Yes. Perhaps I should set this in its context. The
<15> scurrilous magazine "Searchlight" (about which we will, no
<16> doubt, hear more) had just published a photograph of
<17> myself and Jessica and her mother, who is very blond and
<18> very beautiful, and it had sneered at us as being the
<19> "perfect Aryan family".
<20> Q. They did not write this, you did?
<21> A. Yes, but this is my little private response to this rather
<22> nasty sneer ----
<23> Q. You wrote this on 17th September.
<24> A. Please do not interrupt me. This is my private response
<25> to this rather nasty smear by this magazine which has been
<26> giving me trouble ever since I had the man arrested for

. P-98
< 1> breaking into my house 30 years earlier when he called my
< 2> family a "perfect Aryan family" in a public magazine. So
< 3> I sit with my infant child on my lap, humming a little
< 4> song to her about us being a perfect Aryan. Do any other
< 5> words upset you?
< 6> Q. What?
< 7> A. Do any other words in the poem upset you apart from the
< 8> "Aryan".
< 9> Q. No, no. It is the contrast. The poor little child has
<10> been taught a racist ----
<11> A. Poor little child! She is a very happy child.
<12> Q. --- ditty by her perverted racist father.
<13> A. Have you ever read Edward Lear or Hilliard Belloch?
<14> Q. They have not brought a libel action complaining of being
<15> called a racist, Mr Irving. You have ----
<16> A. I do not know if they have brought libel actions or not.
<17> Q. Mr Irving, you sued because you said we called you a
<18> racist and an extremist?
<19> A. Yes, but I am not a racist.
<20> Q. Mr Irving, look at the words on the page.
<21> A. Mr Rampton, are you accusing me of racism, in other words,
<22> looking down on ethnic minorities?
<23> Q. Oh, yes.
<24> A. Well, how is it behind you in the entire four weeks we
<25> have been here today I have not seen a single coloured
<26> member on the team behind you, when I have employed

. P-99
< 1> coloured people of ethnic minorities on my staff and, so
< 2> far as I can see, not you or your instructing solicitor
< 3> have employed one such person.
< 4> MR JUSTICE GRAY: Now, shall we have a little pause? I do not
< 5> think that is a very helpful intervention.
< 6> A. I think it is very important to say that. It is the point
< 7> where hypocrisy begins and dudgeon ends.
< 8> MR RAMPTON: Mr Irving, you are condemned out of your own
< 9> mouth, you see. That is the trouble.
<10> A. Well, I am condemned by what I say and you are condemned
<11> by what I see. Not once have you had a member of the
<12> ethnic minority working on your side.
<13> MR JUSTICE GRAY: Mr Irving, I just suggested that was not a
<14> very helpful intervention. Do not just repeat it.
<15> MR RAMPTON: I expect you are hoping the newspaper reporters
<16> are going to write it down, are you not, Mr Irving?
<17> A. I do not place much trust in the newspaper reporters. I
<18> can recognize hypocrisy when I see it.


Day 14 under "Transcripts"

Now, I don't know if Hitchens or his wife are liars, or if Irving is a racist, but I do know that David Irving's own written papers were the source of this ditty when it was brought up in the trial.



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Post by Alexx » 09 Jan 2003 07:43

Well, Tarpon, We have all heard about this little episode from the Irving/Lipstadt trial. It seem to be regarded as the highlight of the whole trial by his opponents.

I think Mr Irving comes out of it untarnished. Well, his taste concerning doggerels are highly questionable, even if it was meant as an ironic repons to a smear.
That's all.

Regards Alexx :)

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Post by Dan » 09 Jan 2003 16:28

That Irving just out of the blue repeated that song in an elevator is beyond belief.

The justification he made for writing that ditty down is very believable. It was in response to a magazine posting a picture of he and his wife and child, who are all blue eyed and fair, and titling the picture "the perfect Aryan couple".

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Hitchens on War Guilt, Modern Germany; with Dresden rfrncs..

Post by Entropy » 17 Jan 2003 22:33

Despite his recent defence of War with Iraq and subsequent embrace of the truly reprehensible neo cons like Horowitz, I post these links on Hitchens because I view him as a sort of kindred spirit : an Anglo-American who can actually acknowledge the fact Americans and Brits can commit atrocities, too. For me, too many of my countrymen give knee-jerk excuses and repugnant justifications for Hiroshimas, Dresdens, Mai Lais, etc. Hitchens doesn't; thus, I'm a fan.

Gilles Karmasyn wrote:
Hitchens is certainly not a Holocaust denier. But he has been intoxicated by *some* lies usually uttered by Holocaust deniers and has dared to publish those lies as established facts.
Maybe you read it differently than I did. At the first of the article, I take it that Hitchens speaks for Irving, but then later, once Irving has shown himself to Hitchens to be a liar and an ass, the implication is that anything claimed exclusively by Irving is also suspect. Sure, Hitchens could have been more explicit, but I think his final opinion of Irving (and Irving's scholarship) is plain. This fact, of course, doesn't negate was Hitchens coroborates via the experts at Yad Vashem and the National Holocaust Museum.

I appreciate and sympathise with your argument, but I still don't believe that Hitchens was permanently suckered by Irving.

As far as the Hitchens' story of Irving's little ditty to Aryanism, why is it so hard to believe that Irving is a bold fascist sympathiser and racist?


This is interesting :

Yet for me and for my cohort, all of this was a cause for pride, and excitement, and made us ready to listen to our fathers as they—with sometimes feigned reluctance—unfolded their war stories. What must it be like to have this in one's immediate past, yet with no cause for affirmation, let alone celebration? And why should my German contemporaries feel inhibited about discussing the erasure of great cities and churches and monuments in their country, to say nothing of the killing of numberless civilians? There are many British people who feel that needless harm was done, and cruelty inflicted; and the unveiling in London a decade ago of a statue to Air Chief Marshal Arthur "Bomber" Harris, the architect of the air campaign against Germany, was attended by some forceful protests in print and on the streets.

Looking over Sebald's evocative paragraphs, though, I find that I pause immediately at the terse way in which he says "war of annihilation." I also wince a bit at the way he mourns the Luftwaffe crew slightly more than he regrets the "raid" on Norwich. I don't do this, I trust, for any insular or tribal reason. In a letter left for his sons, the late Heinrich Böll told them that they would always be able to tell everything about another German by noticing whether this fellow citizen, in conversation, described April 1945 as "the defeat" or as "the liberation." Thomas Mann and Victor Klemperer were quite decided on this point, and they really did write about—and in the latter case endure—the very calamity that Sebald says is somehow unmentionable. (Böll's novel The Silent Angel, a book that unflinchingly discusses the ruins and the corpses, was written at the end of the 1940s but, as Sebald points out, not published until 1992.) Still, if one takes as one's standard the work and thought of the German oppositionists and dissidents, one is employing a measure that does nothing but credit to German culture and tradition.
More recently another book, which seemingly seeks to reopen the same question in a different way, has been published in Germany. Der Brand (The Fire), by the historian Jörg Friedrich, accuses Winston Churchill of a conscious policy of airborne terrorism against civilians. The right-wing mass-circulation tabloid Das Bild has called Churchill a war criminal in its editorial pages and, in serializing Friedrich's work, has demanded recognition of German suffering. The word "brand" in English, of course, carries a distinctly different vernacular meaning.

....At times Sebald seems to want to have this both ways. He invites us to read the letters he received from German readers after he first broached this subject, in a series of public lectures in Zurich in 1997, and thus we discover that a certain combination of arrogance and self-pity, of the kind Christopher Isherwood noticed in his landlady in Goodbye to Berlin, is still around, and still tinged with anti-Semitism. Sebald stipulates what otherwise I would find myself pedantically pointing out: that the Nazi regime had its own plans for the destruction of other people's cities. (Even in 1945, when all was lost, the wretches amid the rubble of Germany were officially cheered up by the news that the Führer's ultimate "wonder-weapons"—the guided V1 and V2 missiles—were falling on London.) Indeed, it is possible to imagine that if anti-Jewish paranoia had not deprived the Third Reich of so many gifted physicists, the unthinkable might have occurred. Thus most people outside Germany itself still tend to shrug at the horror, if they agree to discuss it at all, as if to say, Well, what goes around comes around. And those non-Germans who have drawn attention to the promiscuously inflicted devastation are suspected of a covert sympathy for the other side.

This doesn't relieve the rest of us of some responsibility. After all, the firebombing of Dresden was so appallingly total that it might just as easily have killed Victor Klemperer (who was injured in the eye and for a while separated from his wife by the chaos) as rescued him. Few historians or strategists now argue that the bombing made much if any difference to the outcome of the war, and it may have been conducted partly to reassure Joseph Stalin, who always feared that the British and the Americans might conclude a separate peace. The opening of official papers long ago permitted us to read Lord Cherwell's advice to Churchill that bombs should be concentrated on working-class housing, to maximize casualties; and one objects not just to the studied deliberation of this but also to the fact that these districts were the heart of anti-Nazi resistance in anti-Nazi cities like Hamburg. (So that was where all the "good Germans" went—into the firestorms of the RAF.)

Then one has to face the fact that Henry Morgenthau nearly achieved the adoption of his plan, which was to consummate the violent, dramatic depopulation of Germany and a subsequent reduction of its survivors to a servile or peasant status. The Churchill-Roosevelt papers tell the story of how, at the Quebec and Hyde Park conferences of 1944, Churchill accepted this idea (preferring to call it a "pastoral" solution to the German problem) after having initially described it as "unnatural, unChristian and unnecessary." He and Roosevelt then turned their attention to the deployment of nuclear weaponry, first directly against Japan and then—at least in Churchill's mind—as a means of impressing the Soviet Union. Thanks to Cordell Hull and Henry Stimson, the Morgenthau plan was not adopted in the postwar American and British zones, though the USSR did denude eastern Germany of much of its productive industrial capacity. And it might now be admitted that the Cold War's half acceptance of "two Germanys"—a policy that left a new generation of East Germans to grow up without any experience of democracy—was paradoxically conditioned by the same feeling of "woe to the conquered." (Interesting that we still employ the German word schadenfreude when speaking of a cruel sense of satisfaction, as if nationalizing an emotion that is common to all.) However, it can be pointed out without too much defensiveness that American and British soldiers did not, upon their arrival in Germany, commit atrocities against civilians on the ground. This is much more than can be said for the legions of either Hitler or Stalin, and it must qualify any suggestion that the war against Nazism was allowed to become a war of "annihilation."

It is probably the creditably peaceful and democratic reunification of Germany that has impelled—or perhaps permitted—Sebald and other writers to revisit the half-buried past. Even Günter Grass, who opposed what he absurdly called the 1989 "Anschluss" with the eastern lander, and who could never utter a public word on local politics without emphasizing Auschwitz, has now published a novel (Crab Walk) about the suffering of German refugees in the closing moments of the war. I have already mentioned the terrible atrocities committed by the Red Army; the mass expulsion, dispossession, and killing of German-speaking minorities in the Czech lands and Hungary after 1945 has also recently become an issue that respectable people may mention without incurring suspicion. Sebald approaches this thicket very deftly, making good use of his long residence in England. He describes how in the 1980s he went to see Solly Zuckerman, who had been one of Churchill's circle of military-intellectual advisers on "area bombing." After the war Zuckerman had hastened to Cologne, to indulge his professional interest by viewing the results. He found that he was unable to summon any adequate words for what he saw. ("All that remained in his mind was the image of the blackened cathedral rising from the stony desert around it, and the memory of a severed finger that he had found on a heap of rubble.") It had been his intention, Zuckerman told Sebald, to compose an essay for Cyril Connolly's magazine Horizon. But he was unable to produce it. The working title of the never written article was "On the Natural History of Destruction" ...

In Doctor Faustus, Mann stated the problem that Sebald confronts. "It is not far from capitulation to pure abdication and the offer to let the victor go right ahead and govern the affairs of the fallen nation just as he pleases, since for its part that nation no longer knows up from down." Hans Magnus Enzensberger, the most astute and mordant of the German critics, phrased it more dialectically when he argued that this very docility was a source of strength. "The mysterious energy of the Germans" could not be understood, he wrote, "if we refuse to realize that they have made a virtue of their deficiencies. Insensibility was the condition of their success." The British liked to put this in an unworthily scornful tone. The Germans, one used to hear it said in my father's circles, are either at your throat or at your feet ... But Sebald's well-chosen excerpts from Janet Flanner's reportage, and from the Swedish writer Stig Dagerman, suggest a missing element of German stoicism. Dagerman noticed that he could easily be identified as a foreigner on a train passing through the leveled city of Hamburg, because he was the only one staring out the window.

With a part of themselves, thinking Germans obviously understood that their late Führer not only brought this devastation on them but actually wished it on them. He had preferred an immolated nation to a surrendered one. So the surrender was, in an admittedly less than glorious way, a double defeat for the madman. Even though no Western reporter worth his salt has since neglected any story, however trivial, that suggests a stirring of neo-Nazism, no German constituency worth its salt has ever shown any real interest in endorsing such a thing. In European discussions the most punctilious internationalists are the Germans, whose government even surrendered the special symbol of its deutschmark to the idea of a Europeanized Germany. The large majority of refugees from the recent Balkan wars found hospitality on German soil. Nobody except the left-Green Joschka Fischer has really ever been able to commit or persuade Germans to send their troops overseas. Even the provincial-minded campaign run by Gerhard Schröder a few months ago illustrated this same point, in a different if less noble way.
All this is interesting, and the moral point rings true, but of those more familiar with the facts than I, I ask if it's indeed true that Dresden was a center of German Anti-Nazi resistance, and did Churchill know or consider this before he authorised the firebombing war crime?


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Post by Dan » 18 Jan 2003 01:16

As far as the Hitchens' story of Irving's little ditty to Aryanism, why is it so hard to believe that Irving is a bold fascist sympathiser and racist?

If that question is addressed to me, then I think it unlikely that Irving said that out of the blue in the presence of a little girl (Hitchen's child) that he knew to be Jewish. It doesn't ring true. Maybe if we had some context?

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Post by Alexx » 18 Jan 2003 08:57

There are many British people who feel that needless harm was done, and cruelty inflicted; and the unveiling in London a decade ago of a statue to Air Chief Marshal Arthur "Bomber" Harris, the architect of the air campaign against Germany, was attended by some forceful protests in print and on the streets

No this is clearly wrong. The architect of the bombing-campaign (the worst disaster in the European history) was Churchill's jewish advisor professor Lindemann.
Here Hitchens is following the tradition of making "Bomber" -Harris the scapegoat.


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