Comments Posted By Pamela Troy
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It would appear that one of the more important lessons we supposedly learned from the Second World War -- the correlation between violent rhetoric and violent actions -- is being deliberately erased. Julius Streicher is almost forgotten, but at one time he was famous as the propagandist whose newspaper, DER STURMER, did so much to whip up hatred of the Jews.

Himmler had this to say about him:

"In times to come when the story of the reawakening of the German people is written, and when the next generation will be unable to understand how the German people could ever have been friendly with the Jews, it will be said that Julius Streicher and his weekly newspaper were responsible for a good part of the education about the enemy of mankind."

After the war, the court at Nuremberg agreed. Streicher, who insisted to the end that he'd been merely a propagandist, had never pointed at any individual and said "kill that man" was hanged along with the other war criminals.

There are plently of other examples aside from the grand guignol of Nazi Germany. I'm old enough to remember the kind of rhetoric I heard about civil rights activists in the American south during the Civil Rights movement, ugly, violent rhetoric that was followed, not surprisingly, by the murders of people like Michael Schwerner and Viola Liuzzo. The genocide in Rwanda is inextricably linked with the hatred whipped up by Rwanda radio stations,in which calls went out to "kill the cockroaches." Here on the West Coast, we have the Goldmarks to remember, a family killed in the 1980s by an unbalanced soul who'd been convinced by a local right-wing organization that they were Communists and ergo enemies of America.

Recognizing this link is not a matter of left or right. It is the conclusion of scholars and historians who, in the years after the war, sought to understand how a cultured, tolerant society like Germany descended into barbarism. The great diarist, Victor Klemperer, painstakingly recorded this descent and how the Nazis used rhetoric to facilitate it in his Third Reich Diary.

It may pay you to read it, and other works about that terrible object lesson of the 20th century, The Third Reich.

Comment Posted By Pamela Troy On 14.11.2006 @ 20:50



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