". . . But the past does not exist independently from the present. Indeed, the past is only past because there is a present, just as I can point to something over there only because I am here. But nothing is inherently over there or here. In that sense, the past has no content. The past -- or more accurately, pastness -- is a position. Thus, in no way can we identify the past as past." p. 15

". . . But we may want to keep in mind that deeds and words are not as distinguishable as often we presume. History does not belong only to its narrators, professional or amateur. While some of us debate what history is or was, others take it into their own hands." p. 153

Silencing the Past: Power and the Production of History (1995) by Michel-Rolph Trouillot

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Hitler's Playbook - Eleanor Roosevelt - Babylon Berlin

     . . . . I am immersed in the disasters of 1920's, 1930's and 1940's Europe and the US and the sheer idiocy of so many of those catastrophes. Marx and Engles predicted much of this. (Their work isn't Stalinism or Maoism, etc. which are always used to derail the descriptive brilliance of Das Kapital: Critique of Political Economy.) 

It's not only Babylon Berlin, with the starved poor, the scapegoated labor unions that pulls me down into the disasters leading up to the Great Catastrophe of WWII, but the second volume of Blanche Weisen Cook's biography of Eleanor Roosevelt: The Defining Years, 1933 - 1938 (1999).  This volume of ER's biography so many reviewers back then, and still now, professional critics and readers -- not just males -- seem to sneer at: it's way too long for such a short period of time; don 't want or care about HER personal life, stop with the lesbian stuff; so tired of Lorena Hicks (pioneer woman who rose to the top of the cut throat masculine newspaper reporter profession); nothing happens.  This latter accusation in particular -- in this close, detailed coverage of the Roosevelts and their circles in 1933-1938, these readers don't see anything happening? These are the years in which the US's sexism and racism are shown in all their depressing detail as to who gets what help and who doesn't get any.  

Volume II is a brilliant book. Among its many unarguable strengths are the explanations of the many many angles of Hitler and the nazis' playbook, how and why and when all the terrible things happen, which the plans were laid in the 1920's, and came to fruition in the 1930's. These are  disturbingly like the horrors our country is experiencing right now, including deliberate deniers of reality and construction of fake news, all with the objective of taking down the legitimate governments and replacing them with a terrible new world order. 

Here in the USA, at the moment the problem for our US neo nazi libertarians is that with the ADD Orange supposedly leading the charges, there are too many enemies.  He's s easily distracted, which is exactly what Hitler says one must not have. Only a single enemy and beat beat beat beat on it -- for them it was the Jews, behind which they planned and performed their tragically successful project to eliminate everyone not conforming to their concept of worthy to live.

Charlotte Ritter, one of the principals of Babylon Berlin.  She's a single Berlin woman in 1928; born of the WWI generation  who never had enough food.  Unless she marries soon, she will be targeted for the camps . . . .
 The unworthy included single women who were excess mouths devouring food that the worthy should have, and they too were sent to the camps, early on. Germany had nearly 2 million single women after the first world war. These women were the earliest and first group the nazis successfully did away with. 

Dr. Alice Hamilton, first female faculty at Harvard's School of Medicine.
The reports of ER's friend and colleague, Dr. Alice Hamilton (among Hamilton's sisters, all of whom became educated, credentialed professionals, was the famed classicist Edith Hamilton whose works include The Greek Way, The Roman Way, and Mythology), from her her philanthropy mission to Germany in 1933 to research and relieve the many starving there -- that the world could and did demand denial about Hitler remains incomprehensible.  These women certainly thought so.

Perhaps that is why critics and reviewers from Maureen Dowd on dislike this book so much.  It's about women, all those brilliant, often wealthy women with a burning passion for justice, educated, who worked so hard to change the world starting even back the era we call the Gilded Age.  They tended to gather around ER. As First Lady she did everything she could to give them their heads to make the USA and the world different from the cruel, hard-hearted, mean and selfish place it was to where everyone could at least have a decent meal and place to sleep, and catch a decent break as well as their breath.  O those men in D.C. hated her.

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