Friday, April 17, 2009


OK, so:

It's from a psychological profile of Adolf Hitler done by the Office of Strategic Services (OSS) during WWII. The OSS (Wild Bill Donovan's Boys and Girls--Julia Childs was one of them) is the wartime forerunner of the CIA. The quote I used is drawn directly from a page of Mein Kampf, almost verbatim. I was struck dumb by the similarity to the tactics used for eight years by the Axis of Evil: Bush-Cheney-Rove. When I read it to Erin and asked her who it was, that was her first guess. (Actually, Bush is not bright enough to qualify as evil; he was a failed college twit easily lead astray by the other two, but you get my point).

I think that they learned a lot from Paul Goebbels, Hitler's propaganda minister and the founder of modern mass propaganda. It was from him that George Orwell and Aldous Huxley got their main ideas for 1984 and Brave New World, respectively. I found the quote in the blog whilst googling Goebbels and ran across The Big Lie, Hitler's idea that people will question and forgive small lies but will most probably believe the Big One, especially if repeated often enough, which is what Goebbels did (as did Bush: Iraq, yellow cake; Cheney: WMD, 9/11 = Al Qaeda; Rove: the Kerry smears, and as do Limbaugh, Hannity, Beck, Tantaros/Malkin, Fixed News, Ingraham, anything about Obama and the Democrats and their work-- 'never concede that there may be some good in your enemy'.

I mean, hell, even Hitler had two good ideas: the freeway and the Volkswagen. Is that what the TeaBaggers mean when they compare Obama to Hitler? Must be. 'Twould be laughable were it not so pathetic ('Note his elegant use of the subjunctive! Isn't he something, though?!').

One of my favorite lines from Huxley: 1,720,426 repetitions = One Truth. Sad but, I fear, true.

I came across the quote during my reading of The Kindly Ones by Jonathan Littell. Almost all of the characters in it are real Nazis from the period with major roles in the Holocaust, so I spent a long time with Wikipedia looking them up. The novel's protaganist is 'one sick puppy' who is with the SD/SS involved with killing squads in the Ukraine and is later involved with Auschwitz and Mauthausen. He is unrepentant.

I stayed with the book (almost 1000 pages) because of my interest in WWII, not because of style or plot, both of which are turgid (one paragraph ran four pages) and/or ridiculous. The French (original language) loved the book, naturally, while the Brits and Yanks gave it either an A or an F. For me it was fascinating as history (and very accurate), but as literature it sucked. Jonathan's daddy, Robert, is a far better writer (in the spy/espionage genre) and I have read all of his books. So in this case, as one reviewer put it, 'the apple falls galaxies from the tree.'

My recommendation: unless you are retired and interested in WWII history, give this one a pass.

Thanks to the three who responded, even though two cheated and got the answer through
Google! Tsk, tsk.

Hope spring is being good to y'all wherever you are.

1 comment:

Dan Johnson said...

Have to admit, was awfully curious about The Kindly Ones. I have a high tolerance for the turgid and the degenerate alike, and all that press! But the word from readers I trust is not promising.

I read a stupid review of it that compared it to Roberto BolaƱo's posthumous 2666, another enormous novel about atrocities—but actually, let me strongly, strongly recommend that one. It's a punishing read at times (David Rees called it "a sprawling novel about people running around Mexico — either attending academic conferences, reporting on boxing matches, or (most often) getting raped and killed and dumped in a ditch"), but it lives up to the big critical hype. And the English translation is marvelous.