Sunshine Recorder

Link: The Nazi Anatomists

Link: Excerpt from They Thought They Were Free: The Germans, 1933-45” by Milton Mayer

“What happened here was the gradual habituation of the people, little by little, to being governed by surprise; to receiving decisions deliberated in secret; to believing that the situation was so complicated that the government had to act on information which the people could not understand, or so dangerous that, even if the people could not understand it, it could not be released because of national security. And their sense of identification with Hitler, their trust in him, made it easier to widen this gap and reassured those who would otherwise have worried about it. This separation of government from people, this widening of the gap, took place so gradually and so insensibly, each step disguised (perhaps not even intentionally) as a temporary emergency measure or associated with true patriotic allegiance or with real social purposes. And all the crises and reforms (real reforms, too) so occupied the people that they did not see the slow motion underneath, of the whole process of government growing remoter and remoter. […] To live in this process is absolutely not to be able to notice it—please try to believe me—unless one has a much greater degree of political awareness, acuity, than most of us had ever had occasion to develop. Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, ‘regretted,’ that, unless one were detached from the whole process from the beginning, unless one understood what the whole thing was in principle, what all these ‘little measures’ that no ‘patriotic German’ could resent must some day lead to, one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing. One day it is over his head.

(Source: sunrec, via sunrec)

Link: They Thought They Were Free

Excerpt from “They Thought They Were Free: The Germans, 1933-45" by Milton Mayer, 1966. 

“What happened here was the gradual habituation of the people, little by little, to being governed by surprise; to receiving decisions deliberated in secret; to believing that the situation was so complicated that the government had to act on information which the people could not understand, or so dangerous that, even if the people could not understand it, it could not be released because of national security. And their sense of identification with Hitler, their trust in him, made it easier to widen this gap and reassured those who would otherwise have worried about it. This separation of government from people, this widening of the gap, took place so gradually and so insensibly, each step disguised (perhaps not even intentionally) as a temporary emergency measure or associated with true patriotic allegiance or with real social purposes. And all the crises and reforms (real reforms, too) so occupied the people that they did not see the slow motion underneath, of the whole process of government growing remoter and remoter. […] To live in this process is absolutely not to be able to notice it—please try to believe me—unless one has a much greater degree of political awareness, acuity, than most of us had ever had occasion to develop. Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, ‘regretted,’ that, unless one were detached from the whole process from the beginning, unless one understood what the whole thing was in principle, what all these ‘little measures’ that no ‘patriotic German’ could resent must some day lead to, one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing. One day it is over his head.

(Source: sunrec)


Nazi legacy: The troubled descendants
Photo: “My Nazi father shot women with babies in their arms from this balcony, I am tormented by how much of him is in me’ … Monika, daughter of camp commander Amon Goeth
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The names of Himmler, Goering, Goeth and Hoess still have the power to evoke the horrors of Nazi Germany, but what is it like to live with the legacy of those surnames, and is it ever possible to move on from the terrible crimes committed by your ancestors? 
When he was a child Rainer Hoess was shown a family heirloom.
He remembers his mother lifting the heavy lid of the fireproof chest with a large swastika on the lid, revealing bundles of family photos.
They featured his father as a young child playing with his brothers and sisters, in the garden of their grand family home.
The photos show a pool with a slide and a sand pit - an idyllic family setting - but one that was separated from the gas chambers of Auschwitz by just a few yards.
His grandfather Rudolf Hoess (not to be confused with Nazi deputy leader Rudolf Hess), was the first commandant of Auschwitz concentration camp. His father grew up in a villa adjoining the camp, where he and his siblings played with toys built by prisoners.
It was where his grandmother told the children to wash the strawberries they picked because they smelled of ash from the concentration camp ovens.
Rainer is haunted by the garden gate he spotted in the photos that went straight into the camp - he calls it the “gate to hell”.
"It’s hard to explain the guilt," says Rainer, "even though there is no reason I should bear any guilt, I still bear it. I carry the guilt with me in my mind.
"I’m ashamed too, of course, for what my family, my grandfather, did to thousands of other families.
"So you ask yourself, they had to die. I’m alive. Why am I alive? To carry this guilt, this burden, to try to come to terms with it.
"That must be the only reason I exist, to do what he should have done."
His father never abandoned the ideology he grew up with and Rainer no longer has contact with him, as he attempts to cope with his family’s guilt and shame. […]
For Bettina Goering, the great-niece of Hitler’s designated successor Hermann Goering, she felt she needed to take drastic action to deal with her family’s legacy.
Both she and her brother chose to be sterilised.
"We both did it… so that there won’t be any more Goerings," she explains.
"When my brother had it done, he said to me ‘I cut the line’."
Disturbed by her likeness to her great-uncle, she left Germany more than 30 years ago and lives in a remote home in Santa Fe, New Mexico.
"It’s easier for me to deal with the past of my family from this great distance," she explains.

Nazi legacy: The troubled descendants

Photo: “My Nazi father shot women with babies in their arms from this balcony, I am tormented by how much of him is in me’ … Monika, daughter of camp commander Amon Goeth

-

The names of Himmler, Goering, Goeth and Hoess still have the power to evoke the horrors of Nazi Germany, but what is it like to live with the legacy of those surnames, and is it ever possible to move on from the terrible crimes committed by your ancestors?

When he was a child Rainer Hoess was shown a family heirloom.

He remembers his mother lifting the heavy lid of the fireproof chest with a large swastika on the lid, revealing bundles of family photos.

They featured his father as a young child playing with his brothers and sisters, in the garden of their grand family home.

The photos show a pool with a slide and a sand pit - an idyllic family setting - but one that was separated from the gas chambers of Auschwitz by just a few yards.

His grandfather Rudolf Hoess (not to be confused with Nazi deputy leader Rudolf Hess), was the first commandant of Auschwitz concentration camp. His father grew up in a villa adjoining the camp, where he and his siblings played with toys built by prisoners.

It was where his grandmother told the children to wash the strawberries they picked because they smelled of ash from the concentration camp ovens.

Rainer is haunted by the garden gate he spotted in the photos that went straight into the camp - he calls it the “gate to hell”.

"It’s hard to explain the guilt," says Rainer, "even though there is no reason I should bear any guilt, I still bear it. I carry the guilt with me in my mind.

"I’m ashamed too, of course, for what my family, my grandfather, did to thousands of other families.

"So you ask yourself, they had to die. I’m alive. Why am I alive? To carry this guilt, this burden, to try to come to terms with it.

"That must be the only reason I exist, to do what he should have done."

His father never abandoned the ideology he grew up with and Rainer no longer has contact with him, as he attempts to cope with his family’s guilt and shame. […]

For Bettina Goering, the great-niece of Hitler’s designated successor Hermann Goering, she felt she needed to take drastic action to deal with her family’s legacy.

Both she and her brother chose to be sterilised.

"We both did it… so that there won’t be any more Goerings," she explains.

"When my brother had it done, he said to me ‘I cut the line’."

Disturbed by her likeness to her great-uncle, she left Germany more than 30 years ago and lives in a remote home in Santa Fe, New Mexico.

"It’s easier for me to deal with the past of my family from this great distance," she explains.

No class or group or party in Germany could escape its share of responsibility for the abandonment of the democratic Republic and the advent of Adolf Hitler. The cardinal error of the Germans who opposed Nazism was their failure to unite against it.
— William L. Shirer, The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich: A History of Nazi Germany

Germania: Hitler’s Dream Capital
Albert Speer’s plan to transform Berlin into the  capital of a 1,000-year Reich would have created a vast monument to  misanthropy, as Roger Moorhouse explains.
In 1937 Hitler’s architect Albert Speer was given the task of transforming Berlin from the sprawling metropolis that it was into Germania, the gleaming new capital of a Greater German ‘World Empire’, the centrepiece of the civilised world.
It was a vast undertaking. Plans, swiftly drawn up by Speer’s office, were presented to the public on January 28th, 1938. The reaction within Germany was predictably enthusiastic, with newspapers carrying detailed explanations and commentaries. Der Angriff stated that the designs were ‘truly monumental … far exceeding all expectations’, while the Völkischer Beobachter proclaimed grandly that ‘from this desert of stone, shall emerge the capital of a thousand-year Reich’. The foreign press, though less effusive, nonetheless concurred. The New York Times, for instance, described the project as ‘perhaps the most ambitious planning scheme’ of the modern era.
The plans certainly did not want for ambition. In accordance with Hitler’s original sketches they centred on a grand boulevard, which was to run from north to south for around seven kilometres through the heart of the city, linking two proposed new rail termini. Given carte blanche in redesigning this vast swathe of the city centre, Speer and his minions had had a field day and their plans read like a catalogue of comparatives and superlatives. The vast Grand Hall, for instance, close to the Reichstag, would have been the largest enclosed space in the world, with a dome 16 times larger than that of St Peter’s in Rome. Designed to host 180,000 people, there were concerns among the planners that the exhaled breath of the audience might even produce ‘weather’ beneath the cavernous coffered ceiling. The 117-metre tall Arch of Triumph, meanwhile, was designed – on Hitler’s express instruction – to carry the names of Germany’s 1.8 million fallen of the First World War engraved upon its walls. Similarly massive, it would have comfortably accommodated its Parisian namesake beneath its arch. Linking these monuments along the new axis would be a plethora of new buildings, civic and commercial, flanking broad avenues, ornamental obelisks, an artificial lake and a vast ‘circus’ peppered with Nazi statuary.
…
Speer’s plans for Berlin are fascinating. In an architectural sense, they are – if nothing else – a potent display of the astonishing extremes that can be reached by sycophantic architects. Yet any assessment of the Germania plans must reach beyond the narrow sphere of architecture, even if only a fraction of those designs ever graduated from the drawing board. Speer’s plans cannot simply be viewed from the architectural perspective alone: in examining them one is morally bound to consider not only the designs themselves but also the brutal methods by which they were brought into being.
Germania, though largely unrealised, nonetheless projected its malign influence into many other spheres of life – and death – in the Third Reich. Its contempt for mankind was demonstrated not only in the treatment meted out to those doomed to cut its stone in the concentration camps or those who found themselves living in its path; it also extended to those who might one day have walked those granite-clad boulevards. It is notable, for example, that in all the plans a human dimension is almost completely lacking. Hitler, it appears, had absolutely no interest in the social aspects of the planning that he oversaw; his passion was for the buildings themselves rather than for the human beings who might one day inhabit them. Indeed it has been plausibly suggested by Frederic Spotts that the plans for Berlin’s reconstruction were themselves simply a manifestation of Hitler’s desire to reduce cities and even individuals to the status of mere playthings. When one recalls the images of the Führer stooped like some malevolent deity over his architectural models in the Reich Chancellery this is an interpretation that becomes instantly and chillingly persuasive.

Germania: Hitler’s Dream Capital

Albert Speer’s plan to transform Berlin into the capital of a 1,000-year Reich would have created a vast monument to misanthropy, as Roger Moorhouse explains.

In 1937 Hitler’s architect Albert Speer was given the task of transforming Berlin from the sprawling metropolis that it was into Germania, the gleaming new capital of a Greater German ‘World Empire’, the centrepiece of the civilised world.

It was a vast undertaking. Plans, swiftly drawn up by Speer’s office, were presented to the public on January 28th, 1938. The reaction within Germany was predictably enthusiastic, with newspapers carrying detailed explanations and commentaries. Der Angriff stated that the designs were ‘truly monumental … far exceeding all expectations’, while the Völkischer Beobachter proclaimed grandly that ‘from this desert of stone, shall emerge the capital of a thousand-year Reich’. The foreign press, though less effusive, nonetheless concurred. The New York Times, for instance, described the project as ‘perhaps the most ambitious planning scheme’ of the modern era.

The plans certainly did not want for ambition. In accordance with Hitler’s original sketches they centred on a grand boulevard, which was to run from north to south for around seven kilometres through the heart of the city, linking two proposed new rail termini. Given carte blanche in redesigning this vast swathe of the city centre, Speer and his minions had had a field day and their plans read like a catalogue of comparatives and superlatives. The vast Grand Hall, for instance, close to the Reichstag, would have been the largest enclosed space in the world, with a dome 16 times larger than that of St Peter’s in Rome. Designed to host 180,000 people, there were concerns among the planners that the exhaled breath of the audience might even produce ‘weather’ beneath the cavernous coffered ceiling. The 117-metre tall Arch of Triumph, meanwhile, was designed – on Hitler’s express instruction – to carry the names of Germany’s 1.8 million fallen of the First World War engraved upon its walls. Similarly massive, it would have comfortably accommodated its Parisian namesake beneath its arch. Linking these monuments along the new axis would be a plethora of new buildings, civic and commercial, flanking broad avenues, ornamental obelisks, an artificial lake and a vast ‘circus’ peppered with Nazi statuary.

Speer’s plans for Berlin are fascinating. In an architectural sense, they are – if nothing else – a potent display of the astonishing extremes that can be reached by sycophantic architects. Yet any assessment of the Germania plans must reach beyond the narrow sphere of architecture, even if only a fraction of those designs ever graduated from the drawing board. Speer’s plans cannot simply be viewed from the architectural perspective alone: in examining them one is morally bound to consider not only the designs themselves but also the brutal methods by which they were brought into being.

Germania, though largely unrealised, nonetheless projected its malign influence into many other spheres of life – and death – in the Third Reich. Its contempt for mankind was demonstrated not only in the treatment meted out to those doomed to cut its stone in the concentration camps or those who found themselves living in its path; it also extended to those who might one day have walked those granite-clad boulevards. It is notable, for example, that in all the plans a human dimension is almost completely lacking. Hitler, it appears, had absolutely no interest in the social aspects of the planning that he oversaw; his passion was for the buildings themselves rather than for the human beings who might one day inhabit them. Indeed it has been plausibly suggested by Frederic Spotts that the plans for Berlin’s reconstruction were themselves simply a manifestation of Hitler’s desire to reduce cities and even individuals to the status of mere playthings. When one recalls the images of the Führer stooped like some malevolent deity over his architectural models in the Reich Chancellery this is an interpretation that becomes instantly and chillingly persuasive.

Link: Mahatma Gandhi's letters to Hitler

23-7-‘39

Dear Friend,

Friends have been urging me to write to you for the sake of humanity. But I have resisted their request, because of the feeling that any letter from me would be an impertinence. Something tells me that I must not calculate and that I must make my appeal for whatever it may be worth.

It is quite clear that you are today the one person in the world who can prevent a war which may reduce humanity to a savage state. Must you pay that price for an object however worthy it may appear to you to be? Will you listen to the appeal of one who has deliberately shunned the method of war not without considerable success? Any way I anticipate your forgiveness, if I have erred in writing to you.

I remain,
Your sincere friend,
M. K. Gandhi

"Site of Hitler’s Bunker and Chancellery" by Traces of Evil

In the first years of the second world war Hitler lived in the Old Chancellery and worked in the monumental New Chancellery, realized by Albert Speer. But when, after the defeat of Stalingrad and the first heavy bombing of Berlin on March 1943, the fates of the war made to fear the worse, Hitler ordered to build a new anti-aircraft shelter that could work, if necessary, as headquarters. In other words, he ordered a new bunker. […] The physical atmosphere of the bunker was oppressive, but this was nothing compared to the pressure of the psychological atmosphere. The incessant air-raids, the knowledge that the Russians were now in the city, nervous exhaustion, fear, and despair produced a tension bordering on hysteria, which was heightened by propinquity to a man whose changes of mood were not only unpredictable but affected the lives of all those in the shelter. Read more. 

"Hitler Slept Here" by Slate

Even after the Wall came down, reunited Berlin had little appetite for recognizing the site. But the Bunker has proven to be the Wiley Coyote of historical artifacts—despite all the TNT and steamrollers, it keeps coming back. In 1990, in preparation for a reunification celebration concert to be given by Roger Waters of Pink Floyd fame (featuring a performance of The Wall), workers clearing the former Hitler Chancellery area, which had become part of the booby-trapped East German “Death Strip,” stumbled upon a previously unknown part of the Bunker complex. It turned out to be the nearly 1,500-square-foot underground facility manned by the Chancellery’s elite SS drivers. (The discovery even tweaks repression on the linguistic level. The most common phrase in German for Hitler’s bunker is “der Führerbunker.” The German word for “driver” is “Fahrer.” Hence the SS facility quickly forced a discussion about what to do with “der Fahrerbunker.”) Scattered about inside were some helmets, a dagger, some engraved Chancellery silverware, a “God Is With Us” belt buckle, and a chair with a heart hand-carved out of its backrest. Over one doorway was the inscription: “There are plenty of people, few really good chaps.” What’s more, the SS drivers’ bunker had a feature crying out for investigation and preservation: Large color wall murals that were skillful and iconographically interesting, laced with classical allusions. Yet shortly after this bunker’s accidental discovery, despite the protests of the chief municipal archeologist, it was sealed up by the city. Later, in the mid-’90s, several construction workers were killed when they inadvertently set off buried World War II munitions nearby, once again heightening local interest in what was still lurking in the Bunker area. When in May 1995 a political party formally proposed keeping the Bunker as a monument, Berlin’s regional parliament rejected the notion, choosing to plan government administrative buildings for the area instead. Read more.


Hans Litten: The man who annoyed Adolf Hitler

A new drama tells the story of a Jewish lawyer who confronted Hitler 80 years ago - earning the dictator’s life-long hatred. So who was Hans Litten?

In the Berlin courtroom, Adolf Hitler’s face burned a deep, furious red. The future dictator was not accustomed to this kind of scrutiny. But here he was, being interrogated about the violence of his paramilitary thugs by a young man who represented everything he despised - a radical, principled, fiercely intelligent Jewish lawyer called Hans Litten. The Nazi leader was floundering in the witness stand. And when Litten asked why his party published an incitement to overthrow the state, Hitler lost his composure altogether. ”That is a statement that can be proved by nothing!” he shouted. Litten’s demolition of Hitler’s argument that the Nazis were a peaceful, democratic movement earned the lawyer years of brutal persecution. He was among the first of the fuehrer’s political opponents to be rounded up after the Nazis assumed power. And even long afterwards, Hitler could not bear to hear his one-time tormentor’s name spoken. But although he was among the first to confront Hitler, Litten remains a little-known figure.

Read more.

Hans Litten: The man who annoyed Adolf Hitler

A new drama tells the story of a Jewish lawyer who confronted Hitler 80 years ago - earning the dictator’s life-long hatred. So who was Hans Litten?

In the Berlin courtroom, Adolf Hitler’s face burned a deep, furious red. The future dictator was not accustomed to this kind of scrutiny. But here he was, being interrogated about the violence of his paramilitary thugs by a young man who represented everything he despised - a radical, principled, fiercely intelligent Jewish lawyer called Hans Litten. The Nazi leader was floundering in the witness stand. And when Litten asked why his party published an incitement to overthrow the state, Hitler lost his composure altogether. ”That is a statement that can be proved by nothing!” he shouted. Litten’s demolition of Hitler’s argument that the Nazis were a peaceful, democratic movement earned the lawyer years of brutal persecution. He was among the first of the fuehrer’s political opponents to be rounded up after the Nazis assumed power. And even long afterwards, Hitler could not bear to hear his one-time tormentor’s name spoken. But although he was among the first to confront Hitler, Litten remains a little-known figure.

Read more.


Inside a Nazi Christmas Party, 1941: The image is chilling, bordering on surreal. On December 18, 1941, as  World War II rages and countless innocents endure the horrors of the  Third Reich’s “final solution” — killing operations at the Chełmno  death camp, for instance, began less than two weeks before — Adolf  Hitler presides over a Christmas party in Munich. Stark, jarring  swastika armbands offset the glint of ornaments and tinsel dangling from  a giant Tannenbaum; festive candles illuminate the scene. Confronted  with the image, the question naturally arises: How could Nazi leaders  reconcile an ideology of hatred and conquest with the peaceful, joyous  spirit of the Christian holiday — much less its celebration of the  Jewish-born Christ? Life presents here astonishing photos from this unsettling affair, and the equally remarkable story behind them. Read more.

Inside a Nazi Christmas Party, 1941: The image is chilling, bordering on surreal. On December 18, 1941, as World War II rages and countless innocents endure the horrors of the Third Reich’s “final solution” — killing operations at the Chełmno death camp, for instance, began less than two weeks before — Adolf Hitler presides over a Christmas party in Munich. Stark, jarring swastika armbands offset the glint of ornaments and tinsel dangling from a giant Tannenbaum; festive candles illuminate the scene. Confronted with the image, the question naturally arises: How could Nazi leaders reconcile an ideology of hatred and conquest with the peaceful, joyous spirit of the Christian holiday — much less its celebration of the Jewish-born Christ? Life presents here astonishing photos from this unsettling affair, and the equally remarkable story behind them. Read more.

Link: Nazi Memorabilia Boom

The trade in Nazi relics is booming in the United States, driven by private collectors who want to own a piece of world history’s most notorious era. This week a US auction house at the helm of the trend will sell personal documents left behind by Joseph Goebbels, one of Hitler’s closest cohorts.

It turns out National Socialism is still worth something in Stamford, Connecticut. A well-preserved two-page statement written and signed by Hitler’s Armaments Minister Albert Speer at the start of the Nuremberg Trials in 1945, for example, is worth $10,000 (€7,500). That price seems like a deal compared to the going price for journals kept by concentration camp doctor Josef Mengele during his exile in South America. A private collector recently purchased them at an auction for nearly $300,000 (€224,000). Even larger bids are expected in Stamford this Thursday, when a portion of Joseph Goebbels’ estate goes up for auction. Items include letters and postcards sent and received by the Nazi propaganda minister during his younger years, as well as school report cards and poems and plays he wrote. There’s even a lock of hair from a former girlfriend, preserved inside an envelope through the decades. These will add up to a spectacular sale in a business with a seemingly endless supply of curios: the trade in historical relics. At a time when many people are turning to material assets, this is a flourishing business, and the most sought-after objects for this sort of investment come from Germany. Nazi documents provide collectors a story unique in the course of world history, with the brand name selling power of world-famous mass murderers. A striking number of recent buyers have been wealthy Russians.

Link: They Thought They Were Free

Excerpt from pages 166-73 of They Thought They Were Free: The Germans, 1933-45 by Milton Mayer, 1966 by the University of Chicago. 

"What happened here was the gradual habituation of the people, little by little, to being governed by surprise; to receiving decisions deliberated in secret; to believing that the situation was so complicated that the government had to act on information which the people could not understand, or so dangerous that, even if the people could not understand it, it could not be released because of national security. And their sense of identification with Hitler, their trust in him, made it easier to widen this gap and reassured those who would otherwise have worried about it. This separation of government from people, this widening of the gap, took place so gradually and so insensibly, each step disguised (perhaps not even intentionally) as a temporary emergency measure or associated with true patriotic allegiance or with real social purposes. And all the crises and reforms (real reforms, too) so occupied the people that they did not see the slow motion underneath, of the whole process of government growing remoter and remoter. […] To live in this process is absolutely not to be able to notice it—please try to believe me—unless one has a much greater degree of political awareness, acuity, than most of us had ever had occasion to develop. Each step was so small, so inconsequential, so well explained or, on occasion, ‘regretted,’ that, unless one were detached from the whole process from the beginning, unless one understood what the whole thing was in principle, what all these ‘little measures’ that no ‘patriotic German’ could resent must some day lead to, one no more saw it developing from day to day than a farmer in his field sees the corn growing. One day it is over his head.