Everything for nothing | AIER

The late Walter Kempovsky is considered one of the most famous German writers. His monumental achievement was ten volumes Sonar: a collective diary (Echoes: A Collective Diary). Only the final size Swansong 1945: A Collective Diary from Hitler’s Birthday to VE Dayinto English.

Like other folders in . format Sonar, Swansung Contains no comment from Kempowski. Rely on published material and unpublished testimonies from more than 8,000 civilians, soldiers, prisoners, writers, politicians, and artists. Kempovsky arranged it all into a collage of the totalitarian German experience during World War II. He allows the documents to speak for themselves, sometimes with similarities and sometimes with contradictions such as, “Description of a tumultuous family celebration followed by an entry in a file about a Jewish woman’s suicide; and a note from Hitler’s doctor about his daily injections stands next to a note to resister Sophie Scholl about the goodness of God.”

Kempowski wrote, “If you are looking for a formula to describe the backward course of human progress, echo source It will allow you to delve deep enough to find one.” The result reveals uncomfortable truths, including how much ordinary Germans knew about the Holocaust:

Kempowski has advertised widely in Germany under the headline “Do you know about it?” (Obviously the word “is” the Holocaust). In response, he received thousands of personal accounts from people who consistently wrote things like, “No, I didn’t know anything about it.” . . but . . Then they followed accounts of mysterious trains passing through their city at night, of mysterious smells, of rumors and talk in the neighborhood, of families disappearing overnight—all of which, along with other bits of evidence, tell us the big, scary tale. Yes, they did. It was after all, and in fact, everyone knew about it but managed to convince themselves that they didn’t know about it.

Kempovsky’s last novel All for nothingAnd the He draws on his experience and historical research to tell the story of the final months of World War II as the Soviet Army approached East Prussia (now the Russian province of Kaliningrad). Winter is bitter. One of the largest displacements in history is taking place with 750,000 refugees fleeing the Red Army. On their journey along the Baltic coast, 300,000 died. Some are starving. Others fall through the ice in horse-drawn wagons. Others were bombed, or the ships on board were sunk. The fallen are dragged out of the way so others can move on. Kempovsky was 15 when he watched this little-known tragedy of the war unfold.

On one level, the book’s title is clear: Millions of dead and the ruins of war were all for nothing.

However, reading the novel reveals an even more devastating truth. Nobody in the novel learns anything from the suffering around him. None of his characters grow or change. They have an unlimited ability to deny what will happen to them. They hoped Hitler would allow it [the Russians] In a simple way, but then he would pull the strings of the bag to close them and lock them up.”

Without softening, Kempovsky exposes the banality, lies, and stupidity of vanity. Until the moment of their death, each character’s focus is on the Holy Trinity of the Ego: I, Me, and I.

Death is everywhere but Hitler’s salute Still interspersed with speech. Party officials are still examining “papers” and “recording” the belongings of the refugees. Men “fifteen to seventy” are dragged away to fight and die in the last days of the war. Blood-soaked dressings are loosened to ensure that wounds are not tampered with. Nazi officials are the remnants of society, yet the population fears the power of the state that encourages them.

Was it bitter fear or false faith that set the course? “Didn’t everyone unite behind the Führer?” “That comrade,” one character asks herself, thinking who to contact to report on a person named Hitler. People cling to memories of the old days of the “Flower Wars” when “the Austrians welcomed them very enthusiastically”. “Helping a Jew” remains the highest crime in the eyes of the population. Jews are seen as “a filthy fly and a group of criminals.”

Aldous Huxley wrote, “The most shocking fact about war is that its victims and tools are individual human beings, and that these individual beings are doomed by brutal political mores to kill or be killed in melees which are not theirs.” If only that were absolutely true.

Many of the characters in Kempovsky’s books are accomplices rather than mere victims. in swan songKempovsky shares the notes of the Danish journalist Jacob Kronica, written in April 1945, that the Germans “have neither the strength nor the courage to free themselves from [Hitler’s] Demonic power.”

Senseless violence remains the norm even with the Red Army hours away. Opponents are executed, and the local population still has time to blame them. “On all sides, the onlookers shot the prisoners with hostile looks. They thought it was the fault of the people like that. They turned everyone against us, set the flames on fire and set the world on fire.”

Then the agonizing final scene at the docks with the last of the ships leaving: “Everyone hoped this miracle would happen to himself alone, and they were all rushing into the water to do the miracle for themselves. On a sea-crossing ship! To Denmark. Maybe we’d be lucky? Strawberries and whipped cream, why not ?”

They hated their suffering, but no one learned from it. They converted to Nazism. In the end, no one came to save them.

Learning from Kempowski

Beginning in 1933, Joseph Goebbels, the Reich Minister of Propaganda, gave the annual “Hitler” birthday speeches. in swan song, Kempowski quotes from Goebbels’ last annual radio address on Hitler’s birthday in April 1945. Goebbels and Hitler would commit suicide within days. However, Goebbels is always a liar, claiming that victory will occur and that peace and friendship are the goals of Nazism:

In a few years after the war, Germany will flourish like never before. Its devastated landscapes and counties will be filled with new, more beautiful towns and villages populated by happy people. All of Europe will share in this prosperity. We will once again be friends of all peoples of good will, and we will work with them to mend the grave wounds that disfigure the face of our noble continent. Our daily bread will grow in fields rich in grain, and the millions who suffer today will continue to starve. There will be jobs in abundance, the deepest source of human happiness, which will come from the good fortune and strength of all. The chaos will disappear. This part of the world will not be governed by the underworld, but by order, peace and prosperity.

The belief that Goebbels sold all those years was that a strong and wise leader could embody the will of the people and lead them to greatness. Constant claims that God was on the Nazi side permeated this belief; Hitler and the Germans were fighting “hate-filled enemies” on the side of evil.

World War II began in September 1939. Here are some lines from Goebbels’ birthday greetings to Hitler that began in April 1940, which highlight the big lie that truly The leader will lead the nation to glory by embodying and achieving national goals.

1940: “The German people see in the Führer the embodiment of their national strength and a shining example of their national goals.”

1941: “Our people do not know, and do not even want to know, what the Führer is planning and how he will win. They simply trust him. ”

1942: “If one day the German people feel lonely in thought and will, then this is in: serving them and obeying their commands.” Then Goebbels inversely aligns Hitler’s birthday with Beethoven’s universal call to brotherhood in his Ninth Symphony: “The sounds of heroic and gigantic music flowing from every German heart raise our recognition to a solemn and sacred level.”

1943: “As a nation of 90 million people, we put our faith before it. We believe in Germany’s victory because we believe in it.”

1944: “For us, the Führer is the spokesperson and agent of the will of the whole nation.”


ولكن بحلول عام 1945 ، كان عدد أقل من الألمان يشترون ما كان غوبلز يبيعه ، ليس لأن الألمان ، كما يقترح كيمبوفسكي ، تعلموا أي شيء ولكن لمجرد أنهم كانوا يعانون من معاناة كبيرة.

قبل أن تبدأ المعاناة ، اشترى الألمان الحلم النازي بتمكين ازدهار الإنسان من خلال الوسائل الشمولية والقاتلة. كان غوبلز هو صاحب الدعاية ، واختار العديد من الألمان أن ينخدعوا. ثم ، مع انهيار الحلم ، ما زالوا يرفضون التشكيك في المباني الزائفة. لا ، غير المؤمنين و “يهود العالم” قاموا بتخريبهم.

في عام 1945 ، مرة أخرى ، بعد أيام من انتحاره وانتحار هتلر ، قال جوبلز ، “حمله الشعب الألماني. لقد اختارته وجعلته الفوهرر عن طريق الانتخابات الحرة “.

يكتب دون بودرو ، “لا توجد” إرادة للشعب “مماثلة للإرادة التي لديك أو الإرادة التي لدي.” يضيف بودرو ، “لا يتم تحديد نتائج الانتخابات بشكل صحيح على أنها” إرادة الشعب “.

لا توجد إرادة للشعب ، وبالتالي لا توجد إرادة يمكن أن يجسدها هتلر للمواطنين الألمان.

يطالب السياسيون الأمريكيون أيضًا بتفويضات لتجسيد وتنفيذ شيء غير موجود. في الآونة الأخيرة ، في فيلادلفيا ، انتقد الرئيس بايدن أولئك الذين زعم ​​أنهم “لا يعترفون بإرادة الشعب”. يقدم السياسيون ادعاءات كاذبة لأن عددًا كافيًا من الناخبين يقبلونها عن طيب خاطر ، ويفشل الجمهور في إدراك العواقب المدمرة التي تنجم عن المسار الاستبدادي الذي يضعونه.

لقد أدرك الأمريكيون ذات مرة أنه لا يوجد أحد يصلح للسلطة. يجب تحديد السلطات الممنوحة للدولة وقادتها السياسيين وفحصها. اليوم نحن أقرب من أي وقت مضى إلى نهاية Hayek الطريق إلى القنانة.

اليوم ، يبحث العديد من الأمريكيين عن “بطل” ، سواء أكان ذلك بايدن أم ترامب. غدا ، سيتم طرح أسماء الأبطال الآخرين. إذا ساء الوضع الاقتصادي ، فسيقل احتمال التزام هؤلاء السياسيين بالمبادئ الدستورية.

يساعدنا Kempowski على إدراك أن التقدم سوف يتراجع عندما يتبنى الناس معتقدات غير ليبرالية. هل يعمي الخوف والإيمان الكاذب الطريق للحقبة القادمة من التاريخ الأمريكي؟ هل كانت المعاناة خلال الجائحة هباءً؟

Barry Brownstein

Barry Brownstein

Barry Brownstein is Professor Emeritus of Economics and Leadership at the University of Baltimore.

He is the author of The Inner Work of Leadership, and his articles have appeared in publications such as The Foundation for Economic Education and Intel Think Take Out.

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