Olympia Part Two: Festival of Beauty

Not rated yet!
Director
Leni Riefenstahl
Runtime
1 h 40 min
Release Date
20 April 1938
Genres
Documentary
Overview
The Second part of Olympia, a documentary about the 1936 Olympic games in Berlin by German Director Leni Riefenstahl. The film played in theaters in 1938 and again in 1952 after the fall of the Nazi Regime.
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  • Assassin’s Creed: A Review
    (”Olympia Part Two: Festival of Beauty” is briefly mentioned in this.)

    1,496 words [1]

    The highly successful video game series has come to the big screen for the Christmas season. To the chagrin of the fanboys and fangirls, this is not a sword-and-sandals epic, despite being written by the team that created the unapologetically goyish retelling of the tale, Exodus: Gods and Kings [2] (2014). That accounts for the fairly low review scores which tend to be in the range of 3-4 out of 10.

    I recently had a two-an-a-half-hour conversation with Henrik Palmgren at Red Ice Radio about the historical basis for this story, “The Truth Behind Assassin’s Creed and Templar Plots.” [3] The first half is available for free, while the second half is available only to members. Once you have hit your donation goals to Counter-Currents, I highly recommend that you become a member of Red Ice Radio. They are good friends of ours. On the same page as the free hour, I put together a substantive list that will give you all you need to know about the nuances of Islamic culture and sectarianism as it relates to the issues covered in the film, mostly from Islamic sources.

    The Assassin’s Creed series is based on a millennial battle (in both senses of the word) between the Assassins, who believe that human freedom (and by implication, the process of learning through failure) is the only way humanity can rise to the challenges that lie ahead, and the Templars, who believe that curbing free will and promoting order are the only ways for the human species to survive future calamities. A kind of metagenetics is assumed in this universe, and an Animus machine allows an individual to relive their ancestral memories. The Templars use this technology to understand the successes of their enemies and to locate artifacts which were hidden by the Assassins, who got the better of them hundreds of years before.

    In the film, the adventures of the Assassins during the Spanish Reconquista comprise only three of the past-life flashbacks, thanks to the Animus machine. Unlike in the games, where the present is nothing more than a simple frame for the story, the fulcrum of the film’s plot is the present-day effort of the Templars to finally realize their ambitions and complete their Great Work. This is mainly an action/adventure story in which the top-flight cast was limited in their ability to give depth to their characters, and indeed, there was barely enough plot even to hang the action on. It was an entertaining way to spend some leisure time over the Christmas break, but I am definitely not a good judge of this genre.

    What interests me most are the political and social implications of the film. I always expect the worst from Hollywood, especially when it comes to controversial events in Catholic history. The Assassin’s Creed game series has been accused of suffering from SJW infiltration, considering that the good guys are Muslims oriented to the East and the bad guys are Christians oriented towards the West. More recently, one of the games, which is set during the English Industrial Revolution, features Karl Marx as a helpful sidekick.

    Still, I was pleasantly surprised. If anything, this film was not a critique of Western civilization, but rather of the globalist cabal seeking to subvert our civilization. The international headquarters of the Templar Order, from which they plot the subjugation of the world’s peoples, is the Freemasonic United Grand Lodge of England (UGLE). The Grand Master of the Order is played by Charlotte Rampling, a 70-year-old woman with blue eyes and short, blonde hair. Keeping in mind that the director (like the rest of the American elite) probably assumed that Hillary Clinton would be President-elect by the time this film was released, that is definitely an interesting casting choice.

    Jeremy Irons plays a senior Templar who likewise has role in the profane world of enough significance that he is allowed to address the United Nations concerning his project to “end all violence.” This is to be achieved by genetically engineering free will out of all future human beings. His daughter plays a scientist who uses the Animus, and a score of descendants of the Assassins as test subjects, to find the ancient artifacts that they believe hold the keys to this discovery. In one of the most realistic plot twists in a film of this kind, Charlotte Rampling informs Irons that his daughter’s project will be cancelled because three billion dollars can be better spent elsewhere, and because “people don’t care about civil liberties anymore. All that matters is quality of life . . . We don’t even need [those artifacts containing the DNA sequences of free will] anymore.”

    The Assassins are also far from an SJW’s dream team. I was impressed at the number of subtitles the director expected his action fans to read during the flashbacks, which were in Spanish. Somehow, these defenders of Muslim Andalucía were also speaking Spanish to each other and have phenotypes that are unmistakably European. The deposed Sultan was presented as a physical and moral weakling compared to the conquering Christians and the Order of Assassins.

    There is actually nothing Muslim at all about the Assassins, and there isn’t much that is Catholic about their conquerors. They have replaced the Shahada with an extended version of their Nietzschean credo from the game series: “Nothing is true; everything is permitted.” The closest the film gets to anti-Catholic bias is during an execution scene, which has the look of a Hieronymus Bosch painting and features some grotesque and nonexistent clerical vestments. The executioners look like extras from the Golan-Globus Beastmaster series, and the female nobility have facial tattoos. Frankly, I can’t imagine that even the most immature or historically ignorant viewer would leave the cinema knowing anything more about Islam or Catholicism than they had two hours before.

    One might expect a Hollywood film that involves a combined Reconquista and Inquisition to include a great deal of handwringing over the treatment of Jews at that time. The only character with a clear Jewish phenotype is the potbellied Captain of the Guard at the prison-cum-laboratory in the present time, played by Denis Ménochet. The only other hooked nose in the film is sported by Torquemada himself, played by Javier Gutiérrez.

    Aesthetically speaking, the film was filled with graceful swordplay and rooftop chase scenes that will be familiar to fans of the game. I am a firm believer in the Riefenstahl aesthetic of highlighting Strength and Beauty, which was on display and well done here, though I was annoyed that the female Assassin was consistently hidden behind layers of Assassin gear (I guess I have been watching too many HBO dramas lately).

    The ending sequence has some requisite diversity, but it is entirely superficial. Also, the director has managed to avoid falling into the Magic Negro trope, even though he cast the actor who played Omar in The Wire (one of the best Magic Negros ever).

    I am not an avid cinema goer, but I will create my own politically-motivated rating system:

    1 is the rating reserved for pure, unadulterated doses of Jewish propaganda, such as is found in films like The Liberators [4] (1992) or A Stranger Among Us [5] (1992). This is the Hollywood equivalent of Everclear.

    2 covers the more subtle Cultural Marxist reprogramming like Shrek [6](2001) or Addams Family Values [7](1993), which has been reviewed by the great Kevin MacDonald [8].

    3 includes films that are made by writers, directors, and producers who are so single-mindedly focused on their own interests that they fail to even notice the political and cultural struggles around them. This is usually limited to genre films and B-movies.

    4 covers honest, gritty films that are Jew-wise, like People I Know [9] (2002) or Miller’s Crossing [10] (1990), reviewed by Counter-Currents’ very own Trevor Lynch [11];

    5 is for the motion picture equivalent of Wagnerian opera. It must convey truth, a compelling story, and of course must celebrate Strength, Beauty, and Will. Obviously, Leni Riefenstahl’s Olympia [12](1936) and Triumph of the Will [13] (1935) deserve this top mark. I don’t have the temerity to put anybody else in the same class as her.

    Using this scale, where does Assassin’s Creed fall? This is a genre film and is not conducive to thinking, even of the subconscious kind, so let’s not overanalyze this. I am sure that some young white kids watching this PG-13 film will be inspired to get in shape by the badass Michael Fassbender’s killer abs and awesome stunts. This film will reinforce whatever they heard about the New World Order being bad news for them doing whatever they want when they grow up. They will also learn that Muslims are paper tigers, fat guys with greasy black stubble and hooked noses who have no ethical standards and who will get their asses kicked in the end. Even more importantly, it demonstrates that there are things in life worth killing and dying for, and that is something that good-looking white people do when they team up with other good-looking white people.

    Therefore I give Assassin’s Creed a 3.5.

     

    ...
    (Review Source)
  • Mel Gibson’s The Passion of the Christ
    (”Olympia Part Two: Festival of Beauty” is briefly mentioned in this.)

    [1]612 words

    Czech translation here [2]

    Few films have been pilloried quite as much as Mel Gibson’s Passion, yet when I last checked it was one of the ten most financially successful films of all time. Indeed, the sheer success of this piece with Christians around the world led to a deescalation of the semi-orchestrated attack on the film. Nothing succeeds like success, and I remember with amusement watching a bus with an advertisement for Mel Gibson’s Passion on the side of it snaking through the town where I lived at the height of the furore. But what of the film itself?

    The Passion of the Christ is a highly artistic and metaphysical film from an ultra-Catholic perspective. As a director, Mel Gibson shows an impressive aesthetic sense and great artistic originality. This is reflected in every detail. Even the color palate of much of the film has an ocher tint or wash that resembles the painting of early Renaissance masters such as Giotto and Cimabue.

    Several scenes are especially striking: the ravens attacking the thieves who are exposed with Christ on the Cross and Simon being made to carry the Cross on behalf of the Savior. But most assuredly the depiction of the Devil or Satan as a shaven-headed and androgynous Supermodel has to go down as one of the most startling innovations in cinema history.

    Interestingly enough, the reaction to her appearance inside Italy was quite different to outside, and for a comparison try to visualize Lady GaGa as Mephistopheles in Goethe’s Faust and you begin to get some sense of the frisson.

    In High Christian art an artist is given free rein to depict the diabolical because it is outside the locus or expectation of human imperfection. The more perverse the depiction, the more aesthetically revelatory — so holds this particular theory.

    One of the more interesting critiques of the film, particularly in Europe, was that it was blood-thirsty, sado-masochistic, and little more than a Biblical slasher movie. Yet none of the violence is gratuitous, and all of it fits in with the depiction of the Passion per se. During the first fifty minutes to one hour of running time, there is literally no violence, save some scuffling in the Garden.

    This fits in with a very benevolent depiction of the Romans throughout the film. One is reminded that Mel Gibson’s faith is called Roman Catholicism after all. The Bulgarian actor playing Pilate  (who bears a striking resemblance to Mussolini) depicts him, in Nietzsche’s words, as the real hero of the New Testament. This could quite easily fit in with Gibson’s prognosis — after all, the whole point about the film is that Christ’s extraordinary moral arc or point of departure has to do with the fact that he is not a Man (sic).

    On the issue of anti-Semitism, so-called, I have nothing to say. The film is not in the least anti-Semitic. It is a traditionalist High Catholic art film with all the suppositions which that implies. It is definitely not philo-Semitic, however. What the alleged scandal involving its release goes to show is that the implied penumbra of censorship and over-sensitivity needs to be confronted and stood up to.

    Gibson did nothing offensive whatsoever — even, from a classicizing point of view, the use of Latin throughout most of the feature just adds to the effect. Nothing more . . .

    I recommend that people re-visit this film on DVD now that the firestorm has well and truly died down. I think that Mel Gibson’s film can be seen as a Christian altarpiece extension, à la Grünewald, to Leni Riefenstahl’s Olympia (Parts 1 & 2). That’s Olympia — not Triumph of the Will. There is a subtle difference . . .

     

    ...
    (Review Source)
  • Hans-Jürgen Syberberg:Leni Riefenstahl’s Heir?
    (”Olympia Part Two: Festival of Beauty” is briefly mentioned in this.)

    [1]53:48 / 7,483 words

    To listen, click here [2].

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    Editor’s Note:

    The following text is a transcript by V. S. of a lecture by Jonathan Bowden given at the 14th New Right meeting in London on April 5, 2008. If you have any corrections or if you can gloss the passages marked as unintelligible, please contact me at editor@counter-currents.com [4] or simply post them as comments below.

    This 14th talk of mine is about a filmmaker called Hans-Jürgen Syberberg who’s not a household name, it has to be said, even within contemporary Germany. But if there was a title for this talk behind me, as there sometimes is at our meetings, the title would have been “Hans-Jürgen Syberberg: Leni Riefenstahl’s Heir?” Because there is a degree to which in these talks I always try to find figures occasionally who are contemporaneous, who are alive and amongst us now, who are in this most difficult of eras, this most liberal, most democratic, most egalitarian of eras, the eras that are in every sense post-modern and after the crash, perceived in every possible way, of 1945 and thereafter.

    Syberberg is a filmmaker who is possibly at this moment in time one of, if not the, loneliest cultural figures in the modern unified Federal Republic. He’s most famous for a film called Hitler: Ein Film aus Deutschland released in 1978 which lasts seven and a quarter hours. Seven and a quarter hours! I saw it when I was 19 at the National Film Theatre, and it’s one of those things where . . . Richard Nixon once said you needed a cast-iron behind to read law, but you really needed some vitamin C anyway to watch this film for seven hours, just physically. Because when you come out after having sat for that length of time you really are sort of rigid.

    He’s an East German, essentially, and he was born in 1935 of minor aristocratic and upper class parentage. He lived in Rostock until 1945. He was too young to have gone through, or have had to go through, the de-Nazification process as a focused individual, but, of course, he went through everything that happened later. Indeed, he experienced the beginnings of the communist statelet in the occupied east.

    Syberberg was always—and is, because he’s still alive although very elderly now—a controversialist, in every sense. When he came west there was a large reception for him from the cultural apparatus of the new federal West German state, and he made some equivocal remarks about the Communist regimes of Ulbricht and Honecker. He talked about the fact that it’s one of the first countries to build a wall to keep its people in. “But at the same time,” he said, “they’ve managed to teach nearly all of us to read and write, which you over here in the west post-war don’t seem to quite master.” There was a slight pulling in of the welcome carpet, and people realized that Syberberg was in a sense a man who said what he liked, and that isn’t liked in contemporary Germany or most other countries.

    He began with a thesis on Dürenmatt and the absurd which seemed to chart him out for a regular academic, non-artistic career. But he always had a yearning for total art, for the total art form of Wagner’s vintage of the late 19th century: the Gesamtkunstwerk. But the idea of a total form that combines all others: speech, poetic higher speech, song, dance, movement, the visual image of the human and nature and the two together, of narrative story, of action and drama, and so on.

    And when you think about it, film and the use of film, particularly by radical and authoritarian governments of the 20th century, is the total artwork for this era, as Leni Riefenstahl knew and discovered and made use of, which is why she became the greatest female filmmaker of the 20th century, the most vilified (if you turn it around) cultural propagandist as she was seen in that era; forbidden to make films in the post-war era.

    Interestingly, a couple of years ago Mel Gibson was asked about her in the enormous brouhaha of controversy that blew up around his film The Passion of the Christ. He said that he would have given her a few tens of millions, because he’s got that sort of money now, to make some of the films that she wanted to make (although she did make Tiefland) post-war. This is because the amount of money that you need to start up production costs for films is so great prior to digital cameras coming on-stream in the last five to eight years (HD cameras and so on) that for small but very large amounts of capital you can be completely stymied. Most films before the internet, if you can’t disseminate them, it’s almost the vanity form of all vanity forms, and that’s what faced her after the war.

    Syberberg’s career began with two very short films made in 1965 and 1966 respectively. One thing that he did is after the destruction . . . because although if you go to Germany today much of it looks like a poster tourist card, but that’s because everything has been lovingly rebuilt because it was smashed not just a little bit but to pieces, to atoms so that one brick hardly remained on another. North, south, east, and west Allied bombing, primarily British bombing, smashed city after city after city, so there was nothing left. Nothing left. Every urban area was like Grozny in Chechnya now where I believe even after the present clique have been in for quite a few years one street in the center has been rebuilt.

    He wanted to go back to many of the great actors and actresses who were then nearing the ends of their lives in the ’60’s and put them on the screen for the last time. Sort of an addendum, a memorial, a thank you note. These were all short films shot on quite primitive equipment. Black and white.

    The first one was called Romy [Schneider]: Anatomy of a Face. Rather unusual. A film about a woman’s face. It’s a film about this great German actress beauty from the past. The theatrical bone structure was still there. The whole film is essentially about her face. It’s rather interesting, isn’t it? Because there are certain modern theories about the contemporary face; its weakness and its flabbiness and its absence of structure. And that’s what he’s hinting at in that. There’s somebody who people here know in a small little group or sect, and she was called the Countess, and she was once asked about the modern face, and she made remarks like that. People were appalled.

    But what Syberberg’s doing by that very small idea is he’s indicating that people didn’t always necessarily look as the way they do today, and the sensibilities that they articulate is not that which says that 1945 is a year zero for us all and that there’s nothing before, and we’ve all reinvented ourselves subsequently, and we’re all post-modern and reflexive and think every possible thought at every other possible instant. In other words, there’s something maybe classical that prefigures value.

    But it’s a short film and didn’t get too much attention.

    In 1966, he dealt with Fritz Kortner who was a very well-known actor, particularly of Shakespearean drama in Germany. He was very elderly then. This is just scenes of him rehearsing, almost a radio film in a strange sort of way. He’s going through the motions. His great performance in German theater was his Shylock, and Syberberg has him possibly in his last ever performance, because the point of film, as these elderly actors realized, is it memorializes them. Who remembers these people now, if there isn’t the film there of them?

    Kortner’s an old man who’s quite clearly suffering of various illnesses that will take him away a year or two after filming in ’66. But he gets him to articulate this superhuman/inhuman scream of revenge; Shylock’s desire for revenge against the Gentile world. A sort of primal scream.

    Remember in the ’60’s there was that cult called Primal Scream. You could go into your unconscious and draw it all out. Get rid of it through a big scream. That cult didn’t last. But it’s been replaced by something else.

    Nevertheless, Kortner gives this scream in this film . . . and then it ends. That’s another little vignette of what’s coming later on in Syberberg’s career. At this moment he was just dismissed as a mildly academic eccentric making some odd revivalist films about previous German cultural figures. Inoffensive stuff.

    As we move on, the obsession with the Romantic movement in the 19th century and the völkisch movement in the 19th century and their visual art and some of their religious ideas and their overlap into the Wandervogel movement of the 19th century where large numbers of youths would move around the countryside; it’s almost like an alternative society movement much of which prefigured German involvement in the Foreign Legion, in paramilitary organizations, in the enormous volunteering across the German-speaking parts of Central Europe for the Kaiser’s army in 1914 and thereafter. It’s quite clear that this is the area of culture that Syberberg wishes to concentrate on.

    He did another famous documentary of Winifred Wagner, which caused enormous problems for the Bayreuth Festival and enormous problems for her family, because he kept the microphone on after the interviewers had left, but he did it with her consent because the microphone’s in front of her. And she talks and she talks and she talks, and then after a certain gap she starts talking about Adolf Hitler. And she talked about Adolf Hitler for four hours without a break, and quite a lot of this found its way into what would then be the final cut of the film. The family went utterly berserk when this film was distributed, and Syberberg was black-balled. He was never allowed to attend the festival again.

    It was a scandal to a degree, although the scandal was slightly undercut by the fact that he was regarded as a revealer of something that had been widely known anyway; in other words, that she was extremely sympathetic, but also that Hitler had once told her that Wagnerism was his religion, or the nearest that he ever came to one.

    Hitler cost £100,000 to make in 1977 prior to its release in ’78. You can get it on the internet. It takes ages to download, because it’s seven hours, and therefore most people just give up, but it is there up on the internet.

    The BBC part financed it which is truly extraordinary in certain respects, but this is because of the disjunction between Western German culture and the rest of the West, even the rest of the NATO West, of which West Germany was indisputably a part, at that time. And not just East Germany, not just the Germany that existed before the collapse and destruction, but the difference between say the Anglophone world within the West and Germany proper, however defined in the multiple ways I’ve just delineated. So, from the English BBC sort of viewpoint the Germans were living an unmastered past. No one would talk about this material. Here is a man who’s prepared to make a virtually 8-hour film about it! Therefore, give him some money: £50,000. Quite a lot of money in the 1970s, but not an unbelievable amount for a state broadcaster.

    [5]It’s true that in the ’70’s very few people would deal with any of this material at all. Indeed, he was so short of actors that in the final sequence, the fourth quarter because it’s divided into four pillars, four sections of which We Children of Hell is the fourth one, puppets appear. When somebody asked him why he used puppets he said, “Well, I’d run out of actors.”

    The thing about this film is that it’s quite visually extraordinary because it’s based in one set. If you’ve ever seen Derek Jarman’s film, Caravaggio, which is in Latin, it’s set in one set, which of course means that from a cost basis, you can keep costs to an absolute minimum, and you can also perhaps film for a month, seal it up, three months later you come back and in some respect everything’s still in situ.

    Henri Langlois, the French set designer, had a lot to do with the set, because it’s noticeable that a lot of back projection is used, because it’s a very theatrical film. For a long time, it was treated as an essentially avant-garde and modernistic film, because it’s not narrative based. It’s episodic. It’s slightly Mannerist. It superficially appears to be very anti, whereas its real crime is neutrality about matters that you can’t be neutral about. Not in the contemporary or post-modern Federal Republic.

    Aesthetically, Syberberg’s in love not with a particular government between ’33 and ’45 but with the aesthetics from which it originated. He’s a sort of Germanic race-soul artist really, of that sort of yearning, transcendental, and instrumental spirituality which you sense the Germans as possibly the primary, central, originating European character reference possesses. He wants to go to those areas that contemporary Germany has cast as off limits to most of its artists and writers since the war.

    Why is this important? It’s important because, as Ezra Pound said, genuine creators are the antennae of their entire populations. If you want to find a contemporary art, art in the broadest of senses—I mean creation that has a social dimension—in a society that’s deracinated or broken down or self-questioning, doubts everything about itself, doubts everything about its past, which is why it doubts its present moment, and so on, you’ll find the sort of art that’s epitomized by something like the Turner Prize, whereas if you look at the sort of art that he’s dealing with, you see a more communitarian, more organic, more restorationist art. Art that’s closer to representational fantasy in the mind and beyond it.

    Dream is extraordinarily important to Syberberg, because he believes that in a sense the real truths are deeper than reason, which is why he is a quasi-religious artist, whatever his actual statements about religion may be.

    We know quite a bit about his actual views. Something which many artists don’t put on record either because they don’t have them in a formal way or because if they do they reveal too much, and it’s difficult to get funding and this and that. Because he wrote a book in 1990 called On the Misfortunes and Fortunes of Art in Germany after the Last War. Now, this is a remarkable book, but we need to discuss Hitler in detail before we come on to it.

    The film stars an actor called Heinz Schubert. It also stars Syberberg himself in the fourth quadrant and his own daughter, various puppets, and minor figures. The first section deals with Hitler’s personality cult. The second section deals with völkisch romanticism in the 19th century. The third section deals with the Shoah, particularly as it’s seen from Himmler’s perspective. The fourth section deals with the aftermath and the generation who feels it with incredible acuteness because Syberberg’s generation mentally comes of age in the immediate aftermath of these events. So, for them, the year zero for Germany is the beginning of adult consciousness with an occupied society that’s divided hemispherically in accordance with the two world blocs and hyper-powers that then exist.

    There is a collection of short stories written by a young German who died relatively soon after the war called Wolfgang Borchert which Calder published in the 1960s which is Germany in the Ruins, something like that. It’s largely the stories of people scampering about, survive living in cellars, shooting rats, there’s no water, there’s no electricity. During these three years between ’45 and ’48, at least two million Germans died during that period because there was very little food. Parts of the Morgenthau Plan were implemented in certain sections of American zones of occupation. Other American commanders were completely opposed to that plan and subverted it. So, it was a mixed picture. But, nevertheless, at least according to the contemporary German historical record, two million Germans perished during that time. Nearly always the people liberals say they care most about: the weakest, the illest, the oldest, women, children, the infirm, and so forth.

    Syberberg’s mental space of reference, if you like, in terms of maturation, his immediate pre-adult to adult beginnings, is that, and yet he is an anti-realist and a luscious romantic of the most extreme and German type in a way that almost strikes the slightly ironic attitude that the English always partly have to things as very Teutonic, almost overbearingly serious. The seriousness of it. Sort of pietistic romance.

    At the end of his career, his last major fictional film was of Wagner’s opera Parsifal with an extraordinary performance as the female lead, Kundry, in that opera.

    But back to Hitler. The first section involves all sorts of scenes, some taken from circus and vaudeville, some drawing on Weimar culture, some drawing on what inevitably replaces it, use of dolls, use of sets that are lit in red, use of a lot of flame, use of a lot of sort of occultistic Thule gothic imagery; to create a sort of sensibility about the nature of the German biological Romanticism, really. Quintessentially a Central European artistic sensibility which has been completely voided. Completely voided in the post-war dispensation.

    Syberberg has become almost a cultural unperson, although people know he’s there, and he lives as an old man in contemporary Germany and so on, because he’s gone back into the area that that movement originated from. It’s not that, in some ways, that movement is the culmination of that area, but it comes out of it. The dilemma that Syberberg has is he’s not a politician. He’s not a political partisan. He’s a German partisan. He’s a partisan for German culture, and therefore his perspective is you cannot have German artistic culture with this voltaic energy, this storm sense of this sort of condenser battery removed from the circuit. The energy, even to rebel against it, of what it is to be German comes from this vortex. Therefore, to disprivilege it is to cut it out completely.

    It’s like Elizabethan tragedy without the example of the Greeks in the past or Seneca as a sort of low Roman version that Shakespeare was aware of. You have to have that primary fodder, that primary material. Fuel upon which to feed. If you can’t have it, because it’s been denied to you in a particular era, then you can’t express nationally what you are.

    This is the real thesis of this film, which people saw in the ’70’s and thought, “Eh, interesting critique of the fact Germans won’t mention their past by a fringe German director.” That’s how it was first regarded. That’s why the BBC used to show it insofar as you show things extensively when they’re over seven hours. But I remember . . . you know what Christmas day is like when you get sick of your relatives, so you go up to another room and watch the film on BBC 2, and I remember in 1980 watching Syberberg’s Hitler for seven-and-a-half hours on a grainy black and white set. And you know, it was quite extraordinary in all sorts of ways.

    The second section also has a significant, if potted, filmic history of German 19th century art, sort of pictorial art, added into the general mixture.

    If anyone logs into Syberberg’s site . . . He’s got several and there’s a significant Wikipedia entry concerning him, which details all the controversies that ever engulfed him; the first section is “Syberberg: interesting and provocative German director”; the second section is Syberberg’s films; the third section is “Comparison and Criticism”; and the fourth section is “Controversy—The Danger of Anti-Semitism,” so you can see the chronology as it sort of goes down. But there’s links to his sites and your ability to, if you’ve got the patience or the machinery so to do, download Hitler: A Film from Germany.

    One of his more outrageous ideas is that the entire experience to someone who comes culturally of age, who is mentally born if you like, just after it is so extreme, is so devastating, that his way of dealing with it is to internalize it and view it as a film. That’s why he calls it Hitler: A Film from Germany. So, he actually sees the past as a film.

    Now, many people, particularly people who are not particularly artistic, would consider this to be either a non sequitur or a disprivileging of reality or the sort of thing that artists do to cope with life or whatever. But in actual fact, for somebody who’s such as him [???] and his sensibility, it’s because he privileges these things more than anything else that he’s prepared to make a film of them because he has an essentially spiritual view of art. He doesn’t see it as a money-making exercise or a trivialization or a fake authentification or something to do with one’s time between birth and death or an attempt to please others or gain ??? to one’s self. He actually sees it as a sort of spiritual and moral transcription.

    The third section is very interesting because this is about the Shoah, which is totally accepted as a fact in this section of the film, for which there is no apology. This is the interesting thing about it. That it’s dealt with in a tone and in a briskness that’s almost identical to the way Menachem Begin describes the ethnic cleansing of Palestinians in his autobiography which is called My Life, I believe, just like Sir Oswald Mosley’s. When asked about these events, Begin said, “We did what we had to.” Let there not be talk of morality! There is only the necessity of action and vigor! That’s it. Let ’em talk.

    And that’s the sort of attitude that you get in that third section. I think that a few worrying bells went off when that section was seen, but because . . . it’s not in any sense revisionist or even pre-revisionist. It’s again, the view that you get subliminally from that section is that if Germany is to ever have a future it has to master his view, filmically nonetheless, of the consequences of these events.

    In some ways, he’s preaching what Nietzsche called self-overcoming, whereby you say yes to life, you accept even the most unpleasant things, you absorb them just as you absorb rubbish and trash in a fire. You step over it to other things and to other glories. It’s the creative use of destruction or the refusal to be imprisoned by the consequences of the destructive urge seen as part of the human potentiality. In other words, it’s a non-dualist view of morals of an explicitly non-Christian viewpoint but not belabored as such.

    In the fourth section, We Children of Hell, he talks about, with his daughter and Heinz Schubert who remains ubiquitous as a varied sort of presence and trickster wearing multiple hats and playing multiple parts, including Himmler, throughout the film, the legacy of what it means to be German in the modern world. The interesting thing is that this film deals very bluntly and very explicitly with the fact that for almost everyone outside Germany since 1945 whenever a German is presented to them they have an almost implacable urge to ask them about these events.

    I remember I was at some party or something when I was about 18 and some German students turned up and various people made a bee line for them, and the first thing that they were really asked of any substance, beyond how they were and what the weather was, was “What’s your view of what happened between 1933 and 1945?” And, of course, most contemporary Germans want to make money, they want to get away from as much of that as possible, they want to redefine the nature of who and what they are, and so on. They don’t even want to discuss it.

    Syberberg’s in a sense going straight for that heart of darkness in Conrad’s sense of the term. He’s going straight there, without equivocation, but artistically. Because he knows that if you don’t in a sense bring this material to the surface art in post-war Germany, in other words morally truthful creativity, is impossible.

    You see this in many careers, actually. Look at the famous Leftist to Green novelist Günter Grass, who, seen as an anti, seen as a sort of Center-Left stalwart of the Adenauer post-war government and so on, then it’s suddenly revealed, it was right at the end of his cultural trajectory, almost the last book, that he served for a fraction of time when he was a youth (he had no choice) in the Waffen-SS and how this almost led to a perspectival altering not just of one book or one incident when he was a late teenager, but of his whole career.

    In other words, truly the unmastered past. Because, bluntly, this is what Syberberg has been dealing with since the very beginning not the end when it’s sort of looked back on when you’ve written a shelf-load of books to prepare for the moment, but as the first step to dealing with the possibility of the last moment.

    The film had a reasonable success and was shown in art cinemas all over the world. It was shown extensively in the United States, where it was seen as an elegy and an indictment. You know, that sort of thing.

    Susan Sontag wrote extensively about it. She wrote an essay called “Fascinating Fascism” which is largely based on that film. Philippe Lacoue-Labarthe, the reasonably well-known French critic, also wrote a review of it. It seemed reasonably successful. Far too artistic and obscure for many people. Some of the German is very complicated and the translation terse and so on, although the English language version isn’t too bad, because the BBC got some expert German linguists in, because they half financed the thing in the first instance.

    After Hitler, he moved on to do this film of the Wagner opera [Parsifal], which again is an attempt at what Brecht would call epic theater and also what Wagner had wanted with the idea of total art and high opera which obviously would have lent itself to the idea of total film, total theater, total art. Brecht had the concept of epic theater, and Syberberg has always been very pro-Brecht. Not ideologically, but because it’s the desire to make great statements that are great German statements. Indeed, his views of Brecht were quite unfashionable once Brecht went east and became almost the sort of privileged puppet-master of the Berlin ensemble, where they all said they were oppressed and made to do it now, but in actual fact because they loved every minute and he had his own chauffeur, private public flat, guards, limousine. You know, the whole works.

    He went to the East and did a film about Brecht and his legacy, because he was a great German. Again, you almost sense that equivocal element in Syberberg as well as the pride of an Easterner as well. Because, as we all know, there is a distinction between the East and West German sensibilities, which has been exaggerated and exacerbated by the fractured nature of their experience in the post-war period. Even politically today, there’s a disjunction between the amputated limb of the East that’s been put into sort of cryogenic storage and repositioned back on the rest of the trunk.

    Syberberg’s opera of Parsifal was a truly extraordinary opera. It can be obtained on Amazon and so on for very small amounts of money now. That opera, which essentially preaches not just total art but total redemption through love and the creation of a Germanicized Christianity (a sort of dejudaized Christianity in many ways), is a chance for Syberberg to luxuriate (his critics would say fetishistically wallow) in Germanicism and in culture of deep linguistic Romanticism that is outside politics, but types of extreme politics grow from it.

    The thing about his type of work is that there is no distinction as there usually is between political statements, aesthetic statements, ideological statements, philosophical ones. They’re all merged into . . . if not a total attitude towards the world, a sort of Weltanschauung, but a total attitude towards art, because for Syberberg art is the world. It’s the view that it’s more important than creativity at that level. It’s more important than life and death, which to most people is just high-faluting nonsense, but Syberberg believes in it with a passion, and this has made him, particularly with the material that he wishes to deal with, very, very unfashionable.

    After about 1990, he found it increasingly difficult, certainly in the Federal Republic, to raise money to make films. Possibly, he’d come to the end of his trajectory. Made a film about Karl May. Made a film about the Wagner family. Made a film about Ludwig II. Made a film of Wagner’s opera Parsifal. Made his enormous film Hitler. Did the shorter films when he was younger.

    He was in a philosophical, narrative based, and yet largely linguistic film where people discuss their ideas, including some famous elderly German actors, called The Ister which was made in 2004, and he has a producer role in that and a performance role as one of the philosophical spokesmen.

    Since then he’s done not very much, or been allowed to do too much, in film which always costs money if you’re going to have it disseminated with any public prominence beyond the internet.

    He published this book, however, in 1990, which I’ve already referred to, called On the Misfortunes and Fortunes of Art in Germany after the Last War. This created an enormous culture war, as they’re called, in Germany at the time. It’s largely forgotten now, but not quite some of its protagonists. Many people who were associated with Syberberg until then dropped him after that, and he became a little bit of an unperson.

    During this book, he says that contemporary Germany is essentially culturally rotten and has destroyed itself and is self-hating, and, ironically in relation to everything connected with the past, is philo-Semitic. Excessively so.

    And this is not really [???]. I remember Michael Walker of Scorpion magazine, who I think had become a German citizen by then, writing in one issue of that publication that Syberberg better know what he’s doing, because the way things are going he won’t be making too many films in the future.

    Syberberg’s politics is less important than the spirituality of the artistry that he represents. As with all extremely visual artists like him, describing what he’s done makes a lot more sense if you’ve actually seen the material, but of course very few people are entirely aware that this material exists, even though probably a lot of that comes up on the internet almost instantaneously in English.

    But the reason for this is because people understand what he’s doing. He’s positioned himself to be the repository of the sort of sensibility, which didn’t come to an end in 1945, that certain forms of German classicism that are not particularly redolent of it. There are certain forms of German medieval art that don’t really relate to it. There’s something rather trans-German and quasi-Catholic and German in the European sense, in Nietzsche’s sense of being European as against German, about him. And there’s not very much Protestant in my view about his art aesthetically, for example. But he is the repository of the Romantic völkisch sensibility which people know is quintessentially German and yet is largely denied apart from tourism and a few prissy things now. But it is ideologically denied in contemporary Germany.

    What’s wanted are endless novels of guilt and expiation and anti-Romanticism and Existentialism and writers like Robert Walser, Elias Caneiti’s Auto da Fé and this sort of thing. “We’ve destroyed ourselves, and we’ve deserved it!” This sort of stuff, endlessly. This is what’s wanted. Needed. Required. Expiation before the possibility of a primary statement. Even before the possibility of a primary statement. It’s the sort of Angela Merkel, never be proud to say that you’re German, without an enormous preliminary screed of apologetics that has to be read out before you can even get to the moment you enunciate in a quiet voice.

    Now, the truth is you can’t create anything in a culture without that element of fire-in-the-belly and without that element of prior authentication.

    After German unification, there were quite a few articles about Syberberg. There was one well known one by Diedrichsen and Chametsky called Spiritual Reactionaries after German Reunification: Syberberg, Foucault, and Others. Many people, of course, saw a great danger in the nationalisms, as petty and futile though some of them were, that were released when Communism was taken off and there was lots of angst building in allegedly quality journals all over the world about the dangers of this and that. So, Syberberg had his moment in his book in 1990.

    It’s also very important to consider his class position in a strange sort of way in post-war Germany. The sort of Germany he came from, and his father managed estates on behalf of other people, partly related to the people who owned them, partly not. That type of class background was destroyed several times over really. Destroyed by the collapse of the second empire, finished off by the first war, any savings pretty much decimated by the inflation, which is probably why his father was later managing other people’s estates, the Weimar period was sort of an interregnum they just got through, then there was a quasi-authoritarian, semi-militarist government between 1930 and ’33, then Hitler’s chancellorship thereafter, then the German world seemed to have come to an end with every city and every town in complete steaming rubble and tens of thousands of corpses under the rubble so that when the sun came up in the summer there was an incredible stink of all the carrion. Because first you had to get all the stone up, then you had to bury them in lime pits and that sort of thing. And this was before you could rebuild, in accordance with what would later be called the German Economic Miracle, that which had been destroyed before. Everything is a sort of simulacrum, a version, a film, a virtual version, a virtual reality version of what existed. It’s sort of Thunderbirds, you know. You blow it up, it’s still there. And that’s why he sees everything as a film.

    The most outrageous thing of all, as Susan Sontag worked out long after she wrote her essay, “Fascinating Fascism,” is that maybe he regards the Shoah as a film. A film. A film from Germany. A film from Israel. A film from Palestine. A film from Germany. Which, if you like, of course a film is a fiction but it can be truer than fact and more important than fact, like a great religion is more important than fact because it can move millions of human beings to behave in ways they would never do otherwise. One man with an idea and certainty is worth fifty other men.

    So, when you look at the artistic basis and the methodological premises of his cultural practice, as contemporary Marxist cultural studies types would call it, you suddenly see that there’s something actually slightly insidious to liberal order. But my view is that it’s less conscious than semi-conscious, in my opinion of his work. Because he’s somebody who’s total focus in life is artistic. In a very German way, he’s totalitarian about art, in a way someone like Otto Dix was, for example. It’s that desire to not just penetrate to the core in the way that the Elizabethans in our own dramaturgy would like to do, but to actually go to the limit of what is possible to say in a given trajectory. And his trajectory would be what Wikipedia calls “the dark side” of German Romanticism.

    Is he, or can he at all be, described as Leni Riefenstahl’s heir? Firstly, the cinema that she made, the idea of making anything comparable in post-war Germany is utterly unthinkable. It’s unthinkable. Therefore, all that could ever be made is to approximate to the sensibility that she shows in her films as much before Triumph of the Will and Olympia parts I and II, Festival of the Peoples, as they’re congruent with these works themselves.

    The first films were mountain films and films of extreme Aryan wistfulness in the sort of permafrost of the ice. She was a dancer before then. The last film is about the threnody of the body and opera/operetta and again a return to that which she knew best: when blocked, you go back.

    Always with her you sense this yearning and transcendental idealism and desire to attain archetypal perfection visually. She’s an extreme visualizer and an extreme feminine visualizer, which is artistically unusual, which is why Hitler chose her to make that film in the teeth of all sorts of party opposition. Goebbels couldn’t stand the idea initially that a woman would make the film and was overruled. Because she viewed that movement with the religious eye, essentially speaking, of a female artist, which is why Hitler chose her. Because he wanted it seen in that way. And it’s very rare for the male world, if you like, for an extreme version of part of the male world, to be viewed by the female artistic eye from without with technical ability and genius as well. Editorially and so forth.

    This, I feel, is the comparison that can be made between him and her. But with him, likewise, there’s a technical search of perfection given monetary and budgetary limitations, and there’s also a yearning idealism, which exists in many cultures, but I often quintessentially associate with Germanic forms of art and with the German sensibility without which north, south, east, or west there can’t really be a center.

    It’s not that we’re all Germans really, although English people are primarily Germanic, but nevertheless, it’s that they’re the core to the European identity, which can have many outer chambers but without the core, doesn’t exist.

    Despite the fact that we technically fought against them savagely two times in the 20th century, that is actually less important, in my view, than the spiritual damage which has been done to Germany since the Second World War and the degradation of Germany and of things German in casual British parliaments and American as well and much more subtly and culturally than that at every level; from the mass cultural level, things like graphic novels, to modernist opera and back again. At every level there has been this attitude of not just cynicism or disrespect but deconstruction, and willed and vigorous and sort of emotionally violent deconstruction at that.

    Unless contemporary European people can, in the next years that face us, step over that, there will be a hole right in the heart of the European identity. Right in the hull of Caucasian identity. Because our identity without German culture is essentially unthinkable. Without its art, without its literature, without its music, without its philosophy, without its, at times to the English spirit, ponderous seriousness, without its fanatical attitude towards ideas, that streak of virulence that’s part of the Germanic nature and of which now they’ve been taught to be afraid.

    Syberberg’s work is an artistic attempt to wrestle with what it is to be German, which, if you think about it, being a German artist or any sort of creator who’s not making shlock television just as sort of [???] mountains. What he’s actually trying to articulate is a vision of life.

    There is no nationality in Europe, even in Russia under Communism, which is more difficult to bring off or even to deal with than the German identity. Because even the Bolshevik Revolution didn’t so disprivilege the very idea of what it was to be Slavic or Russian from the inside out. It destroyed and burned and blew up churches and destroyed artworks. I think every musician that Shostakovich was at the Moscow Conservatoire with in one particular year was shot. Every one, on Stalin’s orders. And when he asked, through party officials, because you had to be a member of the part of course, why he’d been spared, Stalin said, “Shostakovich can write film music. We need film music. Because we need film. Because with film we can go straight into the mind of the masses!”

    There’s this Czech novel called The Engineer of Human Souls [by Josef Škvorecký], and that was a Stalinist term. We are the engineers of human souls, and we need men who can write the music for the films, where we can go straight into the brains of the masses.

    Because with film you can go straight into the front cortex. Because that’s what visualization does. Before you hear a sound, before you hear the music, you see the image, an image gone straight into the mind. That’s why it is the form of the 20th century. It’s where representational art has gone in the 20th century. It’s why radical governments have used it in every way.

    That’s why the Chinese use film extensively with the masses, but also of course in all other cultures; India as well, now coming up economically. In the United States, the whole dream factory has been created since basically the consolidation of the Hollywood studies as an industry perforce in around 1919 prior to creation by some of the artists like D. W. Griffith of United Artists.

    It’s interesting just as a sideline in American cinema to think of what’s happened to D. W. Griffith’s films like Intolerance and above all Birth of a Nation parts I and II. The Golden Globe Awards and certain Hollywood awards up until the early 1990s used to have a D. W. Griffith prize.

    Of course, for those who don’t know, in Birth of a Nation the Klan are the heroes. Not a film that would be made today.

    In the early 1990s, certain Black Nationalists complained, and the D. W. Griffith prize . . . they didn’t get rid of it all, because he’s crucial to the development of world cinema with Lillian Gish in his major films and this sort of thing. So, the Shakespeare of American cinema, it’s a bit difficult to completely put him in the closet, but by this date in time, 15 years further on, the D. W. Griffith prize is no longer awarded.

    That’s sort of Hollywood cinema, which over time and at certain times has had certain genuine European features, and yet over time also has changed to the degree that the amount of European sensibility that’s left in contemporary Hollywood is very small. The amount of it that was there in 1920, correspondingly, was quite significant. Indeed, there have always been many Hollywoods, and, as Gibson discovered with his film, if you make half a billion dollars in personal profit, criticism dries up.

    John Wayne opposed racial desegregation. He gave money openly to the Klan in the 1960’s. He was such a big star, he was left alone. Because he’s a big brand, and you want them. But there’s a degree to which the sensibility which he represented, they just made sure it didn’t appear on the screen too much. That’s how it’s done.

    Syberberg is not a Right-winger, in my view. He’s a conservative nationalist of a mild sort, but he’s an aesthetic German, and his real premise is that Germany is in all of us, and without its cultural inheritance as something to use and step beyond, we cannot have a coherent Europeanness. And without that trajectory, it is not possible to survive.

    So, I would ask you next time you’ve got an hour or so on the internet to put Hans-Jürgen Syberberg into Google or one of the other search engines and bring up what you can and see what you make of it. Because he’s somebody who is obscure, but he’s obscure not because he’s no good and not because he needs to be obscure, or has been falsely kept so, but because he’s slightly dangerous. And in this era of standardization and of dumbing down and of conformity, there is a great need for those who are prepared to stand up for the inner lives of their own peoples. And he’s still alive.

    Thank you very much!

     

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    (Review Source)
  • Remembering Leni Riefenstahl: August 22, 1902–September 8, 2003
    (”Olympia Part Two: Festival of Beauty” is briefly mentioned in this.)

    [1]754 words

    German translation here [2]

    Helene Bertha Amalie “Leni” Riefenstahl was born on this day in Berlin in 1902. She died in Pöcking, Bavaria, on September 8, 2003, just after her 101st birthday. She was a highly accomplished dancer, actress, photographer, and film director. 

    Even her most jaundiced critics admit that Leni Riefenstahl is the greatest female filmmaker of all time and/or the greatest documentary filmmaker of all time. But this is faint praise, since both fields are rather small.

    In truth, Riefenstahl is one of history’s greatest film directors, period, because of her strong aesthetic sense and countless technical innovations, which account for her immense and enduring influence.

    Her status as a director, moreover, rests on a very small body of work: two feature films, Das Blaue Licht (The Blue Light, 1934) and Tiefland (Lowlands, completed 1944, released 1954), and two documentaries: Triumph des Willens (Triumph of the Will, 1934) and Olympia (1938), released in two parts: Fest der Völker (Festival of Nations) and Fest der Schönheit (Festival of Beauty).

    In addition, Riefenstahl made three other documentaries. Der Sieg des Glaubens(Victory of Faith, 1933, 64 minutes), was a documentary of the National Socialist German Workers’ Party’s 1933 Nuremberg Rally, which was withdrawn after the 1934 purge of Ernst Röhm, who featured prominently in the movie. The other two documentaries were relatively short: Tag der Freiheit: Unsere Wehrmacht (Day of Freedom: Our Armed Forces, 1935, 28 minutes), and Impressionen unter Wasser(Impressions Under Water, 2002, 45 minutes). These documentaries, however, have been seldom seen and have had little influence on Riefestahl’s reputation.

    The fact that Riefenstahl’s stature as a filmmaker rests on only four films was not due to lack of effort on her part. After the Second World War, Riefenstahl tried repeatedly to launch new film projects, all of which came to naught, for one reason or another. But there is no question that an artist of Leni Riefenstahl’s talent would have made dozens of films in the 58 years she lived after World War II, if she had not been Adolf Hitler’s favorite director and if the Western movie business and media in general had not been dominated by Jews. The throttling of a talent this great is one of the aesthetic crimes of the 20th century.

    It is a reminder that Jewish cultural hegemony is maintained not merely by promoting decadent artists, regardless of their talent, but by suppressing healthy ones, regardless of their talent. It is also a reminder that all other values of the Left-wing coalition — feminism, gay rights, environmentalism, etc. — are always subordinated when they conflict with the overriding Jewish agenda of degrading and destroying the white race, especially those connected in any way with its most self-conscious and militant defenders so far.

    If you wish to begin exploring the life and work of Leni Riefenstahl, I recommend that you start with her own works:

    Riefenstahl also acts in the following classic films directed by Arnold Fanck:

    Do not miss Derek Hawthorne’s extensive analyses of each film, linked below.

    Riefenstahl also appears extensively in Ray Müller’s 1994 documentary The Wonderful, Horrible Life of Leni Riefenstahl [14]. The director includes candid footage, shot when Riefenstahl did not think she was being filmed. His intention was to make her look bad, but in truth she comes off as 100 times the director Müller is. It is required watching, despite the inevitable axe-grinding.

    I also recommend the following articles on this website:

    Finally, I wish to recommend several books on Riefenstahl:

     

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    (Review Source)
  • Rammstein’s “Stripped” & “Links 2-3-4” Videos
    (”Olympia Part Two: Festival of Beauty” is briefly mentioned in this.)

    [1]2,236 words

    The “Stripped” Video

    In 1998, the German hard rock band Rammstein covered “Stripped” (1986), by the English electronic/New Wave band Depeche Mode, for a Depeche Mode tribute album called For the Masses [2] (1998). Later pressings of Rammstein’s second disc Sehnsucht [3] (Longing) include “Stripped” at the end as a “hidden” track, i.e., it is not listed on the cover.

    The video for “Stripped” is simply a brilliantly edited montage from Leni Riefenstahl’s Olympia [4], her two-part documentary film on the 1936 Olympic Games held in Berlin during the Third Reich. The video merely features Greek statues and ruins, attractive athletes, and cheerful spectators. Hitler and the National Socialist flag do not appear. (The American and Japanese flags, among others, do appear, but they simply make the German flag more conspicuous in its absence.)

    But such fine points did not matter, and the video provoked an international controversy. In particular, the Anti-Defamation League and various magazine hacks made it known that our Jewish overlords were not amused by images of good-looking, healthy people having fun during the Third Reich, lest people get the wrong idea.

    The band, for their part, responded that the video had no political significance whatsoever. They used the Olympia footage simply because of its beauty.

    The video and the controversy not only promoted the song, but also contributed to wider interest in Leni Riefenstahl.

    http://youtu.be/M4SmZkmLRjQ [5]

    In “Stripped,” the singer addresses an object of love or lust: “Let me see you stripped.” Although Rammstein has a reputation for dark and violent music, their version of “Stripped” actually softens the Depeche Mode original, which runs, “Let me see you stripped down to the bone.” Rammstein also omits the line “Let me hear you crying just for me.”

    “Stripped” is not merely, or even primarily, a song about sex. It is about a return to nature, which requires the stripping off of artifice, of which clothes are merely one part:

    Come with me
    Into the trees
    We’ll lay on the grass
    And let hours pass

    Take my hand
    Come back to the land
    Let’s get away
    Just for one day

    Let me see you
    Stripped

    Modern urban life is characterized not just by artifice, but also by pollution, both physical and mental:

    Metropolis
    Has nothing on this
    You’re breathing in fumes
    I taste when we kiss

    Let me hear you
    Make decisions
    Without your television
    Let me hear you speaking
    Just for me

    “Stripped” praises nature over artifice, the rural over the urban, leisure over work, fresh air over smog, and thinking for oneself over parroting the propaganda of the television. Although the narrator does want his partner speaking “just for me,” which may not exactly be freedom, but it certainly is a more intimate and natural form of thralldom.

    How does the video mesh with the message of the song? In the most literal sense, the video shows beautiful bodies in sculpture and in life, some of them nude. Most of them are Olympic athletes, of course.

    The fusion of images and music is brilliant. During the opening electronic drones, we see Greek statues and ruins. Then the Greek discus thrower is replaced by a living athlete (around 0:45). The moment the discus is released, the drums and guitar enter in, followed by images of athletes in explosions of energy. During an electronic bridge (starting at 2:03), we see a vast field of young women swinging gymnastics clubs in perfect synchronization with each other and the music. When the last verse has been sung and the chorus repeats toward an increasingly ecstatic climax (starting at 3:00), we see high divers leaping into the water—and out of it in reverse footage, to delirious effect.

    Is there a political message here? At 1:52, when the Olympic flame is kindled, suddenly we see a vast crowd assembled, with close-ups of beautiful, smiling faces. Then we come to the vast field of synchronized women. So we are now in society, but it is a different form of society—not a society of constricting artifice, pollution, and television propaganda. Sports, of course, are based on rules, which are social conventions. But these conventions function in harmony with nature, leading to the development and expression of physical beauty. Moreover, people gather at sporting events to witness and honor human excellence. Athletic competition is peaceful and constructive, leading to the upward development of the race. This is, of course, a description of the Olympic ideal, but one might wonder why one can’t organize a whole society on such principles. That, of course, is a question the ADL does not want you to ask.

    Beyond that, the “Stripped” video is indirectly political precisely because of its purely aesthetic, apolitical treatment of Olympia. The “Stripped” video shows Olympia stripped of tendentious post-war commentary. By showing beautiful images from the Third Reich without informing viewers that what they are about to see is “tainted” by association with demonic evil, the video interrupts the dominant cultural narrative, which seeks to justify the post-World War II order: liberal democracy, expressive individualism, global finance capitalism, and multiculturalism. The chief architects and beneficiaries of this order are Jews. And Jewish power rests ultimately on the conditioning Europeans to feel reflexive horror at all forms of European ethnic pride and advocacy by demonizing them as somehow like National Socialism. By giving us a glimpse of a non-demonic Third Reich, the “Stripped” video short-circuits that conditioning.

    The “Links 2-3-4” Video

    In 2001, Rammstein released their third album, Mutter [6], which includes a song entitled “Links 2-3-4” (Left 2-3-4, the equivalent of “hup 2-3-4”). The band asserted that the song and its associated video were a response to the accusation of being right wing. In 1999, Oskar Lafontaine of the Social Democratic Party declared that his heart “beats on the left.” (That’s the difference between them and us, apparently.) In 2001, Lafontaine published a column in Bild entitled “Das Herz schläght Links” (The Heart Beats on the Left) opposite a column by a Christian Democratic politician, Peter Gauweiler, entitled “Mein Herz schlägt auf dem rechten Fleck” (My heart beats in the right place).

    Rammstein incorporated both phrases—the heart in the right place, the right place being on the left—into “Links 2-3-4” and had the cheek (or tongue-in-cheek) to proclaim it proof of their leftist sympathies. The music is in 4/4 time with the sound of marching jackboots. But the lyrics [7] are simply about the heart:

    Kann man Herzen brechen
    können Herzen sprechen
    kann man Herzen quälen
    kann man Herzen stehlen

    Can one break hearts?
    Can hearts speak?
    Can one torment hearts?
    Can one steal hearts?

    . . .

    Sie wollen mein Herz am rechten Fleck
    doch seh ich dann nach unten weg
    da schlägt es in der linken Brust
    der Neider hat es schlecht gewusst

    They want my heart in the right place
    but I see it down below
    It beats in the left breast
    the envious don’t know it well

    If one chooses to interpret left and right metaphorically (i.e., politically), this is an avowal of leftist sympathy. But one could just interpret it literally, which would make it politically vacuous, since Hitler and Stalin both had hearts in the right place, i.e., on the left. The song, then, is politically ambiguous in a studied way.

    As for the video:

    http://youtu.be/x5dm7AYZ-tg [8]

    The setting is an anthill. Using mixture of live and animated ants, we see scenes from ordinary ant life: ants playing soccer, ants watching soccer on TV, an ant getting a beer from the fridge, ants going to a rave where a DJ plays a Rammstein album, ants pouring into a theater to watch a film of a Rammstein concert.

    The film is grainy and black and white. As the movie starts, we see countdown symbols flashed on the screen, including crossed hammers, like the fascist emblem in Pink Floyd’s The Wall, but not unlike Soviet the hammer and sickle either. We see a wheel with pointed teeth, not unlike the cogwheel used by Laibach. We see Rammstein’s version of Laibach’s cross. Till Lindemann wears stage makeup reminiscent of old German Expressionist films. It takes one back to the 30s, the heyday of fascist and communist collectivism.

    But the film is a bit of nostalgia, for the overall setting of the video is the present day. Individualists love to use the anthill metaphor to dismiss collectivism. But in fact, with their soccer, beer, and Rammstein consumption, the ants and their anthill represent modern liberal democratic Germany.

    Suddenly, the screen is ripped asunder by a huge beetle. Three of them are attacking the anthill. The ants scatter, many are killed, but then they are rallied by a leader ant, who addresses the masses. He raises his feelers in a gesture reminiscent of the Roman salute. The masses raise their feelers in response. Then the ants pour out of the hill, marching in formation. The marching ants take the shape of the Rammstein-Laibach cross. These displays of precision marching were staples of fascist and Communist mass rallies.

    Then the ants form three columns and swarm the beetles, overwhelming and killing them. What the ants lack in individual size is compensated for by their numbers. It is collectivism at its finest, the use of organization to create strength through numbers. After the beetles are dead, the leader ant raises his feelers in the ant salute, and the ants celebrate their victory with more precision marching, creating a toothed wheel formation around the dead beetles. As the video ends, we see a dead human hand in the foreground crawling with ants as well. (This is cut off in the video embedded above.) Foreshadowing of things to come? (If I had to venture a guess about the identity of the dead hand, I would say it is the American Occupation regime. But more about Amerika later.)

    With some justification, critics of the “Links 2-3-4” video immediately likened the whole thing to Leni Riefenstahl’s Triumph of the Will [9], her documentary of the NSDAP’s 1934 Nuremberg Party Rally. The ant salutes look like the Roman salute, and Triumph of the Will is the only mass party rally most Westerners have ever seen, even though the Communists continued to elaborate and perfect it for decades after 1945. (The whole genre apparently developed from the half-time shows at American college football games.) During the chorus, one hears a crowd shouting “Hi!” Claire Berlinski even hallucinates a Hitler mustache on Till Lindemann.

    But the members of Rammstein are not Nazis. They are modern Germans. Like the ants in the video and the fans of their music, they like soccer, beer, raves, and Rammstein. Politically speaking, their hearts are on the left. Not the totalitarian left, but the liberal left: the individualist, consumerist left.

    But the problem with modern Germans is that this identity is part and parcel with national self-hatred and guilt over the Second World War. Rammstein wishes to restore a “healthy German self-esteem.” They are trying to establish “a natural relationship with their identity.” To do that, they have to teach modern Germans to look at the Third Reich through new eyes. Not to promote Nazism, but to clear the impediment of Nazism to a healthy patriotism.

    Thus I do think that Triumph of the Will is intentionally being alluded to. But the message of the video is not a return to Nazi totalitarianism. Instead, the message is that even a modern, individualist, consumerist, leftist society can come under attack. And when it comes under attack, collectivism and its trappings become necessities of survival. All democracies become fascist when they go to war. Thus, even if your heart is on the left, one must make peace with things conventionally associated with the right. (Of course the members of Rammstein, who grew up in East Germany, saw this sort of stuff all the time from their Communist regime.) Rammstein’s keyboardist Christian Lorenz said that “Links 2-3-4” shows how militant and aggressive the left can be.

    Mass collectivism is always-already latent in consumer society, particularly in the activities the ants are shown engaged in: sports, raves, and rock concerts. In an interview reported by Berlinski, Richard Kruspe, Rammstein’s lead guitarist, claims that international soccer is the one arena of life where Germans feel comfortable taking their own side. Raves are mass gatherings where music and drugs produce an ecstatic sense of collective consciousness, orchestrated by a DJ/leader. The same thing takes place at rock concerts. As Mick Jagger once said, “Hitler was the first rock star.”

    Rammstein is again trying to teach Germans to see their past with new eyes, and to link it organically to their present, so that mass patriotic gatherings no longer automatically connote fascism and the Holocaust.

    In another article, I will discuss three more Rammstein videos: “Amerika,” “Ohne Dich,” and “Mein Land.”

    To most people, it seems absurd for organizations like the ADL to police rock videos. But we should not be so dismissive. Perhaps they know something we do not. My hypothesis is that Jewish power is stretched very thin. Jews are working at full capacity to contain positive white self-consciousness, and white pride is virtually nil. This means that even a modest jump in white ethnocentrism — even an essentially liberal-democratic form of patriotism, which is what Rammstein seems to represent — might exceed the ability of Jews to control it. Thus they feel they must smother every little spark, lest it ignite a firestorm that might consume them utterly.

    Note: Both the “Stripped” and “Links 2-3-4” videos are available on the Rammstein video compilation Lichtspielhaus [10].

     

    ...
    (Review Source)
  • The Halls of Hell
    (”Olympia Part Two: Festival of Beauty” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    hellstorm

    [1]1,629 words

    Editor’s Note:

    The following is an excerpt from chapter 10 of Hellstorm: The Death of Nazi Germany, 1944-1947 [2] (Sheridan, Colorado: Aberdeen Books, 2010), which deals primarily with the fate of innocent Germans, primarily women, children, the old, and infirm in the last year and aftermath of World War II. 

    [W]e were wakened by the sound of tires screeching, engines stopping abruptly, orders yelled, general din, and a hammering on the window shutters. Then the intruders broke through the door, and we saw Americans with rifles who stood in front of our bed and shone lights at us. None of them spoke German, but their gestures said: “Get dressed, come with us immediately.” This was my fourth arrest.

    Thus wrote Leni Riefenstahl, a talented young woman who was perhaps the world’s greatest film-maker. Because her epic documentaries—Triumph of the Will and Olympia—seemed paeans to not only Germany, but Nazism, and because of her close relationship with an admiring Adolf Hitler, Leni was of more than passing interest to the Allies. Though false, rumors also hinted that the attractive, sometimes-actress was also a “mistress of the devil”—that she and Hitler were lovers.

    “Neither my husband nor my mother nor any of my three assistants had ever joined the Nazi Party, nor had any of us been politically active,” said the confused young woman. “No charges had ever been filed against us, yet we were at the mercy of the [Allies] and had no legal protection of any kind.”

    Soon after Leni’s fourth arrest, came a fifth.

    The jeep raced along the autobahns until, a few hours later . . . I was brought to the Salzburg Prison; there an elderly prison matron rudely pushed me into the cell, kicking me so hard that I fell to the ground; then the door was locked. There were two other women in the dark, barren room, and one of them, on her knees, slid about the floor, jabbering confusedly; then she began to scream, her limbs writhing hysterically. She seemed to have lost her mind. The other woman crouched on her bunk, weeping to herself.

    As Leni and others quickly discovered, the “softening up” process began soon after arrival at an Allied prison. When Ernst von Salomon, his Jewish girlfriend, and fellow prisoners reached an American holding pen near Munich, the men were promptly led into a room and brutally beaten by military police. With his teeth knocked out and blood spurting from his mouth, von Salomon moaned to a gum-chewing officer, “You are no gentlemen.” The remark brought only a roar of laughter from the attackers. “No, no, no!” the GIs grinned. “We are Mississippi boys!” In another room, military policemen raped the women at will while leering soldiers watched from windows.

    After such savage treatment, the feelings of despair only intensified once the captives were crammed into cells.

    The people had been standing there for three days, waiting to be interrogated,” remembered a German physician ordered to treat prisoners in the Soviet Zone. “At the sight of us a pandemonium broke out which left me helpless. . . . As far as I could gather, the usual senseless questions were being reiterated: Why were they there, and for how long? They had no water and hardly anything to eat. They wanted to be let out more often than once a day. . . . A great many of them have dysentery so badly that they can no longer get up.

    “Young Poles made fun of us,” said a woman from her cell in the same zone. “[They] threw bricks through the windows, paper bags with sand, and skins of hares filled with excrement. We did not dare to move or offer resistance, but huddled together in the farthest corner, in order not to be hit, which could not always be avoided. . . . [W]e were never free from torments.”

    “For hours on end I rolled about on my bed, trying to forget my surroundings,” recalled Leni Riefenstahl, “but it was impossible.”

    The mentally disturbed woman kept screaming—all through the night; but even worse were the yells and shrieks of men from the courtyard, men who were being beaten, screaming like animals. I subsequently found out that a company of SS men was being interrogated.

     They came for me the next morning, and I was taken to a padded cell where I had to strip naked, and a woman examined every square inch of my body. Then I had to get dressed and go down to the courtyard, where many men were standing, apparently prisoners, and I was the only woman. We had to line up before an American guard who spoke German. The prisoners stood to attention, so I tried to do the same, and then an American came who spoke fluent German. He pushed a few people together, then halted at the first in our line. “Were you in the Party?”

    The prisoner hesitated for a moment, then said: “Yes.”

    He was slugged in the face and spat blood.

    The American went on to the next in line.

    “Were you in the Party?”

    The man hesitated.

    “Yes or no?”

    “Yes.” And he too got punched so hard in the face that the blood ran out of his mouth. However, like the first man, he didn’t dare resist. They didn’t even instinctively raise their hands to protect themselves. They did nothing. They put up with the blows like dogs.

    The next man was asked: “Were you in the Party?”

    Silence.

    “Well?”

    “No,” he yelled, so no punch. From then on nobody admitted that he had been in the Party and I was not even asked.

    As the above case illustrated, there often was no rhyme or reason to the examinations; all seemed designed to force from the victim what the inquisitor wanted to hear, whether true or false. Additionally, many such “interrogations” were structured to inflict as much pain and suffering as possible. Explained one prisoner:

    The purpose of these interrogations is not to worm out of the people what they knew—which would be uninteresting anyway—but to extort from them special statements. The methods resorted to are extremely primitive; people are beaten up until they confess to having been members of the Nazi Party. . . . The authorities simply assume that, basically, everybody has belonged to the Party. Many people die during and after these interrogations, while others, who admit at once their party membership, are treated more leniently.

    “A young commissar, who was a great hater of the Germans, cross-examined me… ,” said Gertrude Schulz. “When he put the question: “Frauenwerk [Women’s Labor Service]?”, I answered in the negative. Thereupon he became so enraged, that he beat me with a stick, until I was black and blue. I received about 15 blows . . . on my left upper arm, on my back and on my thigh. I collapsed and, as in the case of the first cross-examination, I had to sign the questionnaire.”

    “Both officers who took our testimony were former German Jews,” reminisced a member of the women’s SS, Anna Fest. While vicious dogs snarled nearby, one of the officers screamed questions and accusations at Anna. If the answers were not those desired, “he kicked me in the back and the other hit me.”

    They kept saying we must have been armed, have had pistols or so. But we had no weapons, none of us. . . . I had no pistol. I couldn’t say, just so they’d leave me in peace, yes, we had pistols. The same thing would happen to the next person to testify. . . . [T]he terrible thing was, the German men had to watch. That was a horrible, horrible experience. . . . That must have been terrible for them. When I went outside, several of them stood there with tears running down their cheeks. What could they have done? They could do nothing.

    Not surprisingly, with beatings, rape, torture, and death facing them, few victims failed to “confess” and most gladly inked their name to any scrap of paper shown them. Some, like Anna, tried to resist. Such recalcitrance was almost always of short duration, however. Generally, after enduring blackened eyes, broken bones, electric shock to breasts—or, in the case of men, smashed testicles—only those who died during torture failed to sign confessions.

    Alone, surrounded by sadistic hate, utterly bereft of law, many victims understandably escaped by taking their own lives. Like tiny islands in a vast sea of misery, however, miracles did occur. As he limped painfully back to his prison cell, one Wehrmacht officer reflected on the insults, beatings, and tortures he had endured and contemplated suicide.

    I could not see properly in the semi-darkness and missed my open cell door. A kick in the back and I was sprawling on the floor. As I raised myself I said to myself I could not, should not accept this humiliation. I sat on my bunk. I had hidden a razor blade that would serve to open my veins. Then I looked at the New Testament and found these words in the Gospel of St. John: “Without me ye can do nothing.”

     Yes. You can mangle this poor body—I looked down at the running sores on my legs—but myself, my honor, God’s image that is in me, you cannot touch. This body is only a shell, not my real self. Without Him, without the Lord, my Lord, ye can do nothing. New strength seemed to rise in me.

    I was pondering over what seemed to me a miracle when the heavy lock turned in the cell door. A very young American soldier came in, put his finger to his lips to warn me not to speak. “I saw it,” he said. “Here are baked potatoes.” He pulled the potatoes out of his pocket and gave them to me, and then went out, locking the door behind him.

    ...
    (Review Source)
  • “Good War . . . Better Peace”
    (”Olympia Part Two: Festival of Beauty” is briefly mentioned in this.)
    [1]

    De-Nazification

    6,097 words

    Author’s Note:

    To help celebrate the upcoming 70th Anniversary of the end of the “Good War” and the beginning of the “Good Peace,” I offer the following from my books, Hellstorm—The Death of Nazi Germany, 1944–1947, and Rape Hate—Sex & Violence in War & Peace

    And so, with the once mighty German Army now disarmed and enslaved in May, 1945, and with their leaders either dead or awaiting trial for so-called “war crimes,” the old men, women and children who remained in the dismembered Reich found themselves utterly at the mercy of the victors. Unfortunately for these survivors, never in the history of the world was mercy in shorter supply.

    ***

    Soon after the Allied victory in Europe, the purge of Nazi Party members from government, business, industry, science, education, and all other walks of German life commenced. While a surprising number of Nazis were allowed—even compelled—to man their posts temporarily to enable a smooth transition, all party members, high and low, were sooner or later excised from German daily life. In theory, “de-Nazification” was a simple transplanting of Nazi officials with those of democratic, socialist or communist underpinnings. In practice, the purge became little more than a cloak for an orgy of rape, torture and death.

    De-Nazification 

    Because their knowledge of the language and culture was superb, most of the intelligence officers accompanying US and British forces into the Reich were Jewish refugees who had fled Germany in the late 1930s. Although their American and English “aides” were hardly better, the fact that many of these “39ers” became interrogators, examiners and screeners, with old scores to settle, insured that Nazis— or any German, for that matter—would be shown no mercy.

    One man opposed to the vengeance-minded program was George Patton. “Evidently the virus started by Morgenthau and [Bernard] Baruch of a Semitic revenge against all Germans is still working … ,” wrote the general in private. “I am frankly opposed to this war-criminal stuff. It is not cricket and it is Semitic….I can’t see how Americans can sink so low.”

    Soon after occupation, all adult Germans were compelled to register at the nearest Allied headquarters and complete a lengthy questionnaire on their past activities. While many nervous citizens were detained then and there, most returned home, convinced that at long last the terrible ordeal was over. For millions, however, the trial had but begun.

    “Then it started,” remembered Anna Fest, a woman who had registered with the Americans six weeks earlier.

    Such a feeling of helplessness, when three or four heavily armed military police stand in front of you. You just panic. I cried terribly. My mother was completely beside herself and said, “You can’t do this. She registered just as she was supposed to.” Then she said, “If only you’d gone somewhere else and had hidden.” But I consider that senseless, because I did not feel guilty. . . . That was the way it went with everyone, with no reason given.

    Few German adults, Nazi or not, escaped the dreaded knock on the door. Far from being dangerous fascists, Freddy and Lali Horstmann were actually well-known anti-Nazis. Records Lali from the Russian Zone:

    “I am sorry to bother you,” he began, “but I am simply carrying out my orders. Until when did you work for the Foreign Office?”

    “Till 1933,” my husband answered.

    “Then you need fear nothing,” Androff said…. “We accuse you of nothing, but we want you to accompany us to the headquarters of the NKVD, the secret police, so that we can take down what you said in a protocol, and ask you a few questions about the working of the Foreign Office… .”

    We were stunned for a moment; then I started forward, asking if I could come along with them. “Impossible,” the interpreter smiled. My heart raced. Would Freddy answer satisfactorily? Could he stand the excitement? What sort of accommodation would they give him?

    “Don’t worry, your husband has nothing to fear,” Androff continued. “He will have a heated room. Give him a blanket for the night, but quickly, we must leave. .. .”

    There was a feeling of sharp tension, putting the soldier on his guard, as though he were expecting an attack from one of us. I took first the soldier, then the interpreter, by their hands and begged them to be kind to Freddy, repeating myself in the bustle and scraping of feet that drowned my words. There was a banging of doors. A cold wind blew in. I felt Freddy kiss me. I never saw him again.

    “[W]e were wakened by the sound of tires screeching, engines stopping abruptly, orders yelled, general din, and a hammering on the window shutters. Then the intruders broke through the door, and we saw Americans with rifles who stood in front of our bed and shone lights at us. None of them spoke German, but their gestures said: ‘Get dressed, come with us immediately.’ This was my fourth arrest.”

    [2]

    Leni Riefenstahl

    So wrote Leni Riefenstahl, a talented young woman who was perhaps the world’s greatest film-maker. Because her epic documentaries— Triumph of the Will and Olympia—seemed paeans to not only Germany, but National Socialism, and because of her close relationship with an admiring Adolf Hitler, Leni was of more than passing interest to the Allies. Though false, rumors also hinted that the attractive, sometimes-actress was also a “mistress of the devil”—that she and Hitler were lovers.

    “Neither my husband nor my mother nor any of my three assistants had ever joined the Nazi Party, nor had any of us been politically active,” said the confused young woman. “No charges had ever been filed against us, yet we were at the mercy of the [Allies] and had no legal protection of any kind.”

    Soon after Leni’s fourth arrest, came a fifth.

    The jeep raced along the autobahns until, a few hours later …I was brought to the Salzburg Prison; there an elderly prison matron rudely pushed me into the cell, kicking me so hard that I fell to the ground; then the door was locked. There were two other women in the dark, barren room, and one of them, on her knees, slid about the floor, jabbering confusedly; then she began to scream, her limbs writhing hysterically. She seemed to have lost her mind. The other woman crouched on her bunk, weeping to herself.

    As Leni and others quickly discovered, the “softening up” process began soon after arrival at an Allied prison. When Ernst von Salomon, his Jewish girl friend and fellow prisoners reached an American holding pen near Munich, the men were promptly led into a room and brutally beaten by military police. With his teeth knocked out and blood spurting from his mouth, von Salomon moaned to a gum-chewing officer, “You are no gentlemen.” The remark brought only a roar of laughter from the attackers. “No, no, no!” the GIs grinned. “We are Mississippi boys!” In another room, military policemen raped the women at will while leering soldiers watched from windows.

    After such savage treatment, the feelings of despair only intensified once the captives were crammed into cells.

    “The people had been standing there for three days, waiting to be interrogated,” remembered a German physician ordered to treat prisoners in the Soviet Zone. “At the sight of us a pandemonium broke out which left me helpless…. As far as I could gather, the usual senseless questions were being reiterated: Why were they there, and for how long? They had no water and hardly anything to eat. They wanted to be let out more often than once a day…. A great many of them have dysentery so badly that they can no longer get up.”

    “Young Poles made fun of us,” said a woman from her cell in the same zone. “[They] threw bricks through the windows, paperbags with sand, and skins of hares filled with excrement. We did not dare to move or offer resistance, but huddled together in the farthest corner, in order not to be hit, which could not always be avoided. . . . [W]e were never free from torments.”

    “For hours on end I rolled about on my bed, trying to forget my surroundings,” recalled Leni Riefenstahl, “but it was impossible.”

    The mentally disturbed woman kept screaming—all through the night; but even worse were the yells and shrieks of men from the courtyard, men who were being beaten, screaming like animals. I subsequently found out that a company of SS men was being interrogated.

    They came for me the next morning, and I was taken to a padded cell where I had to strip naked, and a woman examined every square inch of my body. Then I had to get dressed and go down to the courtyard, where many men were standing, apparently prisoners, and I was the only woman. We had to line up before an American guard who spoke German. The prisoners stood to attention, so I tried to do the same, and then an American came who spoke fluent German. He pushed a few people together, then halted at the first in our line.

    “Were you in the Party?”

    The prisoner hesitated for a moment, then said: Yes.” He was slugged in the face and spat blood.

    The American went on to the next in line.

    “Were you in the Party?”

    The man hesitated.

    “Yes or no?”

    “Yes.”

    And he too got punched so hard in the face that the blood ran out of his mouth. However, like the first man, he didn’t dare resist. They didn’t even instinctively raise their hands to protect themselves. They did nothing. They put up with the blows like dogs.

    The next man was asked: “Were you in the Party?”

    Silence.

    “Well?”

    “No,” he yelled, so no punch. From then on nobody admitted that he had been in the Party and I was not even asked.

    As the above case illustrated, there often was no rhyme or reason to the examinations; all seemed designed to force from the victim what the inquisitor wanted to hear, whether true or false. Additionally, most such “interrogations” were structured to inflict as much pain and suffering as possible. Explained one prisoner:

    The purpose of these interrogations is not to worm out of the people what they knew—which would be uninteresting anyway—but to extort from them special statements. The methods resorted to are extremely primitive; people are beaten up until they confess to having been members of the Nazi Party…. The authorities simply assume that, basically, everybody has belonged to the Party. Many people die during and after these interrogations, while others, who admit at once their party membership, are treated more leniently.

    “A young commissar, who was a great hater of the Germans, cross-examined me… ,” said Gertrude Schulz. “When he put the question: ‘Frauenwerk [Women’s Labor Service]?’ I answered in the negative. Thereupon he became so enraged, that he beat me with a stick, until I was black and blue. I received about 15 blows … on my left upper arm, on my back and on my thigh. I collapsed and, as in the case of the first cross-examination, I had to sign the questionnaire.”

    [3]

    American torture pen

    “Both officers who took our testimony were former German Jews,” reminisced a member of the women’s SS, Anna Fest. While vicious dogs snarled nearby, one of the officers screamed questions and accusations at Anna. If the answers were not those desired, “he kicked me in the back and the other hit me.”

    They kept saying we must have been armed, have had pistols or so. But we had no weapons, none of us….I had no pistol. I couldn’t say, just so they’d leave me in peace, yes, we had pistols. The same thing would happen to the next person to testify…. [T]he terrible thing was, the German men had to watch. That was a horrible, horrible experience…. That must have been terrible for them. When I went outside, several of them stood there with tears running down their cheeks. What could they have done? They could do nothing.

    Not surprisingly, with beatings, rape, torture, and death facing them, few victims failed to “confess” and most gladly inked their name to any scrap of paper shown them. Some, like Anna, tried to resist. Such recalcitrance was almost always of short duration, however. Generally, after enduring blackened eyes, broken bones, electric shock to breasts—or, in the case of men, smashed testicles—only those who died during torture failed to sign confessions.

    Alone, surrounded by sadistic hate, utterly bereft of law, many victims understandably escaped by taking their own lives. Like tiny islands in a vast sea of evil, however, miracles did occur. As he limped painfully back to his prison cell, one Wehrmacht officer reflected on the insults, beatings, and tortures he had endured and contemplated suicide.

    I could not see properly in the semi-darkness and missed my open cell door. A kick in the back and I was sprawling on the floor. As I raised myself I said to myself I could not, should not accept this humiliation. I sat on my bunk. I had hidden a razor blade that would serve to open my veins. Then I looked at the New Testament and found these words in the Gospel of St. John: “Without me ye can do nothing.”

    Yes. You can mangle this poor body—I looked down at the running sores on my legs—but myself, my honor, God’s image that is in me, you cannot touch. This body is only a shell, not my real self. Without Him, without the Lord, my Lord, ye can do nothing. New strength seemed to rise in me.

    I was pondering over what seemed to me a miracle when the heavy lock turned in the cell door. A very young American soldier came in, put his finger to his lips to warn me not to speak. “I saw it,” he said. “Here are baked potatoes.” He pulled the potatoes out of his pocket and gave them to me, and then went out, locking the door behind him.

    ***

    Horrific as de-Nazification was in the British, French and, especially the American Zone, it was nothing compared to what took place in Poland, behind Soviet lines. In hundreds of concentration camps sponsored by an apparatus called the “Office of State Security,” thousands of Germans—male and female, old and young, high and low, Nazi and non–Nazi, SS, Wehrmacht, Volkssturm, Hitler Youth, all—were rounded up and imprisoned. Staffed and run by Jews, with help from Poles, Czechs, Russians, and other concentration camp survivors, the prisons were little better than torture chambers where dying was a thing to be prolonged, not hastened. While those with blond hair, blue eyes and handsome features were first to go, anyone who spoke German would do.

    Moments after arrival, prisoners were made horrifyingly aware of their fate. John Sack, himself a Jew, reports on one camp run by twenty-six-year-old Shlomo Morel:

    “I was at Auschwitz,” Shlomo proclaimed, lying to the Germans but, even more, to himself, psyching himself like a fighter the night of the championship, filling himself with hate for the Germans around him. “I was at Auschwitz for six long years, and I swore that if I got out, I’d pay all you Nazis back.” His eyes sent spears, but the “Nazis” sent him a look of simple bewilderment. . . . “Now sing the Horst Wessel Song!” No one did, and Shlomo, who carried a hard rubber club, hit it against a bed like some judge’s gavel. “Sing it, I say!”

    “The flags held high . . . ,” some Germans began.

    “Everyone!” Shlomo said.

    “The ranks closed tight. . . .”

    “I said everyone!”

    “Blond!”

    Shlomo cried to the blondest, bluest-eyed person there. “I said sing!” He swung his rubber club at the man’s golden head and hit it. The man staggered back.

    “Our comrades, killed by the Reds and Reactionaries… .”

    “Sonofabitch!” Shlomo cried, enraged that the man was defying him by not singing but staggering back. He hit him again, saying, “Sing!”

    “Are marching in spirit with us…”

    “Louder!”

    “Clear the street for the Brown Battalions… .”

    “Still louder!” cried Shlomo, hitting another shouting man…. “Millions of hopeful people… .”

    “Nazi pigs!”

    “Are looking to the swastika… .”

    “Schweine!” Shlomo cried. He threw down his rubber club, grabbed a wooden stool, and, a leg in his fist, started beating a German’s head. Without thinking, the man raised his arms, and Shlomo, enraged that the man would try to evade his just punishment, cried, “Sonofawhore!” and slammed the stool against the man’s chest. The man dropped his arms, and Shlomo started hitting his now undefended head when snap! the leg of the stool split off, and, cursing the German birchwood, he grabbed another stool and hit the German with that. No one was singing now, but Shlomo, shouting, didn’t notice. The other guards called out, “Blond!” “Black!” “Short!” “Tall!” and as each of these terrified people came up, they wielded their clubs upon him. The brawl went on till eleven o’clock, when the sweat-drenched invaders cried, “Pigs! We will fix you up!” and left the Germans alone.

    Some were quite fixed…. Shlomo and his subordinates had killed them.

    The next night it was more of the same . . . and the next night and the next and the next. Those who survived the “welcoming committees” at this and other camps were flung back into their pens.

    [4]

    Shlomo Morel

    “I was put with 30 women into a cell, which was intended to accommodate one person,” Gerlinde Winkler recalled. “The narrow space, into which we were rammed, was unbearable and our legs were all entangled together. . . . The women, ill with dysentery, were only allowed to go out once a day, in order to relieve themselves. A bucket without a cover was pushed into the cell with the remark: ‘Here you have one, you German sows.’ The stink was insupportable, and we were not allowed to open the little window.”

    “The air in the cells became dense, the smell of the excrement filled it, the heat was like in Calcutta, and the flies made the ceiling black,” wrote John Sack. “I’m choking, the Germans thought, and one even took the community razor blade and, in despair, cut his throat open with it.”

    When the wretched inmates were at last pried from their hellish tombs, it was only for interrogation. Sack continues:

    As many as eight interrogators, almost all Jews, stood around any one German saying, “Were you in the Nazi Party?” Sometimes a German said, “Yes,” and the boys shouted, “Du schwein! You pig!” and beat him and broke his arm, perhaps, before sending him to his cell. . . . But usually a German said, “No,” and the boys … told him, “You’re lying. You were a Nazi.”

    “No, I never was.”

    “You’re lying! We know about you!”

    “No, I really wasn’t—”

    “Du lugst! You’re lying!” they cried, hitting the obstinate man. “You better admit it! Or you’ll get a longer sentence! Now! Were you in the Nazi Party?”

    “No!” the German often said, and the boys had to beat him and beat him until he was really crying, “I was a Nazi! Yes!”

    But sometimes a German wouldn’t confess. One such hard case was a fifty-year-old….

    “Were you in the Party?”

    “No, I wasn’t in it.”

    “How many people work for you?”

    “In the high season, thirty-five.”

    “You must have been in the Party,” the boy deduced.

    He asked for the German’s wallet, where he found a fishing license with the stamp of the German Anglers Association. Studying it, he told the German, “It’s stamped by the Party.”

    “It’s not,” said the German.

    He’d lost his left arm in World War I and was using his right arm to gesture with, and, to the boy, he may have seemed to be Heiling Hitler. The boy became violent. He grabbed the man’s collar, hit the man’s head against the wall, hit it against it ten times more, threw the man’s body onto the floor, and, in his boots, jumped on the man’s cringing chest as though jumping rope. A half dozen other interrogators, almost all Jews, pushed the man onto a couch, pulled off his trousers, and hit him with hard rubber clubs and hard rubber hoses full of stones. The sweat started running down the Jews’ arms, and the blood down the man’s naked legs.

    “Warst du in der Partei?”

    “Nein!”

    “Warst du in der Partei?”

    “Nein!” the German screamed—screamed, till the boys had to go to Shlomo’s kitchen for a wooden spoon and to use it to cram some rags in the German’s mouth. Then they resumed beating him. . . . The more the man contradicted them, the more they hated him for it.

    Shlomo Morel

    After undergoing similar sessions on a regular basis, the victim was brought back for the eighth time.

    By now, the man was half unconscious due to his many concussions, and he wasn’t thinking clearly. The boys worked on him with rubber and oak-wood clubs and said, “Do you still say you weren’t in the Party?”

    “No! I didn’t say I wasn’t in the Party!”

    “You didn’t?”

    “No!” said the punch drunk man. “I never said it!”

    “You were in the Party?”

    “Yes!”

    The boys stopped beating him. They practically sighed, as if their ordeal were over now. They lit up cigarettes….

    “Scram,” one said to the German. The man stood up, and he had his hand on the doorknob when one of the boys impulsively hit the back of his head, and he fell to the floor, unconscious.

    “Aufstehen, du Deutsches schwein. Stand up, you German pig,” the boys said, kicking him till he stood up and collapsed again. Two boys carried him to his cell and dropped him in a corner….

    Of course, the boys would beat up the Germans for “Yes”es as well as “No”s. In Glatz, the Jewish commandant asked a German policeman, “Were you in the Party?”

    “Of course! I was obliged to be!”

    “Lie down,” the commandant said, and six weeks later the boys were still whipping the German’s feet.

    Some torture sessions lacked even the pretense of an examination. Remembered Eva Reimann:

    My cell door opened. The guard, who, because of the foul smell, held a handkerchief to his nose, cried, “Reimann Eva! Come!” I was led to a first-floor room.

    He shouted at me, “Take off your shoes!” I took them off. “Lie down!” I lay down. He took a thick bamboo stick, and he beat the soles of my feet. I screamed, since the pain was very great. . . . The stick whistled down on me. A blow on my mouth tore my lower lip, and my teeth started bleeding violently. He beat my feet again. The pain was unbearable….

    The door opened suddenly, and, smiling obligingly, a cigarette in his mouth, in came the chief of the Office, named Sternnagel. In faultless German he asked me, “What’s wrong here? Why do you let yourself be beaten? You just have to sign this document. Or should we jam your fingers in the door, until the bones are broad. . . ?

    A man picked me up by the ankles, raised me eight inches above the floor, and let me fall. My hands were tied, and my head hit hard. . . . I lay in a bloody puddle. Someone cried, “Stand up!” I tried to, and, with unspeakable pain, I succeeded. A man with a pistol came, held it to my left temple, and said, “Will you now confess?” I told him, “Please shoot me.” Yes, I hoped to be freed from all his tortures. I begged him, “Please pull the trigger.”

    After barely surviving his “interrogation,” one fourteen-year-old was taken to the camp infirmary. “My body was green, but my legs were fire red,” the boy said. “My wounds were bound with toilet paper, and I had to change the toilet paper every day. I was in the perfect place to watch what went on…. All the patients were beaten people, and they died everywhere: at their beds, in the washroom, on the toilet. At night, I had to step over the dead as if that were normal to do.”

    When the supply of victims ran low, it was a simple matter to find more. John Sack:

    One day, a German in pitch-black pants, the SS’s color, showed up in Lola’s prison. He’d been spotted near the city square by a Pole who’d said, “Fascist! You’re wearing black!” At that, the German had bolted off, but the Pole chased him a mile to the Church of Saints Peter and Paul, tackled him by a gold mosaic, hit him, kicked him, and took him to Lola’s prison. Some guards, all girls, then seized the incriminating evidence: the man’s black pants, pulling them off so aggressively that one of the tendons tore. The man screamed, but the girls said, “Shut up!” and they didn’t recognize that the pants were part of a boy scout uniform. The “man” was fourteen years old.

    The girls decided to torture him [with]. . . . fire. They held down the German boy, put out their cigarettes on him, and, using gasoline, set his curly black hair afire.

    At the larger prison camps, Germans died by the hundreds daily.

    “You pigs!” the commandant then cried, and he beat the Germans with their stools, often killing them. At dawn many days, a Jewish guard cried, “Eins! Zwei! Drei! Vier!” and marched the Germans into the woods outside their camp. “Halt! Get your shovels! Dig!” the guard cried, and, when the Germans had dug a big grave, he put a picture of Hitler in. “Now cry!” the guard said. “And sing All the Dogs Are Barking!” and all the Germans moaned,

    All the dogs are barking,

    All the dogs are barking,

    Just the little hot-dogs,

    Aren’t barking at all.

    The guard then cried, “Get undressed!” and, when the Germans were naked, he beat them, poured liquid manure on them, or, catching a toad, shoved the fat thing down a German’s throat, the German soon dying.

    Utterly unhinged by years of persecution, by the loss of homes and loved ones, for the camp operators, no torture, no sadism, no bestiality, seemed too monstrous to inflict on those now in their power. Some Germans were forced to crawl on all fours and eat their own excrement as well as that of others. Many were drowned in open latrines. Hundreds were herded into buildings and burned to death or sealed in caskets and buried alive.

    Near Lamsdorf, German women were forced to disinter bodies from a Polish burial site. According to John Sack:

    The women did, and they started to suffer nausea as the bodies, black as the stuff in a gutter, appeared. The faces were rotten, the flesh was glue, but the guards—who had often seemed psychopathic, making a German woman drink urine, drink blood, and eat a man’s excrement, inserting an oily five-mark bill in a woman’s vagina, putting a match to it—shouted at the women . . . “Lie down with them!” The women did, and the guards shouted, “Hug them!” “Kiss them!” “Make love with them!” and, with their rifles, pushed on the backs of the women’s heads until their eyes, noses and mouths were deep in the Polish faces’ slime. The women who clamped their lips couldn’t scream, and the women who screamed had to taste something vile. Spitting, retching, the women at last stood up, the wet tendrils still on their chins, fingers, clothes, the wet seeping into the fibers, the stink like a mist around them as they marched back to Lamsdorf. There were no showers there, and the corpses had all had typhus, apparently, and sixty-four women . . . died.

    Not surprisingly, the mortality rate at the concentration camps was staggering and relatively few survived. At one prison of eight thousand, a mere 1,500 lived to reach home. And of those “lucky” individuals who did leave with their lives, few could any longer be called human.

    When a smattering of accounts began to leak from Poland of the unspeakable crimes being committed, many in the West were stunned. “One would expect that after the horrors in Nazi concentration camps, nothing like that could ever happen again,” muttered one US senator, who then reported on beatings, torture and “brains splashed on the ceiling.”

    “Is this what our soldiers died for?” echoed a Briton in the House of Commons.

    Added Winston Churchill: “Enormous numbers [of Germans] are utterly unaccounted for. It is not impossible that tragedy on a prodigious scale is unfolding itself behind the Iron Curtain.”

    While Churchill and others in the West were expressing shock and surprise over the sadistic slaughter taking place in the Soviet Zone, precious little was said about the “tragedy on a prodigious scale” that was transpiring in their own backyard.

    ***

    Among the millions imprisoned by the Allies were thousands of Germans accused of having a direct or indirect hand in war crimes. Because the victorious powers demanded swift and severe punishment, Allied prosecutors were urged to get the most damning indictments in as little time as possible. Unfortunately for the accused, their captors seemed determined to inflict as much pain as possible in the process.

    “[W]e were thrown into small cells stark naked,” Hans Schmidt later wrote. “The cells in which three or four persons were incarcerated were six and a half by ten feet in size and had no windows or ventilation.”

    When we went to the lavatory we had to run through a lane of Americans who struck us with straps, brooms, cudgels, buckets, belts, and pistol holders to make us fall down. Our head, eyes, body, belly, and genitals were violently injured. A man stood inside the lavatory to beat us and spit on us. We returned to our cells through the same ordeal. The temperature in the cells was 140 Fahrenheit or more. During the first three days we were given only one cup of water and a small slice of bread. During the first days we perspired all the time, then perspiration stopped. We were kept standing chained back to back for hours. We suffered terribly from thirst, blood stagnation and mortification of the hands. From time to time water was poured on the almost red-hot radiators, filling the cells with steam, so that we could hardly breathe. During all this time the cells were in darkness, except when the American soldiers entered and switched on electric bulbs … which forced us to close our eyes.

    Our thirst became more and more cruel, so that our lips cracked, our tongues were stiff, and we eventually became apathetic, or raved, or collapsed.

     After enduring this torture for several days, we were given a small blanket to cover our nakedness, and driven to the courtyard outside. The uneven soil was covered with pebbles and slag and we were again beaten and finally driven back on our smashed and bleeding feet. While out of breath, burning cigarettes were pushed into our mouths, and each of us was forced to eat three or four of them. Meanwhile the American soldiers continued to hit us on eyes, head, and ears. Back in our cells we were pushed against burning radiators, so that our skin was blistered.

     For thirteen days and nights we received the same treatment, tortured by heat and thirst. When we begged for water, our guards mocked us. When we fainted we were revived by being drenched with cold water. There was dirt everywhere and we were never allowed to wash, our inflamed eyes gave us terrible pain, we fainted continuously.

    Every twenty minutes or so our cell doors were opened and the soldiers insulted and hit us. Whenever the doors were opened we had to stand still with our backs to the door. Two plates of food, spiced with salt, pepper, and mustard to make us thirstier, were given us daily. We ate in the dark on the floor. The thirst was the most terrible of all our tortures and we could not sleep.

     In this condition I was brought to trial.

    During the Nazi war crimes trials and hearings, almost any method that would obtain a “confession” was employed. Eager to implicate high-ranking German officers in the Malmedy Massacre, American investigator Harry Thon ordered Wehrmacht sergeant Willi Schafer to write out an incriminating affidavit:

    Next morning Mr. Thon appeared in my cell, read my report, tore it up, swore at me and hit me. After threatening to have me killed unless I wrote what he wanted, he left. A few minutes later the door of my cell opened, a black hood encrusted with blood, was put over my head and face and I was led to another room. In view of Mr. Thon’s threat the black cap had a crushing effect on my spirits…. Four men of my company … accused me, although later they admitted to having borne false testimony. Nevertheless I still refused to incriminate myself. Thereupon Mr. Thon said that if I continued to refuse this would be taken as proof of my Nazi opinions, and . . . my death was certain. He said I would have no chance against four witnesses, and advised me for my own good to make a statement after which I would be set free. . . . I still refused. I told Mr. Thon that although my memory was good, I was unable to recall any of the occurrences he wished me to write about and which to the best of my knowledge had never occurred.

    Mr. Thon left but returned in a little while with Lieutenant [William] Perl who abused me, and told Mr. Thon that, should I not write what was required within half an hour, I should be left to my fate. Lieutenant Perl made it clear to me that I had the alternative of writing and going free or not writing and dying. I decided for life.

    Another Landser unable to resist the pressure was Joachim Hoffman:

    [W]hen taken for a hearing a black hood was placed over my head. The guards who took me to my hearing often struck or kicked me. I was twice thrown down the stairs and was hurt so much that blood ran out of my mouth and nose. At the hearing, when I told the officers about the ill treatment I had suffered, they only laughed. I was beaten and the black cap pulled over my face whenever I could not answer the questions put to me, or gave answers not pleasing to the officers….I was beaten and several times kicked in the genitals.

    Understandably, after several such sessions, even the strongest submitted and signed papers incriminating themselves and others.

    “If you confess you will go free,” nineteen-year-old Siegfried Jaenckel was told. “[Y]ou need only to say you had an order from your superiors. But if you won’t speak you will be hung.”

    Despite the mental and physical abuse, young Jaenckel held out as long as he could: “I was beaten and I heard the cries of the men being tortured in adjoining cells, and whenever I was taken for a hearing I trembled with fear…. Subjected to such duress I eventually gave in, and signed the long statement dictated to me.”

    Far from being isolated or extreme cases, such methods of extorting confessions were the rule rather than the exception. Wrote author Freda Utley, who learned of the horror after speaking with American jurist Edward van Roden:

    Beatings and brutal kickings; knocking-out of teeth and breaking of jaws; mock trials; solitary confinement; torture with burning splinters; the use of investigators pretending to be priests; starvation; and promises of acquittal. . . . Judge van Roden said: “All but two of the Germans in the 139 cases we investigated had been kicked in the testicles beyond repair. This was standard operating procedure with our American investigators.” He told of one German who had had lighted matchsticks forced under his fingernails by the American investigators to extort a confession, and had appeared at his trial with his fingers still bandaged from the atrocity.

    In addition to testimony given under torture, those who might have spoken in defense of the accused were prevented. Moreover, hired “witnesses” were paid by the Americans to parrot the prosecution’s charges.

    When criticism such as Utley’s and van Roden’s surfaced, and even as victims were being hung by the hundreds, those responsible defended their methods.

    “We couldn’t have made those birds talk otherwise . . .” laughed one Jewish “interrogator,” Colonel A. H. Rosenfeld. “It was a trick, and it worked like a charm.”

     

     

    ...
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