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Wednesday, 20 June 2018

Waving carefully

Coming from the UK, perhaps one of the most alien cultural differences here is the utter horror of any reminder of the Nazi period. Whilst Prince Harry and his chums may quite happily don SS fancy dress and barely a day goes by without the Swastika appearing somewhere on UK TV, here it remains strictly verboten. I'm even slightly careful not to hold my arm too rigidly when raising a hand in greeting, as one does multiple times a day here. Truly.

A 51 year old Croatian chap is finally going home this week after a month in custody and with a fifteen month suspended sentence for making the Hitlergruß

Some of you may remember a mammoth libel case brought by Lord Aldington against Nikolai Tolstoy some years ago. Aldington, then Brigadier Toby Low, together with an officer named Harold Macmillan, were instrumental, when commanding units of the British army of occupation here in 1945, in forcefully sending back tens of thousands of Croatian Ustache fighters and their families to Yugoslavia, where they were massacred in mass shootings just across the border. Having fought for Hitler, these Croat fascists wanted to surrender to the British or Americans, but wartime diplomacy meant they had to be sent back to their certain death. 

Anyhow, every year there's an embarrassingly fascistic remembrance event at Bleiberg with flags and an open air catholic mass. The Austrian and Croatian governments both want it to end, as does the local Catholic bishop. The Croats and their sympathetic priests, however, are determined to continue. It's all carefully watched by the police - which is why, when this fairly pissed chap shot his right arm up, he was promptly arrested. 'Reactivation', it's called. 

Prince Harry, be warned.  


jack ketch said...

Austrians are sneaky. As Germans like to say of them : "they turned Mozart into an Austrian and Hitler into a German". After The War Germany was 'denazified' (which was a joke but at least an attempt was made), whereas somehow Austrian managed to portray itself as a victim...the cheering crowds at the Anschluss not withstanding.

On the other hand those who come here to the yUK from Germany (and I suspect Austria) for the first time tend to be somewhat 'flummoxed' by how much Brits still seem, mentally, to live in 1945. Scarcely a day goes by without the war being mentioned or alluded to in our MSM. More than one German friend has asked me why Brits assume he or she has to have an opinion on or any particular interest in 'The War' and why the British fascination with Hitler. Not so much 'Don't mention the war' but more 'why on Earth are you constantly mentioning something that happened the better part of a century ago?'. I've always been at lost to explain it; perhaps 1945 was the last time we really mattered as a nation?

Anoneumouse said...

When I was a child in the late 50's early 60's, My father who was in the Army and at the time was stationed in Germany, we lived in married quarters and I went to a BFES school. I remember at Christmas time our schoolteacher used to take us carol singing at old age peoples homes.. I am now in my 60's and I have just realised I used to serenade ageing Nazi's with Christmas carols. In fact I was the opening act and sang a solo ‘Once in Royal David’s city (Stille Nacht eh!?)

jack ketch said...

Once in Royal David’s city (Stille Nacht eh!?)

'Stille Nacht' is usually the carol 'Silent Night, Holy Night', I think?

Anoneumouse said...

it is

rapscallion said...

jack ketch @ 07:12

"why on Earth are you constantly mentioning something that happened the better part of a century ago?'

Because I think of the impact it had on Britain and what was then it's Empire.
I personally don't think the Germans are entirely to blame for WW1, the Frogs (as ever) and the Russians are in my view equally culpable, but WWII is rightly laid at Germany's door, and for us the 2nd time in 20 years we had to fight the Hun. If WWI lost us a lot of men and treasure, WWII bankrupted us and lost us our Empire. Remember Britain held the moral high ground in that war, one we did not have to fight but did anyway because Hitler had to be stopped. Allied that with the 3rd attempt by Germany to rule the continent this time by financial means and you might begin the think that they need putting in their place once and for all.

Personally, Germany is damned if she does, and damned if she doesn't. She sits essentially astride western and central Europe and the Germans are a very industrious people. Like the Sun, all around are small planets and thus the centre of gravity. Germany should be broken up into its original kingdoms, princedoms and principalities. That way, the rest of Europe can have a chance. Bayern on its own would be quite something.

Anonymous said...

The current generation has a penchant for banning things plus hate speech and the adulation of anyone resembling a martyr (masses of flower . candle lit vigil etc) Books forbidden ( huckleberry fin)
See and resemblance to prewar Nazi Germany as it rose to power?

TrT said...

"Personally, Germany is damned if she does, and damned if she doesn't. She sits essentially astride western and central Europe and the Germans are a very industrious people."
Not particularly
The German Economic Miracle, especially since the ECB cae in to being, has been because they control the levers of power.
When Germany needed easy money, the ECB was easy, and the south was flooded with cash it didnt want and couldnt cope with.
When Germany needed hard money, the ECB was haard, and the south was starved of cash it needed and couldnt cope without.

"Like the Sun, all around are small planets and thus the centre of gravity. Germany should be broken up into its original kingdoms, princedoms and principalities. That way, the rest of Europe can have a chance. Bayern on its own would be quite something."

Yep, that would leave France as the dominant power, along with Italy and Spain, but held in check by a few dozen smaller eastern states.
France would be happy in charge of the executive, and the Germans would be happy exercising a legislative oversight

jack ketch said...

Bayern on its own would be quite something. -Raps

Indeed it would and I for one would enthusiastically support it (I'm a fan of King Ludwig2 , or 'Louey The Loop' as he is known to historians). Unusually I can't find much in your comment to disagree with -although the 'breaking up' of Germany is what the allies tried so hard to do after the war by imposing a federal system designed to keep Germany weak...and we all know how that turned out. Even if Germany were dismantled into the old 36 Kingdoms -"Wir haben sechsunddreißig Herrn(Ist nicht zuviel!)" [" We have 36 rulers, it isn't too many"-Heine]- no doubt within a generation or so Germany would be more or less what it is today...its a German thing...'Unity, Rule of Law, Freedom' and very much in that order.

Mind you, your contention that we held the 'moral high ground' is least at the start...unless you consider us putting boots on the ground in some foreign conflict for reasons of access to oil, when we needn't have done, to be 'moral'?

Dave_G said...

I thought it was always a case of "all wars are bankers wars".

Germany? Russia? China? or 'the banks'?

Bill Quango MP said...

Interesting, Mr R.

Have a look at this thread for a game I was thinking of buying.
Skies above the Reich is about the luftwaffe's attempts to take down the USSAAF 8th airforce bombers.

The question of EU {ie German} laws came up. As it does every single time a historical ww2 book/game/film/ tv show is being considered for EU distribution.

Quite interesting that the law is deemed 'very loose'. And open to almost any interpretation that one wants to give it.

And - the game referred to in the thread 'Black Orchestra' that is sold in Germany/Austria and has Nazi symbols and the card deck is historical personalities in the Nazi regime, sold without problems. Its a game about the July 20 plot, 1944. And uses the full ss/gestapo/NSDAP /Todt insignia etc.

But that game is ALSO available via tabletopia.Which is a digital board game app. Available to anyone. Anywhere.Via download.

Its probably long overdue that the Germanic nations sort this out. As Mr K says, its getting on for 100 years ago.

Surely a more sensible law {no glorification, untruthful propaganda or Nazi assembly etc} to be permitted.

{ Mr K - why do the British celebrate it still? Because, we won. And won what was possibly the last 'good war.' Against the odds. And with great courage and sacrifice..And yes..that is a bit rose tinted. Ignores the contribution of our allies and the treachery of our former allies, but is also, basically true.

Note that the UK is less keen to celebrate its Asian ww2 adventures than its European ones. Much less clear cut,even if the Japanese equal the Germans for mindless, expansionist barbarity.

The UK was not, like Germany in WW2, utterly defeated and ripped apart as a country. Bombed heavily. Massive shortages. Occupation by the victors and the added shame of being the ones who caused the war. And then set about the most horrific genocidal campaign against a race, in history. A truly barbaric and merciless conqueror nation with an evil, corrupt, and murderous regime. That was voted into power by the citizens, who certainly did reap the whirlwind.]

jack ketch said...

Mr K - why do the British celebrate it still?

I have no problem with us 'celebrating' it, that as you say is understandable...even perhaps desirable to a degree. Celebrating it is fine, hell I'd support street parties every year for both VE and VJ day. Break out the bunting and Fairy Cakes (am I allowed to call them that still?). But it is 2018 not 1948, at some point we have to accept the fact we won the war (and maybe lost the peace?) and move the fuck on. The Germans flattened your Nan's house and your Granddad helped raze their entire cities to the ground, it says nothing about either you as their Grandson or the German bomber pilots Enkelkinder.

jack ketch said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
jack ketch said...

And won what was possibly the last 'good war.' Bill MP

That to my mind would be the Falklands War. Morally exceptionally clear cut, no argument about who was the aggressor, no 'you started it, no YOU did's that would seem sensible to any reasonable person, no 'enslaved minority' needing 'liberation'. I'd like to see a street party every 10th Anniversary of the Liberation of Port Stanley. But not even the most frothy of the Brexiteers would countenance that for all their plastic patriotism...might upset the poor Argentines.

Raedwald said...

Bill - I know less about Germany, but I'm getting to grips with how things work in Austria. Essentially, laws are not applied across the board without fear or favour as in the UK (generally) but are there to deal with someone who is antisocial, a nuisance or undesirable. The one exception is the burqa ban, which I'll come to.

So for instance, if you're here longer than 3 months, the law says you need a residence permit, or face a fine of €250 per diem. But no-one enforces it or checks it and not having one doesn't stop anyone from doing anything else - including working and paying tax. Having gone to the bother of complying with the law myself, I found I was in the minority. When I questioned an ex-Burgermeister about it he nodded and said "Yes, the police like it this way - with most people not bothering to get the document. If means if unregistered residents make trouble, the police can simply deport them without the hassle of going to court. If they want to get rid of you, they face a protracted and uncertain legal battle."

Every couple of weeks here in the south there's another conviction for breach of the anti-nazi laws. A footballer who had '88' on his shin pad, visible through his sock. Fine and suspended sentence, booted out of the league. A bad-neighbour biker who played old nazi songs too loud. Jail. City-centre drunks who 'Seig Heil!' passing officials - jail again. Penalties are harsh - the Hitlergruß carries a minimum of a year's jail, which is normally suspended for a first offence. But when you look at the cases, it's often something else. The footballer had a reputation as a violent bully - the '88' was convenient. And so on. That's how it works.

The exception is the burqa ban. In order not to target the law just at Muslims, the wording prohibits any form of face covering in public (except traditional folk costumes, when peeps wear hideous frightening devilish satanic masks - these are OK). It was the one instance where the police applied the law across the board - the first conviction was of an actor doing a store promotion in a shark costume that covered the head. I think they've also prosecuted an Aubergine, or rather an actress dressed as one.

They know they can't block nazi symbols or access to nazi materials on the internet so don't try. But you'll have gathered by now, that's not really what the law is for.

jack ketch said...

So for instance, if you're here longer than 3 months....

That is one of the differences between the Austrians and the Piefkas. Germans are anal about laws (at least how they apply to us 'normal' people) and why Germans have trouble with the Austrian mind set.

I'm still reeling in shock from the news the head of Audi landed in U-Haft (Remand)! That's unusual to say the least...a captain of the mighty, and mightily corrupt, German Car industry having to obey the same laws as his workers do...

Bill Quango MP said...

I agree Jack. And I am sure mine, is the last generation that will hold any firm view of WW2.

I saw battle of Britain, in the cinema, for a birthday party, a very patriotic British war film when I was 10 years old. So 1975. I, and all my friends, loved it.

Even though, that film,was a flop. Being released at the height of the Vietnam War peace protests. And distrust of politicians. And former empire wars and terrorism really kicking off globally.
The war film genre, really started to wane in the 1970s.
The model kits that we made as boys, and soldiers we painted, are for the most part, a thing of the past.
{despite miniature games such as flames of war having a comparatively large following.}

I suspect a 10 year old today would not be remotely interested in WW2. Partly, its perspective. When I was 10, a spitfire still looked like an aeroplane from a few years back. Today, alongside a Mig29, it looks like a museum piece. Which it, of course, is.

I still sometime wargame and miniature game.
But I have never even tried to involve my 10 year old son.Who has never shown any interest in ww2 ship or planes, that fascinated me at his age.
Though we do do things like Aliens, transformers, marvel superhero, monsters and modern battle games.
And, naturally, video games.

I suspect you are totally correct and the end of the 2 world wars, one world cup era is nigh.

[on that rather obscure box art thread I posted, one of the arguments that says the swastika is not permitted, supposes that leftist governments and the eu itself, will do anything to restrict individual nation promotion. Even Nazi era promotion. So they will happily ban any nationalist symbol. The reason is that until the 1990s no publisher cared about the ban. As any Jack Higgins novel cover shows.
The Hammer and sickle symbol faces no ban.

The counter argument is that the people of europe themselves don't want the reminder. [UK is always excluded as part of europe in these discussions. Because of occupation status.]

jack ketch said...

I saw battle of Britain, in the cinema,
-Bill Quango MP

One of my abiding childhood memories is my Ol' Dad taking my and my brother to the Cinema to watch "A Bridge Too Far" in 77/78...and telling us that his own Dad had fought there.

Only found out years later that the funny (as in 'unknown brand') box of chocolately things we ate during the film were of their more iconic brands and made by a firm , whose 'Our History' web page even today jumps from 1934 to 1950 *cough*.

Bill Quango MP said...

That's very funny jack. I wonder how many other corporations have a hole in their history?

A Bridge Too far is very hard to find data on. But it had a £27,000,000 budget and made £50,000,000 to date.
That looks to me like a massive opening year flop. Even allowing for the £50 million to be nearer £200 million today. £27 million invested to make 200 mil , but over 40 years is quite poor.

And here's the point to our argument that the patriotic war film, of which this isn't particularly, as it's an allied defeat, is over.

A bridge Too far was released 41 years ago.

Mr R: Very, very revealing. So its basically a tough law, unenforced. But is available to the authorities for dealing with certain sections of society they want to deal with.

jack ketch said...

That's very funny jack. I wonder how many other corporations have a hole in their history?-Bill Quango

Pretty much every German (and Austrian) firm that 'survived' the War will have a 'hole' in their 'official' history. Even things like airports ...I wrote a blog article ages back about something similar:

Bill Quango MP said...

The troll of genocide turned to stone yet still imbued with all its evil and waiting....Cthulhu like...not dead but not simply asleep.

very chilling line.

You are right about perhaps the old hamburg airfield having livestock on it.

The camouflage experts of the Luftwaffe as a matter of routine, tied to make their airfields look like farmland, or hamlets, from the air.
So a blue painted blob on the runway, on which plaster ducks were put during the day, would appear as a pond.
Hangars to look like hay barns.
Barracks as a farmhouse. AA guns in haystacks, etc.
With wood and canvas cows moved around 'the fields' all day.
And plow lines painted across the tarmac etc.

Anonymous said...

"I thought it was always a case of "all wars are bankers wars"."

Only in Marxist and anti-Semitic propaganda. There were plenty of wars before there were bankers.

Don Cox

jack ketch said...

very chilling line.

As much as I love the Germans, there is something about them that can so easily lead to totalitarianism. As Frederick Forsyth once had one of his German characters remark: "We’re a very obedient people. It’s our greatest strength and our greatest weakness. It enables us to build an economic miracle while the British are on strike, and it enables us to follow a man like Hitler into a great big mass grave.” . I'm not sure he was right about the German's 'fatal flaw' being 'obedience' , more a desire to borg into a collective order of things...whatever that 'order' may be.
That's just my 2 pfennigs worth, mind. But it was very apparent after the plebis-cide that what bothered Germans the most wasn't the fact Britain was leaving the EU, wasn't the lies of the Leave campaign (although Wolfman Showerbubbles openly called Bojo a liar ), it sure as hell wasn't the possible weakening of Germany's economy (it'll probably end up strengthening it no doubt ). No it was the fact that no one in the yUK government had a plan, that was as incomprehensible to Germans as British humour. Doesn't matter much to Germans what the plan is, just as long as there IS a plan otherwise they feel 'lost', 'at sea', bereft.....the idea that government policy might be decided on a wing-even one festooned with RAF roundels-and a prayer..."that is illogical, Kapitän"

John Vasc said...

From the early 1970s, there began an omnivorous liberal and media obsession in Germany with the causes and detailed horrors of Nazi rule, who/what/why/how/to whom/where - precise dates, places, biographies, culpability: an admirably detached and comprehensive but also rather scarily forensic probing for the truth, in detail. (Coverage of the war action itself were more confined to specialised military history.)
German schools taught the period intensively, coupled with 'the need to repudiate Nazi thinking'. So unsurprisingly young people of that post-postwar generation felt overly preached to and even somehow themselves blamed: a feeling exacerbated by anti-German phobia from abroad.
By contrast, there is still surprisingly very little written or spoken on the more recent and far more lasting tyranny in East Germany that ended with the fall of the Wall and the almost immediate Reunification. Perhaps it is an understandable reluctance to upset the still fragile peace between the western and eastern regions. Values and modes of thought are still subtly different in the east; and as a (non-communist) friend who lived in the GDR said to me: 'It was ours, this small German country, and we took a modest pride in it.' As another said: 'Well, it is and was all very complicated.'