Thu Aug 9th, 2018 at 08:13:14 PM EST
"What is there that embodies the democratic, the German, the humane ideal?"
Klemperer asked himself in his diary. For his own life, of course, he already
knew the answer: it lay in the tireless curiosity, the questioning, the generous
standards of debate of his heroes Voltaire and Montesquieu and of the other
thinkers of the Enlightenment.
More below the fold ...
I Shall Bear Witness: The Diaries Of Victor Klemperer 1933-41
. . . . An old District Court Judge told us that Goebbels had just published an essay in the Europiiische Revue. He said the NSDAP knows that a political system, which is in the least degree dependent on lies, cannot be a lasting one; consequently they, the Nazis, had never made use of even the smallest lie . . . Then also of great and melancholy interest to me, to discover that Toni Gerstle, whom I had always believed to have
a cool head, is a firm believer in astrology. She believes in star positions, "it" has always proved right so far. She was half offended and half contemptuous that my shallow rationalism should doubt these things. Reason was impotent after all, the influence of the constellations, perhaps on the hour of our conception, was absolutely certain. Should I be surprised if Hitler assails "intellectualism" and swears by blood? What else is the daughter of a Jewish Supreme Court judge doing? And in what way are the Zionists different from the Nazis? People treat reason as if it were the most minor and harmful aspect of a whole human being. It is as if a soldier standing guard were to say to himself: What good would my rifle be, if I were now to be attacked by a dozen enemies? I shall therefore lay it aside and smoke opium cigarettes until I doze off.
Fraulein Roth, the librarian, was here on Friday afternoon and evening. Vehemently opposed to the Nazis-- but: "If they had expelled the Eastern Jews or had excluded Jews from the bench, that at least would have been comprehensible." So that would not have seemed absolutely evil to her. So here too Hitler is not without a base.
I love my Dix-huitième more than ever. Besides, Fraulein Roth was very taken with my first Rousseau chapter and pleased at the contemporary references. The fact is, that the Nazi doctrine is in part not really alien to the people, in part is gradually polluting the healthy section of the population. Neither Christian nor Jew is safe from infection. -- Roth further told me that my books have been removed from the library reading room.
Relations between Jewish and non-Jewish Germans 1933-1945:
A case study in the use of evidence by historians
The reason why Klemperer has attracted so much scholarly attention is related to underlying trends in the historiography of Nazi Germany. In the early post-war years, historians had promoted the view that a totalitarian National Socialist regime had imposed its will, top-down, on Germany's citizens. Eventually theories of Polykratie and 'broadly diffused societal complicity' emerged, which led to a shift in focus away from the power structures and activities of the regime to social-historical examinations of the 'ordinary people' in Germany. In this context, Klemperer's diaries provided a unique window for scholars interested in viewing society from a 'bottom-up' approach. Klemperer's comprehensive and even expert viewpoint made him well equipped to comment on the society in which he lived. He was not representative of the powerful elements of his society, but lived and moved among the 'ordinary' people. Because his diaries were articulate and detailed, they have proven to be an invaluable resource for historians interested in the sections of society who generally leave less of an imprint behind them than those who belong to the structures of power.
Music among the Ruins: Classical Music, Propaganda, and the American Cultural Agenda in West Berlin (1945-1949)
With Germany's unconditional surrender on May 8, 1945, the Office of Military Government, United States (OMGUS) prepared to implement the most ambitious cultural re-education program it had ever undertaken.
An examination of classical music culture in West Berlin reveals how the American Military Government used classical music as a tool for re-education and re-orientation. Between the years 1945 and 1949, the American agenda evolved from combating Nazism to containing Communism, as alterations in music control policies reflected the incipient Cold War. An analysis of concert repertoires, interviews, musical scores, photographs, program notes, radio broadcasts, and governmental correspondence, exposes how American authorities altered the performance context of German classical music The early postwar experience of the Berlin Philharmonic Orchestra, under American cultural officer John Bitter's guidance, exemplifies the irony of encouraging greater artistic freedom through increased censorship and control, providing an illuminating case study with regard to American cultural re-education efforts. As the primary ensemble residing in the American sector, the Philharmonic would be complicit in its own symbolic domination, to borrow Pierre Bourdieu's term, by acquiescing to certain American Military Government requirements in order to resume concertizing, such as performing for American troops and agreeing to certain alterations in personnel.
"I am German, the Others Are Un-German" | Der Spiegel |
"Germany is contaminated by Fascism"
To those on the outside, Klemperer's career in East Germany looks like a paradigm. He became a member of the Socialist Unity Party (SED), received awards and assumed important offices in the Socialist state. Klemperer even moved into the People's Chamber as a representative. And yet he kept doubting. He doubted the East, the West, Germany as a whole. "I do not believe in the value of the things that I fight for."
"His" Germany, the land of poets and thinkers, a land flooded with light and without any shadows -- Victor Klemperer probably never found that image in East Germany either. With a sense of resignation, he wrote on New Year's Eve 1959 that "Germany is sort of like a scatter-brained earthworm cut into two pieces. Both parts squirm around, both are contaminated by Fascism, both in their own way." Victor Klemperer died of a heart attack on Feb. 11, 1960 in Dresden.
My reflection about Victor Klemperer was inspired by gmoke’s recent diary:
○ Notes on The Language of the Third Reich