German intellectuals’ World War I collaboration with militarism


This video about Belgium is called The last survivor of the destruction of Louvain in WW1 | Channel 4 News.

By Verena Nees in Germany:

German intellectuals in World War I

20 October 2014

The current revival of German militarism has won the enthusiastic support of considerable sections of the petty-bourgeois intelligentsia and academia. Since German President Gauck proclaimed the “end of military restraint” at the beginning of the year, many journalists and academic “experts” have called for the dispatch of German soldiers to combat zones in eastern Ukraine and the Middle East. While the majority of the population rejects militarism, these academics bang the drum for war and support rearmament.

A review of the behavior of the educated elites at the time of the outbreak of World War I a hundred years ago reveals many disturbing parallels to what is taking place today.

On October 4, 1914, some two months after the outbreak of the war, there appeared what came to be known as the “Manifesto of the Ninety-Three.” [1] Ninety-three signatories, including artists and writers, attempted to justify the bloody crimes of the German forces in Belgium and glorify the war as a struggle for culture. The manifesto first appeared in German (under the title “Appeal to the Civilized World”) and then in ten translations over the following days, sparking furious responses from scientists in England and France, who published their own fierce denunciations of the “German barbarians.”

Among the signatories of the “Appeal to the Civilized World” were many outstanding scholars, such as Wilhelm Röntgen, Max Planck (who later withdrew his signature), Wilhelm Foerster, Ernst Haeckel, Paul Ehrlich and Emil Fischer. Several were Nobel Prize winners.

The declaration was also signed by famous artists such as Max Liebermann, Max Reinhardt, Engelbert Humperdinck, Gerhart Hauptmann and Max Halbe. The signatories also included the architect and precursor of the Bauhaus, Bruno Paul, expressionist poet Richard Dehmel, and Max Klinger and Maximilian Lenz, members of Gustav Klimt’s Vienna Secessionist circle.

The text had been composed in September by the playwright Ludwig Fulda and the nature poet and playwright Hermann Sudermann. It was approved by the German Imperial Naval Office and the Foreign Office.

At the time, German troops were already committing war crimes in Belgium, which Germany had invaded despite the country’s declared neutrality. German forces demolished the old town of Leuven (Louvain) together with its medieval library. They shot hostages, terrorised the civilian population and burned down villages. Some 674 civilians were murdered in the Belgian town of Dinant on August 23. In total, approximately 6,000 people were killed by the German army.

This did not prevent the manifesto’s signatories from heralding the war as a defence of culture. Mimicking the style of Martin Luther’s 95 theses, they wrote: “It is not true that our troops treated Louvain brutally. Furious inhabitants having treacherously fallen upon them in their quarters, our troops with aching hearts were obliged to fire on a part of the town as punishment.

“It is not true that our warfare does not respect international laws. It knows no undisciplined cruelty. But in the east, the earth is saturated with the blood of women and children mercilessly butchered by the wild Russian troops, and in the west, dumdum bullets mutilate the breasts of our soldiers. Those who have allied themselves with Russians and Serbians and present such a shameful scene to the world as inciting Mongolians and Negroes against the white race have no right whatever to call themselves upholders of civilization.”

The appeal culminated in the glorification of German militarism—“Were it not for German militarism, German civilization would long since have been extirpated”—and an invocation of the unity of the people and the army—“The German Army and the German people are one. Today this consciousness fraternizes 70,000,000 Germans, all ranks, positions, and parties being one.”

The document closes with the cynical claim that it speaks for “a civilized nation, for whom the legacy of a Goethe, a Beethoven and a Kant is just as sacred as its own hearths and homes.”

The appeal was the best known of many similar declarations, letters and speeches by academics. Following the Kaiser’s declaration of war, a veritable spiritual mobilisation was launched. “German artists, writers, journalists and academics were some of the most jingoistic Germans in August 1914,” writes historian Jeffrey Verhey. [2] Wolfgang Kruse stresses that “A real flood of appeals, sermons, speeches and writings on the part of theologians, poets and thinkers attempted to define the significance of the war and justify the war policies of their own nation.” [3] This was particularly the case in Germany. Ernst Piper and Volker Ullrich have given similar accounts. [4]

The “Appeal to the Civilized World” was followed less than two weeks later on October 16, 1914 by the “Declaration of University Teachers of the German Empire,” which states: “In the German army there is no other spirit than that of the German people, for both are one, and we are also a part of it.” It goes on to declare that the “very culture of Europe” depends on “the redeeming victory… for which German militarism will fight.” This declaration, initiated by Berlin classicist Ulrich von Wilamowitz-Moellendorff, was signed by about 4,000 tertiary-level teachers, i.e., almost the entire teaching staff of the German Empire.

On the other hand, a pacifist counter-manifesto, titled “An Appeal to Europeans” and written by physician Georg Friedrich Nicolai in October 1914, found only three signatories among German scientists—physicist Albert Einstein, philosopher Otto Buek and astronomer Wilhelm Foerster (who had previously signed the “Appeal to the Civilized World”). It ultimately failed to achieve publication in the German language.

In the spring of 1915, Albert Einstein commented on the behavior of scholars at the beginning of the war: “Will future centuries really be able to believe of our Europe that three centuries of assiduous cultural endeavor had brought no more progress than a transition from religious madness to national madness? Even the scholars of different countries are behaving as though their cerebrums had been surgically removed eight months ago.”

The struggle for “European culture”

The pathetic appeal to a “defence of culture” served to camouflage the promotion of German imperialist interests. This was very clearly demonstrated by the declaration of Bonn historians on September 1.

It proclaimed that Germany was called upon “to fight for the highest values of European culture” because the “principles of an intolerant Jacobinism, the self-seeking of predatory political parties and the control of political thought by an unscrupulous press” held sway in France. It charged that Russia wanted to liberate the Slavic peoples under Germanic rule and bring them under its protection, which offered only “mind-numbing, brutal and insidious despotism,” while England stood for “pure material egoism.” According to the Bonn historians, England wanted to destroy German naval and commercial power “so that the profit of world trade would fall alone to the British.”

The universities became a focus for pro-war rallies and a recruiting ground for volunteers among the students and younger teachers. This was where the ideological arguments for war were formulated. Berlin’s Friedrich Wilhelms University, the forerunner of today’s Humboldt University, distinguished itself in this respect.

The text of Kaiser Wilhelm II’s appeal of August 6, 1914, “To the People of Germany,” was drafted by Berlin theologian Adolf von Harnack together with historian Reinhold Koser. The appeal includes the infamous dictum: “I know of no political parties, only the German people.”

Among the intellectual “excellencies”—as the Berlin professors liked to be called—were theologians Ernst Troeltsch and Reinhold Seeberg, jurist Otto von Gierke, and historians Hans Delbrück, Dietrich Schäfer, Otto Hintze and Friedrich Meinecke. The latter, who in the course of the war became one of the more nominally liberal advocates of mutual peace, remarked in 1922 on the behavior of the Berlin professors (including himself) at the outbreak of war: “We are standing in the front, rather than before the front.”

Even after the horror of mass slaughter had long since extinguished the initial war euphoria, the majority of Berlin professors were still calling on the population to persevere. Thus, there appeared on July 27, 1916 the exhortative proclamation, “The Will to Victory.” [5]

The myth of the unity of the people

The much-touted “August experience” of 1914—i.e., universal enthusiasm for war—was a propaganda myth, as numerous studies now show. Even in the final days before the mobilisation, about three quarters of a million workers participated in anti-war rallies organised by the Social Democrats. The Kaiser’s declaration of war unleashed fear and shock, rather than enthusiasm, in the working class areas and the countryside.

It was only the historic betrayal of the Social Democratic Party (SPD), which approved war loans and made a truce with the conservative parties on August 4, 1914, and the continuous war propaganda, which was now also being promoted by the SPD press, that influenced certain sections of workers to support the war. In contrast, the middle classes and especially the educated middle class enthusiastically welcomed the war and openly sided with the monarchy and the imperial government.

The industrial rise of Germany at the end of the nineteenth century had been accompanied by a sharp intensification of class antagonisms, and professors, school teachers, pastors and other academics felt increasingly threatened by the growing strength of the revolutionary workers’ movement. This drove the educated classes “to the right, onto the side of the old power elites, and made them ready to accept opposed ideologies such as nationalism and militarism,” writes Volker Ullrich.

The failure of the German states’ revolution of 1848 and the eventual violent unification of Germany in the German-French war of 1870-71 had converted many former liberals into enthusiastic supporters of Otto von Bismarck.

Towards the end of the First World War, the historian Friedrich Meinecke declared in retrospect: “The university educated middle class—once on the offensive against the old ruling classes, then joined and almost merged with them to form something of a co-regency—now feels on the defensive against all the social layers created by the transition from an agricultural to an industrial state, i.e., against the broad masses of workers and employees.”

At the beginning of the twentieth century, the nobility played a leading role within military and political circles, as well as among the academic elites. Those in educated middle-class circles, who saw themselves as the “intellectual aristocracy,” tried to adapt their lifestyle to that of the nobles—from aping their clothes and allegiance to reactionary student fraternities to embracing the feudal tradition of the duel. Their militaristic mindset was accompanied by an elitist rejection of democratic demands, such as the abolition of the Prussian three-class franchise.

In 1895, the historian Friedrich Paulsen had already complained about the “inhumane arrogance” of the educated middle classes. It led them, he wrote, to promote their own superiority at the expense of those less fortunate via “the noisy, narrow-minded nationalistic conceit that parades as patriotism.”

The war propaganda promoted by today’s academic elites is likewise marked by an “inhumane arrogance.” The only difference is that they invoke “human rights” instead of “culture” to justify the return of German militarism.

However, it is not the conservatives—those die-hard fossil elements still boasting of their student fraternity dueling scars—who now stand at the head of war propaganda. Instead, the tone is set by numerous veterans of the 1968 student revolt such as the Greens’ Joschka Fischer and Ralf Fücks, who once protested against the Vietnam War, and German university professors trying to hide their Nazi past.

What remains is their class conceit—their “inhumane arrogance”—in relation to the working class. In 1968, this had its roots in a distrust of any kind of mass movement, which drew from the ideology of the Frankfurt School, or took the form of a glorification of Stalinism in the form of Maoism. Today, many of the leading lights of these movements are in the forefront of the campaign to revive German imperialist war policy.

**
Notes

[1] Manifesto of the 93 here.

[2] Jeffrey Verhey: The Spirit of 1914: Militarism, Myth, and Mobilization in Germany, CUP 2000

[3] Wolfgang Kruse: Eine Welt von Feinden. Der Große Krieg 1914-1918, Frankfurt a.M. 1997

[4] Ernst Piper: Nacht über Europa, Berlin 2013; Volker Ullrich: Die nervöse Großmacht 1871-1918, Frankfurt a.M., 1997, 2013

[5] Quote from Aufrufe und Reden deutscher Professoren im Ersten Weltkrieg, Reclam, 1975, 2014

Australian government has racist and sexist adviser


This 16 October 2014 video about Australia is called Barry Spurr allegedly describes Aboriginals as ‘human rubbish tips’ and women as ‘whores’.

From daily The Guardian in Britain:

Professor Barry Spurr suspended by Sydney University over offensive emails

Spurr, a consultant to the federal government’s national English curriculum review, has been suspended over ‘serious allegations’, university says

Gay Alcorn

Friday 17 October 2014 04.25 BST

The University of Sydney has suspended Prof Barry Spurr over emails in which he called the prime minister, Tony Abbott, an “Abo lover”, Indigenous Australians “human rubbish tips” and Nelson Mandela as a “darky”.

In a statement, the university said Spurr was facing “serious allegations in relation to offensive emails sent from a university account”.

Spurr, a poetry expert, was a specialist consultant to the federal government’s national curriculum review looking at English from foundation to year 12.

The emails, first obtained by website New Matilda, have seriously damaged the review’s findings, with Labor calling them “tainted” and the Australian Education Union saying the review had been exposed as “an ideological waste of time from the start”.

In a series of emails over two years sent to senior academics and officials within the university, Spurr wrote that Abbott would have to be surgically separated from his “Siamese twin”, Australian of the Year and AFL star Adam Goodes, who is Aboriginal.

He said the university’s chancellor, Belinda Hutchinson, was an “appalling minx”,’ while other women were described as “whores”. He used terms such as “mussies” and “chinky-poos”.

The national curriculum review, released this month, largely accepted Spurr’s recommendations regarding the teaching of English. He had asserted in his report to the review that “the impact of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on literature in English in Australia has been minimal” and advised a greater emphasis on the western literary canon.

The university said Spurr was immediately suspended from teaching and was “precluded from attending any university campus while the matter is investigated and dealt with in accordance with the terms of the university’s enterprise agreement”.

“Racist, sexist or offensive language is not tolerated at the University of Sydney.”

The government-appointed heads of the curriculum review, Dr Kevin Donnelly and Prof Ken Wiltshire, chose Spurr as a specialist consultant on English.

Donnelly told Guardian Australia he had not heard of the email story and “would have to Google it”. “I have no comment.” Wiltshire did not respond to requests for comment.

The education minister, Christopher Pyne, attempted to distance the government from the controversy, saying the subject experts were chosen by the independent review and that the government had no involvement. Pyne rejected the denigration of minority groups, saying it was “repugnant”.

Spurr was a well-known conservative critic of the national curriculum before his appointment to review English. In 2010 he contributed to a critique published by the the libertarian think tank the Institute of Public Affairs.

In his chapter, Spurr was scathing about the curriculum proposed by the former Labor government. “An empty generosity is proposed, bloated with ramifying detail and long on windy rhetoric, an obesity of the mind: short on nourishing, intellectually-bracing substance. It is the educational equivalent of fast food.”

He also stressed the importance of studying the Bible as “essential” throughout a child’s learning. “The biblical story of Noah’s ark is an obvious example of the kind of text to which the youngest children will be drawn and it can begin their introduction to the ‘great code’ of literature in English.

He has published books including Studying Poetry, See the Virgin Blest: Representations of the Virgin Mary in English Poetry and Anglo-Catholic in Religion: TS Eliot and Christianity.

Spurr’s expert advice to the national curriculum was influential, with most of his recommendations accepted in the final report. He criticised the emphasis on Aboriginal texts, saying the “the impact of Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander peoples on literature in English in Australia has been minimal and is vastly outweighed by the impact of global literature in English, and especially that from Britain, on our literary culture”.

He noted that the curriculum suggested reading texts that made links between students’ lives and texts about Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander children. “Why aren’t texts mentioned that might establish links between young Australian children’s lives and those from Europe or North America? Why must the linkage be confined to Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander texts?”

The review recommended that there should be a “greater emphasis on dealing with and introducing literature from the western literary canon, especially poetry,” which Spurr had urged. It also recommended a “stronger emphasis on exemplary literary texts”, with less focus on “children creating their own literature”, again, a recommendation of Spurr.

In one of the emails published by New Matilda written on 19 April this year, Spurr reveals that Pyne wanted him to compare Australian school curriculums with curriculums from other countries.

“The Californian high school English curriculum has arrived (as Pyne wants me to compare ours with other countries). Another 300 pages of reading!

“And whereas the local curriculum has the phrase ‘Aboriginal and Torres Strait Islander’ on virtually every one of its 300 pages, the Californian curriculum does not ONCE mention native Americans and has only a very slight representation of African-American literature (which, unlike Abo literature, actually exists and has some distinguished productions).”

On Friday, Abbott said he had seen a report about the emails, but ‘“I haven’t had much of a chance to read it yet and I’m not easily upset, I’ve got to say, so I’ll study it closely.”

Shorten said Abbott’s remarks were inadequate. “It is not right when you are the leader of this country to simply laugh off racism. It’s not leadership to not stand up for minorities, to not recognise that what makes this country great is that we come from a hundred different countries, and that adds to the richness of who we are.”

“The government needs to explain and reassure Australians that the view of the reviewer and the disgusting remarks have not infiltrated the curriculum that is taught to all young Australians.”

The federal president of the Australian Education Union, Angelo Gavrielatos, said the emails exposed the national curriculum review as ideological.

“It is clear that Professor Spurr’s independent review of the English curriculum had a strong influence on the final review, which quotes him extensively.

“While Pyne can try and distance himself from these shocking remarks, he cannot change the fact that the curriculum review has been tainted by the people that have been chosen to contribute to it.”

German novelist Hans Fallada’s nazi prison diary


This video about nazi Germany is called EVERY MAN DIES ALONE, by Hans Fallada.

By Sue Turner in Britain:

A tortured soul in the face of terror

Thursday 16th October 2014

The 1944 prison diary of German novelist Hans Fallada reveals a man torn between his conscience and the diktats of the nazi regime, says SUE TURNER, and he paid a heavy price for it

IN SEPTEMBER 1944 the novelist Hans Fallada finds himself, not for the first time, inside a German psychiatric prison.

Believing that the war is entering its final disastrous phase, with the nazis increasing their reign of terror at home and the Allies closing in on all fronts, he feels compelled to reflect on the nazi years and so begins to write his prison diary.

“I know I am crazy,” he states. “I’m risking not only my own life, but the lives of many people I’m writing about.”

In just two weeks, at breakneck speed, he tries to write himself free of the horrors of the previous 11 years.

Under the eyes of the guards he unburdens his resentment and hatred of the nazis. He writes about friends and colleagues, those who suffered under the regime and those who collaborated.

Using a tiny script, he turns the paper around, writing between the lines in different directions. He uses abbreviations to disguise the content and finally smuggles the manuscript out on a home visit. It is now published in Britain for the first time as A Stranger in My Own Country.

Fallada (1893-1947) became addicted to painkillers as an adolescent after he was run over by a cart and kicked in the face by the horse. He survived a bungled suicide pact in 1911, although he shot his friend dead.

By the time he became an adult he was an alcoholic, a drug addict, an embezzler, a depressive and a suicide risk. He also became a best-selling author.

His novels document the lives of ordinary people as they struggle with life in a Germany hit by unemployment, inflation and the rise of fascism.

Little Man, What Now?, published in 1932 when four out of 10 German workers were unemployed, tells the story of a young couple fighting to keep their heads above water.

Fallada gives a voice to these half-hidden victims of a society that kept them on the edge of starvation. Rather than making the context of the novel explicit, he concentrates on the detail of their daily lives, leaving the reader to connect this with the wider political picture.

Fifty provincial newspapers serialised the book and it was made into a Hollywood film by Jewish producers, thus bringing Fallada to the attention of the nazis.

In 1935 he was declared an “undesirable author.”

As opponents of nazism made plans to flee abroad, Fallada made the fateful decision to remain in Germany, explaining that: “I could never write in another language, nor live in any other place than Germany.”

He felt he should defend his homeland from violent nationalism from within, rather than “slink away to a life of ease in comfortable exile” like Thomas Mann and Bertholt Brecht. The former’s attitude to the notion of Fallada’s internal exile was scathing. “Books published in Germany between 1933 and 1945 are less than worthless. The smell of blood and infamy clings to them,” he wrote.

Inevitably, Fallada found himself compromising with the regime in the shape of the nazi propaganda minister Joseph Goebbels and he spent time in and out of psychiatric units as a result of the stress.

After the war he settled in the eastern sector of Berlin and the Soviet administration appointed him interim mayor of Feldberg.

He was given the Gestapo files of a working-class Berlin couple, the Hampels, who were beheaded in 1943 for distributing postcards denouncing the nazis. In 1947 Fallada used their story as a basis for Alone in Berlin, the novel that redeemed him.

His fictional couple the Quangels follow the same course as the Hampels — individual resistance which is brave and dogged yet ultimately doomed. Primo Levi called it “the greatest book ever written about German resistance to the nazis.”

That same year, weakened by drink and drugs, Fallada died of a heart attack. He was 53.

His prison diary is a heartfelt diatribe against the nazis, revealing a highly compromised man riddled with contradictions and ambiguity. In reading it, the high price Fallada paid for living out the war in his homeland is all too clear.

A Stranger in My Own Country: The 1944 Prison Diary by Hans Fallada is published by Polity, price £20.

Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, from novel to religion


This video is called Lord of the Rings- The two towers, Battle of the Hornburg Part 1 HD.

Translated from Leiden University in the Netherlands:

Markus Altena Davidsen’s thesis is the first major work on the Tolkien religion. In it he examines the religion that is based on the stories of British fantasy writer JRR Tolkien. He also explains how fiction can become religion. Davidsen will get his PhD on 16 October. …

The second characteristic of religious fiction texts is that they explicitly claim to be truthful. The texts have to say about themselves that they are about the real world, or at least question their own fictionality. Tolkien did that in the preface to the first edition of The Lord of the Rings. He said he hoped that the Hobbits who are still alive today in our world will like the book. Later he much regretted this, possibly because he thought that being a very strict Roman Catholic, he should not have committed that frivolity. But for many Tolkien religious believers that does not matter at all.

From the summary of the PhD dissertation by Markus Altena Davidsen:

The Spiritual Tolkien Milieu: A Study of Fiction‐based Religion

This book offers a comprehensive analysis of the history, social organisation, and belief dynamics of the spiritual Tolkien milieu, a largely online‐situated network of individuals and groups that draw on J.R.R. Tolkien’s literary mythology for spiritual inspiration.

It is the first academic treatment of Tolkien spirituality and one of the first monographs on fiction‐based religion, a type of religion that uses fiction as authoritative texts.

Other fiction‐based religions include Jediism (based on George Lucas’ Star Wars) and the Church of All Worlds (inspired by Robert Heinlein’s Stranger in a Strange Land).

The first religious practices inspired by Tolkien’s narratives appeared in the late 1960s after the publication of a paperback edition of The Lord of the Rings in 1965.