|Vol. 5 No. 2||
-e*I*25- (Vol. 5 No. 2) April 2006, is published and © 2006 by Earl Kemp. All rights reserved. It is produced and distributed bi-monthly through http://efanzines.com by Bill Burns in an e-edition only.
Contents — eI25 — April 2006
The Big Red One [montage from The Big Red One, directed by Samuel Fuller], by Ditmar
Curious Couplings 6, by Earl Kemp
Springtime for BushCo and Halliburton, by Earl Kemp
Thea von Harbou and Metropolis, by Andy Sawyer
Use Free Speech Or Lose It, by Richard E. Geis
The Third Reich, by Jim Linwood
Adolf’s First Goose, by Victor J. Banis
If Hitler Had Won World War Two…, by Michael Moorcock
An Interview with Leni Riefenstahl, by Philip K. Cartilege
The Amazing Life and Death of Rudolf Hess, by Christopher Priest
Erotica in France During the Occupation, by Patrick J. Kearney
Elmer Gantry in Darkest Bushworld, by Jay A. Gertzman
My Love Affair With Adolf Schicklgruber, by Earl Terry Kemp
I Was Hitler’s Projectionist, by Wank Schoerner
Satan’s filing clerks and beerhall bores, by Michael Moorcock
THIS ISSUE OF eI is for and in memory of all the patriots, freedom fighters, and insurgents—dead or alive—who fought against the “support our troops” terrorists wherever they intrude.
As always, everything in this issue of eI beneath my byline is part of my in-progress rough-draft memoirs. As such, I would appreciate any corrections, revisions, extensions, anecdotes, photographs, jpegs, or what have you sent to me at [email protected] and thank you in advance for all your help.
Bill Burns is jefe around here. If it wasn’t for him, nothing would get done. He inspires activity. He deserves some really great rewards. It is a privilege and a pleasure to have him working with me to make eI whatever it is.
Other than Bill Burns, Dave Locke, and Robert Lichtman, these are the people who made this issue of eI possible: Victor Banis, Robert Bonfils, Bruce Brenner, “Philip K. Cartilege,” Graham Charnock, Brittany A. Daley, L. Truman Douglas, Richard E. Geis, Jay A. Gertzman, Steve Green, John Jarrold, Patrick J. Kearney, Tony Keen, Earl Terry Kemp, Dave Langford, Jim Linwood, Michael J. Lowrey, Lynn Munroe, Michael Moorcock, Christopher Priest, “Wank Schoerner,” Art Scott, Andy Sawyer, Robert Speray, Brice Townley, Peter Weston, and Dave Wood.
ARTWORK: This issue of eI features original artwork by Ditmar [Martin James Ditmar Jenssen], Schirm [Marc R. Schirmeister], and Alan White, and recycled artwork by William Rotsler.
By Earl Kemp
We get letters. Some parts of some of them are printable. Your letter of comment is most wanted via email to [email protected] or by snail mail to P.O. Box 6642, Kingman, AZ 86402-6642 and thank you.
Also, please note, I observe DNQs and make arbitrary and capricious deletions from these letters in order to remain on topic.
This is the official Letter Column of eI, and following are a few quotes from a few of those letters concerning the last issue of eI. All this in an effort to get you to write letters of comment to eI so you can look for them when they appear here.
Wednesday February 15, 2006:
Enjoyable issue. You're really keeping the flame to the foot of Evan Hunter.
—Adam Parfrey/Feral House
I found the section on "Howard" in the latest eI very interesting. The shot of Howard was done by me on our trip to Detroit in 1957 (it was in the middle of a major recession and a very depressing place as I remember it). I didn't do the Cleveland picture but it was done with my old "Argus C3," probably by George Young or Joe Sarno who are not in the picture. As to the "unknowns": Don Ford is kneeling and reaching up to Ben and P. Schuyler Miller is behind him, Mary Young is the women to the left of Noreen.
The person behind Jon in the white shirt is Jim Broderick. The top of the head to my left is Bill Reichardt. Those are probably the Lavenders since I have a picture of them at the party. George Young is kneeling in front of Mary. Fred Profit was probably taking the picture since he was at the party the night before.
Thursday February 16, 2006:
That's a terrific job you did on Dean Hudson in the new issue of eI. I knew long ago who had written the books, of course — I think I remember who it was within SMLA who told me — and I knew WHY he was writing them, too, but the part about his picking up the payment in cash was new to me, and adds the whole new angle of tax evasion to the story. Fascinating. Never occurred to me to take my payments in cash; I was content to get those nice $1,080 pink checks (practically one a week!) from Reed Enterprises or Blake Pharmaceutical or whichever one of the dummy corporations was paying me. That $1,080 went a long way in 1962. Would have gone a lot longer if I hadn't been paying taxes on the money, I guess, but although I have always been as aggressive as possible about shielding my income from taxation, I do make sure to stay within the law while doing it, and I would have felt pretty queasy about getting paid in cash. Ancient history now, of course.
Good to see a Howard DeVore tribute. I never got to meet him, but I talked to him twice. Nice guy. Good talker.
That group of fans you spoke of is, how best to put this, FUCKING INCREDIBLE! I know fandom was much smaller back then, so it was much easier for a single geographic area to have a large number of impressive fans, but still, that’s a great group. You mention Evelyn Gold. I’ve seen a few photos of her and she was quite the looker back in the day.
You know, for some reason I’d never heard that you edited a genzine. You know anyone who has copies still in their collection? I always assume that Robert Lichtman does, but usually I end up going through the few collection notes of the Pelz Collection to find more obscure stuff.
You can blame Howard, at least partly, for your WorldCon. From what I understand he had that effect on a lot of people. I’m quite glad he helped you along the road to return so that we might get eI. I seem to have a lot to be grateful for from a man I only spoke to over the phone those two times in the 1990s.
There’s one of those rich brown stories I’d heard about. I found a stash of Amazings about a year ago and I was hoping to find one of rich’s stories, but I didn’t I found some of his fanzine reviews, but no stories. It’s a good piece, and I love that illustration. Curt Phillips is a great guy and someone should make sure he gets the Big Heart award in the coming years.
The assumption of Reader’s knowing something quote from Vonnegut got me into a lot of trouble. My prof at Emerson, Bill Knott, said that my work required too much outside knowledge. ‘Think of every reader as a slate half-filled, not like a Universal Knowledge Machine as you write for them.’ I came across that quote and I handed it to him with one of my poems. I managed to avoid failing the class by writing nearly twice the required amount and he just gave up with the harsh criticism that he was leveling at me.
Wow, I’m reading a lot about Evan Hunter these days. There was a long thing on the Ed McBain novels on NPR that got me reading everything I could find. I even picked up a couple of his books a couple of weeks ago. I know I read Blackboard Jungle when I was in high school. I loved the movie when I was in college. I really should revisit both sometime soon.
You know, reading what Mr. King had to say about Hunter I found myself with deep respect for the man. He actually had deep insight, unlike the things that he writes monthly for Entertainment Weekly or any of the other sources of his words. Sometimes it takes looking at the effect of a real pioneer to slap you to your senses.
Since I’ve found a relatively frequent source for beat-up copies of various paperbacks of all kinds for readin’, I’m now making it my mission to get all of the Dean Hudson books. Luckily, I know where to find both Casting Couch and The N.U.D.E. Caper for fair prices.
Great, I really enjoyed eI24. Just spent an hour reading it while I should have been working on my new novel. This is a strange one. I hadn't meant to write a novel, this was supposed to be a short story but it kinda got our of hand and as of this morning I passed 40,000 words — the official MWA/SFWA criterion for a novel as distinguished from shorter forms. Truly an odd experience. Every novel I wrote before now was based on a thorough chapter-by-chapter outline. This one — nuh-huh — it's just happening. I don't know if it will be any damned good or even if I'll be able to sell it, but it has certainly been a new experience for YHOS.
Your tribute to Big Hearted Howard DeVore was truly touching. I first met Howard at the 1957 Midwestcon. Vas you dere, Scharlie?
Also, it might amuse you to know that Eric Schultheis, Steve and Virginia's son, works at Cody's Books. He and Pat both useta work at the main store on Telegraph Avenue in Berkeley. But the company has added two more locations, and Pat now works at their Fourth Street store while Eric works at their San Francisco store. Eric might be able to ID some more of the people in Noreen's Church Group. And speaking of dear friends who will be missed, Pat and I used to have a standing dinner date with Noreen after Tom Lesser's paperback show closed down on Sunday night. Will try and make it with her son Steve and his wife this year, and hoist a toast in memory of Noreen. God, I still miss Larry Shaw, one of my oldest and best friends in the science fiction world (going back to the mid-1950's). He's been gone for a lot of years, and now Noreen is gone, too.
On the other hand, I did admire Salvatore Lombino, enjoyed his works, interviewed him a couple of times for a local radio station here in Berkeley, and corresponded with him a little. Lovely guy, talented writer. And I was fascinated by the pieces by Lynne Munroe and Tobe Rinkler.
Congratulations on a truly excellent ezine. I was proud to be associated with it. Only one thing should have been done and was not. I wrote a great deal about the cover art of NB1630 but then we don't show that art. Was there any reason for that? I imagine it's too late to add it in now.
Lynn, you are absolutely correct. I should have included the cover scan. To make up for my negligence, I’m doing so right now and repeating the text to go along with it. –Earl Kemp.
NB1630 Lust Dream
Monday February 20, 2006:
Earlier tonight (February 19, 2006) Ed Gorman wrote a letter to Bill Crider's blog http://billcrider.blogspot.com/ that reads in part:
I mean the tale's been gossiped about for four decades. And so on and so on. I just don't see the necessity for sharing all the info on his porno when he'd made it clear he didn't care to acknowledge it. If nothing else, couldn't Earl have waited six months or a year after his death?
Right now Earl's piece has the feeling of an oddly vengeful expose.
Then Ed wrote an email to eI, Lynn Munroe, and Bill Cinder stating in part:
I think I overshot here, guys, and I owe you an apology for that. I should have stuck to my one point. In Lynn’s case, you shared information. I can’t carp about that.
In Earl's case you wrote a memoir that didn't always present Hunter in a fond light. I guess that rankled me more than I realized. I also guess it was the tone of the piece that got me more than anything.
Your sketch of working with the Scott Meredith agency, on the other hand, was masterful. There has recently been a fine book published about the Brill building and all the writers and singers who worked there over the years—everybody from Carole King to Neil Diamond—a book packed with lore and legend. Sure wish somebody'd do that about the Meredith agency.
I still say that if a living writer doesn't want certain of his past work revealed, his wish should be honored. I realize that about .0007 of people in the industry agree with this. Call me old-fashioned.
You guys know how much I admire and enjoy the work you do. You're historians and scholars of a particularly important kind. I guess we agree to disagree on this one subject.
Then I replied to Ed explaining my feelings of annoyance at Hunter's position, not anger, and Ed responded in part:
I read an old Westlake a while back (a Midwood I think) and damned if it wasn't a pretty serious take on college life back in the early sixties when girls were either "good" or "bad." I think Westlake is the best crime writer of his generation and it showed he had the stuff from the git-go. Just one more example of there being some interesting and surprisingly good work done in the form.
Hunter was obviously a man of parts, as we all are. If you read Streets of Gold, you see how difficult it was for him to think of himself as equal to all the people he met after coming out of the Navy. A part of him was always that insecure ghetto boy. In a lot of ways, he was Gatsby. In order to keep his career going, he had to reinvent his approach to the marketplace three or four times. And I think he also reinvented himself along the way—again, something most of us do in the course of our lives. That's what I think his aversion to talking about his porn days was about. Gatsby, a bootlegger? Never.
If you see the excellent documentary the BBC did about Hunter, you'll be surprised at both the anger and vulnerability you hear when he's reading his own material. And the melancholy he feels when he takes us on a tour of the combat-zone where he grew up.
Anyway, thanks again for the letter. You have a great fanzine (as you always did) and if I ever finish this novel I'm writing, I'll be happy to do something for eI.
If Evan Hunter was not a world-class writer, none of this would matter to anyone. But there are hidden attachments to fame and greatness.
Ed hit it right on the head when he said that Hunter has re-invented himself. I'm sure he had, and part of that process seems to be convincing yourself that you are no longer that other person. I've seen it happen to famous writers more than once - John Jakes comes to mind, he is on a high plateau now and in denial about the sleaze he used to turn out for you and Scott Meredith. He is tripped up though because they put his real name on The Defiled Sister.
Or Dean Koontz, who is in heavy-duty denial about the 30 porno titles he wrote with his wife 36 years ago. Dean has successfully re-invented himself, and I sincerely believe that he sincerely means it when he swears he did not write those books, because I believe he thinks that 1970 Dean Koontz was a different person. Too bad they accidentally put this real name on Bounce Girl.
It's like those famous movie stars who now deny the porn they made when they were young and hungry. They can deny all they want, but the movies still exist.
Sunday February 26, 2006:
I really enjoyed this recent addition to your wild, weird world memoirs. Your zine is opening doors and windows in my mind, in the sense that I am learning new things about your past. I mean, I have known that you've been in fandom for many a year and done the zine thing since when I just a wee lad in the fifties. Now here I am IN my fifties, and you're still going strong. This is cool.
A nicely written tribute to Howard DeVore. In my own zine a couple issues ago I ran a brief memory bit about Howard. Only met him two or three times, I'm certain of this, at cons over the years, and remember him as such an accessible and friendly person. You were blessed to have known Howard for so long. I certainly wish I could help you identify some of those people in that photo; looks like a typical church group to me. Nice people.
I think you'd get a kick out of knowing that I read rich brown's story yesterday morning while attending a professional conference down in Houston, the Texas Community College Teacher's Association annual convention: the 59th one, at that. The strange dichotomy didn't escape me. A guest professor from Penn State was presenting her paper on challenges we professionals are facing in our 21st century classrooms, such as students coming from violent homes, plus being inure to the sex and violence on tv and in movies, and there I was reading this story full of violence and bad language. Besides, I liked the character names: Tucker Wilson, and Fred and Nate. My notes in the margin are "Haskell and Bucklin?" It made the reading that much more enjoyable.
So you were a purveyor of classic smut? Well, somebody would have done it, and a lot of fine writers cut their eye teeth by cranking out shit like that for a steady paycheck as they honed their craft. The Dean Hudson bibliography and your account of digging out the truth about Evan Hunter, aka Ed McBain, were very enjoyable and quite illuminating. The cover art on those books was something else. Not being an aficionado of written porn, I have to admit to a certain amount of non-interest here; but even so, the detective work involved in uncovering the true identities of these writers had to have taken a considerable amount of time. So even though I have little in common with this particular genre of, er, literature, these articles were still interesting to read from a historical perspective. And I've known for years that Ellison and Silverberg (plus other sf writers of note) used to crank this stuff out. Face it: you only learn how to write by writing.
Monday February 27, 2006:
Happy five years with this fine eI fanzine of yours! It has been a deep look into something we kinda grew up with, but couldn’t talk openly about, namely porn and the people around it. It’s been fun, and I hope it keeps going. In the meantime, here’s a loc on issue 24.
One of my few interesting stories is about Isaac Asimov. I met Dr. A. twice…once at a Star Trek convention in Manhattan, and again in Baltimore at a Worldcon. I introduced myself, and admitted that we’d met some years earlier at a Trekcon, he said, “Well, welcome to a larger world.” Howard DeVore’s introducing you to a greater fandom reminded me of that.
Seeing that Evan Hunter/Ed McBain has passed away, I guess his “official” bibliography can be updated. Again, no malice intended, but I think we’d all like a complete record. As with most writers who have written porn and erotica over the years, he may have denied it, but a full record makes for a full understanding of the writer.
By Earl Kemp
As I wrote in eI19, I have noticed a number of odd coincidences regarding sleaze paperback covers and other publications that have intrigued me. Some of them were reasonable and understandable, some of them were outright criminal theft, and some of them were beneath contempt.
What I propose to do is to run a few of them in some issues of eI to see if I can create real interest in perusing the venture. It is a participation project. You send me jpegs of your favorite duos to [email protected] and I’ll take it from there.
Here then is the next set of examples of Curious Couplings. First there are four covers from the collection of Brittany A. Daley.
Next we have a very interesting addition by Art Scott. He is making reference to some covers furnished by Lynn Munroe in Curious Couplings 1, eI19, inspired by Brigette Bardot. Scott wrote: “that ass could only belong to Brigette Bardot in And God Created Woman (see attached still, the man is Jean Gabin). Also attached, another version of the same thing, this time by Bob Abbett.”
We welcome your contributions to this series. Please email your jpegs to [email protected] and thank you very much for participating in this novel and interesting exercise in futility.
By Earl Kemp
I thought it was just me. I have this feeling often and occasionally it’s justified. This time I wasn’t sure so I went online and Googled “Bush = Hitler” and was overwhelmed with the response. There were thousands and thousands of hits from all over the place directly equating fascist dictator George Bush with fascist dictator Adolf Hitler. Only the whole concept of that being a possibility really began many decades ago.
I was born an indentured slave, the property of “The Company,” in a desolate and alien world also known as Arkansas. Only it wasn’t your ordinary Arkansas; it was as remote as the Australian Outback and populated by very Aboriginal people. As the property of “The Company” I was taught two things in “The Company School,” and they were Bible studies that translated into “the proper place of all slaves in the world is to serve their masters and betters with every ounce of their energies and capabilities. Render unto them—the church hierarchy—every penny of your earnings, and have many children so they can be taught the same lessons as you are to further enrich the church.” The second subject was “trees, how to harvest them and make products from them” but over time that turned much more into “how to make paper from trees and NEVER EVER replant a new one anywhere.”
And at the same time, Hitler was royally fucking up the world and I have to admit that he was doing it just a bit more totally and dramatically than George Bush is doing these days, but then there’s still time enough for Bush to exceed Hitler’s wildest dreams of world domination with him calling all the shots doing it just to protect you and me from his mythical demons and at the direct command of his Evangelical God.
As a small child, almost my only contact with the outside world was through short-wave radio broadcasts and newsreels shown at The Company movie theater during Saturday afternoon double-feature grade C Western matinees…with a chapter of the current Buster Crabbe serial, either Buck Rogers or Flash Gordon, thrown in for good measure. That’s where I first saw all those superb Walt Disney propaganda animated cartoons in glorious Technicolor. They set the pace for what the federal government of that day wanted me to believe about world affairs.
The newsreels also fed my hunger for world knowledge, but they were just as propaganda laced with obligatory hate messages as were Disney’s cartoons. They did, however, give me a vivid picture of what I was supposed to think the Nazi Third Reich regime in Germany was doing.
And the captive media of today’s USA is doing the very same thing in reverse because of the way they portray the rise of the Fourth Reich and how it affects “Homeland Security” and the “Patriot Act.” About how it’s perfectly okay for Bush, being duly unelected President and all, to spy on all the US citizens just in case they may be trying to help “terrorists.”
But the only “terrorists” I see are the masses of brainwashed US youth blindly following Bush’s orders to kill uncounted and unreported hundreds of thousands of totally innocent Afghanis, Iraqis, and unknown other nationalities. Those same “terrorists” who, at Bush’s orders, kidnap, imprison, torture, and do much worse to anyone Bush’s cohorts identify as “possible threats” to Saving The World For Democracy and Halliburton.
Consider for a moment all the ongoing propaganda about what a terrible thing it is that Iran is flaunting it’s inherent right to protect itself from US “terrorists” by developing its own atomic resources. Where is it written that only the US can destroy the world? How soon before we MUST attack Iran to further save the US (whatever there will be left of it after Homeland Security and the Patriot Act do their dirty work) from being harmed by influences other than the US administration itself?
Surely it has nothing to do with the bankruptcy of the US and Iran’s desires, as the world’s largest oil exporter, to gain some real reward for all their products that keep the fossil-fueled monsters of the world rolling down the roads. Surely it has nothing to do with the fact that the Euro is so much more valuable than the worthless US dollar and the US administration’s fraudulent claim that it has some value. To say nothing about the US’s control over all oil sales and the price of that oil worldwide. Did anyone take note of the billions of “wartime profiteering” Exxon made in the last quarter of 2005 alone? Did anyone complain about $3.00-a-gallon gasoline? Are you ready for $6.00 a gallon? Does Halliburton really need to do all that no-bid-contract oil drilling, piping, and shipping? Does Iraq receive any of that embarrassing obscene profiteering? How much of Cheney’s “deferred” earnings as Halliburton’s “on-leave” boss will ever be revealed?
Iran wants to dump the dollar and replace it with the Euro. China holds the largest amount of worthless US printed-paper script in the world. China alone, should it call in its chips, could crush the US instantly. Japan holds the second largest amount of worthless US printed-paper script…how far behind China would Japan be to demand payment for all those debts owed?
And Bush is daily spending billions of those valueless dollars in inexcusable bloodbaths to Keep America Free!
I grew up around cities—towns really—with German names like Hamburg, Smackover, and Stuttgart. I was surrounded by blue-eyed blondes. When I looked at those Saturday afternoon newsreels—The Eyes and Ears of the World—I saw hundreds or thousands of really good-looking German hunks marching in perfect order, praising their leader, heiling Hitler, and looking pretty damned good at it too. For some reason I felt I was one of them, not one of the quacking Donald Ducks—Pato Pasqual—I kept getting told I was supposed to be.
I knew, even then, that there was something terribly wrong with me. I had to at least be a closet Nazi to so admire the massive efficiency they seemed to so effortlessly display to the world…as they ran rampant across most of Europe and kept the gas-filled showers running at capacity 24/7.
Did you pay attention to the news of all those “immigrant holding camps” Halliburton had no-bid contracts to build for “Homeland Security”? Can Manzinar be far behind Gitmo? Which one of our neighbors will be the first to be awarded years of detention and torture without recourse, communication, or justice? You? Me…? Feels like I’ve been there, done that, too.
The images of the Third Reich have always held much fascination for the more perverse US citizens as, indeed, citizens of the entire world. Little wonder that those images have been so prominently featured in every category of popular entertainment, publication, newspapers, and everything else. Even I, as editorial director of Greenleaf Classics, Inc., fell prey to the lure of easy bucks. Two of the best-selling novels we ever published were Third Reich based, and wouldn’t you just know it, both of them were novels about homosexuals…a theme that totally permeated the entire Third Reich period itself from Hitler Youth all the way to proudly upstanding SS and stripped bare brown shirts.
The best of those two novels, Go Down, Aaron, by Chris Davidson (Christian Davies), featured a really stunning cover painting by the all-time grand master artist Robert Bonfils. The second book, Gay Treason, by J.X. Williams (Victor Banis and “Aunt Agatha,” Elbert Barrows), was also a total sellout. (See Victor Banis’ “Adolf’s First Goose,” elsewhere in this issue of eI.)
But we were not alone at Greenleaf in recognizing the value of Nazi-related fiction. Almost everyone jumped on the bandwagon from comic books to the most lurid, salacious trash fiction ever perpetrated by modern man (and woman). Here are some random samples of the type packaging used to attract attention to the wares hidden behind these emotion-grabbing covers.
Films covered every facet of Hitler’s and the Third Reich’s existence. A few, and certainly not all, of the more noticeable movies are (in random as-they-come order): It Happened Here (see Jim Linwood’s article “The Third Reich” elsewhere in this issue of eI), Slaughterhouse Five, They Stole Hitler’s Brain, The Frozen Dead, Tomorrow I’ll Be Scalding Myself With Tea, Zone Troopers, The Boys From Brazil, Indiana Jones and the Last Crusade, Raiders of the Lost Ark, The Eagle has Landed, The Silent Village, Fatherland, They Saved Hitler’s Brain, The Keep (two different films from different books, one by Michael Mann and the other by Paul Wilson), Went the Day Well?, A Matter of Life or Death (Stairway to Heaven in the USA), and The Prestige.
Television also prominently featured the Nazi themes in shows like: Harlan Ellison’s script for “The City on the Edge of Forever” for Star Trek, “The Eagle’s Nest” from The New Avengers, An Englishman’s Castle, The Tomorrow People, and a story about killing the infant Hitler from Outer Limits.
And, not to be outdone, there were also a rash of comics not just for the kiddies but for the sick at heart as well.
While Googling “Bush = Hitler,” I found myself admiring anew a man who had thrilled me before, Doug Thompson of Capitol Hill Blue. I think he is definitely one of my new heroes. In his column of February 21, 2006, he wrote:
“Bush is a serious threat to the future of this country and represents a clear and present danger to the peace and security of the United States of America.
“We're not talking about some Presidential horn toad nailing an intern in the oval office. We're not even talking about a paranoid, power-mad President tapping the phones of the opposition party. We're talking about a concentrated effort to undermine the Constitution of the United States, subvert the laws of the nation and destroy the very foundations of this country.
“Bush is a power-mad megalomaniac hell-bent on undermining the freedoms and civil liberties that once characterized this nation, a crazed despot who cares nothing for the truth, human decency or law.
“He is more dangerous than Osama bin Laden and more corrupt than any President in modern history. He is, simply put, a threat who must be removed from office now by whatever legal means necessary to protect the safety of the nation.”
I can’t fault the man. It seems he has the picture clearly in mind. I thank him for saying it for me and for all the others who are similarly inclined.
Tomorrow, the world!
By Andy Sawyer
In his introduction to the 1963 Ace edition of Thea von Harbou’s novel (on which Fritz Lang’s classic film is based) Forrest J Ackerman, self-styled “Science fiction’s no 1 fan,” gushes over “Metropolis, My Home Town . . . the most exciting, fabulous city on the face of the earth.” He calls the novel a work of genius, “as thesauric as Shiel, as kaleidoscopic as Merritt . . . as bone-spare as Bradbury . . . as poetic as Poe, as macabre as Machen.” Holger Bachmann, co-editor of a major book of essays on Metropolis in 2000, calls von Harbou “the countess of kitsch of German cinema” and talks of her “mixture of sentimentality, reactionary tendencies, ‘inner’ piety and trivial, populist sensationalism.” Who is right?
As often with these debates, the answer is not clear-cut.
Von Harbou (b. 1888) had been a professional writer since 1915, specializing in screenplays and novels. Her first novel had in fact been published in 1905, and she had carved out a career as a stage actress. Formerly married to Rudolf Klein-Rogge (who played the inventor Rotwang in Metropolis), she married Lang in 1922, and collaborated with him on a number of screenplays. The Metropolis project was begun in 1924, with von Harbou’s novel, written specifically as a development of the then screenplay, serialized in Illustriertes Blatt in 1925 before appearing as a book. The film itself appeared in January 1927. As most fans of the film know, Metropolis was the most expensive picture ever made to that date, and proved to be a box-office flop, despite drastic cuts for the American market. Critical reaction too was mixed: H.G. Wells, perhaps seeing echoes of his own work in it, especially loathed it, calling it “the silliest film” and “stale old stuff” when he reviewed it in 1927. He was still sniping at it ten years later in the preparation for his own Things to Come, when he warned the design team:
“All the balderdash one finds in such a film as Fritz Lange’s (sic) Metropolis about ‘robot workers’ and ultra skyscrapers, etc. etc., should be cleared out of your minds. . . Machinery has superseded the subjugation and ‘mechanisation’ of human beings.”
Nevertheless, Lang and von Harbou continued as a successful creative team until 1933 when (according to Lang’s own account) he was invited to make films for the Nazis. Lang left that same day. Von Harbou (who by that time was separated from him, although they still worked together) stayed. She was to write scripts for directors who were Nazi sympathizers. After the war, she was briefly interned and died in 1954, after having resumed her career as film-writer.
Until the recent release of the digitally enhanced version by the Munich Film Museum, von Harbou’s novel was one of the major publicly accessible sources for the missing parts of the film. In it, we hear, for instance, about the rivalry between John Fredersen and Rotwang for Hel, who died giving birth to Fredersen’s son, Freder. We understand, too, why Fredersen orders Rotwang to give his robot the appearance of the saintly Maria. As well as being a vision of the future, the novel is a psychodrama in which several conflicts intertwine, with Maria, both Virgin and Mother-figure, pacific Madonna and lascivious rabble-rouser, at their heart. While Freder’s oedipal conflicts are to the fore, the novel hints at his father’s own passions. At the beginning, he claims to have put both suffering and sin behind him: at the end, he is almost broken by the apparent loss of his son, claiming to his own mother that he is the “someone to come” who will show the masses where to go.
Von Harbou certainly writes with hothouse fervour:
“Georgi trembled from head to foot. And yet it was not really trembling which seized his resistless body. It was as though all his members were fastened to the soundless evenness of the engine which bore them forwards. No, not to the single engine which was the heart of the motor-car in which he sat — to all these hundreds and thousands of engines which were driving in an endlessly gliding, double stream of gleaming illuminated automobiles, on through the streets of the city in its nocturnal fever.” She incorporates a fervid catechism into the false Maria’s encouragement of the workers’ rebellion:
“Who drinks the water?”
“ . . . We!”
“Who drinks the wine?”
“. . . The masters! The masters of the machines!”
And: “she [Metropolis: the Mother-city] wanted living men for food.”: “She [the false Maria, leading the workers’ revolt] sang with her blood-red mouth of deadly sin!” We are also told about the infamous House of Yoshiwara and its sinister boss “September.” Through the drug Maohee, the collective hallucinations of September’s clients are made visible and audible to all as one among them becomes “the embodied conception of the intoxication of them all”: a concept which anticipates Philip K Dick's use of drug-induced reality changes.
When all this is pulled together with the celebrated ending, where Freder, as mediator between “hand” and “brain,” tugs at his father and the workers’ foreman to shake and make up with nothing actually resolved,we certainly have an ideological problem. Many critics of the film have seen this conclusion as at best a glossing-over of its class-warfare theme, and at worst a suggestion of a proto-fascist undercurrent. With Lang himself later disowning this ending, and with his ex-wife’s later collaboration with Hitler’s regime, as well as a whole range of sentimental leader-worship in the novel, it’s tempting to blame everything on Thea von Harbou. Certainly, her book is an odd read for modern tastes: its train of hallucinatory imagery, dislocated sentences, and Gothic medievalism make charges of trivial “piety” and populism easy to make.
Von Harbou’s fevered prose constructs scenes which focus on the oscillations between light and darkness, monochrome and colour, machine and organism, technology and religion in the same way as Lang has Freder sees machinery dissolve into the hell-mouth into which struggling sacrifices are hurled. Take a look at the way the following passages show us first, the physical cathedral in the middle of the machine-city and, second, suggests that the machines themselves are the new gods.
When the sun sank at the back of Metropolis, the houses turning to mountains and the streets to valleys; when the stream of light which seemed to crackle with coldness, broke forth from all windows, from the walls of the houses, from the rooves and from the heart of the town; when the silent quiver of electric advertisements began; when the searchlights, in colours of the rainbow, began to play around the New Tower of Babel; when the omnibuses turned to chains of light-spitting monsters, the little cars to scurrying, luminous fishes in a waterless deep-sea, while from the invisible harbour of the underground railway, an ever equal, magical shimmer pressed on to be swallowed by the hurrying shadows — then the cathedral would stand there, in this boundless ocean of light, which dissolved all forms by outshining them, the only dark object, black and persistent, seeming, in its lightlessness, to free itself from the earth, to rise higher and ever higher, and appearing in this maelstrom of tumultuous light, the only reposeful and masterful object. (p. 20-21)
Deities, the machines – the shining Lords – the god-machines of Metropolis! All the great gods were living in white temples! Baal and Moloch and Huitzilopochtli and Durgha! Some frightfully companionable, some terribly solitary. There – Juggernaut’s divine car! There – the Towers of Silence! There – Mahomet’s curved sword! There — the crosses of Golgotha! And not a soul, not a soul in the white rooms. The machines, these god-machines, left terribly alone. And they were living — yes they were really living — an enhanced, an enflamed life.
For Metropolis had a brain.
Metropolis had a heart.
The heart of the machine-city of Metropolis dwelt in a white cathedral-like building. The heart of the machine-city of Metropolis was, until this day and hour, guarded by one single man. The heart of the machine-city of Metropolis was a machine and universe to itself. Above the deep mysteries of its delicate joints, like the sun’s disc — like the halo of a divine being — stood the silver-spinning wheel, the spokes of which appeared in the whirl of revolution, as a single, gleaming disc.
No machine in all Metropolis which did not receive its power from this heart. (p. 168-9)
The documentary “The Metropolis case” (Disc Two of the Eureka Videos “restored” version) says that “Lang’s supporters always held Harbou responsible for the trash and clichés in his films. Lang always defended her. They were in agreement. For them, the newspaper novel was as valuable as fairytales and legends.”
The only other Thea von Harbou novel I have read is The Girl in the Moon, a translation of Frau Im Mond (1928), which was another Lang/von Harbou collaboration like Metropolis: the film was released in 1929. I’ve so far not seen more than clips from the film (although a DVD was released in the USA earlier this year) but can report that this is a much worse book than Metropolis. It’s melodramatic rather than visionary and reads more like a book-of-the-film. Frau Im Mond (the film) is, however, noted for two things. It was supposed to have been the source for the “10-9-8-7-6-5-4-3-2-1-Zero!” countdown sequence which is standard in space launches (although Denny Lien, posting on the Fictionmags list in June 2005, has recently discovered the same launch sequence in an earlier story “The Great Crellin Comet” by George Griffith in Pearson’s Weekly, November 1897). Secondly, according to a round-up of rocketry in German written by space pioneer Willy Ley and published in the journal of the British Interplanetary Society in 1934, the Romanian rocket pioneer Herman Oberth was commissioned to construct a “real altitude rocket” by the production company UFA. You’d think they’d have learned from Metropolis. Oberth had to return to Romania, and financial constraints prevented the construction of the rocket. Whatever the merits of the film, this book is sadly ordinary. Were von Harbou’s critics right? Was she a hack writer of no significant talents at best, and a sycophantic sympathiser with evil at worst?
I couldn’t say. She was surely not a novelist of the first rank. And yet . . . I have no idea how the Metropolis reads in the German: I can only compare the translations of the Ace books edition with the extracts in Michael Minden and Holger Bachmann’s Fritz Lang’s Metropolis. But overblown and ideologically unsound though it may be, it doesn’t read like a bad novel to me. It reads like one which perfectly expresses in verbal terms the dynamic collision of forces in 1920s Machine Age Germany that Fritz Lang was expressing in cinematic light, shadow and movement, and the baroque architecture of his sets. One of the worst effects of Hitler’s fascism on culture is that virtually anyone before his rise to power can be accused of proto-fascism as we see implications bubbling from a miasmic soup of images. The film’s ending (which does not, incidentally, appear in the novel) certainly seems to be an ideological betrayal. But then, Forrest J Ackerman, in calling Metropolis “My Home Town,” gives his address in the towers rather than the abyss inhabited by the toilers at the machine-face. When we fantasize about living in the future, we rarely consider that that future has to be constructed by someone: we will just live in it, safely, comfortably and uncaringly. Ackerman, however, in pointing to Shiel, Merritt, Bradbury, and Machen, emphasises von Harbou’s weird and visionary tendencies, and here I think he is closer to the heart of things than most academic commentators on her. We don’t have to agree with what our visionaries make of their visions: indeed, we usually shouldn’t: but in criticising them we should never ignore their aesthetic power.
- - -
By Richard E. Geis
The attempt by the Justice Department to gather unto itself virtually all American computer e-search data from Google and others in order to find out if kids can or cannot easily gain access to porn sites is probably a crock of pure liquid bullshit.
The Justice Department could test porn filters on its own computers by pretending to be kids. That should be easy for such infantile minds. But it's okay, say the feds, because the raw Google search data does not permit them to identify individual Americans. But if they cannot discern who went to what site, with or without a porn filter in place, why do they need all those trillions of bits of info?
Why get a court order to acquire all that useless data?
In my suspicious mind I suspect the Bush administration is using porn and children as a thin entering wedge. Today they want masses of useless search data (which guarantees failure) in order to set the info-gathering precedent for later asking Google et al, Congress, and the courts for more particular data and identifications which will assure success in finding sex criminals and law-breaking juveniles.
[You will join the Army and fight for Saudi Arabia or we will send you to jail for watching Teens Sex Romp when you were ten."] Well, that may be a reach...for the kids, that is.
But once the feds get that end-justifies-the-means precedent in place, they can then more easily ask for and get anarchist, communist, socialist, anti-American, extreme Liberal, "Antisocial," and “eccentric” personal info from the e-search companies.
One baby step at a time, in the beginning. And then we'd have Sedition Laws on the books again, made “legal” by Presidential Executive Order or by a cowed, threatened Congress.
Sedition: “Excitement of discontent against the government, or of resistance to lawful authority.” — Webster's New Collegiate Dictionary, Second Edition, 1956.
Obviously, under a sedition law I'd be liable for prosecution, as would hundreds of thousands of others. Maybe millions.
Welcome to the club; see you in the concentration camps.
Unless they have a grandfather clause in the law. Because I'd instantly stop my agitating against Bush and his government if there was a red timeline in the dust. I don't think 80-year-old men who can't walk would last long in the camps, even if they are certified U.S. citizens who voted in every election ...er... "election."
Am I taking an extreme position here? Am I being paranoid and seeing a Terrible Conspiracy under the sofa? Would George W. Bush really dare attempt a coup?
Bush could attempt to be a religious Hitler. He certainly would like to be in total control. "Obey or die!" has such a simple, brutal efficiency to it. Things get done! No messy deals or begging... But not yet, I hope.
There has to be a national emergency, dire economic times, an imminent or beginning breakdown of government before Bush could credibly take over and run the country by Executive Orders and “findings.”
Bush can assert his Commander-in-Chief status all he wants, but if the top Army, Navy, Air generals and admirals (and the officer corps who are almost all individual patriots and freedom lovers and loyal to the Constitution) don't agree with his (supposed) declaration of a National Emergency and assertion of dictatorial power, they would tell him so and he would know the troops and sailors and pilots would not follow him. There would be civil war all over the place.
I suspect that Bush is not the man nor is this yet the right time for a coup. I think he's too lazy. But if I'm wrong—-
Reality will not stop him from trying to continue to remake the world if that is his (or his God's or his controllers’) plan. Power corrupts and creates delusions of "I can do no wrong," especially if saving Western Capitalist Civilization is on the line. Of course that end justifies any means.
There are Signs and Portents to look for:
If we see a strange "election."
If government scare tactics (furthered and exploited by big media) are used.
If a "terrorist attack" is blown out of proportion and those responsible and blamed are assumed, not proved.
If dissent and demands for more information are shouted down and protestors put in jail.
Then the tragic game will be played out.
But I think, instead, that Bush will be humiliated and dejected by the voters' rejection of the Republicans this year and will not dare proceed with The Plan.
Forget immediate dictatorship in the United States.
Unless there is massive, successful vote stealing this year, Bush's presumed plans for glorious control of the United States in the name of God are headed for the dumpster and he is headed for a return to alcoholism and drugs.
How frightful! How delightful!
By Jim Linwood
“So how would you like to join the SS next Sunday?”
Pat Kearney put the question to me during a party at the Kingdon Road Slan-Shack in December 1962. Situated in North London, 5a Kingdon Road, West Hampstead, was part of a large terraced Edwardian house shared by Bruce Burn, Alan Rispin, Dick Ellingsworth, and myself. We played host to some of the less conservative elements in Anglofandom in the early sixties, including, at one time or another, Les Spinge editor Dave Hale, Mike Moorcock, Barry Bayley, George Locke, Ivor Mayne, Chris Miller (founder of the Oxford University SF Group), Ken Potter, Tony and Simone Walsh, Cliff Teague, Rog Peyton, and assorted girlfriends. The most significant event — although we didn’t realise it at the time — occurred one evening when a breathless Moorcock crashed into the communal kitchen announcing: "I've got New Worlds." The card school paused for a moment and then resumed play, not knowing then how those four words would change forever both the fannish world we knew and science fiction almost beyond recognition.
The position Pat was offering me was that of an extra in the amateur alternative-world film It Happened Here; an ambitious project that postulated a successful German invasion of Britain in 1940, and the subsequent collaboration of the populace in helping the Nazis establish the New Order. The project had begun as a hobby on 16mm in May 1956 by an 18-year-old trainee film cutter, Kevin Brownlow together with a student and militaria collector, Andrew Mollo, aged sixteen.
In the Summer 1962 issue of Film, Brownlow wrote:
“The first film I made, The Capture, was based on a Maupassant story about the Franco-Prussian occupation. It was a failure and I wanted to make another occupation film. I’d just gone into the film industry as an office boy and walking from the laboratory. I saw a car draw up outside a delicatessen. Some Germans jumped out and began conversing with each other and it seemed vivid and odd. That was the click. In the beginning it was supposed to be a sort of Hammer film about what it might have been like in London, but slowly the interest of the situation developed and I realized that to give it any validity, it must have political meaning. Otherwise it would be just a romp in Nazi uniform. No anti-fascist film has ever shown exactly what it is. And it is so long since the war that most people think of it as concentration camps and great horror without realizing that they have vast fascist potential in themselves”
The initial abortive efforts had been a schoolboy's impression of Nazism, full of blood and thunder, which would culminate in the destruction of northern England in an American atomic attack. After teaming up with Andrew, Kevin scrapped his original footage and recommenced the project, dogmatic that it should be look 100% authentic with histrionics replaced by detached political analysis. What emerged was a stark, bleak film based on the premise that most of the British population would either quietly acquiesce to, or openly collaborate with, the German invaders — as did most citizens of occupied countries during the war. Kevin launched a recruitment drive for actors, extras, and technicians who would give their services free and, although this produced some oddballs like genuine English fascists and ex-SAS men who wished to relive their past glory, the cast and production team was comprised almost entirely of enthusiastic amateurs. When a particular type of face for a scene was not available from amongst the extras, Kevin often cajoled an innocent bystander into donning a German uniform and leering into the camera. Pat, Bruce Burn, and several other London fans had supported the film almost since its conception; an in-group joke about Pat's enthusiasm and the shoestring budget is the battle scene in which Pat the German soldier shoots Pat the Partisan. Because Pat attended most of the shooting sessions, Kevin considered that his familiar face was becoming a liability and so he became to be more frequently used as background fodder or as a grip, a function he greatly preferred. Pat's long devotion to the project was finally rewarded by his name appearing on the credit titles.
Kevin's attitude to the project was tough and uncompromising: "We made no concessions to the fact that everyone was working for nothing. When someone came on a session, we expected him to give his heart to the picture, regardless of personal comfort. It Happened Here was a labour of love, made by people who liked each other, and who understood each other. It was carried to completion by enthusiasm." The amateur had become a hard-boiled demanding director.
The only paid professional actor in the cast was Sebastian Shaw, a star of ’30s and ’40s cinema, who was now primarily a stage actor. He played the key role of the anti-fascist Dr. Fletcher for a nominal fee.
After Andrew pointed out that the uniforms Kevin was originally using were a costumier's invention, a request for authentic militaria brought forth on loan from private collectors sufficient uniforms, weapons, and vehicles to equip a regiment — quite terrifying in retrospect. Dogged by men from the Ministry of Works, the uniforms and regalia were used to startling effect in marches down Whitehall, mass rallies in Trafalgar Square, and an eerie Nazi funeral rite. The police were only too eager to turn a blind eye to such carryings-on by an apparently professional company; expecting the usual “consideration” at the end of a day's shooting. Sometimes things didn't go according to plan, however. What was to be a spectacular shot of a Jagd-Panther tearing up the Wiltshire countryside had to be abandoned at the last minute when a man from the Ministry of Defence appeared from nowhere saying: "You can't do that there here." Not content to show an immobile panzer, Kevin faked its movement by filming it from a mobile ancient wooden dolly at an angle to exclude the road — the final result, with added sound, was quite realistic. When watching the film it’s hard to believe that no stock footage was used throughout, everything was done for real.
The picture's most effective images are those of blitzed, occupied London with propaganda posters on every wall urging support for the war effort. German soldiers being photographed besides familiar landmarks, pub-brawls between collaborators and ex-servicemen and the brilliantly conceived newsreel with Frank Phillips, the wartime newsreader, providing the commentary. All of which created an atmosphere of totalitarianism far more evocative than the television or cinema adaptations of Nineteen Eighty-Four and reminiscent of the real occupation and France and the Low Countries.
By 1962 the funds on the pocket-money production were virtually exhausted, and it was feared that the six-year-old project would have to be shelved: however, an angel in the form of Tony Richardson of Woodfall Films appeared who, seeing the commercial possibilities, agreed to provide the money to blow-up the 16mm film to 35mm. After being assured that the existing footage could be blown-up for the commercial cinema screen, Kevin and Andrew went on to complete the picture on 35mm with reel-ends from Dr Strangelove kindly donated by Stanley Kubrick — years of almost insane enthusiasm had finally paid off.
In the course of making the film Kevin and Andrew deliberately adopted a documentary style, thinking that it was unnecessary to underline the horrors of Nazism; instead leaving the audience to draw its own conclusions — a decision that was to cause problems when production was completed. The simple plot — such as it is — sees the German occupation through the eyes of a District Nurse, Pauline Murray (both the name of the actress and the character she portrays) who, blaming partisans for provoking a Lidice type retaliation massacre by the Germans in Wiltshire, moves to London to continue her profession, believing that "collaboration" is the only way of restoring law and order. Her enrolment in the Immediate Action Organisation brings her into conflict with her friends and civilians, who associate her uniform with the terror of the New Order. After helping her friends shelter a wounded partisan, she falls under suspicion and is posted to a "nursing home" in Wales. Pauline is told that the home is a rest centre for Russian and Polish workers suffering from tuberculosis: only when she finds a ward empty of the men, women, and children she had "inoculated" the previous night does she realise its true purpose. She finally resists and is arrested. During her return under escort to London she falls into the hands of the partisans and American liberators, and is spared execution because the Army of Liberation urgently require medical aid. The film's final scene is its bleakest: English collaborators are rounded-up and machine-gunned down, as were the Wiltshire villagers at thebeginning of the story. A clear reflection of a remark made earlier by Pauline's friend, Dr Fletcher: "The most appalling thing about Fascism is that it takes Fascist methods to get rid of it."
It didn't take much persuading to make me seek my fame and fortune in the movies: this was, after all, the beginning of the swinging sixties with its rise of the working-class hero. If Albert Finney, Michael Caine, and Tom Courtney could make it, so could I. Sunday morning; and Pat and I reported for duty at the Albany Street Territorial Army drill hall in a Camden Town redevelopment area. The drill hall, which was the IAO recruitment centre in the film, was the only building left intact in the half demolished area: what the Luftwaffe had failed to achieve 20 years previously had been accomplished by the builders George Wimpey and Sons. Pat sought out Kevin Brownlow amongst the confusion of arc-lights, cameras, and cables to introduce me as the latest recruit. Kevin, who was busily taping distances for focus, was a studious looking intellectual with an Oxbridge accent. He launched into a vivid running commentary of his clash on location the previous week with a professional film company: "There was Howard Keel running through Regent's Park chased by these fellows dressed up as Triffids, trying to look terrified, but looking as if he was about to burst into song at any moment. Then our German marching band passed in front of the Triffids and the cameras playing the Horst Wessel. The director flung his megaphone on the ground shouting, "Get those Nazi bums outa here! cut.Cut.CUT!"
Kevin directed us to the changing room where we were to be kitted out with our English SS members uniforms, and returned to his focusing problems. I was sized up by the casting-and-costume girl and handed a shirt, trousers, and a pair of jackboots — all in black. Pat scowled when handed his usual plain outfit.
"I've been coming here for three years and I'm still a private," said Pat with hurt pride. "Your first time, and they make you an officer"
"It's the blue eyes and the blond hair, you Irish communist degenerate," I replied, after affixing the double lightning-flash insignias to my epaulets.
I should have kept my mouth shut about typecasting until l'd put the uniform on; from the size of the trousers into which I dropped my skinny legs, I deduced they were once worn by Hermann Goering, and the shirt— which just reached my navel — was probably Goebbels'. Both gentlemen were not overly keen on personal hygiene judging from the BO that emanated from the garments. The jackboots showed no signs of the mystique given to them in lurid metaphors — just a pair of shrunken wellies — which, after I'd shaken them to ensure that no escaped Nazi war criminals were lurking within, I painfully inserted my legs. Looking at my transformation in a mirror, I decided that I wasn't quite master-race material.
Pat's hurt look of disappointment suddenly vanished from his face as he noticed a stocky, middle-aged man enter the changing room.
"Look." he said with excitement. “It's Frank Bennett."
Frank Bennett was one of the real Nazis in the cast, a member of Colin Jordan's British National Socialist Movement. He was a well-known figure in the King’s Road, Chelsea, wearing a leather raincoat and exercising his bull-terrier, Baldur. The dog was named after Baldur von Schirach, leader of the Hitler Youth and Gauleiter of Vienna. Bennett claimed to have shaken Hitler’s hand during the Berlin Olympics and had escaped internment during the war by joining the Merchant Navy so he wouldn’t have to kill Germans. Andrew and Kevin met him at a party at which he become immediately enthusiastic about the film.
"I shall play Hitler," he had proclaimed.
Although he did affect a little moustache and hair brushed down one side of his face, he bore a closer resemblance to Captain Mainwaring in Dad’s Army than the Fuehrer. Pat introduced me and (having shook the hand that shook the hand of Hitler) I began an un-subtle line of anti-Semite baiting.
"I know a Jew called Bennett, any relation?"
"If I had one drop of Jewish blood in me," thundered Frank. "I would cut my throat to let it out!"
He then went on to explain — as most racists will — that it wasn't any individual Jews he disliked but the entire race; not realising, of course, that there is no such thing as the "Jewish Race" any more than an "Aryan Race". To prove his point he told me of an incident that occurred when the unit was filming on location near a remote Surrey village. Bennett went down to the local pub in the evening to celebrate Hitler's birthday. Upon discovering that the man who had just bought him a drink was Jewish, Frank emptied his pint onto the floor explaining:"I never accept drinks from Jews, but to show this is nothing personal let me buy you a drink. What will you have?"
"A double whiskey," said the Jew.
Pat later told me that Frank had turned up for shooting the next morning with a black eye and badly bruised face. He was immediately cast as a SS casualty which gave him the sudden inspiration: "I have this idea for the final scene of the film. Pauline can prostrate herself with grief over my body, and you can end with a close-up of her tears falling onto my face."
Frank left us to preen before the mirror and place a suitably arrogant look on his face whilst we moved on to take up our positions for the morning's first take. My career in the movies was about to begin.
The take we were to participate in is the scene in which Pauline collects her work permit from the IAO building — seconds in the finished picture, which represented a whole morning's work. The office, which was crowded with 55 men and collaborators, was to be filmed through the doorway: as Pauline entered I was to leave a moment later. Although the extras in this scene were little more than props, Kevin gave each one of us our "motivation." I was to stand in front of Pat, who was seated behind a desk, and chide him for his inefficiency, threatening him with a transfer to the Russian front. Everyone was happy with their roles, except for one girl extra, who burst into tears crying: "But I can't feel the part, I just can't feel it."She only had to give Pauline her papers.
We went into rehearsal and I started doing my shtick with back to the camera — poor Pat was out of frame. Within seconds he was badly over-acting; trembling and fidgeting, his eyes bulging with fear; trying to cringe beneath his desk. Only when Kevin shouted: "Okay, that's fine," and Pat continued his Oscar-winning performance did I realise that it was I who had been doing the over-acting: smashing my fists down on the desk — doing a precognitive Basil Fawlty impersonation. Pat was genuinely terrified. The scene was then shot for real, the microphone, luckily, not picking up my rantings; after shouting "Cut" Kevin pranced around saying:"Marvelous. Bloody Marvelous."This was, I gathered, one of the few occasions when a first take had been entirely successful. When viewing my exit from that office, years later, I wondered how anyone with such a large nose could have been chosen as a member of Hitler's Elite.
As we awaited further directorial instruction, Pat and I chatted with the film's superstar, Pauline Murray, a doctor’s wife from Wales, who had begun as an extra and was chosen for the lead because of her perfect forties face. She was a pleasant, unassuming person, always eager to talk with anyone connected with the production and give encouragement to nervous newcomers. It wasn't until the film was completed that Kevin discovered that she suffered from frequent attacks of migraine — often going through scenes in intense agony.
The take was so successful that Kevin told everyone to get lost for two hours whilst the equipment was set up for the afternoon's shooting. Pat, and several other members of the cast, suggested that we find the nearest pub and give the locals a scare by swaggering up to the bar in our SS clobber. I tagged along, nervously expecting to be arrested under the Public Order Act, which had been introduced in the thirties to prevent Oswald Mosley's bully-boys aping the Brownshirts: or worse, attacked by the lunch-time boozers. However, as Camden Town had a large Irish population, I hoped we might escape serious injury by being mistaken for a local IRA outing. As we entered the chosen pub and faced the incredulous stares my heart sank into my left jackboot, flipped over a couple of times, and resurfaced palpitating at three times its normal rate.
We were greeted with utter, amazed silence.
The ersatz SS ordered a round of ale, deciding that demanding Schnapps would be taking the masquerade too far. The tension was finally broken when a Cockney voice called out: "Ere, do you lot think Hitler's still alive then?"Everyone in the bar convulsed with laughter and we explained that we were not what we seemed, merely extras in a film. Pat, ever willing to expound his political views, told of a recent encounter at an anti-fascist rally during which his expensive Pentax camera was smashed either by Jordan's thugs or the police — Pat often confused the two.
Everyone started recalling their wartime adventures; with taking pill-boxes single-handed a firm favourite and screwing frauleins running second. We left the pub slightly drunk to the strains of the unbowdlerized version of Colonel Bogey.
The scene shot in the afternoon was to be the background to Pauline leaving the IAO building depicting a flurry of Teutonic efficiency with extras rushing around trying not to bump into each other. Kevin took me to one side and briefed me for my role:"You're an arrogant Nazi beast, see. The Sturmbannführer has asked you to come to the parade-ground to discipline a slovenly private..."Overhearing this, Pat winced remembering his previous ordeal.
I was told to take up a position at the top of a flight of stairs and descend furiously When the action started; Kevin gave me a large key telling me to beat the metal handrail rhythmically with it as I came down, an idea shamelessly lifted from Joseph Losey's prison film, The Criminal.
As we went through several rehearsals it became apparent Kevin wasn't satisfied with the performance, particularly mine. "Your friend has a curious schizophrenic way of walking,"he told Pat. Nevertheless, he went for a take, and then another one before calming down. Unlike the morning session this scene, because it was in long-shot, was filmed silent. So we did the whole thing over again for post-synchronised sound; dodging amongst the microphones, trying to make as big a din as possible. All this effort, I later discovered, was wasted; the scene never appeared in the completed film — my schizophrenic walk ended up on a cutting-room floor.
When we left the drill hall after the day's shooting, Pat became his wild, excitable Irish self again, urging me to join the crew on location in Surrey the following weekend.
"It's the big battle scene with the Americans; we've got this crate full of Schmeissers and.…"
"No thanks," I said, looking forward to a less strenuous weekend. "Start the liberation without me."
Pat managed to secure on loan the celebrated newsreel sequence from It Happened Here for a sneak preview at the following year's convention at Peterborough. Ron Bennett sportingly offered to introduce it saying, with tongue firmly in cheek: "Any fans present who are of the Jewish persuasion may find certain scenes in our next item offensive…."The newsreel was a close facsimile of actual Nazi propaganda films made for occupied countries; showing that despite the machinations of "certain international financiers"which resulted in two world wars, Englishmen and Germans are brothers. The "natural camaraderie" of the two countries being demonstrated by a film-within-a-film of the Flanders truce of Christmas, 1914 and the football match in no-man's land. The actual truce was never filmed, but Kevin's cleverly faked, sepia tinted sequence, shot with a 1922 hand-cranked Kodak, effectively captured the atmosphere and irony of the event. The newsreel also contained a staged reconstruction of a pre-war Oswald Mosley fascist rally. Mosley was uncannily portrayed by a young Australian, Barrie Pattison who, after returning to Australia, was to become a major influence on John Baxter’s film education. Barrie became pre-occupied with vampire films and wrote about their history in his 1975 book The Seal Of Dracula. He was also involved in the production of Hammer’s Blood From The Mummy’s Tomb (1971) and the Australian horror film Zombie Brigade (1986).
The preview was generally well received; but Beryl Henley berated Pat for associating himself with such a disgraceful film as"Every Englishman would die fighting rather than submit to Alien rule."No mention was made of what Englishwomen might have done.
The film was finally completed in May 1964 — eight years after its conception — and the search for a distributor was begun by hawking the finished product at the Cork Film Festival, around Wardour Street, and several press shows. The British newspaper critics' appraisals were the usual pompous, smart-ass remarks made by that band of licensed poseurs critics who had previously panned Psycho and The Manchurian Candidate — only Alexander Walker of the Evening Standard saw what the makers' intentions were and the technical difficulties they had encountered. The foreign critics were mostly politically motivated in their reactions: the Russians liked the film but considered it "uncommercial",whilst the Germans disliked it intensely because it came uncomfortably close to the truth; however, individual Europeans who had firsthand experience of German occupation said it was like reliving the whole thing over again. A major obstacle was erected by The Board of Deputies of British Jews who, whilst applauding the film's motives, thought that the six-minute improvised scene in which the real Nazis (including Frank Bennett) propounded their views to Pauline might influence immature minds. In fact in this scene the fascists' opinions were so self-condemning and ludicrous that at the Odeon Leicester Square showing the audience burst into derisive laughter, drowning out Bennett and his cronies who had come along to applaud. One of the least of Kevin and Andrew's worries was a bill for £360 from a German music publisher who had the copyright on the Horst Wessel Lied.
United Artists finally offered to promote and distribute the film on condition the offending six minutes were removed: under protest, but sick of all the harassment, Kevin and Andrew accepted - they no longer had any say in how their baby was packaged and marketed.
It Happened Here had its first commercial run at the London Pavilion — a West End cinema specialising in lurid movies — in May 1966 following Thunderball; it was an enormous success, running for six weeks before being transferred to the Gala Royal and then disappearing — almost without a trace — into the art-house circuit and television. The substantial profits made by United Artists were swallowed up in promotion costs, claiming that the trailer cost more than the film itself — or so they said — Kevin, Andrew, and all others involved in the production got nothing.
For the directors the film became a foot in the door of the movie industry; Andrew became technical advisor to almost every historical and war movie made since 1966; you name it and he was there making sure the swastikas pointed the right way, most recently in Polanski’s The Pianist and Hirschbiegel’s Downfall. Kevin retained his independence and went on to direct small budget films like Winstanley the story of a seventeenth-century leader of "Diggers" (again with Andrew as his co-director and Pat in a larger role) and writing several books on the history of the cinema as well as directing and producing documentaries. The UKA Press have recently reprinted Kevin’s 1968 book How It Happened Here.
Sebastian Shaw continued his professional career and appeared as Anakin Skywalker (Darth Vader) in Return of the Jedi in 1983. Both Sebastian and Pauline Murray died in 1994. No one knows what became of Frank Bennett. One rumour placed him on the run in Eire with charges of bigamy hanging over his head: another has him resurfacing in Egypt as an advisor to anti-Zionist groups.
As for the fans involved; previously when It Happened Here occasionally resurfaced at the National Film Theatre or on television they nudged their wives and offspring saying, "Hey. That's me, that was." Now, with the recent release of Brownlow’s original, uncut version in a new DVD edition, made from a pristine print, they can freeze-frame their moments of glory.
“Several hundred people gave up their spare time for this film. We cannot name them all so we can only offer them our deepest gratitude.”
Kevin Brownlow, How It Happened Here, Secker & Warburg, London, 1968. (Re-issued by The UKA Press, 2005).
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By Victor J. Banis
When Earl Kemp first mentioned to me that he was planning an issue of eI devoted to Nazis, my first thought was of Adolf, as I am sure everyone's was, and I could imagine right off the sort of things that people were going to write about the man, you know: he came to power in what was generally regarded as a corrupt election; right off the bat, he launched a war, with the result that a great many people died who needn't have otherwise; and occupied some other countries (for the sake, though, of bringing them freedom and a better way of life—let's face facts, Czechoslovakia didn't even have a bratwurst worth the name up till then); while on the home front, he launched a program of domestic spying, warrantless arrests, holding people prisoner without due process, and even torture.
Well, hinky dinky parlez vous, some people always look at the negative side, don't they?
But I like to think of the other Adolf, when he was younger and just one of the guys, nervous and boy crazy—who wasn't?—waiting all excited for Christmas to come, dreaming of Mister Right, and settling for Mister Right There, and the phone calls to Mother, all of those things that never get mentioned any more when people write about the man.
And I began to wonder what it would be like if someone wrote about him who was one of those people who always look on the positive side—say, someone like Bob Newhart, for instance. How would Bob Newhart imagine that young Adolf….
Hello, Mother? Hi, how are you? Uh, it's your son, Mom. Now, Mom, we've been through this before, this really is your son. Mom, why do you need me to tell you my name? Oh, it's a test? You want to see if I know it? Ha ha, Mom, you're still a card.
It's Adolf. Adolf. A as in Auschwitz, D as in Das Rehingold, O as in Oberhausen, L as in patent leather, F as in…Well, I know patent leather doesn't start with an L, but lackleder does, I just think patent leather sounds, oh, I don't know, more Cole Porter, don't you? Can you imagine trying to rhyme with lackleder? Ha ha. Horse fedders?
Lederhosen? You're not just suggesting that because of that old nonsense about what supposedly happened in Vienna, are you? Now, Mom, I told you, that business with those Austrian soldiers, it wasn't what it looked like. My suspenders broke, the ones that hold the lederhosen up, that's why they were down around my ankles that way. It was just bad luck, is all, that photographer coming along when he did. If I had ever been able to get those roses scrubbed off, no one would have recognized me, probably. Anyway, Hermann, you remember my friend, Hermann, don't you? Hermann took care of all that. That rotten Jew won't be publishing any more of his smutty snapshots, that's all I can tell you.
Anyway, it's Adolf. Well, those are words that ordinary people use. Everybody I know uses them. Okay, right, you might have a point there, maybe some of them aren't. Regardless, the thing is, it's Adolf.
Now. Mom, you do so have a son named Adolf. I lived with you for fourteen years, out there on Flegel Road, north of town. The white house with the green shutters and the big pear tree.
No, that was my brother, Hans. No, I'm not saying I never did that, I'm saying I never did it out on the front porch where everybody could see when they went by. Yes, that was definitely Hans. He always was the show-off. I was the one who used to put on your dresses and stage little fashion shows for the children in Sunday school, and…hello, Mom? Hello.
Mother it's your son Adolf again don't hang up, please this is costing me money. Gee, this connection isn't real good, Mom, what's that you said, the little what? Mom, I don't think that's a word you should use about your own flesh and blood, do you? Okay, I guess you could say if the combat boot fits, it you want to look at it like that. Mom, have you ever thought that maybe you played some part in how I turned out? I was the only boy in school with sausage curls and those little roses painted on his cheeks. No, I know it wasn't my face, but once two or three of those Jewish boys saw them, and, well, you know how word gets around in a little town like that. That sort of thing marks a guy, don't you think? Well, how else was I going to earn lunch money, Mom, there aren't a lot of jobs for a skinny little fourteen year old.
No, I haven't been arrested again. Mom, that was ten years ago. Well, all I ever wanted to do, I mean, my life's ambition, was, like the poem says, to live in my house by the side of the road and be a friend to man. Uh, sure, I think I probably have been a friend to one or two, I don't see how that's such a terrible thing. No, Mom, not all of them were brown shirts. Yes, that's so, but it was by the side of the road, so that part of it rings true, wouldn't you say? And I still don't know who tipped off the police that time, you were the only one that knew and I really thought you were asleep in the car or I wouldn't have stayed in there so long. I don't see what the problem was anyway. Well, that's what I call being a friend to man.
Mother, I've never said anything bitchy about you. Oh. Yes, I do remember that now, but you need to bear in mind I had just spent two nights in that pigsty of a jail with a bunch of Jews they had rounded up a few months earlier, and some of those guys had been in there since, and you know what they get like. It was no bar mitzvah, I can tell you that. No, that wasn't what I said. You asked me if there wasn't something I wanted to be when I grew up, and I said, an orphan, but it was just a joke, after all. If you can't take a joke…
Listen, that's all ancient history anyway, isn't it. No, I swear, I haven't been back there since. I'm absolutely positively sure I haven't done anything that would embarrass you with the ladies from your church. Besides, I'm hundreds of miles away, Mom, even if I did anything, they wouldn't be likely to hear about it. Yes, yes, I understand, the Devil probably does have one, everybody else does these days, so why wouldn't he? I just don't think, Mom, that he would waste his any-time minutes calling Eva Berghard, I mean, why would he? Oh. Well, that's, that's very interesting, I didn't know that. His sister? I guess that would explain the horns, I always did wonder about them.
Listen, Mom, the real reason I called you, we decided this year we would fix our own Christmas dinner. Usually we just go to a friend's house, or fast food, or something, but this year, we…well, Mom, "we" means, the two of us, like, I have a friend, you knew that. Yes, that is what we call it these days, at least some of the time. Okay, yes he is, but…no, we don't, we have twin beds. Honest. They're not even in the same room, his is in the kitchen, because he does the cooking, and that way, if he wants to whip something up during the night, or slip something into the oven, well, he's right there. Ha, ha. Mom says she wishes she was right here so she could sprinkle broken glass between the two beds, Fritz, isn't she a riot, I told you she was a riot.
So, ha, ha, getting serious for a change, here's the thing, Mom, we were going to have the Double Kraut combo, the way we usually do for holidays, you know, if you get the combo it comes with fries and a big stein of beer, and Fritz said to me, how would you like a goose and…I'm not talking dirty, Mom, I know how you feel about that kind of stuff on the telephone. No, that wasn't me, I don't call and pant. The operator said what? Well, that was old Heidi, the operator, wasn't it? Isn't she a Jew? Listen, the kids used to tell stories about what she did with those phone plugs late at night when she thought no one was around. It was probably her calling and panting, now that I think of it.
So, to get back to my story, what Fritz actually said, if you want to know, was, if you won't take a goose, will you take a gander, ha ha ha, that Fritz is a card, I tell you, Mom, and then he…you don't? Well, you probably had to be there anyway.
The point I was getting at, see, Fritz heard about this poultry farm out of the city, where you could get geese that were organic and free range and all that sort of thing, and he said, wouldn't that be a lot better than some dead thing that's been hanging there in the market for months and who knows what they put on it to keep it from smelling. Besides, it's cheaper this way and you know, since that business with the poison gas, I haven't been able to work full time. The poison gas? Well, it was supposed to be for the French, see, we were lobbing these canisters at the French soldiers, but you know I never was any good at sports and I didn't throw it far enough, see, and…uh, well, I didn't actually throw it at all, Mom, I kind of dropped it, accidentally like, and well, I'm still full of gas. Yes, I know Uncle Wilhelm always said I was a good sport, but we never played spin the poison gas canister.
Well, of course, I should have run away the minute I dropped the canister, and I tried to, but, golly, it's hard to run very fast on one foot. My foot? I was shot in the foot, Mom, I thought I told you that. Yes, I feel exactly the same way about the French, but in all honesty, I have to tell the truth, it wasn't a Frenchman who shot me. No, it was a German, a German soldier. Yes, Mom, I did see who it was. Well, see, Mom, it was me. I shot myself in the foot. Accidents happen, Mom, no, that doesn't make me a, one of those things. No, no, it's healing up. Yes, at least it has kept me out of those discos. Well, I don't think they're such bad places. You should have seen my Saturday night goosestep. Used to bring the house down. Fritz says that’s where he got the idea. No, not that idea, Mom, I meant, about the Christmas goose.
So, anyway, that's what we did, we went out to the farm and bought ourselves a Christmas goose. Yes, it was a terrific idea. Fritz is very clever that way. Only, there's lots of things I had never anticipated. For instance? Well, for starters, you can't housetrain a goose. They just don't get the whole concept of a litter box. He spent the whole time pecking around in the sand for bugs and did his business on the floor next to the box, and of course I stepped in it. No, you are certainly right there, not the brightest animal in the zoo. Well, I thought you meant the goose, Mom.
So, what we did, is we put him in the shower stall, only, that turned out to be a bit of a problem too, since a goose will eat anything that even looks like a worm…no, I guess you probably don't want to hear the details of that, but the bandages come off next week, so it looks like everything will be all right, except I will be missing one, well, one of the doodads. But the doctor says everything will work just fine without it.
That's not the only problem with the shower stall, either. See, geese are really dumb, and when it starts to rain, they feel the raindrops falling on their head and they look up to see what's going on, and sometimes they drown staring up at the raindrops. Well, this one did, sort of, I mean, when the shower started, we're talking major raindrops, right, and he got really curious, and looked up, and, ach der leiber, can you imagine what it's like giving mouth-to-mouth to a gander? Well, no, maybe you can't. I can tell you, they have this terrible beak breath, and there were all those wet feathers, it reminded me of the time at the youth camp when I fell into the swimming hole with your boa on.
You didn't? Well, I just naturally thought you figured out for yourself how it got wet. Gee, I'm sorry. Yes, I know, it never did look the same afterward. Look, Mom, I'll send you a new one, we've got two or three of them just laying around here that we never use anymore. No, we tried out for this cabaret act, is all it was, but we lost out to this American girl, Sally something, and besides, the manager wasn't happy about that missing doodad, and then Fritz just kind of lost interest, and we've got all this other stuff going just at the moment, we've got a beer hall putsch in the works, and then we're thinking about burning the Reichstag, so my plate's pretty full right now.
So, the thing is, with the shower problems and all, Fritz and I rented this hotel room on Bundestrasse and we were going to let the goose stay there and we would just remain at our apartment, only the hotel manager said he knew all these SS boys, you know, the ones with the hot uniforms, and if we had anything kinky planned, he was pretty sure some of them might be interested, but he got twenty percent of whatever we brought in, so when we heard about the party boys, Fritz and I have been staying at the hotel instead and the goose has had the apartment to himself for the duration. Only, tomorrow being Christmas, well, the duration is up.
No, I never cooked a goose before, that's why I'm calling. What I wanted to ask you about, was the stuffing, how do I do that? Wait, slow down, Fritz, have you got a pencil? Okay, onions, butter, right, bread cubes, are you getting all this Fritz? Uh huh. Uh huh. Well, that sounds simple enough. So, then what?
What do you mean, what do I mean? Well, so there we are with this bowl of bread cubes and stuff, and how do we get it into the bird, through the beak or what? Okay. So, Fritz, follow this. You put the bird on his back on the kitchen table, check. Then you lift his little drumsticks into the air. Yes, okay, spread them a little bit apart…Mom wants to know if this is giving you any ideas, Fritz, isn't she a card?
I don't know, Mom, I guess there are, they say that lots of animals are. Maybe that's where that old expression comes from, gobbling the goop, ha, ha. You've never heard that? Well, it means, uh, it means like, talking goose talk, I think, I mean, they gobble, don't they? Oh, that's turkeys. What do geese do? Well, I've never heard anybody say, honking the goop. Maybe they got their birds mixed up. I bet it's a Jewish expression, isn't it? Those guys can't get anything right, if you ask me.
Anyway, I don't know how I would tell if we got a goose who was that way, I don't think they wear makeup or anything like that. Gosh, yes, he does walk a little funny, but they all do, don't they.
Gee, I always thought my walk was okay, Mom. No, no, you're right about that, I never had to walk up the steps to church behind myself with Eva Berghard and Freida Wenzel snickering. Personally, I don't think a woman with horns should be casting stones, if you want my frank opinion. Well, they look like horns, she can call them anything she likes.
So, anyway, back to the stuffing, Fritz has got Tiny Tim's little legs in the air—no, there's just the two of us, nothing depraved. No, I swear, none of our sissy friends dropped in. It's just, well, we've gotten so well acquainted in the last few weeks, the bird and us, we thought we ought to give him a name, so we called him Tiny Tim, after that little boy in the story. It's an English story, Mom. Well, I sort of have this dream, that one day I'll live there, and I just like to study the culture, you know, watch Upstairs Downstairs, fix toad in the hole, anything British, turns me on. No, not just them, Mom, and it was only one RAF pilot, it wasn't a roomful. I like to call that sort of thing a cultural exchange.
Okay, so now we've got Tim's legs spread wide. So, then, Fritz, you take the stuffing and you cram it into the little hole that you see down there. Um hum Um hum.
Uh, Mom, I think maybe we've got a little bit of problem here. Well, see, apparently that little hole was already full of something and, oh, Jeez, Fritz, all over the floor, who's going to clean that up? Oh, Man, for sure I'm not going to want pumpkin pie now, I mean, look at that. I never knew before why they called it fowl. Oh, Wow, Mom, that bird has gone ballistic. Watch out for the window, Fritz, don't let him get outside, you know what the landlord said the time the SS boys went out the window like that with their backsides trailing.
Golly, Mom, of course the bird is still alive. I would have told you if he'd died, wouldn't I, I mean, he's practically one of the family, you know what I'm saying. You don't take showers with someone without getting friendly, ask Uncle Wilhelm. Well, you remember how he was always helping me take my bath when I was little. I don't care what he told you, Mom, it was more than just washing my back for me. Anyway, for sure there's something happens between you when you shower together, a guy doesn't just shrug off that kind of male bonding. Besides, I wouldn't have rented a hotel room for a dead goose to stay in, would I, what, do you think I'm nuts? I mean, what kind of fun would that be for a storm trooper, if the bird wasn't even alive to start with?
Oh, wow, Fritz, keep him out of the living room, Man, oh, criminey, not on the new sofa, that sofa set me back a month's pay. Jeez, you'd think he'd be empty by now.
Okay, sure, Mom, I see your point, but exactly how do we go about doing that. Uh huh. Well, right now, Fritz is still chasing him, man, can he go. Every few feet he sort of flaps and goes into the air and half flies, like, he just cleared the coffee table. No, I mean the goose, Mom, Fritz had to go around the table, it slowed him down a bit. Actually, it looks like the goose is gaining.
Okay, they're in the other room for the minute. So, let's say Fritz finally does catch him, what then? Uh huh, we take him out to the chopping block. Uh, Mom, see, it's not like in Braunau, that's the thing, I mean, you're in a quaint little village there. We live in Munich. Yes, it's a very nice apartment, and it has a stove and a refrigerator, and this darling little swimming pool outside, we've been working up a synchronized swimming routine, I think we're going to knock peoples' eyes out at the next Olympics. Only, the thing is, we don't have a chopping block. Well, sure, there is a deck area around the swimming pool. And a diving board, yes, there's one of those. Yes, I guess we could, if the neighbors aren't out there around the pool, it might kind of spoil their sun bathing if they are. I mean, no one wants to do a swan dive from a chopping block, don't you imagine?
Okay, let's just say that's what we're going to do, so walk me through this. Uh, Mom, see, we don't have an axe, either. We've got guns, see, and bayonets, and a poison gas canister, but we don't have an axe. Well, we don't have much use for one. Yes, that's true, but the canister is empty, and I just keep it for a souvenir No, I doubt if I could borrow one from a neighbor, I'm sure nobody in Munich keeps an axe around. Well, if they want firewood, they pick up these little imitation logs at the supermarket. I have a lovely set of Henckel's cutlery but it doesn't include an axe. Yes, there's one of those. Gee, I'll have to ask him about that.
Fritz? There's a lot of gobbling going on just now. I know he's not, but it sounds like gobbling, Mom, it sure isn't honking. I don't know, Rudolph has this friend, an older fellow, Rudy says he sings a different tune since he's been stuffed, so maybe that's what happened to the goose, too.
There they go through the bedroom again. Be patient here, Mom. Fritz, can you hear me? Listen, once you get him cornered, if we took him outside, do you think maybe with that serrated bread knife…?
Okay, I guess that's not a go, Mom. Wring his neck? Well, I was just thinking about that. Oh, hey, Mom, look, I got to go, here they come again toward the kitchen, maybe I can head him off. Bye, Mom, and thanks.
Hermann, hi, it's Adolf. Listen, about that invitation to come over for Christmas dinner, is that still open? Oh, great, that sounds wonderful. I'll bring my green bean casserole, why don't I? Uh, no, Hermann, don't go to the trouble to bake an extra pie, to tell you the truth, I'm kind of off pumpkin pie just now.
Oh, and Hermann, if it's okay, there'll be three of us instead of two. His name’s Tim. No, you don't know him. I'll explain everything when I see you.
By Michael Moorcock
[Michael Moorcock reviews The World Hitler Never Made, by Gavriel D Rosenfeld.]
The nightmare for my generation was waking one morning to a world in which Hitler had won the war. Our fears were expressed in a flood of counterfactual stories — what Professor Gavriel Rosenfeld, in a new book on those fictions, calls "allohistories" (from the Greek "allo" for "altered" or "other"). These included Sarban's terrifying The Sound of His Horn, which imagined a future where Nazi overlords hunt untermenschen for sport, and Philip K Dick's The Man in the High Castle, where America is carved up between vicious Nazis in the east and stern Japanese in the west.
In 1964 Hilary Bailey's examination of Nazi metaphysics, The Fall of Frenchy Steiner, had a virgin bride being sought for a senile Füehrer. Bestselling mysteries by Len Deighton and Robert Harris, SS-GB and Fatherland respectively, in which Nazi victory is long established when the story opens, and films such as Brownlow's chilling It Happened Here [see Jim Linwood’s “The Third Reich,” elsewhere in this issue of eI], imagined a British response to occupation no more or less heroic than that of other conquered nations.
While Saki had foreseen posh Britons accommodating German rule in his predictive novel When William Came, published on the eve of the First World War (in which he was killed), writers predicting Nazi conquest — Katherine Burdekin's Swastika Night, Vita Sackville-West's Grand Canyon, HV Morton's I, James Blunt — warned how appeasement would actually deliver us to Hitler.
In 1947, Noël Coward's play Peace in Our Time showed Britain occupied by victorious Nazis, confirming the anti-appeasement message, but later politicians and journalists in America, including Pat Buchanan and Newt Gingrich, revived isolationist positions, arguing that Allied military engagement against Hitler was a mistake. American television programmes, comics, movies, and books were chiefly interested in wartime strategic issues or Hitler's reincarnation as a monster, and tended to ignore questions regarding Nazi psychopathology and Jewish genocide.
Only a few books, such as Walter Shirer's If Hitler Had Won World War Two and Daniel Quin's After Dachau, confronted the Holocaust. The political "futurist" Norman Spinrad's The Iron Dream revealed heroic fantasy's fascistic elements by depicting Hitler as a genial, geeky immigrant to the US whose pulp novels, including Lord of the Swastika, disturbingly echo the actuality of our familiar world. Spinrad's book was banned in Germany for a decade.
For obvious reasons, few alternative histories came from formerly occupied countries. Indeed, only Germany produced substantial Nazi allohistories. Thomas Ziegler's Die Stimmen der Nacht and Christoph Ransmayr's Morbus Kitahara, Rosenfeld tells us, blame Germany's failure to repent for the Holocaust on "a clumsy Allied programme of compulsory contrition."
A well-established commercial genre, including role-playing games, nowadays concentrates on nostalgic reruns of the Second World War, sometimes adding dragons and warlocks to the mix. These are essentially variants of typical escapist/nostalgic science fiction which manage to keep everything exactly the same apart from some modifications to the scenery. These “alternate history” stories have no purpose, like the many airship fantasies which seemed to follow my own Warlord of the Air, save to give readers who want it the frisson of familiarity. They are little more than Xeroxes printed on a different colour of paper. It shows a typical progress of genre fiction from a story originally intended to make some sort of point to one that only pretends to make points, but is essentially handing the reader back received ideas. Futuristic science fiction once satisfied this genre's audience by offering worlds in which the Bomb had reduced everything to an easily handled libertarian simplicity, but J.G. Ballard turned that escapist fantasy on its head in books such as The Drowned World.
So far no science fiction work has done the same with allohistory. Even Philip Roth's recent novel The Plot Against America, where popular ex-flyer President Lindbergh keeps the US out of the war, largely dodges an issue better confronted by Kurt Vonnegut's masterpiece, Mother Night, or Michael Chabon's Kavalier and Clay, both retrospective narratives focusing on actual rather than alternative Nazi history. In fact, no matter how satirical or clever (Stephen Fry's Making History; Martin Amis's Time's Arrow), the allohistory has proven a rather disappointing form.
Only one alternate history series confronted Nazism with appropriate originality and passion. Published by the independent Manchester firm Savoy, David Britton's surreal Lord Horror and its sequels entered the mind of a deranged surviving Hitler whose visions grew increasingly insane. Britton's graphic novel Hard Core Horror turned William Joyce (Lord Haw-Haw) into Lord Horror, while James Joyce became his brother, and his rival for the hand of singer Jessie Matthews.
Britton's narrative moved inevitably towards Auschwitz. The novel's final issue, with its deliberately blank narrative panels among pictures of the concentration camp (followed by actual photographs of victims), was a silent memorial to the murdered, an indictment of our own moral complicity. Soon after they appeared, Hard Core Horror and Lord Horror were seized by Manchester's vice squad. The books were destroyed and their author went to Strangeways, suggesting that successful Nazi alternate histories must take profound psychological, moral, and physical risks.
To retain any moral authority, Hitlerian allohistories have to confront Nazi psychopathology. Some of the stories described here reflect Holocaust survival guilt. Where they do not, as in the case of one "pacifist" apologist for appeasement, they reveal a form of Holocaust denial. At the end of his substantial study, even Rosenfeld admits that most of the material he examined avoids considerably more than it confronts.
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By Philip K. Cartiledge
Leni Riefenstahl took me to a little cake shop outside Munich, but not very far outside, in fact it was very close to the central shopping market, or Bourse, as Leni always liked to refer to it, in the Kliepersthal area, just south of the canal, in a little triangle of urban redevelopment where previously, before the Crimean war, jewel grinders, rivet tossers, and sausage manufacturers had their premises. (There was still a tradition of yarmulke juggling in the area, with an annual championship held at the Zolderfunk Stadium which I think was north of Geseisenheimer Strasse, built on a reclaimed landfill site. Although I could be wrong about that, without access to my original notes.)
Over a Black Forest Gateaux, with cherries, that's the cherries being incorporated in the gateaux not as an extra, which would have cost us more, we argued into the night and into the next morning (we would have argued into the night following the night before without any intervention of daylight, if that had happened, but strangely it didn't) about what was the ultimate mountain movie, I claimed it was Men of the Mountains, made in 1922, and directed by up and coming young surfer Turk Sebastapol, an American part-time aviator (and surfer). She had had a brief affair with him, as it happened, which never went beyond exchanging notelets, but when it collapsed, because she had sent more notelets than him, she wanted no further ties, especially with men, whom she saw as basically evil overlords who were unforthcoming with notelets, although she didn't draw the line with women, unless they were called Mr. Right.
She claimed the best mountain movie was one of hers, The Blue Light, which also happened to star herself. Or possibly it was Storms Over Mount Blanc. Yes, also starring herself.
At this time she saw herself as a talent seduced, possibly by a well-cooked sea-bass served on a bed of spittle and noodles by a chef called Romeo in a downtown trattoria in East Belfast, but more likely by the single most evil dictator in the history of the World (unless you count Rupert Murdoch).
She first met Hitler in 1924 (that was Bert Hitker; he changed a blown-out tyre on her Volkswagen for her, after responding to an emergency call-out; there was an initial frisson, but nothing came of the relationship in the long term), and Hitler (the real one) in 1933, when she attended one of his young Nazi Youth rallies masquerading as an all-nighter pie-fest (although, to give him credit, he did provide pies of various descriptions, some even involving soya or tofu for the vegetarians amongst the Nazi ranks, of which, surprisingly there were very few).
She felt attracted to Hitler because he had a moustache and she didn't, at least not on her upper lip. (This was always to be a big area of disappointment to her, having belng brought up by her parents—who came from a long line of Presbyterian barbers—to believe she could grow hair by will on any part of her body, except possibly her mons veneris—whatever that is.)
She made a film of Nuremberg in 1933. She was supposed to be filming a famous Nazi rally, but got misdirected by a traffic cop and ended up filming mostly buildings on a downtown development site: garages, maisonettes, shops, pickle factories, lofts that had been converted into art galleries, and high-rise condominiums, etc.
She then made several disappointing natural history shorts, featuring voles, owls, and centipedes, although the one about centipedes won the Palm'D'Or at the Venice Film Festival that year. Critical acclaim however could never compensate for popular disinterest, especially when she'd just had a shower and had run out of drugs, so it was up to Hitler to re-vitalize her by suggesting she added some human interest to her work by photographing real people wearing real brown shirts, and she was away, never to look back, except when she found herself in an alley off Schweterstrasse on Krystalnacht, and even then she didn't look back, which proves basically what an obdurate woman she was.
If I'd have been Hitler I'd had kicked her out long before this, when she admitted to being a lesbian in an interview with Michael Parkinson printed in the English magazine, The Tatler, circa 1937, or at least I'd have given her a little farm, outside Munich where she could manage to make her introspective little films without getting up everyone's nose, and possibly without getting up at all.
Unfortunately Hitler, for reasons known only to himself and possibly his chiropodist, never made this offer, and survived the assassination attempt by Von Steifenbchhe because he left early to have his corns seen to.
So it was that approximately two weeks later at a meeting arranged by the famous German film producer Ernst Van Knuck, most famous for his 1924 production Yesterday Was Ours, or, as later retitled, The Past Belong To Us, Leni and Hitler found themselves reunited, ideologically, if not physically, and she made Day of Freedom which, through its confident prediction of a Wermacht victory (as seen through the eyes of the nine-year-old idiot savant, Otto), made her a Nazi celebrity, and a very popular guest at Toga parties, except those hosted by Jewish Hollywood film moguls, some of whom even went so far as to try and deprive her of nitrate-based film stock, by passing a bill in Congress.
After the Nazi 1936 Olympic Games, Reifenstahl was literally glued to the cutting room, and could only be released by men with huge flame guns, or bottles of solvent, one of which solutions, fortunately, worked. She went home, spent two weeks at a detox clinic with her long-time friend Lulu, and returned braver and fatter. In fact she had to buy a new girdle.
A year after this, she was arrested for stealing Gideon's bibles from a hotel in Hamburg. Gideon was very aggressive about this and insisted on prosecuting, refusing to accept any offers of plea bargaining, and she served two years in vegetarian solitary, being only allowed to eat salads on her own.
She was eventually released but immediately re-arraigned for corresponding whilst in prison with a newspaper reporter called Julius Streicher, whose ambition was to nail her as an anti-semite.
She denied this categorically, of course, and having taken guidance from my lawyers I agree with her and her family and their lawyers completely.
She managed to escape any potential embarrassment (mostly about rumours that her legs were possibly too fat, nothing more than that, believe me, honestly, and not even fat as involving any possible racial implications, take my word for it) by going to the United States, but didn't entirely escape the gossip that she was shafting Hitler in her spare time (he used to commute over there on the Hindenburg, twice a month, and no one could ever satisfactorily account for his movements after the airship had docked.)
War broke out in 1939, at least if my High School teacher was telling me the truth, and Leni decided to lay low for a little while. Falsely believing the war had ended in 1943, she went to the Tyrol, with Brad Mackenzie (Slalom Champion, 1942), but returned to Germany (although she was still not sure it was a country at war, despite rumours mediated to her forebrain by fairies whilst asleep) when Hitler offered to build a vast studio in her name. Let's face it, he was desperate. Only she, it seemed (or possibly Charlie Chaplin), could present his bizarre moustachioed face in a good light, and yet even she could not being herself to do it, when push came to shove.
Only one person stood in the way of her conquest of the west, and the realization of her career as a great film director, and that was Eva Braun, who was all too aware of Hitler's fascination with this person she called “that bitch behind the camera” and who challenged her to a duel in 1943 in the famed Eyrie or Eagle's Nest. Leni pleaded that the matter should be settled by arm wrestling, knowing she had hugely developed muscles on her forearms, due to cranking cameras, but Eva refused, and shot her through the temple.
Leni survived this ghastly assault, although with only one temporal lobe left intact. She was convinced she could still make films about snow and mountains but was obviously too frail and damaged, mostly in the left temporal lobe, to hold a camera steadily.
With the war over, and both Hitler and Eva Braun removed from her psychological landscape, she went on to live to be almost 100 years old. In the last year of her life she founded Elite Rundfahrten, a bus company which ran tours of Berlin.
One night towards the end of her life, Leni was found carousing on the top deck of one of their tour buses. She was ensured from prosecution by Idel Fuchs, who operated as the person under Hitler who ensured people against prosecution.
When she died and her archive was revealed it was seen than she took much footage of Hitler appearing to masturbate in public or simply rocking from side to side, but was never allowed to broadcast them, although she later incorporated them into a Hitler Blooper Reel, which today changes hands at vast sums, especially among right wing enclaves in Utah.
Let us today celebrate her gentle visions of underwater life or the social customs of the Yoruba, rather than fixate upon her unhealthy obsession with a one-time Austrian house-painter.
- - -
By Christopher Priest
My most recent novel, The Separation (2002), makes several references to the story of Rudolf Hess, Hitler’s deputy. Hess in fact plays only a supporting role in the novel, but the book would not have been written without him.
Before he unexpectedly transformed himself into one of the most unusual and interesting characters of the Second World War, Hess was not the sort of person you would want to write a book about, or even include in one as a minor character.
He was born in 1894 in Egypt, to expatriate parents. His father was a prosperous trader. He served in the same regiment as Adolf Hitler during the 1914-18 war, and was wounded three times, seriously on the last occasion. After the war he joined NSDAP and soon became an active and important Nazi. In 1920 he started working closely with Hitler as his secretary. He took part in the abortive Nazi putsch in Munich, and was imprisoned with Hitler. During their term inside, Hitler dictated much of the text of Mein Kampf to Hess. (It’s also sometimes claimed that Hess himself wrote sections of the book.) In 1932 Hess became the Deputy Leader of the Nazi party. After Hitler took power in 1933, Hess was appointed as Minister Without Portfolio. He can be seen in Leni Riefenstahl’s film of the 1934 Nuremberg Rally, Triumph of the Will. He was instrumental in creating and passing the Nuremberg Laws, under which the systematic persecution of Jews began. Throughout the years before the outbreak of war with Britain and France in 1939, Hess shaped the way in which Germany was not merely governed by the Nazis but became, in effect, a Nazi state.
His role inside Hitler’s régime after war broke out is a controversial one. According to some historians, Hess found himself sidelined by ruthless men like Himmler and Bormann, and became more or less irrelevant to Hitler’s plans. Other historians dispute this entirely. They say that Hess’s position apropos Hitler became increasingly powerful, and that behind the scenes he was a shrewd and effective political operator. Either way, Hess became less visible to the outside world.
On May 10, 1941, Hess suddenly emerged from this relative obscurity. He took off in a Messerschmitt 110 fighter-bomber, flew to Scotland, and on arrival announced to the bemused British authorities that he was on a mission of peace. He said that Germany would agree to an armistice if Britain would give Germany a free hand in the East. (That is to say: Britain would not intervene when Germany invaded the Soviet Union, as Hitler was planning in secret, but which Churchill knew in advance was about to take place.)
As we know, Churchill did not accede to any such plan. He never met or had any contact with Hess and the war between Britain and Germany went on unabated.
Because I write speculative fiction, science fiction, this tiny moment of history clearly suggested a theme for a novel of alternative history, and The Separation was the result.
But we all live in the real world, not an alternative one, and the true story of what happened to Hess after he landed in Scotland is a sensational and mysterious one. The story I tell here does not attempt to unravel any of the mysteries (and there are many), but is a description of my own personal journey through the story, mostly by way of books, films, and other documents. On the way, I hope you’ll understand my fascination with the fate of Rudolf Hess.
I first became aware of Hess when I was a child. While the war was still going on my parents had subscribed to a weekly part-work called Pictorial History of the War (edited by Walter Hutchinson, published by Library Press). You can still sometimes find bound copies in second-hand shops in the UK. The series is not much good as history because everything in it was subject to wartime censorship, but it represents an interesting snapshot of what the British public actually knew about the war at the time. It was crammed with photographs, paintings and maps. It also contained a day-by-day diary of important events. I loved browsing through the copies while I was a child and still today many of its images hang around in seminal memory.
It was in these pages that I first heard about Rudolf Hess and his flight to Britain in search of peace.
Even as a child, I was puzzled by the story of Hess. It was obviously a mystery (Pictorial History used the word before it had seemed to become one), and it was an unusually baffling one. Pictorial History contains only two references to the incident in its daily record of the war’s progress.
The first, May 10, 1941, says:
The next day, May 11, it adds:
There are also three photographs: a blurry one of someone who looks a bit like Hess in the cockpit of an unidentifiable plane, another of the farmer and his mother who witnessed the arrival, and the third is of the wreckage of Hess’s plane. The caption to this last one says:
"The war’s biggest surprise was provided by the arrival in Scotland on May 10, 1941, of Rudolf Hess. He flew solo from Augsburg, a distance of more than 800 miles and landed by parachute. Wreckage of the plane, a Messerschmitt 110, is shown."
That’s all there is. Hess is never mentioned again.
To my young but insistently rational mind, the brief story cried out for more details to be told, for some explanation to be offered.
At the very least, I wanted to know what had happened next. Did Hess stay in hospital? Was he imprisoned? Was he sent back to Germany? What did his plan for peace consist of? Did Churchill ever talk to him? If not, why not? Was Hess mentally deranged, as the Nazi propaganda machine claimed?
And then there was the aircraft. As any boy in the 1950s knew, the Messerschmitt 110 was a two-seat fighter-bomber, crewed by a pilot and a rear-gunner. The comparatively slow 110 was vulnerable to attack from behind, so pilots never flew without a crewman. Why wasn’t the other man mentioned, and if there hadn’t been a second man aboard, why not? Finally, if Hess flew from Augsburg (a quick look at the atlas revealed it to be in Bavaria, in the south of Germany, not far from Munich), why did he fly to Scotland? Could a twin-engined fighter fly all that way without refuelling?
The years passed. Other matters more interesting than Rudolf Hess came into my life, and what might have happened to him seemed less and less important. By the usual means (general reading of newspapers, etc.) I slowly found out the rest of Hess’s story, the one most people know. This in a sense is the official version, the one that history still records as fact.
After his landing in Scotland Hess was imprisoned, and spent the rest of the war in isolation. For the first few days he was moved from one place to another (including a couple of nights in the Tower of London, a bit of meaningless pageantry ordered by Churchill, perhaps to try to impress the American public). He was then taken to a government safe house in Berkshire, where he was interrogated for some weeks, and after a couple more moves ended up in a specially modified secure house in Abergavenny, South Wales. At the end of the war he was taken to Nuremberg, and with the other surviving Nazi leaders he was charged with war crimes. He was found guilty and sentenced to life imprisonment. He was incarcerated in Spandau Prison in West Berlin. By the end of the 1960s the other Nazis who had escaped execution had been released at the end of their sentences, but Hess remained. He was now the sole prisoner in Spandau. He was invariably referred to as Prisoner No.7, and to the end of his life was never again addressed by name.
In 1979 I came across the first of the books that made it obvious there was something extremely unusual about Rudolf Hess.
The Murder of Rudolf Hess by Hugh Thomas (Hodder & Stoughton, 1979; 1st edition). Hess: A Tale of Two Murders by Hugh Thomas (Hodder & Stoughton, 1988; revised edition of the previous book).
Prisoner No.7 was still alive and being held in Spandau Prison when I read this book, soon after it was published.
Hugh Thomas was a surgeon serving in the British Army during the early 1970s. While on a tour of duty in Northern Ireland he had developed a specialist surgical interest in bullet wounds. When he was posted in 1972 as a consultant surgeon to the British Military Hospital in West Berlin, he discovered that Prisoner No.7 would come under his care.
Hugh Thomas had a professional interest in Hess. When Hess was shot in August 1917, his injuries had been tended by a German surgeon called Sauerbruch, who, like Thomas, had had to develop surgical techniques for dealing with traumatic bullet wounds. Hess was seriously injured. A bullet passed right through him, penetrating his left lung. As a result he was in hospital for four months and afterwards was transferred to the Reserve. He never returned to active service, even though the war had nearly a year to run.
Knowing that Hess would still bear the scars from the injuries and the surgery, Thomas was keen to examine him.
The opportunity finally arrived on September 25, 1973. Thomas discovered to his amazement that apart from one tiny mark on Hess’s chest, there was no sign anywhere on his body of the entry and exit wounds made by the bullet, or the scars left by the radical surgery that Sauerbruch would have performed. (Sauerbruch was legendary for his aggressive surgical techniques, making huge incisions and breaking ribs to get into the patient’s chest cavity.) As Thomas says in his book, scars will fade slightly with age, and sometimes shrink, but they never disappear entirely.
On the strength of this evidence, which contradicted medical records, including Sauerbruch’s original ones in 1917, Thomas came to the startling conclusion that the man being held in Spandau Prison was not Hess and could not be. It had to be someone else.
After returning to civilian life, Thomas set out to discover what might have happened.
His research exposed a series of anomalies, all of which threw the official version into question, and none of which could be easily explained. Hugh Thomas’s book is the story of his investigation into this mystery, and although it raises almost as many new questions as it answers, it makes a fascinating read.
He addresses, for one thing, the unexplained nature of the long flight across the North Sea, which had always puzzled me purely in aviation terms. He confirms what I as a 14-year-old had known all along, that the plane known to have taken off with Hess at the controls, and which flew according to the declared flight plan, did not have sufficient range for such a long flight, with or without auxiliary drop tanks. There is doubt even about these: an empty one from a Me-110 was found in Scotland after the flight, but a photograph of the plane leaving Augsburg, taken by Hess’s adjutant on the day of departure, has no external tanks fitted.
Churchill’s silence and refusal to meet Hess is discussed and partly explained. The incompetence of the interrogation carried out by the British is also exposed. The theory of Hess’s alleged derangement is investigated in depth, including some revealing remarks from Hess’s son and wife. Thomas’s investigative skills are impressive.
Based on his researches Thomas comes to the conclusion that at some point Hess was replaced by an impostor, an actor, a physical double. Thomas does not, however, attempt to answer several of the urgent new questions raised by his theory. Notable among them, of course, is why the alleged double did not own up to the deception as soon as he was sure the war was over, and save himself some forty years of solitary confinement.
The book is in two editions, as identified above: the first came out while Prisoner No.7 was still alive in Spandau Prison, the second appeared after his death in 1987.
In the first book Thomas concludes that the real Hess must have been murdered soon after his arrival in Scotland, possibly by members of British Intelligence. An impostor was then put in his place. (Why anyone should have done this is one of the extra questions the theory raises.)
The second edition in 1988, with its title referring to two murders, contains the additional allegation that Prisoner No.7, whoever he was, did not die of natural causes, but was murdered in mysterious circumstances in 1987, while still a prisoner in Spandau. Again, Thomas supports this with a great deal of convincing evidence, but does not really explain why it happened.
Thomas’s interesting theory has been challenged by many other researchers who have followed, some seeking to discredit him, others trying to solve the remaining enigmas. Much new evidence has come to light, although little of it is conclusive.
Hess’s scars lie at the centre of the mystery, and these have been examined, so to speak, in ruthless detail. Some say the medical records were falsified by the Nazis when Hess rose to power. (But how could anyone in Germany have known, during the 1930s, that his injuries from twenty years before would become the centre of a controversy half a century later?) Others claim to have established that Sauerbruch did not himself perform the original operation. (But if so, why did he write medical notes, and why do hospital records bear his name?) Others have tried to show that the wound in question was a minor flesh wound, causing no serious injury. Even Hess himself, writing to his parents from hospital, laughed it off as a lucky escape. (But why then did he spend four months in hospital with a minor wound, and why did he never return to active service at a time when the German army was desperate for battle-experienced soldiers?)
Other aspects of Thomas’s theory have been questioned in similar detail, but so far no new information has come to light that comprehensively discredits it.
Indeed, some of these debunking exercises are themselves highly suspect. One recent book alleged that newly released papers from MI6 (British intelligence) show that British agents had duped Hess into making the flight, with Hitler’s full approval, and that wholesale official doctoring of the evidence has been going ever since. Unfortunately, it turned out soon after this book was published that the MI6 documents were themselves fakes.
Whatever anyone might think about conspiracy theories, something is clearly going on!
My own stand on conspiracy theories is that I enjoy learning about them without necessarily believing them. In this account of Rudolf Hess and his putative double, it seemed to me that there was a gap somewhere in Thomas’s logic, but nevertheless he had thrown enough of the official version into doubt to make me wonder where the truth lay.
I am a writer of speculative fiction. I love fantastic ideas. The germ of the idea for The Separation arose from these two books.
However, more was to come.
Hess: The British Conspiracy by John Harris & M.J. Trow (André Deutsch, 2000; first published in 1999).
The conspiracy theory thickened noticeably with this book, which is based on an earlier pamphlet written and self-published by Harris. I had already read the pamphlet, but found it rather incoherent. I assume when the book was commissioned Trow was brought in to clean up Harris’s poor writing style.
John Harris is suspicious of everybody and everything, a classic conspiracy theorist, and he approaches the Hess mystery from the principle that the flight couldn’t have been undertaken without advance cooperation from the British. So Harris scours through what MI6 sources he can find, trying to show that Hess was gulled into the flight. As usual with these things, various new facts and pieces of intriguing information emerged, but I remained unconvinced and unimpressed.
Hess: The Führer’s Disciple by Peter Padfield (Cassel, 2001; first published by Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 1991).
This book is in a different class from Harris’s rather frenetic effort: Peter Padfield is the respected author of numerous books of military and naval history, and his work is a thorough examination of all the various aspects of the Hess story. (He discounts Hugh Thomas’s theories about an impostor and believes there is insufficient evidence of the murders.) Ultimately, the conclusion Padfield draws is that Hess was set up by the other Nazis, perhaps by Heinrich Himmler, but that he was also a pawn in a larger game being played at the time by Hitler, Churchill and Stalin. Hess’s flight took place just over a month before the German invasion of the Soviet Union.
By the time I read Padfield’s book I had completed much of the first draft of The Separation, and therefore I knew that although Hess was going to come into the story he would be playing only a minor part. Hess had been a crucial element in my early plans for the novel, but as so often happens his story had been overtaken by the sheer momentum of writing my own book. Unless I were to abandon almost everything I had written, and make Hess into a major character, there was little I could use from all the research material I was coming across.
However, putting my novel aside, I was persuaded that there was and still is a lot left to be revealed. Here are some of the anomalies:
Hess’s mission might have been taken on his own initiative, or it might have been made with Hitler’s advance knowledge ... or it might even have been made on Hitler’s direct orders.
Heinrich Himmler and/or Martin Bormann might have been conspiring to remove Hess from the scene for their own purposes, and encouraged him to make the flight. Hess himself might or might not have been in contact with British intelligence agents.
The aircraft he flew in might or might not have had sufficient range to fly to Scotland.
Hess might or might not have stopped to refuel in the Netherlands.
The Luftwaffe might or might not have tried to shoot him down as he flew across the North Sea.
There might or might not have been a physical double with an identical plane, waiting for orders to fly to Britain from Denmark.
The pilot of the plane (Hess, or his putative double) might or might not have had a second crew member on board.
On arrival, he might have been the real Rudolf Hess, on interrogation he might still have been the real man, but by the time he arrived at Nuremberg for the war crimes trial it is almost certain that he was an impostor.
The British authorities might or might not have been expecting him. Why was the RAF not scrambled to intercept this German fighter-bomber when it crossed into British air space, at night, at low level, at the height of the Blitz? (In fact, two Spitfires were scrambled to try to shoot it down, but they were inexplicably ordered to land before they made contact.)
Then there are all the minor mysteries, which by themselves mean nothing, until you put them in the context of the other riddles, when they suddenly seem inexplicable except by accepting the theory of a double:
Hess was a lifelong vegetarian, yet he ate meat all the time he was in Britain.
Hess was a regular user of yoga exercises, but during his entire British captivity the only exercise he seemed able to perform was lying on the floor.
Hess came from a middle-class background, where his family had servants. While he was in Germany the other senior Nazis had often teased him for his affectations (which they saw as effeminate: his nickname behind his back was Fräulein Hess). But in Britain he ate like a slob. The soldiers who guarded him would often laugh about the way he drank soup: he would tip up the bowl and drink it from the edge, spilling soup over his jaw and chest.
After he had been imprisoned for many years in Berlin, and had become an old man, Hess finally agreed to see his wife, Ilse. It was twenty-eight years since they had met. According to a witness at the meeting, one of the first things Ilse remarked to Hess was that his voice had become much deeper and more manly. (But men’s voices invariably become reedier, higher-pitched, with age.)
Finally, why didn’t Prisoner No.7 say anything about who he really was?
So all of this was enough of a puzzle to stir the creative juices. But I was a writer, working on a novel. When you do so much research, it always comes as a refreshing draught of reality to realize that in fact you end up throwing most of it away. I wasn’t writing a book about Hess. He was a minor character, and very little of this fascinating material had a bearing on his part in my story.
Then, with The Separation just about complete, I came across a new book.
Double Standards: The Rudolf Hess Cover-Up by Lynn Picknett, Clive Prince and Stephen Prior, with Robert Brydon (Little Brown, 2001; first edition)
The provenance of this book was not encouraging. The authors had in my view previously spent a bit too long on the familiar loony fringes of investigative writing: the Knights Templar, the Turin Shroud, pyramids, esoteric societies and all that. And look at those by-lines! Why should it take four people to write a book? However, it was about Rudolf Hess so I thought I’d take a look at it. At this point I was close to delivering The Separation and did not need anything more to add to the Hess mystery, or conspiracy, or cover-up, or whatever it was that had gone on. However, I was still interested.
I started reading. The authors had clearly done their homework and were well briefed on all the various facts, contradictions and theories of the Hess story. Most of their rehearsal of the known facts was familiar to me. Every aspect of the story, from Hess’s early days, his war record, his ascendancy as Hitler’s secretary and deputy, his power and influence within Germany (or otherwise), the flight to Scotland, the imprisonment in Britain, the behaviour at his trial, his long incarceration in Berlin, his death, it is all rigorously examined by these diligent researchers.
The impostor theory is revived and made almost respectable: the authors believe that there was indeed a double, one who was intended at first to act as a decoy, allowing the real Hess to move about more freely in high British circles in pursuit of his peace aims. Every incident, no matter how apparently trivial, is questioned, checked and re-examined.
Double Standards is a marvel of forensic investigation. It is gripping, plausible, well supported with evidence and interviews with surviving witnesses, and deals with long-lost files opened and examined. You finish the book believing that so many mysterious events have been confirmed or invalidated by the authors’ researches that from now on any attempt to solve the Hess enigma will at least have to incorporate the mass of intriguing material that has been set out in this book.
Above all, the book tells the story of a death.
That death is said to be Rudolf Hess’s. The event occurred long before the Nuremberg Tribunal and the incarceration in Spandau.
On August 25, 1942 a Sunderland flying boat crashed into a hill in north-east Scotland. There was only one survivor: the rear-gunner, who was thrown clear from the crash. Including the gunner, fifteen men were on the plane when it took off; the other fourteen all perished. When rescuers reached the scene and searched the wreckage, however, they found the bodies of fifteen men, as well as the injured gunner. The identity of the extra passenger was never made public.
One of the people who was killed on the plane was the Duke of Kent, the younger brother of King George VI, with several members of his staff. The official purpose of his flight was a morale-raising mission to British troops stationed on Iceland. The plane was flown by experienced RAF officers and crew, with four pilots and four navigators on board.
The declared flight plan, as was customary for wartime journeys in flying boats, was a route above the sea, at low altitude, skirting the north-east coast of Scotland, before heading out across the ocean towards Iceland.
At the inquest it was stated that the plane had lost its way in bad weather, ventured inland in error, and hit the mountain a few miles inland, beyond the village of Dunbeath.
If the aircraft had wandered off course in the way the inquest decided, it would have hit the hill less than twenty minutes after taking off from Invergordon. In fact the evidence of surviving witnesses (meteorologists, air force personnel, etc.) is that the plane crashed an hour or two after take-off. It appears either to have taken a much longer and slower route ... or had stopped off somewhere on the way.
Other witnesses recall seeing a flying-boat landing on a remote loch not far from the scene of the crash, where another passenger was taken aboard. For reasons of detailed evidence (too complicated to summarize here, but Double Standards sets out the material in detail) that extra passenger was almost certainly Rudolf Hess.
If all this is true, what was Hess doing on an aircraft with a senior member of the British royal family at the height of a war between Britain and Germany? Where were they really going, and why?
The traditional partner of the conspiracy theory is of course the cover-up.
One interesting but unusual feature of the Hess story is that there is without any question an official cover-up. It was created by Winston Churchill himself, who ordered that all government files relating to Hess should be closed for seventy-five years. (That time is nearly up, incidentally: they are due to be opened in 2017.)
But as well as this major blanket of secrecy, there are many smaller signs of official panic about the way in which the duke died.
For one example (of many), on the day after the crash all the civilian meteorologists in that part of Scotland were abruptly drafted into the Royal Air Force. During WW2, the weather was an official secret, so once within the armed forces the meteorologists were unable to give evidence, even in a closed court, about weather conditions on the day. With post-war hindsight, we know from the records that were kept at the time that the day in question was a warm, bright summer’s day. It was so calm, in fact, that the aircraft had originally experienced difficulty taking off from the sea at Invergordon. The pilots of heavily loaded Sunderlands preferred the water to be choppy, because that helped get the aircraft into the air. But the inquest was told that the weather was poor, and that the land was shrouded in mist. This went unchallenged, and that remains the official verdict on the cause of death.
Why did Churchill close the files for seventy-five years? It seems at first sight an odd period to choose, as British government files are normally sealed for only thirty years.
If it had come out that Hess was moving in the highest British circles, it would have caused acute political and military embarrassment to Churchill. In 1941 and 1942 Stalin and Roosevelt would, for different reasons, have taken an exceedingly dim view of that. Churchill was also no doubt trying to spare the blushes of the monarchy.
Seventy-five years, he might have calculated, would take the embarrassing information beyond the lifetimes not only of the immediate royal family of the day, but probably also of their offspring.
Queen Elizabeth the Queen Mother (wife of George VI, and therefore of course sister-in-law to the Duke of Kent) died in 2002, at the age of 101. All other sisters, brothers and cousins of the duke are long dead. The present queen, Elizabeth II, daughter of George VI and niece of the dead duke, was born in 1924. By the year 2017 she will be 93 years old. Prince Charles, heir to the throne, was born in 1948, and therefore will be 69 when the files are made public.
So maybe, just this once, there really was a conspiracy and cover-up at the highest political levels. In eleven years we will find out for sure.
The truth about Rudolf Hess, the historical truth, will therefore probably emerge in the end, and in common with most historical facts will be a blend of the commonplace, the surprising, the contradictory and the unpleasant. That’s the way of the real world. I have to live in that sometimes disagreeable and frightening world, but my own reality is a far more subtle and personal thing. Briefly described, and perhaps pretentiously (but I’m past caring about that these days), it is the world of the imagination. I often write about identical twins, doubles, doppelgängers, mistaken identity. It’s unusual for me to come across a sequence of events, a series of lies and evasions and misdirections, that so closely seems to match those inner wonderings.
I wonder what would happen if ...? is the way the old familiar question goes, the one that by repute sets the fire for most of speculative fiction.
The amazing life of Rudolf Hess asks a similar one, just as provoking: I wonder what happened when ...?
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By Pat Kearney
In view of the extreme sparseness of the subject – the basic facts, as I know them, could be comfortably written on the back of a postcard – I’m not altogether sure how Earl Kemp persuaded me to write a piece on the erotica published in Paris during the German Occupation. But since in a weak moment I allowed myself to agree to the project, I’ll do my best.
When the Germans invaded France in May 1940, one of their first orders of business, as in the other occupied countries, was to seize control of communications and establish strict censorship. Radio, cinema, theatre, the Press, publishing, and even school textbooks came under either the direct military command of the Propaganda Abteilung, or, through the German Ambassador, the Institute Allemand.
Control of publishing in fact started, or was planned, shortly before the Occupation, with Liste Bernhard, which itemized nearly 150 titles determined by the Nazis to be subversive to their political or racial policies. This list was used in August 1940 by the Occupation forces in their first raids on bookshops, libraries, and publishing houses. Almost immediately the list was revised and circulated to all the French publishing houses, which were expected to, and in most cases did, provide additional titles. This greatly expanded catalogue of proscribed books was put together by the military authorities and the German Embassy, and issued in late September 1940 under the title Liste Otto, presumably after Otto Abetz, the German Ambassador.
It should be understood that the primary concern of the German censors–and the pro-Fascist French ones in Vichy–was with political and social unorthodoxy. So far as I am aware, there seems to have been little effort on the part of the Occupying Germans to censor books for sexual reasons, although earlier in Germany itself there had been strenuous efforts in this respect, most famously with the Polunbi-Katalog (Berlin, 1926, with supplements in 1929 and 1936). This was an official police publication dealing specifically with erotic and related materials, and not intended for public use as the sonorous warning “Geheim! Nur für amtlichen Gebrauch!” on the title page suggests. Bell Verlag usefully reprinted the volume for 1936 at Hamburg in 1986, for its bibliographical interest. Of related interest is Liste des schädlichen und unerwünschten Schrifttums (Leipzig 1939, with supplements in 1940, 1941 and 1942), a sort of Nazi equivalent to the Catholic Index librorum prohibitorum, which included a number of erotic or scientific works in amongst the political pariahs with which the catalogue was chiefly concerned.
The full title of Liste Otto was Ouvrages retirés de la vente par les éditeurs ou interdits par les autorités allemandes (‘Works removed from Sale by their Publishers or Banned by the German Authorities’). This implies that the French publishers were complicit in the work of the occupying censors, a suggestion reinforced by a fawning Preface, which refers to ‘French public opinion’ having been ‘poisoned’ by Jewish writers. The preface concludes with a note of appreciation by the German authorities for the efficient way in which French publishers dealt with these matters. Subsequent editions of Liste Otto – like mine that appears to be the second – curiously omit this Preface.
One of the ways in which the Germans enforced their censorship laws was to ration the availability of paper and ink. Publishers wishing to stay in business purged their catalogues of ‘suspect’ titles, and promoted authors friendly to the Occupiers. In return, they were allowed greater allowances and paper than those publishers who merely concentrated on ‘safe’ or neutral publications. One such friendly publisher was Robert Denoël, who had issued several of Louis Ferdinand’s Céline’s more scabrous works.
Céline came to prominence in 1932 with a remarkable novel called Voyage au bout de la nuit, which recounted his experiences in the trenches of WWI, and subsequent adventures in the United States, Africa, and elsewhere. Thought to be one of the great proletarian writers on the strength of this work, Céline was invited to Russia, after which he delivered himself of Mea culpa (1936), a highly intemperate attack on the Soviet Union. He followed this up with Mort à credit (also 1936), but his three subsequent works became progressively more extreme and outrageous. Blistering anti-Semitism is their most frequently cited shortcomings, and for this reason they have never been reprinted since WWII, but in fact they are so extreme and their cynicism and all-encompassing hatred for the world and just about everything in it make them read like surrealist tracts written by a deranged anarchist. Indeed, these works – Bagatelle pour un massacre (1937), L’École des cadavers (1938), and les Beaux draps (1941) – are frequently referred to, despite their book-length size, as ‘pamphlets’ because of their polemical nature.
Céline’s publisher, Robert Denoël, seems to have been a more conventional anti-semite. A Belgian by nationality, he was originally in partnership with an American named Bernard Steele. He took over control of the business in 1937 when Steele sold him his interest in the company and it thereafter became Éditions Denoël. In 1940, he created, “in the National interest,” a subsidiary imprint he called Nouvelles Éditions Françaises, which specialized in such racist tripe as Dr. George Montandon’s Comment reconnaître et expliquer le Juif? (‘How can one recognize and account for the Jew?’) It is unfortunate that Céline’s les Beaux Draps also appeared under this imprint. Justice, however, caught up with Denoël. In December 1945 he was shot dead on the boulevard des Invalides, Paris. Who did it and why has never been established, but since the money in his wallet was untouched it seems unlikely that robbery was the motive, and it remains to suspect that somebody from the Resistance settled a score.
It is interesting to note that some of the ‘safer’ or more cautious publishers got together to protest the rationing of paper and ink, and that one of the leaders of this pressure group was our old friend Maurice Girodias. Aghast at the prospect of another war with Germany and fully aware of his bad heart, Jack Kahane, Maurice’s father, seems to have committed suicide at the beginning of September 1939 by drinking a bottle of 3-star Cognac, leaving Maurice to look after his mother and a brother and sister.
Maurice had doubts that there would be war. Nevertheless, he felt it wise to close down the Obelisk Press, with its catalogue of risqué books by the likes of Henry Miller and Lawrence Durrell, and go into partnership with a friend of his father’s named Kurt Enoch. The plan was to start another publishing company, to be called the Unicorn Press. Like Albatross Books of Hamburg, which had been started in 1932 by Enoch in collaboration with John Holroyd-Reece and Max Christian Wegner, Unicorn Books would publish important English-language novels and have them distributed through Hachette, a major French publishing house. The first title to be selected for the Unicorn imprint was The Grapes of Wrath and negations were begun to secure the rights for other novels by Elizabeth Bowen, Somerset Maugham, and others. Unfortunately, war was declared and the Germans did invade. Enoch hurriedly left France, and Maurice assumed his mother’s maiden name, Girodias, and a set of false papers establishing his new identity.
He still had to earn a living, though, and his earliest solo publishing venture consisted of a small weekly periodical called Paris-Programme which advertised entertainments and sporting events. This didn’t prove stimulating enough for Girodias, so he managed to sell it and in 1941 founded Les Editions du Chêne. In a move anticipating his later somewhat brash post-war publishing methods with the Olympia Press, one of his first ventures under the new imprint was Un Écrivain originale, M. André Maurois by one ‘Auriant,’ a pamphlet of some sixty-four pages which reprinted two obscure studies from 1928 suggesting that Maurois, one of France’s most esteemed authors, had been guilty of plagiarism in his biographies of Disraeli, Byron, and Shelley.
Following this minor controversy, Girodias seems to have settled down to publishing books on art history, architecture, furniture, and similar subjects, and became quite successful. However, despite his apparent brassiness in leading the campaign for a more even-handed distribution of paper and ink, there have been suggestions he may also have been in some way a collaborator, and it is with unease that one reads of Abetz, the German Ambassador, describing him in October 1941 as ‘absolut deutschfreundlich’ (Philippe Burrin, France under the Germans, New York: New Press, 1996, p. 508 note 24.)
Those wishing to read further on these matters are referred to Pascal Fouché’s magisterial but extremely expensive (and now scarce) L’Édition Française sous l’Occupation (Paris: Bibliothèque de Littérature Française Contemporaine, 1987), a work of almost 900 pages in two volumes, in which the subject is dealt with in excruciating detail.
But what of erotic works published under the Occupation, and the subject of this piece? The sad fact is that there was very little. With the enforced shortages of paper and ink, and strict censorship, what little clandestine publishing that took place was almost exclusively political, or in some other way at odds with the Occupying forces and their fascist allies. Les Éditions de Minuit, founded secretly in 1941 by Jean Bruller and Pierre de Lescure to publish works (usually under pseudonyms) by authors like Louis Aragon, was one of the most successful of the underground presses, although they didn’t put out any erotic material. After the War, the company emerged from the shadows and became famous for publishing Marguerite Duras, Samuel Beckett, Robert Pinget, and others. They also published the original edition of the short sadomasochist novel L’Image (1956) by ‘Jean de Berg,’ a pseudonym thought to conceal the wife of novelist Alain Robbe-Grillet. It was one of Les Éditions de Minuit’s very few excursions into the arena of erotica.
Erotica was published during the Occupation, however, and although thin on the ground was generally quite remarkable.
Best known was probably Jean Genet’s Notre-Dame-Des-Fleurs (‘Monte Carlo: aux dépens d’un amateur’, n.d.) Written in prison in 1942, it was actually published in 1943, by Paul Morihien, at the time Jean Cocteau’s secretary, and, taking a break from his racist tracts, Robert Denoël. Incredibly, the author allowed his true name to appear on the title page. Although the book was printed in 1943, less than fifty copies were actually bound and distributed at the time and the bulk of the edition wasn’t put on sale until 1944, after the Liberation. 350 numbered copies are stated to have been printed, but there is evidence that the figure was actually 700, with the numeration duplicated.
Less well known outside France and the rarified circles of the amateur, was Robert J. Godet, a young man with a weakness for fine printing and limited editions who published three important erotic works during the Occupation. He also openly published a number of books that in normal times wouldn’t have raised an eyebrow, but under Nazi rule, with its famous dislike of the ‘decadent’ and avant-garde, might be seen as chancing his arm, or pushing the envelope as it’s spelled these days. Among other works, he published in 1943 La Chevre-feuille and La Sphere de sable, both by the poet and critic–and erotica publisher and author as will shortly be seen–Georges Hugnet, with illustrations by Picasso and Jean Arp respectively.
Godet’s first venture in clandestine erotica that I’m aware of was the first edition of Madame Edwarda, which was printed for him in December 1941 by E. Durand. Barely fifty pages long, the brief work was ascribed to ‘Pierre Angélique’ but was in fact by Georges Bataille. Only forty-five copies were printed, with the false imprint ‘Éditions de Solitaire, 1937.’ A bookseller named Georges Blaizot published a new version of the text, with 30 in-text engravings by Jean Fautrier, in 1945, shortly after the Liberation. This too was a secret publication, and limited to less than 100 copies. Eleven years later, in 1956, the Olympia Press openly published an English translation, using the same author’s pseudonym as the French editions, but with the title changed to The Naked Beast at Heaven’s Gate to prevent the authorities from making a connection between the French and English texts.
In 1943,Godet published Le Feu au cul and Le Grand ordinaire. As a text, I’m not familiar with the former, never having seen a copy, but it is a brief work by Georges Hugnet. Each page of text–seventeen in all–has a small illustration, in addition to which are two original etchings by Oscar Dominguez. Fifty-three copies only were printed, again by Durand.
At 123 pages, Le Grand ordinaire was a much more ambitious work. It was written by the surrealist André Thirion, with six illustrations by Oscar Dominguez, and limited to 128 copies. The book is falsely dated ‘1934,’ reversing the last two digits of the true date. My own copy is one of 95 printed on vélin–essentially the ‘trade’ edition–but has the distinction of being inscribed by the author to Marcel Duhamel, the French publisher who founded the ‘serie noire’for Gallimard and helped launch the career of Chester Himes. On the limitation page, Thirion has also crossed out the false publication date, replacing it with the real one, and added the name of the artist which, like that of the author, had obviously not appeared anywhere in the book. The outline of Le Grand ordinaire had originally been written in the late 1920s as La Vie de château, but the text as eventually published wasn’t completed until 1940 or ’41, when on the advice of Dominguez and with the encouragement of Georges Hugnet, Thirion passed the manuscript to Godet.
There is a tradition that some of the print-run of Le Grand ordinaire was seized and destroyed by the Gestapo, but there is no evidence that this is true. Eric Losfeld published a clandestine reprint of the novel in the 1950s, which, being done in facsimile, is internally identical to the original. However, the two editions may be identified by the printed wrappers, which are quite different.
Also in 1943, Georges Hugnet published the first edition of Georges Bataille’s Le Petit, which appeared under the pseudonym ‘Louis Trente.’ Another brief work–it had less than fifty pages–it was limited to just fifty-three copies. Unlike Le Grand ordinaire, it is certain that production of this work was interrupted by ‘une indésirable visite des autorités d’occupation,’ for there is a most interesting note telling of the experience written by the publisher in a copy of the book belonging to a collector in Paris.
Solely because of the frequency with which it has been reprinted, Gamiani may be seen as the French equivalent of Cleland’s Memoirs of a Woman of Pleasure (London, 1748,9, two volumes). The subject matter of the two books and just about everything else is quite different, but it seems likely that neither has been out-of-print in one form or another since they were originally published.
Gamiani, ou, une nuit d'excès – the second part is subtitled ‘deux nuits d'excès – was first published in 1833, probably at Paris although the title page indicates ‘Bruxelles.’ It is a large folio of twenty-six pages. The text, which is in two columns, is reproduced in facsimile from a calligraphic manuscript, and illustrated with twelve erotic lithographs by Achille Devéria and Pierre Louis (‘Henri’) Grevedon. The authorship is uncertain, but the author usually given credit is Alfred de Musset, with the rumoured assistance of his mistress George Sand, the pseudonym used by novelist and premature feminist Amandine-Aurore-Lucile Dupin. The dates of their liaison–the summer 1833 to March of 1834–seem to support this conjecture.
During the Occupation some five different editions of Gamiani were published, although the publisher of only one of them is known, Henri Pasquinelli who, about 1942, also published an edition of Verlaine’s erotic poems with illustrations by Berthommé Saint-André.
The shortage of printing paper was perhaps best demonstrated in a series of erotic works appearing in the early 1940s from an unknown publisher that except for their wrappers were printed entirely on photographic paper. These books were quite short and for the most part were extracted from full-length novels that had appeared previously. Mon Education Amoureuse, for example, comprises less than fifty pages from the French edition of My Secret Life that had been published by Marcel Seheur in 1932, including reproductions of seven of the plates by Berthommé Saint-André taken from the same edition. Other works so plundered for this series include Trois filles de leur mère (1926) by Pierre Louÿs, Dévergondages (c. 1937) by Johannes Gros, Un Jeune fille à la page (c. 1937) by Michèle Nicolaï, and, of a more geriatric vintage, Mes etapes amoureuses, a novel by Edmund Dumoulin that had originally been published in the 1890s. Its brevity insured there was also an edition of Gamiani of course.
One must assume that German libido was also catered for, although I’ve been unable to trace more than one item, a long novel called Das Bildnis des Dorian Gray. It has, needless to say, nothing whatsoever to do with Oscar Wilde. The original edition is very rare; my copy would seem to be an undated and clandestine facsimile reprint from the 1950s, imprinted (as was the original one must assume) “L'année Bibliographique”, Les Découvertes Litteraires, Paris. A two-volume English edition translated by ‘Henrik van Breda’ [Mark Lawrence & Lauraine Kirby] was published by Brandon House in 1970, which appears to be rarer than the German original since I know of only two copies, one in the British Library and the other in a private collection.
I am unable to say with absolute certainty that Das Bildnis des Dorian Gray actually first appeared in France during the Occupation; I have been told so by people whose opinion on such matters is usually reliable, but copies dated, tentatively, 1930 have been offered on the Internet by booksellers specializing in erotica. If anyone knows the truth of the matter, or can add to my list of French erotica from the War years, I would be very grateful for the information. You know where to find me….
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By Jay A. Gertzman
You don’t know me without you’ve read a book by my daddy, Sinclair Lewis. It’s one of them there eponymous titles. Yep, I'm him, and yeah, I'm dead. You wouldn’t think a lout like me would know that kind of word, but let me tell you at the start that in the other world, we dead souls know a whole big bunch of things we didn’t when we were on live. I’m not where you may think, either. But they got us pretty much patrolled, intercepted, and surveilled down here. So I gotta watch my language. The spooks in the headsets, ain’t they just marvelous creative about using those pitchforks.
Ever since 9/11, I’ve wanted to come see America. Not only b/c we have a guy in the White House who’s just as prayerful as me. I had it a lot harder. I slept through classes at a small cow college, not no Yale. Never became a blood brother to an oil sheik either. I had to learn on my own how to talk to congregations, project my voice, learn me some English. W just learned his God-signals from one of his daddy’s advisors, and from ol’ Turd Blossom, along with some talking points. Ol’ Elmer never had a baseball team to play around with and use the money he lost to get a tax break. Come to think, though, a lesser man that W (me?) would buy good players and have the whole state grateful. Not W though–cool as any other cucumber. Take no risks.
Actually, John Ashcroft was more my style. We both had booming voices, and like the look of soaring eagles. A guy who had himself anointed with holy oil right there in the Justice Dept, and told the country his only boss was Jesus Christ. I mean, I said that myself, whenever the muckity-mucks called me on the carpet. But to do it when your job was to interpret the Constitution–that’s the stuff. "I got your Establishment Clause right here." I never thought that could happen here.
Soaring Eagles, Holy Wal*Mart, Code Orange
So, I wanted the see what John had wrought. I’m damned (not a good choice of words but let it go) if his Internet Child Protection Acts didn’t fail to get through the courts (that was then). Dreamer. When I wanted to crusade against the vice palaces in he Midwest, like the New York Anti-Vice Society did (they had their own “town censor”; I liked the sound of that), the smartest literal interpreter of the Bible the Baptists had personally warned me off. He said some of their most pious donors would not be onboard with that, having owned many properties in the red light districts.
Now, damned (ouch. Gotta stop that) if W didn’t know better. In my heyday, a bestseller was The Man Nobody Knows, by an advertising executive named Bruce Barton. His hero was Jesus himself (which W ain’t, of course). Jesus, Mr. Barton pointed out, was a good businessman; in short, a good husbander of his and his loved ones’ resources. People liked him (he had “overwhelming faith in the importance of the work one has to do”), and he knew how to pick his advisors (“interesting collection of contrasts in this matter of executive ability”). Daddy S seems not to have known how much I loved that book. “Personal magnetism.” Loyal disciples. Maybe W read it too. Out he comes with the signals that every blessed (that’s better) corpsuit in the US would salute whenever he flagpoled them. Americans worship decency, they have good hearts, God loves our freedoms. The ones pornographers and terrorists hate. CEO dynamite. And the windup? The biggest companies that own the hotel-room XXX movies, the porno websites, and that foxy “fun house of the week” program contributed through their noses and out the old kazoo (lay off the rib cage, buster) for his re-election. Now that’s in-spire-a-she-o-u-n! Think he’s dumb?
John’s crusade against porno paid off big, though, when the big box stores could hop on board. And so today, in rural and small-city areas where young people’s only access to music is in the Wal*Marts that now bind America together like nothing else except over-extended state medical service offices, kids can only get rock and rap with lyrics and DVD covers sanitized, decency-fied, circumcised, un-T&Aed, bunged up, and unabominated. We preachers couldn’t even get Ulysses banned. The Mall Marts are way beyond us. “We shall yet make these United States a moral nation.” Them’s my words, reported by Daddy Sinclair on the last page of my book.
Doesn’t any business have to give the people what they want? W, he says the same. We got a service economy now, see, and you can’t blame the Boxmarts if the people want a big choice. The New York Times even saw the light in their Sunday Magazine recently. Not Wal*Mart’s fault they can’t give benefit packages either. If the people would rather be under one roof instead at all those little Main Street shops their parents and grandparents patronized all those years, good on them. Tourists can see that outdated small town America at theme parks nowadays, all prettified up with no foul language, spitting in the street, back alley pool halls, or teen age gangs “reading” double gorgeous Bettie Page girlie magazines (ow! Git these from me and my good right arm). What you see at theme parks is never-was America, but the retail shops are re-al-it-y.
Now I always saw the big city newspapers as allies of Satan. But when I see how W has got their access to news tied into printing what his own approved sources say, I can see he’s not just any cucumber. He’s the whole load.
What I’d like to have had going for me is the support of the biggest companies in the land. It’s as natural as religion itself to have that kind of support, because if there’s anything better than one strong group making people happy by telling them what’s good for them, it’s two such towers of strength. That’s why I wanted, at the height of my career, to be advisor to Presidents. “The most powerful man in America,” I would tell myself. “The emperor of America.” See, my future-scanning daddy wrote that before 1927, when he published my story.
The business of America is business. The politics of America is business. The politics of business–now–is war. What I couldn’t have done with a godless, jealous enemy to be at war with, back in my day. But when one came–Big Two–we were all confused. FDR was in office, Fr. Coughlin was on the radio, and lots of our congregations were America Firsters. Talk about your mixed blessings.
War means obedience. And fundamentalist religion means obedience (even from a meaty, alcohol-loving, horn-voiced rascal preacher like me, obedient people drew strength and calm). Woe to the critics of America: dishonest, shameless, and corrupt. That there’s Cheney- speak. I said the same back in the ’20s. Once again, W has done me one better now, with the “aid and comfort to the enemy” warning. Never has to look over his shoulder, like I had to, for fear of my peccadilloes with the ladies catching up to me. Not W. It’s Kerry or McCain who wind up having to defend themselves. Still think he’s dumb? His brain is in Turd Blossom’s noggin, huh? You call him dumb you call me dumb. Watch your mouth. Remember, when I played football at Terwillinger College, “Hell Cat” was my moniker. All right. Yeah, I’m just an old bully. W though, even his enemies say he’s got the real makings. From Yale, pal. Never looks back. The Man Nobody Knows. The coke and the booze? Before he accepted Christ. People don’t want to dwell on the past anyway. It’s issues that count with him, unlike, say, Kerry and his Swift Boat problems. Clean Skies initiative. Total (make that Terrorist) Information Awareness. Grow the Economy.
And then there’s the Patriot Act. Over 500 potential terrorists jailed after 9/11, and sleeper cells in Detroit and Lackawanna exposed. Well, those deported were immigrants with visa violations unnoticed before the Twin Towers. And the Lackawanna Five (a Yemani and his friends) had been training with a Bin Laden cell in Afghanistan but had no actual equipment to begin to carry out an attack. W just about had a cow when he heard about that. “Most dangerous sleeper cell.” “Enemy that lurks.” Then later, there was those America-haters plotting to blow up the Brooklyn Bridge. Just one guy with an acetylene torch, actually. But Action News was all over it like a flag shirt on a convention delegate. Code Orange. Code Orange.
The dudes from Michigan with the funny accents were arrested after the feds got ahold of a videotape they took on a trip to Disneyworld. Those ghostlike figures, deaths heads, old mansions, and smoke turned out to be from the haunted house ride. Well, Soaring Eagle himself saw that there were convictions, but they were thrown out after the Justice Dept. recognized that the prosecuting attorneys suppressed evidence proving their innocence. Visiting Disneyworld while Muslim–not a good thing. Think those middle-eastern dudes got a nice welcome when they got back to Detroit or upstate New York? There’s a goddamn (get thee from me with that pitchfork) safe bet.
As Natural As Religion Itself
The Detroit case reversal came at about the time of the Republican Convention. Do you remember hearing about it? I’ll swear on my old mom’s bones you didn’t. As a political sort of preacher myself, I can tell you what happened is as natural as organized worship itself. As Pat Robertson can tell you, there’s the normal God-fearing believer to protect. And who from? You gotta make that clear. The heathen, the Philistine, the terrorist. “God is pro-war,” says Jerry Falwell. Now, with this kind of principle, why would you not want a permanent majority for your faction?
We preachers protect our own, and our own have to get a reward for supporting us. They get to feel safe when we show we protected them from the anarchists, commies, or pornographers, or in Falwell’s case the gay teletubbies and that Spongebob Squarepants fifth columnist. Our faithful don’t think about being wrong or us being wrong–it’s them there Iraqis who need to be stopped or they’ll come over here (in my day it was Catholics like that Al Smith who wanted to be president. Know the reception he got in Kansas or Texas?). That’s the way it’s always been, and for cucumber-cool W’s money, it was “just politics” for Turd Blossom to spread rumors that John McCain had a illegitimate black child or that war vet paraplegic Max Cleland was giving comfort to the enemy. That Rove could just as easy have been a preacher. W too, if he had had to make a living.
That Terry Schaivo affair should have had a different ending. By all the saints, if someone was going to decide whether a person with no brain activity had a right to die, it wasn’t the person nor neither that bleeding-heart husband that some folks heard on the radio may have abused her. It was leaders like Tom Delay or Bill Frist, who didn’t have to so much as examine the poor gal to know she was gonna levitate herself right out of that hospital bed and go home someday soon. Those are the guys to believe, and the President, coming back to Washington on a weekend yet to lead the crusade. Keep the faith when things seem confusing. Or else you’re on the side of some sissy-liberal state judge and his “roo-lings.”
Now I’ve had my scapegoats too, but come to find out–and I wouldn’t say this if I wasn’t dead as a mackerel–I didn’t let my inner eagle soar like Ashcroft and Bush. I mean, I was a scoundrel, fornicating, drinking, skimming, partying, and all the while using that other greedy preacher standby–excepting myself from avoiding what I said God would reward ordinary folk for staying away from. You, my loyal soldiers, you do as I say, not as I do. Let this ol’ eagle soar while he still has some time left to get a ever-lovin’ hard on (awright, pitchfork queen, I’ll give you that one but lay off my gluteus maximus). W doesn’t carry my kind of burdens. Plus, I never dreamed of putting people in jail forever and no trial, b/c I thought they was immoral, like W can do with people his slam-dunk CIA tell him are terrorists. Never was able to get my favorite lawyers on the Supreme Court. Then too, I was a little wary lest I meet on the way down some of the folks I messed with on the way up. W is way more calm and collected than me. He’s above leaving footprints. Those West Virginia miners who died in the cave-in? W just about knocked that one out of the ballpark with his assurance that he, his family, and the whole nation prayed for them. Now what reporter was going to mention the mine safety inspections and legislation he vetoed? Piety and dignity, those are the keys.
I never listened in, or had my workers listen, to phone conversations. Or gave a damn (make that a durn) about California peaceniks discussing Sinclair Lewis (my daddy) in their reading group. The only black bag jobs I ever knew about would have been back alley abortions, and I made a lot of hay preaching against those. Didn’t try to take away the church elders’ right to counsel me, neither. Willikers, I’d a got myself in a lot of hot water otherwise, even if I hated what they said at the time. Now, W has got his own advisors (Big Time, Rummy, Turd Blossom, Prince Perle) and he pays them strict attention. Odd though, he never fights with those guys, where he does with his own dad. He is way above a scoundrel like me.
“Casino Owners, You’re Doing a Heckofa Job”
Black bodies bloating on the drifting flood. Hospital patients wandering in the knee-high water. Fetid superdome crowds groaning in the shit-thick air (not a cussword; just a descriptive term, so put down that pitchfork). Rescue to Houston, Seattle, Philly, and points west and north. The new Big Easy “experience” plotted in Vegas Strip suites. State-supported gambling, Trump Tower jazz, Steve Wynn hotels, glitzy mall fashions, shop till you drop. Ninth ward bulldozed, broke homeowners generously subsidized, let them move on: Wal*Mart jobs await them all over the land. Hillary applauds box stores’ generosity; so what if the Big Apple moneybags Mayor can’t find housing and jobs for refugees still in hotels? We need only about half the poor citizens back in Sweet Home, in corporate casino, hotel, and mall. They can patrol right proud as security and sanitation engineers. With Big Easy population now cut in half, returnees grateful for long-term (very) low-paying jobs, maybe the entertainment industry will kick in revenues enough to make possible teach-for-the-test schools. So Wharton School said. So “great progress” made. Photo op time, as it always has been.
So I’d a preached, with a wink of an eye. But now that I’m dead, I know more than that. I know what they chant while they snore in the night. On the backs of the poor, comes through loud and clear (but not on TV). Daddy Sinclair used to mumble that too.
Here’s a thing always comes to mind when I think of New Orleans. Back in my day we evangelists were glad New Orleans was there. The corruption, vice, and dance-hall white slavery made for a good sermon. Without the vice, we vice-busters might be hard pressed to find the targets that make people prick up their ears. Just keep the focus on the gamblers (Negroes), the loan sharks (Italians), the drunks (Irish), tavern owners (Jews), and the red-light girlies always in their nighties ready to go any hour (ouch. What was that for?). The topper, Big Easy was a Catholic city. So we fundamentalists could wash our hands of any responsibility.
“Those in the best position to know”
Hidden cameras and microphones. Bugged cell- and telephones, of American citizens by No Such Agency. Requests for lists of books bought or loaned. Secret videotaping and email scanning. Searching websites for subversive or anarchistic persuasion. And random searches in the New York City subway entrances (which is public property, get me) at 2 percent of the stations any one day. Going to work in a big city while not wealthy enough to afford a cab or limo, not a good thing. There’s an endless war on. Reasonable precautions no prob, only a few minutes of your time, and cops extra-polite. ACLU vomit-jobs (what no pitchfork in the ass on that one?) brought the searching program to trial. The NYPD had a former CIA guy as assistant commish to vet the program, and he got the whip hand. “Dramatically improves the security posture [of the subway system]…which I believe is a top‑tier target…right now as we speak." Got the high sign from a U.S. District Judge: "it would seem foolish not to rely upon those qualified persons in the best position to know." Like me, back in ’20, citing scriptures against free-thinking, free-loving (lucky bastards ow ow ow) mischief makers. Just common sense.
And another thing: talking about people looking over your shoulder, tough chowder. The whole first two thirds of my life is public, thanks to Daddy Sinclair. And because of that, I can’t say like most people, “doesn’t matter to me. I don’t have anything to hide.” But you-all can. And deep in your hearts, you don’t want any trouble. Meaning, to put it a little plainer, you got it hard wired deep into your gut—“the government can’t bother me if they don’t know I exist.” Better keep it that way.
The Wind Up
My visit being over now, I been comparing myself to W and thinking that what my daddy Sinclair wrote about me was what I deserved. Some of the footprints I left were muddy, sloppy, and downright shameful. When I couldn’t make my beloved Sharon, the prettiest evangelist Joan of Arc ever, run away from that auditorium on the burning pier, I told her to “go to hell.” Saved myself and enough of the audience (that already had reached shore) to get the hero label. Whereas W never abandoned anyone who didn’t deserve to be, like Ken Lay and Jack Abramoff, wise guy losers.
Looking back, I shouldn’t have snubbed my old college drinking buddy Jim Lefferts, just because I condemned all evolutionists to hell and me still being a Hell Cat myself. Jim wasn’t no bleeding Purple Heart mom, telling Bush he murdered her son by starting the war her son was killed at and staking him out at his own home. Now that’s crust.
And when Hettie, my own little bunnikins secretary, blackmailed me after a few rolls in the hay, and me on the radio with 100,000 listeners, I didn’t have to panic and run to the slickest lawyer around whose loyalty to me (and the money he got by blackmailing the blackmailers) was as strong as death. I had no pride and was afraid to be alone. I couldn’t just stand up on my own hind legs, knowing I had the smartest and most loyal judges on my side anyways, and tell my enemies “to bring it on” because I was going to do everything in my power to protect my congregation and it was all as legal as sin.
So here I stand, ready to reach out and make peace with my daddy. It’s smoggy here and the ground is shifting beneath my feet. Everything’s worn out, like it’s three o’clock in the morning. Actually, I don’t know what time it is. The horizon is ringed with flame. The sun is masked with yellow clouds. Once in a while it breaks through, so intense that it sets the skin it touches on fire. I’m standing in front of some office towers so tall the clouds intersect. Just big dark plates they are, except for one or two windows where bone-weary clerks are still tallying up on cathode ray screens the census of sad lost souls. These structures loom against the sky like inscrutable monuments the testaments on which don’t matter anymore. The giant high signs still blink on occasionally with whatever juice they have left. They say Club Med, MasterCard, Exxon, Mobil, and Coke. I told you I wasn’t where you thought I’d be.
I’d better hurry. Here I stretch out my prodigal hands, so often folded in prayer, to my daddy Sinclair (you only have one daddy). I never thought I’d apologize to a liberal atheist, but I done it. You’d better keep away from me with that electrified fork, Asmodeus, because you can’t do an extraordinary rendition on me now and I ain’t never gonna be sorry.
By Earl Terry Kemp
What’s in a name? A rose by any other name would smell as sweet…or would it? There is a certain mystery that clouds the destiny of many a man, and none more than Adolf Schicklgruber née Rothschild, whom the world knows as Adolf Hitler.
I first fell in love with Adolf when I turned sixteen and left home to attend the University of California, at Berkeley. One day, in that fall of 1971, I was wandering among the stacks of books at the Moffitt Library and discovered a slim, small, coverless, dark black cloth bound volume of an obscure work by an unknown and nearly nameless writer, August Kubizek.
Reading his slight work, The Young Hitler I Knew, opened a doorway to a world of fascination and, finally, of horror. Why the fascination? I found myself drawn to the young teenager described in the pages of that book. Here was Adolf, alone and penniless, in a strange exotic cosmopolitan city, Vienna, adrift in this ever-changing sea of humanity, without a family, without a home, and without roots. It was there in Vienna that he began his bizarre, relentless journey into history.
How many people will admit that they could find not only interest in this teenager but also relate to his angst and alienation? I could. I was alone and penniless, living in a strange exotic cosmopolitan city, San Francisco, also without a home and without roots, and very nearly without a family. My father had just entered into a long, prolonged federal court trial, the end of which would result in the disruption, disintegration, and destruction of our family, finally, with prison for my father at the hands of Nixon and his cronies, and all for “conspiracy to mail obscene matter”…a brochure advertising the “wrong” but thoroughly legal book. [GP555, The Illustrated Presidential Report of the Commission on Obscenity and Pornography, 1970]
I paid for that first quarter at Berkeley using money that I had raised over years as a newspaper delivery boy. Much too young to fit in, too young to have any goal or plan for my life, and very angry at what society was doing to my family, I found that slim volume and it changed my life. It was between the pages of that work that I found my philosophy of life; life as creator, as artist. This was a theme that I subsequently found repeated by many thinkers, such as Friedrich Nietzsche and Ayn Rand. All their works had a profound affect on a very young and even more impressionable teenager.
We all pay a price for the choices that we make and I have paid my dues, ending with my abrupt exit from my graduate studies in physics. Needing to work in order to go to school, I had taken a job as front desk clerk at the on-campus Faculty Club. It was there, while clipping cigars for many of the distinguished professors, that I met my mentor, Paul Lieber, head of the Department of Mechanical Engineering. One day he brought some esoteric mathematical paperwork with him to lunch and as he made copies on the Faculty Club Xerox machine, I made corrections. He was impressed enough to take me under his wing and arrange to place me in the graduate program, even though I was still an under-graduate, heady stuff for a teenager.
The high point of my academic career came when he took me to lunch at the Faculty Club with Edward Teller, inventor of the hydrogen bomb, and introduced me as his brand-new star protégée. This was shortly followed by my withdrawal from his program and my exit from Berkeley. I still remember that day. We sat down to drink tea—Earl Grey—and I tried to explain to him my reasons. I failed, failed miserably, to our mutual regret. I couldn’t tell him all of my reasons; that my father had fought a valiant battle in the courts, all the way to the Supreme Court, and still was at that very moment in prison. I couldn’t explain to him that I would never sell my brains to a country I despised, run by evil crooks and thieves, murderers all.
So, I have spent my life under the radar. I have been a janitor, a house painter, a plumber, a short-order cook, and mostly, very unemployed. Least anyone think this a bleak life, on the contrary, it has been filled with adventure, I have traveled extensively around the United States, Mexico, and Europe.
In fact, it was in Europe, first with my father, that I went looking for Adolf. Before the fall of our family, my father and I went to the World’s Second Sex Fair in Copenhagen in 1970. To say that it was an eye-opener would not be nearly enough, whether it was visiting the studios of various porn film-makers, and watching their newest 8mm and 16mm products, and subsequently smuggling them with us to Spain and other places, or conducting business with or socializing with the most amazing and interesting people, including a pet chimpanzee (star of a series of movies). We went to Europe empty handed and returned with our luggage full of the best, latest porn, just hot off the press.
During our long journey together we went looking for traces of the 1,000-year Reich, helped along by a smattering of German that I had learned from my mother and her people. But all traces had all been erased, thoroughly, like a bad dream, which it was. All the monuments built by Albert Speer, gone. Only the autobahn and the Volkswagen remained.
My great-grandfather on my mother’s side had fought for the Kaiser in the Boer War, and injured, he had emigrated to the United States, moving to the New Mexico desert to try to regain his health. Even now I am actively searching for the descendants of his brothers and sisters, all who remained behind in Germany. I often wonder what happened to them during Adolf’s assent to power.
On my father’s side of the family, his great-great grandfather and great-grandfather fought in the Confederacy during the Civil War, as did every male family member, all the sons, fathers, brothers, sons-in-law, and brothers-in-law.
If you are detecting a point, let me make it and tie it back into the subject at hand. The founding father of the southern branch of the Kemp family, Nathan Kemp, was born in 1774 at the place of a famous Revolutionary War battle, the Battle of the Cowpens (January 17, 1781), where as a young lad of eight he was savagely beaten by British soldiers, led by Lieutenant Colonel Banastre Tarleton, while holding the reins of the horses for his father and uncles during that battle.
Lieutenant Colonel Tarleton, the only officer remaining after Ferguson’s death, was sent to oppose General Morgan by Cornwallis. Tarleton and Morgan met at the Cowpens, and in a battle noted for the unusual tactics adopted by the Americans, the British were defeated, with heavy losses, by a force inferior in numbers, a considerable portion of which was militia. The Mel Gibson movie, The Patriot, is loosely based on this event.
Prior to this battle, Nathan Kemp’s father and uncles had wreaked their vengeance at the Battle of King’s Mountain (October 7, 1780), the decisive battle of that entire war. One of his uncles was among the several taking credit for killing Major Patrick Ferguson, then General Cornwallis’ second-in-command, and walked off the battlefield with the Major’s powder horn.
Lieutenant Colonel Ferguson, recently promoted, had sent word that “he defied God Almighty and all the rebels out of hell to overcome him.” They did. He was killed for his hubris by the “over the mountain men,” my ancestors among them.
Due to the strategic and tactical loss at the Battle of King’s Mountain and at the Cowpens, Cornwallis retreated to Yorktown and shortly thereafter surrendered. Without the Kemp family making a stand and taking the fatal shot during the battle, it is likely that Washington would have lost the war, and been hung as a traitor to the British crown.
Without the Kemp family, we could now be British citizens. The Kemp family tried once again during the Civil War to make a stand and fight for the rights of the individual as opposed to the rights of the federal government, but they lost that one, and we have all paid the price.
We now have a federal government which wages war on innocent people around the world, all the while spying on its own citizens. Every year that goes by, we can count the individual freedoms that also go.
And then there is our current President Bush, still looking for weapons of mass destruction, and I thank God, that I walked away from helping to create them for him, for this country, for the evil men who have usurped the freedom of the true individuals and patriots of truth and justice and the American way of life. Yes, I’m most proud to be a member of the Supermen of America (I still have my membership certificate, button, and secret decoder).
So, what about Adolf? Throughout history we can all see that pivotal moments or pivotal people have played out their lives and we live in the world that results from their actions, whether at King’s Mountain or in Germany, or helping to develop the hydrogen bomb and even more deadly weapons of mass destruction.
Starting with Adolf as a young, disillusioned teenager we can slowly trace his warped evolution into a monster.
Before his last year in high school, Adolf was caught in a sex scandal involving a young, under-age girl. He was forced to attend a different high school for his last year. His grades went down and he was no longer qualified to attend any advanced school, such as the Architectural School in Vienna, due to his lack of aptitude and preparation.
In 1907 Vienna, the penniless sixteen year old began his fateful journey. His parents were both dead. Adolf was inconsolable after his mother’s death. The next traumatic event was his rejection for admission to the Academy of Art, not once, but twice, this due to his lack of artistic ability, with the result that he rejected contemporary society. He became a bum, a beggar, too lazy to work any steady job, jobs where he clearly did not fit or want to fit. It is a gruesome story of unbelievable poverty.
Nearly a decade goes by where he lives in a flop-house with a reputation of being a place where homosexual men frequently went to find companions. Living there he barely squeezes out a living with an occasional painted post card. During this time, one sex scandal after another follows him like a bad rumor, and in 1912 he is forced to flee from Vienna to Munich because he is listed on the Vienna police record as a “sexual pervert.”
According to Hitler’s account, this time was not lost. As he looks back over that period he can say: “So in a few years I built a foundation of knowledge from which I still draw nourishment today…. At that time I formed an image of the world and a view of life which became the granite foundations for my actions.”
On August 3, 1914, at age 25, Hitler joined a Bavarian regiment as a volunteer. Until the outbreak of World War I he had been judged unfit to serve in the military, but with general conscription, he is finally accepted. The one thing that all his comrades commented on about him during that war was his subservience to superior officers. It seems that he went out of his way to court their good graces, doing menial tasks for them, much to the disgust of his comrades.
In four years “that neurotic fellow, Hitler” never advances beyond the rank of Lance Corporal, although he is awarded the First Class Iron Cross. The reason for the award is obscure and not a matter of military record, however it appears that his regimental sergeant-major Max Amann was instrumental in his receiving the award. Amann later became head of the Nazi Eher Verlag, a branch of the secret police under Hitler.
Buried in Hitler’s military record is an item about a court martial that found him guilty of pederastic practices with an officer, and that it was for this reason that he was never promoted.
After the war he remained attached to his regiment in Munich where he was found guilty of a violation of paragraph 175, which deals with pederasty. As revenge against the comrades who informed on him, he spies on them. After the counterrevolution every tenth man in his barracks was shot, but Hitler was singled out beforehand and asked to stand to one side. At the inquiry he appeared before the board with “charge lists” against some of his comrades that can only be denunciations for Communistic activities. In Mein Kampf, he brags about this as his “first more or less political activity.”
His hour had struck at long last. He is appointed “education officer” and undertakes to educate soldiers in the proper political philosophy. He threw himself into this work with great enthusiasm, always speaking to larger groups. He was on his way to becoming a successful politician, swaying people. From here on his career is a matter of history.
What’s in a name? There has been a great deal of confusion in studying Hitler’s family tree. First the name has been spelled in various ways: Hitler, Hidler, Hiedler, and Huettler. Adolf Hitler himself signed his name Hittler on his first Nazi Party membership form.
Adolf’s father, Alois Hitler was the illegitimate son of Maria Shicklgruber. It is supposed that his father was a Johann Georg Hiedler. However, Alois was not legitimized, and he bore his mother’s name until he was 40 years of age when he changed it to Hitler, in order to acquire a legacy from some unknown source.
Chancellor Dollfuss ordered the Austrian police to conduct a thorough investigation into the Hitler family. This investigation produced a secret document that proved that Maria Shicklgruber was living in Vienna when she conceived Alois, employed as a servant in the home of Baron Rothschild, making one of the Rothschild’s his real father. It would make Adolf Hitler a quarter Jew. Adolf knew of the existence of this document and the incriminating evidence it contained. In order to obtain it, he precipitated events in Austria and initiated the assassination of Dollfuss.
As a condition of the legacy left from the Rothschild family, it was possible for Alois to change his name to Hitler rather than to Hiedler. The intelligence and behavior of Alois, as well as that of his two sons, is completely out of keeping with that usually found in Austrian peasant families. The ambition and extraordinary political intuition found in Adolf is much more in keeping and in harmony with his Rothschild ancestors.
Incest is best! Klara Poetzl, Adolf’s mother, was said to have been the foster daughter of Alois and 23 years his junior, although she may well have been his daughter born out-of-wedlock. Adolf’s older sister, Ida, was an imbecile. His younger sister, Paula, was a high-grade moron. The other children of this union all died. A syphilitic taint has always been suspected as a cause for this constitutional weakness. Klara died, painfully, of breast cancer in 1907.
Angela Raubal was Adolf’s elder half-sister. By all accounts she seemed to be the most normal. Adolf maintained little to no contact with her until he was imprisoned in Landsberg. In 1924 she moved to Munich with her daughter, Geli, and kept house for Adolf. Later, she took over the management of Berchtesgaden. In 1936 friction developed between Adolf and Angela, and she was exiled from Berchtesgaden and his presence.
After Adolf’s stay in Landsberg, Hitler no longer referred to himself as the “drummer boy,” heralding the coming of the great leader. More frequently, however, he referred to himself as “Der Fuehrer,” a name chosen by Hess during their imprisonment together. Rudolf Hess, a notorious homosexual, known as “Fraulein Anna,” was the first to realize that it was Hitler who was the great leader.
During Hitler’s rise to power almost all of his speeches centered around the following themes: the treason of the November criminals; the Communists; the Jews; and it is here we find his great talent, his ability when speaking to sense what a given audience wanted to hear, and then to manipulate his theme in such a way that he would arouse the emotions of the crowd. Hitler was a master of mass psychology.
Here we find Hitler’s Oedipus complex at work. He has transferred his libidinal lust and sexual desire for his mother to the German state. With the collapse of the German war industry in World War I, Hitler discovers that things are going badly and that his symbolic mother was about to be degraded as he had imagined his real mother had been degraded in his childhood by his father, once again the victim of a sexual assault. This time it was the November Criminals and the Jews who were guilty of the foul deed, and he promptly transferred his repressed hate to these new perpetrators. Hitler clearly expresses this sentiment “...by what wiles the soul of the German nation has been raped.”
If his genius was as a tactical wizard able to solve abstract problems decisively, a talent that brought most of the world to its knees at his feet, then his weakness was his severe depression brought out by the major crises in his life. In 1930 he threatened to commit suicide after the strange murder of his niece, Geli, and went into a severe depression which lasted for some time. There is some evidence that he actually tried to kill himself with the same revolver that he used to kill Geli, and was prevented from carrying it out. It is also interesting to note that for several years after her death he went into a depression during the Christmas holidays and wandered around Germany alone for days on end.
There are two women who have played a major role in his life. The first was Geli Raubal, the second one was the woman he married, Eva Braun. Both women were connected to him by Henny Hoffman, the daughter of Heinrich Hoffman, a member of the Nazi Party and a close friend of Hitler’s. By a queer twist of fate, Hoffman had taken a picture of the crowds in Munich at the outbreak of World War I. Later, when Hitler became prominent in Munich politics, Hoffman discovered Hitler in the picture and called it to his attention. Hitler was delighted and a close friendship sprung up between them.
With the death of Mrs. Hoffman, the Hoffman home went to pieces from a moral point of view and became a kind of meeting place for homosexuals of both genders. There was a good deal of drinking and great freedom in sexual activities of all kinds. Hitler was frequently present at parties given in the Hoffman home and became very friendly with Henny. Henny, according to reports, was little more than a prostitute and spent most of her time among the students in Munich, who alleged that she could be had for a few marks.
Her relationship with Hitler continued for some time until Henny, who was a very garrulous person by nature, got drunk one night and began to talk about her relationship with Hitler. Adolf had committed some kind of sexual indiscretion with Henny (or she knew about his sexual indiscretions) and Hitler bought off her outraged father, Heinrich Hoffman’s, silence by granting him exclusive rights to his photographs as the official Nazi Party photographer. Henny was soon married off to Baldur von Schirach, the Leader of the Nazi Youth Movement, also a notorious well-known homosexual, in order to get her out of the way.
After the Henny Hoffman episode, Hitler began to appear in public with his niece, Geli, the daughter of his half-sister. At that time in Germany it was permissible for them to marry, so their relationship flourished under the blessings of Hitler’s half-sister, Angela. As the relationship matured, her mother was sent to live in Berchtesgaden, and Hitler and Geli remained living together in his Munich flat. They became inseparable companions and the subject of much comment in Party circles. Hitler was brought on the carpet to explain where he was getting the money to clothe the extravagant Geli and sport her around if he was not using Party funds for this purpose.
Hitler became very jealous of Geli’s attention and refused to let her go out with any other men. He kept her locked in during the day when he could not take her with him. Hitler continued the intimate relationship despite the objections of the Party. In her description of sexual experiences with Hitler, Geli stressed the fact that it was of utmost importance to him that she squat over him in such a way that he could see everything. A major part of this type of gratification is that the individual get feces or urine into their mouth. Hitler’s psychotic tendencies to eat feces and drink urine were only permitted gratification by himself with his niece, Geli, and with Henny Hoffman, as part of his tightly controlled struggle to live a normal, socially adjusted life.
One day Geli was found dead in Hitler’s apartment—she had died from a bullet fired from Hitler’s revolver, the same revolver that he always threatened to commit suicide with. Rather than let her leave him for another man, something he could not tolerate, he killed her. There was considerable commotion. The coroner’s verdict was suicide but Geli was buried in hallowed ground by a Catholic clergy. The only way this could have happened is if her jealous lover, Hitler, had killed her, and with his Party connections he got away with murder.
For several years after Geli’s death, Hitler had little to do with women except in a very superficial way. In 1932 he became interested in Eva Braun, Hoffman’s new photographic assistant, when he was introduced to her by Henny. Eva officially moved into the Chancellery in December 1939.
The affair with Eva Braun was not exclusive. At least two famous movie actresses spent frequent nights with him behind closed doors. After their visits the staff would find some of their soiled underwear in Hitler’s bedroom. The first was with Renarte Mueller, who committed “suicide” by throwing herself from the window of a Berlin hotel. The other was with Leni Riefenstahl, who continued to be a guest at the Chancellery up to the outbreak of the war. [See “An Interview With Leni Riefenstahl,” by Philip K. Cartiledge elsewhere in this issue of eI.]
Rene Mueller, before her possible “suicide,” confided in her director, Zeissler, who had asked her what was troubling her after spending an evening at the Chancellery, “that the evening before she had been with Hitler and that she had been sure that he was going to have intercourse with her; that they had both undressed and were apparently getting ready for bed when Hitler fell on the floor and begged her to kick him. She demurred, but he pleaded with her and condemned himself as unworthy, heaped all kinds of accusations on his own head, and just groveled in an agonizing manner. The scene became intolerable to her, and she finally acceded to his wishes and kicked him. This excited him greatly, and he begged for more and more, always saying that it was even better than he deserved and that he was not worthy to be in the same room with her. As she continued to kick him he became more and more excited.”
Due to his own peculiar perversion, Hitler’s attitude toward all the homosexuals in the Party, such as Roehm and Hess, was “Do anything you like but don’t get caught at it.” Hitler always felt much more at ease among the homosexuals in the Nazi Party and derived much sexual gratification from looking at men’s bodies. According to Strasser, his personal bodyguard was almost always 100 percent homosexual. He also derived considerable pleasure from being with his Hitler Youth, and his attitude toward them frequently tended to be more that of a woman than that of a man. Persons suffering from Hitler’s type of perversion often indulge in homosexual practices in the hope that they might find some sexual gratification. Even being homosexual would be more acceptable to them than the perversion with which they are afflicted.
As an interesting side note, the many homosexuals in the Nazi party referred to each other using the code name, “Bubi” or “Bubba,” in order to secretly identify each other. It was a common nickname employed by homosexuals in addressing their partners. Later when captured by GIs, the soldiers thought that they were calling each other by their names, “Bubba” which got shortened to “Bub” and entered into common American slang. What’s in a name? Right, Bub!
One of Hitler’s favorite hobbies, carefully hidden from the public, was his love for pornography. He received great pleasure out of the dirty stories and the cartoons featured in each edition of Der Stuermer, the Nazi Party propaganda “newspaper.” Hitler considered the Stuermer as “a form of pornography permitted in the Third Reich.” In addition, according to his early associate Putzi Hanfstaengl, he had a vast collection of nudes, and enjoyed watching lewd movies in his private theater, some of which were prepared by Hoffman for his benefit.
Although much has been made of Hitler’s fascination and love of Wagner’s operas, he was not a lover of good music in general. He much preferred the normal program music in Viennese cafes. One of his favorite was The Merry Widow in which an American actress played the lead. He would smirk and nudge his gauleiter, when the actress did her famous backbending number in the spotlight. In this number, the actress’s costume consisted of a pair of transparent butterfly wings, or sometimes nothing at all. Hitler would watch the performance through opera glasses and sometimes have a command performance for his private viewing benefit.
Hitler’s sexual life has always been the topic of much speculation. Some believe that he was immune to all such impulses. Some believe that he was a chronic masturbator. Some believe that he derived his sexual pleasure through voyeurism. Many believe that he was completely impotent. Others, the majority, that he was a homosexual. It is probably true that he was impotent, but he was certainly not homosexual in the ordinary sense of the term. His perversion was of quite a different nature. It was an extreme form of masochism in which the individual derives sexual gratification from the act of having a woman urinate or defecate on him.
This perversion is not a common one, but it is well known in its beginning stages in clinical psychiatric work. It had considerable influence on his personality and activities. Here we find the source of his intolerable struggle that constantly disturbed the equilibrium of his inner mental life, caused by the feelings of guilt created by his secret, unwelcome, desires. Haunted day and night, unable to sleep without potent drugs, too incapacitated to work in a consistent and constructive manner.
On some level Hitler was aware of his own problem and its solution as he wrote: “Only when the time comes when the race is no longer overshadowed by the consciousness of its own guilt, then it will find internal peace and external energy to cut down regardlessly and brutally the wild shoots, and to pull up the weeds.”
In the end, there was only one person Hitler could rely upon, Eva Braun. She had shown her courage and determination by flying into doomed Berlin to die with him; she had loved him selflessly for years; she knew how to handle pistols; she had proven her loyalty by complying with his unusual sexual demands; she carried out his last request.
Shortly after their marriage ceremony, Hitler swallowed cyanide. Eva put the muzzle of her 6.35 Walther pistol to his left temple and pulled the trigger. She then poisoned herself. The funeral, the grand, all-consuming Wagnerian Goetterdaemmerung, was denied them as his staff bungled the pyre, hastily burying the smoking, stinking corpses as the Russian army advanced to the Bunker.
There is one critically important fact about Hitler that is relatively unknown. It was only discovered when Russian doctors, who performed an autopsy on Hitler’s body in May 1945, found that he was sexually malformed. His body was identified by his rotting teeth. The report reads, in part, as follows: “The left testicle could not be found either in the scrotum or on the spermatic cord inside the inguinal canal, nor in the small pelvis.”
Psychological studies of prepubertal boys with a missing testicle show a common pattern of symptoms, all of which Hitler exhibited.
Now we have the measure of the two demons that are the working parts of Hitler’s psyche, two distinct personalities that inhabit the same body and alternate back and forth, both the physiological cause and the psychological. The one, “Hitler” is a very soft, sentimental, and indecisive person. The other, “Der Fuehrer,” is the opposite—a hard, cruel, and decisive individual. By understanding this duality, we can understand his actions. These characteristics are common to many psychopaths. It was his ability to convince millions of other people that his fictitious image was really himself, rather than the despicable fellow he really was, that saved him from insanity.
However, this psychological maneuver was not successful, and during World War II, with each successive failure and set back, he began the long descent into paranoia and his deep-seated psychosis, and he took the entire world with him. Hitler’s madness became the madness of a nation. It was not wholly his actions but the existence of a reciprocal relationship between “Der Fuehrer” and the people, and that the madness of the one stimulated and flowed into the other and vice versa. It was not only Hitler, the madman, who created German madness, but German madness that created Hitler. It was German madness that created him as its spokesman and leader, and it was the German people who were carried along by his momentum to inevitable destruction.
Hitler was the expression of a state of mind existing in millions of people, not only in Germany, but in many civilized countries; just as President Bush is the contemporary expression of the state of mind existing in millions of people in this country. We cannot be content with simply removing the overt manifestations of this disease; we must ferret out and seek to correct the underlying factors that produce this type of unwelcome phenomenon. In order to save ourselves, we must discover the psychological streams that nourish this destructive state of mind in order to divert them into channels that will allow an evolution of our form of civilization.
The fact that the German people submitted to Hitler’s leadership indicates that a great many Germans were in a similar state of mind as Hitler and were not only willing, but anxious, to submit to anybody who could prove to them that he was competent to fill the role. There is clear evidence that this same process is now occurring in this country.
It is as though President Bush has paralyzed the critical functions of our nation and has assumed the role for himself. As such he has been incorporated as a part of the personalities of his individual supporters and is able to dominate their mental processes. This phenomenon lies at the very root of the peculiar bond that existed between Hitler, as a person, and the German people, and placed it beyond the control of any purely rational, logical, or intellectual appeal. In fighting for Hitler, or in fighting for President Bush, these persons are now unconsciously fighting for what appears to them to be their own psychological integrity. One is forced to acknowledge that fundamental changes within our American culture itself must be effected before we, as a people, are truly ready to play a constructive role in world government.
In 1912 Otto Geidel was working as a technician in a photographic processing laboratory in Dusseldorf, licensed from Agfa-Gaevert, and which was named after two Siamese twin brothers, Harry Agfa and Stumpfie Gaevert, who had become powerful industrialists in the 1920s after discovering something called “fulminating powder” and using it not only to produce high-explosives but to season pizzas.
Otto was 22 years old at the time, and frankly puny, which meant that he had been born in 1890, if I have mastered the concept of counting on my fingers. Also he brought in his own lunches, mostly made by his mother and mostly consisting of thin slivers of Edam cheese on rye bread
To understand his state of mind you have to realize that when he was only 11 years old Otto experienced the horrific events of 1901. Whatever they might have been. I think there was a vast badger cull in this year, but I may have been wrong, it may only have been squirrels.
However, back to 1912.
His wife at that time was called Grendl. He had many wives at later times, but none sooner as far as I can figure out, although when I search Google some discrepancy always comes up around 1906 when he would have been 16 and plighted his troth to somebody called Gisella, but possibly only for one day after he had met her in a St. Pauli bar in Hamburg, whilst he was on leave from summer camp. He claimed non-consummation and she said he didn’t know how to make a good lasagne, let alone how to buy one, and furthermore, anyway, yeah, no, but, she had a condition which prevented her from consummating their marriage. It was called common sense, and a strict adherence to pre-established rules of hygiene.
But all this is as may be. Well not maybe, but actually. God, how colloquialisms get in the way of information exchange.
All Otto could later remember about her was that she had large thighs and an even larger moustache, which he always suspected was not a moustache as such but a fungal infection.
The laboratory Geidel worked for mostly processed footage of test runs of vehicles from the newly established Volkswagen plant in nearby Dresden, filmed as diagnostic data on the newly patented Grieg-Schlauper cameras, running at 2,000 frames per second.
Plus he handled holiday snaps of rich Germans holidaying on the shores of the Caspian Sea, which was the only sea available to them at that time.
Much of this, of course, was amateur German porn, which was mostly gay at that time. Invariably the German tourists were either swathed in nappy-like loin-clothes or naked, both options of which depressed the clean-living Otto enormously at the time and led him to taking a course of Seroxat.
In 1935 he received a personal letter from Hitler, or possibly an aide, namely Eric Stoller, both of whom had heard about his exploits from the Agfa-Gaevert company magazine: Happy Schnapps (Otto had appeared as gatefold model in the December 1934 issue, wearing only reindeer horns and cycle-clips). Otto undertook to reply to any further letters in future, providing they were addressed to his new address in Cannonbury, North London. Thus were the Germans so easily led.
But Hitler was resolute in his pursuit of this hairless, chinless laboratory technician, and round about this time, Hitler sent him a film roll on the rare 272 format, approximately 270mm by 19mm, which contained candid photos of some of his favourite dogs in compromising positions.
It was a ploy by Hitler to test Geidel’s allegiance but of course it didn’t work because Geidel released the pics immediately for profit to his mail order customers who had professed an interest in animal porn.
Most of them were shots of German Shepherds although there was one sequence featuring a King James Spaniel, who answered to the name of Barclay. I gather a favourite ritual in German porn cinemas at this time was for the audience to yell out “What’s Up Barclay” whenever they saw the little Spaniel perform.
I met Geidel myself in 1997, when he was frankly past his best, being 107 years old. I was filming a documentary series on famous unknown Nazis for the Nazi Channel, an offshoot of CSN. We met him one night in a hotel in Iraq, which was still standing, and filmed him speaking his garbled reminiscences, which mostly seemed to centre on the cry of curlews and how they signified a good breeze. After relaxing together in a Jacuzzi he told me the truth abut what ensued after his first contact with Hitler
“He invited me to his secret hideaway,” said Geidel, “Which was not in fact at this time the famed eagle’s nest, but a seedy basement in Kaphollerstrasse in Frankfurt, where they not only served food but guaranteed to pay for your post-prandial hospital treatment.
“Over a lunch of sauerkraut, sausages (both white and black), and lashings of sloppy mashed potatoes (or kartofeln, as he foolishly called them) and apple wine, Hitler confided in me his plans for what he called a ‘Fourth Reich’ although he never adequately explained what the other three were.
“I gathered somehow this was to be based upon a concept of colonization and subjugation, vaguely centred on the idea of the Roman Empire except that of course there would be no idea of a Senate or a Republic or anything of that ilk. He would revise the role of Emperor, he said, and call himself a Dictator, thus cutting out the middlemen, without actually killing them. Although, obviously, that could also be arranged.
“I don’t think he himself was entirely sure of how this would work, but he was entirely sure of how it would work out.
“This, Hitler intimated, excitedly splashing mashed potatoes down his tie, would involve the German nation and its provinces uniting to spread outwards across Europe in search of what he called ‘lebensraum’ (although why he wanted a lot of ‘living rooms’ I could only wonder. Perhaps he thought the standard of appointments in German housing at that time was somehow lacking in that direction).
“I nodded in agreement all this time, whilst wondering what Hitler considered my role in his dreams would be. I was perfectly happy to sponge down his suits after a vigorous and messy meal, but didn’t actually want to kill anyone, being a vegetarian, as well as a coward.
“Towards the end of the meal Hitler asked to see and fondle my cine-camera. I pulled it out, and he rubbed it and marvelled upon the huge size of its telephoto lens.
“Then he asked me if I would be willing to film some home movies for him, possibly involving dogs and his then paramour Wendy Craig, whom he had recently met by subscribing to the magazine FuckingCrazyShavenNurses. He stressed that these would be strictly for his own personal consumption, although he reserved the right to screen some of them at a later stage of his career, at sleepers, smokers, or other congregations of German generals in underground bunkers eager to masturbate.
“He said he had tried to do this himself but could not figure out how to film them and star in them at the same time, at least without the camera shaking.
“Of course, because I didn’t want my throat cut, I was willing to go along with anything he said, including the partition of Poland, and the racial genocide. I suspect a lot of my fellow Germans, feeling they were just pursuing the economically useful roles they had been fulfilled for so many years previously, felt exactly the same.”
Geidel took time out to swig from a jar of apple wine, several times, and then became increasingly morose as he described how Hitler’s cinematic ambitions proceeded.
“He ditched Wendy Craig, and took up with that awful Eva Braun, a touchy bitch if ever I met one, depressed as hell, and she carried a loaded gun around all the time ready to shoot herself or anyone who crossed her, or even if it was just her time of the month. But she was also one hot chick who photographed very well, and didn’t need too many high intensity lights to bring out the flesh tones. I was torn, I can tell you, as a cinematographer who wanted to present an accurate documentary representation of historical facts but also as someone who knew a good pair of tits when he saw them.
“My role as film-maker invariably meant I spent more and more time acting, by default, as Hitler’s projectionist, since very few other people were willing to take on this responsibility, and certainly not Donald Nerd, my second cousin, especially considering the allies’ inexorable march on Berlin was under way and its outcome inevitable
“Hitler loved mainstream American movies of the time, such as Honey You Performed Eugenic Experiments on Our Kids, and Schindler’s Laundry List, and also, perhaps surprisingly, especially enjoyed those starring Al Jolson, and other Jewish comedians, including Steve Martin, Billy Crystal, and Eddie Murphy. He laughed out loud at the antics of Laurel and Hardy, and would often say how none of the nationalities represented by these people could ever win a world war. He especially liked Billy Musorgski’s series of Albino Pinhead films, where the albino pinheads were not in fact played by albino pinheads but by transsexuals in drag.
“I remember I once screened an early print of Zukokvskies twelve-hour epic, Three Thousand Years of Death, the monochrome version, but he fell asleep halfway through, for which I was truly grateful since I got a chance to go out and get chicken wings.”
“In conclusion I can say Hitler was by and large a good employer, despite the fact he didn’t encourage any medical insurance plan, or pension scheme, or indeed give tax credits for anyone involved in the Eastern Campaign who had lost limbs. My favourite memory of him is of him fucking a dog. And yes, it was a German Alsatian. Would you like to come home with me?”
I bought Geidel another stein of foaming lager, made my excuses, and left. On my way out I slipped in a pool of regurgitated potato and split the muscle in my left thigh, which resulted in me being hospitalised for two years. I don’t mean to make any great issue out of this, but could you all be more careful where you spill your potatoes in future.
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Michael Moorcock reviews The Nuremberg Interviews, edited by Roberts Gellately
Primo Levi reported that, even in Auschwitz, Jews were still telling jokes. No doubt they were far better jokes than any ever aired in the SS canteen. Even Göring, the "jolly giant" beloved of the Daily Mail, was in his prime barely able to come up with anything better than his famous catchphrase "heads will roll." Comedy didn't flourish under Goebbels, the Nazi who came closest to mimicking Jewish irony, and there were no famous Nazi comedians or even clowns.
The witlessness and low-level sentimentality of those tried at Nuremberg for their atrocities is, perhaps, what they mainly had in common. Hannah Arendt's famous phrase about the banality of evil certainly summed up the nature of Nazism, but even she couldn't convey just how banal the Nazis actually were. This book goes a long way towards helping us imagine what they were like.
Unlike the Nazi-style, world-dominating super-villains of popular thrillers, the real villains were, from Hitler down, dull, self-important, poorly educated, narrowly experienced beerhall bores lacking all the attractiveness of fictitious monomaniacs. Mussolini himself commented on how excruciatingly yawn-provoking they were.
Far from cracking murderous one-liners while tapping their jackboots with menacing dogwhips, they were Satan's filing-clerks, content to stamp death warrants, fill in accounts books, and arrange train schedules while Europe's best and brightest were subjected to the most disgusting humiliations and tortures.
Recipients of Nazi hospitality complained, for instance, of Hitler's incredibly boring monologues. Even those who regarded him as godlike were forced to admit that they had a hard time staying awake in his company. The funniest Nazi, the half-American "Putzi" Hanfstaengel, whose main job was to cheer Hitler up by playing the piano and singing comic songs, found no place at court after the Night of the Long Knives. He fled to America to help the intelligence service compile a psychological profile of the Füehrer.
The result, published a few years ago, actually came closer than these interviews to giving a real sense of Nazi psychology. I have no idea if the official prison psychiatrist, Leon Goldensohn, read it before he decided to map the minds of some of Nazism's most infamous practitioners. If he expected to find a window into the heart of darkness, he was probably disappointed. Given free access to prisoners in a way that probably wouldn't be possible today, he questioned them frequently and often at length. All he got were boasts of military achievements, whining complaints of ill-treatment, extraordinarily long-winded self-justifications, monotonous attempts to shift the blame on to others, and the constant refrain, which has become in itself something of a joke, that the perpetrators were only obeying orders.
The trials themselves were a legal cobble-up, combining bits of American, English, Soviet, and French civil law but intended to be as rigorous as possible. Even Stalin came to see the propaganda value of persuading the public, especially the Germans, that impartial judgment was being practised. Those on trial, of course, did not see it in quite that light, arguing that the victors decided what was and what was not a crime.
As it happened, some sentences were surprisingly lenient. Neither "genocide" nor "holocaust" were terms in official use, and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights had yet to be made, so defendants were accused of crimes against humanity, crimes against peace, conspiracy to commit war crimes, and the mass murder of millions of people (a bit iffy, some of these, since the Soviets were almost as guilty).
Every effort was taken to stop the kind of grandstanding we've seen most recently at Saddam's trial but, inevitably, Göring, to the prosecutors' mortification, managed to challenge the court. Not that it did him much good. Göring, Bormann in absentia, and 10 others, including von Ribbentrop, Rosenberg and Streicher, were sentenced to hang. Three were found not guilty. The rest received prison sentences, all of which, save Hess's, were later commuted to shorter terms. Göring escaped the noose by swallowing cyanide.
These conversations are more concerned with troop movements than expeditions into psychological depths. We already know that the first British Expeditionary Force was essentially saved by a quixotic decision of Hitler's, and that his generals were dubious about attacking Russia, but we have camp commandants' own estimates of the numbers murdered (precisely the figures now challenged by Holocaust-deniers).
Readers will be disappointed if they expect the insights and clever questioning of a Gita Sereny, whose lengthy interviews with Albert Speer and Franz Stangl made such revealing reading. Either Goldensohn anticipated more or, possibly, he was so shocked by what are now familiar revelations of the Nazi mindset that he pursued his interviews no further. This book is a good place to start if you know nothing about the trials, but adds little to what has already been published.
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