Sunday reading

Ghost in a directory: A man considers his and his family's history in Palestine/Israel.

Reviews of several books looking at the effects of WWII on the German population. Two excerpts:

Payback is infinitely darker. The title itself (Vergeltung in German) is a grotesque reminder to the Germans that Hitler had promised to "pay back" the English with his "V," or Vergeltung, rockets; instead, the English paid back the Germans, and Ledig's implication is that they got what was coming to them. Even more disturbing is how the Germans behave in the midst of catastrophe... An American pilot is shot down and lynched by an angry, sadistic mob; the most fanatic of the bunch are a pimply boy who stares at the helpless victim with "the indifferent face of a child torturing an animal" and a medical doctor who beats the pilot with a poker while in a state of sexual arousal. Through it all, the narrator remains scathingly ironic about Germany and the possibility of religious consolation. "God on our side," he writes at the novel's end, mimicking a popular Nazi slogan. "But he was on the others' side as well." This was not the kind of memory that Germans wanted to cultivate in the 1950s.


Here we can see the reason this topic [the mass rape of German women by occupying Soviet soldiers] remained off-limits for so many years: not so much because the women were ashamed as because the men were doubly humiliated, first for having lost the war on the front, and then for having been unable to protect their wives and daughters at home. Some of the most devastating remarks in this diary concern the emasculation of German men--the "miserable and powerless" civilians who grub for food and stand idly by as the Russians claim their sexual booty; but also the returning soldiers with their "stubbly chins and sunken cheeks" who inspire only pity, "no hope or expectation." "The Nazi world--ruled by men, glorifying the strong man--is beginning to crumble," she remarks; the end of the war marks the "defeat of the male sex."

This page is powered by Blogger. Isn't yours?