Tag Archives: Germany

Say What? Adolf Hitler Believed in the Lost Cause Too?

nazi confederate flag

Just shocking to say the least! But why are progressive people like Germans TODAY reenacting the Civil War and sympathizing with the Confederacy? Probably no relationship whatsoever to the rise of NeoNazis in Germany or in other EU members. No probably not (read: snark).

“Among military reenactors, the chance to fight on the losing side or to struggle against overwhelming odds exercises a particularly powerful appeal. That, after all, is an essential component of the romance of Gone with the Wind; after exalting it, the Nazis found themselves forced to ban it in the nations they occupied, where audiences cast themselves – and not the Germans – in the role of the wronged. If even the Resistance in Europe was inspired to identify with the South, why read anything sinister into the existence of German Confederates?

Wolfgang Hochbruck, a Professor of American Studies at the University of Freiburg and a Union reenactor, is less charitable. “I think some of the Confederate reenactors in Germany are acting out Nazi fantasies of racial superiority,” he told author Tony Horwitz. “They are obsessed with your war because they cannot celebrate their own vanquished racists.” It’s an unsettling thought.”

“Confederates On The Rhine” from the Atlantic

Thanks to Katie from WIT on Twitter for the tip.

The Brothers Grimm: Storytellers and Scholar-Activists

A short fairytale that may or may not be based on a true story: There once was an eight-year old boy who grew up to have a couple of brothers. This was the time before he was have a sister as well. First his birthday, he and a family member went to see Disney’s Beauty and the Beast. Later that year, he and one of his brothers joined a group of kids to take a trip to the same movie theater. It was there, that the decision was between Babe Ruth (1991) or Beauty and the Beast again. The boys’ parents had told the two brothers to stay together and go to see the same film. One was interested in Babe Ruth’s story; the other, wanted to see B&B again. The boys went their separate ways, and when the parents’ found out, the brothers were reprimanded. Years later, one boy became a bandwagon Yankee fan, and the other, an aspiring scholar obsessed with story, fantasy and a strong critic of Disney movies.

Who were the Brothers’ Grimm? What was their inspiration? Were their stories original? For a few years now, there have been “re-tellings” of familiar fairytales, Snow White, Little Red Riding Hood, Cinderella. NBC’s new drama GRIMM began to pique my curiosity for the source of the stories. When I Googled “The Brothers’ Grimm” and religion, I found some perplexing answers. So, I decided during the Thanksgiving holiday break to do some research.

Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm were born in Hanau, Germany in 1785 and 1786, nearly a century before the unification of the Prussian provinces. The boys had come from a long line of German Protestant clergy; this is why in the Grimm household, education was of the utmost importance. School for Jacob was much easier than for Wilhelm, but both boys were studious. Their lessons included logic, ethics, French, Greek, Latin, and philosophy by the time what is now considered to be junior high in contemporary U.S. American culture. They attended the University of Marburg, tuition free, despite the fact that they were the sons of a city administrative official all because their mother wrote a letter for an exemption. (See, higher education has always had class barriers). Jacob became renowned for studying Germanic law and comparative linguistics, Wilhelm for his contribution to literature from the Medieval Ages. The Brothers Grimm, originally employed at a library, eventually were hired at the University of Gottingen. Ernst August of Cumberland took over Gottigen, and with one move, dissolved the Constitution, depriving professors of their rights to academic freedom and free speech. Inspired by none other than Martin Luther, Jacob and Wilhelm Grimm make political speeches in front of students protesting this tyrannical act. Their reward? Along with 7 other professors, they were canned! The Grimms felt it was their Christian duty to speak for human rights, even if it was contrary to the will of the king.

While the Grimms’ were fascinated with democracy and German Romanticism, they were more interested in the culture of the Volk (pop culture, if you will). The German masses passed down wisdom through the ages, and the Grimms, with a team of writers went from village to village (at times) record fairy tales to have them published. According to certain accounts, the Grimm Brothers’ preferred variation, for not each fairytale was told the same way. Also, Jacob, ever the cultural linguist, desired to have editions of fairy tales from other cultures as well (the Scottish version of Cinderella, the French, etc.). Folk tale traditions did not stop at German borders. Some folk tales were based off true crimes and stories. Others found their inspiration from Norse Mythology. It is this connection with the Nordic past that the folk community fell prey to Nazi propaganda. The Grimm Brothers’ legacy, unfortunately, has been soiled by Disney and Hitler. Each of the heroes from the Grimm Brothers’ tales were converted into loyal Germans to the Third Reich. The Brothers Grimm dreamed of a day when all cultures everywhere could share their stories with other cultures, a dialogical approach to national cultures if you will. The Nazis would have none of the Grimms’ virtue ethic, one of empathy, kindness, gentility, and charity.

Someday, one can hope, the legacy of the Brothers Grimm will be recovered. Someday, when we no longer have Nazis or Disney telling their stories.

For more information on the Brothers Grimm, I would see, The Brothers Grimm and Their Critics by Christa Kamenetsky.

Treason

Someone in my Bible study this week suggested that if Jesus spoke today about our country the way he did about Rome, it would be high treason. This is my agreement.

A while back, I went to see a movie with a few very good friends. Beyond what comes next, I thought it was a good movie. It was not too presumptuous, nor was it boring or long winded, just an open window into a story from WW2 that to my knowledge had not been told because primary sources did not want to tell it. It concerned a group of freedom fighters who were not anti-war activists or especially decent folks, but they united together to secretly plot for the good of Germany over and against Hitler’s mad schemes. Full disclosure time, and if you haven’t seen the movie, don’t worry, I will only spoil minor plot points, but the crux of the movie revolves around an assassination attempt on Adolf Hitler. Apparently, many clergy at the time were involved in attempting to assassinate the guy with the fuehrious mustache.

My favorite line in the movie was from the following exchange between tom cruise’s character and someone who he has just hired as an assistant in a government job. Before his actual job begins, Tom Cruise’s character, in an act of brazen and fairly reckless abandon says to the recruit, “”I am involved in high treason with all means available to me. Can I count you in?”

Can I count you in? That is the question I find myself confronted with when Jesus talks. Literally. He is not reacting against the moral decay of western civilization, he is not trying to get us to rebel against hell itself or abortion, or gay marriage, or biblical illiteracy, or rap music, or rock music in church, or conservative politicians, or even liberal politicians. He was inviting us to stand up against Rome and the leadership of Israel, which at the time were the physical instruments and in some cases the actual embodiments of what Walter Wink calls the Domination System, what the Bible calls Satan, what we in our culture might describe as Technological, Militaristic, Therapeutic, Consumerism (according to Walter Bruggeman).

Jesus was involved in high treason against the God of this world. The powers, principalities, the anthropomorphic descriptions of the collective spirits of our institutions such as families, places of worship, governments, and entertainments that have taken a life of their own and like a computer virus unleashed by a pimple-faced, too-smart-for-his-own-good-hacker, it has spiraled out of control and now threatens the very people that created it and are now subject to it. Like Germany was to Hitler.

One particular part I liked about Valkyrie, was that in the midst of trying to wrest power from Hitler, they almost succeeded. They had a grand plan which had fingers extended into every possible power structure of Germany and once unleashed, they were able to take power fairly easily and at one point, Tom Cruise asks a compatriot how a certain front is going and he responds positively, noting that “not one bullet was fired”. Ghandi was once asked if his non-violent political action would work against Hitler. He said he didn’t know until it was tried. And that is one of the single most repeated questions I am asked when I talk about non-violence. What about Hitler? Well, I think Valkyrie gave me a window into what is possible. If a few German officers were able to almost take control of Germany in a matter of hours, given less than a year to plan, what might have been possible for others who might have followed in their footsteps? Would Hitler have ever been deposed by anything less than a violent solution? Who knows? But I believe Jesus invites us to think harder about those kind of questions, because when Jesus asks if he can count us in, violence and war are large parts of what he is involved with treason against. Jesus refused to use the enemy’s means to fight for his ends.

In a world where might makes right (yes you mr. bullhorn in downtown Fort Worth, and you mr. sit back in washington and send my friends to Iraq, and lets not forget you mr. too-big-to-fail banker who screwed us all where it hurts with your business practices and when your business is heading towards bankruptcy the government gives you lots of dough which you keep to buy other banks and give large bonuses, and lastly you mr. gas-guzzler maker, who cries in their soup when america won’t buy their crappy cars anymore because the other countries can make them better, most cost effective, and export them cheaper than you can make them here, and then you ask for handouts from the taxpayers to bail you out, having flown in your freaking private jet to get there!), Jesus asks us to join him in high treason, not against people, but against the System.

Can we count you in?

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