Thursday, October 17, 2013

“Alvederzein Herr Priebke”

There is much talk of SS Captain Erich Priebke in the news lately; and much of it is confusing.
At issue is where to bury such a man, and the logical answer would be depending on his religious faith, in the place of origin or adoptive country.
      Nazism is not a prerequisite nor is it an exclusionary measure in attributing the “value” of burying men, women, and children of the Third Reich.
To dehumanize Priebke in death is hypocritical, and serves no purpose; other to reiterate the need to persecute in death those who perpetrated war atrocities and pursued the ideals of the Volk.
It is not a test for the Vatican on the basis of faith and faith alone, it is not a validation of Nazism, it is not even a recognition of The Holocaust; Priebke died in Italy and should be buried as any one of us should be.
     Unfortunately, Priebke elicits more than the ordinary accomplishments (of just being aged 100 years at the time of his death); his passing reintroduces a plethora of questions.
The role of the Vatican, Italian communism, anti-Semite ideology in pre-Mussolini Italy, fascism,     The Holocaust, and many other areas of societal norms of the early 20th century.
Priebke’s role in the 1944 Ardeatine Caves is well documented, and so are the directives from his superior (Herbert Kappler) and those of central command.      
    If articles of Priebke’s death generate the necessary discussions among you; it is serving a bigger purpose, that of truly examining why ethnically speaking we seem as human beings to attribute what is “desirable” and what is defined as “others” when discussing who deserves to be within the community membership of a country.
“Not every being with a human face is human.”-Carl Schmitt. 

Priebke and other Germans alike espoused the ideology presented by the Nazi Party; the ethnic revival of the Volksgenosse, is not to be confused with ethnic tolerance, or racial policies.
One has to remember that in the context of anti-Semitism; Europe as a whole subscribed to “cultivated” policies which made clear distinctions between Jews and non-Jews.
     There is a clear distinction to be made in reference to what Schmitt here stated.
What occurred in Germany and in other European countries stems from this basic tenet-ethnicity was (is) not based on the sanctity of human life.
     If it were so, Cambodia, Rwanda, Kosovo, genocides would not have materialised.
Germans placed, “Cultural relativism to indicate their own superiority,” commented author Claudia Koonz.
     Nazi Propaganda Minister Joseph Goebbels expresed it best in his little publication: The little ABC’s of National Socialism-“Love Germany above all else and your ethnic comrade [Volksgenosse] as yourself!”
Koonz posits the dictum, “Germans did not become Nazis because they were anti-Semites; they became anti-Semites because they were Nazis.” 
This reinforces the view that conditions were ripe in Germany for a new kind of leadership; one which could rectify the ills of the country.
     Re-invest in what Germans loved best; order, ethnic pride, clear gender roles, and long term economic prosperity.
One had to make choices in Germany; and Priebke made his when he joined the Nazi Party.
Austrian-born American political scientist and historian Raul Hillberg argued that the Final Solution was, “not dependent on Hitler.” 
Hillberg is of the opinion that it was based on principle.
“Because perpetrators [Volksgenosse] grasped the ultimate aims of racial extermination, they improvised, and exceeded their orders.”
This coincides rather well with Priebke’s apparent state of mind, and continued belief in living under his own name.
 It is further exemplified by Koonz, “Not mindless obedience but selective characterized German’s collaboration with evil.” 
We often envelop Germany within its war-time record.
What is amiss, in this thought process is the absence of one important distinction between pre-war Germany as opposed to war-time Germany; racial policy.
    “Even passionate anti-Semites in the party realized that rage against the Jews [Judenkoller] could be counterproductive and understood that moderates (Germans) had to be convinced by other means.”-Koonz.
Priebke is not an isolated example of what National Socialism declared to offer Germans who, “bitterly disillusioned by the bankrupt promises of a liberal democracy” rallied to Hitler’s message of the Volk.
Understanding the under pinning’s of the contextual conditions which are made apparent by authors such as Koonz does not absolve murder.
    It does not un-blemish men, women and youth led Hitlerism in adopting a consciousness in which Koonz describes as being,
The ethical revolution that formed the backdrop and paradigm for the Nazi race war and prepared Germans to tolerate racial crimes well before the advent of genocidal murder battalions and extermination camps.”
    However it does illustrate the mechanisms in which we can learn to understand men such as Priebke; who dispassionately remained steadfast and faithful to an ideology which best identified their sense of “self-love and hate-others.”
The time when all remaining living Nazi perpetrators will cease to exist; moves closer every year.
It would be unfortunate not to learn from this example and allow the continuum of genocide to flourish in the 21st century.
Can you rationalize mass murder?
 It seems that we have to a degree already by not challenging dictatorships which continue to pursue racial ethnic protocols within its own citizenry.
I am more appalled, repulsed, and indignant in what is currently being done in Syria by the Arab Socialist Baath Party.
Nazism I understand, what I do not understand is that we as human beings continue to ignore; the rationalisation that some deserve to die, that it is better to divest ourselves of an “alien” threat at the expense of a marginalized ethnic group.

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