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More Hitler. More Germany September 28, 2005

Posted by BiB in Uncategorized.

While I’m here, and while I’m referring to things out of date, such as the animation a couple of posts ago, and while I’m on about Hitler, I’m glad to be able to link to this review of Der Untergang. Glad because it’s taken me ages to find the full thing and not just a tempting snippet, and glad because I’m always glad to read the deeply impressive words of Edward Skidelsky, the cleverest man in England, who, I’m equally happy to say, is a friend. (Also SSEES and Berlin, though those are perhaps two of the less important locations on his life’s journey, I’m guessing.) (He’s charming and handsome as well as being obscenely clever, the sod.) He’s spot on about the film, which, I agree, isn’t brilliant, but still fascinates. I disagree a touch that Hitler and the Third Reich are taboo subjects in Germany, though you can certainly hear the snap of sphincters as they’re raised, but I couldn’t agree more that

Germany is still, to this extent, living under the shadow of Hitler; it is still a self-gagged, self-censored nation. The question raised by Thomas Mann in his postwar novel Doctor Faustus still awaits an answer: “How can ‘Germany’, whatever form it takes, ever again venture to open its mouth in human affairs?”

and I think most Germans are ignorant – blissfully or knowingly, I’m not sure – of the extent to which their history still dominates their present. To a foreigner here, it seems obvious, yet young Germans have tended to think I’m exaggerating when I’ve stated that I still think that period is one of – am I hesitating to write THE? I am – the central building-blocks of their current identity. Well, history and change – are they the same thing? – take time, of course, and Germany does become more and more normal with time. Maybe normalisation will accelerate once living memories of that time are gone. But, as Ed points out, Germany still awaits its answer.



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