Weimar, USA? (1 of 3)
|January 31, 2013||Posted by Joseph Keysor under Blog|
Haffner, Sebastian. Defying Hitler: A Memoir. Translated by Oliver Pretzel. London: Phoenix, 2003.
Raimund Pretzel, who wrote under the pen name of Sebastian Haffner, was a boy in World War I and young man in Nazi Germany. He later managed to get out of the Reich and make a home for himself in England. His memoir is about his personal struggles to survive spiritually and psychologically in Nazi Germany.
It was not Haffner’s intention to make any comparisons between America and Nazi Germany or Germany in the brief period between the end of World War I and Hitler’s coming to power in 1933, but as I read the book I noticed many parallels between the two countries.
Is it possible that America is headed toward economic disaster, the end of our democratic experiment, and the establishment of dictatorship? It would be rash of me to try and predict – but I would like to present some quotes of Haffner’s, followed by some occasional comments of my own in italics. (Quotes in parentheses) are my own paraphrasing of Haffner’s ideas.
…its acceptance of a loss of freedom; its lack of ideological weapons against enemy propaganda; the way it surrenders the initiative; and its collapse at the final moment when the issue is reduced to a simple question of power.
He is referring to the collapse of opposition to Hitler. The relevance to us today does not require elaboration. The forces of traditionalism and conservatism have completely failed. Their lack of vitality is a case for serious study.
…a period in which the gloomy present was lightened only by comparison with the prospect of a ghastly future.
Where could one find stability and security, faith and confidence, if world events could be so deceptive? . . . a horrified foreboding of the unpredictability of life.
This after the catastrophe of Germany’s defeat. The Germans had had great hopes for the future in 1914 – they were all deceived.
What would follow was beyond imagining (speaking here of Germany’s expected victory at the beginning of WWI).
What if disaster is coming in our future? Does anyone believe America will be forever exempt from what so many others have experienced?
. . . the old order had collapsed . . . The era of peace was at an end.
The older generation had become uncertain and timid in its ideals and convictions.
The greater part of the younger generation had been ruined beyond saving.
(. . . duel between formidable and ruthless state and an individual who only wants to preserve his integrity, private life, personal honor . . . duel waged in isolation out of public view)
It is becoming increasingly difficult for people who think differently to maintain their integrity in a system that increasingly demands conformity.
(. . . historical changes that will wreak havoc and leave nothing left standing)
Americans have thought they would be free, independent, and prosperous forever.
He refused to indulge in wishful thinking . . .
When it comes to balancing the budget, recovering lost liberties, and restoring America, too many Americans have in the past engaged in wishful thinking and have no real idea of what they are up against.
. . . suffocating in a vacuum of arid emptiness and isolation
The sterility and deadness of America’s pop culture and fake religiosity is one cause of our problems.
It did not occur to me that there could be anything bad or dangerous in something which so obviously filled one with joy and provided such delightful intoxication.
Pop music, TV and movies, junk food, political dreams and fantasies – many have no ideas that they seek happiness in things that are spiritually and psychologically harmful. America is now in many ways a deeply sick nation.
Which had sustained my spirit and nourished my dreams every day for years, would remain empty and black for evermore.
What is the inner basis of our hope and optimism? As the American dream fades, what do we have?
(an 11 year old) whose entire inner world has collapsed . . .
How many adolescents in America today are being raised without virtue, discipline, honor, integrity, loyalty, and valid beliefs?
. . . the whole world had become strange and unsettling.
How greatly America has changed. The old certainties are gone or going.
. . . to have had no clear conception of what they wanted and how they were going to get it . . .
Many want to try and bring back the old America but have no idea of what this will really require.
Young people themselves were familiar with nothing but . . .
How much of today’s youth culture is nothing but trash and lies?
Thus, under the surface, all was ready for a vast catastrophe.
They thought their prosperity would continue indefinitely.
(The Left was “over-clever” and therefore stupidly imagined the sports craze of the 20s as a way to vent warlike instincts harmlessly and peacefully . . .)
How many useless ideas are current about how peace can be achieved?
Taking a false and dangerous path . . .
(The forces of liberalism) had long become a minority; and we knew it . . . we could not talk with many of our contemporaries because we spoke a different language. We felt the tide of a new ‘brown German’ rise around us …We knew the morons were in the overwhelming majority.
By “liberalism” he meant old-time liberalism, the belief in limited government and individual freedoms – very different from the “liberalism” of today. By “brown German” he means the Nazis, so called because of their brown uniforms.
(Hatred for the system that restrains them – political, economic, moral)
Many leftists today have a hatred for the old American system.
. . . the forces that had lain low for so long gathered noisily.
Those who want to make a new America are now in the driver’s seat.