August 12, 2006

'History does not change, but what we want from it does.'

German women wanted to slurp his bathwater. Hitler and Julius Streicher.

The fact that I am largely confined to offline writing and archived stuff is not all bad. One discovers things that would have remained buried in the hard disk bilges hadn't it been for this particular situation. Browsing through the old files is like getting some unexpected birthday presents. Some things that seemed to be of only marginal importance some years ago have gained considerable momentum lately, some unexpectedly, some very much not so.

Here we have an excellent article from Salon.com about a controversial book by the German historian Lothar Machtan. This entry is not a review of Machtan's book, which I haven't read yet, but a discussion of the, by no means new, question whether Hitler was homosexual and if yes, how far that might have influenced his politics, based on Machtan's core theses, as stated in the following article.
"The Hidden Hitler" by Lothar Machtan
Critics have been far too quick to dismiss this controversial new book alleging that Hitler was gay.
By Allen Barra

Jan. 14, 2002 German historian Lothar Machtan has been taking some lumps for his controversial book "The Hidden Hitler," and a great many of them are well deserved. Machtan sets himself up early in opposition to such writers on Hitler as Ian Kershaw (whose conclusion was "Take away what is political about him, and there's little or nothing left") and promises to show us "the whole man," not just the dictator.

Machtan doesn't succeed at this -- it would probably be more correct to say that he never really attempts it. If Machtan had simply called the book "The Homosexual Hitler" and stuck to that theme he would have had a better book and one less deserving of many of the brickbats being thrown at it.
[…]
But that's [i.e. blaming the entire Holocaust on Hitler's alleged sexuality] not what Machtan is trying to do; what he is trying to do is prove that Hitler was a homosexual. Not a maniac or a paranoid -- Machtan doesn't waste steam on what we already know -- but a homosexual, and the major resistance to this idea is coming, understandably, from homosexuals -- who are anxious not to see Hitler's name with "gay" in front of it -- and from sympathetic liberals.

I'm both sympathetic and liberal, but Machtan's case is simply too strong to be brushed aside. In a recent edition of LGNY.com, Paul Schindler points out that when "a print ad for the book that has run in the New York Times bears the headline, 'The first book to reveal Hitler's secret life and its calamitous public consequences' ... it's hard to escape the conclusion that anybody connected to the marketing campaign must have recognized that such a tease certainly suggested a link between homosexuality and the 20th century's most despicable crimes. In fact, media reaction to the book has played up exactly that link."
[…]
The problem here is that Machtan's book is being judged by its hype. And when you look past the hype to the book's central thesis you are left with the unshakable conclusion that Machtan is on to something. You may well ask why, with the thousands of books written on Hitler, no one else has caught on to this. The answer is that much of what Machtan says has been written about before and that many people have shared his opinions for decades. (Did anyone think the image of Hitler as flaming queen came solely from the fertile imagination of Mel Brooks?)

Several of Machtan's most reliable sources (including the classic biographies by Joachim Fest and Alan Bullock, as well as Bullock's dual biography of Hitler and Stalin) have raised many of the same points as Machtan has, though their authors chose not to emphasize them or pursue them at length. Why? Possibly for no more reason than that their author's interests lay elsewhere. As Voltaire is said to have said, history does not change, but what we want from it does.
[…]
Machtan's most intriguing contribution to the subject is the so-called "Mend Protocol," testimony from a dispatch rider named Hans Mend who had served with Hitler in the First World War and swore that he witnessed Hitler engaging in homosexual acts. This evidence isn't as solid as the author thinks it is; Mend was later discovered to be a liar and blackmailer. But one is entitled to point out that anyone who would be involved with Hitler would almost certainly be some kind of liar or scoundrel (and in any event Mend seems to have had no reason to lie about Hitler several decades later).
[…]
In and of themselves, perhaps none of Machtan's points prove his thesis. Perhaps it means nothing that as a youth in Vienna Hitler frequented the same areas that were notorious for homosexual activity. It may simply be coincidence that Hitler and his best friend lingered around Bayreuth, worshipping Wagner along with gays from several European nations. It may be a failure of historical research that we can't place Hitler in anything resembling a normal relationship with a woman prior to Eva Braun. Perhaps we are misreading Hitler's boyhood infatuation with August Kubizek to suggest it was homosexual in nature. Perhaps Mend and numerous other witnesses who swore that Hitler had homosexual tendencies were seeking revenge or trying to sell sensationalistic stories to the international press. But is it possible that all these stories, all these possibilities, all these indications are wrong, that they are simply the concoctions of sick or vengeful or headline-seeking minds?
[…]
Superman Supreme: Fascist Body as Political Icon deals with those all-male, all-nude scenes, which so obviously conjure a homoerotic narrative. The idealized depiction of an all-male community, strong, virile and devoted to each other, was a centrepiece of Nazi aesthetics.

Like Allen Barra, I think it's no good to bar reality for no other reason that it is not nice to homosexuals. The way to hell is paved with attempts at being nice.

Nothing is new about the probability that Hitler was homosexual. Anybody with eyes and a brain in his head always took the obese, bejewelled Fummeltrine (drag queen) Herman Göring, who wore more lipstick than Joan Crawford, as what he obviously was. Also, the reply to the question why Hitler got rid of his openly gay friend Ernst Röhm and the latter's equally openly homosexual cronies, shouldn't be too difficult to answer. Not to speak of the ruthless de-sexualisation of women, or the flagrantly gay stylisation of the male sex by Nazi- and Nazi-authorised artists, such as Arno Breker.

Hermann Göring: The guy who wore more lipstick than Joan Crawford.

The evidence was always there, it was just ignored.

Of course, Ian Kershaw's conclusion: "Take away what is political about [Hitler], and there's little or nothing left" is accurate. But it drags the problem just to a different level and the question remains, what IS political and what is genuinely and purely private.

As Allen Barra is stating in the above article, other Hitler biographers, Barra explicitly mentions Joachim Fest and Alan Bullock, have raised many of the same points already Machtan is discussing now, but chose not to pursue them any further. As an explanation Barra offers that the authors' interests may have been placed elsewhere.

Ruthless de-sexualisation of women: The Nazi party women's magazine.

This may be the case. But of course, it may have also deemed to those biographers, consciously or subconsciously, that it could be received as misplaced or indelicate to go ahead with this specific topic, because homosexuals had been a target of Nazi persecution themselves. This attitude, however, breaks with the standards of history as a science, and, although it may have been at the time those biographies were written (1973 resp. 1952) a not entirely incomprehensible attitude, it was a harbinger of today's odious political correctness.

It may give an idea of how eminently political the matter of Hitler's sexual orientation is if I say that David "If only the Führer had known all this" Irving's comprehensive account of Hitler's years in power, Hitler's War, doesn't bring in as much as a hint of any homosexual dimension, not even of the "Röhm Putsch", which Irving regards as a mere power struggle.

However, what may have been regarded as just a side issue or something better left alone for the time being decades ago has become a total non-topic for no other reason that the power axis has shifted. It has shifted because we have developed a victim culture where every sufferer is seizing his own Holocaust and anyone who "feels offended" can call for moderation, for dilution, and, ultimately, for censorship.

After Holocaust survivors we have, for example, rape survivors, abuse survivors, and even obesity survivors (As an aside: Notabene that most, if not all, members of those factions are female!), and the thought-police, hell-bent on protecting them, do not wield their control to serve some constructive or humanitarian ends, but to exclude any real or perceived unpleasantness, an unpleasantness which we have become too chicken to face. That is, by the way, why not only the power-hungry are into it, but why virtually all well-meaning people swallow that trick hook line and sinker.

(Interestingly, the only victims who do not fall under that protected-area-scheme are the victims of the original Holocaust. They are criticised freely, uninhibitedly, fairly and unfairly and if they are answering back the old mantra "It's just not allowed to criticise Jews anymore" always seems to serve its purpose. Now imagine the same situation for any other victim group. Does "It's just not allowed to criticise fatties anymore" sound familiar to you? No? I am not amazed. Even more: IS there any serious criticism of the lousy attitude with which fat people instrumentalise their situation and are claiming victim status? No? I wonder why! The same applies, more or less, to all other "victim" groups.)

But back to our original topic: Now Hitler MUST NOT BE GAY, because.... why?

Would it make him a nicer kind of monster? Would it cast a shadow on the oh-so-perfect gay community that is working for decades now to sell us their lifestyle not as just an alternative, but as a PREFERABLE one? (Seen any nice "Hetero Pride Parades" with folks strutting around in G-strings, chains and leather lately?)

Maybe we have another one of those conflicts here where the politically correct thought-police declares ex cathedra that victims never can be perpetrators? Like non-Whites? Like women? (The Jews being the only and notable exception here again!)

The openly aggressive and violent (and disgusting) homosexual G-string, chain- and leather culture is, in the name of tolerance, supported and defended by those who normally abhor any violence, and the scientific findings of a historian, Machtan, are deliberately and ruthlessly suppressed because they don't fit into the world view of all those who can not or do not want to face the fact that there are less than perfect sides to the homosexual way of life.

If a David Irving bends historical facts to make them comply with his world view it's called "revisionism" and he gets his wrist slapped. If the propagandists of everything that is humane, benevolent, bright and beautiful do so it's just another good deed and makes us all feel noble.