It was 70 years today that Adolf Hitler killed his beloved dog Blondie, then, as an afterthought, Eva Braun and himself.
Blondie was definitely a victim there, and had the RSPCA had jurisdiction over the bunker, it would have had strong words to say about that act of cruelty towards animals. But what about the other two?
This raises the important issue of victimhood, both in the narrow context of that event and also more broadly.
Eva Hitler, née Braun, was a victim only to a very small extent. She accepted her death as willingly as she had plunged herself into a protracted liaison with a rather objectionable swain. One could justifiably say that she brought her misfortune on to herself.
Similarly, it takes an unlikely feat of verbal gymnastics to regard the Führer himself as his own victim, and so far not even David Irving has displayed the requisite dexterity.
If David Irving has slipped your mind, he is an historian who has earned quite a reputation, and a stint in prison, by insisting that the Holocaust never happened and just managing to desist from expressing the hope that some day it will.
The rest of us know the truth: those millions of Jews were victims of Nazism. Or, to be more ethnographically specific, of Germans, ably assisted by the like-minded populations of most countries the Germans had occupied until they lost the war.
The previous paragraph says something so obvious that I feel ashamed for having written it. My only excuse is that 91 per cent of today’s Germans don’t regard the Allied victory as Germany’s defeat.
Those same Germans who in their millions screamed Sieg Heil!!! and then gleefully did everything they could to make that Sieg a reality, who built and manned concentration camps, operated gas chambers, murdered millions in addition to the Jews, welcomed every cannibalistic policy of the Nazi regime, deified Hitler until things went sour, fought to the last man as the Allies were advancing into Germany – those same Germans weren’t losers.
They were victims of Nazism, and hence the Allies’ victory wasn’t their defeat. It was their liberation, their victory as well. Such is the received wisdom in Germany today.
This has to be the only example in history of victims fighting their deliverers tooth and nail until the very last moment.
Then again, victimhood junkies may claim that all those Volkssturm children and old men were setting Allied tanks alight because they were victims (that dread word again) of brainwashing. They were unaware of the beastly nature of the regime they were defending because they were victims (!) of Nazi propaganda.
THEY DID NOT KNOW!, is the battle cry of today’s revisionism. That is, not to cut too fine a point, a lie. Of course they knew – they couldn’t help knowing.
In his book Hitler’s Willing Executioners, Daniel Goldhagen proves, calculator in hand, that hundreds of thousands of Germans were directly involved in the slaughter (as in executing millions by gas, bullet or neglect, running concentration camps, transporting barely living skeletons there, etc.), with millions more involved in an ancillary capacity – and just about everyone else nodding their approval.
There were some German victims too, people like Dietrich Bonhoeffer or Friedrich Reck-Malleczewen (whose The Diary of a Man in Despair is a moving and brilliantly written account of the war), men who died in front of firing squads or with piano wire round their necks because they hated Hitler.
But their voices were muffled by the din of Nuremberg rallies and millions of throats roaring Heil!!! all over Germany with the kind of worshipping enthusiasm that couldn’t be faked.
And of course the Germans suffered horrendously as the Russians were moving in from the east and the Allies from the west.
Millions of German women were raped, and while the Russians displayed by far the greatest virility, the Western allies weren’t as blameless as they now like to believe. And yes, 14 million Germans were displaced, many starved to death and tens of thousands committed suicide.
Such facts should be known, and the German historian Florian Huber must be complimented for divulging them in his book Child, Promise Me You Will Shoot Yourself.
But were those Germans typologically closer to Blondie, who was an innocent, unaware victim, or to Eva Braun, who brought her victimhood on to herself? Were they more like the Goebbelses’ six children poisoned by their parents than the parents who did the poisoning, before killing themselves?
Herr Huber laments that “We have to think of ourselves as the bad guys, and it is still a controversial thing to suggest otherwise.”
I’d say this ‘thing’ isn’t so much controversial as historically mendacious and morally corrupt. The Germans were ‘the bad guys’ then, and by denying it they’ll only succeed in reinforcing this retrospective judgement.
In general, the Germans, in addition to their well-documented talents in just about every field of endeavour, seem to have one for succumbing to collective psychosis.
They did so when going rabid under Hitler, then revelling in morbid collective guilt for decades thereafter, and now disclaiming any collective guilt and claiming collective victimhood instead.
A note to Germans: don’t try to massage and pervert history, chaps. Try to come to terms with it and atone for it properly, with none of the Teutonic propensity for Wagnerian drama.
It would also help if you began to think for yourselves, rather than swallowing the party line, along with hook and sinker. Another piece of avuncular advice: the party line is always wrong – whatever the line and whatever the party.