Viewing entries tagged
Nazi Germany

Drugs and Death in Nazi Germany

Terrifying and intriguing article in the NYTimes, reviewing Norman Ohler's new book Blitzed: Drugs in Nazi Germany:

From the review:

“Blitzed” begins with Germany’s success in the 19th century as the world’s pre-eminent inventors, manufacturers and exporters of drugs, ranging from the benign (aspirin) to the infamous (heroin). One of those drugs was meth, which was initially marketed over the counter to the German public as an all-purpose upper that beat back everything from depression to hay fever.

Red, white and blue tubes of pills, sold under the trade name Pervitin, caught the attention of a doctor at the Academy of Military Medicine in Berlin, who would oversee the logistics of ferrying millions of pills to troops. Hopped-up soldiers would sprint tirelessly through the Ardennes at the onset of war, an adrenalized performance that left Winston Churchill “dumbfounded,” as he wrote in his memoirs. A German general would later gloat that his men had stayed awake for 17 straight days.

“I think that’s an exaggeration,” Mr. Ohler said, “but meth was crucial to that campaign.”

Phoenix - how does war change personal and national identities?

I recently saw Phoenix, a moving film based on themes central to my Mischilnge Exposé, and wanted to share a few quotes from the article included in the DVD booklet that resonated with me. 

From "Just Be Yourself," by Michael Koresky:
"Phoenix is a German film preoccupied with how war forever changes personal and national identities."

"With her entire family dead, her Gentile husband having abandoned her, and her face disfigured, Nelly is essentially without identity. As the film will go to demonstrate, however, identity is never fixed. Does Nelly consider herself a German or a Jew? Is she her own person or somebody's wife?" 

"Other tensions are of a more spiritual nature: When will Nelly accept the possibility of a future untethered to her past? How will she truly identify herself? All of this is in aid of a story that is at its core about the lies we tell to ourselves, and about ourselves, so that we can function within societal structures..."

Powerful film!!
Read the whole article here:

Watch the trailer:

Edgar Feuchtwanger: “I Was Hitler’s Neighbor”

I highly recommend this article in the New York Times about Edgar Feuchtwanger's new book, I was Hitler's Neighbor. 

The Times writes:

"Today, at 91, he could well be the last German Jew alive who grew up within arm’s reach of Hitler and observed him day to day, if only in fleeting glimpses. 

It was not until the mid-1930s, Edgar Feuchtwanger recalled, that Hitler assumed his full dimensions. It was still possible to walk on the sidewalk in front of Hitler’s building. Hitler had not yet taken to wearing a military uniform at all times in public or traveling in motorcades.

After he became chancellor in 1933, things changed. Mr. Feuchtwanger’s mother now complained that she could not get milk because the deliveryman was steering extra bottles to Hitler. SS guards moved into the apartment below his and took up positions on the sidewalk outside. Pedestrians were made to cross to the other side of the street."

The irony of the pictures in his notebook, doodles of Nazi symbols, strikes me. From the present, we look back at this time period with a "Black and White" view, when, in fact, it was so gray and gradual.  It took a while for people to understand the full threat that Hitler posed.

You can see this gradual change also in the Nuremberg Laws. The restrictions were not suddenly imposed, it was just one thing after another being taken away until there was nothing left to take.

WWII: The Fall of Nazi Germany

I found a very interesting photo series in The Atlantic, called "World War II: The Fall of Nazi Germany." It is part of their 20-part retrospective, "World War II in Photos." 

From their intro:

 "East met West on the River Elbe on April 25, 1945, when Soviet and American troops met near Torgau, Germany. Then came the end of the Third Reich, as the Soviets took Berlin, Adolf Hitler committed suicide on April 30, and Germany surrendered unconditionally on all fronts on May 8 (May 7 on the Western Front). Hitler's planned "Thousand-Year Reich" lasted only 12 incredibly destructive years."

Two of the photos that stuck out were this one, showing Jewish services being conducted in the former home of Goebbels, the Nazi propaganda minister; and this one showing a group of refugees. 

View the whole 45-photo series here:

Anti-Semitism and Mendelssohn's legacy

During the 19th century, Mendelssohn was considered on the same exalted level as Beethoven and Mozart. Composer Robert Schumann called him the Mozart of the 19th century.