Why Thousands of Germans Killed Themselves after World War II

April 29 2020

Recently published in English, the German historian Florian Huber’s Promise Me You’ll Shoot Yourself examines the wave of suicides that swept through the Third Reich immediately before and after its defeat in 1945. Tom Rice writes in his review:

Through diaries, memoirs, and public records, Huber follows ordinary Germans through the Reich’s last days, which were, for many, the last days of their lives. We meet the elderly couples who hung themselves together, the fathers who shot their families before taking their own lives, and the mothers who marched to their fate in icy rivers, dragging their children behind them.

[But] Huber ultimately understates the significance of the German mass suicides. For him, Germans who killed themselves in 1945 did so either to avoid the fate that awaited them at the hands of the Allies—like the citizens fearful of the brutality of Russian soldiers, as was Hitler himself—or to escape the guilt that would overwhelm them once imminent defeat revived their dormant consciences. Whatever the reasons, the sheer number of Germans who chose to take their own lives is remarkable.

To answer the question of why they did it, Rice turns to Hannah Arendt’s observation that “just as the law in civilized countries assumes that the voice of conscience tells everybody ‘Thou shalt not kill,’ . . . so the law of Hitler’s land demanded that the voice of conscience tell everybody: ‘Thou shalt kill.’”

Mass suicide sprang from [an] inversion of moral imperatives, one that transformed self-harm from a sin into a necessity. In a sense, it was the logical conclusion of the twisted morality that Arendt described: standing face-to-face with the abyss, thousands of Germans followed Nazism’s commandment to kill—one last time. Promise Me You’ll Shoot Yourself offers important historical insight for any theoretical analysis of Nazism. By cataloguing the self-inflicted carnage of 1945, Huber offers another way of understanding the human cost of political evil.

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Read more at City Journal

More about: Hannah Arendt, Nazism, Suicide, World War II

 

Iran’s Dangerous Dream of a Triple Alliance with Russia and China

Aug. 16 2022

Unlike Hamas, which merely receives support from the Islamic Republic, Palestinian Islamic Jihad (PIJ)—with which Israel engaged in a short round of fighting last week—is more or less under its direct control. In fact, the recent hostilities began with a series of terrorist attacks launched by PIJ from Samaria, which might in turn have been a response to Supreme Leader Ali Khamenei’s call “to open a new front in the West Bank against the Zionist enemy.” Amir Taheri writes:

In Gaza, the Islamic Republic has invested heavily in promoting Hamas and Palestinian Islamic Jihad. . . . Islamic Jihad is in a minority in Gaza, hence the attempt by Tehran to help it create a base in the West Bank.

Reliable sources in Baghdad say that [Iran’s expeditionary and terrorist paramilitary] the Quds Force has been “transiting” significant quantities of arms and cash via Iraq to Jordan, to be smuggled to the West Bank. The Jordanian authorities say they are aware of these “hostile activities.” King Abdullah himself has publicly called on Iran to cease “destabilizing activities.”

But such schemes, Taheri explains, are part of a larger strategic vision of creating a grand anti-Western alliance even while engaging in nuclear negotiations with the U.S. and Europe:

Last month, Khamenei praised Vladimr Putin for his invasion of Ukraine. And this month, China’s ambassador to Iran, Chang Hua, praised the Islamic Republic for supporting China in “asserting its sovereignty” over Taiwan.

It is clear that some dangerous pipe-dreamers in Beijing, Moscow, and Tehran have fallen for the phantasmagoric vision of “three great powers” banding together and with help from “the rest,” that is to say, the so-called Third World . . . to destroy an international system created by the “corrupt and decadent.”

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Read more at Gatestone

More about: China, Iran, Islamic Jihad, Israeli-Palestinian Conflict, Russia, West Bank