Hitler's bookbinder

Michael Shaughnessy reports the untold story of Frieda Thiersch—and the mysteries of her life, her motives and her books

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Jesus on Google Street View

Nazi salute, too. Coordinates. [Bubblews via Fortean Times]

Medical terminology named after Nazis

Surprisingly, there are a good half-dozen medical eponyms that come from Nazi doctors who performed experiments on unwilling human subjects or used bodies of executed prisoners in their work — often in the course of discovering the very things that now bear their names. Clara cells, for instance, are a type of cell that lines small airways in your lungs. They're named for Max Clara, who discovered them by dissecting executed political prisoners.

Nazi SS commander discovered living in Minneapolis

Michael Karkoc — a 94-year-old Ukranian immigrant who lives in a neighborhood of Minneapolis known for housing populations of both Eastern Europeans and artists — has turned out to be a former Nazi SS commander whose unit was involved in cracking down on the Warsaw uprising, as well as other brutal attacks on civilians. The Associated Press broke the story and Minnesota Public Radio has some great, in-depth coverage. Reached at his home, Karkoc told AP reporters, "I don't think I can explain." (Strangely, this has been a big week for Nazi-related news. Yesterday, Xeni posted a story about the discovery of a diary belonging to one of Hitler's confidants.)

Nazi-themed opera cancelled

A Dusseldorf production of Wagner's Tannhauser was cancelled this week after the producer "refused to tone down the staging, set in a concentration camp during the Holocaust." [BBC]

Explain why Jews are evil

Dan Amira writes,

An unnamed English teacher at Albany High School who wanted to "challenge" his/her students to "formulate a persuasive argument" tasked them with writing an essay about why "Jews are evil," as if they were trying to convince a Nazi official of their loyalty

Time for a teacher training day!

The true story of the woman who performed mercy abortions at Auschwitz

Gisella Perl was Romanian and Jewish. She was a gynaecologist at a time and place where very few women went into the medical professions. In 1944, she and her entire family were shipped off to Auschwitz, where Perl was instructed to provide medical care for her fellow inmates — medical care that was supposed to happen without even the most basic medical supplies.

In this position, she was officially employed by Josef Mengele, and she saw what happened to women who entered Auschwitz while pregnant. The short answer was death. The long answer was that those deaths were often horrifying and drawn-out. So Gisella Perl gave herself a new job — protecting women by helping them hide evidence of pregnancy and by performing abortions with her bare hands.

I'd never heard Perl's story before. It's heartbreaking. And it's riveting. The Holocaust History Project has a long and well-cited version.

Nazi rules for jazz performers

Famed Czech radical Josef Skvorecky recently died at 87 in his adopted land of Canada. In the Atlantic, JJ Gould remembers Skvorecky through his memoirs, including a detailed list of the rules for jazz performers during the Nazi occupation. The Reich's Gauleiter for the Nazi Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia issued a 10-point regulation that Gould calls "the single most remarkable example of 20th-century totalitarian invective against jazz."

1 Pieces in foxtrot rhythm (so-called swing) are not to exceed 20% of the repertoires of light orchestras and dance bands;
2 in this so-called jazz type repertoire, preference is to be given to compositions in a major key and to lyrics expressing joy in life rather than Jewishly gloomy lyrics;
3 As to tempo, preference is also to be given to brisk compositions over slow ones so-called blues); however, the pace must not exceed a certain degree of allegro, commensurate with the Aryan sense of discipline and moderation. On no account will Negroid excesses in tempo (so-called hot jazz) or in solo performances (so-called breaks) be tolerated;
4 so-called jazz compositions may contain at most 10% syncopation; the remainder must consist of a natural legato movement devoid of the hysterical rhythmic reverses characteristic of the barbarian races and conductive to dark instincts alien to the German people (so-called riffs);
5 strictly prohibited is the use of instruments alien to the German spirit (so-called cowbells, flexatone, brushes, etc.) as well as all mutes which turn the noble sound of wind and brass instruments into a Jewish-Freemasonic yowl (so-called wa-wa, hat, etc.);

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Propaganda posters from the war on dino-Nazis


Dino D-Day is a forthcoming video game set in an alternate reality where Nazis team up with dinosaurs to fight WWII. The collateral for the game -- propaganda posters, newspapers, newsreels -- is really great and funny-weird/funny-ha-ha.

Steam now taking pre-orders for Dino D-Day (via Super Punch)

Outrage at Japanese boy band's outfits

Japanese pop band Kishidan.jpeg Sony has apologized for Japanese boy band Kishidan's attire in a recent TV appearance. The BBC reports:
The Simon Wiesenthal Center, a Jewish human rights organisation based in Los Angeles, said it was shocked and dismayed by the broadcast. The band, Kishidan, wore the uniforms - complete with iron crosses and red armbands - for an interview on MTV. Sony Music Artists said there was no ideological meaning to the outfits.
The band usually goes for a sort of Sanrio-tastic "Hello Bismarck" uniformed get up; it's easy to see how they might have wandered across this particular fault line in European military iconography without noticing the shitstorm waiting on the other side. Apology [Sony Music Artists of Japan] Sony apology over Japan boy band Kishidan's Nazi gaffe [BBC]

How (not) to exterminate a book.

ausgewahltegedichte.jpg As a book freak (bibliophile is just too refined to describe my love for certain bound publications) I have been researching the case of a particular poetry volume for a few years now. Recently, Xeni posted on the U.S. government's purchase and destruction of upwards of 10,000 books that reminded me of the case I am researching and I found the parallels between the two instances eerie. I am going to request a suspension of Godwin's law for the time that you read this piece as the unintentional but unavoidable comparison to the Nazis cannot be hidden. Gottfried Benn: German poet, medical doctor, and Nazi sympathizer, published a collection of his poems in May 1936 entitled "Selected Poems - Ausgewählte Gedichte". Although authorized for publication under the Nazis, upon a closer reading of the poems the authorities quickly changed their minds. The Black Corps - Das Schwarze Korps, the official weekly propaganda newspaper of the SS, vilified the publication by calling Benn a Selbsterrreger (Self-agitator or Masturbator). Some of his early expressionist poems were deemed to be inappropriate for a Nazi audience and the newspaper advised him, "Give it up, poet Benn, the times for such disgusting things (Ferkeleien - literally 'acts of piglets') are permanently gone". This created such a furor over the poetry volume that the book was banned at the beginning of the summer of 1936. The copies in existence were systematically rounded up and destroyed by the government. Unlike previous instances of Nazi book burning that were largely symbolic but did not represent a complete extermination of a particular work, this instance of publication, review, recall, and destruction eliminated almost all of the original first editions printed. However, despite this swift and sharp reaction on behalf of the authorities, Benn's book was not simply erased from memory as one might expect, but replaced. As early as November, a new first edition with the same title appeared that subtracted five poems from the collection and added seven other poems. It was not Benn's poetry alone that was offensive, but merely a number of poems (Zipped PDF). They were: "D-Zug", "Mann und Frau gehen durch die Krebsbaracke", "O Nacht", "Synthese", and "Untergrundbahn". Gottfried Benn remained in Germany during WWII but was forbidden to publish on his own until after the war. For years, his Nazi sympathies have been juxtaposed with his poetic contributions. Despite that larger debate on the merits of his work, the case of his 'exterminated' book remains a truly interesting example of how Government control of publication is both horrifying and strange. Despite the desire of the Nazi government to exterminate the book and replace it with a revised version, a number of copies of the original 1st edition have of course survived. However, I would currently estimate the number to be under twenty. Army Reserve Lt. Col. Anthony Shaffer stated recently, "Someone buying 10,000 books to suppress a story in this digital age is ludicrous." Even without the digital age, it has always been ludicrous to believe that one can to control the flow of information.

BITTER SEEDS: Alternate WWII novel pits English warlocks against Nazi X-Men

Ian Tregillis's stellar debut novel Bitter Seeds hits shelves today. It's a beautifully written and thoroughly researched alternate WWII history, the twist being that a mad German scientist has discovered a way to endow a group of sociopaths -- raised from WWI orphans -- with X-Men-like powers that have made the Wehrmacht unstoppable.

To counter this, a desperate Great Britain establishes a secret division composed of a tiny number of British warlocks -- shades of Susanna Clarke's Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell -- men who use speech in a mystical Ur-language, accompanied by blood sacrifice, to call up vast, brutal elemental forces. These forces, the Eidolons, loathe humanity and tremble in barely restrained rage at the stain we spread on the universe, but they can be bargained with, blood traded for elemental magick.

Tregillis writes and plots beautifully. The characters -- twisted German psychics, bitter warlocks, the brutal calculators of the British intelligence apparat -- are complex, textured, surprising. The physical descriptions are wonderful. And the plot is relentless, a driving adventure story with intrigue, battle, sacrifice, and betrayal.

I had the extreme pleasure of teaching Ian Tregillis at the Clarion Workshop some years ago, and he was one of my most promising students, a standout in a year of standout writers. So I am unsurprised -- but totally delighted -- to find myself reading such a tremendous debut from him. This is the first volume of the Milkweed Triptych, and I'm extremely eager to read the rest.

Bitter Seeds