Thinking history

This blog was launched alongside the book ‘Massacre in Malaya’… and I have continued to comment on the legal proceedings to do with the Batang Kali case. We are all waiting for word from the UK Supreme Court. But other issues have caught my attention in the meantime and so here are some rumination on those. Reading Max Hastings’ review about German citizens during the Second World War a few comments struck me forcibly. The first was the oft repeated trope that the Holocaust – and for that matter German plans to eradicate millions of Slavs also considered ‘life not worthy of life’ – somehow contradicts the fact that modern Germany, founded in 1871 was Europe’s preeminent civilisation – the land of Bach, Goethe and Thomas Mann, although only the last named was a ‘German’ in the modern sense. The implication is that it is less surprising that, say, Rwandans or Cambodians, or Turks for that matter, perpetrate genocide than that some Germans did between 1941 and 1945. It is a puzzle that the civilised descended to barbarism but not that other peoples did. The puzzle is a false one. Putting it in these terms exposes the innately racist assumption […]
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