Monday, May 09, 2005

WWII: Who is really to blame for the neverending memories?

Today the BBC World Service had a piece on how various people remember VE day. A few comments came in from how people recall Churchill’s speech, how the Eastern Europeans saw the end of one occupation in exchange for another type of unwanted guest; and a marvelous story how one woman in the Channel Islands recalls how the town celebrated while the occupying Nazis (she didn’t simply call them Germans) ran about acting like they were still important. There was even the English soldier who recalls being on his way, well after VE day but just before VJ day when the Japanese called it off, to participate in the coming invasion of Japan! (were they really going to?)

But of course the presenter finally came around to the topic of how the world will never let the Germans forget it. Is this a situation that is likely to continue? What will the future hold?

Some callers suggested this or that reason* and some who thought the world really ought to let them move on and get on with there lives. Both these requests have been made in the immediate post war period and even now. (*and by no means do I try to belittle the dreadful – oh how else could I put it: German efficiency of - the slaughter of millions in concentration camps and elsewhere).

In some way or another the program host asked (of callers and the stoogie war historians in the studio). “why can’t they separate the Germans from the shocking war, the wide breadth of atrocities, the land grabbing sprint in two directions across Europe? Why, why, must it go on?"

Simple, I say. Its because of the colors! Its because of the entertainment industry spin offs! It is because never before – and rarely since – has the world seen such movie theatre evil witnessed on such a hollywood studio, epic scale!

What, only Mel Brooks gets to laugh about the war and get away with it?

Think about it, even George Lucas would have been lost when he tried to think of an evil side if he didn’t have some of the role model – well, models, actually - we all recognize today.

I would even think that if someone tried to legislate that it is illegal to mention the German input to WWII in political or business situations, a court case would be brought to the highest courts in the USA and Europe (sans Germany) saying that it must go on. By whom? The entertainment industry, of course, you ninny!

Movie companies, production companies, makers of German prop uniforms and memoribilia. Novel writers the likes of Ken Follet (Eye of the Needle, Key to Rebecca) and Robert Harris (Fatherland, Enigma), would all join forces saying they have the right to free speech and can dig up the war at any time they feel like it to make a quick 100 million bucks. Seriously, I ask you, who else benefits the most?

So if they are to blame for the propogation of the evil German Reich after the war, we still need to know who really is to blame, aside from Hitler’s hate based political landscape, and arms length slaughter house machine, for the amazing carry-on affect at its basist of origins?

Albert Speer, I would say. Why? The color scheme, of course. Well to be more exact in a not-too-precise manner (that you have come to expect of me), Speer was responsible for things like the grandstanding use of spot lights for evening events, the roman empire-like use of twin colum adorned with eagles, the hanging flags with the big swastika. But those colors: magnificent! The movie makers of today stumbled upon a goldmine.

And the assumed patent, or copyright is tougher than any contract clause you could imagine because no on can come close to using anything similar without being accused of copying the best, if not original, form of fascism. The singularity of this presentation of evil was a masterstroke that bled over to the Grey uniforms of the SS and the Gestapo black. Compared to the drab olive green with a dark green blazer that Ike wore, or the olive green uniform of Monty (with the silly but functional hooded overcoat), and the mustard tunics of the p-40 carrying Russians, they were the height of fasci.. uh, I mean, fashion.

Speer must have been walking around thinking, ‘Okay people, if this were a movie set, how would I make it memorable? What about this occaision to we want to stand out? Okay, lets see, for the photo shoot at the Fuhrer’s mountain top “Eagles nest” lets put chubby Hess in white naval jacket against the mountain backdrop, and get tha Braun girl to act coy in the backgound (head lithely tilted to the side, please dear), and oooh yes, get that sour looking, poison-in-a-bottle, Goehring up front. He is sooo evil looking.’

If you don’t agree, let us just compare to the only other evil doers of the same time. You only have to look at the Japanese. Their past, as the history writing victors have penned it, is all but forgotten. Oh, okay, except for the Chinese who sadly have a real beef considering the horrendous travesties such as those by the average nasty foot solder in the Rape of Nanking, which is even more sadly used whenever it suits the Chinese politically. But in comparison, there seems to be nothing of the same, how shall I put it, savoir-faire of the tall and blond German evil.

Allo Allo, Hogans Heros, and even Mel Brooks have made the silly German an almost cute-in-their-evil mascot with a monocle and black boots. But the reason Hasbro or Mattel didn’t sell this GI Joe was not because of the possible ire from the Jewish community, but because the test market little girls kept stealing the colorfully dressed little fascists from the boys – and then proceded to win the ensuing head banging play war.

All kidding aside, the German thing will unfortunately last a while longer I fear. Perhaps even after all possible and however unlikely participants and witnesses have long since perished.

And when the reasons are sought, the data dissected, the last of the opinion polls is in, I will wager you that the blame for the timeless herpies-like affliction that all Germans have to carry, all along lay with the power of successful marketing.

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