- The Origins of Totalitarianism by Hannah Arendt – Paperback, 527 pages. Published 1973 by Harcourt, Brace, Jovanovich (first published 1951). Edition Language: English. Literary AwardsNational Book Award Finalist for Nonfiction (1952)
Rejecting the Cult of Jewish Suffering. The 1937-1938 Slaughter of Soviet Poles Was An Act of Genocide. The Nazi Polokaust Was Not Utilitarian. Polish Nationalism Correctly Understood
Hannah Arendt was a German Jew who wrote many political works of enduring interest. There are now many reviews of this item in existence, and they discuss the main themes of this work. I instead focus on a few items of contemporary interest.
JEWS, VICTIMIZATION, AND CHRISTIAN ANTI-JUDAIC TEACHINGS
Hannah Arendt delivers a strong message to those who would blame Christianity for the Holocaust. She realizes that religious-based antagonisms between Jews and Christians were reciprocal in nature, and that the latter was not a forerunner of anti-Semitism, much less the Holocaust. She comments, (quote) Anti-Semitism, a secular nineteenth-century ideology–which in name, though not in argument, was unknown before the 1870’s–and religious Jew-hatred, inspired by the mutually hostile antagonism of two conflicting creeds, are obviously not the same; and even the extent to which the former derives its arguments and emotional appeal from the latter is open to question. The notion of an unbroken continuity of persecutions, expulsions, and massacres from the end of the Roman Empire to the Middle Ages, the modern era, and down to our time, frequently embellished by the idea that modern anti-Semitism is no more than a secularized version of popular medieval superstitions, is no less fallacious (although of course less mischievous) than the corresponding anti-Semitic notion of a Jewish secret society that has ruled, or aspired to rule, the world since antiquity. (unquote). (p. xi).
JEWS WERE NOT SCAPEGOATS AND VICTIMS
In addition, Arendt parts ways with those who emphasize Jews historically as victims. She writes, (quote) Judaism, as it was now maintained chiefly by Jewish historians, had always been superior to other religions in that it believed in human equality and tolerance. That this was self-deceiving theory, accompanied by the belief that the Jewish people had always been the passive, suffering object of Christian persecutions, actually amounted to a prolongation and modernization of the old myth of chosenness… (unquote). (p. xiii).
She continues (quote) The representation of THE Jew as the incarnation of evil is usually blamed on remnants and superstitious memories from the Middle Ages, but is actually closely connected with the more recent ambiguous role which Jews played in European society since their emancipation. One thing is undeniable: In the postwar period Jews had become more prominent than ever. (unquote). (emphasis is Arendt’s). (p. 354).
THE POLOKAUST–THE NAZI GERMAN GENOCIDE OF POLES–WAS NOT UTILITARIAN
One talking point used to justify Holocaust supremacism is the one about the Jews’ Holocaust–unlike all other genocide–being uniquely irrational. In other words, Judeocentrists, as well as neo-Stalinists and LEWAKS, commonly assert that, because of Nazi actions during WWII, „Jews died because they were Jews, and Poles died because it was war.” Arendt categorically rejects this phony dichotomy, not only because she realizes that the Germans intended eventually to exterminate the Slavs (e. g, p. 411, 424, 443), but also because the existing Nazi German mass murder of Poles went far beyond the utilitarian ends of the war and successful occupation. She writes, (quote) When they [the Nazis] liquidated the greater part of the Polish intelligentsia, they did it not because of its opposition, but because, according to their doctrine Poles had no intellect, and when they planned to kidnap blue-eyed and blond-haired children, they did not intend to frighten the population but to save „German blood”. (unquote). (p. 342).
ARENDT RECOGNIZES THE FACT OF THE 1937-1938 GENOCIDE OF POLES DURING THE GREAT TERROR
Arendt finds parallels between the exterminatory policies of Nazis and Communists. For instance, in the Soviet Union, new groups targeted for extermination, after the former ruling classes, were the kulaks and the Russian Poles (1936-1938). (p. 424).
POLISH NATIONALISM WAS NOT IMPERIALIST: A REFRESHINGLY CORRECT UNDERSTANDING OF POLISH NATIONALISM
Nationalism, in academia, is nowadays commonly a dirty word. In contrast, Arendt realizes that there are different kinds of nationalism. She quips, (quote) Pan-Latinism is a misnomer for a few abortive attempts of the Latin nations to make some kind of alliance against the German danger, and even Polish Messianism never claimed more than what at some time might conceivably have been Polish-dominated territory. (unquote). (pp. 232-233)
- Source: GoodReads.com , December 3, 2018
Published with the author’s permission.
Title image: Young German Nazis. Photo. canoe.com/ selected by wg.pco