September 11, 2012

  My eyes + The Nuremberg Interviews

1. My eyes:

My eyes are still not worth much, though it seems as if it gets now also translated into headaches. Then again, I sleep too little because of the pain, and hence, as so often with M.E., I am caught in various vicious circles, that are very difficult to escape without help, which one does not get, with M.E., "because one is a psychiatric case".

In brief, with M.E. one can study man's inhumanity to man from direct personal experience. Today's black note relates to that theme.

The note that follows also relates, indirectly, to my eyes: Because I hardly can use a computer, especially screens with much white, I try to spend my time rereading books, which is - probably because the luminosity reflected from the pages is much less - a lot easier on my eyes.

Also, the note that follows relates to some of the previous black notes (as I shall call them), and a theme I have repeatedly treated in Nederlogs.

2. ¨The Nuremberg Interviews¨

This is a book by an American psychiatrist, Leon Goldensohn, who was attached to the Nuremberg Trial against a number of the main Nazi leaders and generals, namely as a psychiatrist and also medical doctor for the accused, while he served as a doctor of the US Armed Forces.

He had interviews with many of the accused and with some of the witnesses, mostly through a translator, of which the most well known interviewees are probably Hermann Göring, Rudolf Hoss, Ernst Kaltenbrunner, Albert Speer and Julius Streicher.

These interviews seem to have taken place on Goldensohn's personal initiative, that is, without him being ordered to do so, and without an official purpose (which, as far as the persons he interviewed were concerned, was being among
the accused or the witnesses of the Nuremberg Trial), but Goldensohn evidently took his interviews quite serious, and made careful notes of his questions and the answers he got, that he later typed out.

He also meant to make a book out of the interviews, but had not succeeded in doing so when he died in 1961, age 50. For this reason, nothing happened for quite a while, until a son of his asked a professor of history, Robert Gellately, who had written several books about Hitler, to edit the material into a book, that was published in 2004, of which I have the Dutch translation entitled "Neurenberg-gesprekken", published by Meulenhoff.

This is no reading matter that will contribute to your happiness, but it is quite interesting for quite a few reasons: These are interviews with quite a few of the Nazi top; the interviews seem to have been well done; the interviews were not forced, and indeed were neither part of the evidence for the Nuremberg Trial, nor intended as such; and Goldensohn asked sensible questions, and often got extensive answers.

The answers he got were mostly evasive and dishonest: Nearly all Nazis pretended to know nothing or little of the German concentration-camps or the Holocaust; and nearly all argued that they were not really to blame, because they "only followed orders", as was their duty, as Germans, and with such functions as they had; and that besides, personally they had not done much wrong anyway.

I made a number of notes in the book (I tend to annotate and underline in my own books) of which the following is the longest, translated and a bit edited:

Every real bureaucrat - one who is and wants to be one - in every bureaucratic organization tries to create a sphere of personal irresponsiibility and person unaccountability, which allows him (or her, but I will not write this out explicitly) to further his own interests and those of  others that he supports, including orders and ordinary bureaucratic work belonging to his functions, in a way that suits him best.

In a sense, the State organizations of Hitler and of Stalin are an intentional and extreme - tyrannical, dictatorial, authoritarian - example of this, but the prroblem and the bureaucratic tendency towards personal irresponsibility and personal unaccountability are common to every bureaucratic organization.

Added to this comes the fact that most adults and nearly all bureaucrats are effectively moral relativists:

Good is whatever serves Our Group & Our Leaders;
Bad (no good) is whatever does not
serve Our Group & Our Leaders.

As to intentional/functional, one should distinguish at least three levels
    - personal, for which see above
    - bureaucratical, within their own groups and institutions
    - social, as related to leaders and implemented plans

On a personal level
all of the interviewed knew how to serve their own interests and that of the Nazi Party, all knowingly against widely accepted common human moral and legal rules (as practiced and taught prior to 1933 in Germany, and elsewhere in Western Europe and the US) - and considered breaking  widely accepted common human moral and legal rules to be  - then and there, in Hitler's Germany - socially desirable and good, because their leaders said so, and because  they chose to conform, for reasons of self-interest, or because they agreed with their leaders.

Again, my point is that this is common: What makes this atrocious, in the case of Hitler's Germany and Stalin's Russia, is the atrocious ends this served - but it worked out the same in Holland, in my time, when no bureaucrat was willing to maintain the laws the mayors and aldermen chose not to maintain, as regards the sales of illegal drugs, or as regards common humanity or decency to people with unknown diseases:

Good is whatever serves Our Group & Our Leaders;
Bad (no good) is whatever does not
serve Our Group & Our Leaders.

And all the bureaucrats considered themselves highly moral for that reason, and considered those protesting against them as being immoral and unworthy, while the bureaucrats acted and spoke as if the illegalities they helped perpetrate, or the cruelties they implemented were good and desirable and moral, and a matter of course: Our Leaders & Our Society Want It!

Then again, the book is interesting, if depressing, especially because it illustrates the above: That man's inhumanity to man happens naturally, as it were, on the above principle of Good and Bad, as if this principle and what it may justify are a matter of course, and quite human.

For my father and grandfather, it worked out as described in this link; for me it worked out as described in M.E. in Amsterdam
(mostly in Dutch); for persons without papers in Holland, at the present time, as in this link.

And so it goes...


Maarten Maartensz

P.S. My eye problems

                  PS: Any necessary corrections have to be made later.