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I recently spent some time studying the Nazis.  My library had a copy of A Century of Wisdom:  Lessons form the Life of Alice Herz-Sommer, the World's Oldest Living Holocaust Survivor by Caroline Stoessinger (NY:  Spiegel & Grau, 2012 ISBN 978-0-8129-9281-6) and I picked it up.  Reading it gave me an excuse to continue with two books on my reading list, Into That Darkness:  From Mercy Killing to Mass Murder by Gitta Sereny (NY:  McGraw-Hill, 1974 ISBN0-07-056290-3), an examination of Franz Stangl, the commandant of the Treblinka death camp, based upon hours of interviews with him in prison, and Crossing Hitler:  The Man Who Put the Nazis on the Witness Stand by Benjamin Carter Hett (Oxford, UK:  Oxford University Press, 2008 ISBN 978-0-19-536988-5), the story of Hans Litten, the lawyer who subpoenaed Hitler and brought him to a German court in 1931.

These two particular passages from Sereny's interviews with Stangl reminded me of an incident in Sebastian Haffner's Defying Hitler, a posthumously published memoir finished in 1940 as Story of a German [Geschichte eines Deutschen] which explained to me something about bullies that I hadn't realized before.

Into That Darkness:

(232-233)  What is the difference to you between hate, and a contempt which results in considering people as 'cargo'?
"It has nothing to do with hate.  They were so weak;  they allowed everything to happen - to be done to them.  They were people with whom there was no common ground, no possibility of communication - that is how contempt is born.  I could never understand how they could just give in as they did.  Quite recently I read a book about lemmings, who every five or six years just wander into the sea and die;  that made me think of Treblinka."

(101)  "Why," I asked Stangl, "if they were going to kill them anyway, what was the point of all the humiliation, why the cruelty?"
"To condition those who actually had to carry out the policies," he said.  "To make it possible for them to do what they did."  And this, I believe, was true.

It should be noted that Jews revolted, escaped from, and damaged two extermination camps, first Stangl's own Treblinka and then, a few months later, Sobibor, and blew up the crematorium at Auschwitz. Also at Auschwitz, Roma and Sinta families fought back with clubs and improvised knives against Nazi machine guns when they learned they were to be gassed.

The incident Haffner experienced occurred after the June 1933 attack by Nazi SA troops on the socialist neighborhood of Copenick where they killed 100 people, arresting and torturing members of the Socialist and Communist parties (SPD and KPD), Reischbanner members, Jews, and union members. Here's how he remembers a conversation among the members of his law study group:

(213- 217)  "It happened just after the murders in Copenick.  Brock and Holz came to our meeting like murderers fresh from the deed.  Not that they had taken part in the slaughter themselves, but it was obviously the topic of the day in their new circles.  They had clearly convinced themselves that they were in some way accomplices.  Into our civilized, middle-class atmosphere of cigarettes and coffee cups the two of them brought a strange, bloodred cloud of sweaty death.

"They started to speak of the matter immediately.  It was from their graphic descriptions that we found out what had actually happened.  The press had only contained hints and intimations.

"'Fantastic, what happened in Copenick yesterday, eh?'  began Brock, and that was the tone of his narrative.  He went into detail, explained how the women and children had been sent into a neighboring room before the men were shot point-blank with a revolver, bludgeoned with a truncheon, or stabbed with an SA dagger.   Surprisingly, most of them had put up no resistance, and made sorry figures in their nightshirts.  The bodies had been tipped into the river and many were still being washed ashore in the area today.  His whole narrative was delivered with that brazen smile on his face which had recently become a stereotypical feature.  He made no attempt to defend the actions, and obviously did not see much need to.  He regarded them primarily as sensational.

"We found it all dreadful and shook our heads, which seemed to give him some satisfaction.

"'And you see no difficulty with your new party membership because of these things?' I remarked at last.

"Immediately he became defensive and his face took on a bold Mussolini expression.  'No, not at all,' he declared.  'Do you feel pity for these people?  The man who shot first the day before yesterday knew that it would cost him his life, of course.  It would have been bad form not to hang him.  Incidentally, he has my respect.  As for the others - shame on them.  Why didn't they put up a fight?  They were all longtime Social Democrats and members of the Eiserne Front [non-Communist leftist semimilitary group].  Why should they be lying in their beds in their nightshirts?  They should have defended themselves and died decently.  But they're a limp lot.  I have no sympathy for them.'

"'I don't know,' I said slowly, 'whether I feel much pity for them, but what I do feel is an indescribable sense of disgust at people who go around heavily armed and slaughter defenseless victims.'

"'They should have defended themselves,' said Brock stubbornly.  'Then they wouldn't have been defenseless.  That is a disgusting Marxist trick, being defenseless, when it gets serious.'

"At this point Holz intervened.  'I consider the whole thing a regrettable revolutionary excess,' he said, 'and between you and me, I expect the responsible officer to be disciplined.  But I also think that it should not be overlooked that it was a Social Democrat who shot first.  It is understandable, and in a certain sense even justified, that under these circumstances the SA takes, er, very energetic countermeasures.'"

In the midst of WWII, in exile in England, Haffner wrote:
(155)  "We were not equal to the situation, even as victims.  If you will allow me this generalization, it is one of the uncanny aspects of events in Germany that the deeds have no doers and the suffering has no martyrs.  Everything takes place under a kind of anesthesia.  Objectively dreadful deeds produce a thin, puny emotional response.  Murders are committed like schoolboy pranks.  Humiliation and moral decay are accepted like minor incidents.  Even death under torture only produces the response 'Bad luck.'"
At some point, if and when I have the stomach to continue my studies in Nazism, I'll read Erik Larson's In the Garden of Beasts, Sebastian Haffner's Meaning of Hitler.. and Gitta Sereny's book of essays on Germany before and after the Nazis, The Healing Wound or, preferably, the English edition titled, The German Trauma.

Adolf Eichmann said, "Now that I look back, I realize that a life predicated on being obedient and taking orders is a very comfortable life indeed.  Living in such a way reduces to a minimum one's need to think."

I am trying to learn how to be most effectively disobedient.

Previously:
Defying Hitler
http://www.dailykos.com/...
First Day of Tyranny:  Defying Hitler
http://www.dailykos.com/...
USA 2006/Germany1933?
http://www.dailykos.com/...
First Day of Tyranny:  A Handmaid's Tale
http://www.dailykos.com/...

Poll

Do bullies consider themselves victims?

71%23 votes
3%1 votes
0%0 votes
3%1 votes
0%0 votes
18%6 votes
3%1 votes
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| 32 votes | Vote | Results

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (12+ / 0-)

    Solar is civil defense. Video of my small scale solar experiments at solarray.

    by gmoke on Sat Oct 13, 2012 at 11:50:08 AM PDT

  •  it is called linguistic jujitsu where you simply (6+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gmoke, greengemini, Chi, Miss Jones, bumbi, G2geek

    reverse the situation by claiming that the offender is the victim because the victim chooses to fight back  You see this with WP groups claiming whites are oppressed, with Men's Rights groups claiming men are oppressed in our society and among certain Christian fundamentalists who are convinced that they are oppressed the same as they were in pagan Rome.

    Rush is the king of the oppression flip, where bullies claim that because society refuses to tolerate their antics any more, any attempt to prevent them from doing as they please, interferes with their rights and infringes upon their way of life.  By this logci, Ted Bundy and Jeffrey Dahmer and john Wayne Gacy would have to be included in the ranks of the oppressed, because society not only did not tolerate their rights but even curtailed them in a most punitive manner.

    It is all hogwash of course, but the pity is that there are people out there who actually believe that the KKK and NAACP are the same sort of organization with the same sort of history and agenda

    •  Not Rhetorical (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wu ming, KateCrashes, bumbi, G2geek

      I don't believe that this is always a rhetorical trick.  I think bullies, some if not most, actually feel that weakness is a provocation and justifies their violence.   They are victims of their own victims' weakness, at least in their own minds.

      Solar is civil defense. Video of my small scale solar experiments at solarray.

      by gmoke on Sat Oct 13, 2012 at 12:17:59 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  which appears to support the idea that... (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        gmoke

        .... the way to deal with a bully is to make it crystal clear that you can and will send him to the hospital if he so much as lays a finger on you.

        That message, delivered with fully congruent nonverbal communication, provides deterrence.

        "Minus two votes for the Republican" equals "plus one vote for the Democrat." Arithmetic doesn't care about their feelings either!

        by G2geek on Sat Oct 13, 2012 at 07:19:25 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Stopping a Bully (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          G2geek

          My experience is that you learn 90% of street self-defense in the first three months of studying any martial art.  That basic training changes your posture and your attitude so that you're no longer perceived as a mark, hunched shoulders and downcast eyes, unawareness of your surroundings changes to an upright posture and a claimed space that shows a predator you might, just might fight back and certainly won't let an attacker into your personal space without notice.

          This in itself may be enough to deter most bullies.

          Fist Stick Knife Gun: A Personal History of Violence by Geoffrey Canada I found to be a good introduction to the recent history of urban violence.  What I've read of The Little Black Book of Violence: What Every Young Man Needs to Know About Fighting by Lawrence A. Kane and Kris Wilder is also useful.

          Solar is civil defense. Video of my small scale solar experiments at solarray.

          by gmoke on Sat Oct 13, 2012 at 07:47:47 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  I recently pointed out someone was bullying (9+ / 0-)

    and they called me a bully for pointing it out.

    This particular person likes to follow people around Walmart and take photos of them without their knowledge. Then she posts them to FB so she and he friends can ridicule them.

    I pointed out to her that this was a form of bullying and she told me I was the bully for saying so.

    Of course, I blocked her.

    O great creator of being grant us one more hour to perform our art and perfect our lives. ::: Jim Morrison :::

    by Kevanlove on Sat Oct 13, 2012 at 12:09:13 PM PDT

    •  Damn. (3+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      bumbi, G2geek, gmoke

      Sick.

      !! Four more years !!

      by raincrow on Sat Oct 13, 2012 at 04:24:11 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

    •  how to put a stop to that: (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      gmoke

      Get the person's real name, and call up Walmart's corporate office (the phone number is probably on the contact page) and ask how to get in touch with store security at the branch where this happens.

      Then point them to the Facebook page in question.  

      They'll have good incentive to post the perp's photo in the security office in that store, and escort them out whenever they show up.  

      Not out of any kindness toward victims, but out of sheer pragmatic concern for the bad publicity that is sure to follow if this story gets legs.  

      "Minus two votes for the Republican" equals "plus one vote for the Democrat." Arithmetic doesn't care about their feelings either!

      by G2geek on Sat Oct 13, 2012 at 07:10:32 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  Walmart Photos (0+ / 0-)

        There's a whole genre of grotesque photos of people shopping at Walmart.  Most of it concentrates on obese and sloppy, inappropriate and strange dress.

        My sister sends me some from time to time.

        Solar is civil defense. Video of my small scale solar experiments at solarray.

        by gmoke on Sat Oct 13, 2012 at 07:49:31 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  ohboy, life as spectacle, again. (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          gmoke

          If I ever caught anyone taking my picture surreptitiously, I'd grab their device and smash it.  Targeted photography without consent is an aggressive act in this day & age, and physical self-defense is justified.  

          "Officer, he was following me around taking my picture.  I acted in self defense.  For all I know he's a stalker, like the one I helped send to prison."

          "OK, both of you get to leave the premises now.  You I'll escort to your car first and give you ten minutes' lead time before I let him leave the parking lot."

          "Minus two votes for the Republican" equals "plus one vote for the Democrat." Arithmetic doesn't care about their feelings either!

          by G2geek on Sat Oct 13, 2012 at 09:46:52 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

  •  The amazing thing is if you (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gmoke, greengemini, wu ming, raincrow, G2geek

    suggest that a fundamentalist is being intolerant he will turn around and accuse you of being a hypocrite because you are being intolerant of his intolerance.

    It is a Bizarro world they live in.

    The world is a den of thieves and night is falling. -Ingmar Bergman

    by Pirogue on Sat Oct 13, 2012 at 12:36:06 PM PDT

  •  Every bully I've ever met considers themselves (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    gmoke, wu ming, raincrow, bumbi, G2geek

    victims...

    "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice. We must put our hands on it and we must bend it in the direction of justice." MLK

    by mindara on Sat Oct 13, 2012 at 12:41:44 PM PDT

    •  Victimization Leads to Bullying? (6+ / 0-)

      In response to posting a notice of this piece on Facebook, a teacher of peace studies wrote, "Bullies actually often are victims, or at least became bullies in the first place because of ways they had been victimized."  

      This may be true.  However, what it interesting to me is how they justify their violence by the weakness of their victims.  Weakness is a provocation that they are forced, forced to violence by, it seems to me.  At least in the incidents noted above.

      Solar is civil defense. Video of my small scale solar experiments at solarray.

      by gmoke on Sat Oct 13, 2012 at 12:53:47 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

      •  my brother was never a victim but has always been (5+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        KateCrashes, raincrow, bumbi, G2geek, gmoke

        a bully. I was his victim from the time I was 2 and I never became a bully. I definitely think there's a nature vs. nuture aspect that plays a role too. we shared the same nature and the same nuture to a degree, but I think we are also born with a certain type of psyche that is genetic as well. My oldest brother and I have the exact same psyche as our father and his family, my brother, the bully, has the same exact psyche as our mother and her family. And it's not learned behavior, it's our basic personality type that each of us had from infancy. Does that make any sense to you?

        "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice. We must put our hands on it and we must bend it in the direction of justice." MLK

        by mindara on Sat Oct 13, 2012 at 01:49:09 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  Yes, we're our own selves (5+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          mindara, Miss Jones, raincrow, G2geek, gmoke

          I've been AMAZED by the "real people" I meet who are only a few weeks old.  Our personalities arrive with us and are quite strong from the get-go as far as I can tell.  What happens to us day by day greatly affects who we'll become, but any one experience that affects more than one person affects each of them differently.  Damn good thing, really -- since I'd rather have you in my eyes than your brother!  :)

          "Injustice wears ever the same harsh face wherever it shows itself." - Ralph Ellison

          by KateCrashes on Sat Oct 13, 2012 at 02:42:49 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

          •  LOL! I've always been so grateful to have been (3+ / 0-)
            Recommended by:
            raincrow, G2geek, gmoke

            born me and not my brother, but my mother and my brother find that simply impossible to comprehend. C'est le vie!

            "The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends towards justice. We must put our hands on it and we must bend it in the direction of justice." MLK

            by mindara on Sat Oct 13, 2012 at 03:03:22 PM PDT

            [ Parent ]

        •  Nurturing Your Nature (0+ / 0-)

          from "Entire Sermon by the Red Monk" by Lew Welch, a new edition of his collected poems, Ring of Bone has just been published by City Lights Books:

             

           1.
          We invent ourselves.
                2.
          We invent ourselves out of ingredients we didn't
          choose, by a process we can't control.
                3.
          The Female Impersonator, and the Sadistic Marine can
          each trace himself back to the same stern, or weak, father.
                 4.
          Usually it's less dramatic.  He was indifferently
          a basketball player.  Now he is selling cars.
                 5.
          The baby on the floor cannot be traced, forward,
          to anything.
                 6.
          On all kinds of baby purpose, you invented whoever
          you think you are.  Out of ingredients you couldn't
          choose, by a process you can't control.
                  7.
          All you really say is, "Love me for myself alone."
                  8.
          It is also possible to uninvent yourself.  By a process
          you can't control....

          Solar is civil defense. Video of my small scale solar experiments at solarray.

          by gmoke on Sat Oct 13, 2012 at 08:01:23 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  It's as though they hate themselves for having (2+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        G2geek, gmoke

        been too weak to repel those that bullied them... but identify with the bullies they endured and so try to heal themselves by attacking others.  THAT proves they're now strong - too strong to suffer again themselves.

        And since they've inwardly decided the bullies were right to attack them for being weak, they themselves are right to attack others for being weak.  

        Those who get bullied but  who do NOT identify with the bullies, see bullying as wrong and usually have strong feelings about protecting others from bullying.

        The same sequence of reactions seems to play out with sexual abuse - which certainly has many of the same dynamics as bullying.

        "Injustice wears ever the same harsh face wherever it shows itself." - Ralph Ellison

        by KateCrashes on Sat Oct 13, 2012 at 02:35:24 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

        •  yep, right here: (1+ / 0-)
          Recommended by:
          gmoke

          What you said:

          "Those who get bullied but who do NOT identify with the bullies, see bullying as wrong and usually have strong feelings about protecting others from bullying."

          And that probably explains a lot of progressives' core emotional values behind their politics.

          "Minus two votes for the Republican" equals "plus one vote for the Democrat." Arithmetic doesn't care about their feelings either!

          by G2geek on Sat Oct 13, 2012 at 07:15:57 PM PDT

          [ Parent ]

      •  emotional reactions. (1+ / 0-)
        Recommended by:
        gmoke

        It probably happens so fast it's entirely below the level of conscious awareness and verbalization.  Much as a predator animal recognizes a prey animal and jumps on it.

        To the extent that's correct, it points toward something that's either genetically hardwired or learned from early childhood: for example seeing one of their parents abuse the other, and picking up whatever emotional contagions are going around with that.  For example, if those are the two early childhood role models: abuser and abused, then the child may utterly fear being abused, and side with the abuser as a survival mechanism.  

        Again, all completely below the level of conscious awareness and verbalization.  And therefore wholly automatic responses.

        "Minus two votes for the Republican" equals "plus one vote for the Democrat." Arithmetic doesn't care about their feelings either!

        by G2geek on Sat Oct 13, 2012 at 07:14:42 PM PDT

        [ Parent ]

  •  it works the other way around as well (5+ / 0-)

    I saw a chart on Hullabaloo showing how attacks against American diplomatic stations dropped off a cliff shortly after Clinton became president and have stayed low since then, even during the wars in Afghanistan and Iraq.

    I immediately thought that conservatives would twist this into a claim that not being attacked is proof of alleged weakness and appeasement.  In their minds, being attacked - being "victimized" - means that we are strong and righteous and that the bad guys both envy that and hate what we do with it.

    It's a complete inversion of the normal morality of violence: those who commit violence are good or at least worthy of respect, while those who do not commit violence are weak and contemptible and deserve everything that gets done to them.  The hypocrisy is bully claiming a monopoly on victimhood: he wears his perceived victimhood as a badge of honor - i.e. "They hate us for our freedoms!" - while denying that same status to those he himself victimizes in perceived retaliation.

    To those who say the New Deal didn't work: WWII was also government spending

    by Visceral on Sat Oct 13, 2012 at 12:51:00 PM PDT

    •  Might Makes Everything Right (4+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      wu ming, KateCrashes, Miss Jones, G2geek

      True strength is not afraid of displaying weakness.  As the Tao Te Ching states in Chapter 52, "Protecting gentleness is called strength."  

      This has real and practical applications.  My tai chi teacher taught me that when you make a fist, you should feel as if you are holding a baby bird inside it.  In aikido, you don't confront strength but move around it and extend beyond it.  These concepts apply not only to the physical.

      Solar is civil defense. Video of my small scale solar experiments at solarray.

      by gmoke on Sat Oct 13, 2012 at 01:11:38 PM PDT

      [ Parent ]

  •  fwiw, child bullies are often themselves bullied (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    G2geek, gmoke

    and shit rolls downhill. My 2 cents based on my observations:

    There are sociopathic bullies -- seeing what they can get away with is gratifying. They may or may not learn their chops in early life by observation and/or victimization; some of them are self-starters. Playing the victim is the sociopath's stock in trade; except when revealed, at which point they are afraid enough of punishment/body damage to actually believe they are being victimized.

    Then there are bullies who are not sociopaths. Among them are bullies who learned their chops as toddlers at home, poorly socialized ADHD kids, and kids tending toward narcissism. This kind uses bullying as an inappropriate way to gain social power because they are too poorly socialized to obtain it through healthy friendships. Lack of alliances and approval makes them easy marks for older bullies, and they be bullying weaker kids at the same time they're being bullied by stronger kids. Plenty of this kind of bully (and many of us will recognize our older siblings here, I think) admit they look back on their childhood cruelties with some sense of regret if not shame. In my experience, those who never gain the ability to see and take responsibility for their bullying genuinely perceive themselves as victims.

    And the sociopathic bullies can suck up the much more common non-sociopathic ones, fluff them and play on their fears and talk them into all kinds of evil shit at least for awhile, and laugh all the way to the bank/ board room/ White House/ legislature/ war/ gang rape/ liquor store robbery/ death camp/ torture chamber /etc.

    (Don't have the link handy for the % of Nazi death camp guards who spontaneously [i.e., not as a result of threatened prosecution] committed suicide in the first 10 years after WWII, but it was very significant. I think it's a safe bet these weren't the sociopaths.)

    !! Four more years !!

    by raincrow on Sat Oct 13, 2012 at 04:23:41 PM PDT

  •  The Rise and Fall of… (2+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    G2geek, gmoke

    the Third Reich by Shirer is a classic I recently re-read. The most difficult to finish volume I've gotten hold of is The Good old Days, the story as told by the perpetrators in letters, interviews, etc. edited by Klee, Dressen and Riess. THAT I will never re-read.

    I'm voting for the UPPITY ONE

    by qua on Sat Oct 13, 2012 at 04:50:37 PM PDT

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