Does one need to eat to live? One of the first things I ever learned is that one needs to eat. Only later did I discover that failing to eat results in death in a matter of weeks.
I know an air traffic controler. Let me dub her Corina. She believe in curious things, spiritual thought systems dreamt up in Japan. She is soon going to the US to meditate. She believes that a certain spiritual believer does not need to ingest any food. She said nothing of drink. This spiritual leader lives on sunlight. How can this possibly be, I asked her. Corina said that she knows I do not believe but that this can work. She added that this method of obtaining nutrition does not work for everyone. You don’t say! I shall not be trying this slim fast plan.
I would like to see scientific tests run to see if this spiritual leader has anything in her gut. Does she defecate?
Let me begin with a caveat. Members of the SS carried out some of the most horrendous crimes of modern times. Certain members of the SS were directly involved in the most ghastly chapters of the Holocaust, the murder, direct and indirect, of disabled people in the T4 programme; the killing of Gypsies, Soviet Prisoners of War, gays, pacifists, Jehovah’s witnesses, alcoholics, low level criminals, Eastern European civilians, political prisoners and (in case anyone could forget) Jews. These crimes took place on an enormous scale. They were wantonly cruel. They rightly stir fury and revulsion. The SS was a creation of the Nazi Party, founded in 1921, well before the Nazi party took the reins of the German State. The SS was soaked in Nazi ideology.
It is not true to say, however, that all members of Der Schutz Staffel took part in such atrocious misdeeds. Furthermore, even of those who did participate in these especially nefarious crimes are not in all cases fully responsible for what they did.
There were certainly many, even most, SS men who were fully responsible for what they did. One could be conscripted into the Waffen SS which did the actual fighting. Waffen means ”weapon”. One could not be obliged to serve in the Death’s Head Units. The Death’s Head Units ran the concentration and extermination camps. There occured in such places acts of turpitude such as the world has seldom seen. It is hard to bring onself to contemplate the exceptional savagery and sadism that took place in these frightful camps. Willing membership of a Death’s Head Unit is surely utterly reprehensible. I do not support the death penalty but I would not oppose it for many of the Death’s Head Unit members. There are very few of them left so it is an academic point.
Some members of the Waffen SS carried out war crimes. I do not count killing enemy fighters in combat as a war crime. What counts as such is the killing of enemy soldiers taken in uniform and the wilful slaying of civilians. I say wilful as one might accidentally kill them (civilians) by bombarding a house in which enemy fighters and civilians are situated.
But being in the Waffen SS does not make one bad as such. One could be an SS man who did not take part in such actions. Even if one did engage in these condemnable actions there are strong mitigating circumstances. The fact that there was a war on in which the Allies committed large scale atrocities is a small part of this. I must confess that Allied war crimes (mostly executed by the Soviets) on the whole took place AFTER Axis war crimes had begun. About two million Germans were killed AFTER the war was over, one of the great untold stories of the war. Most of these were civilians. A huge number of rapes were carried out by the Red Army. So much so that even the most doglike loyal Communist in East Germany could no longer ignore the scale of this. I met a guy from Romania once named Catalin and he said he disliked Russians on account of his granny having bein raped by soldiers of the Red Army.
The fact that SS men were often ordered to commit these crimes is a mitigating circumstance. ”I was just obeying orders”, is the Nuremberg defence. It is adjudged inadmissible. I think that it is admissible. It is not the complete answer and bar to all legal action but it must count for something. Soldiers must obey, armies cannot function otherwise. This is especially so in totalitarian states. I hardly need remind readers how happy the Third Reich was to kill its own people. Even before the war broke out the Third Reich had legally executed thousands of its own people – I mean Aryans whose lives the State supposedly valued.
Gita Sereny says that no one was punished for refusing to take part in the Holocaust. If this is so this obviously undermines the ”just following orders” defence. Yes, we must not be too eager to dream up excuses for taking part in massacres.
The SS’s reflex was blind obedience. In an armed force one renounces some of one’s autonomy. It cannot be other than this. It is said that Germany’s problem was that its people were too ductile. We speak of ”Teutonic discipline” so we must be forgiving to those who were compelled by it to do bad things.
I knew an old German named Richard Herderer. He was born in a German community in Eastern Europe in 1925. The Germans abroad were more German than the Germans themselves. His elder brother enlisted in the SS. Richard was urged by his parents to do the same. One must empathise with the context. What would you have done? One can never be certain but there is a good chance that the average person would have done the same. He was 16 when he joined the SS. He was fed only propaganda. He was not encouraged to think for himself, to weight the evidence and form his own judgement. The Fatherland was at war. Communism really was a menace to the world.
He later spoke of having to guard people working. Were they Red Army POWs or Jews or captured enemy Partisans? I do not know. A man came to Richard’s house decades later and ranted at him. I do not know how this man realised what unit of the German military Richard had served in.
After the war the West wanted to rehabilitate West Germany so that land could be rearmed for the Cold War. As part of this the many war crimes were heaped on the SS so as to shift blame from the German Army which was to be reconstituted. Yes, the SS did carry out many abominable massacres – more than its fair share. However, there were also men of the German Army who did the same. As I always say – justice must be individual.
Nuremberg declared the Gestapo and SS to be criminal bodies. I think it was a bad decision for that German boy to join the SS but was understandable to say the least.
One must observe that the same standard is not applied to those who were members of Communist parties around the world. Being a member in a one party state such as Poland was not nearly so bad as being a Commie in a free country as Peter Mandelson was.
People had to survive. Yes, it was not the most honourable course open to one but one must not expect most people to be heroes. When one is surrounded by falsehoods it is very difficult not be believe as least some of them. It was the only route to a good career, joining the communist party. Members of this most savagely oppressive party are instantly absolved. It was all but impossible to advance in one’s career without adhering to the regime. Th same forbearance is not extended to former Nazis however repentant they may be. Many ex-Communists have never repented for their erstwhile support for unfree regimes. ‘Lord” Peter Mandelson is a case in point.
Former Nazis went on to join all parties in post war Germany. Fritz Fischer became a socialist. One of the most damaging libels on the right was to label Nazis ”right wing”. They had a bizarre amalgam of leftist and rightist views. Former Communists joined them in great numbers, Roland Fresiler being a case in the point – the yelling judge he soon became. Indeed Hitler was elected to a Communist soldiers’ committe in 1919. The word ”socialist” in National Socialist was never redundant. Read the 25 point party programme of 1919 and you will see that the Nazis had many socialistic policies. They spoke the language of social justice. They were anti-capitalist, they were republican and loathed the boss class.
Growing up in Nazi Germany one saw people from all walks of life joining the Party. Some were foaming at the mouth racists who should be shunned in any society. But others were reasonable people who were amiable in many regards.
Many of us sang hymns and mumbled prayers at school. Only the most thoughtful pondered this. Those who considered religion in some cases rejected it and in other embraced it fervently. Growing up in a totalitarian land was like this with songs to the dictator instead of hymns. And yes, religion is much more benign. They sang the Communist songs as we sang the hymns. We are told to do it – almost everyone does without thinking. Some are deeply committed but most are apathetic. Most people are sheep and few are heroes. The easiest thing to do is not to question it. What would you have done?
In Protestant districts of Belfast one used to see graffiti that ran thus, ”No Pope here – lucky Pope.” They wished to imply that they would rearrange his facial features if he were. This was partly motivated by the most nauseating anti-Catholic prejudice. To be fair, some of it was actuated by a liberal critique of Roman Catholicism but that was expressed in an ugly manner. I am against graffiti – on the whole.
The Pope of Rome visited the United Kingdom of late – a state visit. The late Pope visited about 1982. When John Paul II was in Edinburgh Ian Paisley led some ultra Protestants to protest, as is the wont of PROTEST-ants. As they waited for Karol Wojtyla to show up they noticed that he was running late. An Anglican cleric was there and said to Dr Paisley that perhaps the demonstrators had succeeded in putting the Pope off, maybe he was not visiting that place after all for a meeting with dignitaries of the Church of Scotland. Paisley pointed out that the Pope was late and tapping his watch said bitchily, ”He’s not so infallible now.” Gales of laughter from his boneheaded supporters.
I think it was right to have the Pope on a state visit to the United Kingdom. He is a head of state and has friendly relations with the UK. I do not think that a Church should have a state much more than I think that a State should have a church. I am not a hardcore secularist. The established status of the Church of England is innocuous.
If I had been able to get from my house in the countryside to London that day I would have protested against the Pope. I like seeing the pageantry and circumstance that surrounds him but certainly there is a lot of wrongdoing on his hands.
Paedophilia was covered up for centuries and the current Pope had a hand in that, the coverup not the abuse as such. I am not talking about breaking the law at the edge – a consensual encounter with someone in their mid teens. I am talking about frank and outright abuse – about the sexual abuse of young children. These are grave crimes indeed.
I agree that things that are blatantly false should not be investigated. But the Church hid well founded allegations time and again.
The Pope’s stance against contraception in unconscionable. He has condemned hundreds of millions to grinding poverty.
As for AIDS the Pope has a case. He is against condoms – no Biblical basis for that.. If you obey all his rules you will never have extra marital sex anyway. He can argue that he cannot be blamed if you obey one rule (no condom) but not the other (no nookie outside marriage). However, one can catch AIDS in marriage if one’s spouse already had it or cheats or catches it through some non-sexual way.
The most moronic complaint against the Roman Pontiff is that he was in the Hitler Youth. So what? He was growing up in Germany at the time. It would take an exceptionally brave and independent minded person to refuse. No blame at all attaches to him for that. Because people were conscripted into Allied armies does not make them good.
The Pope said the Nazis wished to extinguish religion. This is not so. They actively encouraged it. Their 25 point party programme expounded in 1920 committed the party to ”positivei Christianity” but did not attach itself to either major confession. The Party encouraged SA men to attend Protestant services in particular in SA uniform. The Nazi Party signed a concordat with the RC Church. They had a very warm relationship with the Lutheran Church. The Nazis wished to replace religion with the German Faith movement after the war. It had turned against Christianity not against religion. It is the RC Church’s dishonesty, historicism and intolerance that leads them to say this. Atheists are not would-be Nazis. If anything with its history of persecution the RC Church is more like this.
I vainly hope the Pope can be persuaded to ditch some of his more retrograde teachings on condoms and so on.
Women priests I do not care about – an internal doctrinal quarrel. It hardly caused the collapse of churches that have ordained women, minor ructions.
One can imagine the kind of people who would get excited by the Pope’s visit. Religious obsessives, priest people – the craw thumpers, the creeping Jesuses, the holy Joes. Arse crawlers mostly.
In the UK it is increasingly difficult to expel pupils. They get chance after chance after chance. I do not want to expel pupils even for major offences – only for very, very major or very, very persistent wrongdoing. Yet even in these cased it is very hard to do so. I do not teach but am in touch with former colleagues. Those caught with drugs in school are seldom expelled, even with knives they are not booted out. It has to be heavy violence to be expelled.
Punching teachers is not an expellable offence – they will be suspended for 3 days. We are so pussy footed we do not even says expelled, ”permanently excluded.”
Even if pupils are kicked out they are liable to be readmitted by an appeals panel. It is horrendous. These kids will still get an education from the Pupil Referral Unit. Yes, this is more expensive. It is worth it in that they disruptive influence is removed from the school.
I see posters calling for fewer explusions claiming those who are expelled have poorer life outcomes. Well tough luck – their fault. Poorer outcomes, compared to the non expelled. Maybe because the expelees are scumbags. It takes an awful lot to be kicked out of school now. Woe betide a head who wants to turf out a pupil who just so happens to be black, playing the race card – that normally means malicious allegations of racialism to avoid facing the music for one’s own actions.
How about for teachers? There are now scores of offences (not crimes) that they can be banned from working with children for. Ron Matthews, my former colleague, was a great chap. Ron was a fat boy born in Singapore and a bon viveur. When he got depressed he would drink wine in the office at 8.30. It never came to the attention of the pupils or affected his performance – so far as I know. But if caught he would surely be banned. He should not have done that. He should be warned and forgiven. He was not drunk at work. Even if he had been I might sack him but allow him to learn his lesson and teach elsewhere.
Notice the total discrepancy. The treatment of teachers and of pupils are moving in totally difference directions at the same time. Pupils are all about immune from expulsion and teachers are more and more likely to be barred. Totally illogical and unjust.
I am not anti-pupil. I am for them. I against the bullies and the cunts who ruin lessons. They victimise the good majority. As always these terrorists if you will get kid glove treatment, indeed privilege. No it is never their fault, it is always someone else.
Some teachers should be barred, very few. This is an extreme sanction to use and must therefore be used very sparingly i.e. for those who beat up pupils (not for a slap) or those who rape them.
There is political pressure to ban more teachers and expel fewer pupils. It is even complained about how few teachers have been barred from the profession. Oh so let’s have justice by statistics, more barred just to make the figures look good. Are there targets on this one? Sounds like the Soviet secret police, targets for arrests. One would not wish to be accused of lack of vigilance. Yes, the danger is so great – the baddies are everywhere, watch out …aaaaaaaaargh! We are all gonna die – child protection, danger danger – may day! Watch out. Panic stations! Ban ban ban!
It has been called the ultimate statistic. Who christened it this eludes me. We all snuff it.
Night after night I see Crime Scene Investigation and like programmes. They are mostly about murders. So we hug the duvet tighter, cowering under it and fear that we too will be killed. But murder is so unusual. That is why is is dramatic, ok, it is also shocking because it is fast and malevolent too.
About 900 000 people died in the UK annually, mostly from cancer and heart disease. Well, 1/3rd is cancer. About 900 of the deaths are due to murder. That is a 1 in a 1000 chance. Higher than I would have thought, actually.
But the fact remains that one’s chance of being killed in that manner are much slighter than dying of an illness. If television showed this in proportion to how often it happens we would have months and months of nightly programmes of people slowly dying of various maladies and only once every three and a bit years would a programme show someone being murdered.
Yes, I do believe that a lot of resources should be thrown into combatting crime especially terrorism. But this has little to do with the number of lives that are lost this way. Indeed I think we use rather too many resources tackling this problem. Crime has never been eradicated and never can be. We can get it down to manageable levels. The reason why we need to take these problems seriously is because of justice and indeed crime unpunished multiplies. Moreover, the appeaseniks are keen to give criminals in general and especially terrorists what they want so we must stop these crimes so the appeaseniks will have no crime to surrender to.
It is part of the stupidity of the mass media age that our perceptions are warped by television. The thing is in the past we were probably even more ignorant. People are so stupid when it comes to statistics – they just will not understand probability.
In 1972 there were about 500 deaths from the Ulster conflict. By the early 1990s this was down to about 30 mortalities. But the public could not grasp this. The message still was, conflict continues unabated. The massive improvement in the situation was not appreciated. The murder rate of Belfast was half that of London. Yet the public were easily manipulated into thinking the conflict was intractable in security terms. People are so excessively cautious demanding mor security and also demanding appeasement. These people murder so they must have a just cause – give them what they want.
We must reacquaint ourselves with the hard reality that people die. Yea, now some people view suing the hospital where their relative died of natural causes as part of the grieving process. The Beejees tried this as did Michael Jackson’s family.
In a sense one can never say one saves a life only prolongs it.
I did not wish to seem morbid or uncaring. I would like us to take a more cheerily blase view, a fatalistic outlook.
It is like Saint Bernard Manning said – non-smokers, 100% of them die. How soon do you want to die? One can influence this greatly. I have opted for a heart attack through my sedentary lifestyle. I do not want to die at all and cardiac arrest is scary but there we are. One can choose a long life but devoid of certain pleasure. One can elect for a shorter life but packed with sinful pleasures. Either option is legitimate and it is not up to the state to dictate.
Who is the most likely to murder one – one’s spouse. Ought we ban marriage? About 50 children a year in the UK are murdered by their families. Dangerous things parents – shall we ban them?
The Government’s drugs adviser said more die annually from falling off horses than taking cocaine. Coke related deaths are about 200 per annum. But I am not sure how many ride and how many snort. So these statistics maye be misleading.
France is deporting some people who have entered France and created a public nuisance by living in illegal campsites. They have no legal work in France. These people happen to be Gypsies. It makes no odds what their ethnicity is. Some are the Romanian nationality and others Bulgarian.
I am against the EU. France was very europhile but the French enarquerie disregarded the majority vote against the Lisbon Treaty. Anyhow, as a result of letting the 12 new states into the EU people have got the right to travel. France can exclude people from the new member states from the right to work for a while but not forever. It can deport them if they are undesirables. The trouble is these people can come right back. This is what has happened in Belgium.
I do not dislike Gypsies not do I like them. I treat everyone as an individual. I have no opinion of ethnicites as such. It is surely as prejudiced to like a group as a group as it is to dislike them, even though the former attitude is benign.
Fidel Castro interfered in French politics by calling the humane and legal deportation of these illegal settlers ‘a holocaust’. It was horrifically belittling towards the victims of that mass murder. It was staggeringly dishonest and a monstrous misuse of language. I am horrified but not surprised that he should act so. This is bog standard for leftists. They preach tolerance and reasonableness and then act in a way that is totally the opposite. Denouncing anyone who disagrees with them in the most violent terms.
Castro would know something about mass removals, state brutality and outright lying on a massive scale. His 50 years tyranny in Cuba was something else. Yes, it mellowed in the last few years. He had to gull those who had a soft spot for him in the EU by not using the death penalty. His opponents can still be killed in more deniable ways. The incredible forgiveness for his regime that one finds among liberal leftists is shocking and revolting. George Galloway is an apologist for Castro on the grounds that Castro has a national health service. It is nothing like it is cracked up to be and he could get access to medicines and all that from the US by paying compensation for the property his henchmen stole from the US.
At least he will die soon.