Wednesday 12 June 2013

"Nur für Amerikaner"

Arthur Horton clarifies (June 11, 2013 at 3:20 PM) his earlier comments on the Lobbyist's blog to wit:  "what is seized in war should remain seized". He explains he was thinking of:
the consequences of the Second World War, when vast amounts of war-related material, including virulent propaganda that today some want to regard as "cultural patrimony" was seized by the Allied armies during their occupation of Germany and Japan.
So it is OK for Americans to study this material, America with some of the largest actual Neo-Nazi groups in the world, but it should allegedly never fall into the hands of the ignorant foreigner from the countries where the material was produced, allegedly less able to cope with or understand it?  People he considers less able maybe to make sense of it, to learn from it than the American? What is his motivation here?

In any case, during their forays across and then occupation of parts of Europe and all of Japan, the US did not just seize  "virulent propaganda" as Houghton suggests. They helped themselves to other stuff too, like Werner von Braun and his Peenemunde and Dora team which they used to create their ballistic missiles arsenal, they took the results of medical and pseudo-medical experiments in the concentration camps, the Hungarian crown jewels, a huge number of original samuri swords from Japan, and a large proportion of the surviving woodcut print art (see James Michener's 'The Floating World' 1954, pp vii-viii). All very quickly ended up in the USA under "allied occupation" (using the argument that the yellow folk "do not deserve/ do not appreciate" them - the same self-serving arguments used today in collecting circles in the USA to justify the no-questions-asked market in foreign dugups). It is all very well talking of "monuments men", but that is just one side of the story.

If Houghton is still referring to Alfred Rosenberg's diary, it is a diary and not "propaganda". Properly used, the document might offer an additional piece of an insight into the life and mind of the author of the Der Mythus des 20. Jahrhunderts but cannot be treated only as a source for the 'Holocaust' (any more than it can be used just as a source for die besetzten Ostgebiete which Rosenberg headed for a while). Such a document has potential to elicit information useful for a wide range of research interests than the ones that seem to have captured the US imagination, but only if seen in the context of other surviving documentation. This is not just another trophy to add to a growing collection to earn bragging rights.

Mr Houghton treating it as "Amerca's-by-right-war-booty" apparently wants to make it difficult for a German from Wuppertal, or a Pole from Obórniki Śląskie (Obernigk) or a Japanese student from Otsu to get to understand the documents of the history of their own country by making sure that the most important, or maybe even the bulk, of them are kept well away from them half-way around the world in America. Like they did with Iraqi archives when they invaded there. I really think the place for important documents illuminating what happened in Germany in 1933-45 is to have them back in Germany where they can be seen in the context of the other documents that the invaders left. Why should the US, seventy years on, still cast themselves in the role of gatekeeper to central European history? The very idea!

1 comment:

Paul Barford said...

David Keys, 'Nazi war criminals got away with atrocities because of evidence hidden in UK and US archives', Independent Saturday 01 June 2013  

The value of keeping documentation in the US and UK? When the German authorities received the information in the thousands of pages of documentation describing atrocities carried out in both Eastern and Western Europe, and began acting on them, it turned out that the culprits had left this world.

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