Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Antisemitism in France in the 1930's - USHMM podcast

The United States Holocaust Memorial Museum is also on iTunes, with a veritable multitude of content. The audio that can be subscribed to over there are among others the scholarly lectures about Antisemitism (feed in iTunes, url to iTunes). Also the papers that go with the lectures are available.

The one I listened in on was by Professor Vicky Caron about the antisemitism in France in the 1930's, which turn out to be a prelude to the racial laws of the Vichy regime. (Caron's paper) Caron describes the connection between the mentality of the Dreyfus trial and the exclusion of the Jews by Vichy in the 1940's. In general the antisemitic sentiments in France go up and down, but there is a persistent stream coming from a public that is most of all upset with the French Third Republic and somehow vent their anger on modernity, that is internationalism, that is foreigners and especially the Jews among them.

But then, Jew becomes similar to foreign and untrustworthy for the French cause. This sentiment is widely held and even affects the French prime minister Leon Blum. Blum is pushed to such an extent he feels he must reply and he does so on the front page of one the French papers. The sheer fact he addresses the issue goes to show how severe the distrust of Jews is. Eventually Blum has to relinquish his political career. And so many Jews had to relinquish their French citizenship. Antisemitism appears with all its faces, the suspicion of foreigners, of internationalism albeit capitalist or socialist, the suspicion about Jewish loyalties and the plethora of methods of exclusion.

More Vichy:
La Resistance,
Heesters, Leopold en Petain achteraf (Dutch).

More antisemitism:
Moses Hess according to Isaiah Berlin,
Antisemitism in Germany before 1919,
Dan Carlin's Hardcore History about Adolf Hitler,
Only in America.

Revenge Tragedy - IOT podcast review

BBC's In Our Time last week contained a discussion about Elizabethan and Jacobean Revenge Tragedy. During the reign of Queen Elizabeth and King James I (1558 - 1625) the motif of revenge was very common in the theater and very popular as well.

The program discusses a number of plays, the most famous among them of course Shakespeare's Hamlet. I was struck however by another one, I think it was The Spanish Tragedy in which the revenge is played out in a play. The revenging character devises a scene in which the object of his revenge is an actor that needs to be stabbed. He replaces the stage dagger with a real one. But of course that real one is a stage dagger in The Spanish Tragedy.

The irony seems to be that revenge as a social phenomenon fits more in the Middle Ages and here, in this era, the State of England is being built and is furnished with a legal system and revenge is worked out of society. It is as if the stage plays represent the public mourning over a way of compensation they have to give up. Later on, revenge continues to be a motif in the theater, but not the only one and not as drawn out and central is in this time.

More In Our Time:
The Augustan Age,
The trial of king Charles I,
St. Paul,
Whale evolution,
Magna Carta.

Walther Rathenau - veertien achttien recensie

In de laatste aflevering van Veertien Achttien gaat het over de Duitse industrieel en politicus Walther Rathenau. Natuurlijk wordt bij hem in de eerste plaats gedacht aan de Weimar Republiek waar hij minister van buitenlandse zaken was. En waar hij het slachtoffer werd van een politieke moord.

Rathenau was tijdens de oorlog aangesteld om de Duitse economie aan te passen aan de oorlogstoestand. Podcaster Tom Tacken doet uit de doeken hoe Rathenau op doeltreffende wijze de boel rationaliseert. Daardoor kan er nog jaren doorgevochten worden, terwijl zonder Rathenau Duitsland misschien in 1914 al verslagen was.

Behalve patriot was Rathenau ook joods. Maar net als de Franse premier Leon Blum (over wie ik later vandaag nog meer zal schrijven) speelde zijn joodse identiteit hem toch parten. Hoe verlicht Frankrijk en de Weimar Republiek waren, het antisemitisme achtervolgde en achterhaalde hen. In zekere zin zou je kunnen zeggen dat met de moord op Rathenau de eerste wereldoorlog is afgelopen en de tweede begint.

Meer Veertien Achttien:
Komitas Vardapet,
John Condon,
Koning George V,
Colmar von der Goltz,
Sir Ian Hamilton.

Walther Rathenau in OVT:
1922 - In Europa.