Jim heartfield Jim at heartfield.demon.co.uk
Sat Jun 13 03:42:02 PDT 1998

In message < at jhuvms.hcf.jhu.edu>, Wojtek Sokolowski <sokol at jhu.edu> writes

>Fascim is not about repression. It is about the state using repression
>selectively as the means of social control.

To my mind this is a bit too broad to be useful. We already have a word for repression ('repression'), so nothing is gained, but undue dramatisation by saying that America (or Britain) is 'Fascist'.

However, Wojtek's anecdote of the holocaust museum is telling

>To further illustrate: some time ago I took a friend to the Holocaust
>Museum in DC. When we ventured to the 'children's section' of the museum,
>designed to show what it meant to be a Jewish kid after Hitler came to
>power, my friend was visibly disappointed. When I asked why, he explained
>that the message conveyed by this particular exhibit was that of an
>essentially middle class home facing a few nasty restrictions. "What
>message does it send" he continued "to the inner city children for whom
>racist restrictions are a relatively minor problem vis a vis
>vermin-infested slums, sleazy slumlords, war zone policing, crime,
>shootings etc? That those Jews in Germany did not have it that bad after

But can I suggest another interpretation.

The exhibit in the holocaust museum is (by virtue of its one-sidedness) a lie. This is a lie that has been perpetrated in almost all representations of the holocaust and the lie goes like this:

A cultivated and educated minority, the Jews, were victimised by proletarian thugs in uniform.

The film-makers two favourite episodes of the Fascist rise to power are Kristallnacht and book-burning. Both stand as emblems of the persecution of a cultured, middle class minority by lumpen thugs.

Less popular episodes in the telling of the story of fascism are the early victory of the NSDAP in the student union elections, the General strike against the Kapp Putsch, reichsbank president Hjalmar Schacht's early conversion to Fascism, industrialist Emil Kirdoff's campaign for Nazi businessmen, philosopher Martin Heidegger's Nazi summer-camp for students, the Fascists' overwhelming preoccupation with the suppression of the working class and its organisations.

These episodes all illustrate the real story of fascism:

this was a movement whose support was drawn principally from Germany's cultivated and educated elite, who crushed the organisations of the 'international', ie working classes.

If the holocaust museum is a failure, it is because it follows the pattern of almost every representation of the holocaust since: an evasion of the truth, that the Jews slaughtered in Germany were overwhelmingly poor and working class, immigrants from Eastern Europe drawn into Germany's expnading industries in the early century, and the campaign against them was one component of Hitler's campaign to crush organised labour in Germany. -- Jim heartfield

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