Guilty Pleasures

April 14, 2004

Teaching Nazi Germany is a guilty pleasure.

On the one hand, the guys are morally reprehensible. Even in their early days, before they started murdering anyone other than their political opponents, they used words and thoughts that are double plus un good.

And yet, when I read their stuff to the class, especially when I rant and shout, and bang my fist on the table, and wave my hand in the air, and do everything but trim the goatee down to a toothbrush moustache -- well, it is good clean fun. I like the public performance part of being a teacher, and quoting radical politicians lets me give fun stump speeches.

The kids meanwhile are in that awkward ground where the professor is acting silly, the silliness is entertaining, his voice and body language tell them that these words matter, and the words themselves are not what they are used to hearing. They do pay attention, though whether through embarrasment or wonder I can not say.

I gave them a couple of paragraphs from his May 1 1923 speech (excerpts below the fold). I checked this video of Hitler at a party rally before class to make sure I had the gestures right.

As I said, Adolph Hitler's speeches are a guilty pleasure.

These are the paragraphs I read aloud performed in class today:

. . . If the first of May is to be transferred in accordance with its true meaning from the life of Nature to the life of peoples, then it must symbolize the renewal of the body of a people which has fallen into senility. And in the life of peoples senility means internationalism. What is born of senility? Nothing, nothing at all. Whatever in human civilization has real value, that arose not out of internationalism, it sprang from the soul of a single people. When peoples have lost their creative vigor, then they become international Everywhere, wherever intellectual incapacity rules in the life of peoples, there internationalism appears. And it is no chance that the promoter of this cast of thought is a people which itself can boast of no real creative force - the Jewish people....

There are three words which many use without a thought which for us are no catch-phrases: Love, Faith, and Hope. We National Socialists wish to love our Fatherland, we wish to learn to love it, to learn to love it jealously, to love it alone and to suffer no other idol to stand by its side. We know only one interest and that is the interest of our people.

Posted by Red Ted at April 14, 2004 08:52 AM | TrackBack