Mikhail Gorbachev (1931-2022)

The last leader of the USSR, Mikhail Sergeyevich Gorbachev, passed away at the age of 92 following a long period of poor health.

Mark Galeotti’s obituary: https://www.spectator.co.uk/article/gorbachev-was-no-saint-but-he-was-a-kind-of-hero

The Telegraph: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2022/08/31/mikhail-gorbachev-death-defining-moments-fall-former-soviet/

World reactions: https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2022/08/31/mikhail-gorbachev-death-tributes-former-soviet-leader/

But none of the various tributes I’ve seen say much about where the man came from, and what inspired him. His Wikipedia bio (caveat lector, as always) is remarkably detailed on the subject. Let me give a brief summary.

He was born on a farm in the krai [freely: region] of Stavropol [a Russified form of Greek Stauropolis = Cross City] in the North Caucasus region, to a Russian father and an Ukrainian mother. The latter was a devout Orthodox Christian and secretly had the boy baptized (these were the days of Stalin’s atheisation campaigns). Two uncles perished in the Holodomor (the man-made famine in Ukraine), and his maternal grandparents were arrested and tortured during the Great Purges, though ultimately released. During WW II, Mikhail’s father Sergey fought in the Red Army, was believed killed at Kursk, then miraculously showed up.

After thje war, youngf Michael joined the Komsomol (the CPSU youth organization) and helped his father operate a combine harvester. The record crop they harvested in 1948 got father and son awards; between those, a “proletarian” background, and ideological commitment displayed by his applying to be a candidate member of the CPSU[*], he was accepted into Moscow State University (then as now one of the most prestigious universities in Russia) and studied law there. The first signs of an independent streak can be seen there, such as when he stood up for a Jewish classmate who was being persecuted for “disloyalty” during the “Doctors’ plot”, and when he made a lifelong friend out of a Czech communist named https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Zdeněk_Mlynář who would later be one of the leaders of the Prague Spring.

At the university, he met a half-Ukrainian, half-Siberian woman named Raisa Titarenko (later a Ph.D. in philosophy), whose engagement had just fallen through: this was apparently the match that was meant to be, apparently a faithful marriage until Raisa Gorbachewa’s passing in 1999.

Returning home, Gorbachew quickly rose through the ranks of the Komsomol and later of regional government, until he became the kraikom‘s First Secretary (de facto governor) in 1971, at the unusually young age of 39. He cultivated good relationships with the various powers that be in Moscow, including KGB chief Yuri Andropov who in time would succeed Brezhnev at the head of the USSR (and on his deathbed would later name Gorbachew as his preferred successor).

The Central Committee considered Gorbachew too young (53) and inexperienced, and named the aging Konstantin Chernenko instead — already in ill health, and clearly as a temporary placeholder. In the event, Chernenko was too ill half the time to show up, and had Gorbachew read his speeches instead. Eventually, with the support of former foreign minister and longtime party stalwart Andrei Gromyko, Gorbachew was appointed Chernenko’s successor instead.

It is important to understand that Gorbachew never meant to abolish either Communism or the USSR, but to reform them. The fairly tepid “Khrushchev Thaw” was an early inspiration — then the attempted “socialism with a human face” of the Prague Spring, and later the Gorbachew’s visits to the West in the 1970s (where he was impressed by how freely Belgians, Germans,… criticized their own leaders with clear impunity), convinced him that more openness/transparency (Russian: glasnost, literally “glass-ness”) and major restructuring (Russian: perestroika) were needed. Also, the more he learned about endemic corruption and incompetence in the system, the more he was convinced of that need.

Margaret Thatcher was an early admirer in the West, saw “somebody we can do business with”. Gorbachev is widely admired in the West for bringing the [First] Cold War to a peaceful conclusion.

His legacy in Russia is rather different, and not just among Putin-style neo-imperialists. Many Russians remember the chaotic years under Boris Yeltsin that followed the dissolution of the USSR as good only for some “New Russians” (the real and aspiring “oligarchs”) and filled with misery and woe for everyone else: even the old Soviet system seemed like something to be nostalgic for, and they blamed Gorbachew for its demise. (Never mind that it was unsustainable in any case.)

Gorbachev, on a 1992 visit to Israel, visits the Western Wall

May he rest in peace.

[*] Only about 4% of the population was allowed to join the party proper.

Looking around: Ukraine’s offensive on Kherson; Israeli leftist enfant terrible Aviv Geffen got slightly red-pilled; “loan forgiveness” ignores the underlying problems

(a) Ukraine appears to have gone on the offensive to liberate the city of Kherson. “Masgramondou” has the details and an analysis. Go read it all — apparently a key element was, before the attack, to put the bridges Russia needs out of commission by means of HIMARS and other smart munitions.

image from the article. Blue X=attacks; yellow circles=destroyed bridges. Reddish=Russian-held territory

“Masgramondou” notes that the bridges were apparently not demolished beyond repair — hinting that the Ukrainians may plan to repair them for further offensive operations.

(b) Israeli rock/pop singer and songwriter Aviv Geffen was always something of an enfant terrible and very much identified with the Israeli left. He openly bragged about dodging the IDF draft — rather piquant, considering his great-uncle[*] is none other than “the” Moshe Dayan! — although officially he got a medical discharge. He was in fact one of the last people to speak to Yitzḥak Rabin before he was gunned down — in tribute, he recorded a moving version of Arik Einstein’s Livkot Lekha (“To cry for you”).

He later recorded a song calling for Israel “to conquer the peace and not territories”.

After Geffen had moved to London and tried to gin up interest in his stagnating musical career with various outrageous statements, I had basically lost interest in his antics. I did enjoyed some of the music he recorded, under the moniker Blackfield, with one of my musical heroes, Porcupine Tree’s frontman Steven Wilson.

Sketch my surprise when I learned that he’d apparently been “redpilled” to some degree, and is now performing in “settlements” in the disputed territories that he once called a “blight”. When queried, he said he still disagrees with the Israeli right on many things and considers himself center-left, but that he realizes he’d spouted a lot of nonsense in the past

Rocker Aviv Geffen, previously known for his left-wing views and lyrics, has apparently made an abrupt political shift with two performances in the past week in the West Bank settlements of Kedumim and Beit El, and others at IDF bases, where he spoke about a need for national unity and referred to settlers as “brothers.”

“I and you, my brothers, have split because of many, many things, and for many years,” said Geffen at an August 24 concert in Beit El. “I said things from ignorance, to diminish others. I’m so happy I’m here. Thank you for inviting me.”

Geffen spoke about having undergone a personal transformation, and thanked right-wing Interior Minister Ayelet Shaked as a friend who helped him “to accept and respect others.” […]

When he appeared on Sunday in Kedumim alongside ultra-Orthodox entertainer Avraham Fried, with whom he’s performed duets in the past, Geffen spoke about the need for unity, despite political differences. He referred to himself as “left-center.”

“This is the time and the hour,” said Geffen. “It’s easy to talk about unity — we have to actively work toward it and against ostracizing others. I will take some poisonous arrows so that the next generation can grow up amid true love, because we have been, and always will be, brothers.”

There is a saying in Judaism, “where the true repentant stands, even the righteous man is not worthy to stand”.

(c) Tom Knighton, on his Substack, has a few things to say about stealing from the poor to give to the New Class “student loan forgiveness”: why forgive loans without solving underlying issues? He has some suggestions (see his post for more detail):

  • Make universities accountable: “If they were on the hook for loans for students who are unable to get sufficient employment with their degrees to be able to pay that back, then they’d have some incentive to be a bit more careful about who they encourage to take out student loans.”
  • Quit pushing college as the only option.
  • Minimizing the number of classes required for a degree—in particular the “general education” and especially the DIE (fauxversity, exclusion, and iniquity, er, “diversity”, “inclusion”, and “equity”) indoctrination classes

I would add a fourth: drastically reduce the number of administrators. And yes, some of these are DIE enforcers — but by no means all. Having spent half my life in academia on three continents, even ten years ago I used to go as far as to say that US academia was under a hostile takeover by the administrator class — and it has only gotten worse since. It’s a little bit the same as Boeing getting run by bean-counters rather than engineers, or an army by politicians in uniform rather than fighting officers: when the people who run an organization have lost touch with its essential mission(s) — education (not diploma puppy-milling or indoctrination!) and research, in the case of research universities — the organization will lose the plot and become useless to its stated aim, if not actively harmful. Pournelle’s Iron Law is a female canine.

ADDENDUM: The Telegraph reports that the Ukrainians — knowing the Russians are assiduously trying to target HIMARS launchers — have deployed fleets of wooden decoy “launchers” for the Russians to waste their remaining smart weaponry on.

[*] According to a family tree of the Dayan family on Hebrew Wikipedia, Aviv Geffen’s father, the poet Yonatan Geffen, is the son of Israel Gefen and Moshe Dayan’s sister Aviva Dayan.

“Lying flat” in China spreading to entrepreneurs: how to write “who is John Galt” in Mandarin?

I’ve mentioned the phenomenon of “lying flat” previously — people choosing to adopt a minimal work, minimal consumption lifestyle.

One could dismiss this as the attitude of “aimless Gen-Zers” — but now in China, it is spreading from the workers to the entrepreneurs.

In a nutshell: doing hard-driving business and going the extra mile in pursuit of profit are now increasingly perceived as a losing game, or no longer worth it. Between repeated weeks-long lockdowns as the CCP continues its Möbius Dick pursuit of the “zero COVID” white whale, the general economic malaise domestically, and export markets shrinking as countries in the developed world diversify supply chains away from China — not so much because of the CCP’s human rights abuses, but because supply from China has become too erratic — … entrepreneurs great and small cash in while they can, downsize, or go to bare survival business mode (“lying flat”).

And besides, even if you become a multi-millionaire, the CCP bureaucracy can strip you bare because of some selective-enforced offense, or because you didn’t say “All hail Chairman Xi, king of the turtle-‘lovers’” with enough enthusiasm… And now it’s even become increasingly difficult to move your money abroad to buy assets the CCP regime cannot readily expropriate…

In turn, the “lying flat” causes either layoffs or a dearth of available jobs, which in turn reduces discretionary spending, which in turn makes the domestic business environment even more difficult…

Steven Levitt’s “Freakonomics” can be condensed down to two basic economic laws:

1. Humans respond to incentives

2. There is no other law of economics

The way ahead in today’s China is no longer through hard work or entrepreneurial acumen — it’s through corruption and brown-nosing your way up the CCP hierarchy. Small wonder the Chinese economic house of cards is teetering.

I’m a little skeptical the system will catastrophically collapse like some are predicting/hoping. But China has some very difficult years ahead of it. No wonder Emperor Xi is looking for anything to divert his people’s attention — even a military confrontation with the West over Taiwan. Remember how the Russo-Japanese War of 1905 started with the Tsar being told what his restive population needed was “a short victorious war”… Of course, it didn’t end that way…

Looking around: Basel marks 125th anniversary of the 1st Zionist Congress; VDH on elite incompetence and contempt of the middle class; Noah Smith on wokebaggery as an expression of career frustration by overproduced HSS graduates

(a) Today is the 125th anniversary of the first-ever World Zionist Congress, which took place at the City “Casino”[*] in Basel, Switzerland. The occasion will be marked by a large convention, with Israel’s [mostly ceremonial] President Herzog as the chief guest of honor.


To be sure, Theodor Herzl did not “invent” Zionism. Religious Zionism, the yearning for the return to Eretz Israel/”The Holy Land”, is as old as the Diaspora itself. Secular political Zionism was inspired not just by that, but by the 19th century European wave of romantic nationalism. The disaffected early Socialist Moses Hess‘s 1862 German-language tractate “Rome and Jerusalem” predated Herzl’s “The Jewish State” by nearly three decades. The book was coldly received by the German Jews of the time, and even in Israel, Hess is mostly forgotten, though there is a moshav (cooperative village) named Kfar Hess in his honor.

In response to the pogroms unleashed by Tsar Alexander III, a Jewish doctor and community activist named Leon Pinsker (“outside name” for Yehuda Leib Pinsker) published the pamphlet “Auto-Emancipation” on January 1, 1882. Here he diagnosed “Judeophobia” (his preferred term for antisemitism) as an incurable disease, with the creation of an independent Jewish state as the only solution. Pinsker was also a practical organizer and one of the driving forces behind the Ḥovevei Tziyon movement that caused what we call the “First Aliyah” in Israel, the first wave of Jews [virtually all from the Tsarist empire] returning to Eretz Israel. [In response to reports about this reaching the Yemenite Jewish community, they assumed the Messianic Age was at hand and the first wave of Yemenite Jews came to Israel — many of them settled in the town of Reḥovot that had just (1890) been established by a group of immigrants from Warsaw.]

There are Pinsker Streets in many Israeli towns, especially those founded by Ḥovevei Tziyon. , and the city of Rishon le-Tziyon has a neighborhood named Naḥalat Yehuda in his honor.

So what made Theodor Herzl special? Herzl was originally a journalist who commanded a large audience at a leading Vienna newspaper[**] and had been an assimilationist until he experienced his “Road to Damascus” moment while reporting from Paris on the Dreyfus Affair. It was his great merit — as a polemicist as well as organizer and self-credentialed diplomatic emissary — to turn what had been a niche phenomenon at most into a political force to be reckoned with, and that would eventually move mountains.

Historical picture of Herzl addressing either the 1st or the 2nd Zionist Congress in Basel. [from the JPost article]

(b) Amazing article by Victor Davis Hanson: Elites’ divide & conquer failure: How middle class now view their rulers with rightly earned disdain. Go read it all: I can’t do it justice by selective quoting.

(c) Lots of great data and graphs here: Noah Smith on the elite overproduction hypothesis. In a nutshell, he ascribes much of recent SJWism and wokeism to an overproduction of humanities and soft subjects graduates who believe they deserve to be part of what Joel Kotkin calls the “clerisy” but instead are facing an ever-shrinking job market for their degrees, as some traditional employment fields (news media, publishing) are cratering and others stagnating. Hence you get pressure for student loan forgiveness, for more government drone and college administrator jobs — and for “canceling” older members of the clerisy to make room.

BONUS: Meanwhile in Ukraine, an amazing demonstration of the quality of Russian personal military equipment. Look, we know the Russians can produce amazing stuff when they put their mind to it. So the only reasonable explanation of what you’re about to see in the video clip is corruption.

[*] in German the term “casino” has other meanings than “gambling hall”: for example, as late as WW II, an officers mess was called a “Kasino”

[**] It is one of the ironies of history that all three defining works of secular Zionism — Hess’s Rom und Jerusalem, Pinsker’s Selbstemanzipation, and Herzl’s Der Judenstaat were originally written and published in German — but that was one of the two lingue franche in continental Europe at the time (the other being French). The lingua franca status of English we take for granted today is largely a 20th century, and especially post-WW II, phenomenon.

Sabbath musical delight: Chopin’s Ballades played by Sviatoslav Richter

After all the insanity of the past week, what I feel like posting would be something like “Red” by King Crimson — one of the most unsettling non-classical tracks I know — or “Larks Tongues in Aspic, Pt. 4” by the same band.

But those are not appropriate for the joyous Sabbath. So instead here is something else. “Ballades” in classical music are not to be confused with modern song “ballads”, but are medium-length, “storytelling” pieces for solo piano, inspired by the German romantic poetry form of the era. Chopin’s Ballade Nr. 1 in G minor (beloved of many pianists and piano music lovers) pretty much set the standard for the genre.

Not the “Polish School” of Chopin playing, but Sviatoslav Richter’s take on pretty much any classical workis always worth hearing, and often delightful.

Have a great weekend, and Shabbat Shalom!

More on “student loan forgiveness”, the Biden regime’s shameless handout to the most [anti-]Democrat industry

(a) Tim Pool, a recovering Bernie Bro, actually wants to see some sort of loan forgiveness himself, but says the executive order is angering everybody: the hard left who want complete forgiveness; working class Democrats who don’t understand why the Biden regime is taking money from the working class to subsidize the college-educated; and of course conservatives who see this as the cynical pandering to the most-parteigetreue industry there is.

(b) James Freeman in the WSJ: Biden Bails Out the Price Gougers: An unlawful rescue for the purveyors of politicized education. (paywalled; cached copy): “the most expensive joke ever”

[…] Of course Mr. Biden’s illegal plan to make taxpayers cover student-loan debts will in many cases shower benefits on borrowers who don’t need help. But the biggest bailout is for the academic wokesters who get paid handsomely to supply products and services for which there is little or no market demand.

Take away the massive system of federal subsidies and there will always be students eager to pay for electrical engineering degrees from Georgia Tech—and private lenders happy to finance an education that is likely to generate earnings power for the borrower. The earnings power comes from the fact that the engineer can make stuff that people want and need.

What cannot exist without government intervention are expensive degrees in ideology and grievance and debt-fueled accumulations of nonmarketable skills. Word has been getting around for some time that many college degree programs aren’t worth the high prices. If the holders of such degrees cannot find a way to finance them even in a historically tight labor market, it means the schools charged too much.

In a normal functioning market, students would demand more value and stop buying such degrees. The schools would have to change their course offerings or cut their prices or both. The Biden bailout prevents this virtuous natural process by making taxpayers rescue the industry that is manifestly mistreating its customers. No reform will be permitted and now taxpayers will have to buy education services that are clearly not worth the cost. […]

In April this column noted the short, sensible tweets on the subject from Adam Ozimek of the Economic Innovation Group:

>If we are forgiving student debt because the student got a bad deal, the program that they went to should be banned from student loans.

>If the degree they got pays for itself, then they don’t need forgiveness. If it doesn’t, access to that program shouldn’t be subsidized in the future.

Now that Mr. Biden has launched his historic assault on taxpayers, Mr. Ozimek adds:

>If student debt is truly a crisis, then we have a crisis of higher ed quality. 

Biden administration officials seem to understand the issue well enough to realize they have no good arguments for their bailout of the Biden voters who work in America’s most partisan industry. So as with inflation generally, their basic strategy when asked to justify this outrage is to change the subject. This week Mr. Biden himself responded to a question about the fairness of the plan with a non sequitur about business taxation. 

[…] It’s nice to see [the Education Secretary] acknowledge the system is broken, but this is the most costly effort to prevent a systemic fix in the history of education. Schools remain free to sell the same expensive degrees to the next generation of government-financed consumers. To prevent reform from ever reaching the shores of academia the president is attempting to ignore Congress and unilaterally appropriate hundreds of billions of dollars. As for the education secretary clinging to the last refuge of pandemic excuses, are we all supposed to pretend that Covid is the reason college is so expensive? 

ADDENDUM: even the chair of 0bama’s chair of economic advisors calls the student bailout ‘gasoline on the inflationary fire’.

“Student loan forgiveness”, Biden regime’s latest reverse-Robin Hood scheme; San Francisco “LGB for Palestine” shocked when exposed to “Palestinian” attitudes on homosexuality; documentary on alleged forgery of bombshell Biblical-era artifacts

(a) Insty is all over the latest cynical ploy of the Biden regime: through executive order, forgiving student loans at taxpayer expense. Powerline has more here and here.

Seen on Facebook:

Of course, who gets to pick up the tab: working-class people who never went to college paying for the Brahmandarin-adjacent’s degrees in whatever studies. More proof that the antiDemocrat Party has utterly abandoned the working class: this reverse Robin Hood scheme steals from the “proletariat” to subsidize a key antiDemocrat constituency.

Larry Correia on Tw*tter calls it “peak Democrat bulls**t, brought to you by the party that constantly whines about privilege”.

(b) Documentary film maker Ami Horowitz did a priceless experiment. He sought out a number of pro-Palestinians in San Francisco’s “gay community”. Then he traveled to the West Bank and interviewed a number of random “Palestinians” about their opinions on homosexuality — which ranged from “put them all in camps” to “apply the punishments of the Koran to them” (i.e., execution in various ways) “both to the giver and the receiver”. He also interviewed (blurred face, fake name) a “gay Palestinian” talking about how he was arrested, and how the police “had fun with us” (including — with bizarro-world logic — “punishing” them by raping them).

Ami then went back to the “Qu**rs for Palestine” in the first segment and showed them the video from the second. This was a teachable moment. “This is not at all what the media was telling us!” No kidding.

And the same “rights” organization who will jump at the opportunity to “cancel” any Western politician or academic who uses the wrong pronoun are dead silent about real, hardcore, and sometimes lethal homophobia in the Islamic world. It would be funny if it weren’t so sad — and nauseating.

(c) Some 20 years ago, somebody claimed to have found an ossuary from 2,000 years ago with the inscription: “Yaacov ben Yosef, achiv shel Yeshu” (James son of Joseph, brother of Jesus). You can imagine the furore this caused, as did an inscription claimed to be from the days of King Yehoash that described repairs to the First Temple. Later the antiquities collector involved in both was accused by the Israel Antiquities Authority of peddling forgeries: a fascinating and still unresolved story ensues.

“Toward the flame”: action begets reaction, US politics edition

It will not be a surprise to any reader that I am not a huge fan of Rod Dreher’s brand of “crunchy-con” nor of the paleoconservative magazine he writes for. (Disclaimer: this has nothing to do with wanting to censor it. I leave that garbage to the left.)

But this piece, “the torn-apart land“, which I stumbled onto by accident, jibes with some of my own recent interactions with people abroad. Go read the whole thing — I can’t do it justice by selective quoting.

He’s reflecting on his recent attendance at CPAC — which the usual PravdaMedia are trying to paint as “extremist” but really is not. Then, on his recent interactions with friends — well-educated professionals who are not politically active and historically weren’t — and are becoming increasingly radicalized.

Among other things, radicalization takes the form of shunning friends and family members who side with the left — Dreher himself has a “Bernie bro” son whom he wouldn’t think of ostracizing for that.

Another form it takes is belief in conspiracy theories nearly as bizarre and far-fetched as those in common currency on the left.

Yet another is that truly beyond-the-pale racial supremacist and judeophobic “thinkers” are being studied and taken seriously by people who really ought to know better. Again, not the activists — in fact, the activists may be less at risk as they have a way to blow off steam — but apolitical people of generally conservative bent who are being radicalized by, essentially, the reverse-racist and reverse-discrimination policies championed by the left. When you start having trouble feeding your family on several menial jobs, because you have been “canceled” for saying something mildly politically incorrect or simply for being the wrong combination of age, skin color, gender, and “orientation”…

Nature (in this case, Newton’s Third Law) doesn’t care about your feelings. Action begets reaction: the ever more radical and intrusive “action” of the neo-feudal Brahmandarin Left was bound to cause a strident reaction. Of course, instead of seeing a need for course correction — for “thesis plus antithesis begets synthesis”, if you like — the “anointed” moral narcissists will simply see this as “proof” of what they always “knew” — that us “benighted” are all a bunch of racist, sexist, homophobic, tr@nsphobic,… extremists and therefore their extremism is justified.

And this holds even more so when the cause being championed by the Anointed is not that of the majority, nor even of a broad swathe of the population, but of a tiny minority being adopted as a “mascot” — and when in the service of championing the said mascot, the majority is being demonized. Ultimately, this will invoke a fierce backlash, and many people who never wanted any part of this on either side will pay the price.

The more I see and hear of the US, and of the UK, the more I am put in mind of this eerie piece of music. The composer, Alexander Scriabin, was given to mystical visions — but it’s no coincidence this was written in 1914 — the year that the world would change forever in the cataclysm of the Great War (what today we call World War One). The title is “Toward the flame” (French: Vers la flamme).

If you’re not of a classical bent, there are two kick-*ss thrash metal songs describing an “after the flame” reality that nobody wants to live in.

So who was Hitler’s [y”sh] second in command?

Even WW II buffs who have not studied the Third Reich’s political and economic structure in depth are often unaware of the “polycratic” nature of Hitler’s dictatorship. In an attempt to both “divide and rule” and to get better results through competition, he deliberately set up multiple underlings with conflicting fields of authority.

Likewise, there was no single “Vice Führer” figure, the way [l’havdil] the US has a Vice President [who is both the President’s deputy and 1st in the presidential line of succession], or the way the Chancellor of the Exchequer in a British cabinet is a deputy PM in all but name.

If the question is, less formally, “who was the second most powerful man in the Third Reich”, multiple names come up at different times. Let me try to bring some order into the chaos. [y”sh = “may his name be erased” implied below behind most names.]

Rudolf Hess: “Stellvertreter des Führers”

A Hitler associate (and effectively lapdog) of the first hour, Hess was the only man to ever formally hold the title of Stellvertreter des Führers (Deputy of the Führer), from April 1933 until his bizarre flight to Scotland on May 10, 1941. He supervised a staff operating out of the Brown House (the NSDAP headquarters) in Munich, with Martin Bormann as his chief of staff.

Bormann had replaced Hess as AH’s personal secretary on 12 August 1935, and gradually hollowed out Hess’s position from that perch. This contributed to Hess’s descent into depression, psychosomatic illness, alternative quack therapies, the occult, … and (so it is speculated) his wishful thinking that there was an English “peace party” he could do business with, and conclude a deal with about dividing up the world. Thus, he would again be in the best graces of his master.

Hess’s friend Albrecht Haushofer[***], the son of his old “geopolitics” professor Karl Haushofer, had befriended the Duke of Hamilton (an aviator of note, e.g., the first-ever to fly over Mount Everest) during one of the latter’s prewar visits to Germany 


Apparently, Hess and Haushofer thought he was somebody who was approachable. Hess, who operated out of Munich and was a skilled flyer, was friends with Willi Messerschmidt, and asked (and obtained) a customized Me 110 modified for a crew of one, then made 4 attempts. 3 had to be broken off early because of bad weather, the 4th, on May 10, 1941 reached Scotland. Apparently Hess bailed out once it became clear RAF aircraft had him cornered.

The Duke of Hamilton, then in charge of Scotland’s air defense, was not at all receptive: to make things worse, just that day one of the bloodiest Blitz raids had taken place.

The position was abolished May 12, 1941, the Staff of the Deputy Führer renamed as the Party Chancellary, and its Chief of Staff Martin Bormann placed at its head.

Martin Bormann: the Brown Eminence

From that point on, Bormann effectively controlled the NSDAP, and in his capacity as the Führer’s personal secretary, controlled access to the dictator (not the security aspects, which were in the hands of the RSD commander, SS-Obergruppenführer Hans Rattenhuber), as well as what correspondence and documents were deemed worthy of the Führer’s attention. As such, nobody had more influence on the dictator, and indirectly his decisions which literally had the force of law in the Third Reich.

An Aside: Chancellaries other than Bormann’s party chancellary

The Party Chancellary must not be confused with three other chancellaries.

The Reich Chancellary was the bureaucracy that served the head of government, and during the Third Reich was run by a Nazi bureaucrat named Hans Heinrich Lammers, and operated thus until the very end. For the most part, it seems to have faithfully implemented the oral directives given it by the dictator.

The Führer’s Chancellary, KdF or Kanzlei des Führers, led by Philipp Bouhler, served the dictator personally, and continued to exist on paper after 1941 but lost influence to Bormann. Its hour of infamy, from 1939 until 1941, was in organizing “Aktion T4”, the mass “euthanasia” of the infirm and mentally ill: this is incidentally the only major policy of the Third Reich that it was forced to discontinue, at least in public, following public outcry. (It continued in secret.) Perhaps this contributed to the KdF’s loss of prestige.

Finally, the Presidential Chancellary was a relic from the Weimar Era, headed by Otto Meissner who had served in this position throughout the Weimar Republic, all the way back to the chancellorship of Friedrich Ebert. It however lost whatever vestigial power it has left after the offices of Chancellor and President were merged following Hindenburg’s death. Meissner in fact asked to be allowed to retire but this was declined. [Curiosum: it was Meissner, a connoisseur of German song lore, who had suggested to Ebert the use of the Deutschlandlied as the national anthem (which continues, with lyrical changes, to the present day).]

Hermann Göring: The Designated Survivor

Like Hess, the onetime WW I ace (who had commanded “The Red Baron”s squadron after Manfred Freiherr von Richthofen has been killed in action) was one of Hitler’s early associates, and at the time the most famous among them. Highly intelligent and charismatic, and an utterly ruthless gatherer of power, at various times he held a large number of senior positions concurrently — not just as head of the Air Force, but as governor of Prussia (by far the largest member state of the Reich), as plenipotentiary minister for the Four Year Plan [for autarky and rearmament], as Speaker of the Reichstag, chair of the War Cabinet,…

He was also the “designated survivor” if Hitler were to be killed, and a June 29, 1941 Führerdecree [after Hess’s position had been abolished] authorized Göring to act as AH’s deputy in the event the dictator would be “deprived of his ability to act” (incapacitated, etc.) [That was also the pretext under which Göring sought to crown himself Führer near the end of the war.] Yet, and here I made a mistake in Operation Flash, he never held the official title of Deputy of the Führer. Perhaps I had the US presidential succession on the brain, and assumed that anyone thus designated would also be the Stellvertreter/Deputy more broadly.

From about 1942 on, Göring steadily lost influence due to inability to deliver on air defense, and later his promising, then catastrophically under-delivering, resupply of Stalingrad from the air. He sent deputies to important meetings, was himself mostly preoccupied with collecting mania, and was debilitated by the combination of morphine addiction and morbid obesity. At the Nuremberg Trials, after Göring had been detoxed “cold turkey” by the Allied prison authorities and lost a lot of weight in the process, we were reminded how dangerous a lucid Göring could be.

Heinrich Himmler and the SS “State within the State”

Early on, within the party militia SA (Sturmabteilung, “the Brownshirts”), a small cell for the personal protection of the Führer himself had been formed. Eventually its name settled on Schutzstaffel (protective squadron), or SS for short. From 1929, it was headed by a trained agronomist and failed chicken farmer (the Dutch phrase “gesjeesde kippenfokker”, sounds much worse to an English speaker ;)) named Heinrich Himmler, who had come to the Führer’s attention because of his organizational skills. Himmler embarked upon an aggressive expansion campaign, not only massively recruiting new members (mostly those who sought an elitist alternative to the “low-class” SA) but adding more responsibilities — such as an intelligence service called the SD or Sicherheitsdienst (“security service”) created basically from scratch by a disgraced former Navy officer named Reinhard Heydrich.[**]

After the rise to power of the National Socialists in 1933, Himmler at first became police chief of all Bavaria. But his biggest coup came with the Night of the Long Knives, where his SS did the dirty work of eliminating the Führer’s most important rivals for power — above all, the SA leadership around Ernst Röhm. The SA continued to exist in great numbers, but in emasculated form: from now on, the SS was the rising power.

A Führer decree of 17  June 1936 made Himmler Chef der Deutschen Polizei, head of all uniformed and plainclothes police forces in the Reich. In parallel with this effort, he started building up a parallel armed force, known at first as the SS-Verfügunstruppe (SS dispositional troops), then as the Waffen-SS: as the SS was long on ideological fanatics but short on people with army command experience, he recruited three disaffected former Reichswehr officers[*] as the initial training cadre. Eventually, the Waffen SS would number 36 divisions, although of increasingly poorer quality.

In parallel, following early “wild concentration camps”, the SS-run camp at Dachau became the blueprint for an entire system that in time would encompass both extermination facilities and an economic empire built on slave labor.

The SS thus gradually became a “state within the state”, with Himmler at its head.

Since August 24, 1943, Himmler was also formally the Innenminister (Interior Minister). After the failed Valkyrie coup, he also became Chef der Heeresrüstung und Befehlshaber des Ersatzheeres, though he appointed a deputy for this.

A strong case can be made that Himmler was the second most powerful man in the Third Reich, even though he was never formally deputized nor in the line of succession.

Reinhard Heydrich: feared even by the SS elite

There was a “4H” phrase in the Reich: Himmler’s Hirn heisst Heydrich, or “Himmler’s brain is called Heydrich”. Combining diabolical intelligence with boundless ambition and utter lack of humanity, he would gladly carry out any policy, no matter how evil, if it would advance his career and position. (Defying the stereotype of the cowardly sadist, he was known to friend and foe as utterly fearless in an ostentatious way — going as far as to fly combat missions with the Luftwaffe in defiance of orders not to endanger himself thus, and on one occasion having to exfiltrate from Soviet-held territory after being shot down.)

Having proven his mettle to Himmler by creating the SD, Heydrich was placed at the head of a newly created RSHA (Reichssicherheitshauptamt, State Security Head Office) to which all police and security forces of the Reich answered. So while Himmler continued to be the Chief of German Police of record, he delegated the work entailed by that portfolio to Heydrich.

It was thus to the latter that Göring wrote the infamous July 31, 1941 letter charging him with implementing “the Endlösung der Judenfrage, Final Solution of the Jewish question”.

When Hitler’s viceroy in Prague, Reichsprotektor Konstantin von Neurath, proved not bloodthirsty enough to pacify the “Reich Protectorate of Bohemia and Moravia”, Neurath was officially sent on sick leave and Heydrich appointed his acting replacement. The new “Hangman of Prague” was both so bloody and efficient at his work that the Czech government in exile, together with the British SOE, decided the likely reprisals for his assassination were worth it.

A mythos has developed that Heydrich would have been Hitler’s successor. There’s no doubt that Heydrich’s ambition would not stop short of that, and Hitler appears to have admired the “man with the iron heart”. But he was never in any line of succession nor in any deputy position, though his raw power fell short only of Himmler’s.

It was an open secret that he maintained files with compromising information (from corruption and s3xual proclivities to fractional “non-Aryan” ancestry of spouses) on senior figures in the Third Reich. This may be the main reason why some secretly breathed sighs of relief when he was assassinated. Leibstandarte (freely: “Führer’s Own Regiment”) commander Sepp Dietrich, a Hitler associate from the earliest days and hardly a great exemplar of humanism himself, is known to have told intimates: “Thank G-d that swine croaked.”

[*] They were Paul Hausser, a former general who clung to older Imperial General Staff doctrines; his polar opposite Felix Steiner, a former assault company commander in WW I who saw in the emerging Waffen SS a blank canvas on which to realize his views on unconventional tactics; and Steiner’s apparent kindred spirit Cassius Freiherr von Montigny, who commanded a training academy but died suddenly of a strokeheart attack in late 1940.

[**] Heydrich had been cashiered for “conduct unbecoming an officer” after he had impregnated, then abandoned, a young woman whose father had friends in the highest reaches of the Kriegsmarine. Incidentally, as told in Robert Gerwarth’s fascinating biography, Heydrich was dismissive of Hitler and of National Socialism until at least the late 1920s, and his only friend of sorts growing up had been… the son of the cantor of the local synagogue.

But he was the type who would literally have sold his mother for processing into dog meat if it would advance his career. (This metaphor was borrowed from Herman Wouk z”l.)

[***] Haushofer fils was secretly a member of the Conservative resistance against AH (y”sh). On April 22, 1945, he was shot by the SS together with Klaus Bonhoeffer (brother of Dietrich) and others. He had the following poem on his person:


…schuldig bin ich… guilty[/obligated] am I
Anders als Ihr denkt.[But] not in the way you think.
Ich musste früher meine Pflicht erkennen;I should have earlier recognized my duty;
Ich musste schärfer Unheil Unheil nennen;I should have more sharply called evil[/calamity] evil;
Mein Urteil habe ich zu lang gelenkt…My judgment I reined in too long…
Ich habe gewarnt,I did warn,
Aber nicht genug, und klar;But not enough, and not clearly enough;
Und heute weiß ich, was ich schuldig war.And today I know what I was guilty of[/what was my obligation]

The King, the Thief, and the Spy – A Still Secret WW2 Scandal

Mark Felton has an amazing WW II story I was completely unaware of.

Philip, Prince and Landgrave of Hesse, was a great-grandson of Queen Victoria, and thus a second cousin of Edward VIII and, after the latter’s abdication, of his brother George VI. The said Landgrave Philip was deep in bed with National Socialism[*], and maintained an elaborate correspondence with Edward VIII that might be gravely embarrassing to the British royal family. It is suspected that Hitler [y”sh] was using him as a back-channel to a royal he might have been able to do business with.

Another possibly spicy set of correspondence in the castle library were the about 4,000 highly personal letters sent by Queen Victoria to her eldest daughter.

After the Allies overran the Hesse castle, they gave the residents four hours to pack and Bulgar off, then turned it into an officer’s club and recreation center. The American woman Captain running it and her Colonel lover (later husband) apparently “helped” themselves to the crown jewels of Hesse and tried to fence them — then were caught, and ended up serving hard time.

Meanwhile, George VI approached Winston Churchill (a diehard monarchist if ever there was one) about sending somebody from MI 5 to retrieve both correspondence files and bring them to the Windsor Castle archives (where, by the way, they remain to the present day). Churchill agreed, and an MI 5 Major named Anthony Blunt [yes, the fourth of the Cambridge Five!] was sent over. The jewel thieves/fences running the place were highly uncooperative, but in the end he succeeded… and apparently microfilmed the letters and sent them to his KGB handlers. In 2021, the microfilms were confirmed to be held at the Lubyanka, the original headquarters of the KGB’s successor agency FSB.

It has always been a mystery why Anthony Blunt — in civilian life, a well-known academic art historian who also held the palace office of Surveyor of the King’s (later Queen’s) Pictures [read: conservator of the paintings at Buckingham Palace and other royal residences] — was not punished more harshly for his betrayal of his country. (He was stripped of his knighthood, but never received even a suspended prison sentence.) Mark Felton, in the video, speculates that, having read the correspondence between Philip and the former Edward VIII, he had too much leverage over the British Royal Family.

As Sarah Hoyt keeps saying, “[G-d] Himself needs an editor”. Real history is often stranger than fiction.


[*] Philip was married to Mafalda, a daughter of King Victor Emanuel III of Italy. After the latter deposed Mussolini and switched sides to the Allies, Philip and Mafalda were among the people blamed by Hitler [y”sh]. Mafalda was sent to Buchenwald, where she was killed in, ironically, an Allied air raid. Philip was kept at KZ Flossenburg in Bavaria, but under VIP conditions: he ate the same food as the guards and was allowed to wear civilian clothing. At the end of the war, he was part of the Prominententransport to Tyrol about which I should blog another time.

BBC journalistic “ethics”, Royal Family edition; daughter of “Putin’s Brain” Alexander Dugin killed in assassination attempt on her father?; longtime China watcher “serpentza” pours cold water on rumors of the imminent collapse of the CCP state; major changes coming at CNN?

(A) The Daily Telegraph has a long piece on the BBC being forced to pay damages to Tiggy Legge-Bourke (you can’t make that name up), former nanny to Charles and Diana’s sons William and Harry. https://www.telegraph.co.uk/royal-family/2022/07/21/bbc-martin-bashir-princess-diana-tiggy-legge-bourke/ [paywalled; cached copy]

As the article has it, now-disgraced journalist Martin Bashir would stop at nothing to secure an exclusive interview with Diana, not even at having a graphic designer forge a receipt for an abortion the nanny supposedly had had after allegedly being impregnated by Charles. The BBC has been ordered to pay 200,000 pounds in damages to the former nanny, and will donate the proceeds from the interview to charitable causes known to be favored by Diana.

(B) The Daily Mail reports that Darya Dugin, daughter of the pan-Slavic fascist thinker Alexander Dugin (often nicknamed “Putin’s Brain” for the influence he supposedly has on the Russian strongman), was killed by a car bomb apparently meant for her father.


As the article explains in detail, this happened as explosions are rocking installations and bases deep in Russian-held territory.

(C) again in the Telegraph, a Russian paratrooper who has meanwhile defected to the West opens up about the shambolic equipment and preparation of his supposed elite regiment; https://www.telegraph.co.uk/world-news/2022/08/19/turned-feral-savages-says-ex-russian-soldier-time-ukraine/ [paywalled; cached copy]

* his rifle was rusted and missing a strap

* few people in his “elite”unit even knew how to fold their own parachutes

* equipment had apparently been sold on the black market by superior officers, leading to him having to buy his own boots

* food supplies: basically, “live off the land”.They were sent into battle “ravaged with hunger”.

And so forth.

(D) Meanwhile, is China/the CCP about to collapse? “Not so fast”, says Winston Sterzel, a.k.a. “serpentza”, the South Africa-born longtime China blogger. (He lived in Shenzhen for over a decade until he recently moved to the USA with his Chinese-born wife.) The Chinese system is in for a rough ride, but not for collapse.

(E) are major changes coming at CNN? https://www.dailywire.com/news/new-cnn-ceos-bleak-message-for-employees-at-far-left-network-you-might-not-like-whats-coming

“I want to acknowledge that this is a time of significant change, and I know that many of you are unsettled,” [new CEO Chris] Licht said, according to numerous people who attended Friday’s editorial meeting call. “There will be more changes, and you might not understand it or like it.”

[….] Deadline reported that billionaire investor John Malone — who is one of the largest investors in CNN’s parent company, Warner Bros. Discovery — said earlier in the year during an interview that he wanted CNN to “evolve back to the kind of journalism that it started with, and actually have journalists.”

[Brian “Tater”] Stelter whined in his newsletter at the time that Malone wanting unbiased reporting at the network “stoked fears that Discovery might stifle CNN journalists and steer away from calling out indecency and injustice.”

An insider told Deadline that the decision to can Stelter was “coming from above,” adding, “If this isn’t coming from John Malone directly, it sure represents his thinking with lieutenants doing his bidding.”

Sabbath musical delight: Rush, “Xanadu”

RIP Neil Peart. And amazing (though, knowing Rush, hardly unbelievable) that the studio version was (after thorough rehearsal) recorded in just a single take.

The lyrics, for those unfamiliar with classic English poetry, were inspired by Samuel Coleridge’s epic poem “Kublai Khan”.

Have a nice weekend and Shabbat shalom!

Times a-changing: Bye, Felicia, Liz Cheney and Brian Stelter edition; China’s economic crisis continued; Israel and Turkey restore full diplomatic relation

(A) Brian “Tater” Stelter has been given the order of the boot at CNN

I’m old enough, BTW, to remember the days when showing up at my then-workplace in such a getup would in and of itself have been a firing offense…

However, he’s already gotten one job offer 😉 https://pjmedia.com/news-and-politics/matt-margolis/2022/08/18/babylon-bee-offered-job-to-brian-stelter-after-he-was-fired-from-cnn-n1622315

Meanwhile, Liz Cheney was sent packing in a landslide by the voters she forgot she was representing. I wonder if her concession speech is an audition for a cushy job at $PravdaMedia_outlet … She sounds quite delusional enough…

(B) Meanwhile in China, the popping of the real estate bubble (a long-term structural problem) keeps wreaking havoc

And meanwhile things are not helped by the “Möbius Dick” policy of chasing the Zero Covid white whale:

“Möbius Dick” by Jillian Nickel https://shirt.woot.com/offers/mobius-dick

(C) Meanwhile in this corner of the world, Israel and Turkey have restored full diplomatic relations. Mosaic has an excellent background read: https://mosaicmagazine.com/essay/politics-current-affairs/2022/06/can-a-renewed-alliance-between-israel-and-turkey-stabilize-the-middle-east/

In memoriam Wolfgang Petersen (1941-2022): the making of “Das Boot”

“Das Boot” (the boat) about the fictional Type VIIC submarine U-96, is not just one of my favorite war movies of all time, but one of my favorite movies, full stop. I have never before or since seen a more authentic depiction of a wartime mission aboard a cramped U-Boot (submarine). Later, when I had a chance to visit an actual U-Boot (the U-505 at the Museum of Science and Technology in Chicago), I realized the vessel was even more claustrophobic than it had already come across in the movie.

The visionary director behind the movie, Wolfgang Petersen, passed away on 12 August 2022 after a battle with cancer. He of course has created a number of other movies, such as The Neverending Story, Air Force One, and Troy. And before his movie career, he worked on episodes of the long-running German police procedural series Tatort (=Crime Scene) — there he also first met actor Jürgen Prochnow, who would later parlay his memorable performance as Das Boot‘s commander into a successful Hollywood career as a character actor.

Below is an interesting documentary on Arte about the making of Petersen’s masterwork. May his memory be for a blessing.

Arbitrariness in the arbitrariness: Loopholes in the antisemitic Nuremberg Laws

Today’s post goes back into the past, specifically into the era of history of which I am writing an alternate timeline.

I just finished reading a fascinating 1998 study (in German) from the official journal of the Institut für Zeitgeschichte (Institute for Contemporary History), the Vierteljahreshefte für Zeitgeschichte (Contemp. Hist. Quarterly).

Steiner, John Michael; Cornberg, Jobst Freiherr von. Willkür in Der Willkür. Befreiungen von Den Antisemitischen Nürnberger Gesetzen. Vierteljahreshefte für Zeitgeschichte 1998, 46 (2), 143–188.


The first author, John Michael Steiner, was a Czech-born emeritus professor of sociology at Sonoma State University, who had himself survived Theresienstadt and Auschwitz as a Geltungsjude (see below), and was ultimately liberated from Dachau. After the Communist takeover of his native country, he got into trouble with that version of totalitarian collectivist regimes, and fled to Australia, ultimately settling into an academic career in the USA. He came to Germany for several research stays, funded by fellowship from the Fulbright foundation and of its German counterpart, the Alexander von Humboldt Foundation. A trained criminal psychologist, he was unusual in seeking out perpetrators directly, including such vile psychopaths as the “Butcher of Buchenwald” Martin Sommer .https://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Martin_Sommer_(SS-Mitglied) 

Indeed, for his research on the (controversial) concept of an authoritarian personality, Steiner enlisted the help of his namesake, the highly decorated Waffen SS general Felix Steiner [*], who got hundreds of Waffen SS veterans to “help out the American professor” without ever suspecting he was a camp survivor.

The second author, Steiner’s former Ph.D. student Jobst Freiherr [=Baron] von Cornberg, had himself been a Hitler Youth leader and later Wehrmacht officer before later turning against all he had believed in.

The title of the paper means “Arbitrariness in the arbitrariness: Exemption from the antisemitic Nuremberg Laws.”

The first arbitrariness, of course, refers to the racial classification system itself. The second referred to the procedures by which an individual could apply for a more favorable reclassification, and the arbitrary manner in which these applications were judged.

The Nuremberg Laws created the following categories in Germany itself (later extended to annexed Austria), ordered here from “worst” to “best”:

  • Volljude (full Jew) or Rassenjude (racial Jew): Any individual, regardless of religious identification, with at least three Jewish grandparents.
  • Geltungsjude (“deemed a Jew”): Any individual with two Jewish grandparents who was either married to a Jew or belonged to a Jewish religious community, or who was born after 15 September 1935 out of a marriage between a Jew and an ethnic German, or after 31 July 1936 from an extramarital Jewish-German union. [This is the least well-known category: according to the authors, about 10,000 8,000 German subjects were thus classified in 1935.]
  • Mischling ersten Grades (“Mixed-breed of the first degree”, 1st degree Mischling): an individual with two Jewish grandparents who was not married to a Jew and not a member of a Jewish religious community (in practice, a baptized Catholic or Lutheran). The “model Wehrmacht soldier” from recruiting posters, Werner Goldberg, was in fact a 1st-degree Mischling.
  • Mischling zweiten Grades (“Mixed-breed of the second degree”, 2nd degree Mischling): an individual with just a single Jewish grandparent.
  • Arier (“Aryan”) or Deutschblutig (“Of German blood”): “pure” ethnic German. People with fractions below 1/4  of Jewish blood (one great-grandparent, one great-great-grandparent,…) would also be classified as ethnic Germans, but membership in the NSDAP (National Socialist German Workers Party) and especially the SS had tighter admission criteria: an SS officer, for instance, would need to show a “clean” family tree back to 1750. (This meant in practice that they were barred from some positions that required party viz. SS membership, except with special permission from “the highest levels”.)[***]

According to Paragraph 7 of the law, the “Führer and Reich Chancellor” had the power to grant exemptions or more favorable reclassifications. Subsequent circulars from the Interior Ministry (then held by Wilhelm Frick, later run de facto by his State Secretary Wilhelm Stuckart) set up a screening mechanism for such petitions: they were to be screened first by the Regierunspräsident (freely: governor) of the state (Prussia, Bavaria,…), then by the Interior Ministry (in practice, to the desk of Ministerial Counselor Bernhard Lösener), before the most deserving cases were forwarded to the Reich Chancellary.

I remember when a book by one Bryan Mark Rigg came out with the sensationalist title, “Hitler’s Jewish Soldiers”, which was interpreted by ignorant journalists [BIRM] who didn’t read even the actual (flawed) book, as “proving” that “thousands of Jews” served in the Wehrmacht and even the SS (!!) with Hitler’s personal permission.[****] Steiner and Cornberg (SC) explicitly refer to this book in their introduction.

According to data compiled by SC, from the promulgation of the Nuremberg Laws through the first four months of 1941, 9,636 requests for Befreiiung (exemption) or Besserstellung (more favorable classification) reached the Reich Chancellary. At least in theory, they were each personally reviewed by the Führer (y”sh) himself, who complained about receiving them “by the laundry basket load”. He granted an exemption or more favorable reclassification in 260 cases (a success rate of 2.7%, after two layers of filtering!) 

At one extreme, just two (2) Volljuden were granted exemptions: one woman who had “given crucial support to the [NSDAP] in the [period before it came to power]”, and the widow of a Sudeten German leader who had been key to the acquisition of Czechoslovakia.

At the other extreme, requests from Geltungsjuden to be reclassified as 1st degree Mischlinge had the highest (relatively speaking) success rate: the “blood quantum” was the same, just the practical consequences vastly different. Mischlinge suffered all sorts of legal disabilities, and 1st degree Mischlinge were later pressed into forced labor — but despite the pressure of Shoah maximalists like Heydrich (y”sh) and Bormann (y”sh), they remained exempt from deportation until “their fate was to be decided after the Final Victory” (which thank G-d never came).

One ground for reclassification was (real or fraudulent) evidence that a Jewish father or grandfather was not the biological ancestor. [Remember, this was a half-century before DNA testing became an option!] The most high-profile example was Luftwaffe Inspector-General Erhard Milch, who had a Jewish legal father but successfully claimed he had actually been conceived by his mother’s Aryan lover. Göring is supposed to have said on that occasion, “wer Jude ist, bestimme ich!” (who is a Jew, I decide!). [This is likely a reattribution of a quip by pre-WW I Vienna mayor Karl Lueger, who ran on an antisemitic program but was not averse to socializing with rich Jews.]

One loophole which Raul Hilberg, doyen of Shoah historians, singled out as “the only instance in which NS prejudice actually helped the persecuted”, was that if a Jewish woman had a child out of wedlock after 1918 (i.e., after the legal emancipation of German Jews), the father was presumed to be an Aryan whom she had seduced in order to subvert Aryan peoplehood — hence the child was deemed a first-degree Mischling rather than a Volljude.

The authors describe how some Interior Ministry officials, who may have been NSDAP members but had been reared on old-school Prussian administrative legalism, helped applicants to drag out the proceedings as long as possible, because they would enjoy a measure of protection as long as their legal status was not clarified. While SC’s sources were (likely self-serving) memoirs by the said officials, I would not entirely discount this.

Senior civil servants and industrialists, especially those vital for the war economy, got more of a hearing than the average “non-Aryan”. For example, Artur Imhausen, a half-Jewish chemical industrialist who had invented a process for producing soap from coal tar, was Aryanized together with his whole family. Pioneering biochemist and Nobel Laureate Otto Warburg, who had a German mother but descended on his father’s side from the Warburg banking family (“the other Rothschilds”, if you like), was reclassified first as 2nd degree Mischling, later Aryanized. And senior government counselor  Hans von Dohnanyi [a secondary character in my alternate history series], a 2nd degree Mischling, was given special exemption from all disabilities, and indeed promoted further to Ministerial Director. (Hitler’s decree did come with the caveat that he should never be admitted as an NSDAP member, which  Dohnanyi was about as likely to apply for as Hitler was for synagogue membership.) As another example, aeronautical engineer and test pilot Melitta von Stauffenberg (née Schiller), who had a Jewish father, was “Aryanized” because of her vital role for the Luftwaffe (particularly in the development of the Junkers Ju-87 “Stuka” dive bomber and the two-engine, dive-bomb capable, Junkers Ju-88). [The sister-in-law of “the” Stauffenberg, she also appears as a minor character in my alt-hist series.]

Prominent artists, actors,  and musicians who had “pull” with regime bigwigs were given informal exemptions from the ban on non-Aryans in their profession. This even included a number of rank-and-file musicians in the Berlin Philharmonic. Their continued livelihood and safety, of course, was precariously dependant on remaining in the good graces of their protectors. [In popular parlance, they were sometimes called Ehrenarier, “Honorary Aryans”, but there was no defined legal status by that name.]

A different matter was whether Mischlinge could serve in the Wehrmacht (be it the Heer, the Kriegsmarine, or the Luftwaffe) or could be given command positions. Here, on the one hand the military itself had some de facto discretion in that under front conditions it could simply invoke expediency; on the other hand, unlike Aryanizations, permission to serve as officers etc. did not automatically protect their relatives. In some cases, serving officers were able to save their Jewish parent from deportation by showing up in uniform with decorations and telling the local overzealous party hack to Bulgar off.

Any requests to the Führer on this matter passed via his army adjutant Major Gerhard Engel,[**] who supposedly would often take it upon himself to stamp them “approved” whenever the Führer was too busy, or would present them in the most favorable light when he wasn’t. (These may be self-serving reminescences by Engel.)

In all, this article offers a fascinating window in the internal contradictions and absurdities of what is best described by a priceless German word as a Menschenverachtend  system: one contemptuous of humanity.

[*] Felix Steiner, a former career army officer who switched services after being offered a role in shaping the emerging Waffen SS (the military arm of the SS), is perhaps best known to the general public as the general who refused to come to Hitler’s aid in his bunker — eliciting the epic rant scene memorably depicted in the movie “Downfall”, which has been parodied thousands of times. Steiner’s forces existed largely on paper, and he was unwilling to sacrifice his few remaining men for a hopeless attempt at relieving the Red Army siege of Berlin.
He is a minor character in my alternate history series.

[**] Engel was transferred to the front at his own request in 1943 — ultimately reaching the rank of Lieutenant-General and commanding an infantry division.

[***] One of the more absurd episodes involved Hitler’s brother-in-arms from the earliest hour, his driver and bodyguard Emil Maurice, the original Oberster SA-Führer (supreme commander of the “Brownshirts”). After the Stabswache (“Staff Watch”) had grown and been transformed from a small personal bodyguard detail to a separate organization called the SS (“Schutzstaffel”, literally, “protection squad/detail”), Maurice was given SS membership number 2 (number 1 was Hitler himself). When Heinrich Himmler became Reichsführer-SS a few years later, he discovered to his horror that Maurice had a Jewish great-grandfather, a stage actor and later Hamburg theatre director named Charles Maurice Schwartzenberg. Himmler tried to expel Maurice, but to his horror, Hitler stood by his old friend and issued a letter declaring him and his brothers to be Ehrenarier (Honorary Aryans).

[****] Rigg — whose book was widely cited by enemies of the Jewish people — appears to have had no such animus himself but to have been influenced by a family history, and eventually converted to Judaism himself. I have read the book, which was an interesting work but overplayed its case, and fell far short of the rigor of academic history. I was not entirely surprised to learn later he had been denied tenure. “Avtalion used to say: Scholars, be careful with your words, lest you lead your pupils to a place of evil waters, and they drink from it and die, and thus the Name of Heaven will be desecrated.” (Pirkei Avot 1:11)

FBI seized Trump’s passports; Mar-A-Lago board game; Afghanistan one year after

(a) Tim Pool reports that the FBI, during their bizarre search at Mar-A-Lago, they confiscated three passports.

Apparently, passports can be seized without a warrant if the subject is deemed a “flight risk”.

So was this a fishing expedition, where under the pretext of looking for “missing” archival material they were looking for something, anything, that could be used in the Congressional J6 show trial?

Or, as Tim speculates (not in these words), “poisoning the well” for the November midterms — “don’t vote for the people Trump endorsed, he’s a spy, because FBI raid”.

Or is it a distraction from the Biden bubatron‘s ever more disastrous imploding (p)residency?

How about “all of the above”?

Victor Davis Hanson, normally quite measured, speaks of “Soviet tactics to crush political opponents”, and adds:


We’re afraid in the short-term, but in long-term they believe they’re morally superior to America and therefore any means necessary or justifiable for their morally superior ends. Right now, we don’t have the rule of law in Washington.

Will these tactics backfire, as people will identify with Trump’s quote: “They’re not after me but after you — I’m just in the way”.

(b) Humor is the best defense? Seen on Facebook:

Garvey Russ2d  

It may be hot outside, but it’s not too early to think about Christmas. Here’s a great gift idea for the kids. The official Mar-A-Lago FBI Raid Set comes complete with dozens of secret places to hide classified documents, plus over 30 FBI agent action-figures to kick in doors & plant incriminating evidence, and 12 news reporters to get the story wrong…… It’s both historical & educational.

(c) And meanwhile, one year after the beyond-pitiful, beyond-shameful, beyond-shambolic withdrawal from Afghanistan, AP reports at length on how people are hungrier than ever… without even once mentioning the five-letter word “Biden”. AntiDemocrat Party [AP] operatives with party bylines.

(d) And via NotTheBee, a very interesting sign of the times.

Electoral shake-up in Israel projected to lead to… more gridlock

I haven’t been following Israeli political developments much recently: while there is always a lot of noise about them in our media, the signal-to-noise ratio seemed smaller then ever.

For the past few days, we were at a (semi)private medical center for elective surgery on Mrs. Arbel. In the break room a TV was blaring that I couldn’t ignore: most of the content was obituaries to one of the founding fathers of Israeli rock and pop: singer, pianist, and songwriter Zvika Pick z”l, who had suddenly and unexpectedly died of cardiac arrest. (He had had a stroke several years ago that forced him to relearn Hebrew from scratch — not many people here understand his first language, Polish — but had recovered well enough that he again could perform live.)

Then the subject changed. I had somehow missed that two of the “anti-Netanyahu coalition” parties — the centrist “Blue and White” (kachol ve-lavan)led by former IDF Chief of Staff and current Defense Minister Benny Gantz, and the Likud breakaway slate “New Hope” (tikva chadasha) led by Justice Minister Gideon Saar) had merged. Now in addition, another former IDF Chief of Staff, Gadi Eisenkot [*], has joined them and the new list will be called HaReshima HaMamlachtit, which would be most accurately translated as “the statesmanlike list” but which briefly went by the English-language moniker “the State Party”, before they settled on the National Unity Party.



PR image quoted from JPOST article

According to the latest polls (caveat emptor/buyer beware) commissioned by the various Israeli TV channels, the pro-Netanyahu bloc (including the “ultra-Orthodox” parties Shas and United Torah Judaism) will be the stronger, yet fall short of the 61 Knesset seats required for an absolute majority: they would need to either attract the moderate-Islamist Ra`am of Mansour Abbas (sitting with his secular Arab nationalist and “Jewish” “former” Communist competitor the Joint List would be electoral suicide for either bloc) or get a party to defect from the anti-Netanyahu bloc.

Conversely, the latter is only predicted to poll about 51 MKs without Ra`am, and 56 including it. Naftali Bennett quit politics; his party, now led by his secular-nationalist female counterpart Ayelet Shaked, is predicted not to cross the electoral threshold (de facto 4 MKs). The latter accounts for most of the difference.

If Netanyahu were to retire tomorrow, there would be a Likud-led government pretty much the day after tomorrow. But none of the former Netanyahu associates now leading the anti-Netanyahu factions still trust a single word that comes out of his mouth.

So I expect more gridlock after a pointless election. One trial balloon being floated was a rotating prime ministership, with either Yair Lapid (currently caretaker PM) or Gideon Saar going first and Netanyahu as alternate PM, then changing places after 2 years. Such rotations have a history in Israel: after Menachem Begin’s “I cannot go on” nervous breakdown[**], Shimon Peres (for Labour) and Yitzchak Shamir (for the Likud) alternated as PMs for a national unity coalition.

More recently, Netanyahu and Benny Gantz were supposed to go first and second, respectively — then Netanyahu triggered early elections by forestalling the passing of a budget before the deadline, so he would not have to keep his promise.

Interesting times ahead…

ADDENDUM: unrelated to the above, Putin wants closer relations with North Korea. I mean, how cartoonish can he get?

[*] Being an amateur linguist, I couldn’t make sense of a name that in German literally would mean “iron dung”. As it turns out, his parents actually immigrated from Morocco and the real family name is Azencot, which means “deer” in the Amazigh (“Berber”) language — but they affected the pseudo-German spelling so the name would look more Ashkenazi… (An alternative would have been to Hebraize it to Tzvi, ben-Tzvi, or Naftali.)

In case you wonder what it is with deer, lions, wolves, and bears in Jewish names: these derive from the dying blessing of Jacob to his twelve sons (the patriarchs of the twelve tribes) in Genesis 49. The lion (Aryeh) is Yehuda/Judah, the wolf (Ze’ev) is Binyamin/Benjamin, the deer (Tzvi) is Naftali. Issachar was originally a “donkey, bearing strong burdens” — but because of the other associations of the said animal 🙂 a bear (Dov) was substituted over time.

[**] Only part of the reason for Begin’s (z”l) breakdown was the First Lebanon War turning into a quagmire after — so his son Benny Begin would claim — Ariel Sharon z”l turning what was meant to be a limited anti-PLO operation into a grandiose regime change plan that blew up big time.
The other main reason was the death of Begin’s wife Aliza, to whom he was deeply devoted.

Looking around: New map of the US revealed (satire); China’s banking system near collapse?; children of CCP officials brag on social media about how rich daddy gets from corruption; Russian airline Aeroflot cannibalizing almost-new Airbus A350 for spare parts

(a) Harsh, but fair (from Powerline’s Week in Pictures):

Also there:

Some derpseals are claiming Merrick Garland is being attacked because he’s Jewish. Ace of Spades said in response he didn’t even have an idea, since the name Merrick Garland “is so WASP he could be a character in Bonfire of the Vanities“.

My advice to Merrick Garland is the age-old wisdom: “A Jew can be an idiot, but it’s not a thou shalt commandment”.

(b) This channel sounds a bit alarmist, but I suspect this claim is closer to the truth than what the CCP regime is claiming: namely, that the Chinese banking system is close to collapse.

(c) The flipside of the “lie flat” phenomenon in China is apparently social media “influencers” who are children of government and CCP (BIRM) officials bragging about their monstruously expensive lyxury clothes, watches, lifestyle,… while bragging “my father gets more in a day from corruption than each of you suckers will earn in a year”.

Gee, I have no idea why people would get the idea the system is hopelessly rigged… and start “lying flat” (i.e., move to a minimal expenditure and labor lifestyle)….

(d) Meanwhile in Russia, flag carrier airline Aeroflot is starting to cannibalize planes for spare parts (including a basically brand-new Airbus A350).

ADDENDUM: UC system introducing loyalty oaths to the DIE (fauxversity, exclusion, and iniquity “diversity, inclusion, and equity”) religion? (Via Instapundit.)

ADDENDUM 2: are Arab youth views on Israel changing as Iran’s proxies increasingly reveal themselves as the banu sharmuteh they are?

Sabbath musical delight: Scarlatti sonatas played by Wolfram Schmitt-Leonardy

I had never heard of this performer, but this showed up in my YT feed. I was very pleasantly surprised by some of the interpretations. Judge for yourself.

Harpsichordist and composer Domenico Scarlatti (son of the Italian baroque composer Alessandro Scarlatti) was born in the “annus mirabilis” of classical music, 1685, like Händel and Bach. He wrote for various instruments and ensembles, but is today mostly known for his 555 keyboard sonatas, most of them written in his capacity as keyboard tutor to the Infanta Barbara of Portugal (later Queen-Consort of King Ferdinand VI of Spain), by all accounts not just an avid music lover but an unusually talented keyboardist herself. Scarlatti tutored her from age 9 or 10 until his death (one year before hers).

The above album contains some of his best-known and some of his early sonatas.

Have a nice weekend and Shabbat shalom!

China fired missiles into… Japanese maritime territory; Garland disowning Mar A Lago raid; “Islamophobic” attack turns out to be internecine violence

(A) Many people are worried that the CCP regime will try to invade Taiwan. As I’ve blogged here before, actually trying this might give the Chinese military a major case of indigestion, on the scale of the USSR invading Finland. But China Insights points out that China has actually been firing missiles into… Japanese maritime territory. (Not territorial waters, but the economic exploitation zone.) Also, diplomatic relations between the two countries seem to be at an all-time low.

I continue to see this type of saber-rattling as meant for domestic consumption — as a distraction from the progressive crumbling of the economic house of cards that the CCP has been building.

As for Pelosi: as much as I despise her, it seems that (for whatever reasons) she has been fairly consistent on China. She may be an awful human being and a “party über Alles” politician, but unlike some of the bong water drinkers in the “Democratic” party, she can read an electoral map as well as anyone, and she knows she’ll be out as Speaker of the House in November. So, while I would not discount more nefarious motives, she may well be trying to leave some sort of foreign policy legacy before she retires. Who knows…

(B) The bizarre FBI raid on Trump’s mansion: John Sexton (via Insty) reports that either Garland didn’t sign off on it, or that his underlings are trying to protect him from the blowback by falsely claiming he didn’t. The source is blaming FBI director Christopher Wray, ironically himself a Trump appointee.

Meanwhile, Fox Business had a former FBI assistant director on who explains that such a raid would have to go through so many levels of review that it would only be possible if “the highest levels” (read: the FBI director) signed off on it. He discusses (without naming the people involved) a previous case where a Congressman (D) [during a GOP administration] failed to return some archival material, a raid was executed, and the material had to be placed in escrow with a Federal judge so no unrelated material would be released. He does not understand why the FBI director would have signed off on this raid, given the “terrible optics”.

Desperate pressure to come up with something, anything to not make the Jan. 6 hearings look like the clown show they are? Or to generate a distraction from the Abu Hunter administration’s miserable failures, and at least mitigate the losses?

Judging from reactions on the ‘net, Trump couldn’t have hoped for a better (unintentional) in-kind campaign donation.

(C) Epic narrative fail: Abu Hunter and Klueless Kackling Kamala condemn “Islamophobic hate crime” — but the “Islamophobic” killer turns out to be a fellow Muslim, with the typical Zionist-white supremacist name Muhammad Syed, and any “hate crime” to be part of Sunni-Shiite internecine feuds.