Thursday, July 12, 2012

History Nerd Strikes Again! But there are Hitler jokes..

Ok, back on Nuremberg for a bit this morning (what a way to start the day, right?).
For those of you thinking this is going to be boring and you want some everyday levity from my life, well all I can tell you is suck it up.
Just read this. You can put up with a bit of useful history on my blog sometimes, in exchange for my flaky posts and my general charming demeanor (ha. ha.).
Plus there are pictures and my stinging sarcastic jokes...and you might even learn something!

So...Nuremberg Trials.

To hold these monsters for their crimes, and provide punishment for them, it had to be proven that they not only knew what the Nazi party was carrying out on a larger scale (i.e. the attempted extermination of European Jewry), but that they helped it along in some manner.
Not an easy task, considering all of the 22 Nazi defendants plead not guilty.

Of course their declared "innocence" largely revolved around their hiding behind their "orders."  Basically this meant that under the German military code itself, a Nazi (commander or subordinate) could not escape blame or consequence if he carried out any kind of order he knew to be illegal.
Now the issue was proving that they knew their actions were illegal and performing them anyway.

Justice Jackson even stated at the beginning of the trials:
"The charter recognizes that one who had committed criminal acts mat not take refuge in superior orders nor in the doctrine that his crimes were acts of state."

The next step to busting these Nazis was crucial.
And awesome.
The prosecution did their research and knew their history.
Cartoon depicting the Treaty of Versailles-- the Allies executing Germany

They started with the Treaty of Versailles, the crucial peace treaty ending World War I, which essentially screwed the shit out of Germany.
Germany had to accept responsibility for starting the war, disarm, give up a bunch of their land, and pay reparations (the equivalent of about $440 BILLION dollars today, in American currency).
Man, they were spanked HARD.
The T.of V. was essentially the Allies having their revenge on Germany, which is why it was crucial that the same stance NOT be adopted in the Nuremberg Trials.

Germany didn't forget it, which is why the extremely punitive T.of V. is often held accountable as a big reason for WWII.

The prosecution at Nuremberg focused on the psychological effect this treaty had on the German people. It was devastating! And the new borders redrawn by it were perhaps not as effective or considerate as they could be, and were essentially an invitation to future friction.
In other words, a recipe for disaster.
Germans were unhappy prior to WWII; their economy was in a state of collapse and people were starving because the awful inflation made food ridiculously overpriced. Farmers had to guard their crops to prevent stealing.  There were uprisings. The Weimar Republic was struggling, to say the very least.
There was a period of relative stability in the mid to late 1920s, but when the American stock market crashed in '29, it took Germany down with it, giving Nazis their chance.
Hitler became Chancellor in 1933 and a month later, the Fire occurred.
The Reichstag in Berlin housed the German Parliament and it was the perfect opportunity for Hitler.
Did Hitler plan the fire himself? Most signs point to yes. Reichstag
Clever move, Adolph...
Yes, the toothbrush moustache is MUCH more becoming.

Think of the U.S.S. Maine, the Lusitania, Gulf of Tonkin incident, etc. This Reichstag Fire was Hitler's version of these--a shock and distraction that he manipulated to his advantage.
He blamed the Communists and in the resulting hysteria, BOOM.
Hello Hitler in power.

And people thought he was the bomb diggity. They were like "This guy is so prideful, he loves Germany! He is a really good speaker, an expansionist, and is promising me all of these badass things, namely food and money! Plus is name is Adolph and he has a wicked moustache. Count me in!"

And then the dictatorship, and the spoils system, and lots of horrifying things.
Hitler could do no wrong because if h did, he could legalize it.
Until we arrive at the Final Solution and...well, you know the rest.
Which brings us back to Nuremberg.

What a sick bastard.

Within the first month of the trial, the prosecution showed a film in the courtroom of liberated concentration camps and the horrors within.  Some of the Nazis acted truly shocked by it, but not Hermann Goring. Man, what a prick.  He is my most-despised out of all these dudes.
He was Hitler's successor and a drug addict (not the best combination).
During the 218 day trial, he tried to influence the testimony of the other defendants, and often laughed in the courtroom. He believed the film of the concentration camp was not real and later said "...they showed that awful film, and it just spoiled everything," as if before then the trial for his life had been a pleasant picnic.  Ew.
When he testified he justified German rearmament and seizing territories as necessary to the expansion of the Third Reich. And talked at length about his devotion to Hitler.
And he had the balls to claim that he didn't think the anti-Jewish measures he participated in were going to go so far as genocide--he just thought Jews would be eliminated from the business and government world. Whoops-a-daisy! A simple mistake anyone could make, right?

The crappiest part of Goring's story is that he was sentenced to death by hanging for his war crimes, but hours before his execution he somehow got hold of a standard Nazi issue cyanide capsule and killed himself, depriving his enemies the satisfaction of taking his life themselves. What does it mean?
Why did he wait until he had been sentenced to kill himself? Why didn't he, like defendant Robert Ley, commit suicide before the trial even began? They still haven't determined who brought him the cyanide capsule, though it is popularly believed to be a daft guard that thought he was fetching some medicine from Goring's suitcase.  What does it mean??

Well this history nerd blog has taken a turn and I haven't entirely covered the bases I set out to cover, but whatever. I know most people won't read this (shoutout to my devoted history nerd bestie, Miss Torie) and to be honest, it is a bit of a downer.  Can I help it if this fascinates me?
If it has intrigued you even the slightest, check it out! Do some reading on the Nuremberg Trials.
Everyone is a bit obsessed with WWII and a lot of Nazi information has become common knowledge, but at the end of the war it kind of drops off--people don't look at the consequences, namely these trials, and they are missing out (as twisted as that understand what I mean don't you?).  Educate yourself, friends!

So now for the levity you've been seeking!

And the gratuitous Downfall parody...

This one is pretty damn hysterical, especially the ending.
Can you imagine how Hitler would have reacted if he had realized he would become a never-ending historical joke?

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