Monday, May 27, 2019

Guilt - in Germany and at Home

Dear B., 

Today Karen and I walked around Jefferson Barracks National Cemetery, and saw flags on every single grave, this being Memorial Day.  I snapped a photo of one of the tombstones of an Unknown Solider as well as the Memorial to the Confederate Dead.  And I thought of how we are always somehow fighting evil - or giving in to it.

And I thought more about World War II, about the Nazis and Eric Voegelin's great book Hitler and the Germans.  Voegelin is very apt in his criticism of the German churches, both Catholic and Protestant, serving as accessories to the crimes the Nazis committed.

You must remember, for example, that the Einsatz commandos— who, to make Lebensraum for Germans, perpetrated mass murder on the civilian population in Poland in order to exterminate Poles—
were 22 percent Catholic. Yet no representative of the German Catholic Church, and even less any representative of the German Evangelical Church, told any of these members of the SS (if they
themselves did not know that already), who very happily still remained members of the church, that one was not allowed to shoot people dead.

These murderers were not only "very happily still" members of the Church, but, presumably, being given communion and receiving it.  No one reminded them that they were not allowed to shoot people dead, and fifty years or so later, no US bishops reminded their priests that they were not allowed to rape little boys.

I know, that sounds harsh.  It is.  To avoid giving the act the right term is to fall into what Voegelin calls "The Buttermilk Sydnrome" - and is ultimately to become an accessory to these crimes yourself.

Voegelin's rhetoric rises at one point.  He points out who the accessories to these crimes were (note that this very much applies today, for to enable abuse, as the bishops did; to cover it up, as the bishops did; to put the criminals in a new parishes where they could rape again; as the bishops did, is to be an accessory to the crime.)

To really get to the bottom of this question, one must introduce a concept, from Anglo-Saxon law, I believe. That is the concept of accessory before the fact, during the fact, and after the fact. I do not know if there is a corresponding legal expression in German for “accessory,” the one who aids and abets. More concretely: one who, being absent at the time a crime is committed, yet assists, procures, counsels,
incites, encourages, engages, or commands another to commit it, is accessory before the fact and just as punishable as the one who in fact committed the crime.
 “During the fact” is less interesting, but “after the fact” means: one who, having full knowledge that a crime has been committed, conceals it from the authorities, or conceals the person who committed the crime or protects him from conviction, is accessory after the fact. If you apply this concept of accessory after the fact, all the [post-war German] judges who pronounced their verdicts [acquitting the war criminals], which I have just read out to you, would be accessories after the fact and, by English law, should be hanged.
This consciousness, that crime is a social matter and not necessarily a matter of individual persons, is important. Those persons who create the environment where the crime occurs and who af-
ter the crime preserve this environment so that these crimes are concealed through falsification, glossing over, distortion of legal concepts, discovery of new legal concepts that do not exist in positive law at all, such as the necessity of acting under orders—those
persons participate to the same degree in the crimes that arouse immediate attention: for example, murder.
And if you reflect on this, then you will understand when Hannah Arendt in her study of the Eichmann trial says that there is no German organization that is not criminally involved in the deeds of National Socialism by standing beside and looking on, without saying a word.
Or through appeasing statements, for example,
through the ecclesiastical ideas I have just read for you, repeatedly advocated by church representatives, that one must not lead a man
into a conflict of conscience by drawing his attention to the fact that he was really committing a crime. Or by spoiling the language and by introducing, instead of concepts, topoi that have nothing to do with reality, as is quite usual in German jurisprudence, thus
making it impossible to understand what law and justice is.
All of these people are accomplices. I have forgotten nobody.
Remember also the generals, particularly if you read these things in Hitler’s Table Talks, which Schramm published. In the last year of the war, when everyone knows the war is lost, field marshals like Keitel and Jodl sit together with Hitler for these evening conversations and let him give them the orders for the next day. Knowing that the war is lost, but faithful to the Führer’s order, the next day some 100,000 men will be sent into battle and must die—only because these generals are degenerate types, not because of Hitler alone. So, one must get that straight in one’s mind, this participation, this involvement, this sympathy.
And now note what he says about something that we are experiencing today, in the Soft Totalitarianism of Political Correctness, especially at our universities ... 
Or the professors—I will not here, for heaven’s sake, defend the professors. When in the early 1930s, after Hitler had come into power, a whole series of professors, not only Jews, were relieved
of their posts, none of the others, who were not removed, ever refused to occupy with pleasure one of the posts vacated through this dismissal. Since I was myself dismissed in 1938, I have always
a particularly keen eye for people who became tenured professors in Germany after 1933. So, there is this kind of aiding and abetting; one always goes along, there is no one who offers resistance and
says: “No, I won’t do that. Whoever is dismissed, I won’t take that place.” That does not happen.

Thus, this kind of cooperation is participation in crime, which falls under the notion of accessory. The system cannot maintain itself if people in individual situations do not cooperate but offer resistance on moral grounds. Where that does not happen, we have precisely the condition of moral degeneration.
And I know, I know.  You are tired of hearing me go on and on about the "Scandal".  But this applies, as I said, to our own soft totalitarianism in the culture at large, as well as to whatever Trump is allowed to get away with (yes, I know, Malcolm still likes Trump, but to wink at the shredding of the constitution is to be an accessory to it - and you can tell him I said that).

And I am convinced that the Sex Scandal in the Church is just one symptom of this pneumopathology or moral degradation, common to the bishops, the priests and the laity alike - as well as to the secular society at large.  The same sickness that gives us homilies and Masses that are lame and contrived, that gives us icky and self-indulgent music at Mass, that gives us pro-abortion politicians and "remarried" Catholics blithely being given and receiving communion is the same sickness that lazily turns over and smiles when the altar boys are being buggered.

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