Why Self Loves Warlocks and Werewolves and What Not: CLOCKWORK PRINCE, Chapter 11 (“Wild Unrest”)

First of all, self didn’t get a wink of sleep last night.

Second, writing is hard work. VERY VERY hard work.

Third, just see how you’d like reading 600 pages of The Third Reich of War (The chapter self is on describes how rich Hermann Goring was: he owned 10 villas, all of which were crammed with expensive artwork, and all of which were subsidized at German taxpayers’ expense. Just a few pages before, self read how a Jewish nurse at Auschwitz accompanied her son voluntarily to the gas chamber, during one of the last waves of gassings at the camp: October 1944)

So self hardly needs to explain why she goes for a little fantasy now and then. (How very forward-thinking of her to bring along her copies of Clockwork Prince and Clockwork Princess to the UK! She usually isn’t that pro-active!)

Anyhoo, Clockwork Prince, which most readers seem to think is “Jem’s book.” NOT!

While our boy Will Herondale is dreadfully discomposed, or disoriented, or whatevers, by the events therein, he is most decidedly NOT out of the picture entirely!

From the Oxford Dictionary of English in Cottage # 2 at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre

From the Oxford Dictionary of English in Cottage # 2 at the Tyrone Guthrie Centre

In a side-story, a Downworlder named Ragnor Fell is sniffing around Yorkshire to dig up information for the Clave on what exactly the Herondale family is doing in Ravenscar Manor, which is owned by the Magister (aka Mortmain aka Evil Person Who Has Been Trying to Abduct Tessa Gray Since FOREVER). Ragnor reports his findings to Charlotte in a very circumlocutious (but charming) letter which reads, in part, thus:

Ravenscar itself is near a small village. I set myself up at the local inn, the Black Swan, and posed as a gentleman interested in buying property in the area. The locals have been most forthcoming with information, and when they were not, a persuasion spell or two helped them to see the matter from my point of view.

It seems the Herondales mix very little with local society.

It’s now raining! OMG, it was hot as all get-out all day. Thank you for the rain!

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

The Courts of the Third Reich: September 1943

German prisons were getting extremely overcrowded, by 1943. To alleviate the situation, “the time that was now allowed to elapse between sentencing and execution was often no more than a few hours, certainly not long enough for appeals for clemency to be prepared and considered.”

Part 5, Chapter II of The Third Reich at War (“The Beginning of the End”) p. 515:

On the night of 7 – 8 September 1943, the Ministry of Justice ordered the immediate hanging of 194 prisoners in the Plotzensee Jail in Berlin to reduce the overcrowding, which had become worse since an air raid had damaged a number of cells in the prison. After 78 had been killed, in batches of eight, it was discovered that the wrong files had been taken out of the prison office, and six of the prisoners executed had not been sentenced to death at all. Characteristically, the Ministry officials focused not on dealing, even if retrospectively, with this injustice but on finding the six other prisoners who should have been executed.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Goebbels’ Speech at the Berlin Sports Palace: 18 February 1943

And self is back to reading The Third Reich at War!

At first glance, the below text might seem like something out of a play. Mebbe Tamburlaine the Great, or Richard II.

Oh no, on second thought, the writing is just too bad. It’s just one long, hysterical shriek of racial hatred. It may be considered an example of exhortation, a rhetorical device. Delivered with a very blunt instrument.

Self will reproduce it here, minus editorial comment:

  • Behind the onrushing Soviet divisions we can already see the Jewish liquidation squads, which loom behind terror, the spectre of millions going hungry and total anarchy in Europe. Here international Jewry is once more proving itself to be the devilish element of decomposition . . .  We have never been afraid of Jewry and we are less afraid today than ever! The aim of Bolshevism is the world revolution of the Jews . . .  Germany at least does not intend to quail before this Jewish threat; rather, to meet it with the timely, if necessary total and most radical exclusion of Jewry!

— p. 280, The Third Reich at War, Part 3 (“The Final Solution”)

Victor Klemperer, Dresden, 1942

On 14 February 1942, Klemperer, aged 60 and in less than perfect health, was ordered to report for work clearing snow off the streets. He was married to a non-Jew; his wife was called a “Jew’s whore.”

They ransacked his house, taking away everything of value. Except for — the diaries.

“Desperately worried that the Gestapo would find his diaries (one is murdered for lessser misdemeanors), Klemperer started to get his wife to take them” to a “non-Jewish friend” for safekeeping.

“But,” he wrote, “I shall go on writing . . . This is my heroism. I intend to bear witness, precise witness!”

— from The Third Reich at War, Part 3 (“The Final Solution”), p. 252

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Felix Landau’s Diary: Cracow, 1941

Alternating between Clockwork Prince and The Third Reich at War, be forewarned.

Events in Cracow from the diary of Felix Landau, part of the SS’s Task Force C:

Landau watched Jews forced to dig their own graves, mused in his diary:  “What on earth is running through their minds during those moments? I think that each of them harbours a small hope that somehow he won’t be shot. The death candidates are organized into three shifts as there are not many shovels. Strange, I am completely unmoved. No pity, nothing.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Kosygin, Savior, Russian Front 1941

Self hopping all over the place in her reading. But that’s the beauty of being in an artists residency. You can read anything! Free of guilt!

As self was saying, she is hopping all over the place in her reading. And now she is back to reading The Third Reich at War, by Richard J. Evans. And Operation Barbarossa has just culminated in a vast German triumph. And there are many many pages about ordinary German soldiers wondering how the Russian peasantry can live in such filth.

Stalin has effectively recovered from the shock of being made a fool of by Hitler. And has decided, quite rightly, to shift the focus of his government from persecuting Russian ideologues to fighting Germans. In this he has the wholehearted support of the Russian people. And there is a man who pops up, seemingly from nowhere, whose name is Andrej Kosygin. His first appearance is p. 196.

Implementing a “scorched earth policy,” Kosygin decides to shift everything moveable in Russia east.

For example, using “8,000 freight cars,” he succeeded in removing the “metallurgical facilities” from Donbas to Magnitogorsk in the Urals. “Altogether,” Evans writes, “1,360 arms and munitions factories were transferred eastwards between July and November 1941, using one and a half million railway wagons . . .  What could not be taken, such as coalmines, power stations, railway locomotive repair shops, and even a hydro-electric dam on the Dnieper river, was sabotaged and destroyed. This . . . deprived the Germans of resources on which they had been counting.” German “reconnaisance aircraft reported” the massings of railway freight cars but, in an absolute failure of imagination, declared the movement “inexplicable.”

There was a corresponding forced deportation of 390,000 ethnic Germans in the Ukraine eastwards, to remove them from the theatre of war. “By the end of 1942, more than 1,200,000 ethnic Germans had been deported to Siberia and other remote areas . . .  Many of them spoke no German and were German only by virtue of remote ancestry.”

In Smolensk, to the east of the Dnieper river, Russian forces under commanders Zhukov and Timoshenko led robust counter-attacks, proving to the Germans that the Russians were “unexpectedly tough.” General Gotthard Heinrici wrote to his wife: “For the moment one has the impression that the war will go on, even if Moscow is taken, somewhere in the depths of this endless land.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Minsk, July 1941

from Richard J. Evans’ The Third Reich at War, Part 2, Chapter 3:

The success of Operation Barbarossa meant that there were many more prisoners of war than the Germans could adequately handle.

In Minsk, a civil servant reported that a camp for 140,000 prisoners of war had been set up, “almost the entire male population of the city.” The prisoners “were guarded by a company-strong unit of active soldiers. The small size of the guard unit” meant that it could “only control the camp by using the most brutal level of force . . . some of the prisoners had been without food for six to eight days.”

Self knows this is war, this is history. But the book is also a very interesting study of human psychology: The prisoners descended into “apathy”: “they only have one obsession left, to get something to eat . . . ”

That word, APATHY: Self looks up the dictionary definition. QED becaue there is a big, fat, almost-a-foot-thick hardbound copy of the Oxford Dictionary of English in her cottage in the Tyrone Guthrie Centre.

APATHY: lack of interest, enthusiasm, or concern

*     *     *     *

“Over the whole course of the war,” Evans writes (p. 185), “German forces took some 5.7 million Soviet prisoners. Official German records showed that 3,300,000 of them had perished by the time the war was over . . . ”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Operation Barbarossa, Preparations for (THE THIRD REICH AT WAR, Part 2, Chapter 2: Pathological Ambition)

Among the many pleasures of reading this magisterial book are moments of bizarre comedy such as these:

  • 45,000 anti-Communist Spanish volunteers went to join the fray on the Leningrad front, inspired by ideological commitment and sanctioned by Franco . . . the volunteers cannot have been amused when they were greeted on their arrival by a German air force band mistakenly playing the national anthem of the Republicans, their opponents in the Civil War.
  • Hungary contributed 10 battalions to the invasion of Russia, “six of which were mounted on bicycles.”

The incident described below is both tragic and comic, and also highlights the depths of Stalin’s paranoia and stubborness:

“When an ex-Communist soldier deserted the German forces on 21 June 1941 and swam across a river to tell the Russians on the other side that his unit had been given orders to invade the following morning, Stalin had him shot for spreading disinformation.”

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

Vengeance Is Sweet: More From Part 2, Chapter 1 of THE THIRD REICH AT WAR

14 June 1940

The German soldiers enter Paris, which has become a surprisingly vacant city: “Instead of the usual cacophony of car horns, all that could be heard was the lowing of a herd of cattle, abandoned in the city center by refugees passing through from the countryside farther north.”

Then the ranscaking begins.

“On Hitler’s personal orders, the private railway carriage of the French commander in the First World War, Marshall Foch, in which the Armistice of 11 November 1918 had been signed, was tracked down to a museum and, after the museum walls had been been broken down by a German demolition team, it was moved out and towed back to the spot it had occupied in the forest of Compiegne on the signing of the Armistice . . .  Taking the very same seat occupied by Foch in 1918, Hitler posed for photographs, then departed, contemptuously leaving the rest of the delegation, including Hess, Goring, Ribbentrop and the military leaders, to read out the terms and receive the signatures of the dejected French.”

Self truly appreciates Evans’s wide range of vocabulary. Take that word “dejected.” It is perfect.

Which brings to mind other types of emotional states, all beginning with the letter “d”:

  • disconsolate
  • depressed
  • distraught
  • disappointed
  • distracted
  • discombobulated
  • desperate
  • dissembling
  • damaged
  • desultory
  • diffident

Why, any and all of the above could be applied to the French at the moment of the signing of the Armistice, June 1940.

The relative ease with which Germany accomplished “the greatest military encirclement in history” led the Reich to attempt the invasion of the Soviet Union, the following year.

Hitler was so gleeful that he confided to Albert Speer, his architect, “that he had often thought of having the city razed to the ground.”

And now it is another June, 75 years later, and self is in Ireland, and it’s a beautiful summer day.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

June 1940: Richard J. Evans’s THE THIRD REICH AT WAR

About a fourth of the way through The Third Reich at War, by Richard J. Evans

Part 2, Chapter 1:  The Work of Providence

6 June 1940

German forces cross the Somme.

16 June 1940

French Prime Minister Reynaud resigns, the only person in the French government not in favor of an armistice. He is replaced by the elderly Marshall Pétain.

“Half of the 1.5 million French troops taken prisoner by the Germans surrendered after this point. Soldiers who wanted to fight on were often physically attacked by civilians.”

The French had lost 120,000 soldiers, while the Dutch and Belgians lost 10,500 and the British 5,000. Furthermore, since French troops formed the rearguard of the retreating British, Belgian and Dutch army, 40,000 French soldiers were taken prisoner at Dunkirk.

Understandably, it would take British and French foreign relations a very long time to recover.

Stay tuned, dear blog readers. Stay tuned.

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