Showing posts with label nazism. Show all posts
Showing posts with label nazism. Show all posts

21 August 2022

Book Review: The Good German of Nanking (1998) by John Rabe, edited by Erwin Wickert, *****


The personal journals of German businessman John Rabe describe the infamous 1937 Japanese siege of Nanking and his efforts to protect the Chinese from the massacre that followed, an endeavor that may have saved more than 250,000 lives.


An essential reading to understand the tragedy of the Nanking massacre but also how the soul of a man can be divided between allegiance to a murderous dictator and attachment to the values of a most sublime humanity.

Schindler of Hollywood fame saved about 1,200 lives. Giorgio Perlasca, an Italian fascist bureaucrat working in Hungary, saved over 5,000. Rabe saved a number that is two orders of magnitude bigger than Schindler's, up to 200,000 depending on estimates, but died poor and forgotten.


You can watch a documentary on John Rabe here on Youtube.

19 March 2013

Film review: Casablanca (1942), by Michael Curtiz, *****

Buy the poster by clicking here

Casablanca: a French colonial city during WW II: still governed by unoccupied Vichy France, with a daily flight to neutral Portugal, from where ships sailed regularly to America. A city easy to enter, but much harder to leave, especially if you're wanted by the Nazis. Such a man is Resistance leader Victor Laszlo (Paul Henreid), whose only hope is Rick Blaine (Humphrey Bogart), a cynical American in love with Victor's wife Ilsa (Ingrid Bergman), the ex-lover who broke his heart. Ilsa offers herself in exchange for Laszlo's transport out of the country and bitter Rick must decide what counts more...

The film is bursting with memorable quotes!


So much has been said about this film that it would be presumptuous of me to add anything. I will try to sum it all up in one question, however. Casablanca is about a fundamental choice some people have to make at some crucial point in their lives. The question this film leaves us with is a difficult one. What is more important: finding love or fighting for freedom? 

Rick, the eternal cynic who did not stick his neck out for anyone, chose to fight for freedom. I am not sure what I would have done. Perhaps I would have chosen love. Maybe I am a wimp, or maybe I take freedom too much for granted, as I never had to fight a war for it.

15 August 2012

Giorgio Perlasca (1910-1992): history, books, films.

Today is the twentieth anniversary of the death of Giorgio Perlasca. See his website in Italian. It is surprising to me that someone who, alone, has done so much for so many should still be relatively unknown, especially outside of Italy and perhaps Israel. Perlasca saved over five thousand Jews, far more that Schindler did with his "list" of Hollywood fame.

Anche in Italia indifferenza per la sua morte, con un funerale disertato dalle maggiori autorità politiche, anche locali. Un altro caso di come il nostro paese trascura i suoi eroi. Quelli veri, non quelli costruiti in televisione e in certi libri di storia.

Puoi comprare il box con due DVD in italiano qui

Unfortunately this film is not available in English.

Il film è tratto da materiale contenuto in questo libro:

Altri libri su Giorgio Perlasca sono disponibili qui.

14 February 2007

Negazionismo e libertà di opinione

La Germania, presidente di turno dell’Unione Europea per il primo semestre del 2007, ha riproposto a Gennaio, in occasione del 62° anniversario della liberazione di Auschwitz, di rendere la negazione dell’Olocausto (il negazionismo) e il mettere in mostra i simboli del nazismo, in primis la svastica, un reato in tutta Europa.  Dico ri-proposto perché l’idea fu già avanzata due anni fa, e fu bloccata proprio dall’allora governo di centro-destra italiano, d’intesa con i laburisti inglesi di Blair, in quanto lesiva della libertà di espressione. Un’opposizione non di destra o di sinistra dunque, ma di due governi che ritenevano la libertà di opinione un bene supremo ed intoccabile.

12 May 1980

Oswienczim, the Nazi Lager of Auschwitz

This morning must be the most heart rending day of my life so far, and probably for some time to come. The extermination camp of Auschwitz is now a museum and kept in pristine condition, and yet the atmosphere of death, the sinister smell and the vision of ghosts is there, inescapable for me to feel, if not to see. And the inescapable grotesque irony of the gate sign: "Arbeit macht frei", work makes you free.


Wall of executions

Cloth made with human hair 
Belongings of prisoners




We have lunch at 4:30, we could just not get away from the museum and its sister camp of Birkenau, where more people died than at the more famous Auschwitz.

Afterwards a walk downtown to do a little shopping with Ann, but all stores close at 7 and we can't get much done.

It's been an exhausting day, emotionally if not physically, and the evening is spent in the hotel room, reading and writing this diary.

16 March 1980

Lazenski park, old Jewish ghetto, change of the guard

Quite a full Sunday that starts with a tour around town in the company of our new acquaintance Jurek.

We first visit the Lazenki park, a mix of green and classic buildings and fountains. The Chopin monument is a moving permanent exhibit here.

Afterwards we move downtown and witness the very martial change of the guard at the monument of the unknown soldier.

FInally we walk around the old Jewish ghetto. There is an enormous monument to the victims of the Nazi repression there. A few people labor on the public gardens, it's the so-called Sunday voluntary work instituted by the socialist regime to show people's solidarity to the common good. The look on their faces shows something less than unbridled enthusiasm however.

In the evening another dinner with Marian and Ewa, but this time they take us out to the Krokodyl restaurant, one of the best in the old town. Another superb meal in Warsaw, repleated with red meat and good wines. I do feel a bit guilty about being able to splurge like this in the face of widespread penury meat in the city. But not enough to give it up! And it would not help anyone to give it up anyway.