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Post Hitler's Anti-Semitism
Created by John Eipper on 08/25/14 2:10 AM

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Hitler's Anti-Semitism (Massoud Malek, USA, 08/25/14 2:10 am)

On 23 August, Robert Whealey wrote:

"Hitler came to power in 1933 because of three political events. First, the defeat of the German Army in November 1918. Two, the collapse of Weimar economic system and rising unemployment from 1929 to 1933. Three, the victory of Communism in the USSR. Hitler became an anti-Semite because of social forces he did not understand. He was not a racist."

The Treaty of Versailles after World War I forced Germany to accept full responsibility for causing the war. It forced Germany to disarm, giving back Ukraine and Belarus to Bolshevik Russia; to renounce sovereignty over former colonies; and to pay reparations to certain countries. While the territorial losses and the military restrictions had already driven the proud German people to shame, the reparations clause drove them to near rage. Initial clauses placed the price at 269 billion marks for the Allied powers; an amendment passed in January 1921 reduced the amount to 132 billion marks (roughly equivalent to US $442 billion in 2014). Even at the reduced amount, it was an impossibly astronomical figure that would require Germany to continue paying until 1987 before the entire amount was paid off. The efforts to pay the war debts created a hyperinflation in Germany, and eventually it led to a complete economic meltdown. By November 1923 one US dollar was worth 4,200,000,000,000 marks.

A lecture by the German economist Gottfried Feder in 1919 drew Hitler into the Nazi party. The Party's program was mainly written by Feder, who was more concerned with economics than with biology. However, written into the party program was the stipulation that under a National Socialist government, no Jew could be a citizen of the German Reich. Here are some of the reasons why Jews were excluded:

The Jewish Rothschild family descends from Mayer Amschel Rothschild of Frankfurt, who established his banking business in the 1760s. During the 19th century, the Rothschild family possessed the largest private fortune in the world as well as the largest private fortune in modern world history. The family maintained full secrecy about the size of their fortunes and kept the fortune in the family with carefully arranged marriages, often between first or second cousins.

Jacob Schiff grew up in Frankfurt in a house owned by Rothschild family. He came to the United States with Rothschild capital and took over control of a small Jewish bank (Kuhn Loeb and Co., New York). Schiff was the primary financier of the Bolshevik Revolution. It was partly thanks to Schiff that the Bolshevik Revolution succeeded.


The Protocols of the Elders of Zion is an anti-Semitic hoax purporting to describe a Jewish plan for global domination. It was first published in Russia in 1903, translated into multiple languages (per Wikipedia).  For example, the Protocols include plans to subvert the morals of the non-Jewish world, plans for Jewish bankers to control the world's economies, plans for Jewish control of the press, and--ultimately--plans for the destruction of civilization. Henry Ford funded printing of 500,000 copies that were distributed throughout the US in the 1920s. After the Nazi Party came to power in 1933, it ordered the text to be studied in German classrooms.

Hitler blamed the Jews for both the collapse of the German economy and the Russian revolution. He believed that communism was a huge threat to Germany and should be destroyed. He thought that communism was a Jewish (Karl Marx) invention and that was another reason why he hated the Jews. He also wanted to rid Germany of the mentally and physically disabled, because they were seen as a drain on the resources.

Were all the 25 of points of the Nazi Party program racist?

"We demand an expansion on a large scale of old age welfare; substitution of a German common law in place of the Roman Law serving a materialistic world-order; freedom of religion for all religious denominations within the state so long as they do not endanger its existence or oppose the moral senses of the Germanic race; and all non-Germans, who have immigrated to Germany since 2 August 1914, be forced immediately to leave the Reich."

"The Ostjuden (Jews who migrated from Eastern Europe) must be got rid of without delay, and ruthless measures must be taken immediately against all other Jews. Such measures might be, for instance, the immediate removal of Jews from all Government employment, newspaper offices, theaters, cinemas, etc.; in short, the Jew must be deprived of all possibilities to continue to make his disastrous influence felt. In order that the unemployed Semites cannot secretly undermine us and agitate against us, they should be placed in collecting camps..."

Voelkischer Beobachter (the newspaper of the Nazi Party),

No. 20/34, March 10, 1920


JE comments:  Hitler's anti-Semitism is self-evident, but it might be instructive to revisit the Protocols of the Elders of Zion.  This fraudulent treatise has come up from time to time on WAIS.  Its purported provenance is the Paris branch of the Tsarist secret police.  My question:  Are the Protocols known, or ever cited, by Hamas?  What about the IS movement?  I presume the text has been translated into Arabic.

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  • Hitler's Anti-Semitism (Nigel Jones, -UK 08/25/14 6:39 AM)
    Since Hitler and the rise of Nazism are among my specialist subjects, I hope that Robert Whealey and Massoud Malek won't mind if I make some small corrections to their posts on the subject.

    Robert could not be more wrong or wide of the mark when he writes: "Hitler became an anti-Semite because of social forces he did not understand. He was not a racist."

    As anyone who reads Hitler's own manifesto/autobiography Mein Kampf or indeed any reputable study or biography of the man will know, Hitler was indeed a dyed-in-the-wool racist and anti-Semite (as well as anti-Czech) already during his schooldays in Linz when he stood up for German "volkisch" (racial) nationalism against the Austrian/Hapsburg patriotism instilled by (most of) his teachers.

    The tendency was confirmed when he got to Vienna in 1908 as a would-be student of art and saw Jewish migrants from the East, to whom he reacted with visceral, physical loathing, as in such passages in Mein Kampf as this: "Once, as I was strolling through the Inner City, I suddenly encountered an apparition in a black caftan and black hair locks. Is this a Jew was my first thought...but the longer I stared at this foreign face, scrutinising feature for feature, the more my first question assumed a new form: Is this a German."

    In addition, Hitler's favoured reading in Vienna was the anti-Semitic newspapers and journals published by the pan-German politician Georg von Schonerer and the Aryan racist theorist who called himself Lars von Liebenfels. Hitler also aped the views and speaking style of the anti-Semitic Burgomeister of Vienna at that time, Karl Lueger.

    Despite knowing and even admiring individual Jews such as Dr Bloch, who treated Hitler's mother during her last illness (and who Hitler permitted to emigrate to the US after the Anschluss), Hitler's deep-seated racism was reinforced by the collapse of Germany at the end of the Great War, which be blamed on Jewish profiteers, socialists and shirkers at home.

    In short, by the time he entered politics in 1919 Hitler was an ineradicable racist which, I would argue, was the major motivating force of his career.

    Massoud is slightly incorrect when he says that it was "a lecture by Gottfried Feder" that drew Hitler into the German Workers' party (forerunner of the Nazis) when he encountered it at a meeting at the Sternecker beerhall in Munich on 9/11 1919.

    Although Feder spoke at the meeting, Hitler had heard his lecture before, and, bored, was about to leave when the post-meeting discussion--in particular a pro-Bavarian independence speech by a Professor Baumann--impelled him to denounce such separatism in burning terms which so impressed the then party chairman, Anton Drexler, that he invited him to join the party and even enrolled him without Hitler's permission.

    Hitler, in fact, was uninterested in economics (Feder's speciality) and speedily sidelined both him and Drexler when he took control of the party. His racism, however, was the mainspring of his life and work.

    If either Robert or Massoud are interested in following up these questions, can I cordially invite them and any other WAISer to join "The Face of Evil," my guided tour of the sites of the Third Reich in 2015? The tour details are on www.historicaltrips.com

    As to John Eipper's question on the availability of the Protocols of the Elders of Zion forgery in the Arab world. It has indeed been translated into Arabic and is openly and widely on sale throughout the Middle East, (apart from in Israel, obviously).

    JE comments:  I still believe Robert Whealey misspoke inadvertently, but in any case, Nigel Jones has provided a lot of supporting information on Hitler's anti-Semitism.

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    • Some Hitler Questions (Robert Whealey, USA 08/25/14 2:51 PM)
      In response to Nigel Jones (25 August), Hitler did not start thinking about the "Jewish Question" in 1923. Most people in Germany held a wide variety attitudes toward the Jewish people, as did gentiles and Christians in the UK and the US. The "social forces"' included: World War I, newspapers Hitler read, theories about Christianity and paganism the artist discussed.

      Who were Hitler's relatives in his father's and mother's family? What did he learn about Jews in Vienna? Why did he flee Vienna to Munich in 1913? When he was in the army in France, how much did the Army's "stab in the back" thesis seem plausible? Why did he accept pay from the Army to spy on Beer Hall revolutionary discussions? Why did he join the NSDAP rather late in 1920-1921? What did he think of Lenin's coup March 1917?

      The Munich Beer Hall was an unplanned act of desperation. The wild inflation of 1922 was an opportunity for Hitler to develop a more coherent ideology. Mein Kampf was mostly written by Rudolf Hess.

      JE comments:  I'm still convinced by Nigel Jones's argument that Hitler's anti-Semitism was already "dyed in the wool" by 1919.  Probably earlier.  As for Robert Whealey's Hitler questions, I can answer at least one of them:  Hitler learned nothing about the Jewish people while in Vienna.  Also, the "stab in the back" thesis was widespread among Germany's Western Front troops as early as the Armistice itself (1918).  It would be interesting to determine when it acquired the "Jewish treachery" component.

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      • Answers to Hitler Questions (Nigel Jones, -UK 08/26/14 3:28 AM)
        Answering Robert Whealey's questions about Hitler (25 August) in the order they were posed:

        Hitler's family on both his mother's and father's side came from the Waldviertel, a poor rural area of Austria close to Bohemia. (The name Hitler, or its variations Hiedler or Huttler is--ironically given Hitler's anti-Czech feelings--of Czech origin.)

        Inter-breeding and illegitimacy among the Waldviertel's peasant population was common. Hitler's father, Alois, and his mother, Klara (Alois's third wife) were closely related. Hitler's maternal grandfather Johann Nepomuk Hiedler or his brother was Hitler's paternal great-grandfather. Doubtless this affected Hitler's views against inbreeding.

        As a result of this consanguinity, physical and mental impairment in Hitler's family was common. His mother's sister Johanna Polzl (who lived in the Hitler household) was hunchbacked and possibly schizophrenic. His first cousin Edward, son of Klara and Johanna's sister Theresia, was also hunchbacked and had a speech defect; Hitler's only surviving full sister, Paula, had what we would today call "learning difficulties." These facts may well have played a part in Hitler's extermination of physically and mentally disabled people in the Third Reich.

        Hitler was desperately worried throughout his life that he had Jewish blood. (Another indication of his early anti-Semitism.) His unmarried paternal grandmother Maria Anna Schicklgruber became pregnant in 1836 at the age of 41 and gave birth in June 1837 to Hitler's father Alois. She was a domestic servant in Graz in the home of a family called Frankenberger, whose 19-year-old son was believed responsible for Maria Anna's pregnancy. As a result the Frankenbergers paid an allowance to Anna until her son Alois was 14. Hitler deputed his lawyer Hans Frank to investigate his ancestry, and after the Anschluss did what he could to obliterate his family records. Subsequent research has revealed that the Frankenbergers were not, in fact, Jewish, but Hitler did not know this. Maria Anna, at the age of 47, subsequently married an itinerant millworker Johann Georg Hiedler (who may have been Alois's actual father), and Alois changed his surname from his mother's Schicklgruber to Hiedler, or Hitler. This was fortunate for the Nazis, as "Heil Schicklgruber" does not have such a ring to it as "Heil Hitler."

        Hitler fled Vienna for Munich in 1913 in order to escape compulsory conscription in the Austro-Hungarian Imperial army. This was because he despised the Hapsburg Empire, believing it was an impediment to his goal of uniting all Germans in a single state. He was brought back to Austria as a draft dodger, but failed his army medical and returned to Munich. Soon afterwards the Great War broke out and Hitler immediately enlisted as a volunteer in the Bavarian 16th reserve Infantry regiment, receiving permission from Bavaria's King Ludwig to do so as an Austrian citizen.

        Hitler was a fervent and sincere believer in the "stab in the back thesis" (the Dolchstosslegende) i.e., that Germany's army had not been defeated in World War One but had been betrayed by Jewish profiteers, and by socialists and Bolsheviks at home. He rarely went on leave from the front, not having any family to visit, and when he was given medical leave after being wounded in the thigh he was profoundly shocked by the spirit of defeatism that he found at home.

        After his war service Hitler regarded the army as both his family and his home. He therefore stayed in it in 1919, living in barracks in Munich. Jobless himself, this also gave him pay and a purpose. He became a political agent for a special unit set up by the army's officers to counter Bolshevism in the army and to spy on Munich's myriad political groups. (The officers also recognised Hitler's abilities as a speaker and used him to counter revolutionary tendencies among his comrades.)  It was in this capacity as a spy that he went along on September 11, 1919 to observe the tiny German Workers' party which he subsequently turned into the National Socialist German Workers' Party (NSDAP or Nazis).

        He did not join the NSDAP, as Robert states, "rather late in 1920-21."  He joined what was then still called the DAP in September 1919 (or rather he was enrolled in it by its chairman Anton Drexler), and quickly became its most prominent member because of his speaking and organisational ability.

        Lenin's coup was in October/November 1917, not as Robert says, in March 1917. There is some evidence that Hitler was prepared to co-operate with German Communists in the revolutionary period November 1918-May 1919 when the far left seized control of Munich. (There is film footage which appears to show Hitler, wearing a red armband, marching in the funeral cortege of the Jewish revolutionary leader Kurt Eisner after his assassination.)  Although this is disputed, it is certain that after the right-wing Freikorps forces seized Munich in May 1919 and ended its brief experiment of Bolshevik rule (led by Jewish professional revolutionaries sent there by Lenin), Hitler reverted to his natural right-wing proclivities and may have denounced revolutionaries to the authorities.

        He was probably impressed by Lenin's violent seizure of power, but was certainly even more so by Mussolini's successful "March on Rome" in October 1922, which had a major influence on his decision to attempt to emulate it in the Beer Hall putsch just over a year later.

        Mein Kampf was not "mostly written by Hess" as Robert states. It was dictated by Hitler to Hess (Hitler disliked the act of writing), and to another prisoner in Landsberg, Emil Maurice, and bears Hitler's unmistakable personal stamp. There are large chunks of Hitler's autobiography in the book which would have been unknown to Hess, although he may have had some input in the passages relating to Geopolitics, one of Hess's many pet obsessions.

        JE comments:  Extremely informative, especially to realize how the Nazi horrors were much the product of Hitler's personal pathology.  And imagine how close Shicklgruber came to signifying, to borrow Nigel Jones's term, the Face of Evil (http://www.historicaltrips.com ).

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        • Who Was Hitler's Grandfather? (Massoud Malek, USA 08/28/14 1:45 PM)
          Again, I would like to thank Nigel Jones for his extremely informative posts on Hitler (most recently, 26 August).

          Sir Ian Kershaw is a British historian whose work has chiefly focused on the period of the Third Reich. He is regarded by many as one of the world's leading experts on Adolf Hitler and Nazi Germany, and is particularly noted for his monumental biography of Hitler.

          Five years after Hitler's father Alois Schicklgruber was born, his mother, Maria Anna Schicklgruber, married Johann Georg Hiedler, who is assumed to be Alois's real father. Hitler's father Alois changed his last name from Schicklgruber to Hitler (not Hiedler), when he was almost 40 years old, 19 years after Georg Hiedler's death. The parish priest entered in the empty box for the father's name "Georg Hitler." It is odd that Georg never acknowledged his paternity while he was alive and married to Maria.

          Georg's younger brother, Johann Nepomuk Hiedler (baptized as Huttler), who had only daughters, raised Alois as his own son. When Nepomuk died, his daughters were told that there was nothing to inherit. But six months later Alois Hitler bought a house next to Nepomuk property. Is it possible that Nepomuk, who was already married, not Georg, was the actual father of Alois and Georg had rejected Alois, the son of his brother, when he was married to Alois' mother?

          The third possibility is that Adolf Hitler's grandfather was Jewish. Rumors to that effect first circulated in Munich cafes in the early 1920s, and were fostered by sensationalist journalism of the foreign press during the 1930s. It was suggested that the name "Hutttler" could be traced to a Jewish family called Hitler in Bucharest, and even claimed that his father had been sired by Baron Rothschild, in whose house in Vienna his grandmother had allegedly spent some time as a servant.

          Nigel wrote (26 August):

          "Maria Anna Schicklgruber became pregnant in 1836 at the age of 41 and gave birth in June 1837 to Hitler's father Alois. She was a domestic servant in Graz in the home of a family called Frankenberger, whose 19-year-old son was believed responsible for Maria Anna's pregnancy. As a result the Frankenbergers paid an allowance to Anna until her son Alois was 14."

          According to Kershaw, there were no Jews at all in the whole of Styria at the time, since Jews were not permitted in that part of Austria until the 1860s. A family named Frankenreiter did live there, but was not Jewish. There is no evidence that Maria Anna was ever in Graz, let alone was employed by the butcher Leopold Frankenreiter. The son of Leopold Frankenreiter and alleged father was ten years old at the time of Alois's birth.

          Klara Polzl, Adolf Hitler's mother, was the eldest daughter of Johanna, Nepomuk's eldest daughter. The official version always declared Johann Georg to be Adolf's grandfather. The evidence is insufficient to know. In any case, as regards Adolf the only significance is that, were Nepomuk his grandfather, the family descent would have been even more incestuous than if his grandfather had been Johann Georg: for Nepomuk was also the grandfather of Adolf's mother.

          About Adolf Hitler's faith:

          Joseph Goebbels, who was excommunicated, wrote in 1941 that Hitler "hates Christianity, because it has crippled all that is noble in humanity." But in Mein Kampf, he claimed that he fulfilled the will of the Christian God and has been chosen by providence. This was of course before he came to power. There are countless confusing reports on Hitler's faith, so I would like to ask Nigel, a few questions: Is it true that Hitler's long-term aim was the eradication of not only Jews but also Christianity in Germany? Was Hitler deist or atheist? Did he believe in the afterlife? Why did the Catholic Church look away during the Holocaust? Is it possible that Hitler convinced the Pope that the extermination of Jews was a revenge for Jesus Christ's crucifixion?

          Main Source:

          Hitler: 1889-1936 Hubris, by Ian Kershaw :


          JE comments:  I have nothing to add on Hitler, but Nepomuk is from John of Nepomuk (Nepomucene), the 14th-century martyr and saint.  The surname came from the village of that name in the present-day Czech Republic. 

          Nepomuk/Nepomucene never gained traction as a given/"Christian" name in the Anglo world, but Nepomuceno is fairly common in Latin America.  There is also a Brazilian town Nepomuceno in Minas Gerais.

          Nepomuk, anyone?  Prof. Hilton was fascinated by names:


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          • Nepomuk/Nepomuceno (David Fleischer, Brazil 08/30/14 4:15 PM)
            Massoud Malek's post of 28 August struck home for me. When I first came to Brazil as a Peace Corps Volunteer in 1962, I was assigned to work with rural extension in the state of Minas Gerais. One of my three towns was Nepomuceno. Minas Gerais also has another town named São João Nepomuceno.

            JE comments: This is a reference to Hitler's maternal great-grandfather, Nepomuk Hiedler (possibly also AH's paternal grandfather).  I had found Nepomuceno, Minas Gerais (Brazil) on the Internet--what a coincidence that David Fleischer actually worked there!

            Among illustrious Nepomucenos, we should also remember Juan Nepomuceno Almonte, the conservative Mexican general who fought at the Alamo, surrendered at San Jacinto, and later served under Emperor Maximilian.  I just learned on Wikipedia that Almonte, Ontario is "the only town in Ontario named after a Mexican general."  (Almont, Michigan, is allegedly also named for Almonte.  I have no idea how this happened.)

            Great to hear from David, by the way.  David asked me off-Forum if I have returned to classes at Adrian College.  I'll answer him in public:  yes, as of Monday, August 25th.  I am especially excited to be teaching a seminar on Don Quijote de la Mancha, the first time such a course has been offered at Adrian.  Someday I'll ask the WAISitudes for their thoughts, impressions, and memories of reading Quixote/Quijote.  (I guess I just asked--this semester, for me, will be my Autumn of Quijote.)

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            • Reading Quixote in Iran (Massoud Malek, USA 09/07/14 10:44 AM)
              Pure entertainment for the masses as well as for a more sophisticated audience formed an important part of the non-religious literature of the Muslim world. Badi al-Zaman Hamedani (d.1008) of Hamedan, Iran, is credited with the creation of the literary genre of Maqamat, in which a wandering vagabond or dervish makes his living by delivering with eloquence and without note or text, rhymed prose and dramatic anecdotes. Even today, you may see a dervish in Iran mesmerizing his audience with his Maqamat. Arabic literature, which was read widely in Spain, created a new literary genre in Spain and Europe, known as picaresque literature.

              I grew up in a house with no TV. Instead, my father would pay us for reading books. So I started reading books at an early age. One of my first non-Persian books was Gil Blas, a picaresque novel by the French author, Alain-René Lesage, translated into Farsi. After that I read another picaresque novel, The Adventures of Hajji Baba of Ispahan, by the British author, James Justinian Morier, published in 1824. Anyone interested in the Persian national character and Persian society, should read the book by this British diplomat who lived about seven years in Iran. By observing Persians, he was able to read their innermost thoughts. After almost two hundred years, the book has kept its freshness and its accuracy.

              Later I got interested in Greek and Indian philosophy; eventually I discovered Jean-Paul Sartre. I also loved Russian literature, and every Friday afternoon I listened to stories by Chekhov on the radio.

              When I was fifteen or sixteen, I became fascinated by Franz Kafka. In his funniest novel, Amerika, Kafka tells us how Karl, the main character, started his picaresque adventures in America, after an embarrassing sexual misadventure. I read Metamorphosis, my favorite tale, when my grandfather who was known to be able to multiply large numbers in his head, was dying of senility and Alzheimer's disease. He would tell us for example that he just came from Mecca and brought us brooms. I realized as a young boy, that after a certain age we all become Gregor Samsa. I found out later that Franz Kafka and his friend Max Brod tried to write Richard and Samuel, a novel based on Don Quixote and Sancho Panza.

              Every month we received a French Art magazine, courtesy of my father. Everybody in my family knew that I loved Paul Cézanne and Salvador Dali. One day, my older brother told me that he was reading a book by a Spanish author. The story is about a mad man by the name of Don Quixote who rides an old horse, calls himself a knight, and fights against windmills. One night an enchanter who holds a grudge against Don Quixote comes on a cloud with a dragon and takes all his books. To defeat the enchanter, Don Quixote needs a companion, so he promises a farmer that he will make him the caliph of an island with no water around it, if he leaves his wife and children to follow him in his journey. The farmer is so excited about being a caliph that he gets on his donkey and follows him.

              At once I discovered that four hundred years ago, a countryman of Dali created the first universe of absurdity; I begged my brother to finish the book as soon as possible, I even told him that I would give him half of the money that I would earn, if I could get the book within two weeks.

              Don Quixote was the only book that mesmerized me from the first page up to the last. I left an adventure on one page and stepped into a new one on the next. I felt that Cervantes was a con artist who was robbing me of my sanity by his Kafkaesque stories. Even Salvador Dali, who masterfully melted clocks in his painting, couldn't melt the helmet of Mambrino, the Moorish king, into a basin that changed a barber into a knight.

              In my book, Cide Hamete Benengeli (a fictional Moorish author created by Cervantes who wrote the adventures of Don Quixote) was an Arab by the name of Seyyed (descendent of Muhammad) Hamid Bademjan (Eggplant). I remember asking my father if he could get me a book by Seyyed Hamid Bademjan; after visiting many bookstores and talking to his educated friends, he told me that unfortunately Bademjan's books were not translated into Farsi.

              In his book Cervantes describes the metamorphosis of Alonso Quijano, a gentleman and a rational man of sound reason, into a mad man by reading books of chivalry. Unlike Gregor Samsa who remains an insect for the rest of his life, Alonso Quijano eventually returns to sanity.

              In the late 1960s or maybe early 1970s, I cut short my vacation in Geneva, and hitchhiked to Paris to see the French musical, L'homme de la Mancha, written and played by my favorite singer Jacques Brel. I don't know Spanish but I enjoyed the Don Quixote play that I saw in Buenos Aires.

              Most of these books may be downloaded free of charge from Gutenberg website.

              JE comments: A wonderful literary reflection.  And it sets the mood for my afternoon, as I'll be spending the next few hours studying DQ for tomorrow's seminar.

              I am especially grateful to Massoud Malek for being the first to respond to my invitation for WAISers to reflect on their readings (first, or subsequent) of the Cervantes masterpiece.  I look forward to other colleagues' responses.  This is my third go at the novel, and I am getting much more out of it at 50 than at 20.  Quijano himself was about 50 when he set out on his adventures.  By the standards of 17th-century Spain, he is a rather old man.

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              • Reading Quixote; Martin de Riquer and Francisco Rico (Enrique Torner, USA 09/09/14 6:52 AM)
                In response to John E's invitation to comment on Don Quixote, I have been blessed with getting to personally know some of the best scholars of this literary classic: Martín de Riquer, Francisco Rico, E.C. Riley, and Howard Mancing.

                I had the pleasure of having two daughters of Martín de Riquer as classmates in my literature courses at the University of Barcelona, and we became good friends. The first time I went to their house I was mesmerized by the amazing library that their father had amassed: first and second editions of many important classics in Spanish and French literature, including a first edition of Don Quixote that was on a lectern right by the toilet in one of their bathrooms, so you could read it while doing your necessities!

                Martín de Riquer had published a critical edition of Don Quixote, as well as the important Aproximación al Quijote, which still stands as a classic, basic reading on the novel, even though it was published in 1967. Riquer was probably among the best professors I ever had as a college student, and he was very humble and approachable.

                Francisco Rico, unlike him, was extremely arrogant, and he made you feel really stupid when you talked to him. I know a funny anecdote about him. Once, a publisher for whom I was working, went to his house to discuss a publication we were working on. Rico had a "finca" (country house) outside of Barcelona. The editor had parked outside the gate to his house, and was looking for the doorbell, but could not find it, so he opened the gate and walked in. He walked to the house entrance, and, again, could not see a doorbell. The door was ajar, so he walked inside and called out his name. He waited. A minute later, a hand coming from behind was suddenly laid on his shoulder. "What are you doing inside my house?" Rico asked in an angry voice. "I am ____, and I had an appointment to see you. I didn't see a doorbell anywhere, and the door was open, so I walked in and called you, but got no answer," the editor replied. "That's no excuse. It's unacceptable to walk inside somebody's house without permission," said Rico. Then, he grabbed him by his jacket and dragged him outside the gate. There, he brushed some vine off of the gate pillar, and showed him where the doorbell was.

                Well, amazingly, the editor didn't leave, and they still had their business meeting, but that was not a good way to start a relationship with a publisher. Now, Rico is the main editor of Crítica Publishers, which has been eaten up by a multinational. Crítica has the best collection of critical books on Spanish and Spanish-American literature. I especially recommend his Historia y Crítica de la Literatura Española, in 8 plus volumes, as well as his companion on Spanish American literature. Finally, I also recommend Introducción al Quijote, by E.C. Riley, which I translated from English into Spanish, with Riley's assistance. The Spanish translation is actually better than the original, because he made some additions and changes to it.

                JE comments: A priceless Paco Rico anecdote. His Historia y Crítica series is the Bible for budding Hispanists preparing for comprehensive exams--at least for those of us who came of age in the 1980s.  I can still remember the heft, the sober black cover, and the distinctive smell of H y C.

                A Juan de la Cuesta first edition of Quijote in the loo?  That is an example of living dangerously.  I couldn't find any first editions for sale on the 'Net, but here's a Valencia "fifth" edition from the initial year of publication (1605).  It will set you back $126,000, plus (absurdly) $11.60 for shipping and handling.  Now imagine dropping that into the toilet:


                My thanks to Enrique Torner for Chapter 2 of the WAIS "Reading Quixote" series.  Who's next?  I'd like to ask a question of Massoud Malek:  the text of Quixote refers to Muhammad as a "false prophet" on at least one occasion.  How have these passages been translated into Farsi--or Arabic, for that matter?

                And now, I'm going to return to my Quixote.

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                • Muhammad as "False Prophet" in Quixote; Don Juan of Persia (Massoud Malek, USA 09/10/14 2:21 PM)
                  In response to John Eipper's question, the reference to Muhammad as a "false prophet" was omitted in the Persian translation of Quixote. In one of don Quixote's narratives, the father of the beautiful girl wanted the Muslim king to convert to Christianity.

                  Is anyone in WAISworld familiar with Don Juan of Persia?

                  Uruch Beg was the nephew of a Persian ambassador to Europe, who converted to Christianity in Spain and changed his name to Don Juan. In 1604 he was killed in a fight. His mutilated body was eaten by dogs.

                  The book, Don Juan of Persia, is the first travel account of a Persian in Europe. Alfonso Remon helped Don Juan in the translation of his journal from Persian to Castilian. The book was published in 1604, one year before the first volume of Quixote. I suspect that Cervantes read the book. Could we conjecture that he even incorporated some passages of the book in his second volume? I read Don Juan of Persia about five years ago; it has full of inaccuracies, but it is fun to read. I felt that the book was written by a Spanish author, not a Persian.

                  A few years ago, I wrote a WAIS post saying that Don Quixote was superior to any book by Shakespeare, but I was attacked by several WAISers. In 2002, a survey of 100 famous authors conducted by the Norwegian Nobel Institute named Don Quixote the greatest book of all time.


                  JE comments:  No need to "diss" Shakespeare at the expense of Cervantes, or vice versa.  I would put Dostoevsky up there with both of them.

                  I've added Don Juan of Persia to my reading list.  As a Hispanist, I should have heard of Alfonso Remon (Ramón?), but haven't.  Can you give us more details, Massoud?

                  Next up in the "Reading Quixote" series:  Anthony Candil.  I hope the majority of WAISers are enjoying this conversation (half as) much as I am.

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                • Reading Quixote Today (Anthony J Candil, USA 09/10/14 4:05 PM)
                  What does Don Quixote mean today?

                  Don Quixote was the Spanish version in the 1600s of our Lone Ranger, and Sancho is no other than Tonto. However, I believe our American heroes were far better mounted, as Silver definitively looks nicer than Rocinante, and Tonto rode no donkey but a nice mustang.

                  By the way, does anyone recall that John Steinbeck--when traveling with his poodle Charley--named his RV Rocinante? Funny, isn't it? To a point I can imagine Steinbeck as a Californian Quixote, but poor Charley is no Sancho at all.

                  Quixotism is still a synonym for idealism, courage, noble behavior and sincerity, while there is also a high percentage of madness or foolishness in it. On the contrary, Sancho represents opportunism, corrupt behavior, pragmatism... and politics, if I am allowed to say.

                  Don Quixote has survived precisely because it represents and portrays basic human behavior, no matter within which society.

                  The problem nowadays is that there are far more Sanchos in this world than Quixotes. Or maybe it has always been like that?

                  JE comments:  I've been reminded over the last few weeks that Don Quixote (the character) was fond of picking fights with innocent people. He did it for the noblest of reasons, but society these days wouldn't put up with it. And DQ wasn't beyond giving Sancho a smack or two when he got out of line. In literature's original "bromance," shouldn't this be called domestic violence?

                  Quixotes make society more interesting, but without the Sanchos, society wouldn't work.

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                  • Reading Quixote: Sancho in Mexican Popular Culture; J. Frank Dobie (Richard Hancock, USA 09/11/14 12:54 PM)

                    El Sancho in Mexico has the meaning of "pet." To the braceros of the 1950s and '60s, El Sancho was the guy that stayed at home and took care of their wives and girlfriends. It was a common expression when I worked as the labor director of braceros in the 1950s. If you encountered a group of braceros sitting in the shade and asked them how they were, a common reply was, "Al Sancho." I don't know the origin of this name. I don't think that most uneducated Mexicans would relate it to Don Quijote. Some years ago I was listening to a Spanish radio program broadcast from Oklahoma City. The broadcaster was calling people and asking them if they were acquainted with Cervantes. If they answered correctly, they were given some free product. He must have called ten people and found that Cervantes was unknown to them. Finally, he called a man who replied with uncertainty, "Pos, no fue él quien escribió El Quijote? Incidentally, one of every four students presently in the Oklahoma City school system is Hispanic.

                    The Texas folklorist, J. Frank Dobie, wrote of a steer called El Sancho who became a pet of a Mexican woman. He stood under a mesquite tree near her home and ate all manner of food that she threw away--stale tortillas, tamales, frijoles, rice, etc. The owner of this ranch gathered El Sancho along with 1500 head of cattle and drove them up the Chisholm trail to Abilene and eventually to Wyoming. The Mexicana was sad to see El Sancho leave but delighted six months later to find him again, standing in his accustomed place under her back-yard mesquite. He had returned some 1500 miles from Wyoming to his "querencia" in south Texas. The ranch owner assured her that El Sancho would never again be trailed north, and he remained standing and lying under the mesquite until he died at the advanced age of 15 years.

                    Frank Dobie (1888-1964) was a bilingual, bicultural Texas folklorist who served as a U Texas professor and wrote some 15 books about Texas and Mexico. He was a high school teacher of my parents in Alpine, Texas, which is why I became acquainted with his work. In the early 1900s he rode horseback through much of northern Mexico and gathered information that led to his later books on Mexico and the Southwest. He was born on a ranch in the brush country south of San Antonio, and was a true transnational of the type found on both sides of the US-Mexican border.

                    JE comments:  Richard Hancock's tales of the Old West are among my favorite WAIS genres!  Here's Wikipedia on Frank Dobie, a fascinating figure.  He taught at Cambridge (UK) during WWII, and upon his return to U Texas, was dismissed for coming to the defense of a colleague who had been fired for his liberal views.


                    Put Dobie in the WAIS search engine, and you'll find several of Richard Hancock's vintage posts.  I also came across this Dobie quote cited by Randy Black (2010):  "The average PhD thesis is the transference of bones from one graveyard to another."


                    That's wisdom for the ages, Amigo Sancho.

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                  • Memories of Don Quixote (Patrick Mears, -Germany 10/08/14 3:19 AM)
                    John's reference to Don Quixote (see my post of 7 October) reminded me of his request several weeks ago for stories of how WAISers came to know Cervantes's masterpiece.

                    Just a few short comments on that: I attended a small Roman Catholic school in Flint, Michigan in the late-1950s/1960s, graduating in 1969. In 11th grade, my English teacher, Sister Mary Olympia of the Order of St. Joseph, required us to select a "classic" novel to read and report on to the class. So I selected Don Quixote, primarily because I wanted to read it and I thought that the compulsion of a mandatory book report would compel me to read it cover to cover. After I turned my selection in, Sr. Olympia said to me, "Sorry, but Don Quixote is on the list of forbidden books prescribed by the Vatican." Ok, so that was not to be, at least not then.

                    It wasn't until I first traveled to Guanajuato, Mexico, and visited the Quixote "Museum" there, which is really an art gallery, that I said to myself, "Now is the time." I picked it up and loved every page of it. This past January, I visited in Guanajuato again the Quixote museum and found it even more interesting than my first visit, which was due to my reading of the novel.

                    In between those two visits, I traveled to London and happened to be in Notting Hill during one of its weekend "sidewalk sales," for want of a better moniker. There, I came across a framed cartoon from what was obviously included in a 19th-century publication that depicted the English King at the time being bounced up and down by members of Parliament on a large cloth. There were dialogue bubbles for the various characters about the particular political issue that was the subject of the sketch. The cartoon was a parody of the scene in Quixote where Sancho Panza received the same treatment in the courtyard of a Spanish inn. I debated buying the framed cartoon, but declined, and now I am sorry that I did not do so. Thinking about that incident now, it strikes one that-- isn't such a literary cartoon rare nowadays. That absence is a loss for us.

                    JE comments:  A priceless anecdote.  Pat Mears's experience is surprising, as the Inquisitorial censors in 17th-century Spain found nothing objectionable or blasphemous in Cervantes's work.  Three of these "aprobaciones" are printed in the introduction to the second part.  Perhaps Sister Mary Olympia was a Hispanophobe.

                    Aldona, sister-in-law Justyna, and I are hoping to return to Guanajuato at year's end.  If we do, a second visit to the Museo Iconográfico del Quijote is definitely on the agenda.

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                    • Vatican's Index Librorum Prohibitorum (John Heelan, -UK 10/09/14 3:35 AM)

                      Patrick Mears's problem with getting access to Don Quixote (8 October) struck a chord with me. Coming from a strictly Roman Catholic family, in my mid-teens I recall one of my cousins--the local librarian--refusing to let me take out James Joyce's Ulysses because it was on the Vatican's Index of banned books. This set back my literary education for a couple of years. I wonder just how many literary careers were stymied or even quashed by this draconian attitude that was not discarded until 1966. The list of banned books by Enlightenment authors, philosophers and others can be seen at:


                      JE comments:  Already post-1966, I managed to check Ulysses out of the local library.  My problem was different:  no 14 year-old can understand it, and unfortunately the juicy parts are hard to find.

                      I notice the Index does not list Don Quixote.  Perhaps Pat Mears's teacher, Sister Mary Olympia, wanted to err on the side of caution.  This was the attitude of the priest and the barber when they went through DQ's library and burned most of it.

                      Speaking of literature, this year's Nobel Prize is going to be announced any minute now.

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                      • Vatican's Index Librorum Prohibitorum (Roy Domenico, USA 10/09/14 11:29 AM)
                        I was struck when I read John Heelan's post on the Catholic Index (9 October). That a librarian at a (public or a school?) library wouldn't let him see Ulysses bears out some of my own research.

                        In my work on Catholic censorship in the 1950s and '60s, I've been looking into the Index and its history.  One conclusion becomes more and more apparent--it was an entirely slipshod and mismanaged affair. The institution bans a book in Italy ... so what, it's published in Italian by a Dutch firm. The entire works of an author are banned. Why? Because the priests were too lazy to read it all. You might find one zealous priest (or librarian) in one town and a totally lax attitude down the road. Be careful in attributing any monolithic rigor to the Index!

                        JE comments: Excellent point. And in the Spanish New World, all books of "deleite" (amusement, meaning fiction in general) were banned. But does this mean people didn't read them? Haha.

                        And congratulations, by the way, to Patrick Modiano (France), this year's Nobel Laureate in Literature.  Do I know Modiano's work?  Well, I hope someone in WAISworld does...
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    • *Mein Kampf* and Hitler's "Conversion" to Anti-Semitism (Massoud Malek, USA 08/26/14 4:02 AM)
      I would like to thank Nigel Jones for his informative post on Hitler (25 August).

      As a child, Hitler was influenced by his Austrian history teacher, Leopold Poetsch, who asserted that the Aryan race was stronger, healthier, and more fit to rule than any other people. Poetsch considered Jews and Slavs to be inferior races.

      The following passages from Mein Kampf describe the transformation of a racist boy, who never heard the word Jew at home, into an ardent anti-Semite who exterminated six million Jews.

      "Even today I think back with gentle emotion on this gray-haired man (Leopold Poetsch), who, by the fire of his narratives, sometimes made us forget the present; as if by enchantment, carried us into past times and, out of the millennial veils of mist, molded dry historical memories into living reality. On such occasions we sat there, often aflame with enthusiasm, and sometimes even moved to tears.

      "At home I do not remember having heard the word 'Jew' during my father's lifetime. I believe that he would have regarded any special emphasis on this term as cultural backwardness. Not until my fourteenth or fifteenth year did I begin to come across the word 'Jew,' with any frequency, partly in connection with political discussions. Thus far I did not so much as suspect the existence of an organized opposition to the Jews, until I came to Vienna.

      "For the Jew was still characterized for me by nothing but his religion, and therefore, on grounds of human tolerance, I maintained my rejection of religious attacks in this case as in others. Consequently, the tone, particularly that of the Viennese anti-Semitic press, seemed to me unworthy of the cultural tradition of a great nation. I was oppressed by the memory of certain occurrences in the Middle Ages, which I should not have liked to see repeated.

      "I was not in agreement with the sharp anti-Semitic tone of Volksblatt (people's Journal), but from time to time I read arguments which gave me some food for thought. At all events, these occasions slowly made me acquainted with the man and the movement, which in those days guided Vienna's destinies: Christian Social Party and Dr. Karl Lueger (anti-Semite Mayor of Vienna and the cofounder of the party). When I arrived in Vienna, I was hostile to both of them. The man and the movement seemed 'reactionary' in my eyes.

      "My common sense of justice, however, forced me to change this judgment in proportion as I had occasion to become acquainted with the man (Karl Lueger) and his work; and slowly my fair judgment turned to unconcealed admiration. Today, more than ever, I regard this man as the greatest German mayor of all times. My views with regard to anti-Semitism thus succumbed to the passage of time, and this was my greatest transformation of all.

      "Vienna in those days counted nearly two hundred thousand Jews among its two million inhabitants. I was repelled by the conglomeration of races which the capital showed me, repelled by this whole mixture of Czechs, Poles, Hungarians, Ruthenians (East Slavic peoples), Serbs, and Croats, and everywhere, the eternal mushroom of humanity--Jews and more Jews. The longer I lived in this city, the more my hatred grew for the foreign mixture of peoples which had begun to corrode this old site of German culture.

      "Hence today I believe that I am acting in accordance with the will of the Almighty Creator: by defending myself against the Jew, I am fighting for the work of the Lord."

      Note. Mein Kampf may be downloaded from various websites.

      JE comments:  Note that in History's most disturbing coming-of-age narrative, "human tolerance" is something that needs to be overcome.  I've tried to read Mein Kampf on a couple of occasions out of scholarly curiosity, but frankly it's unreadable.  Has anyone in WAISworld actually gotten through it?

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  • Hitler, Mussolini, Anti-Semitism (Eugenio Battaglia, Italy 08/25/14 9:48 AM)
    A small curiosity. In my previous post about Mussolini I indicated that he was the only world leader who according to both the Pope and a descendant of the Prophet Muhammad (God bless Him), was sent by both the Christian God and by Allah.

    Mussolini in 1933 made diplomatic remonstrances to the Hitler government for the first German measures against the Jews, so Chaim Weizmann (1874-1952), president of the Zionist Organization and later of the state of Israel, after being received in Rome on 26 April 1933, wrote a letter of thanks to Mussolini on 17 June 1933 saying that Il Duce had been sent by Fate to alleviate the suffering of the Jewish German population.

    Mussolini left the borders open for the Jews coming from Germany, but unfortunately no mediation was possible with Hitler.

    Italy also opened the borders later to allow the passage of refugees from Poland, among them the wife of general Wladislaw Sikorski, Helena Zubczewska, the family of the Great Rabbi Alter who then went on to Palestine, and thousands of other Jews.

    JE comments:  Yes, but sadly, Il Duce would choose Hitler over his original sympathy for the Jewish people.  Perhaps he had no other option, but this more or less cancels out the acts of prewar kindness.  I believe David Pike made this point of a few days ago.

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