The Arty Semite

Their Pen-Pal Adolf

By Benjamin Ivry

Understanding how a nation can embrace anti-Semitic tyranny is a complex problem. “Letters to Hitler”, out in May from Polity Books, helps explain the matter. Historian Henrik Eberle, co-author of “The Hitler Book,” has selected from thousands of letters written by Germans of all ages from 1925 to 1945 from a collection found in Moscow’s KGB Special Archive, where they were transported after the war.

Originally published in 2007 in a lengthier version by Verlagsgruppe Lübbe as “Letters to Hitler: A People Writes To Its Führer” these missives created a media sensation in Germany and even inspired a 4-CD audio book. The impression is of a people sadly brainwashed, such as the Karl Fessler family, who in the early 1930s sent a photo of their ten month old daughter Rita, “raising her little hand in the German salute… If she is shown a picture of Uncle Hitler she immediately salutes.”

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Friday Film: Moe Howard, an Honorable Stooge

By Susie Davidson

Getty Images

Last August, during President Obama’s visit to Martha’s Vineyard, a protest erupted over a T-shirt being sold at the SunStations shop in Oak Bluffs that portrayed Obama as Moe, Vice President Joe Biden as Larry, and House Speaker Nancy Pelosi as Curly. The caption read: “The REAL Stooges.”

The storeowner said no malice was intended, and pointed to other shirts in the shop that praise the President. For us, however, there was no need to explain, as we see the comparison as complimentary. After all, the Three Stooges, who are being honored on December 13 at the Three Stooges Film Festival in Albany, as well as in a forthcoming Three Stooges Movie, were pioneering geniuses of comedy.

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Preferring SS Officers to Beach Boys: George Steiner versus Emil Cioran

By Benjamin Ivry

Isaías González
Looking Forward: A portrait of Emil Cioran in heroic pose.

Gallimard has just published, in Paris, George Steiner’s “Lectures. Chroniques du New Yorker,” a translation of the 2009 New Directions collection, “George Steiner at The New Yorker.”

Steiner is notorious for his rabid anti-Zionism and his peculiar 1981 novella “The Portage to San Cristobal of A. H.,” a portrait of Adolf Hitler which some call “strangely sympathetic.”

In a recent Libération article, Steiner praises a novel by the antisemitic French propagandist Lucien Rebatet, adding bizarrely: “Anyway, I prefer a cultivated SS officer to a Beach Boy.”

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