Friday, December 26, 2008

Valkyrie

I had intended to discuss the new Tom Cruise epic in terms of its pro-Prussian nationalist blinders and its rather ridiculous implication that Claus von Stauffenberg was some kind of hero to the world for merely coming to the conclusion that, after six years of doing his darnedest for his beloved leader and his beloved leader's inestimable awfulness, that maybe the way things were going wasn't the best for the future of his beloved Deutschland and maybe he and some of his cronies better off the guy in charge before he did any more damage. Not to the world, mind you, but to Germany and especially to its officer corps. But Roger Friedman has already done it for me, better than I could have, in a beautifully lilting and scathing review, from which I quote a choice passage:

... in “Valkyrie” Singer opens the door to a dangerous new thought: that the Holocaust and all the other atrocities could be of secondary important to the cause of German patriotism. Not once in “Valkyrie” do any of there “heroes” mention what’s happening around them, that any of them is appalled by or against what they know is happening or has happened: Hitler has systemically killed millions in the most barbaric ways possible to imagine.

It’s kind of galling to allow now, in 2008, that von Stauffenberg et al were either totally unaware of this, or that they felt their mission superceded it. In “Valkyrie,” at the expense of making a joke, they are almost like Franz Liebkin, author of Mel Brooks’s fictitious “Springtime for Hitler.” His famous line in “The Producers” is: “War? What war? We vas in the back. We didn’t see a thing!”

A good list of Hitler assassination attempts is here, some by people less reprobate. Many involved in the German resistance were less bloody-handed than von Stauffenberg: for example the leader of the anti-anti-Semitic Confessing Church in Germany, Dietrich Bonhoeffer, hanged with piano wire during the post-Valkyrie purges, and the Weisse Rose, all beheaded by the Gestapo in '43.

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