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Fifty-three years ago, in 1967, Noam Chomsky in his book ‘American Power and the New Mandarins’ on page 16 wrote: “We have to ask ourselves whether what is needed in the United States is dissent-or denazification. The question is a bit debatable one. Reasonable people may differ. The fact that the question is even debatable is a terrifying thing. To me it seems that what is needed is a kind of denazification.”
The results of the 2020 election for the US Presidency show us that a significant part of the Americans are Trumpists and the rest of them are normal people. It is reasonable to assume that the same holds for the Americans that did not vote.
What is a Nazi? The basic characteristic of a Nazi is cowardice. The Leader (Fuehrer) of a dictatorship to survive has mainly three mechanisms to use: torture, murder, and imprisonment. So, an ordinary citizen to avoid this mortal danger turns into a Nazi and finds himself on the side of “safety” as a supporter of the Leader.
Also there is a significant part of any population who are crypto-Nazis and who belong to an advanced stage of cowardice.
Can we estimate how many Nazis and crypto-Nazis there are in any given population? This is quite difficult as the Greek word ‘cryptos’ means ‘secret’. However, one can guesstimate an approximate number with the help of the … police (see below).
I was born in Athens in 1930. At the age of 6, in 1936, Greece was under a Nazi-bred dictator named Metaxas who died in 1941.
[Note: The master-torturer of the Metaxas dictatorship was a man named Maniadakis, the chief of the ‘Ministry of Public Security’[!]. His contribution to Greek history goes well beyond the mundane methods of torture, bastinado, etc. He invented a method which, as he boasted, was the ultimate in torture. He named his method the “ice and castor oil method”. The victim was forced to drink castor oil as a cathartic and then was made to sit on a slab of ice, while the cathartic took effect. This resulted in the necrosis of the tissue of the anus. Maniadakis also boasted that all he did was to be a good “chemist” by administering the right dose of castor oil to the victim. I was about 7 or 8 years old when I first heard grown-ups describe the method. Yet Greek rightists even today joke about the method. More than 80,000 Greeks were tortured in this way.
Maniadakis corresponded with Himmler of Nazi Germany “in order to exchange experience and know-how … in the struggle against communism (Anti magazine, Athens, No. 4, October 19, 1974, p.11)”.
During Truman’s Presidency he entered the Greek Parliament as a worthy deputy of the Greek nation and died in peace in 1972.
The surname Maniadakis consists of the Greek word mania (mania also in English) and the Cretan diminutive ending –akis, that is the ‘little maniac’. There is some truth in our surnames after all. End of Note]
– At the age of 11, in 1941, the Nazi army of Hitler together with the Fascist army of Mussolini invaded Greece and occupied Greece up to 1944 (in 1943 Hitler kicked out Mussolini).
– At the age of 14, in 1944, the British of Winston Churchill ‘liberated’ Greece from the Nazis and initiated a bloodbath on December 3 of 1944 killing thousands of Greeks and also the British built two Nazi-type concentration camps on the island of Makronesos and on the island of Yaros.
– At the age of 17, in 1947 the British passed the baton to the Americans of Truman.
– At the age of 37, in 1967, the Americans assigned to a Greek military officer named Papadopoulos to start a dictatorship which lasted for 7 years up to 1974, for which President Clinton asked the Greeks to pardon the US. The Truman legacy lasts to this moment.
So, on the basis of my experience on Nazis and on assorted dictators, my guesstimate as to the number of Nazis and crypto-Nazis in any given population is: around 30 %!
As most social matters are complex so there is a strange tacit or silent relationship between the Leader and his Nazi supporters. The supporters know that the Leader is an asshole. For example not only the majority of Germans but also the German Nazis themselves knew that Hitler was “laughable or nauseating” [Ian Kershaw, “The ‘Hitler Myth’”, Clarendon Press-Oxford, page 63]. A situation repeated with, Trump, the US President. Yet the supporters back the Leader as they are ‘safe’ as supporters and privileged in comparison to the rest of the ordinary people. On the other hand, the Leader needs the supporters not only to carry out his ‘saintly’ task, but also to persuade his own self that he is an exceptional human.
The word “Nazi” was quite familiar to the Germans from old, especially in the southern part of the country, as a colloquial diminutive of the local name Ignaz, the German rendition of the Latin name Ignatius [of uncertain etymology, probably from the verb to ignite]. It seems that the Hitlerites for propagandistic and political reasons preferred the name ‘Natinalsozialist’ [National-socialist] as the word ‘socialist’ was more appealing to the working class and the lower middle-class. Also, the German word ‘National’ is pronounced as Nazional, another happy coincidence.
To understand the quality of life in Nazi Germany from 1933, when the Nazis gained power, to 1945, when the Nazis were defeated, here are some examples as presented by a German, Bernt Engelmann, who was 12 in 1933 and 24 in 1945, in his book ‘In Hitler’s Germany’ (Pantheon Books, 1986), with a Foreword by Studs Terkel, the American author of the ‘monumental’ book “Working” (Pantheon Books, 1972):
Annie Ney owned and operated a bakery in Dusseldorf with her husband who “seldom emerged from the baking area”. Annie “presided over the bustling café, as well as the counter where cakes, torts … were sold… She was no longer ‘a young thing’ as she would say, and had a bad hip that acted up now and then.” An officer of the SS enters the bakery accosting with the obligatory (by law) ‘Heil Hitler’. Annie replies with a “Good day to you Herr Sturmbannfuehrer –or is it Obersturmbannfuehrer now?” [Sturm = Storm, bann= precinct, fuerer=leader. Ober =over]. After giving him what he had ordered she “filled a large snifter with brandy for the SS officer and a small one for herself, clinked glasses with him and chattered away.” Also she wished him a speedy promotion. Engelmann, the kid, was standing there, during this SS incident, ready to run an errand for “Aunt Annie” who intended to help Ruth Wolf (a Jewish girl) “whom presumably she had never met, to leave the country” (Germany).
Mr. Desh had a tailoring establishment. Mr. Desh was an exceedingly elegant gentleman. His customers were high officers of the SS towards whom he behaved with respect and politeness. He also was a supporting member of the SS and wore the SS insignia on his lapel. Mr. Desh and Annie were members of an underground team that helped dozens if not hundreds of Jews to avoid death by leaving Germany. It is a bit difficult for an ‘outsider’ to sense the fear felt by those people for such acts under a Nazi regime. When young Ruth reached New York she sent a postal card to these people. Engelmann lets us partake at least to their relief.
Richter was a GESTAPO Commissar …………………………………………
At this point I stopped writing and followed in the news what was happening in Washington D.C.